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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question for the board members: After a long drive yesterday, I shut down my YJ for a while. When I jumped back in to start it, nothing. No solenoid clicking, no lights, no stereo. I checked my battery terminals to make sure they were clean and tight, and checked the solenoid connections, which were also tight. I couldn't even get the headlights to come on, which is notable since they are on an independent circuit from the ignition.

After a little random fiddling with the fuse box just to make sure no fuses had worked themselves out, I got the headlights to come on, but still no starter juice. The interior lights seemed pretty dim. After about ten minutes of this, from out of nowhere, the engine fired right up and the problem disappeared. I think that rules out the battery as the culprit.

I'm stumped. I have a relatively new battery and clean, tight terminals. I think the solenoid is the only connection after the battery terminal that carries all of the vehicle's electrical load, but the headlights should never be switched on/off by anything but the dash headlight switch. Anybody got any ideas as to what could cause this?
 

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'89 YJ 4.2 with MC-2150 Carb & HEI, 2-1/2" Ex. AX-15, NP231 SYE, Adams shafts, F&R ARB, 3
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Sounds like maybe the connector to the ignition on the column. Maybe wiggled loose on your drive then, making contact after fiddling under dash. Did you by chance check to see if your analog clock was working. I use that whenever I'm in doubt about power to the fuse block.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didn't look at my clock. I'm pretty sure it stopped working a long time ago. The issue with the headlights makes me thing the ignition isn't the issue. Headlights turn on regardless of key in the ignition, so ignition shouldn't matter. Right?
 

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'89 YJ 4.2 with MC-2150 Carb & HEI, 2-1/2" Ex. AX-15, NP231 SYE, Adams shafts, F&R ARB, 3
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My only other immediate thoughts would br ground from battery to block loose at block, or connector at firewall issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, that's the only thing that makes sense. I think I'll check the basics again. Maybe my battery took some damage from not being cinched down tight when I was hammering through the desert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
OK, weird, weird things happening today while trying to diagnose this issue. Got the battery checked by two different places. Both say it's operating at 100% and is fully charged (not even a year old battery). Put the battery back in and checked all the connections; nice n tight n clean. I can get the headlights to come on sporadically along with all the interior accessory items switched to the key. They stay on until I turn the key to start, then I hear a relatively loud thunk, and the only thing that happens is the lights and everything else goes out and stays out. Fiddling with the numerous wires attached to hot side of the solenoid sometimes brings the lights back on, but no starter action at all. I assume the loud thunk I'm hearing is from the solenoid, and there is no un-thunk when I back the key off. No click-click-click, just thunk, and then the lights go out and everything is dead.

I'm assuming I have a bad solenoid, but I've replaced plenty of solenoids over the years and never had these symptoms. All the ignition stuff is on the hot side of the solenoid so no idea how a bad solenoid could cause anything but a starter to not go vroom, or to not shut off.

Is it possible to have a battery that checks out fine but that's actually crap? This battery is fairly new but it's already seen a lot of bashing around the desert. I've tried shaking it vigorously with the headlights on to see if I can shake anything loose in it, but nothing changes.

I think I need to try jumping the solenoid, but it's a tight squeeze to get a screwdriver in there. Maybe I can pull one of the batteries out of my truck to test the bad battery theory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I know everyone on the board has been worried sick and losing sleep over my electrical dilemma, so I just wanted to let everyone know that it's been resolved so you can get back to living your lives. I replaced the solenoid and cleaned up that inexplicably poorly constructed wad of red wires going to the hot side of the solenoid. Even by 1987 standards, having 7 wires ending in 5 crimp-on ring terminals was cheezy as hell. It was a real job just to get all 5 of the rings on the post last time, and at least one of these critical wires had a bad connection and was a part of my power loss. I decided to dispense with all 5 rings and solder them all together into one copper batter cable ring fitting. This worked great, but took a lot of solder to fill the void. While I was at it, I soldered up the other battery cable ring coming from the + on the battery since it was looking a little loose. Harbor Freight $14 butane torch is the solution to all of life's soldering problems and makes it quick and easy. As soon as I hooked it all up, vroom! Problem resolved. Maybe this was also the cause of those random stalls and tough starts that have infrequently appeared over the last few years.
 

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Ahh the 87 Jeep (Ford) remote solenoid lol. Just an answer to a previous question of yours...yes, it is very possible that a battery will show good at a parts store yet not be. Has happened to me several times, so I never trust them. Testing at the battery with a good multimeter is better than the parts store testing IMO.

Glad you got it all sorted, though!
 

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When you said 1987, that lit my remembery bulb.
I had a similar problem with my solenoid. Some posters might not know that 1987 (the last of the AMC Jeeps) has a different starting circuit, starter and flywheel than the '88 and newer YJs.

A couple years ago, mine flat cut out while pulling out of a park lot. No radio, no lights, no nothin'. I fiddled with it a bit and still no go.
I called my wife and told her to bring the truck and tow bar. I continued to wiggle wires and I heard the radio come on. I jumped into the Jeep, started it and called Mrs. Lucky and told her to hold off, I'm headed home.
On the way home I thought "what was I fiddling with when the radio came on"?
Hmm, the wires near the solonoid.

I have a dual battery setup and I have to pull both batteries plus the battery box to access the solenoid, so I wanted to do the job once.
See the attached pics. The connections were corroded. I took them loose, cleaned them with a wire brush and put them back together with dielectric grease. I had to replace one of the terminals.
That was over a year ago and I've had no problems since.

