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Need help starting car after sitting for 30 years


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Hello!

 

My Grandfather owns a 1937 Chevrolet Master Deluxe. He bought it second hand in approximately 1970. He fell in love with it because its the same age as him! It has been stored in his garage for almost 30 years. On a recent visit he was talking to me about how he would like to start up the old car, and teach me (his 16 year old grandson) how to drive it. He has a fair amount of basic mechanical knowledge, and I and relatively handy with tools. But starting up an old car after sitting for this long is new territory for both of us. Any advise or information you may have that can help us would be greatly appreciated! I will attach some pictures of the car.

 

Thank you, 

 

Kylan and George 

IMG_8012.jpeg

IMG_8013.jpeg

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Looks like a fun car, general consensus is to drop the oil pan to see the condition of the oil (or sludge if its been parked for a while) 

 

Was it parked for a reason originally? e.g. something wasn't working? 

 

Do you have a copy of the service manual for the car? 

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Hi Kylan,

Welcome to the forum.

Your grandfathers car is actually a 1939, but looks a nice car for you to start with.

 Before you try to start your car, I would recommend that you drain the oil from the motor, drop the pan and clean it out, you will be amazed at how much dust and bugs have got inside over the years. While doing this be careful not to damage the oil distribution pipes inside and also clean the oil pump pickup filter. Replace the pan carefully with new gaskets.

 I would then change any oil filters and replace the motor oil, but avoid using multigrade oil on these older motors. In summer I would use a good SAE40 grade, but if you are starting it in very cold weather you will need a thinner oil.

 Next, you will need to drain any old gas out the tank and system, you may also need to have the tank and carburettor  cleaned out and the gas pump diaphragm and any rubber flex hoses will most likely need replacing.

 Next step, take out the spark plugs, squirt a little oil into each cylinder and attempt to turn the motor over BY HAND a few times. If it locks up in any position DO NOT TRY AND FORCE IT as something is stuck, like a piston or valve. If it locks up then you will have to look for further help. If the motor turns over by hand, then refit the plugs, disconnect the HT lead from the coil and crank the motor over with the starter and see if you have oil pressure at the guage on the dash. Once you have oil pressure, you can reconnect the HT lead and try to start the motor.

 Once running, you will also have to redo all the brake hydraulic cylinders and I would recommend that in time, you replace ALL the pipes, both metal and rubber flex hoses, as they become dangerously corroded from inside, and replace tires and tubes before trying to drive at any pace or distance. You may also have a stuck clutch, if so, we can give further advice on how to free it up. You may also have to look at cleaning out the radiator and replacing rad hoses.

 Good luck, persevere and don't hesitate to ask for further advice,

Viv.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, viv w said:

Next step, take out the spark plugs, squirt a little oil into each cylinder and attempt to turn the motor over BY HAND a few times.

I have to disagree here. If that car has been sitting for any length of time, the rings may be seized. Squirting a little oil in each cylinder won't fix that & if you attempt to turn the engine over even by hand, you could score one or more cylinders. 

Take the plugs out & using a hose small enough to fit in the plug hole, attached to a funnel, pour as much WD40 in each cylinder as it will take. Let it sit about 2 weeks. Then drain the oil (WD40 mixed with the oil will come out), refill with fresh oil & try hand cranking with the plugs still removed. This allows for easier cranking & helps blow out any excess WD40 at the top of the cylinders. IF the engine turns freely, then put in fresh plugs & points, rotor, & condensor and try firing it once you've cleaned out the fuel system as Viv W. explained.

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Kylan, Nice car! I have been the caretaker for my grandfathers 39 Chevy for almost 50 years and it has been a lot of fun. One organization I wish I found sooner is the Vintage Chevrolet Club https://vccachat.org/ lots of good help on parts and service.

 

I would research the grade of oil to be used. Many, myself included , feel a 10w-30 is better in the splash system used in your 39.

 

Good luck and enjoy!

 

Dave

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Hi,

 

My Grandpa and I would like to thank everyone for all of the help you have given us! We really appreciate it. I don't have any manuals or guides for the car, but I will check out GM Heritage and see what I can find for it. Would anyone know what model engine it has? He says he parked it in there for the winter one year and just did't get it out the next summer. If anyone knows of a good place to find parts for it that would also be helpful! 

