Starting a long sitting engine.

Small Block Mopar Engine

  1. wvjeepr

    wvjeepr New Member

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    I have a 71 Dart with a 318 it has been sitting for 20 years without starting. What procedures should I do prior to starting this vehicle? I want to get her out for her 50th B Day next year. Thanks for your input.
     
  2. halifaxhops

    halifaxhops It's going to get stupid around here! FABO Gold Member

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    Start by changing all the fluids/filters gas included, inspecting all rubber, and of course shoot some oil in the cylenders and prime it for starters. flush the cooling system with the thermostat out. If you can pressure test the coolant system also, copper heater cores and freeze out plugs also seem to have a habit of crapping out after sitting a long time. Do it after flushing and before new coolant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
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    • rklein383

      rklein383 Well-Known Member

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      I presume it ran when put away...If not, I would pull the valve covers, inspect for obvious problems and turn over the engine by hand to make sure it is not locked up. Pulling the carb and doing a rebuild might not be a bad idea.
       
    • Murray

      Murray FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      I would add the obvious- charge the battery and clean the cables.
       
    • Dana67Dart

      Dana67Dart Like a fine wine, only getting better with age! FABO Gold Member

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      What conditions was the engine stored?

      We're the fluids drained?
      Was it in the car the entire time?
      Is it humid where you are?
      Was it indoors our out?
      Mice or insects get into the intake or other openings?

      20 years is a long time!
       
    • missing linc

      missing linc Loose nut behind the wheel

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      When I bought my 1976 Pontiac Ventura, it had been sitting for 18 years. @halifaxhops covered a good part of what you will need to do, but I would add the following:

      Flush the fuel system, including the tank, that means you will need to remove it to do a thorough job.
      Rebuild or replace the carburetor.
      Replace the fuel pump.
      Replace all rubber hoses, including heater, rad, brakes, fuel.
      Replace thermostat.
      Inspect entire brake system, replace as necessary, plan on wheel cylinders/calipers, probably master cylinder.
      Repack front wheel bearings.
      Replace spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor, points (if equipped), plug wires.
      Expect to find rodent habitation in the exhaust system, and interior.
      Replace belt(s).
      Fresh engine oil and filter, change again after 500 miles or less, be sure to add zinc additive.
      Fresh transmission oil and filter.
      Inspect steel fuel lines for rot.
      Inspect all wiring for rodent damage.
      Tires will be flat spotted, and/or dry rotted, replace all.
      Inspect exhaust system for rot, muffler(s) will almost certainly be rotten.

      Turning the engine by hand several times with some oil (a small amount) in each cylinder is a really good idea as well.
      Following these basic steps should make it safe, and hopefully ensure the engine survives it's hibernation.
       
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      • Tooljunkie

        Tooljunkie King of cobble/master of the broken bolt FABO Gold Member

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        When i prime an engine i like to use some gas mixed with two stroke oil..
         
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        • MoparMike1974

          MoparMike1974 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          Change oil and filter. Pull the distributor and prime the oil pump. Pull valve covers, use an oil can and put some oil on all of the valve stems where they go through the guides. Rotate engine by hand and make sure all valves open and fully close. Wouldnt hurt to prime the oil pump again after rotating the engine by hand and during (use a helper).
           
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          • 66 Valiant wagon

            66 Valiant wagon Well-Known Member

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            Pull the valve covers and hit each valve with a hammer to make sure they're all able to open and close. If it sat for that long moisture has gotten in there. Hopefully you don't find any valves rusted frozen.
             
          • Demonracer

            Demonracer 71 Demon 00 Ram 16 Chrysler 300S 05 Caravan FABO Gold Member

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            Be careful hitting the valves with a hammer, you might be chasing the keepers across the shop. LMAO
             
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            • nm9stheham

              nm9stheham Well-Known Member

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              Maybe just 'tap' them LOL.

              Spray some Marvel Mystery Oil into each spring on the vavle stems to get into the guides.

              Pull all plugs and put some MMO in each cylinder and let ti set a few days before attempting to turn. Turn slowly and without too much force. If it wants to stop. don't force it. If you do, you can break a ring. Work it back and forth and use more MMO in each cylinder.

              Check to be sure there are no acorns and stuff in either the t exhaust ports or intake anywhere; that will be common in Keyser. If so, they can get into the cylinders through an open valve.

              The fuel system absolutely needs to be pulled apart 100%; don't be lazy on this part.

              Lots of other good stuff above!
               
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              • ClydeT

                ClydeT Member

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                Add valve seals to the list or you'll have a sump filter full of plastic.
                 
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                • gliderider06

                  gliderider06 Well-Known Member

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                  Pull the valve covers. I had a running engine sit for about 10 years and it had rusted every pushrod and rocker. It sat in a garage that wasn't heated. Pull the plugs, spray oil in the cylinders hand crank the motor and do as mentioned in above comments.
                   
                • LS-300

                  LS-300 Well-Known Member

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                  My car sat for 20 years and this is what I did.
                  1) hooked up an electric pump to the fuel line in the engine compartment to drain all the old fuel. I use an old 5 gal gas can to collect the fuel.
                  2) Pour fresh fuel in the tank and again using the electric pump to get the fuel up to the front.
                  3) Change the oil including the filter.
                  4) Pull all the spark plugs and crank the engine with the starter to get oil pressure up.
                  5) Put the spark plugs back in and try to start the engine.
                  Mine started right up and the only problem I had was about 3 months later a freeze plug started to leak.
                  Good Luck.
                   
                • clementine

                  clementine Flight risk FABO Gold Member

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                  Love that Marvel Mystery Oil.
                   
                • wvjeepr

                  wvjeepr New Member

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                  Thanks for all the suggestions She ran when I parked her I always wanted to get her back out just never found the time.
                   
                • harrisonm

                  harrisonm Well-Known Member

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                  Excellent advice. I would add one thing. Get the engine at TDC before pulling the distributor for the priming process. As one person is running the drill for the priming, have another person rotate the crankshaft two whole turns. That will not only get the engine back to TDC, but it will allow fresh oil to flow nicely between the moving crank and cam and their associated bearings.
                   
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