Question: am i bypassing the all of the switches by connecting the poles on the starter relay?
I'd work on trying to find where the wires from the starter button go.
A wiring diagram might be the only way to really figure it out.
Starter relay was a good guess. You might be able to figure out wiring from the starter relay socket - or not.
An alternate route would be to disassemble the hand controls to get at the starter button guts. Chances are good that the contacts are tarnished or corroded so they don't pass current. But this has the risk of something getting disassembled that can't be put back.