 

Thanks again, 

Kylan and George 

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15 minutes ago, KylanOC said:

Hi,

 

My Grandpa and I would like to thank everyone for all of the help you have given us! We really appreciate it. I don't have any manuals or guides for the car, but I will check out GM Heritage and see what I can find for it. Would anyone know what model engine it has? He says he parked it in there for the winter one year and just did't get it out the next summer. If anyone knows of a good place to find parts for it that would also be helpful! 

 

Thanks again, 

Kylan and George 

 

 

You might need to hunt around a few years around 1937 on GMHeritage's web site, as they're not the best sorted. My 1922 has relevant documents all the way through to 1926

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I’m certainly not a Chevy expert but believe that your car has a 216 cubic inch motor. Early Chevy 6 cylinder motors were affectionately called “Stovebolts”.

 

Google is your friend. Lots of info including a shop manual available for viewing on line.

 

 

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You can get reprints of good quality  owners and service manuals along with the Chevrolet Service News (order 38 and 39)here; https://www.fillingstation.com/

 

If original to the car your 39 should have a 216 as mentioned above.

 

Depending on how it was put away you should inspect the brakes and fuel systems. After any long  time sitting the wheel and master cylinders will need to be cleaned up, honed and new rubber cups. I have also had to put a couple of sets of brake hoses on mine over the years. The fuel system will need to be cleaned and checked from the tank to the carb. I would plan on a fuel pump and carb rebuild kits at a minimum.

 

Dropping the pan as mentioned above is good advice and the vcca forum link has the proper way to reinstall the pan gasket if you need help.

 

GM Heritage link; https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits/Chevrolet/1939-Chevrolet.pdf

 

Edited by Dave39MD (see edit history)
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I agree with most of the comments above except for using SAE 40 motor oil, I would use 10W30 or 10W40. 

 

Yes, drop the oil pan and clean out all the sludge.  You will be amazed at the goop in the bottom of the oil pan.

 

Did anyone mention draining the gas tank and putting in new gas.  If you have access to ethanol free gas I would use that. 

 

My 1933 Chevrolet get vapor lock when I use gas with ethanol and I use Valvoline Synthetic VR-1 Racing Oil.

 

Also change the coolant, the anti-freeze in your cooling system is well past its useful life.

 

 

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Old oils tend to be S..t for quality and as a result they sludge up - I would drop the oil pan and make sure it is clean.  In the meantime, I am fond of putting in transmission fluid down the spark plugs/cylinders - helps loosen stuff up.  I also like Marvel Mystery oil in oil and gas upon start-up of anything that has been sitting - a lot of people will moan and groan at doing so, but I get the impression they do not AACA tour.    Gaskets are available via www.olsonsgaskets.com  Then, I would tun it over by hand while I was underside.    I would ask around for what people are using for oil - everyone has an opinion.  And, then I would buy a battery and jury-rig up a gas can - try to get it to cough and sputter.   You probably are going to need to rebuild the carb and the fuel pump.  Thereafter, you will need to address cooling system and gasoline tank, as well as brakes and ...  Also, such as tires and ... once you get it so it will run up and down the driveway.  

 

Interesting radio delete plate !

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Sometimes the column shifter on the 1939 Chevrolet can be an issue.  It uses a Vacuum Power Shift Cylinder to make the shifting easier, but when the cylinders goes bad it can be very difficult if not impossible to shift gears.  I believe Buick and Pontiac used the same or similar part for column shift cars.

 

My father-in-law had the same 4 Door Sedan body style 39 Chevrolet back until the early 1990 and the Vacuum Power Shift Cylinder Tank Assembly went bad, and since replacements were not available, he found a 39 Chevy floor shifter from a car or truck and never had an issue with shifting after that.   I can not remember whether it came from a car or trunk or if both use the same.  I am not an expert on the 39 Chevrolet, but it is my understanding the 39 Chevy originally came with either a floor or column shifter.  Attached is a photo of the 1939 Chevrolet Vacuum Shift Cylinder.  

