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starting a 20 year domant engine


FrankWest107
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Drain the oil, make sure the pan doesn't have sludge in it. Make sure all the valves are free before you try to turn it over (depends on the engine somewhat, how you test the valves). Make sure it turns over and valves operational. Clean out carb and/or rebuild. Clean out fuel pump, will probably need rebuilt with ethanol resistant parts.

Once everything clean, fresh oil, fresh gas (gas tank may need to come off and be cleaned or replaced, again depending on car). Start car, if it starts immediately check for oil pressure, if you don't get it in 5 seconds or so shut down and work on oil pump.

I did all this, started a 1967 Lincoln 462 engine, ran fine around the warehouse lot where I had car, drove it into warehouse after it heated up, shut it down. Tried to start again, wouldn't at all.....the heat had activated the gunk on the valve stems, making it like epoxy, and trying to start it bent almost every pushrod into pretzels.....

WORST thing on any car is to sit and not run...........and this new ethanol gas will go bad in a few months and, since highly organic, turn cloudy and look like a growth is in it....

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Do not trust old gas especially if it smells like varnish. Disconnect the gas line at the fuel pump before you begin. Trimacar's Lincoln is an object lesson of what happens when bad gas gets into an engine.

I have revived many old engines that had been out of commission for up to 30 years.

First I assume it was running when put away unless I know different, therefore I don't change anything without a reason. Also, I make one change at a time and test whether it works or not.

Start by generally looking over the engine, for missing parts, loose wires etc. Check oil and coolant, the rad will probably be empty, don't worry about that for now.

Take out spark plugs and squirt some motor oil in the cylinders. Try to turn engine over. Let's assume it turns over on the starter, if not come back and ask what to do.

Turn the engine over with the spark plugs lying on the engine and see if they are firing. If yes go on to the next step, if no get the ignition working

Check that electricity is getting to the coil, and that the points are switching the current on and off. If you have power but no switching, check the points. They are probably covered in white fur. Clean them off with contact cleaner or brake clean spray. File with a points file or drag a strip of 600 wet or dry paper between them, folded double. See if the points open and close and have some kind of gap. If they are working leave them, if no gap you will have to adjust them but if you do you will have to retime the engine so leave them if possible.

OK you have spark. Connect a fuel line to the fuel pump. I like to use an outboard motor gas tank with built in pump, but a gas can will do. Try to prime the pump by pouring gas down the fuel line and putting the fuel supply higher than the pump.

Fill the carb with gas by pouring it in the vent. No doubt this will spill some gas down the carburetor. Try starting the engine normally. If you have remarkable good luck it will start and run. It should at least fire for a few seconds. If it tries to run you know the problem is in the carb. Maybe all it needs is a shot of gas and another try. Sometimes they will start and run if you dribble a little gas down the carb, and once the carb pumps full of fuel will run normally.

Once you know it is going to fire it is time to fill the rad. Water is OK but do not leave it full of water if there is a chance of freezing and once you know the engine is good, you can drain and refill with permanent coolant.

That is the general idea. I usually have to sandblast the spark plugs and regap them. You can use a small spot blaster for this if you have an air compressor.

The idea of cleaning out the pan is a good one. I usually get the engine running then change the oil. It depends how old the engine is, what kind of shape it is in etc.

You asked an open ended question and look how long this answer is, yet I have barely scratched the surface. There are dozens of little things that could be wrong and dozens of easy fixes.

The worst is when some amateur has torn everything apart and messed everything up. Then you have no idea what is wrong, what was wrong, or what they messed up. In that case you have to start from scratch and check everything, even then, I would have it running in a few hours or know the reason why.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Do not trust old gas especially if it smells like varnish. Disconnect the gas line at the fuel pump before you begin. Trimacar's Lincoln is an object lesson of what happens when bad gas gets into an engine.

I have revived many old engines that had been out of commission for up to 30 years.

First I assume it was running when put away unless I know different, therefore I don't change anything without a reason. Also, I make one change at a time and test whether it works or not.

Start by generally looking over the engine, for missing parts, loose wires etc. Check oil and coolant, the rad will probably be empty, don't worry about that for now.

Take out spark plugs and squirt some motor oil in the cylinders. Try to turn engine over. Let's assume it turns over on the starter, if not come back and ask what to do.

Turn the engine over with the spark plugs lying on the engine and see if they are firing. If yes go on to the next step, if no get the ignition working

Check that electricity is getting to the coil, and that the points are switching the current on and off. If you have power but no switching, check the points. They are probably covered in white fur. Clean them off with contact cleaner or brake clean spray. File with a points file or drag a strip of 600 wet or dry paper between them, folded double. See if the points open and close and have some kind of gap. If they are working leave them, if no gap you will have to adjust them but if you do you will have to retime the engine so leave them if possible.

OK you have spark. Connect a fuel line to the fuel pump. I like to use an outboard motor gas tank with built in pump, but a gas can will do. Try to prime the pump by pouring gas down the fuel line and putting the fuel supply higher than the pump.

Fill the carb with gas by pouring it in the vent. No doubt this will spill some gas down the carburetor. Try starting the engine normally. If you have remarkable good luck it will start and run. It should at least fire for a few seconds. If it tries to run you know the problem is in the carb. Maybe all it needs is a shot of gas and another try. Sometimes they will start and run if you dribble a little gas down the carb, and once the carb pumps full of fuel will run normally.

Once you know it is going to fire it is time to fill the rad. Water is OK but do not leave it full of water if there is a chance of freezing and once you know the engine is good, you can drain and refill with permanent coolant.

