We are just now starting to recover from an ice storm in central Oklahoma. In the middle of all the problems we were having with loss of electricity for 20 miles in every direction, trying to keep the house warm, trying to keep our animals warm, cooking food on the outside propane grill, and not being able to buy gasoline for cars or groceries.

During all of this, my daughter needed to go pickup her teenage daughter at a friend's house. When she tried to start her car, the starter didn't respond.


Candles & kerosene lamps don't help a lot. On top of all that, I missed watching the Oklahoma University vs. Oklahoma State University football game.


It's like a war zone with all the noise of big limbs breaking under the load of the ice. Some of the limbs are over a foot in diameter and sound like a shotgun blast when they break. My daughter and I were kept busy with a lopper on a pole trimming off some small branches extending over the electric service line coming to my house. Luckily, we got them trimmed before the main part of the limb bent from 12 feet high to the ground.


When my daughter tried to start her car, the starter didn't respond. After a little investigating, I found that either the ignition switch was not making contact in the "Start" position or the wire coming from the switch to the starter solenoid was bad. I checked voltage from the switch wire going to the solenoid and found it was not showing any voltage. I shorted across the solenoid and that activated the starter. It would have been nice if I could have run to the nearest auto parts store and bought a push button switch, but they were closed because of the electric outage and in addition, the roads were iced over.

Since I didn't want to send my daughter out driving and depending on shorting two wires together to start it, I thought it was time to make an "Normally Off / Momentary On" push button switch. Here's what I made.


1 - WOODEN CLOTHES PIN (to make the emergency switch. Hereafter known as the "switch" )

1 - 1" X 2" X 6" PINE BOARD (to make the "switch" easier to handle, AKA the handle)

LOCTITE GO2 Glue (to secure the "switch" to the board. (That's good stuff; very strong after it has dried)

2 - 9 FOOT STRANDS OF 16 GAUGE INSULATED WIRE (to run from "switch" to solenoid)

3 - #8 BOLTS, NUTS & FLAT WASHERS (2 to make the "switch's" contacts & to attach "switch" to board)

1 - 5/16" NUT (to secure wire to solenoid without really disturbing anything.

1 - Antique hand driven drill (because of no electricity or compressed air since power was off)


I didn't want to try to punch a hole through the fire wall, since I couldn't use an electric or air drill, so I ran the wire from the solenoid, across the engine, out into the passenger's door jam, into the car's interior, across the dash, and over to the center console.



It works great. My daughter had no trouble operating it after I drew a diagram of the battery, the solenoid, the starter, the "switch", and the low amp wire activating the solenoid. She can have a mechanic replace the OEM switch or the wiring when the weather clears up. Until then, she's back in business

I suggest grinding the screw's pan head to a flat. which allows for bigger contact surface and lower resistance
<p>Your right, <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/Hashem_Mehyar" style="">Hashem_Mehyar</a>, but this was a very temporary fix. I bought a nice chrome plated brass push button switch and mounted it under the dash. It also serves as theft prevention since the keyed ignition switch will not start the car. </p>
Ingenious! I really like the simplicity of the switch! Might I suggest running the wires to the solenoid around the engine? It would seem over the engine might expose the wire insulation to engine temperatures that could ignite it? Great idea though!
<p>Thanks <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/Hammerguy84" style="">Hammerguy84</a>. This was supposed to be a very temporary fix, but she likes it &amp; is still using it. As far as the wire running over the engine.........it's not attached to anything hot &amp; is well insulated. Your suggestion is well founded though. I should have put in an inline fuse in the hot wire running to the switch. It was really cold that night and she needed the car to start and run. I'll put in a fuse for safety's sake.</p><p>I've been busy hauling broken limbs to the street for 3 days.</p>
<p>Must be a Ford. GM puts their solenoids on the starters.</p>
<p>Yes, it's an older Thunderbird.</p>
Brrr... thank God I'm Floridian
<p>I've made normally on/ momentary off switches from cloths pegs befor this way around hadn't occured to me neat idea.</p>
<p>I guess I think outside the box a lot, but this worked out great under the situation we were in.</p>
<p>In Florida, during the '04- '05 hurricanes, gas stations couldn't pump due to power outage, seriously endangering evacuees and others like first responders. Legislation was passed mandating certain &quot;critical location&quot; gas stations had to have generators to allow the pumping of gas during such emergencies. You don't think of these things until they happen to you.</p>
<p>Good idea <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/BeachsideHank" style="">BeachsideHank</a>. I'll suggest it to city council.</p>
good work around for a bad situation. stay safe and warm.
<p>Thanks <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/Ultra-Indigo" style="">Ultra-Indigo</a>.</p>
<p>What a clever hack ~ So sorry to hear of the storm there and the damage to your trees, but am glad you and your family are safe and hopefully warm. Thanks for sharing and have a safe and happy holiday season.</p><p>sunshiine~</p>
<p>Thanks Sunshiine. The electricity is back on and all is well. The funny this is that my house is on one company's service lines and my shop is on another company's lines due to me buying the 10 acres and shop adjoining my house's 5 acres, so I have had the ability to run cords from shop to house when needed. I couldn't do that this time since ALL the lines were down. I bought a portable generator during an ice storm in 2003, but never used it until now. It suddenly became a necessity.</p>

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Bio: Retired Firefighter 1966 to 1986; Retired Wheat Farmer 1987 to 2003. Drapery Sales 1969 to 1987. 17 year Quintuple Heart Bypass Surgery Survivor; 14 year ... More »
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