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Part 2: Rebuilding An Original Ignition Switch The first thread in this series, Vintage Jeep Ignition Switch - Part 1: Refreshing An Original Switch , covered the internal cleaning of an original switch without disassembling it. That process may suffice in some cases to restore an older switch to good working order. In the case of the original 50-year old ignition switch from my 1967 CJ5, however, it proved to be insufficient to fully fix the problem. This thread picks up where I left off in Part 1. When Moses and I initially discussed this idea in an off-forum conversation (much of which is excerpted in When to Restore a Vintage Jeep Ignition Switch), he and I both expressed some apprehension about the wisdom and viability of de-crimping and then re-crimping a 50-year-old diecast metal switch housing in order to repair or replace the switch's internal parts. My original inclination to get the switch working was to try to clean it without taking it apart, as discussed in Part 1. However, when that process failed to fully fix the intermittent connectivity issue on the Accessory terminal, rebuilding it seemed the only option left to try if I wanted to continue to use it (which I do, particularly since I still have one of its original Jeep logo keys). The OEM ignition switch for my CJ5 (Kaiser Jeep part # 924918), which was manufactured by Pollak, is unfortunately no longer available. As far as I've been able to discover, there were no crossover uses of that particular switch with any other vehicles. However, in researching this subject on the internet, I realized that certain other similar ignition switches made by Pollak (or Aetna-Pollak, as it was called in the late '50's and early '60's) during the same general time frame might very well share their internal parts with my original switch. If so, having an NOS example of one of those switches would allow me to cannibalize its parts to repair mine - assuming that I could successfully disassemble and then reassemble mine without ruining the diecast housing. The switch that seemed to be the closest visual match to my Jeep's original ignition switch was a 1956-63 Rambler / Nash switch (AMC part # 3158414) made by Aetna-Pollak. It was almost certainly produced a few years before the Pollak switch in my jeep was manufactured, and had a much shorter lock cylinder socket. However, the "business end" of the switch containing the internal parts appeared to be outwardly identical to that of my CJ5's OEM switch. NOS Rambler / Nash ignition Switch (L) and OEM Jeep CJ5 Ignition Switch (R): To test this theory, I bought an NOS Aetna-Pollak manufactured Rambler / Nash 3158414 ignition switch on eBay. Also listed were several 3158414 replacement switches made by another manufacturer (Sorensen, whose products were carried under several different brand names), but the OEM Aetna-Pollak version I was looking for was likewise available. Here's a photo of a nice NOS example of this switch: When the NOS switch I ordered arrived, it became clear that my original ignition switch was indeed nearly identical to the Rambler / Nash switch, with the exception of the length of the lock cylinder socket and the configuration of the 1" threaded portion that extends through the dashboard. The two switches shared the same base, and it seemed very probable that their internal operating parts would likewise match. As can be seen above, the thermoplastic / bakelite base is secured into the diecast housing by six crimps around its circumference. I decided it would be a good idea to disassemble the "donor" switch first before trying to take my original switch apart, as this would give me some practice with de-crimping an older diecast metal switch housing. I set about taking the NOS Rambler / Nash switch apart by first placing its lock cylinder socket in a vise with "soft jaws" type inserts. Note: I would highly recommend these polyurethane vise inserts to anyone planning to rebuild a similar ignition switch, as I found them to be an indispensable tool in this project: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004XPVT/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER To de-crimp the housing from the base, I used used a small 1/8" flat screwdriver, gently twisting it back and forth between the crimps and the plastic base, to very gradually and slowly work each crimp outward. I turned the switch housing as I worked. Soon, there was enough space between the metal and the plastic base to move up to a 1/4" flat screwdriver. It took about 15 or 20 minutes of patient, careful work to bend all six crimps far enough outward to remove the plastic base from the housing. Once it was apart, it was easy to see how the switch operates. It's extremely simple, and in fact, there is only one moving assembly inside it. This assembly includes a plastic core keyed to a copper alloy disc with a coil spring in between them that presses the disc into the terminal contacts in the base. The assembly turns with the lock cylinder to make the proper connections to the stud terminals on the base at each different ignition key position. Also, the copper disc has a starter tab that contacts another tab on the base when the key is turned to