1996 Ford Explorer - 2dr - 6cyl with broken ignition switch

Hi folks…
I need some help on this one. I’m a computer/network administrator, with VERY LITTLE car knowledge (just routine maintenance stuff). Here’s the story: My secondary vehicle is a beat-up 1996 Ford Explorer 2dr - 6cyl, purchased in 2006 for $800.00. A buddy owed me some money, and was broke. He gave me the truck in lieu of cash. I had it checked out, and it was very sound. Since that time, it has had a run-in with a deer in 2009 on I-55 in Mississippi, and was rear-ended by a driver with no insurance, in 2008 in Memphis, TN, so the front bumper is crushed in, and the rear bumper is bent down slightly. My mechanic recommended not repairing these bumpers, as the truck is old and not worth fixing these cosmetic issues, as I only use it for hauling heavy equipment.

A month ago, my girl asked to borrow the truck, to move her things from Baton Rouge, LA to Starkville, MS, where she is renovating her house. She needs the truck for picking up sheet-rock & plywood, and the like for the renovation. Two days ago, she somehow broke the ignition switch (it spins freely), and was unable to start the truck. Her brother was able to start the truck by shorting some contacts together, under the dash, but when she drove back home, no one knew how to turn the truck off. She tried disconnecting the battery, but no luck. Her dad then hit on the idea of disconnecting the cable that goes to the distributor. I spoke to my mechanic here in Baton Rouge, and he says a new steering column is called for here, as a rod in the steering column is broken; and the parts & install will be expensive.

In lieu of this expense, I had an idea of installing 2 switches on the dash. Switch #1 would be a SPST (on/off) switch for turning the car’s power on and off, and Switch #2 would be a SPST momentary switch (pushbutton) for starting the engine. The only thing I’m not certain of, is that right now the steering column is unlocked, but how can I make sure that it stays unlocked?

Is this a viable solution, or am I completely wrong here?

btw… i forgot to mention… Starkville is 5.5 hrs from Baton Rouge. I need to fix this in 1 trip, as she is stuck in the stix ( very rural / dirt roads ).