View Full Version : Bugeye start question

09-07-2010, 05:00 PM
When I pull the starter cable, my engine turns over even when the key is not in the combinations switch. Is this normal?

Trevor Jessie
09-07-2010, 05:57 PM

09-07-2010, 05:58 PM
What stops someone from just pulling the starter switch and driving off?

09-07-2010, 06:05 PM
If the ignition switch is not on there is no current to the coil, and therefore your spark plugs will not sparkle.


09-07-2010, 06:07 PM
I have an idea, try to start the car and drive off without the key in the switch.

Trevor Jessie
09-07-2010, 07:28 PM
Just out of curiosity, How old are you Kevin?

Trevor Jessie
09-07-2010, 07:48 PM
Sorry, Not trying to be "smart" there. Just asking for a point of reference. I mean, when I was a kid we had cars and tractors with separate starter buttons.

09-07-2010, 07:59 PM
Yep, Trevor, (and Kevin) that's how I know. Can't tell you all the times I've cranked and cranked and cranked one of our Ford tractors only to find I forgot to turn on the ignition switch. You have to remember to turn the fuel valve on too.

Just about the only difference between a Bugeye's electrical system and a Ford tractor's is brake lights, turn signals, and the horn.


09-07-2010, 10:56 PM
Jack and Charlie, I think I get what you are saying. I currently have the distributor cap off (because I have no oil pressure at the moment and don't want it to start). I can take the key out, pull the starter switch, and the engine still turns over. Without the key in the combination (ignition?) switch, the starter will move, but there would be no spark to the plugs and therefore no ignition? I had assumed that if the starter was moving, the car would start. Trevor, I did not take your question as an insult either - I am 54. I really didn't become interested in cars until much later in my life. I know we had cars from the 50's when I was growing up. Maybe I just wasn't all that observant when I was a kid. I never remember seeing this sort of set up before. Is this something that stopped after the 50's?

09-08-2010, 12:25 AM
There was no Federal Gummint Mandated Starter Safety Interlock.
That said, if your ignition quits and strands you on the railroad tracks, you can crank it off in first ger.

All the cars I drive have starter buttons.
And none of them can you lock the keys inside.
Have to turn the lock from outside.

09-08-2010, 05:07 AM
Just about the only difference between a Bugeye's electrical system and a Ford tractor's is brake lights, turn signals, and the horn.


<span style="font-weight: bold">Two</span>-speed wipers, too: "useless" and "off". :wink:

09-08-2010, 07:06 AM
Ha ha. Good one, Doctor.

Kevin, think of it this way. You need three things to start your car. Compression, spark at the right time, and fuel. The starter spinning the engine provides the compression and rotates the distributor to give you spark at the right time. The spark comes from the ignition (i.e. coil distributor, points and spark plugs). Spinning the engine also runs the mechanical fuel pump and and sucks fuel from your carbs.

The starter and ignition are entirely different circuits, so they both have to be switched on for the car to start. If you have an electric fuel pump to push fuel, that is on the same circuit as the ignition, so both are turned on at the same time.

The exception is when your battery is dead and you push start your car. In that case momentum turns the engine over providing compression and power to the ignition is supplied by the genny.

The last vehicle I saw with a foot operated starter switch was my grandfather's 1954 Chevy pickup. But tractors had separate starter and ignition switches (just like the Bugeye) for years after that.

Referring to TOC's comment about safety interlock switches, starting in 1939 the Ford tractor transmissions were set up so that the gearshift had to be in neutral in order for the starter button to be pushed. They were way ahead of the automobile industry in this regard. This safety feature prevented many a farmer from getting run over by his own machine, which was not an uncommon cause of death, and is not unheard of even today.

Who here hasn't tried to start their car in gear with the ignition on? These cars are geared so much higher than a tractor it would seem unlikely one would take off on you. But in some cases there is something positive to be said about safety interlocks.

I'm 54 too. And try not do do anything stupid around machines so I will be around for the next 30 years, minimum.


1960 Bugeye
1949 Ford 8N tractor
1952 Ford 8N tractor
And I don't even want you to know what my daily driver is.