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Hi, I have a 1953 Pontiac Chiefton that I would like to sell. This car ran when it was put into storage many years ago but since then the ignition key was lost and rats infested the interior for a while. I would like to know if it would be worth it to have a key made and get the car running again, what ever that may take, before trying to sell it? Say I had to put $500 to get it to run, am I likely to get that back? Thanks for any thoughts. Rick

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I'm always amazed at how many people think a missing key is a huge issue or deal breaker. Jut remove the lock assembly from the dash and take it to a locksmith. He can cut a key from the code on the cylinder. Very easy and inexpensive. If you just want to get it running, a hot wire from the battery to the coil will work just fine

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If it is not running people assume the worst that it will not run. You can buy an aftermarket ignition with keys very reasonable from the Filling Station. Post a picture and the site experts will give you an educated opinion. Believe me they know of what they speak!

Wayne

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Quote,

" Jut remove the lock assembly from the dash and take it to a locksmith."

It may not be that easy to get the lock out of the dash.

Take off the interior door panel and remove the door lock cylinder, usualy they are the same key.

Get it running with a new battery and clean it up. Try and get the mouse smell out. Don't paint anything. It will start easier if you by-pass the fuel pump with a electric pump using of a can of fresh gas.

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It depends how good a mechanic you are. If you are familiar with old cars and can do the work without messing anything up, that is one thing. But I suspect from your question this is not the case.

Best thing to do is not spend any more money than necessary, you are not likely to get it back and sub standard repairs will actually reduce the car's value.

Pump up the tires, wash it, and clean it up as best you can. DO NOT THROW ANYTHING AWAY. That odd bit of metal or plastic or rubber that couldn't be a part of a car, will turn out to be some irreplaceable do dad that it takes 2 years to find a replacement. Put all that stuff in a box and put it in the trunk. Along with any tools and parts you find. If there is an owner's manual leave it in the glove box. Buyers always get a thrill when they find one. If you have a repair manual, leave it on the front seat. Look around for any missing parts like hub caps, air filter, gas tank cap or anything else that happens to be missing off the car. These small parts can be expensive and hard to find, and having the car as complete as possible makes it more desirable.

You can throw away the mouse nests, cigarette packs, and dried up ball point pens.

If you feel capable of getting new keys cut, getting a 6V battery you can give it a try but chances are, will be more work and cost more than you can get out of it.

For example if there is gas in the tank for over 2 or 3 years it has gone bad by now. If you try to start the car on it, it could gum up the engine so bad it would take a safe cracker a month to get it loose. You may have to replace the gas tank or have it cleaned and coated big $$$$$ bucks. Or you could disconnect the gas tank and try to start it on a motorboat gas tank. In any case, you have to know what you are doing or you could ruin a good engine.

So I say the best idea is to clean it up and let it go at that. If you feel real ambitious you could get some car wax and see if the paint will clean up. Do not try rubbing compound or anything harsher than car wash soap and ordinary car polish/wax. Once more, you can do permanent damage if you don't know what you are doing, and a new paint job costs $5000 or more.

I say this having worked on old cars for 50 years, and bought and sold dozens of them. The above represents many years of hard won experience.

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Every GM car that I have ever owned wa a two key car. One for the ignition and one for everything else

That's what my locksmith thought when I took in the ignition cylinder from my '59 for new keys (I got the cylinder out using a new blank).

I couldn't recall if my first '59 was a one or two key car so when I went for the new keys I took the glove box lock with me to check........sure enough it was a one key car....... :D

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Even if he is not interested in your tips, I surely am.

Thank you in advance, Wayne

OK here goes. Non running car in garage, no way to wash it with a hose? Here is an easy way to wash it. First if it is real dirty blow off dust with an air hose if you have an air hose. Otherwise brush it off gently.

Get a spray bottle and fill with warm water and a drop of car wash soap. Spray the car one panel at a time. Let it soak in. Have a 5 gallon pail half full of warm water and an old towel. Once the soap has soaked in, wipe it off with the towel. Do not press down, and keep turning the towel and refolding it. You do not want to grind the dirt into the paint. When the towel and water are dirty get some fresh.