 

You can also get almost every if not all gaskets for a 1939 Chevrolet from The Filling Station at:   https://www.fillingstation.com/dept/Engine/cat/Engine+Gaskets.html

 

1939 Chevrolet Vacuum Shift Cylinder.png

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14 minutes ago, Vila said:

Sometimes the column shifter on the 1939 Chevrolet can be an issue.  It uses a Vacuum Power Shift Cylinder to make the shifting easier, but when the cylinders goes bad it can be very difficult if not impossible to shift gears.  I believe Buick and Pontiac used the same or similar part for column shift cars.

 

My father-in-law had the same 4 Door Sedan body style 39 Chevrolet back until the early 1990 and the Vacuum Power Shift Cylinder Tank Assembly went bad, and since replacements were not available, he found a 39 Chevy floor shifter from a car or truck and never had an issue with shifting after that.   I can not remember whether it came from a car or trunk or if both use the same.  I am not an expert on the 39 Chevrolet, but it is my understanding the 39 Chevy originally came with either a floor or column shifter.  Attached is a photo of the 1939 Chevrolet Vacuum Shift Cylinder.  

 

You can also get almost every if not all gaskets for a 1939 Chevrolet from The Filling Station at:   https://www.fillingstation.com/dept/Engine/cat/Engine+Gaskets.html

 

1939 Chevrolet Vacuum Shift Cylinder.png

 

 My 1st car, a 1940 Chevrolet, had that vacuum assist shifter. Dad removed it  [ I was just 15, Dad WAS  boss] and transmission shifted fine.

 

  Ben

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That car grandpa drove it where it sets  out of the weather ? I would not worry about the oil pan. take the spark  plugs out and put some  Marvell Mistery oil and you can mix it with  some ATF and put some in each cylinder.. then  attempt to turn the motor over by hand  if you have a crank for it that would be good if while  you are trying to turn it over it comes to a stop !  don’t force it it may be a stuck valve if this happens  take the valve cover off and see if  you have stuck valves. I got a 1942 Packard straight 8  the owner couldn’t get it running. I had  to free 14 valves and she starts right now.

 or valves  . if every thing looks  good and it  turns all the way over  then hook a battery to it and  spin it over  a bit then put the plugs back in and  you will need to clean the points in the distributor Grandpa should  be able to help you with that. when  you get spark  .I use a lawn mower gas tank and hook it right to the carb.. keep a fire extinguisher handy . and a little gas in a squese bottle  in that hole in the carb with the air cleaner off there will be about a 1/4 tube on a angle put some gas  in there and it should  start. if that all works out then it will be time to clean the gas tank . you may need to clean it and seal it.

You’ll  love it when  you get it running . you will  probably have to  rebuild the fuel pump and carb.

If you run into trouble just ask here . Let us know how you are coming on  the project.

I  own a 1939 Chevy Pick up for 54 years and drive it til snow comes.

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Hi, 

 

My Grandpa and I are going to have a better look at the car tomorrow and start to familiarize ourselves with it. We have started putting together a list of what we need to do to get it started up. 

I have been researching about removing the oil pan and am a little worried about getting it back on after removal. If possible I would like to leave it in place for now because If we get it running and drivable we know someone who has a lift we could use to put the car up in the air and then take the pan off. Is there a way to flush some of the old gunk out without removing the pan? 

Marvel Mystery Oil seems to be the most popular choice for putting in the cylinders to help loosen them up. My plan is to remove the spark plugs, add some Marvel Mystery Oil and let it sit for a hour or so then try and slowly turn over the engine by hand. If it doesn't give us any trouble then we will start cleaning out the fuel pump and tank (my grandpa insists we have to try starting it from the fuel tank) We are going to order rebuild kits for the Carb and Fuel pump to start with. We aren't going to worry about the brakes till the engine starts! I will post an update about how it goes. Thank you to everyone once again for all the help. 