the start position, causing that circuit to close (and the starter motor to engage). The NOS switch with the base removed, showing the copper alloy disc: The rotating assembly (center) lifted out and turned over: By this time I was both practiced and "on a roll" - so I moved on to disassembling my original switch using the same technique, doing as little damage to the metal as I could as the crimps were worked outwards. It's not difficult to take these switches apart, though it's a bit painstaking to do so while keeping the diecast housing in re-usable condition at the same time. Once it was apart, two things immediately became apparent. First, the internal parts were definitely a good match for those in the NOS Rambler switch. Second, the reason my original switch had been having a connectivity problem was clear. Even after its cleaning with Deoxit (see Part 1 of this series), the rotating copper disc showed evidence of burning in several areas. Also, the starter tabs on both the disc and the base were significantly burned: The only noticeable difference between the old internal switch parts and the NOS parts was that there were two copper tabs on either side of the NOS copper disc that snapped into tapered grooves in the edges of the plastic core. These tabs keep the coil spring slightly compressed and the rotating assembly parts from separating. The slightly later OEM Jeep switch did not have these two tabs for some reason, but having them on the NOS part made reassembly easier. I cleaned the original housing with denatured alcohol to remove the remaining original grease that the Deoxit hadn't dissolved, and cleaned the NOS parts removed from the Rambler / Nash switch the same way. After letting the alcohol evaporate, I coated the NOS copper alloy disc and the terminal contacts in the base with Deoxit Shield, which is designed to protect and lubricate clean electrical contacts in potentially harsh environments. I let this dry completely before continuing with the reassembly. At Moses' suggestion, I contacted Pollak, which is still in business, to ask what type of grease they use in their current switches (which incidentally are remarkably similar to the ones they made 50+ years ago). Their rep indicated that they now use a grease called Rheolube 363. Although Rheolube 363 is unavailable in the retail market, I was able to find its properties online. After sharing that info with Moses, he recommended using a lithium-based grease he has found to be very effective, UltraLube LMX, for use in the rebuilt ignition switch. Here's a link to that product (though it is available locally in many areas): https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BW1P6I/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER Using UltraLube LMX, I thoroughly greased the inside of the cleaned original housing, and then started reassembly of the switch. As the switch was being reassembled, I made sure to align the rotating assembly so that the semicircular hole near the center of the disc - into which semicircular tab at the end of the the lock cylinder fits - was correctly positioned toward the top of the switch (where the small groove is cut into the threaded end of the lock cylinder socket). The photo below, looking down the lock cylinder socket, shows the proper positioning of the rotating assembly: Additionally, the plastic base has a rectangular notch which must be aligned with a small tang on the metal housing. The base also has six evenly spaced indentations around its edge, which correspond to the locations of the six crimps in the diecast metal housing. The notch and the indentations in the plastic base, as well as the tang in the housing (the rectangular "bump" with grease on it), are visible in this photo: After aligning the notch in the NOS base with the corresponding tang in the housing, the base could be installed. It was a little tricky to get the new base fully seated, but using the vise (with only extremely light pressure) ensured that it was pressed all the way in: After lightly clamping the lock cylinder socket of the switch housing between the soft jaws of the vise, while continually pressing down on the base with my fingers, I used the edge/side of the end of a round steel punch, tapping it with a hammer very gently to gradually recreate the concave shapes of the original six crimps in the diecast housing: Tapping each re-crimp into the housing a little a time, I made multiple passes over each one, rather than trying to form any of them in a single pass. Also, each time I moved to another crimp, rather than working in a circular motion to the next adjacent one, I went to the crimp 180 degrees across the base. From there, I then rotated to the adjacent crimp, went to the one 180 degrees across the base from that point, and so on. I worked around the switch this way, making at least four complete rotations and turning the housing between the soft jaws of the vise as I went. This process ended up re-crimping the original metal housing around the NOS plastic base surprisingly well. The base is very tightly secured, with no detectable movement between it and the housing. Moses pointed out that if someone rebuilding a similar ignition switch was concerned about the possibility of