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HELP: My 1960 back up lights are trying to start the car

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  • HELP: My 1960 back up lights are trying to start the car

    Got my back up lights to work on my 1960. Now, when the lights are on, whether the ignition switch is on 'run' or 'off' the starter kicks in when I shift between park and reverse. I unplugged the back up light input for now. Is it the reverse light switch? The headlight switch?

  • #2
    It's the neutral switch under the steering column. You have the wires crossed somehow. The black wires are the backup light wires. The red wires go to the starter solenoid. Make sure you have them connected correctly.

    John

    neutral switch.jpg neutral switch b.jpg
    John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

    Thunderbird Registry #36223
    jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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    • #3
      Thank you very much John, and thank you for the link to the technical gallery. My wires at the neutral safety/back up switch are correctly attached. I believe my issue is at the headlight switch, which appears to be incorrect. I see in the wiring schematic that there is a wire from the B terminal on the ignition, to the B terminal on the headlight switch. What would happen if I removed this wire? I am also reading past posts on the headlight switch being '60 convertible specific with interest. I believe that I have something incorrectly wired at the headlight switch. In the meantime, my backup lights are unplugged and capped, and everything else on the car, including the top, is operating flawlessly.

      Thanks again,

      John Bowyer

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      • #4
        If you remove the wire from the B terminal of the headlight switch you will disable the ignition switch. The main yellow power wire from the solenoid first goes to the headlight switch and then to the ignition switch. It's possible that you have a bad neutral switch. The only way the car can crank is if the red wires on the neutral switch get power. The headlight switch does not have any direct connection that would cause the car to crank unless inside the neutral switch the connections between the backup lights and the starter wires are shorted. It's very easy to test with a voltmeter or a test light. Reconnect the backup lights and remove the red wires from the neutral switch. Turn on the backup lights. Put your voltmeter or test light on the open red wire terminals on the switch. If you have 12V then your neutral switch has an internal short.

        John
        Last edited by jopizz; October 15th, 2020, 12:36 PM.
        John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

        Thunderbird Registry #36223
        jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

        https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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        • #5
          0.0 volts across the neutral safety switch with the back up lights on. I still believe the issue to be at the headlight switch. Have a new one coming. I believe the one I have is incorrect, as someone jumped the turn signal wires together, with a stand alone fuse. I also believe (don't know) that someone has something wired incorrectly at the headlight switch.

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          • #6
            You may already know this but I'm sure some don't: The Squarebird backup lights only work when the headlights or park lights are on, not like the modern cars.

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            • #7
              Did you go to the TRL and look at the Tech Tip for the Squarebird Headlight Switch? It is pretty well laid out, I think, as to how the wiring should be. When you open the Technical Resource Library push the Ctrl button on your keyboard and then the F (F=Find) key. Up should pop a box for you to type in. Type in Headlight Switch and it should take you right to that section. Go through it and see if you can find where the wiring on your switch might be wrong.

              Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
              The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
              Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

              https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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              • #8
                I did find the tech article detailing the headlight switch connections. It looks like an awesome article that I hope will help me out when I receive my new switch. I don't want to pull the existing switch until I have the new one in hand. Thank you all so much for your help.

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                • #9
                  jprrbo, I think I can shed some light on your situation but some basics need to be covered. Ford's wire coloring scheme is NOT covered in the manuals, and it goes like this... If you see a color on the diagrams that look like Blue/Red, that can mean the wire is blue and the END CAP is red or the wire is blue with a red trace. In some cases the wire is blue with a red trace and the end cap is also the color of the trace. These end cap colors are not used by other companies.

                  The yellow wire (as jopizz said) is UN-fused and it comes directly from the battery (via the starter solenoid post). It screws down to the Headlight Switch's 'B' terminal with a short yellow jumper that screws to the Key Switch's 'B' terminal. Notice, all of these 'power' terminations are threaded with a nut.

                  Ignition and Backup Lights have nothing to do with each other and are electrically divorced in every way.