 

Thanks again,

 

Kylan and George 

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52 minutes ago, KylanOC said:

My plan is to remove the spark plugs, add some Marvel Mystery Oil and let it sit for a hour or so then try and slowly turn over the engine by hand. I

Kylan,

I don't know why most on this thread are so anxious for you to try turning over the engine even if it is by hand. You say the car sat for 30 years. I am willing to bet there are rings and maybe more that are stuck from sitting. Turning the engine over too soon will just about guarantee that those stuck rings will score the cylinders. Then you and your grandpa will get to have the experience of pulling the engine and either having it rebuilt or rebuilding it yourselves. The advice I posted earlier on this thread comes from a mechanic that dealt with & worked on old cars like yours for 40+ years. I think he knows what he's talking about. 

Again, pull the plugs, pour as much WD40, Marvel Oil, or other penetrating oil in the cylinders as they will hold, and let it set for a couple of weeks. Then proceed as I and the others explained. You may save yourself a rebuild on that engine.

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1 hour ago, KylanOC said:

Hi, 

 

My Grandpa and I are going to have a better look at the car tomorrow and start to familiarize ourselves with it. We have started putting together a list of what we need to do to get it started up. 

I have been researching about removing the oil pan and am a little worried about getting it back on after removal. If possible I would like to leave it in place for now because If we get it running and drivable we know someone who has a lift we could use to put the car up in the air and then take the pan off. Is there a way to flush some of the old gunk out without removing the pan? 

Marvel Mystery Oil seems to be the most popular choice for putting in the cylinders to help loosen them up. My plan is to remove the spark plugs, add some Marvel Mystery Oil and let it sit for a hour or so then try and slowly turn over the engine by hand. If it doesn't give us any trouble then we will start cleaning out the fuel pump and tank (my grandpa insists we have to try starting it from the fuel tank) We are going to order rebuild kits for the Carb and Fuel pump to start with. We aren't going to worry about the brakes till the engine starts! I will post an update about how it goes. Thank you to everyone once again for all the help. 

 

Take it slow, you need to let penetration fluid do it's thing and it can take quite a while. As George said, you risk causing damage to other components if you try and crank it with making sure everything is free. A large part of the enjoyment with old cars is working on them and understanding how they work. 

 

The gasket set for your car is cheap, and it's definitely not worth it in the long run to not have a look in the pan. It's $122 on ebay for a complete set, which is a total steal compared to the price some of the members here have to fork out for their cars (I think the set for my 1922 Cadillac was over $600). It can be a bit messy opening up the pan, but get a good quality funnel and an old oil bottle to catch whatever flows. I don't know what your state laws are but here most auto stores will dispose of old engine oil for free for you. Then it should just be a bunch of bolts to under do and the pan should come off nice and easily (unless someone's used one of the sealants on it but given the time it was taken off the road I doubt it). Then it's just a matter of using a scraper to clean up any remains of the old gasket. You don't really need a lift to do the job, as I doubt that many people had them back in the day (if at all) the manual for my car tells you to use a block and chain to lift it for major jobs. 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Chevy-216-235-Full-Engine-Gasket-Set-BEST-1937-53-COPPER-Head-Manifold-Oil-Pan-/190885579851 

 

I also can't stress how important it is to get a hold of the service manual, I learned pretty quickly that they did actually know what they were doing when they wrote it and many 'generic' methods were either less efficient or cause other problems (and on a number of occasions the book actually calls out some of the other more popular methods and why they would cause issues)

 

The number one thing you learn from working on old cars is patience :D 

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If your engine is stuck,  follow the good advice above and also take the valve cover off and spray penetrant around each valve. Then take a light hammer and gently test each valve for movement. A stuck valve from sitting will bend your push rods. Not the end of the world but you may be able to prevent it.

 

To replace the oil pan gasket make 4 studs by cutting of the heads of 1/4 20 bolts so you have studs. Be sure to clean the surfaces very well. The night before wrap the small end gaskets around a coke can so they preform a circular shape. Put the studs in to hold the gasket lined up and use grease to hold the gasket on the block. Put the end pieces on and some use a small dab of sealant where they meet the long side gaskets. Put the pan on and once secure remove the studs. A few of the pan screws maybe different sizes so remember which hole they go in. The 39 did not have a rear main seal only a slinger. (most of the above copied from the VCCA site)

 

When you go to see your car take a picture of the engine number and body tags and we can provide more info.

