Working On My Own

Looking over the list of work to be done that I had made, there were a few things I could reasonably hope to accomplish in my garage or in my driveway.  If I was to work in the driveway I had to be careful not to tackle anything that would leave the car sitting there for more than a few hours at most.  I didn’t want to get in trouble with the HOA or anger any of my neighbors.  Val’s suggestion was that I concentrate first on getting the engine running again.  That seemed to make sense to me as it would make it easier to get the car into and out of the garage.  It also would be a huge boost towards getting the car back on the road since it would move farther away from being a roller and much closer to being a driver.  I felt that if the weather would just warm up a bit I could give it a shot.

I did some online research in starting engines that had sat for years and made up a list of steps to follow.  Then I emailed the list to Val to get his opinion.  He gave me a lot of good suggestions and really helped me refine the list.  He had told me during one of our past conversations that the formulation of motor oils had changed since the car was last on the road and that I needed to select an oil brand that contained enough of the additive ZDDP to properly lubricate my engine’s flat tappet camshaft and lifters.  Since one step of starting the engine was to change the oil I asked Val what he would recommend.  His recommendation agreed with what my online research had shown, which was to use Shell Rotella T 15W40 oil, which was available at Walmart for a fair price.  Here’s the list of steps I ended up with after talking to Val.  Don’t blame me if you follow these steps and they don’t work for you or you have a different way of proceeding.  I’m just sharing what I plan to do.

  • Drain any gas remaining in the fuel lines to the carburetor
  • Pull the spark plugs and inspect them.  Replace if necessary.
  • Repeat the following steps until the engine turns freely
    • Oil the cylinders with a small amount of ATF using a tube or fuel line to help guide the ATF into the cylinder
    • Wait for the ATF to penetrate
    • Turn the engine over by hand 90 to 180 degrees
  • Change the oil and filter
  • Carburetor may need rebuilding.  Make sure it is in good shape, especially if the air cleaner has been left off.  My air cleaner had been in place and the carburetor looked really good so I chose to wait until the fuel system had some pressure and see if it leaked or not.
  • Rig up a container of gas with a fuel line attached to the fuel pump inlet.  This was in place of my gas tank that I hadn’t installed yet.  If your gas and tank are OK this may not be necessary.
  • Turn the engine over using the starter until it has oil pressure or remove the distributor and prime the oil pump using an old distributor with the gear removed and a drill.  There is also a tool available for people who don’t have an old distributor available.  If cranking the engine with the starter this should also prime the fuel system.  Cranking the engine will also blow excess lubricant out of the spark plug holes preventing hydraulic lock in the cylinders.
  • If you used a tool to prime the oiling system, crank the engine over using the starter for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Replace the spark plugs
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy.  Safety comes first!
  • Prime the fuel system through the float bowl overflow if needed.  Shouldn’t be needed if you cranked the engine with the starter
  • Start engine – check for leaks, just let it idle when it is ready.  No need for high RPMs unless it is a new engine that isn’t broken in.
  • Set timing, adjust the carburetor, and check the dwell angle if the car uses points.

I watched the weather for the next few days and saw that the upcoming weekend was supposed to be a bit warmer.  I made the trip to Walmart to pick up the oil, oil filter, and ATF.  It turned out they also sell a hose that can screw on to a bottle of ATF and has a valve that opens and closes to control the amount of ATF that can flow through the tube.  I added that tool to my purchase, paid for the fluids and parts, and then headed home.

I decided that since I had some free time I would try and get the project started inside the garage before the weekend.  I pulled the fuel line and made sure it was empty.  Next I tackled the spark plugs.  There is very little clearance between the engine and shock tower on this car, so removing the spark plugs can be a challenge.  Combine this with the fact that there is very little lighting n my garage and you can probably imagine what a challenge removing the spark plugs can be.  But I persevered and eventually got them all out.  I also had some help from my one inch extension.  In a pinch I could always remove the valve covers as well to gain some additional clearance.

Now it was time to try out my new tool.  I opened the bottle of ATF and screwed the tool on.  Then I put the other end of the hose into each spark plug hole and put about one teaspoon full of ATF into each cylinder.  This was a little messy but not too much fluid was spilled.  Then I left it to sit for a couple of hours and let the ATF do it’s work.  When I came back I tried to turn the engine with a wrench on the crankshaft pulley.  It turned, but was a bit tight.  I put some more ATF in each cylinder and let it sit for a few minutes.  This time the engine turned much more easily.  I was happy and out of time, so I left it to sit until I could continue the job.  The plan was to continue the next day if time and my wife permitted.  If not, I would continue in two days, after the weekend was over .