1954 XK120 FHC Won't start. How to remove dash

When I push the start button , the starter clicked and then everything went dead. Now turning the start key …all dead. I need to get to the back of the dash to check the wiring. Can anyone please tell me how to remove the dash . The maintence manual is not too clear as to how to remove the dash.

Check battery connections

I did check battery connection and put a spare battery in parallel to boost. not working. must be some wiring loose behind the dashboaRD. How do I remove the dash?

have you checked the fuses ?? or the connections at the starter. or starter solenoid ? or the ground strap ?Does everything else work ?

yes I did all that . randomly the start key and push button would work and the go dead again . Must be loose wire behind the dash?

I tried to check for loose connection from underneath the dash…very difficult but I can’t see any loose connection. I have to remove the dash for a better look . But don’t know how to do that. Can anybody help ?

Try pushing the big button on the rear of the starter solenoid (i.e. opposite to the terminals). The starter should crank.
Jumper a wire from the solenoid to battery terminal to the SW side of the coil, then try the solenoid button again and it should start.
This will confirm that it is indeed either the ignition switch or starter button switch at fault.

To remove the FHC center dash, first remove the under panel and map drawer or radio and mounting bracket.
There are 4 hex head bolts under there holding it to the rest of the dash. The upper 2 are hard to get to, so use a short handle 7/16" wrench. The dash won’t come down very far because the oil pressure and temp gauge pipes are holding it back.
You may find something obvious like a loose wire at this point.
If not…
Jumper across your ignition switch wires and see if it starts on the button.
If no cranking, jumper across the starter button.

Hi Rob,
That sounds logical way to proceed. Will try and get back to you. Thanks.

Will it start if you push the rubber button on the starter solenoid ?

I did but nothing happened. So the next step would be to jump power to the starter solenoid and try pushing it again.

when jumping power to the starter solenoid, is polarity important.? apply positive to which side?

If you pushed that big rubber button and nothing happened, its your battery or starter or a corroded cable connection in between, like at the solenoid. There’s nothing else involved in that method. Could be a bad ground - battery to body or body to engine.

Is your car wired positive or negative ground? Originally it was positive, but some people change them.
Jumping power to the solenoid means using a little wire clipped to the big cable on the solenoid that comes from the battery non-grounded side, the one on the left in this picture, then touching the other end of the little wire to the small terminal on the solenoid between the two big terminals. When you do that it should crank.

Do not touch it to the other big cable (on the right) that goes directly to the starter, that would be too much current for that little wire and it would burn.

Hi Rob

when I push the big rubber button at the starter solenoid, does the ignition key have to be turned on for something to happen?

In orther words, Should the ignition key be on or off when I push the starter solenoid rubber button ?


Is the battery connected directly to the starter solenoid even when the car is completely turned off and ignition key truned off ?

I’ll jump in here.

Yes the solenoid is a direct connection to the battery and starter. If you have the key off and push the large button it manually makes the contact in the solenoid and the starter should spin.

If the key is on and everything is correctly wired it will start up and run!

If nothing happens when you push the button on the solenoid with the key off,
It’s either battery, starter or solenoid.

If starter spins up, then you have either a bad key switch or starter button.

Don’t rule out the solenoid until you jumper the small wire terminal and see if it runs.

Here is where these wires go to.
I’ll give names to these 3 terminals, call them Battery, Ignition and Starter.

When you push the big rubber button, inside a copper bar connects battery and starter. Regardless if the key is on or off the starter should crank.

When you jumper between battery and ign switch, the solenoid does the same thing inside as if you pushed the big rubber button. Again the starter should crank, regardless if key is on or off.

But usually when everything goes dead all at once including headlights, it is a loose or corroded connection at the battery or the other end of one of the battery cables.

I feel it essential to emphasise the car MUST be in neutral, for safety reasons

sorry if this has been mentioned already, I know it is common sense

had both pro mechanics, and myself, caught out mucking with starting systems on manual cars

1 Like

Sometimes when i switched on ignition key dash light and fuel pump came on . But when i pushed the start button i would hear a click from the starter solenoid and then everthing went dead ( dash lights fuel pump headligths ALL dead) as if the car had no battery. If i try switching on the ignition key again …everthing still dead like no battery.
However at random time later switching on ignition key would work again until i pushed the start button then solenoid clicked and everthing went dead again.

I checked the battery connections but they were fine. Once i tried swiching on the headlights when the ignition switch was on and working and everything went dead .

Does this sound lilke a bad connection from the battery Instead of the starter solenoid problem? If so would a sudden power usage surge trigger a complete outtage like this?

Where else can i look for a bad connection?


Have you taken the battery connections off, and made sure they are clean?