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Flathead start after setting for 40 years.. any tips?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by JTW, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    Friday evening I am going to start a 1952 wrecker that has been setting since 1970 or longer. the hood has been on and motor covered. You can grab the fan and it will turn over smooth. Im going to throw in a battery clean out the carb, change the oil.. and PRAY! Any tip to do before the first turn. I know that they are a 6 volt system, can I start it with a 12 volt battery, or shoud I go get one of those tractor 6v batterys? Any bets on if it will run....???? I figure that the ring will be stuck, or possibly other stuff. If It does run, is there somn I can do to help the rings break loose? Truck only has 30k on it, and Ive been told if the flatties run... dont rebuild them, cause your asking for it.

    Thanks Hambers.
     
  2. socalmerc
    Joined: Feb 24, 2008
    Posts: 475

    socalmerc
    Member
    from socal

    i worked with a guy who like to put a squirt of engine oil in the pistons before he started a sitting motor as far as i remember you can start it with a 12 v it might kill the gauges though unless you use a voltage reducer
     
  3. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    I had heard a shot of trans fluid.... Was planning on using lucas oil stabilizer.
    I just wonder if its gonna start, guess there is no reason why it wont.
     
  4. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,680

    Marty Strode
    Member

    I would pull the spark plugs and squirt some Marvel Mystery oil in the cylinders, spin it over and let set for a while. The valves can stick open and can be a problem. Spin it over with towels over the heads to soak up the oil. Maybe run a compression test to determine if the valves and rings are free. Put the plugs and start it. If you have a 6 volt battery you could use it,but I would jump it with a 12. A small gravity fuel tank plumbed directly to the carb will solve any fuel pump,or tank problems. Good luck
     

  5. 49 Custom
    Joined: Apr 17, 2009
    Posts: 282

    49 Custom
    Member

    Yes, you can start it with a 12v battery. The starter will run fast, so use short bursts. The gauges will be fine since they are electro-mechanical, though they won't register the correct values.
     
  6. You can always pull the manifold off and watch things move when you turn it over by hand........see if anything is not right!
     
  7. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    How much of a problem are sticking valves on a flatty thats has set? I'll do the marvel and turn it with no plugs as you suggest. Im sure if I run a comp test It will give me low numbers on some. I have no doubt it will have some sticcking somn problems. But was trying to avoid a rebuild.
     
  8. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    We started a 42 Ford sedan after it sat for over 20 years. A couple of the valves would stick open. I pulled the spark plug and used a screwdriver to pop it closed. It only takes a slight help to overcome the resistance and the spring pops it closed. Don't go nuts in case it is just up on the cam and not stuck. Turned it over again and it stuck again. So I took a Spray Nine type bottle, filled it with ATF set the nozzle to stream and shot it at the valve stem through the spark plug hole. After a few repeats, the valve got enough lubrication and quit sticking. We had no intention of using the engine but we were pleasantly surprised at how well it did run after it's long sleep. We just wanted the challenge of getting it to run again. We never tried to fill the cooling system so we never let it run very long but it did run pretty smoothly after the valves freed up.
     
  9. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 5,680

    Marty Strode
    Member

    Good advice Tommy,I have a special screwdriver with a short foot bent on the end for just that purpose. Sometimes it takes a few tries.
     
  10. bct
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 3,097

    bct
    Member

    after filling with new oil...................pull off the line to the oil filter and dump some oil in the hole.....turn the engine backwards a few turns to prime your pump
     
  11. xix32
    Joined: Jun 12, 2008
    Posts: 516

    xix32
    Member

    pump the new oil into the engine, into the oil pressure line fitting. this should prime all the bearings.
     
  12. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,519

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    xix32, that is the Best advice yet!!!!

    Good way to do this is to make up a flexible line (I had Joe at NAPA make up a 12 foot one for me with 1/4" pipe fittings on each end)
    << Also pick up some extra quarts of oil.>>
    Change oil in the flathead, but only put in 3 quarts. (4, if it has an oil filter)
    Pull your truck alongside, disconnect the oil pressure line fron the truck and connect the new line from truck to flathead at the oil pressure ports.
    Check the oil level on the truck, make sure it's full!
    Start the truck and begin the 'transfusion'... 30 seconds should be more than enough time to bleed out and displace air in the oil galleys of the flathead. Spin the flathead over a few times before disconnecting the line.
    Don't forget to check the oil in the truck after disconnect...I was surprised how much oil I displaced from my 350 Chev mill into the flathead! (2 quarts!!!)