Go over the whole car twice. Now your dirty old barn find is clean. If you want to keep going, clean the windows inside and out with newspaper and windex. Dampen the newspaper and it will clean and shine the glass, do not get it so wet it falls apart.

If you are real ambitious you can get some car wax and polish it up. Follow the maker's directions. Go easy on the edges of panels or raised areas, paint is thin there and you could rub through. If it starts to shine up, you can polish a second, third or fourth time and it will get better. I once polished an old car this way that had red paint so oxidized it looked like primer. I polished it 9 times and it came up more every time. When I was done it looked like a brand new car. Don't be discouraged, every coat of wax makes it easier.

To remove rust stains from your freshly washed chrome, get some copper scrubbing pads from the dollar store and a can of Pledge. This will remove rust but not scratch the chrome. Wipe it off, then polish with Flitz, Simichrome, Solvol Autosol or your favorite chrome polish. Finish with a coat of wax to keep off rust.

That is for the outside. For the inside vacuum up the dirt. Get a Tupperware dish, a Microfibre cloth from the dollar store some Spray Nine and some warm water. Half fill the dish with water and give it a squirt of Spray Nine. Wet the cloth, wring it out and wipe down the instrument panel, and other hard surfaces like door panels if they are plastic. When the cloth gets dirty throw it in the dish snap the lid on and shake shake shake like a washing machine. The easiest way I have found to remove dirt and grime and not leave water marks but you must squeeze out the cloth.

OK if you are still not worn out you can use some upholstery shampoo or carpet shampoo on the upholstery. Scrub it in with a soft scrub brush and suck it out with a wet or dry vacuum. Same for the carpet, do not be afraid to soak it as long as you can leave the car in the sun to dry, or can put an electric fan or heater inside. You have to use your judgement here, a real old car can have delicate upholstery, I am talking about a car from the sixties or newer with synthetic upholstery.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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For engine cleaning you need one of these cheap spray washers

http://www.amazon.com/Aircraft-Tool-Supply-Cleaner-Engine/dp/B005VR7CH6

You can also buy one at an auto flea market, parts store or hardware store.

Put a piece of cardboard under the engine and cover with a scrap of old carpet. They are to soak up the dirt and water, it is surprising how little comes off the engine with this method.

Get some Gunk degreaser and scrub it into the engine with a parts washing brush. You may need to scrape off caked on grease with a screwdriver, scraper or wire brush. Let the Gunk soak in and wash off with the sprayer.

The secret is to use the hottest water you can get. I use a 2 liter pop bottle with hot water from the kitchen tap. It will wash off the grease and most of the water evaporates into the air, leaving a small amount of greasy water that is caught by the carpet. You can do this right in the garage without making a mess.

I have used these methods on old cars for years, hope they are some use to you.

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If the steering wheel is caked with grime coat it with hand cleaner, the creamy white or green kind not the gritty orange stuff. Let it soak for an hour and wash off with a wet rag. It may take more than one application to get it all off but it won't hurt anything. You may need to wash the wheel a few times with clear water to get the stickyness off.

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Well, I'm no mechanical expert but I do know my way around engines. I am sure the gas line is gummed up and the tank will have to be emptied and cleaned along with the lines. Finding a 6v battery that fits may be a problem. As I have not looked under the hood in some time I'm not sure of the condition of the spark plug cables, the fan belt or radiator hoses. For all I know the freeze plugs have popped and it will leak like a sieve if I get it started. The exterior chrome was not good to begin with and the paint was pretty thin an dull but no rust. Fender skirts are missing. The seats are still in pretty good shape but the head liner suffered from the rats. The dash board suffered the worse. The gauges are all warped and the steering wheel cracked and warped as well. The rats nested in the glove compartment and dash. The wiring under the dash may be in poor shape as well.

This was my Dad's car and my plan was to eventually have it rebuilt but that's not going to be financially possible.

I will try and post photos in a few days.

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In order to settle how many keys this car takes, I'd try looking in the owner's manual to see what it says. The manuals always explained the keys. If you don't have the owner's manual, try downloading one from this site: http://carburetor-manual.com/1953-pontiac-owners-operators-manual-free-download-p-825.html I found the site on the link with a quick Google search and haven't tried it. There may be others.