 

Dave

Edited by Dave39MD (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, KylanOC said:

 

I have been researching about removing the oil pan and am a little worried about getting it back on after removal. If possible I would like to leave it in place for now because If we get it running and drivable we know someone who has a lift we could use to put the car up in the air and then take the pan off. Is there a way to flush some of the old gunk out without removing the pan? 

Maybe someone has been there before you - that is always nice, but if unsure or cannot figure out when engine was rebuilt, then....   You can remove the drain plug and depending on how pan is made get your finger up into it to see if slugged up - often that is  misnomer though as sludge is "sluddgy" and often not where you can feel it.  And, you can drain oil and then refill with a gallon of lacquer thinner and see how that comes out after a day.    You can start it with sludge as I assume the oil pick-up is a float and thus picks up on top of oil pan verse bottom.  All said though, my experience is if you have anything that sits decades, you drop the pan - no exceptions.  There are a lot of unrestored stuff out on AACA tours that people have cleaned up engines and they run fine, a lot of stuff people rebuilt and know what they have and that is fine too, and a lot of stuff that gets damaged from not knowing better or listening to poor advice.  By the way, as to old oil, I have also dealt with sludge up rear axles and transmissions as well.

 

The worst sludge mess I dealt with was a 1932 Packard Twin Six - From time to start to time of reassembly I had 17 hours in the project  - it took about an hour to get pan down and about 40 minutes to get it back in and the rest of the time I was chiseling (with a wood chisel) sludge and cleaning remnants of that from the pan - nasty enough I had to change the fluid in the parts cleaner after all said and done.  There was one hole open in the oil screen too - NOT A GOOD THING as if someone had started it they would have starved it for oil flow. So, with some care and time it all worked out fine and another 30's car revived to attend some shows and tours. And seen enough of all the bad to know not to take chances.

 

Also, saw a note about putting a started on it - NO, turn it over by hand first (to people's moaning and groaning, I usually use a small crow bar in the ring gear - there is an access cover generally to allow such). 

 

There was a 31 Cadillac V-12 for sale/auction recently - it sat for years with a stuck engine and they called and asked me to stop by - I pulled in the drive and they were very excited to declare the engine was free - the car was in the drive chained to their farm tractor.  Then, they asked me to buy car from them - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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 Many good thoughts here. I would follow all of them with the exception of dropping the pan before starting. (do it later after making sure the engine does not have to be removed)

 I would though, just before starting, crank the engine over without the plugs in order to remove excess fluid from the cylinders and to build up oil pressure and lubricate all bearings and valve train. ( don't start without confirming oil pressure.)

 

 While my thoughts about dropping the oil pan are optional, I must admit that on the last engine that I could not get started, after I dropped the oil pan, I found sludge over the top of the pick up screen about 1+1/2" deep! Also the water pump and the radiator were blocked solid with rust!

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I stay away from the wd40 and such as  it will dry and get sticky   with time.

Marvel Mystery Oil and kerosene works good also.

When you do put the oil in the cylinders put enough in each one to cover the top of the pistons.

and put the spark plugs back in if you are  going to leave it !

 Has the car sat in that same garage for he 30 years?

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)
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I am always on the safe more than sorry side as most things I work on have near unobtainuim parts and often an engine rebuild costs pretty pennies -  If caution to the wind, maybe question should be:  What is history of car, who dropped the oil pan last and when, and/or has it had an engine rebuild post say 1975.  It looks like a well kept car, so you may stand a strong chance of success with it via application of care.   

 

I stopped into a shop yesterday to look at a restored 1928 RR Phaeton I Springfield that has sat for 25 years - glad no one touched anything as the carburetor is 100% welded together with old gas shellac and if you touch the throttle or accelerator pedal (or any linkage) you are going to bend and break parts - it has to call come part. 

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Out of curiosity, why has no one recommended pulling the distributor and doing a spin up on the oil pump to bring oil to all major components before starting the engine? I was under the impression that it could be very important with an engine that has sat for a long while. I'm just trying to be better educated in this matter as I don't want to do damage to any future cars I may have the opportunity to awaken from a deep sleep, or any that I currently have in my possession .

