" it reads about 5v on the top post. "
An EI does not work at low voltage.
So, put a battery charger on the battery.
You need a strong battery to:
1. Close the solenoid
2. Spin the starter
3. Engage the bendix
4. Provide voltage to the coil.
As the battery gets weaker, the first thing to fail is your spark. If the battery is almost totally dead, all you will hear is the solenoid clicking.
The more current you use to spin the starter, the less you have for the ignition.
Tell us what coil you are using (6v or 12v) and the resistors you have in-line.
And the EI unit (brand name) you are using.