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Thread: OLD ENGINE START UP

  1. #1

    OLD ENGINE START UP

    HELLO PEOPLE,

    I RECENTLY PURCHASED A 1953 CHRYSLER TOWN & COUNTRY THAT HAS BEEN IN THE GARAGE FOR 40+ YEARS. i AM LOOKING FORWARD TO TRYING TO GET IT STARTED, BUT WAS LOOKING FOR SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO PROCEED.

    I WAS TOLD TO POUR KEROSENE INTO THE ENGINE BLOCK TO "CLEAN OUT" THE OLD OIL. I WILL SEND OUT THE FUEL TANK AND RADIATOR, POSSIBLY THE CARB. I WILL REPLACE THE PLUGS AND POINTS ETC. THE VEHICLE HAS A 6 VOLT ELECTRICAL SYSTEM, I WILL NEED TO REPLACE THE BATTERY.

    I ALSO WILL BE SERVICING THE BRAKE SYSTEM. ANY HELP OM THIS TOPIC WILL BE APPRECIATED.

    THANKS,

    LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR RESPONSE

    JOHN

  2. #2
    Senior Member keiser31's Avatar
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    I would say that the first step is to get a factory shop manual for your particular car. No other publication has the details and procedures you need to know, I believe. There are other books that will have helpful hints and such. I would use Marvel Mystery Oil in the cylinders to lubricate them. Check the oil to see how grungy it is before you use kerosene to "clean out the old oil".
    1931 Dodge Brothers DH6 business coupe w/ wire wheels
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    and visions of my past old cars....

  3. #3

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Don't send out anything.

    I have put a number of old engines back in commission. I don't change anything until I have done a thorough inspection.

    The idea is, if it ran when put away it will run now. So make as few changes as possible until you know what you are doing.

    If it has been out of commission that long the old gas has probably gone bad. So disconnect the fuel line at the fuel pump and plug it.

    Check the engine over generally. Check the oil, take off the air filter and peek down the carb, take out the plugs and squirt some oil down the cylinders. It won't hurt to take off the valve covers and oil the valve stems. Check the rad, it will probably be empty. If the cap is off make note of that for later.

    If there is oil in the crankcase, and the air filter was on the engine, and the inside of the carb is not full of dirt and rust, you can try to turn it over by hand. This may mean by the fan belt if possible or by a socket wrench on the end of the crankshaft. Or you may have to take off the starter and pry on the ring gear.

    If you can turn the engine over one full turn without excess resistance, and the valves are opening and closing, you are in business. By the way if a valve is stuck some penetrating oil and a few light taps with a hammer will probably free it.

    Now try to turn it over with the starter still with the spark plugs out. It should turn freely, watch out oil will shoot out of the plug holes, better cover them with rags.

    The oil pressure should come up if you turn the engine over for a minute.

    OK time to get serious. Take off the distributor cap and clean the white fur off the points. A squirt of contact cleaner usually does the trick. Drag a strip of typing paper thru the points to clean them. In severe cases you may need a strip of 600 wet or dry paper. If you do not disturb the points you will not have to retime or set the gap. Check the gap anyway, if it is somewhere close to spec leave it. Most points are gapped to .016 to .019. The exact gap is not critical at this point.

    The plugs should fire when you turn the engine over. If they do, it is ok to clean them and put them back in.

    Now you can connect a motorboat gas tank to the fuel pump and pour a little gas down the carb.

    Go ahead and start it like any other car, if it fires up hold it to a fast idle until you build up oil pressure.

    Have a pail of water handy to fill up the rad. Once it starts let it idle for 10 minutes or so before you shut it down.

    Of course if you hear any dangerous raps and bangs, shut it off at once until you investigate.

    Remember about the rad cap? Look in the rad for floating rubbish. If the cap was off there is a chance the mice built a home in there. If they did you will have to take the rad off and clean it out to prevent overheating. It should be OK to let the engine idle but if it heats up when you drive it, there may be mouse nests in the rad.

    There are other details to it. If the engine fires when you pour a little gas down the carb but won't stay running you may have to take the top off the carb and clean the float bowl and needle valve. Sometimes the ignition needs a little work.

    In any case don't change anything unless you have to. The problem with tearing everything apart is, you have no idea what is the matter with it once you tear everything apart. Leave it alone, diagnose the problems and solve them as you go along.