If you're worried about the wiring behind the dash, hot-wire the car from under the hood and forget about the keys. If you want ideas about starting a stored engine just say the word and you'll get lots of advice here. A running engine is worth its weight in gold. Try a farm supply store for your battery. Old agricultural equipment uses six volts and plenty of them are still in service.

The cleaner the car is the quicker it will sell. Rusty O'Toole had some excellent clean-up techniques a few replies up this thread. Read and heed. Hope this helps. Good luck.

Harold

Edited by Harold (see edit history)
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A warning, if there were lots of rats and mice in the car you could be in danger of catching Hanta virus or some other disease. Safest way to deal with it, wear breathing protection, gloves, spray some kind of disinfectant spray to keep down dust and sweep up with a whisk broom. A vacuum cleaner will put a lot of dust and germs into the air so it is best not to use one.

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In my opinion, the easiest method of getting a new key made is to remove the lock from the glove box (all it takes is a short phillips head screwdriver) and take it to a gm dealership. The codes mentioned above are on the glove box lock also, and the dealership should be able to make both keys for the car.

Larry

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Do a little research on bringing an old motor back up to life. There is a good chance it will be fine, and a running car will nearly always be worth $500 more than a non-runner. If you do get it running don't get too ambitious with moving it around a whole lot, the brake lines may well be shot with a hard stop if they stop at all. E-brake could be gone too.

Making sure the rodents are not still living in the car is the first step for cleaning. Remove as much nesting material as you can without causing further damage. The better condition the car is the more you'll want to clean it. Not that you want to misrepresent things, but if the car is a heap then it will show anyway and you won't gain much by having clean rust. But if the body and interior hard bits are in nice shape then hand washing may remove doubt and show off the cars better assets.

The more information you have the better. Any old photos of the car would be welcome to a prospect. Which model Chiefton is it?

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OK here goes. Non running car in garage, no way to wash it with a hose? Here is an easy way to wash it. First if it is real dirty blow off dust with an air hose if you have an air hose. Otherwise brush it off gently.

Get a spray bottle and fill with warm water and a drop of car wash soap. Spray the car one panel at a time. Let it soak in. Have a 5 gallon pail half full of warm water and an old towel. Once the soap has soaked in, wipe it off with the towel. Do not press down, and keep turning the towel and refolding it. You do not want to grind the dirt into the paint. When the towel and water are dirty get some fresh.

Go over the whole car twice. Now your dirty old barn find is clean. If you want to keep going, clean the windows inside and out with newspaper and windex. Dampen the newspaper and it will clean and shine the glass, do not get it so wet it falls apart.

If you are real ambitious you can get some car wax and polish it up. Follow the maker's directions. Go easy on the edges of panels or raised areas, paint is thin there and you could rub through. If it starts to shine up, you can polish a second, third or fourth time and it will get better. I once polished an old car this way that had red paint so oxidized it looked like primer. I polished it 9 times and it came up more every time. When I was done it looked like a brand new car. Don't be discouraged, every coat of wax makes it easier.

To remove rust stains from your freshly washed chrome, get some copper scrubbing pads from the dollar store and a can of Pledge. This will remove rust but not scratch the chrome. Wipe it off, then polish with Flitz, Simichrome, Solvol Autosol or your favorite chrome polish. Finish with a coat of wax to keep off rust.

That is for the outside. For the inside vacuum up the dirt. Get a Tupperware dish, a Microfibre cloth from the dollar store some Spray Nine and some warm water. Half fill the dish with water and give it a squirt of Spray Nine. Wet the cloth, wring it out and wipe down the instrument panel, and other hard surfaces like door panels if they are plastic. When the cloth gets dirty throw it in the dish snap the lid on and shake shake shake like a washing machine. The easiest way I have found to remove dirt and grime and not leave water marks but you must squeeze out the cloth.

OK if you are still not worn out you can use some upholstery shampoo or carpet shampoo on the upholstery. Scrub it in with a soft scrub brush and suck it out with a wet or dry vacuum. Same for the carpet, do not be afraid to soak it as long as you can leave the car in the sun to dry, or can put an electric fan or heater inside. You have to use your judgement here, a real old car can have delicate upholstery, I am talking about a car from the sixties or newer with synthetic upholstery.