moisture intrusion through the joint between the housing and the base, one way to mitigate this would be to fill the groove along that joint with a 2-part plastic epoxy. He cautioned though that epoxy is not strong enough to substitute for crimps. The lock cylinder, having already been cleaned and lubed in Part 1 of this series, was reinstalled in the housing, using a small knife to depress the retainer clip and allow the cylinder to slide in: Turning the key through its positions, I checked the rebuilt switch for continuity, and am glad to report that it performs perfectly. Testing for resistance, the ohmmeter registers much less than 0.5 ohms across each of the closed contacts, indicating good connections. When the key is turned, it now "feels" like a brand new ignition switch. After shining up the housing, bezel nut, and terminal studs a bit, the rebuild was complete, and the switch was ready to be returned to service. OEM ignition switch as shown in the 1966 Universal Jeep Parts List, and the newly rebuilt OEM ignition switch:
Part 1: Refreshing An Original Ignition Switch Image of OEM Jeep CJ5 ignition switch from the 1966 Universal Jeep Parts List: As noted in the initial thread Moses started based on our off-forum conversations around this issue (When to Restore a Vintage Jeep Ignition Switch), I've recently been experiencing a problem with my 1967 CJ5's original Pollak ignition switch, which is now 50 years old. Specifically, the switch would sometimes fail to connect on the Accessory (ACC) terminal when in the Ignition "On" position. The Jeep would start and run normally, but the radio, windshield wipers, and other electrical devices connected to the Accessory terminal would occasionally fail to operate when the engine was running. The discovery of this problem led me to wonder if the switch could either be 1) Refreshed, i.e. cleaned internally without actually disassembling it; or if not, 2) Disassembled and rebuilt. This thread will cover the first of these potential options. As noted in the previous thread, as I was exploring various ideas, I was referred by someone I contacted online to Scott Versaw, who is an expert restorer of vintage automotive electrical items. Scott was extremely kind and offered lots of great advice, including the possibility of trying a product line called Deoxit, which he referred to as the "secret sauce" he has used successfully in the past for cleaning closed switches. I decided to try that option first, so I bought a spray can of Deoxit D Series cleaner, as well as one of Deoxit S5S Shield (see previous thread for links to these products). To recap from that thread, Deoxit cleaner is basically a specialized solvent designed to remove corrosion and other contaminants from switch contacts, and Deoxit Shield is designed to be used after the cleaner to protect and lubricate the contacts. The reviews of both indicate that they are excellent products that are used for many types of electric and electronic device cleaning, including among others ignition switches on motorcycles, aircraft, and many types of equipment. To begin the cleaning process, after disconnecting the battery and removing the ignition switch bezel nut from the front of the dash, I disconnected the switch from the wiring harness by removing the wires from one terminal at a time. I used twist-ties through the wires' ring terminals in order to keep the wires on each contact together, and wrote on masking tape wrapped around each bundle of wires - again, one terminal at a time - to indicate which terminal (ACC,IGN,BAT, or ST) they were removed from so that I wouldn't mix any of them up during reassembly. Here's a photo of the base of the ignition switch before it or any of the wires were removed: The still-connected switch pulled out from behind the dash (with the bezel nut screwed back on temporarily): After clearly marking each set of bundled wires and disconnecting the switch, I removed the lock cylinder from the switch housing. In this particular switch, this is done by rotating the key to the "on" position and using a thin, straight metal tool (like a 1/16" Allen wrench) to press the spring-loaded retainer clip on the lock cylinder through the small hole in the "neck", or lock cylinder socket. Once this small brass clip (visible below in the center of the lock cylinder) is depressed slightly toward the center of the lock cylinder, the cylinder can easily be pulled out of the housing. The photo below shows the lock cylinder upon its initial removal from the switch. I'm fortunate to have one of the original Jeep logo keys that came with the vehicle when it was new, so I thought I'd digitally immortalize it here: I first cleaned and lubricated the lock cylinder as shown below. For those unfamiliar with how this type of lock works, as the key is inserted, it moves through five hollow, spring-loaded brass wafers in the cylinder. These wafers move according to the height (or cut) of the inserted key at each wafer's particular location within the cylinder. As it is inserted into the lock, the correct key will move the five wafers so that all of their edges are flush with the outside of the cylinder, allowing it to rotate inside its socket in the switch housing (and turn the ignition