                  Backup Lights come from a wire tap: It starts at the Headlight Switch's 'R' terminal (for 'rear tail lights'). So, backup lights don't happen until the headlight switch handle is pulled out as partsetal pointed out. The 'R' stab on the Headlight Sw., has a Black wire and another short wire that feeds the rheostat for dashboard lighting. Following the Black wire, there is a tap or splice (of bullet connectors) that tees off with another Black wire that feeds the steering column's Neutral Switch, then the other side of the switch turns on the backup lamps. Notice, none of these wires are associated with the Key Switch.

                  Jopizz correctly pointed out that the Neutral Switch (with the Key Switch) turns on the starter solenoid. It also enables the convertible top pump. On the other side of the same switch as your Backup Lights Switch. So, a short in the Neutral Switch could bridge the starting circuit. Most likely though, it's miswired.

                  Take pictures! Let's see what's going on. I sent you a PM with an invitation to call me. - Dave
                  My latest project:
                  CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                  "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                  --Lee Iacocca

                  From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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                  • #10
                    As I recall, it was Dave ~ simplyconnected who put that fantastic Tech Tip together for us!

                    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
                    The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
                    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

                    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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                    • #11
                      You are correct that the 1960 convertible has a different headlight switch. I think the only difference is an extra prong on the "A" terminal that feeds the neutral safety relay. On convertibles closing the contacts on the neutral switch feeds the relay to activate it and send power to the top control switch. This is so the top control switch can only operate in Park or Neutral. This still does not explain why the car is starting when the backup lights are on. Obviously someone did some wiring modifications to account for the wrong headlight switch if that's what you have. Power still has to be sent to the starter contacts on the neutral switch for the car to start.

                      John
                      John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

                      Thunderbird Registry #36223
                      jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

                      https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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                      • #12
                        This is really a stretch, but I'll throw it out there anyway. If the wiring all checks out, it would be worth a try. When I worked in the industry, we came across something we called "funny bulbs". I had one car where if you had the right turn signal on, and tried to turn off the car, it would keep on running until you turned the turn signal off. Problem was a bad bulb that functioned perfectly. Put in a new bulb and the problem went away. Took the "funny bulb" and put it in another car, just to test, and that car did the same thing as the previous car. We had another car, where the owner would be driving at night and the car would just stop running. Towed it into the dealership, and it started and ran fine. After several bouts of dealing with this, it became my job to drive the car until the problem was solved. What we found was a bad headlight. That is why it would only stop at night. Apparently the filaments in the bulb would heat up and touch both filaments, causing the ignition system to ground out. When the bulb cooled off, the problem went away and the car would run fine.
                        If you can't find anything wrong with the wiring or headlight switch, try pulling the connectors to the bulbs, one by one and see if the situation changes. It's a stretch, but not a lot of work.
                        Nyles

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                        • #13
                          Red/Blue is the Key Switch's 'start' wire that feeds the Starter Solenoid.
                          Blue/Red is the wire that feeds all the dash lights.
                          These two wiresare probably connected so that when you pull the Headlight Switch's handle, the Starter Solenoid will energize.
                          My latest project:
                          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                          --Lee Iacocca

                          From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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                          • #14
                            John Pizzi, You were right all along. After pulling, poking, prodding the headlight switch, the backup light/neutral safety switch, and the ignition connections, I changed the back up light/neutral safety switch. Problem solved! I think it was only trying to start the car when the shifter was between park and reverse. So when it was in reverse (with the back up lights lit) there was no voltage across the neutral safety switch. It sure is a beautiful thing seeing those back up lights glow. I was also able to address other items that I ran across while trying to sort it out. But all's well that ends well! Thank you all so much!

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                            • #15
                              You're welcome. Glad you were able to sort it out. Having worked on countless Squarebirds that's the only place where both those systems come together.

                              John
                              John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

                              Thunderbird Registry #36223
                              jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

                              https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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