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"Reset" piston rings?


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Bought a '66 Impala with a 283 engine.

 

Engine was rebuilt a number of years ago, 20 years ago by looking at the receipts, but only has maybe 3,500 miles on the rebuild. My understanding of the history of the car was the previous owner had many cars but drove them infrequently so the car sat for extended times.

 

The engine seems to smoke more than I would like with such a fresh (mileage wise) rebuild. Not clear the mosquitoes type smoking but a light haze behind the car and a wifs of burning oil smell. Got a feeling the engine was never broken in properly and the rings never got set correctly. I myself have not driven it much to see actual oil consumption, if any, due to other issues with the car. 

 

Is it possible to reset the rings or re-break in the engine? Other thoughts on reasons or recommendations for my smoky engine?

 

 

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 A friend of mine had a car that had so low of compression that it was very hard to start.

 He sprinkled a can of abrasive cleaning agent (Ajax) into the carb to "hone the rings".

 I often wondered if it did the job, and what effect it had on the bearings due to blow by.

 Has anyone ever heard of this practice?

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59 minutes ago, ia-k said:

Any fix (other than rebuilding the engine again) for this?

Valve seals can be done without tearing apart the engine, not a huge repair to do.  What you need is a compression test to determine the cylinder health, the dry and wet results.

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3 hours ago, Roger Walling said:

 A friend of mine had a car that had so low of compression that it was very hard to start.

 He sprinkled a can of abrasive cleaning agent (Ajax) into the carb to "hone the rings".

 I often wondered if it did the job, and what effect it had on the bearings due to blow by.

 Has anyone ever heard of this practice?

I seem to recall reading that Buick had a problem with rings setting in about 41 or so. Factory recommendation was a teaspoon of Bon Ami in the carb at a fast idle. Urban myth or what??

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This is right up there with injecting bleech to kill Covid..

Excuse me, but one would have to be pretty dense to the believe a powered kitchen cleanser run through a carburetor is of any positive value or a fix offered by an automobile company to rework an engine in the field that shouldn't have left the factory..

 

But in the early automotive years powdered graphite was a panacea sprinkled through the carb and used in crankcase oil,but not for  the Model T Ford as it would short out the internal magneto.

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2 hours ago, CarlLaFong said:

I seem to recall reading that Buick had a problem with rings setting in about 41 or so. Factory recommendation was a teaspoon of Bon Ami in the carb at a fast idle. Urban myth or what??

 

This is true. At some time in the past, I saw a copy of the Buick factory service bulletin containing this advice.

BTW Bon Ami is not the same as Ajax and other more abrasive cleaners.

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39 minutes ago, Flivverking said:

This is right up there with injecting bleech to kill Covid..

Excuse me, but one would have to be pretty dense to the believe a powered kitchen cleanser run through a carburetor is of any positive value or a fix offered by an automobile company to rework an engine in the field that shouldn't have left the factory..

More fake news,.. More than one major maker has recommended use of powdered abrasives such as Ajax/ BonAmi, and in modern days as well.  Last one I read of was a major heavy duty Truck Manufacturer...on rebuilt engines that failed to seat.

 

 

 ,,,back to that 283; one other possible cause to add to what's been said already...if it was "rebuilt" with just a hone and new rings, it could be that it had too much bore taper, or somewhat possible that it had chrome moly rings installed on a basic hone job, (which should never be used as they will never seat into worn bores...Moly is for rebore, not rehone)

 

if you can borrow a cylinder leak down tester, that helps with diagnosis, meaning valve seals-vs-ring issues.

 

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The easiest and best fix, certainly the first to try, is to drive it as if you were breaking it in.  Get the engine up to operating temperature 20+ miles.  Then drive it at the speed limit for a hundred or so miles suddenly backing off the gas and slowing down maybe ten miles an hour and then back up again every twenty miles or so.  Do this every day for a week and see what happens.  If you can't get out on the highway drive it around town leaving it in low gear.  Up to 30 for a few minutes. suddenly back off the gas for a minute and then back up again every day for a week.

Depending on how the cylinders were honed and the type of ring this should start breaking the rings in.  You may still need valve seals but this way you do not have to open the engine up.  Once it is running properly DRIVE IT.  More mechanical problems are caused by sitting than by use.

In an automobile the MOBILE is the important thing.  They were built to be driven.

Good luck

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Since you are driving the car sparingly "due to other issues with the car ", solve the other issues now, and then take the car out for the first day of the above procedure. Next, let it sit in the shop for a few days and then start it again. If it smokes a lot on startup, that may be a clue that too much oil is getting past the valves. But yes, by all means put some miles on it. Soon, if you live in a part of the country which will be suffering Winter in a month or so. Yeah, if after all the above it still smokes, and quite badly on startup, you can pull the heads during Winter, and check the bores at the same time. Good luck.      -    Carl 

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Drive it. The advise that it may need breaking in, is good. Use thin oil like 10W30, thick oil will not cure oil burning but thin oil might free up stuck rings, valve seals etc.

Start with a few short drives of 10 or 20 miles and if all is well, with no overheating, funny smells, leaks or low oil pressure you can try a few longer trips. 100 miles in a day is minimal for thoroughly warming up the engine and starting to work things loose.

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Good lord. Bon Ami?

 

Yes people used to do that. They used to put horse manure in radiators to seal leaks too, that doesn't mean it is a good idea. If some factory is recommending that, my first thought is they are doing it out of cheapness, hoping the problem will go away. No one with any mechanical sympathy at all will spend hours doing a bunch of nice machine work and then throw sand at it.

 

When you seat the rings in an engine, it is mainly the cylinder bore itself that has to wear to break in, not the rings. The rings are fairly round. The cylinder bores, with more heat at the top than the bottom, head bolt torque pulling on the walls, etc. are not near as round as we might hope. During break in, the rings are scraping down the high spots.

 

Engines exist that have such hard, tough, high quality steel in the cylinder walls that break in can be really difficult. I can assure you that the Chevrolet 283 (yes, I own one) is not one of those engines.

 

Drive the car. Cars that sit around for extended periods (I have a few of those too!) never really work to their full potential. One of the things that happens is that the rings get gummed up and stick. If the car runs reasonably well, don't get caught up in the little stuff, least of all oil consumption, until you have daily driven it for 3 months or so. Just keep it full of clean oil. Check it every day at first, and then at every fill up once after you have a handle on how much it uses. Change the oil if it looks or smells bad. If it has a PCV system, clean it out. Above all, drive it.

 

If after a month or so it seems that the engine was never broken in, then use tinindian or plymouthcranbrook's method. No point in heavily stressing it now if it has been sitting a lot. Let it wake up.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I had a fiend who was a g.m. Mechanic he would use bonami and water and mist it in the carburetor while running,I was always a bit nervous to try it,I know you can take the spark plugs out and takethe piston all the way down and fill the cylinder with clean cleaning solvent,let setfor two days then do a different cylinder, if I remember correctly on small block chevies you do two cylinders at a time,do not spray anything in the cylinders upon assembly,always check the oil you,may have  two change it before starting,   Dave

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Change the oil and drive it .put the old oil in it like it used  back in its day.

 One other thing you can  do is with the motor running take the air cleaner off  and with the motor running  pour some Kerosene  right down the carb you’ll want to have a hold of the throttle so you can  rev it as needed it will smoke but if it is sticky it will help free it up

it will smoke out the exhaust.

 last you may have some broken rings if they were not put in right

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