Thank you Rusty for your words of wisdom.

Wayne

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One last tip, cover your fresh clean car with a cheap cloth car cover or cloth drop sheets. DO NOT use plastic, a plastic cover will cause rust like you would not believe, I almost ruined a brand new drill press by using a plastic bag for a cover, it started rusting at once, the rust stopped as soon as I changed to a cloth. I have seen old motorcycles, bicycles etc badly rusted even though they were stored in a garage, by being covered with plastic.

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Rusty is spot on-listen to his advice and do not go overboard. This is not a high value car, so do what is necessary and figure the amount of time and money you want to invest.

very easy to get in over your head as you get "further and further" into it.

good luck!

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Well, I got the car pulled out of the shed and took a few pictures. I have not done anything to it other than air up three of the tires. The forth was off the rim so it would take air. There is a battery in it although it's not the right one.

Pictures attached.

Hi, I have a 1953 Pontiac Chiefton that I would like to sell. This car ran when it was put into storage many years ago but since then the ignition key was lost and rats infested the interior for a while. I would like to know if it would be worth it to have a key made and get the car running again, what ever that may take, before trying to sell it? Say I had to put $500 to get it to run, am I likely to get that back? Thanks for any thoughts. Rick

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Something I just remembered about Pontiacs. They came with a built in oil filter in the oil pan. It could not be cleaned or replaced without taking the pan off. They were supposed to be serviced when the engine was overhauled. Chances are, yours is full of dirt and sludge. Advice to take off the pan and clean out sludge, goes double for Pontiacs.

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I will bet most of the rust will disappear with some 600 grit and a water hose.

Ben

If you wash the rusty areas with an aluminum cleaner (acid) that is used on trucks, it will remove the light rust without disturbing the paint. It will even remove rust from the chrome, but will dull the shine if there is any.

Rinse it off with lots of water and dry it right away.

(This is a great way to make a clean up a survivor.

Just keep it off of the glass and alum. trim.

It will then have to be coated with a rust preventive like WD40 or wax.

Edited by Roger Walling (see edit history)
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So the key thing, are some of you so locked (no pun intended) into 1972 that you've lost the memory of what key does what? Ignition and doors? SAME KEY. Glovebox and trunk, SAME KEY, usually the rounded head. The ignition key worked the doors through 1972 (or maybe 73?) on most cars. The other one is those who yell about the new wiring harness they bought is wrong because it turns off the parking lights when the headlights are on. Yeah, like a 48 Packard lighted both at all times. Whisky Tango Foxtrot, makes me crazy sometimes to hear and read some of this stuff.

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So the key thing, are some of you so locked (no pun intended) into 1972 that you've lost the memory of what key does what? Ignition and doors? SAME KEY. Glovebox and trunk, SAME KEY, usually the rounded head. The ignition key worked the doors through 1972 (or maybe 73?) on most cars. The other one is those who yell about the new wiring harness they bought is wrong because it turns off the parking lights when the headlights are on. Yeah, like a 48 Packard lighted both at all times. Whisky Tango Foxtrot, makes me crazy sometimes to hear and read some of this stuff.

Maybe that's a good thing....it shows that there are younger enthusiasts on this forum who don't know about how keys and parking lights were configured years ago.

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Maybe that's a good thing....it shows that there are younger enthusiasts on this forum who don't know about how keys and parking lights were configured years ago.

The parking light statement took me back well over 30 years. I had just gotten a 64 El Camino, and I was going crazy trying to get the parking lights to work. I was probably 16 at the time. I can remember my Dad laughing, and telling me how they were like that from the factory. Later, I acquire a used Holley carb, and installed it. It ran great, but loaded up all the time. Again, someone explained to me there was no fuel filter in the carb, as the old carb had. Had I been discouraged, and knowledgeable folks hadn't helped me, I may have never taken an interest in later years. Today, I have many 1st places, and a BOC or two under my belt. Who would have thought?

The old Pontiac looks to be a decent car. I love to see a young person get ahold of it, ask a million questions, break a few things trying to fix it, and get it back on the road.

Jim

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