    I had an oil leak in my '66 VW that I couldn't find. I pulled the engine, removed all the sheet metal, and hooked up my flexible line (oil gauge port to oil gauge port, 1/8" pipe fitting fit the metric port)
    VOILA! There it was! A hairline crack on the VW case just below the oil cooler. Would have been hard to find without disassembling the engine to cases, and performing Zyglowing.

    Final comment: Be sure you remember to neoprene-cap the oil hose ends when not in use...
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  13. 92GTA
    Joined: Oct 19, 2010
    Posts: 99

    92GTA
    Member

    My '56 Corvette was sitting for 40 years parked in a garage...still there were issues...

    First off, pull the oil pan! You would not believe the chunky thick crud that the oil turns into after sitting that long. I changed the oil twice on mine before pulling the pan and there was literally 2" of thick nasty goop, it was horrible.

    Then, even after driving a few hundred miles, I had crazy blow-by and crank case pressure, I was blowing oil out of my rear road draft tube at any RPM over 2,800. I even pulled the plugs and fill the combustion chambers with MMO. I tried tranny fluid, MMO in the gas, Auto-RX in the oil, everything. Finally I ripped the engine apart and 3 or 4 piston had rings that were simply frozen in place on the piston. Nothing would have fixed this short of cleaning the pistons and new rings. Due to turning a blind eye, I had to do a helleva hone job on those cylinders too. Keep in mind my car was stored indoors in the CA desert, no rust in side the engine at all.

    After pulling the pan when changing the oil, after about 25 miles I would pull the plugs and do a warm compression check. If things are low, tear it apart sooner than later so you don't have to bore the cylinders.

    I learned the hard way.
     
  14. terryble
    Joined: Sep 25, 2008
    Posts: 541

    terryble
    Member
    from canada

    I am no lover of flatheads but i've never seen one that wouldn't start if it turned over! Drain the pan and watch for water coming out before oil, if it's just oil put in some cheap oil, it won't be in there long. The spark plugs are over the exhaust valves so try to direct some oil into the cylinders with some kind of nozzle, turn over a few times to prime the pump and get that oil down past the rings, put the plugs back in and let it sit overnight. Make sure you have a good supply of fresh gas to the carb and start it up. It may run rough, miss a bit, generally screw around but it will probably start to smooth out after a while. Spray some penatrating oil down the card throat and it will loosen sticky valves run it til it's hot, spray more penatrating oil down the carb, shut it off and let it sit for awhile or over night. It will run better everytime you start it after that.
     
  15. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    tommy
    Member Emeritus

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Not a flathead but it sat for 25 years in the rust belt before being pulled and stored inside.

    [​IMG]

    It cleaned up pretty well and after it got some real exercise of more than a weekly start up in the garage, the MMO released the gummed up rings and the smoke from the tailpipe that resembled a mosquito killing machine subsided and eventually ended. It's still doing just fine. I have to admit that I was a little scared at first but it turned out just fine. If it smokes out of the tailpipe give it some time and some serious exercise for the MMO to work it's magic. It won't cure broken rings but it can cure gummed up rings. At least it worked for me.
     
  16. If the rings are still stuck after soaking a few days with Mystery oil, pour some coke down each spark plug and let sit a few hours. The phosphoric acid in the coke will dissolve the rust. After it breaks loose, flush with motor oil.
     
  17. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    Wow, using your oil pressure out of your ride to prime, coke to disolve the rust. I have heard of this stuff before, but never would have thought of trying it. In reality if I can get the rings and valves broke loose, after a re-gasket it should run for a long time very reliable. Ok here is the preliminery plan.....

    1st - drain oil / refill oil.
    2nd - drain/refill radiator - remove/clean carb
    3rd - pull plugs - rotate through and squirt/fill MMO in and around valve/pistons.
    4th - points and wire cleaning/replacement
    5th - let it sit for a couple of days.. while rotating a few times each day.
    6th - May try that oil line thing from my chevy... WISH I HAD ANOTHER WAY TO PRESSURE OIL THROUGH A OIL LINE. pics please of the oil press IN on the flat head
    7th - Here we go!
     