    In most cases you can get the engine running and assess its condition. If you find a serious problem you will have to take more serious steps. But in most cases you will be able to get it running. And once it has run a while, they run surprisingly well in most cases.

    After you know where you stand it will be time to invest in new spark plugs, points, oil change etc.

    I have been stymied in this approach only once. That was a Land Rover that was parked outside with the hood open and the air filter off. It was siezed up so bad a safecracker couldn't have got it free.

    Other than that, they all ran after a few hours work. I guarantee you if I was there I would have that engine eating out of my hand in less than a day.
    Last edited by Rusty_OToole; December 28th, 2009 at 21:59.

  4. #4

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    As far as the brake system goes you might as well get set to replace everything. After that much time, even the brake linings can separate from the shoes. New linings, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, flex hoses, everything. Don't forget the brake booster I think it is a separate unit on those, at least it was on the 52 New Yorker.

  5. #5
    Senior Member F&J's Avatar
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    40 years sitting is kind of borderline... might have caused a serious layer of sludge in the oil pan.

    I used to fire them up without cleaning, but a couple of much older cars I had would have been damaged if I did not pull the pan.

    You don't need to pull the pan yet. Drain the oil, watch for water from condensation, then run some stiff wire through the drain to see if there is a thick layer of crud at the bottom.

    If the car is a keeper, I'd likely pull the pan. If you feel lucky, flush it with kero instead.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator R W Burgess's Avatar
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty_OToole View Post
    "Other than that, they all ran after a few hours work. I guarantee you if I was there I would have that engine eating out of my hand in less than a day."

    That was good Rusty!

    Excellant answer too!

    Wayne

  7. #7
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Adding kerosene may loosen up some un-wanteds ,I would drain the oil,check it ,pull the pan if need be.

  8. #8
    Senior Member-1951 Model Shop Rat's Avatar
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Quote Originally Posted by tunzophun41 View Post
    HELLO PEOPLE, ..... JOHN
    Hello John. Welcome to the forums.

    Just a hint for future posts. Please turn off the "caps lock" feature when you post. All caps is considered yelling.

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  9. #9

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty_OToole View Post
    Don't send out anything.

    I have put a number of old engines back in commission. I don't change anything until I have done a thorough inspection.

    The idea is, if it ran when put away it will run now. So make as few changes as possible until you know what you are doing.

    If it has been out of commission that long the old gas has probably gone bad. So disconnect the fuel line at the fuel pump and plug it.

    Check the engine over generally. Check the oil, take off the air filter and peek down the carb, take out the plugs and squirt some oil down the cylinders. It won't hurt to take off the valve covers and oil the valve stems. Check the rad, it will probably be empty. If the cap is off make note of that for later.

    If there is oil in the crankcase, and the air filter was on the engine, and the inside of the carb is not full of dirt and rust, you can try to turn it over by hand. This may mean by the fan belt if possible or by a socket wrench on the end of the crankshaft. Or you may have to take off the starter and pry on the ring gear.

    If you can turn the engine over one full turn without excess resistance, and the valves are opening and closing, you are in business. By the way if a valve is stuck some penetrating oil and a few light taps with a hammer will probably free it.

    Now try to turn it over with the starter still with the spark plugs out. It should turn freely, watch out oil will shoot out of the plug holes, better cover them with rags.

    The oil pressure should come up if you turn the engine over for a minute.

    OK time to get serious. Take off the distributor cap and clean the white fur off the points. A squirt of contact cleaner usually does the trick. Drag a strip of typing paper thru the points to clean them. In severe cases you may need a strip of 600 wet or dry paper. If you do not disturb the points you will not have to retime or set the gap. Check the gap anyway, if it is somewhere close to spec leave it. Most points are gapped to .016 to .019. The exact gap is not critical at this point.

    The plugs should fire when you turn the engine over. If they do, it is ok to clean them and put them back in.

    Now you can connect a motorboat gas tank to the fuel pump and pour a little gas down the carb.

    Go ahead and start it like any other car, if it fires up hold it to a fast idle until you build up oil pressure.

    Have a pail of water handy to fill up the rad. Once it starts let it idle for 10 minutes or so before you shut it down.

    Of course if you hear any dangerous raps and bangs, shut it off at once until you investigate.