That is the general idea. I usually have to sandblast the spark plugs and regap them. You can use a small spot blaster for this if you have an air compressor.

The idea of cleaning out the pan is a good one. I usually get the engine running then change the oil. It depends how old the engine is, what kind of shape it is in etc.

You asked an open ended question and look how long this answer is, yet I have barely scratched the surface. There are dozens of little things that could be wrong and dozens of easy fixes.

The worst is when some amateur has torn everything apart and messed everything up. Then you have no idea what is wrong, what was wrong, or what they messed up. In that case you have to start from scratch and check everything, even then, I would have it running in a few hours or know the reason why.

Great help!!

The engine is a 4 cylinder Ford 1930's.

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"The engine is a 4 cylinder Ford 1930's."

What year in the 1930s? I will wildly guess it is a Model A because that was the most popular 4 cylinder Ford in the 1930s.

I would be more inclined to take the pan off and scrape it out for 2 reasons, 1) the age, the fact that detergent oils were not around then, therefore it is more likely to be full of sludge than a later model 2) you can take the pan off easy because the frame is not in the way. You do not need to jack up the engine as you would on a later model.

Pretty much everything else stands, except you have no fuel pump, you have gravity feed, which makes it simpler to feed the fuel from a small can but harder to drive around. And the updraft carb is different from the typical down draft.

Also flatheads seem more prone to sticky valves than OHV but less likely to damage the motor if they do stick open.

Maybe the Model A guys will chime in with more specific advice.

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"The engine is a 4 cylinder Ford 1930's."

What year in the 1930s? I will wildly guess it is a Model A because that was the most popular 4 cylinder Ford in the 1930s.

I would be more inclined to take the pan off and scrape it out for 2 reasons, 1) the age, the fact that detergent oils were not around then, therefore it is more likely to be full of sludge than a later model 2) you can take the pan off easy because the frame is not in the way. You do not need to jack up the engine as you would on a later model.

Pretty much everything else stands, except you have no fuel pump, you have gravity feed, which makes it simpler to feed the fuel from a small can but harder to drive around. And the updraft carb is different from the typical down draft.

Also flatheads seem more prone to sticky valves than OHV but less likely to damage the motor if they do stick open.

Maybe the Model A guys will chime in with more specific advice.

1933

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Drain the oil, make sure the pan doesn't have sludge in it. Make sure all the valves are free before you try to turn it over (depends on the engine somewhat, how you test the valves). Make sure it turns over and valves operational. Clean out carb and/or rebuild. Clean out fuel pump, will probably need rebuilt with ethanol resistant parts.

Once everything clean, fresh oil, fresh gas (gas tank may need to come off and be cleaned or replaced, again depending on car). Start car, if it starts immediately check for oil pressure, if you don't get it in 5 seconds or so shut down and work on oil pump.

I did all this, started a 1967 Lincoln 462 engine, ran fine around the warehouse lot where I had car, drove it into warehouse after it heated up, shut it down. Tried to start again, wouldn't at all.....the heat had activated the gunk on the valve stems, making it like epoxy, and trying to start it bent almost every pushrod into pretzels.....

WORST thing on any car is to sit and not run...........and this new ethanol gas will go bad in a few months and, since highly organic, turn cloudy and look like a growth is in it....

Thanks for your help! Sorry about you car, hope you can replace the parts....But sounds like a ton of work.... I really appreciate your help.

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Hi- thanks Frank, but the Lincoln is all fixed now, runs like a champ! The fellow who was restoring it took 25 years working on it, letting it sit...20 years ago he put new tires on it, when I bought the car they were in shreds and had never moved, just come apart from storage...it was just "pride of ownership" and he never drove it, then the big C got him....

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Marvel Mystery Oil is a good thing for freeing up old motors. STP, no. It has its place but not for starting up your motor. Seafoam I don't know about but I think it is more for later model cars with hydraulic lifters.

You could shoot some MMM in the cylinders and let it soak for a few days and maybe add a bit to the crankcase. It couldn't hurt and might help.

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Just got done reviving a 1917 Maxwell that had it's engine totally rebuilt and restored in the 1960's and never started. It had been filled with oil back then and never started so you would assume it would still be perfect. Years earlier I had removed a Model A oil pan on an engine that had sat unused for at least 30 years. It had been running when last stopped and the owner was a little lax on maintenance so the oil was really dirty and I guess full of acids that over the 30 years of inactivity had eaten the bottom out of the pan that holds the oil for each rod to dip into. Had I started that engine, even if I changed the oil, the rods would have starved for oil and damaged the rods in a very short time. With that in my mind I drained the Maxwell's pan and beautiful clean oil came out and I almost decided to refill and start it but figured maybe I should just go ahead and pull the pan. Good thing I did as I found the oil had separated and left a heavy sludge on the bottom so I have no idea what lubricating qualities that oil still had nor what that sludge would have done if picked up by the pump. I highly suggest you remove your pan before starting that engine as the rods you save may be your own!

Howard Dennis

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Does the engine turn now? or is it stuck? BIG difference on how to proceed if it's stuck.

Regardless of stuck or not, the MMM is a good product to put in each cylinder, and if you can, get some on EACH valve stem you can see through the spark plug hole.

I 100% agree to drop the oil pan, clean and inspect oil pump, and dipper rod oil trays. Look at the cylinder walls from below, do you see rust or rusty tracks of liquid that seeped past the rings? if so, you have a likely cylinder head gasket that seeped water or coolant onto the piston, which then let the coolant seep past the rings. The engine will likely need to come apart if you see this.

Give us some more info about the car, history, current condition etc.. Where and how it was stored etc.

GLong

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