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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, first the mea culpa: While attempting to loosen the lock nut on the Cold Start Solenoid I managed to short my thin wrench on the starter, causing a brief spark. Yeah, I know...

Initially I lost all electrical, no turn signals, no brake lights, no fuel pump running, and the starter does not turn over etc.

Checked and rechecked fuses, nothing blown. Have been attempting to diagnose with my DVM:

  1. With all fuses in place I only get ~4v at fuses 1-4.
  2. If I pull fuse 3 I get 12v at 1,2 and 4 but still don't get any brake lights, turn signals, etc.
Let it sit overnight while pondering my fate and when I went back the morning, I now have brake lights, turn signals and fuel pump. Key still does not activate the starter.

However, if I try and turn the headlights on I hear a click and no headlights and I lose all other electrical, still without popping a fuse. Eventually brake lights, turn signals, etc. return. Odd.

I have Papajam's wiring diagram and based on that and my research on the board, I am leaning towards having fried my ignition switch. I have the switch out of the column but don't know how to test it.

Before I run down to Centerline Monday ('tis a privilege to live in Colorado) to buy a new switch I would appreciate any and all thoughts as to what I hath wrought!

Did I mention I wished I'd left the CSS alone?
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP,
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You have a major voltage drop between the battery and everything else. The ignition switch can, for now, be ruled out since fuses 1-4 are fed directly from the battery.
The first thing I'd do is remove, clean and tighten the battery cable ends.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank Papajam, I have cleaned the battery terminals but will again, I'd love for it to be that simple.

My other suspect is the starter relay ('74 btw), can a relay cause that kind of voltage drop? When I remove the red wires on Fuse 3 (that connect to the ignition switch and the starter relay) I get 12v at 1-4, so if not the switch then maybe the relay?
 

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Also, check contact of all fuses, rotate for good contact. My hazard lights stopped working, fuse was good, corrosion after 40yrs was the problem.

Do you have an auxiliary ignition switch relay? This is a good idea, you should hear it click when attempting to start. Mine clicked on Thursday, but no start so:

My starter just failed, Larry at APE is sending another...
 

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Trained (ex)Professional, , 1953-2018 RIP,
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The voltage rising when the fuse 3 wire is disconnected indicates the voltage drop is upstream of the fusebox. If your Spider has a junction block on the left inner fender, I'd clean the three 4.0mm wires (disconnect the battery negative first). If no junction block or this doesn't solve the problem, time for some voltage tests.
 

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I would disconnect the battery and check the battery cable where it connects to the starter and the other large red wire that connects to the starter (main feed to the rest of the car) Since you touched that connection with your wrench you could have melted the wires or damaged the connection.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Success!

While I'm still confused about the voltage drop I measured (and measured and measured) I am thrilled to report that the car now starts and runs.

Turns out that the thick 12 ga wire that goes from the ignition switch to the starter solenoid was disconnected. I was very careful when removing the steering column cover and made note of the wires and how they were connected to the ignition switch. At that point the black wire was not connected. Maybe I dislodged it when I took the cover off, or, who knows, maybe it leaped off the ignition switch in terror when I shorted across the starter...

Part of the challenge was that Papajam's excellent wiring diagram shows the stock wiring with the seatbelt interlock still in place, and not the ignition switch wired directly to the starter solenoid. That's not a complaint, just the reality of a 40 year old car with 70's 'safety' engineering and several previous owners.

For future reference, here is how I ended up wiring the switch, based on an previous Papajam post:

Red 12 ga wire to terminal #30 on ignition switch - power in
Black 12 ga wire to #50 - to starter solenoid
Brown 16 ga wire to #15/54 - power out (to fuse #6)
Green 16 ga wire to #16 - to coil + (ballast resistor bypass on start)
the 16 ga black and red/black stripe wires are for the key reminder buzzer

My sincere thanks to all for your troubleshooting advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just wanted to close the loop on this thread.

After reporting my initial success, the car continued to have issues: Voltage drop, no turn signals/brake lights/headlights, no start. Took the battery in to be tested and it failed the load test, much, frankly, to my delight. Problem solved, right? Nope. Installed the new battery, same issues.

Desperate for a solution I took the main battery ground cable off and cleaned up the end and the bolt that attaches to the chassis. Partial success, I now had turn signals and brake lights but still wouldn't start. Took the ground cable off again and disassembled the clamp. The wire itself was very corroded, as was the inside of the clamp. Cut off the end of the wire, stripped it back, cleaned the clamp with contact cleaner and a wire brush and, to my immense relief, all was well! Apparently the ground cable was marginal and then when I pulled my little stunt grounding the wrench on the starter that was enough to cause it to lose contact.

Best news of all is that the car has never run so well, I suspect my poor spark plugs were a little deprived of juice as well.

Planning on replacing the ground cable for sure, check those grounds!
 

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Great news- sounds like Papajam was on the right trail first off. He should teach online classes for Alfa owners :)

I've done this dance before, in an 82 533i. The day after I bought it, it wouldn't start. I moved cables around, banged on the NEW starter from an autoparts store, and she started, but left me stranded later that day. I was pretty pissed at this, and the PO insisted the starter was new. I replaced the battery; nothing. Then while pondering what the problem could be, I noticed that the very original ground cable had a puffy plastic sheith for about 3" from the head, and it turned out to be green corroded wire. Viola! But by that time, I had already replaced the starter with a Bosch reman'd unit, AND the working battery with an Interstate...that was an expensive lesson on troubleshooting :crying2:

On an 83 BMW 320iS, I had charging issues for two years. Couldn't figure it out, battery tested fine with a multi meter. Eventually it got bad enough for me to take it in, and sure enough my expensive Optima red top had a strange failure mode- it showed 12.6V but wasn't passing that much at all. New battery was like having a new car. I could run wipers AND have heat now!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yep, Papajam for the win as usual!

I did not properly interpret cable ends to mean the actual connection between the wire but rather the clamp itself. Wish I had been paying just a little bit more attention...
 
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