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Cars sat LOONG time...what to do before starting ?


BuickNut
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I have some cars that I'm starting work on that have sat for a very long time. What is the best engine prep steps to go through prior to starting them up so I don't screw up the engines from lack of oil ? They've sat for at least 3 years (yes, I know, shame, shame, shaaaaaaaaame shocked.gif" border="0 ). I would probably first take out the plugs and partially fill the cylinders with some lubricant/penetrant, let it set for about 1 week, and change the now contaminated oil - but what about the internals of the engine the should be prelubed ? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

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I'll try to remember as much as I can, but don't expect this to comprehensive. If I forget anything, please add iton.<P>The first thing I'd do is completely drain and clean the fuel system. Get rid of any traces of the old gas, and any of the shellac that it has almost certainly left behind.<P>I'd then check for any component failure with age. Watch for dry-rotted fuel lines, diaphragms, and vaccuum circuts. Check the gas tank for rust and pinholes before you refill it.<P>Flush thoroughly and refill the cooling system, checking for and repairing any leaks as is possible. Watch this carefully as the engine heats up for the first time and pressure builds in the system. Replace the thermostat!<P>Check the valve cover and other accessable areas for excess sludge and clean it as appropriate. <P><BR>If the engine still turns freely, I wouldn't "partially fill" the cylinders with lubricant (light oil). A thorough coating should be sufficient if allowed to penetrate the rings. Filling and soaking the cylinders with lubricant is reccommended for engines that are "stuck". <P>Regardless , however, the crankcase oil should be changed. This may take some time, three year old oil can be pretty sludgy. Be sure the old oil you're removing isn't seriously contaminated with rust or water or coolant before proceding.<P>Then crank the engine over a 10-20 times with the coil wire disconnected. This will cirulate the fresh oil, lubricating the head/valves/bearings and pump up the lifters. If you have an oil pressure guage, watch for pressure to start registering.<P>Then, if you have spark and the fuel system's functioning, start it up and let it warm up. Watch for trouble.<P>Finally, be sure to check for brake function before putting it in gear. Sounds obvious but somebody forgets every year!<P>O.K., what'd I forget?

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Dave has a point there as some of the motors might have an oil pump that slips over the front end of the crankshaft inside the front cover.<P>If that's the case, it might be advisable to go ahead and pull the valve covers and pour some lube over the valve train to run down into the pan. You can do this after the initial oil change so that it'll hopefully flush out any accumulated moisture that might be on the inside as it runs down into the oil pan. This'll make sure the valve train has some oil on it too.<P>If you remove the spark plugs to put the light oil into the cylinders, be sure to put them back in prior to rolling the motor over. Could cause a mess when the oil that didn't run down past the rings is pushed back out the spark plug holes. Afterall, you're going to put fresh plugs in anyway.<P>Other than the drill motor pre-lube procedure, you could rig up a pressurized lube can to inject pressurized oil through the oil pressure sending unit hole. No real guarantee which way the oil will go, but any new oil up there might be better than nothing. This could be the next step after the first oil change, then the upper engine "flush" with the oil poured over the valve train and would generate the final oil change (with the filter this time) before firing the engine.<P>You can also consider using a small funnel and some fuel line to fill the float bowl through the internal bowl vent on the carburetor. This is usually a pencil-sized tube that sticks up inside the air cleaner ring of the carburetor or you could make an adapter to screw into the carburetor where the fuel line normally would go--be sure to hold the funnel about a foot above the carb if you can so it'll gravity feed the fuel. That way, the engine should fire pretty quickly and easily on the fresh gas that's in the float bowl instead of waiting for the fuel pump to start pumping.<P>Naturally, this all doesn't have to happen at the same time. If you have several vehicles in the resurrected fleet, you can do one operation at a time for all of them (like an assembly line situation).<P>If the engines have point ignition distributors, you might want to get some genuine point grease (there is still a GM part number for it (!) in the "Standard Parts Catalog") and also put in some new points.<P>Other than this and what the others have mentioned, a general fluid change (including the rear axle and transmission) and chassis lubrication (including wheel bearings and u-joints) would be in order. Plus a general check of all rubber items (belts, hoses, tires).<P>Be sure to dispose of the vehicular fluids in an environmentally approved manner.<P>Enjoy!<BR>NTX5467

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Your fuel pump will probably be bad. Speaking of lubing the top end I like the idea of taking off the valve cover and lubing everything. I would like to add that you should try to put a lot down the push rods so that the cam gets well lubed. Thats the most important wear item when you start an engine.

