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RJD2

Survivor car, hasn't started in ~35 years. What first?

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Hi all, I wanted to ask you folks a question. I've got experience with old/classic cars, but I recently came across a car that has not been ran in about 35 years, according to the previous owner. (I was told it "ran when parked, but spit out blue smoke everywhere"). I've never been down this route before. I will be turning the car over to a mechanic to see if it can be made roadworthy in it's current state, but for my own knowledge, I wanted to see what you think is the best plan of INITIAL action. I would assume the best thing to do would be to flush all fluids and gasoline, replace oil and coolant, and first see if I get leaks. Then see if the motor turns by hand. And if so, maybe try to crank it? I have also heard of people taking the head off and soaking the combustion chambers in clean oil, and letting it soak for a week or two, and then reassembling and cranking. Let me know your thoughts as to what's the best approach in this situation. Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

You might tell us the year, make, and model,

because then you might get some more specific advice.

We have plenty of knowledgeable people here, across

a wide range of cars.

 

Is it a 1918 Apperson?  A 1975 Ford LTD?  Etc.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Thanks. It's a '72 Citroen SM, Maserati V6 engine.

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If it's been sitting for 35 years you can bet the cylinders have rust on them. How much is the question. To much you won't be able to turn the crank. You may want to remove the plugs and get one of those mini inspection cameras to see what the cylinder walls look like.

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Post a couple of photos when you get a chance of the car.  We like photos.  It can also give us an idea of what kind of storage it might have had which can tell us other problems  or atleast things you might need to look at.

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The suggestion that you invest in a remote wireless camera is excellent; they are very cheap and will allow you to see deep inside an engine.  The blue smoke isn't encouraging and would lead me to think that there's a blown piston or other major failure.  Pulling the plugs and measuring compression is where I would start. 

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Posted (edited)

Lots of aluminum in that engine and a very nice but fairly complicated car. It has been sitting for 35 years. A little longer won't hurt. JOIN THE CITROEN CLUB. Get your help and advice from them. And become an active member.

Be really careful about picking the mechanic and garage. You can walk down Main Street and hire the first cowboy you see sitting on the horse in front of the drugstore, but you have to be much more careful about the Citroen service.

 

It is not one of Dr. Boon's cars from New York is it?

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Talk to some Citroen people and see what they recommend.  The smoke could be a number of factors from oil choice to ..., but my guess is you are in for head service at some point (just do not needlessly destroy something in the process when advise can be readily found). 

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Posted (edited)

This is Citroen's supercar. They are incredible when they are right, however this is not a project to be taken lightly, and it is going to be expensive.

 

The engine as you mentioned is Maserati. It is the same engine family used in the Merak, and is largely unrelated to the later V6s. It is an aluminum, wet-sleeve, double overhead cam engine. The cam chain runs up the middle of it (almost), and if I remember correctly, there is no tensioner. I would be extremely reluctant to start this after a 35 year sleep without tearing it down first, doubly so since it had issues when parked. You really don't want to risk damaging anything.

 

The chassis is typical Citroen of the era, meaning it has a hydropneumatic suspension like a DS. The hydropneumatics alone could keep you really busy for a while on a car that has sat that long.

 

As others have said, do LOTS of research, and read, read, read. It is an extremely complicated car. It will have needs. On the Maserati end of things, people who are new often spend money on the wrong things and then quit in frustration when they realize what still lies ahead. Repairs must be done to a very high standard. There is no "close enough". Don't jump into anything.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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they came with carburetors or fuel injection, apparently

 

Early SMs were fed by three dual Weber carburetors. Halfway through 1972 Bosch D-jetronic fuel injection became standard on cars like this one, owned by Daniel Kunz of Zurich, Switzerland. Automatic transmissions were also offered (mainly for the American market) and in 1973 the SM’s V6 was enlarged to 3.0 liters, a powerplant shared with the Maserati Merak.

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Posted (edited)

I know nothing about Maserati engines, but on the two cars I own that sat for decades before I got them (being run little if at all during that time) both had big problems with valves getting stuck because of the ancient build up of deposits in the combustion chamber. With my older car - a Ford - I just straightened out the pushrods that bent as a result of the valves sticking and I was basically good to go (once the deposits had been flushed out.) However, I had to do that several times (happened with multiple valves.) I wouldn't take that approach again.

 

Of course an overhead cam doesn't have push rods, but on an engine that uncommon and (I presume) of much closer tolerance than a Y-block, I'd be wary of starting or cranking the engine without the input of a paid expert (not us.) Disassembly does sound like the correct approach, but I presume the body of knowledge out there on those engines is somewhat rare, and doing that without experience  might be as bad as starting the engine. If your mechanic has experience with these motors, I'd vote for disassembly.

 

I wonder if there's a way to adequately  irrigate the top end of those cylinders - either through the spark plug holes or fuel intake - with a sea foam like product? Just pondering. Good luck.

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)

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Blue smoke I'd think would be worn out valve guides, letting oil into the combustion chamber. So that would mean removing the heads, overhauling them with new guides, etc. So I don't see it should be an attempt to start it in it's current state.

 

It sounds very much like an Alfa Romeo engine.

 

Before trying to turn it by hand, if you want to attempt a start, I would first put a little oil down the spark plug holes.

