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I just picked up a 78 JS 440 last night. Got it fairly cheap because it wouldn't crank. First check was the battery. I connected the cables directly to a battery charger and hit the start button and nothing. Second thought is either the start switch or a bad connection. Checked connections and all were tight. I pulled the start switch apart and ohm tested the switch. Not sure what it should be but it seemed a little high. I assume it should be around .02 when switched. Had power to the switch so I just jumped the wires and nothing.

Next I pulled the starter and tested it. Starter works. Now I'm thinking ahhh crap this thing is locked up tight. Nope...engine turns over fine.

Soooo....Now I have the engine pulled out and the electrical box apart. (I really hope nobody tells me that you can get that box out without pulling the engine) I connected my battery charger to the positive cable going into the box and my ground to the CDI ground. Have power going into the relay. Connected the start switch wires and have power at the excite wire going into the the relay but no power coming out of the relay.

So...do you all agree that the start relay needs to be replaced? I would say yes but I'm confused as to why it wouldn't crank over when I put power to the starter when it was still on the engine? It sparked but no cranky...:dunno:
 

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Check the stop switch first. That the issue I had with mine and I had to by pass the 2 orange wires going in to the switch. It's an easy check with the Ohm meter if this is the problem.
 
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