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25 minutes ago, Rusty Heaps said:

Out of curiosity, why has no one recommended pulling the distributor and doing a spin up on the oil pump to bring oil to all major components before starting the engine? I was under the impression that it could be very important with an engine that has sat for a long while. I'm just trying to be better educated in this matter as I don't want to do damage to any future cars I may have the opportunity to awaken from a deep sleep, or any that I currently have in my possession .

Unless such as a 1931 Cadillac with a "die cast" distributor housing or a car with an aluminum cylinder head (something that water stands a strong change of getting into mechanism) - I generally do not have concern as I would be turning it over by hand first. 

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First - I agree with most of what was said and the necessity of dropping the pan, checking brakes, lights and all that.

 

Second - we didn't know all that in the 60's (I was 12 to 16 or so and in the company of adults who should have known better).  Our basic retrieval toolkit for garage finds was gasoline, water,  fresh battery, hand tire pump, rope, chain or both. pair of license plates and a trailer if we could  find one to borrow ( otherwise a piece of pipe to go with the chain and a couple of old tires to avoid bump damage ) ..... somehow always made it home.

 

Youth and innocence - those were the days

Edited by vermontboy (see edit history)
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i agree with everyone on the good advice offered here. so if you scare easy, stop reading here. my brother bought a true barn find 1928 chevrolet back around 1980.he trailered it home, put some fresh gas in it, pumped up the tires, installed a good battery. he then proceeded to turn the key, it fired right uo, and he drove it around the block(aprox. 2 miles). those old chevies are tough.

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13 hours ago, KylanOC said:

I have been researching about removing the oil pan and am a little worried about getting it back on after removal. If possible I would like to leave it in place for now because If we get it running and drivable we know someone who has a lift we could use to put the car up in the air and then take the pan off. Is there a way to flush some of the old gunk out without removing the pan? 

Okay, so the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I read this....

A lot of good has already been said, but know just one thing about your carThe people who designed and built it in 1939 never dreamed it would still exist - let alone possibly being driven around - 81 years later! It simply wasn’t built for it. A lot of components that make it up are expendable — even in the engine.

There is a lot more in that engine you want to eyeball than a little sludge in the pan. I did drop my pan and still missed something. Top picture below is what I found in the pan of my fully restored 1918 Buick when getting it back on the road after just 10 years storage. It is a 3 cent cotter-pin — it cost me $10,000 US.

Actually found it while installing new oil pan gaskets from Olson’s since the ones I made leaked. At first I only felt the broken tab (in the bottom right) with my fingertips in a little gunk in a corner. Had to use a strong magnet to find the rest of it — never did find the other TWO that were missing.

Of course your car is much newer and advanced, but it does share the same type of ‘splash’ oil system (see 2 lower photos below). Gunk in the pan or no gunk — it is still necessary to completely go through that system and make sure there are no clogs. My splash system has a trough below each connecting rod which is continuously fed oil from a tube. The connecting rods have a little tab on the bottom that dips down into this trough and literally splashes oil up into the cylinders and (as importantly) the piston-pin (aka wrist-pin). I saw each trough was getting oil and thought all was well.
WRONG. Each trough also needs to be fed evenly. I had one getting just a little less and it was being starved. There is a Little more to this - but, little more friction = little more force/jarring on the piston pins. They went like dominos. There WAS NO NOISE as this happened. Have the videos to prove it.

Your car is a little more advanced and has a few more oil passages. You want to know that they’re clean as a whistle. You do not want one piston doing any more work than the others. This car also has Babbitt bearings. Just cheap tin alloy. But you do not want to know what it costs today to have it poured (gold might be cheaper - I’d have to check).

 

I point this out because I’ve been messing with ‘old’ cars since I was 12 (um, around +-35 yrs ago). Until this Buick they were all post-WWII cars with ‘modern’ oil systems. That little bit of ignorance about the added needs of splash systems truly cost me.

That said, none of this should intimidate you. These pre-war cars are a lot of work — but they’re also very easy to work on. Even easier to learn on. They are a lot ‘simpler’, but keep in mind - that to ‘simpler’ systems we must attend much more closely. They will not let us get away with any of this ‘out of sight - out of mind’ stuff. Wish now I had started with a pre-war car, but up here in the land of road salt and near-arctic winters, 50s-60s cars were always cheaper and more obtainable when I wanted one.

