The back story: I was hanging out at my favorite coffee shop when someone who knows me came in and told me that there had been a hit and run on my jeep. It seemed like I was walking the Green Mile to get to my YJ. Fortunately, I line in a historic town and there just happened to be a photographer taking photos of the area and he was acutally shooting my jeep (he liked it) when it got hit by a U-Haul. He had shots of the whole thing.
The U-Haul driver returned shortly because she had seen the guy photograph her driving off and she decided she better come back. Anyway, I was in a good mood and no damage had been done to my jeep other than cracked powdercoat (thank goodness for aftermarket bumpers) and since I was only slightly annoyed, I told her to get on wer way.
Little did I know after I got the jeep home would be the last time it would crank with a key for three weeks.
The problem: The jeep wouldn't start with the key the next time I was going to take it out. I convinced myself that the brand new battery I had bought days before was a bad one. Well, after much metering, troubleshooting, and testing, I had to finally give in to the fact that I had something else going on. Plus the fact that I could not start it by jumper cables and had to get her to rolling down a hill to pop the clutch to start her.
Now I'm thinking solonoid. I could put an insulated wrench to it and it would barely spark and would not fire off the starter. Just by off chance though when I was about to pull trigger on a new starter (I troubleshoot for a living so I can go a long way with it), I ran 12 volts directly to the solonoid and it fired right off.
Now what? Well the ending is fairly anticlimactic.
Just then I was about to pull my hair out if when I so that my ignition relay wasn't seated all the way down (the cover has been broken for years). I seated the relay and resolved my issue.
Sometimes it is the simple things that elude us. I feel sufficiently stupid, but glad to have the YJ fully functional again. I think I am going to check ebay to find another cover for the under hood fuse/ relay box.