    Remember about the rad cap? Look in the rad for floating rubbish. If the cap was off there is a chance the mice built a home in there. If they did you will have to take the rad off and clean it out to prevent overheating. It should be OK to let the engine idle but if it heats up when you drive it, there may be mouse nests in the rad.

    There are other details to it. If the engine fires when you pour a little gas down the carb but won't stay running you may have to take the top off the carb and clean the float bowl and needle valve. Sometimes the ignition needs a little work.

    In any case don't change anything unless you have to. The problem with tearing everything apart is, you have no idea what is the matter with it once you tear everything apart. Leave it alone, diagnose the problems and solve them as you go along.

    In most cases you can get the engine running and assess its condition. If you find a serious problem you will have to take more serious steps. But in most cases you will be able to get it running. And once it has run a while, they run surprisingly well in most cases.

    After you know where you stand it will be time to invest in new spark plugs, points, oil change etc.

    I have been stymied in this approach only once. That was a Land Rover that was parked outside with the hood open and the air filter off. It was siezed up so bad a safecracker couldn't have got it free.

    Other than that, they all ran after a few hours work. I guarantee you if I was there I would have that engine eating out of my hand in less than a day.
    Rusty, this is the best advise with regard to starting an old engine I have ever read. I recently bought a '37 Buick which has been sitting for some time and I was searching for the same advise. You laid it out step-by-step. Excellent work!!

  10. #10

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Like I said there are other details to it.

    For example usually you find the crankcase full of clean oil. It was really dirty oil but the dirt settled out over the years. So changing the oil will not do much until you get it running and stir it up.

    If the crankcase is low of course you add some, if it is too full OH OH wonder why? could be full of gas or antifreeze, better drain it first.

    You have to have some mechanical savvy and use your own judgement. I do not suggest taking chances or forcing anything.

    Most times an old engine will run with minimal attention, and once it is running it will run better and smoother the more you run it.

    I agree about taking off the pan and cleaning out sludge. But if the engine turns out to be shot this is a waste of time. I would sooner get it running and do 2 or 3 oil changes in quick succession. If the oil pressure is OK.

    Again, you have to use your own judgement on a case by case basis.

    I also suggest you smell the gas tank, if it smells like gas try draining the tank, it is probably ok. If it smells like stinky old varnish the tank will have to be removed, and replaced or cleaned out and probably coated with something.

    I use a motorboat gas tank to get a car running, and to move it around. Just to bypass this hassle until I can find out what I am up against and make proper plans.

    These days it is considered correct to preserve an old car if possible, not to tear it all apart and "restore" it the first day. I agree with this and would sooner see originality preserved.

  11. #11

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    One I did was a 1947 Dodge limousine that was parked in a dirt floor garage from 1957 to 1987 with no attention given to preserving it.

    After 30 years I had the engine running in 2 or 3 hours. It ran a little rough at first but after idling for half an hour smoothed right out.

    Then I changed the oil and the fuel filters.

    After some bodywork and new brakes, the owner took it out on the road and drove it around town regulary for a couple of years, then sold it to someone who lived out of the area. It was running like new.

    30 years is the longest "sleeper" I revived but if the car was in dry storage, 30 or 40 or 50 years should make no difference.

  12. #12
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    In 1986 if found two 1953 T&C wagons in the desert in Las Cruses, NM, actually Tortilla Flats. Bought one, had it towed to a service station, an within 30 minutes from changing the oil, the engine was running. Did require a 12V battery though. They had been setting for maybe 20 years.
    dan
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  13. #13
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    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    Rusty is spot on but still would not put the cleaner in.it will come loose,when you do not want it to,pull the pan,the pan is the history

  14. #14

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    I wouldn't put cleaner in it either. I would change the oil once it is warmed up then change it again after 500 miles and possibly a 3d time if it got dirty.

    It is easy to say take the pan off and scrape it out. But on most cars made after 1940 this means removing the motor mount bolts, and a few other parts, and jacking up the engine to get clearance before you can get the pan off.

  15. #15

    Re: OLD ENGINE START UP

    every thing that rusty has said , i agree with entirely . i have over the last thirty odd years had some experiance with reviving chrysler flat head six,s with some success , but nothing with as long a period out of use as rusty has . in my opinion his post,s on this would have to be the best i have seen on this forum sinc i have been on it .

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