 

I did start an Alfa Romeo engine that had been sitting for about 10 years, it was not stuck. Your situation is much different, more likely to be stuck, and cylinders have some rust.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, RJD2 said:

"  I've never been down this route before. I will be turning the car over to a mechanic to see if it can be made roadworthy in it's current state ... "

 

The competency of the mechanic you choose to work on the car will determine whether it can be made roadworthy again and at what cost.

 

Just because someone is a mechanic doesn't qualify them to work on your particular vehicle.

 

376E3D01-C9F5-4908-80B0-80474363805D.jpeg.cfdcecfcc79a0c42acf910c2db6fb1fa.jpeg

 

 

You need someone with first hand experience.

 

Check out this link:

 

Click Here

 

Jim 

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)

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Yes a very interesting automobile.

 

A friend had an SM,  everything was great about the car; except the camshafts.  He was told, that some camshafts had soft lobes. And of course everything was very expensive.   

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Mr. RJD2, are you and your Citroen in some place

(such as France) where Citroens are more familiar?

If so, that might make finding the right mechanic

a little easier.  Where are you located?

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Before you do anything, talk to as many SM and Merak owners as you possibly can.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Bloo said:

This is Citroen's supercar. They are incredible when they are right, however this is not a project to be taken lightly, and it is going to be expensive.

 

The engine as you mentioned is Maserati. It is the same engine family used in the Merak, and is largely unrelated to the later V6s. It is an aluminum, wet-sleeve, double overhead cam engine. The cam chain runs up the middle of it (almost), and if I remember correctly, there is no tensioner. I would be extremely reluctant to start this after a 35 year sleep without tearing it down first, doubly so since it had issues when parked. You really don't want to risk damaging anything.

 

The chassis is typical Citroen of the era, meaning it has a hydropneumatic suspension like a DS. The hydropneumatics alone could keep you really busy for a while on a car that has sat that long.

 

As others have said, do LOTS of research, and read, read, read. It is an extremely complicated car. It will have needs. On the Maserati end of things, people who are new often spend money on the wrong things and then quit in frustration when they realize what still lies ahead. Repairs must be done to a very high standard. There is no "close enough". Don't jump into anything.

 

 

 

Actually it is a MASERATI FOUR (4) OVERHEAD CAM ENGINE WITH THREE (3) TIMING CHAINS AND ASSOCIATED TENSIONERS. 

When new, the chain / tensioner job was done by 40,000 miles. 

Ignoring this service could result in disaster - My recollection is that the Maserati engine is an interference engine.

 

This is a Mid-Engine, Front Wheel Drive Supercar, supremely comfortable Four-Passenger supercar, and as modern today as it was in 1972. Remember that it also has the famed Citroen self-leveling hydraulic system operating at 2200 psi, and that the same system also operates the very special power braking system, Variable Ratio Self-Centering power steering, three (3) varying ride heights, and the method by which you jack up the car. European versions also had headlights which would turn per the steering wheel position, helping you to "see around the corner". Another amazing fact is that all engine-driven accessories are located forward of the traditional location and driven by an extended shaft so you can easily reach everything under the hood.The system of Inboard-mounted disc brakes allowed the brake disc to be larger than the road wheels, and were designed with cooling ducts bringing fresh air directly to the brake system - NO FADE !!

 

Mine was a 1972 - the first one in the South, and it was an amazing dirver - way too fast, but my wife and I each had some amazing experiences with the Citroen SM, as well as our several other Citroen models (1967 DS-21 sedan and a 1967 DS-PALLAS, two 1971 D-21 Wagons, a 1964  2-CV,  an AMI-6,  a Mehari, etc.  The SM was on display at the New Orleans Downtown Howard Johnson Hotel during an Infamous Sniper iNCIDENT WHEN IT WAS BRAND NEW. THE ORIGINAL OWNER, A LOCAL New Orleans lawyer ran it into a light pole at Lee Circle where the streetcars used to circle the statue of Robert E. Lee. The second owner sold it to me, and I eventually passed it on to a friend who is well known and respected on this FORUM

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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Apropos of nothing, but I knew a feller who dropped one of these engines into a Corvair. ;) 

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Posted (edited)

Those engines had a peculiarity in regard to blue oil smoke. There is a joint in the lower (exhaust) cam cover which leaks oil onto the exhaust manifold causing lots of blue smoke to billow out from under the hood. Their fix was to put little eaves troughs between the cam cover and exhaust manifold to drain off the oil. You can see the joint on the right side exhaust cam cover in the diagram in Mike6024's post above. Just one of the many design defects of these cars.

 

There is a mechanic in Alberta Canada who is crazy about these cars, or maybe just plain crazy. You might ask him, or see if there is an owner's club that can direct you to a good mechanic.

 

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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I think it was Peter Sellers who once said "The French copy no one. And no one copies the French."

 

Or was in "But, Monsieur, SM was boldly emblazoned on the coachwork, yet you took it so lightly".

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This is the sort of car that was meant to be bought by a millionaire playboy, driven for 3 years and then scrapped. No one should buy one now. Unless you have too much money and too much time on your hands, a car like this will take care of that.

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Hi, I'm French and I saw a lot of SM citroen in old car show. They were in very good condition and beautiful :) .
It's a shame that you do not live in France because there are many citroen club in France and professional in old citroen.
If you want I can try to inform myself .

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