  18. silentpoet
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 207

    silentpoet
    Member
    from NWA

    Be prepared for smoke. My caddy had set for about 20 years before I got it going a few weeks back. Even with an open garage door it filled the basement. But after running it some it stopped smoking so bad. I did have to shut it down that first time though to clear out the basement. Next time I ran some fans near the doors and popped open all the windows. Don't worry too much at first unless it is knocking. Just be ready to do some tuning to get it to run.
     
  19. you could also prssurise the oiling system with a cheap Harbor freight pressure pot and shop air reduced to 20 psi or so.
     
  20. better to use trans fluid as its thinner and burns up better ive always been told. (though ive used motor oil before this and never had any troubles)
     
  21. xix32
    Joined: Jun 12, 2008
    Posts: 516

    xix32
    Member

    i wouldn't keep turning that engine over untill you pressurize the oil system.
    changing the oil isn't going to do any good. those bearings are dry! and you'll score them cranking on the starter before any oil pressure gets to the bearings.
    get a small dia. hose with the correct size pipe thread fitting to screw into the pressure port that feeds the gauge.
    i built a way to attach the other end of the hose to an old oil pump.
    submerge the pump in a pail of new oil, and drive it with a powerfull ( 1/2" drive) reverseable drill.
    my pump had to be turned counter clockwise to pump.
     
  22. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    I think it's all been said...but what I know:
    If it will rotate, you are mostly there. If you are not in a rush I would help the piston rings along by putting a lot of MMO into each hole and letting it marinate for quite a while.
    Valves do indeed tend to be the first things to stick when a flathead sits too long. They are rarely stuck very firmly on an engine that is not siezed--indeed, the fact that engine rotates freely indicates that it was at least able to push all of them open. Have someone rotate engine (7/8 socket on crank nut better than fan!) while you peer in through plug holes...you will likely see a few sticking open, and likely will be able to pushemshut through the hole. Squirt oil past each, keep shutting them till they start following the cam. If you are too lazy to check, you can spot the trouble because engine will crank way too fast and do it practically forever without running down battery if valves are open.
    Oil system is easy...open one of the two plugs in rear of block that hold pressure sender and a plug. Hook up a can any way you can to a piece of hose and a 1/4 pipe fitting, let a couple quarts of oil trickle in that way immediately before you fire it... once you do that you will have pressure on the first click of the starter.
    Once it lights, put excessive amounts of MMO into fuel, lots more in oil, change oil a couple of times to soak it all out.
     
  23. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    I accually thought that after I posted it... scratch... change oil #1.. then pressure berring#2... than other stuff.
     
  24. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    SO I can get the oiling pressure can at harbor Sh--freight. or I like the idea of using an old pump, weld in 1/4 pipe femal on pressure side. I'll build a stand that drop into s paint can and completely submerses it, but holds its steady... DRILL! OR a fuel tranfer pump?

    After the pressurizing, I'll [rolly run about 5 quarts through it just to kind clean out the crud. Would you guys use Some MMO to leave in for a firiing, or Lucas Oil stabilizer... very thick.
     
  25. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    If you just put in the last 2 quarts through the rear pressure port (takes a while to trickle in, then start engine as soon as you get plug back in) You will have pressure instantly as soon as starter turns. This fills the pump area in back from the top, trickles on down the gallery. No equipment needed except a coffee can and line.
    You would want to pull that plug anyway so you can hook up a mechanical pressure gauge for the startup--unlikely that original gauges will be ready to go.
     
  26. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    Good Deal. Im gonna fill the cyl tomorrow and allow to soak will Monday. I'll then do the start up.
     
  27. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    You want at least the last quart to go in the rear port IMMEDIATELY before you hit the starter...almost all of the oil passages can drain down to empty if left alone for too long.
     
  28. JTW
    Joined: Sep 4, 2010
    Posts: 277

    JTW
    Member

    Ok, Ive got the Cyl setting full of MMO. I'll do the rest on Mon.
     
  29. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    And make sure the MMO has drained out of the cylinders by then, just in case...it would be deeply painful to have the engine try to start and go BANG from hydraulic lockup!
     
  30. Mart
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,376

    Mart
    Member

    Just crank it over with the plugs out - makes a mess but will throw the excess oil out and leave everything else nicely coated. Also the fast spinover (no compression) will get the oil pressure up quickly - especially if primed as mentioned above.

    Mart.
     

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