Good Luck, L.M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When you said 1987, that lit my remembery bulb.
I had a similar problem with my solenoid. Some posters might not know that 1987 (the last of the AMC Jeeps) has a different starting circuit, starter and flywheel than the '88 and newer YJs.

A couple years ago, mine flat cut out while pulling out of a park lot. No radio, no lights, no nothin'. I fiddled with it a bit and still no go.
I called my wife and told her to bring the truck and tow bar. I continued to wiggle wires and I heard the radio come on. I jumped into the Jeep, started it and called Mrs. Lucky and told her to hold off, I'm headed home.
On the way home I thought "what was I fiddling with when the radio came on"?
Hmm, the wires near the solonoid.

I have a dual battery setup and I have to pull both batteries plus the battery box to access the solenoid, so I wanted to do the job once.
See the attached pics. The connections were corroded. I took them loose, cleaned them with a wire brush and put them back together with dielectric grease. I had to replace one of the terminals.
That was over a year ago and I've had no problems since.

Good Luck, L.M.

Looks familiar. I swapped my BA10 for an AX15 a few years ago, which meant a new flywheel and starter too. So I now have two solenoids, the remote one and the solenoid on the 1989+ starter. I jumped the integrated starter solenoid to the battery lead so it all comes on when I turn the key, so the old remote solenoid is still king of all subjects downstream. I've been keeping an eye on those control wires to the remote solenoid since they look like likely culprits since they're relatively flimsy. But, like you, I apply dielectric grease to all the usual suspect connections. But, those power wires running off of the hot side of the solenoid are a mess. I assumed mine were buggered by some car stereo installer years before I bought the Jeep, but I think that it came from the factory like that. Just cheezy...
 

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Looks familiar. I swapped my BA10 for an AX15 a few years ago, which meant a new flywheel and starter too. So I now have two solenoids, the remote one and the solenoid on the 1989+ starter. I jumped the integrated starter solenoid to the battery lead so it all comes on when I turn the key, so the old remote solenoid is still king of all subjects downstream. I've been keeping an eye on those control wires to the remote solenoid since they look like likely culprits since they're relatively flimsy. But, like you, I apply dielectric grease to all the usual suspect connections. But, those power wires running off of the hot side of the solenoid are a mess. I assumed mine were buggered by some car stereo installer years before I bought the Jeep, but I think that it came from the factory like that. Just cheezy...
Interesting! Why did you have to change flywheels? I have an AX15 and am assembling the used parts for an external slave conversion.
I had planned on using my original flywheel and starter. I'm aware that I'll need a CJ pilot bearing, but assumed my flywheel and starter would work with the AX15 and a new clutch disc and pressure plate.

TIA,
Good Luck, L.M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No such luck I'm afraid. The BA10 and AX15 flywheels are different thicknesses. BA10 is thicker by about 1/8". I believe because the bell-housings are different dimensions. If you try to use the BA10 flywheel with the AX15, the bell-housing won't quite seat to the block. Also, the flywheels are a different tooth count and slightly different diameter. I figured this out at the last minute. I had the BA10 flywheel resurfaced and was all ready to go with a new clutch, but no joy. I talked to the machinist about taking the surface down to the AX15 specs, but it would cost more to do that than do the flywheel/starter conversion. Now, I can't say with 100% certainty that you can't shoehorn the AX15 in place with the BA10 flywheel because I'm sure some guy somewhere has done it, but it became abundantly clear to me that the juice wasn't worth the squeeze on that.

I've got info on my build page that might save you some frustration and money. This is all a known path so no reason to suffer the pain of reinventing the wheel. You've helped me out with some stuff so I'll be more than happy to walk you through the process. I'm assuming you're doing a BA10 to AX15 conversion rather than just upgrading from an internal slave AX15 to an external slave.
 

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No such luck I'm afraid. The BA10 and AX15 flywheels are different thicknesses. BA10 is thicker by about 1/8". I believe because the bell-housings are different dimensions. If you try to use the BA10 flywheel with the AX15, the bell-housing won't quite seat to the block. Also, the flywheels are a different tooth count and slightly different diameter. I figured this out at the last minute. I had the BA10 flywheel resurfaced and was all ready to go with a new clutch, but no joy. I talked to the machinist about taking the surface down to the AX15 specs, but it would cost more to do that than do the flywheel/starter conversion. Now, I can't say with 100% certainty that you can't shoehorn the AX15 in place with the BA10 flywheel because I'm sure some guy somewhere has done it, but it became abundantly clear to me that the juice wasn't worth the squeeze on that.

I've got info on my build page that might save you some frustration and money. This is all a known path so no reason to suffer the pain of reinventing the wheel. You've helped me out with some stuff so I'll be more than happy to walk you through the process. I'm assuming you're doing a BA10 to AX15 conversion rather than just upgrading from an internal slave AX15 to an external slave.
Interesting, the starter is the only thing I didn't have to change when I did my swap.
 

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I have a 1990 AX15 flywheel and transmission but I think the tooth count is different for '87 flywheel. That means a different starter and wiring, unless I can retrofit a '88+ bendix drive into my '87 starter.

God has kindly blessed me with patience. It's a handy trait when working on these old heaps.

Thanks and Good Luck, L.M.
 
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