switch). In the "Off" position, as the key is removed from the lock, tiny internal springs move these brass wafers slightly outward to extend below the bottom of the cylinder. The edges of the extended wafers slide into a longitudinal slot in the lock cylinder's socket in the switch housing, which prevents the cylinder from being turned. The photos below illustrate this: 1. Lock cylinder with key in; 2. Lock cylinder with key out; 3. Lock cylinder socket showing wafer slots Over the life of the vehicle, the key being pushed into and pulled out of the lock thousands of times causes wear on both the key and on these brass wafers, resulting in tiny metallic particles gradually building up in the lock cylinder and in the switch. I suspect that this lock cylinder had probably never been removed during its 50 years in service, as quite a bit of this metallic "dust" had collected inside it. To remove this metallic particle dust, I put the lock cylinder in a small container (a clean plastic film canister) of denatured alcohol and moved the key in and out of the keyway over and over again until the metal particles stopped coming out of the cylinder. Note that the dust removed from the lock cylinder is entirely inside the container (and is not the metal filings you see scattered on the work bench in the photo below): The inside of the container after the lock cylinder cleaning, showing the metallic particles that came out of the cylinder: There was some minor corrosion on the cylinder that needed to be cleaned off, which the denatured alcohol and a wire brush easily removed. I let the denatured alcohol evaporate, and helped this along by using a can of compressed air (the type used for electronics cleaning) to blow out of the inside of the keyway thoroughly. Once the lock cylinder was completely dry inside and out, I used an excellent lock lube I keep on hand called Houdini to lubricate the cylinder and wafers ( https://smile.amazon.com/HOUD1-Houdini-Lock-Lube/dp/B00C5JFKKE/ref=sr_1_1?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1483310069&sr=1-1&keywords=houdini+lock+lube ). The cleaned, lubed cylinder was then ready to reinstall in the switch once it had likewise been cleaned. One challenge with trying to clean this particular type of ignition switch is that without disassembling it, there are no openings through which to apply a cleaner to the internal parts except the open lock cylinder socket. Accordingly, I sprayed Deoxit cleaner through this opening, then put the lock cylinder back in so that I could move the key back and forth to hopefully work the cleaner into and through the internal parts of the switch. I repeated this several times, and eventually, dirty (gray) cleaner fluid leaked out between the plastic terminal base and the diecast metal housing. I kept repeating the process until the cleaner fluid that was leaking out became clear. Note the white paper towel placed just below the switch, which I changed out with each spray-and-rotate cycle in order to assess the color of the cleaner fluid that was leaking out each time. (Note also that you can barely see the edge of the small hole through which the lock cylinder retainer clip is released just below the threaded neck toward the right side): The instructions indicate that the Deoxit D5 cleaner needs to evaporate completely before the application of Deoxit Shield. Since the switch was closed, I figured the evaporation process would likely occur very slowly. In order to hopefully accelerate this, I hung the switch upside down suspended with twist-ties in front of a warm air supply vent for several days to allow it to drain and/or evaporate thoroughly: After letting the cleaned switch dry for several days, I applied Deoxit Shield in the same way I'd used the cleaner previously. After spraying it into the lock for a few seconds, I reinstalled the lock cylinder and rotated it back and forth with the key to work the sprayed liquid into the internal switch parts. After the Deoxit Shield had dried, I tested the electrical continuity of the switch. The initial problem with the switch had been an intermittent connection between the ACC terminal and the IGN terminal. Using a continuity tester, I rotated the switch through its various positions, checking this connection probably 40 times. And....drum roll, please.... It failed. Though the intermittent connection / resistance problem at the Accessory terminal was definitely better after cleaning than it had been beforehand, the problem did not vanish entirely. Twice during this testing, the ACC terminal failed to connect with the IGN terminal as it should have. This represented about a 60% reduction in the failure rate experienced before the switch was cleaned. Had the switch been in better shape internally, I suspect the Deoxit products may very well have done the job. However, the degree of wear, corrosion, and/or burned contacts present in the original switch after 50 years of use was evidently too great for the "Deoxit Process" to succeed completely (though it did help). Rather than reinstall a switch that clearly still has a problem, I decided to try rebuilding it altogether, which I will cover in another thread ( Vintage Jeep Ignition Switch - Part 2: Rebuilding An Original Switch ).