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I usually operate on the premise that the easiest way is the best . I just fired up a Corvair that sat for 15 years and a Chev truck that sat for ten. I replaced the points checked the hoses and belts and filled the fuel tanks with premium. I also turned the engines over by wrench to be sure that they were free. I then poured some gas in the carbs and fired them up. The Corvair ran on 5 cylinders for 10 minutes and then the valve that was stuck open freed up and it ran great. The truck ran fine right away. I have driven them both quite a bit and they are fine. I know I should have been a little more concerned about firing them, but it worked for me. smile.gif" border="0

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One thing that has not been mentioned is "where" the vehicle has been sitting. One that's been in a controlled atmosphere of sorts (i.e., indoors with a narrow band of temperature and humidity ranges) could well be different than if it had been sitting in a humid coastal environment or a drier desert environment.<P>The quality of the fuel and lubricants might be a side issue also. I believe that Chevron claims (on their website) their fuel has a shelf life of about 18 months and some others might be about 12 months before they start deteriorating. Other than the deposits left from the evaporating fuel, there's also octane and volatility issues too (the lighter parts of the fuel will evaporate first). I suspect that an engine with a quality synthetic in it would be better than an inexpensive "rerun" oil due to the better additive package in the better oil. <P>The mention of camshaft lubrication is a good point. Once the engine starts and runs reliably-and the oil pressure has been up for a little bit--it might be beneficial to raise the rpm to the 1500-2000rpm range for a while to make sure the cam gets enough oil "slung" up onto it from the crankcase (just as if you were putting in a new cam and lifter set). Varying the rpm in the process too. Also keep an eye on the temp gauge!<P>After you've got about 30 minutes or so of run time, then you can continue to monitor the coolant level and such. Then, shut it off and let everything cool down naturally overnight.<P>The next morning, check the oil and pay attention to any condensation that might be on the dipstick (white sludge of sorts). If you suspect there are some stuck rings (oil smoke that doesn't clear up due to stuck rings or such), then a quality detergent additive might be appropriate. Personally, I've had good luck with the Stewart-Warner CD2 detergent additive. Of course, when you restart it that next day, pay attention to any new noises that might have been missed previously in the "excitement of the situation."<P>If the cooling system has been reasonably full all of the time, unless there are rust issues things should be fine, but I understand that if the system had been drained there could be leaks pretty soon after it's refilled.<P>The architecture of the Corvair engine would prevent pouring oil through the valve train into the engine. It might be easier to pull the motor in that case . . . in which case you might as well pull it apart before doing anything. Which raises the next issue--it might be better to just pull the engine and freshen up the internals anyway if it's been sitting dormant for a good while. Then you will have time to get the fuel system and tank cleaned and refurbished along with the other vehicle systems (i.e., brakes, suspension and steering, safety related items). More money and effort initially, but might be a better long term investment.<P>In a lot of cases, what's done or needs to be done can be highly variable. I feel that the initial prelube procedures would help in most cases. A little work done up front can save a lot of work later in many cases. Naturally, finances will play into this situation too.<P>Have fun!<BR>NTX5467

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Gents, per the responses, here are some replies to the cars, storage, etc. : Two of the cars are Buicks ('49 Super and '73 Century Stage 1) and 1 is a Caddy Deville. As to storage, they are in a barn used for storing RV's, other old cars, boats, etc. The barn is open on and off during the year as the farmer also uses it for storage of his equipment. No plug for the enviormental chambers either. The caddy has not been started in 3 years, and the 2 Buics for 10-12 years. Great ideas so far. I think I will definately err on the side of caution and do the valve cover removal, and for the heck of it, pull the tanks and have them drained, cleaned, sealed. Anybody know of a good place to get the Fuel Tank Sending units ? Thanks a bunch.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Another question - I've heard about using drills to spin the oil pump - but never heard how to actually do it. Do I need some adapter to put into the drill, and where does it go ? I've got a '49 Buick Super w/ Straight 8 , '73 Century GS w/455, and '70 Caddy w/472 ? Thanks

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