"My BIL couldn't get the starter to turn bypassing the ignition system"
If the starter motor did not turn over with a jumper lead from battery direct to the starter, the problem will not be the transmission activated starter switch.
I'd be looking at the earth lead. Is it still attached at the back of the dash? If so go buy a new lead and run direct from the battery to a starter motor mounting bolt. Makesure all connections are clean and bright.
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