 

Getting this Chevy back on the road is the project of a lifetime, and I am very envious of you and your grandfather. For reasons not explainable here, not all of us were so lucky.

 

Good luck, this’ll be a lot of fun!

 

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I am having trouble retaining the content I have already entered. Therefore this is a test posting to see if anything other than the pictures survives. I will then edit my stable posting to compose my precious contribution.

 

For the moment : UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, TRY TO START YOUR ENGINE WITHOUT DROPPING THE PAN. YOU HAVE TWO VERY VALUABLE OPTIONS HERE. FIRST LESSON IS THE PROPER WAY TO CORRECTLY AND METHODICALLY RE-START A LONG DORMANT, UNKNOWN ENGINE. GOOD LESSON, AND YOU WILL ACQUIRE VERY IMPORTANT KNOWLEDGE. OPTION TWO WILL TEACH YOU MUCH MORE, MAY EASILY RESULT FROM SKIPPING THE FIRST LESSON. IF YOU TAKE THIS OPTION AND STICK WITH THE VALUABLE LESSON, YOU MAY LEARN HOW TO COMPLETELY OVERHAUL THAT ENGINE. YOU WILL ALSO LEARN HOW TO KICK YOURSELF IN THE BUTT. YOU  ARE (TO PARAPHRASE VERMONTBOY ABOVE), IN THE COMPANY OF ADULTS HERE WHO KNOW BETTER.

 

I will post this now, intending to refine through the edit process.   Standby,    -    CC 

 

                                                           FIRST ADDENDUM 

 

Hi Kylan and George. Welcome to this friendly forum. We are a great mix of talents and abilities ranging from  beginner level to professionals with decades of experience. Every aspect of automotive expertise from the engineers who designed the cars, guys on the line, guys who fix all aspects of cars, drive them, race them, etc, etc, etc. Some guys here are even a bit older than your granddad, and have been playing with and working on cars for about as long as I have been alive. I am 75. You can be sure that we are thrilled to have someone 16 years old join up and become one of us here ! Other guys joined up in their later 'teens, and have become rather experienced with the help and knowledge acquired here. Gotta start somewhere, and we can help you with every step. We want you to learn what to do and why. I suggest that when in doubt, ask, and don't take the short cuts. That '39 Chev' is WAY too nice in its original, unrestored condition, WAY too nice to learn on by making mistakes. Making mistakes and then correcting them is a very good way to learn. But not on this car. It is just too nice.

 

So let's get started. First, get some clearance under the car. You can use ramps, or block the car up. You can put it on jackstands, NOT JACK'S, or stout wooden blocks. NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE ANY STONEWORK OR MASONRY TO SUPPORT A CAR. And once securely up, try to knock the car off its supports. If you start wiggling it and it looks like it can fall, do a better job. Show us what you have done. Once up, start draining the oil out of the engine, transmission, and rear end. 

 

Below, first picture shows a 1931 Chev' engine just left of center in the truck. I would like to give it to someone who will come pick it up. But for now, let's use it as an example. Pull the top and side covers off, and pull the plugs as in the 2nd and 3rd pictures. The last picture shows what happens when you actually turn over an OHV engine with stuck  valve(s). This is a 1934 Buick. Third valve from the right is stuck at the top of its travel. That gap indicates a bent push rod. We don't want that here. Let's do the very best job to prevent it.

 

O.K. Ask any questions, and take these first steps. Take good detailed pictures of the valve gear, and then on to the next step. Oh, and now that the plugs are out take the first step to prepare for turning the engine over. Liberally spray some state-of-the-art penetrant in each hole. PB Blaster, or Kroil, but spray well. A couple of days later, do it again, and a couple days after that, put about 2 or 3 ounces of a 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF, well shaken up into each cylinder. 

 

Any questions so far ?

 

 

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Edited by C Carl
ADD FIRST ADDENDUM (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, vermontboy said:

First - I agree with most of what was said and the necessity of dropping the pan, checking brakes, lights and all that.

 

Second - we didn't know all that in the 60's (I was 12 to 16 or so and in the company of adults who should have known better).  Our basic retrieval toolkit for garage finds was gasoline, water,  fresh battery, hand tire pump, rope, chain or both. pair of license plates and a trailer if we could  find one to borrow ( otherwise a piece of pipe to go with the chain and a couple of old tires to avoid bump damage ) ..... somehow always made it home.

 

Youth and innocence - those were the days

I learned all this from people doing this stuff in the 50's, 60's, and 70's - and at that point in time parts were easier to come by excepting the communications have been so much improved by the internet, but as more cars get done and more parts supply diminish, as well as experts on rebuilding this and that being more scarce by the day, this gets harder and harder for pre-WWII cars and as a result it pays to be more cautious.  I drove my 1941 Cadillac home across town in 1979, on a tank of gasoline put in it from 1955 (I did have it towed to our storage building to change the oil, a couple of hoses, put in a battery, and I did do the brakes - though rest was a gamble, including plenty that  would not do today).  That said, the fellow who did the engine in the Cadillac (in 1982) started taking me to garage after garage of people with horrid car issues (many of their own doing) and most of those cars still today are still garage and museum queens - not tour cars.  The fellow here is doing a Chevrolet and you can risk it more than say an X (and that being said a 1941 Cadillac is fairly easy to deal with too), but why not just take the extra care and time  ?

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Well, so far he's not overwhelmed by the different and in some cases conflicting responses. See pic here of an engine that was running. Then it was pulled and sat in a dry garage for 15 years. I took it for spare parts and the piston rings were darn near welded (rusted) to the cylinder walls. Pulling the pan off, at first glance things seemed oil coated and maybe ok. Then I looked up from the bottom side of a cylinder. Plenty of rust. I pulled the head and soaked the tops of the cylinders with various concoctions of oils (transmission oil, diesel fuel) for a while. Every day I went out there and tapped on the pistons lightly to try and get oil moving into and past the rust. I eventually needed to see some progress. So I vacuumed the oil off the tops of the pistons. I flipped the engine over on a stand. Took the rod caps and bearings off. All mains caps too, and mains bearings out. Removed timing chain. This eliminated the valve train. Every load that would possibly be assisting in freezing the crank from turning. I Left the flywheel attached to the crank and pried on it. A long pry bar offered a ton of torque multiplication Still the pistons would not move.  I took a 2x4 piece of wood and a large sledge hammer. I pounded the crap out of those pistons to get them out finally....I tried. In my opinion that engine was not going to free up in a reasonable amount of time. A few pics below.

 

I highly recommend you do not hit the engine with a strong battery and the starter to try and break it free. You get no feedback on how hard it is struggling to turn over. Mass carnage may likely ensue. Please report back how you make out. Your car should run again someday hopefully.  I agree pan needs to come off. Then you can have a look up at the pistons as seen in my pic below.

 

 

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This is general humidity rust. The engine was not stored in a high humidity climate. Additionally there was oil on the parts when 

the engine was first put away. Still, nature is powerful and wants to take this engine back to basic elements.

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Oil soaking seen here:

 

 

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Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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You should have left it on the stand and tasked that oil off it  and put some water in each 1/4 inch or so the  put some kerosene in each  hole ant  light it and let it burn then push the pistons out.

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Here is the caddy's oil pan when I first got the car... and pieces of the camshaft and carrier I found littered through out the pan. The oil was also manky despite supposedly having only been changed recently, it had the consistency of molasses and I'm guessing something thick had been put in it to mask oil pressure (which is actually fine when you put the right oil in and adjust the pressure regulator as per the book) 

 

I suspect that this was the end result of someone running the car with frozen valves, which ran fine but was "hard to start and lacking power" - so I'm definitely an advocate of opening it up and having a look first!

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I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of the oil pan that came off my RUNNING Pierce-Arrow, it would have converted you to a believer in the importance of cleaning them out. It had 3/4” of gunk which blocked at least 70% of the oil pickup screen. Mind you, think about a RUNNING AND DRIVING CAR WITHOUT OIL....

 

Good work takes patience but bad work costs money.

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