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Model A Chassis Technical Forum

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Starting a car from long term storage

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  • Starting a car from long term storage

    Original Thread

    I'll start by saying do not attempt to run the motor on the fuel supply from the tank. Pumping debris or old crap gas into the carburetor is never a good thing. This can cause your valves and rings to stick. It will also mess up a good working carburetor.
    Hang an auxiliary fuel supply with fresh gas gravity fed directly to the carburetor.
    2 1930 Tudors

    Henry Ford said
    "It's all nuts and bolts"

    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

  • #2
    Check the distributor check the points,rotor and cap make sure there is no back and forth play in distributor shaft coil, plugs if carb is dirty clean it, fill block and radiator with water if dry look for leaks( do not leave water in it, battery(condition) Drain the oil see what comes out and put fresh in , your atf advice would not hurt either you can always use it. I usually bypass all the switches and wiring to start a motor and check those things later. once all of that is right also squirt a little oil in the cylinders I like to use diesel just to lube things up as well. If you eliminate all the other things first I find it makes it easier.


    • #3
      Let me toss out some random thoughts.
      A lot depends on whether you stored the car or bought during a deep sleep. If it was you that stored it, there is much more known.
      If not you, then
      1. I'd pull the pan and side cover, and inspect and clean, incl oil pump screen. You have no idea what is in there. With so many owners still convinced non-detergent oil is the way to go, you may just be very thankful you did this.
      2. In any event, at least do an oil change and get oil to the mains and cam
      3. Squirt a couple tablespoons of oil down each cylinder. Once the mains and cylinders have oil, hand crank the motor over to lube up the cyl walls and rings
      4. Cooling system needs to be checked
      5. get a helper and test the ignition. Meaning, key on, and crank a few turns to see if you have a spark, unless you know how to operate the points manually to test for a spark at the plug. No sense in cranking and cranking and cranking hoping it will start
      6. I'd check head nut torque. We are always reading about a guy who re-torqued and discovered one nut to be finger tight, like we did on a '32 GMC we overhauled 5 years ago. Myself, I have never been a fan of loosening a nut then re-torquing. There may be some sort of principle of physics behind it, but to me in reality I think there are too many risks, such as leaking coolant into a cylinder, and breaking a stud, and breaking the head gasket seal. If it is so tight/corroded it doesn't want to move it is probably OK. I have never found a nut with low torque that was frozen and couldn't be moved.


      • #4
        FWIW: From past Model A experiences, in my humble opinion, (1) one mechanical/electrical Model A "uncorrected" noticed failure just leads to another more costly failure.

        After initial Model A purchase, it often depends how far one wants to go with mechanical restoration.

        My 1930 Town Sedan I bought about 12 years ago was stored in heated garages for 30 years. I drove it for about one (1) mile in Texas prior to purchasing, where everything "appeared" OK including brakes, start up, etc., but with road wandering where steering was hampered by 25 year old, hard, (non-worn), bias tires with maladjusted 1-1/2" "toe-out" front alignment . Owner said it only had about 200 miles on it during the past 30 years.

        I knew very well about former non-Model-A-mechanic owners for years trying to provide inexpensive repairs, and the so often heard, inexpensive, non-professional mechanical cheap repairs performed by cheap mechanics telling owners for years: "This is good enough for a Model A."

        Maybe because of repair cost, what many of today's Model A owners never want to admit today, after buying a Model A is, for example: A non-cleaned, dirty fuel tank can mess up a carburetor, wear out rings and valve guides with sand, where engine overhaul becomes eminent ..... worn brake bands mean new drums in the nearby future ......... advanced ignition timing and/or pinging leads to new Babbitt ....... not to mention all of the Forum "many, many" reported rebuilt engine failures over the past 20 years caused by what these cheap, non-professional Model A restoration engine re-builders refer to as "tight" engines that are too tight to allow clearance for an oil film.

        After delivery, I first tried to drain oil which appeared fresh & new on the dipstick; but as witnessed before, with about 1-1/2" of old non-detergent oil sludge in the bottom of the oil pan, no oil drained after removing the plug. Removed oil pan and also found one side, (bottom side), of camshaft had deep rust pit holes that could easily wear tappets.

        Afterwards, performed a bumper to bumper mechanical replacement of 100%, i. e. "all" bushings, roller and ball bearings,along with new rings, new pistons and new valves, and had crankshaft counter-balanced.

        I'm guessing that with an added large K&N air filter, an added oil filter, clean detergent oil, MMO in gas, clean original radiator with 50/50 anti-freeze,, new 3:27 rear end, new cast iron brake drums with bonded brakes, this car will perform well for at least the next 150,000 miles with Ford's recommended lubrication and maintenance. Who knows? LOL!


        • #5
          Take a oil can and squirt some oil on the crankshaft pully where it enters the timing
          cover. The idea is to lube the front seal. Do this a couple of days ahead of time. The seal can dry out in storage and score the pully shaft and lead to a leaky front seal.


          • #6
            Part1, Putting it away correctly has a lot to do with getting it started and running again later! In the Marina, we always ran them till they were hot, Not warm, Hot! Then we shut off the gas while it was running and quickly, while it was still running off the gas in the carb, shot a 50/50 mix of gas into the carb with a squirt type of oil can until the engine choked itself. Also, I like to put STP in the oil and get that well coated throughout the insides of the engine before choking it. STP is more clingy than regular oil. We were storing the boats and motors in a damp environment and we liked to give them all the protection we could.

            Part 2 Restarting. Restart on the old oil but don't run it for more than ten minutes. Then dump it and replace it with new oil. What's this all about? When you put and engine away, after a while moisture gets in on the moving parts and cyl. walls (That's why the STP) Starting on the old oil scrapes this scale, surface rust off these surfaces and it contaminates your old oil with what amounts to a slurry of oil and iron oxide particles. This was a major problem with planes whose owner didn't fly them enough. Any owner following these simple directions should have no problems.


            • Mitch
              Mitch commented
              Editing a comment
              Terry with all due respect I do not agree with most of this. I wouldn’t start the engine with the old original oil for many reasons. The contaminates which you mention are also in the oil. The viscosity of this is also unknown, it’s basically a mystery to what is in there. Now we are talking about a gravity flow system so extreme caution needs to be taken to ensure that the lubrication gets down those main feed lines. loading up the oil with STP may be to thick for this as well. Most cars that were left in a barn for 40 years were just dumped there. The new care taker has no idea of what was done to it on it’s last run. When I had a boat I would fog the motor with the appropriate motor fogging product. Using something with 50% gas would probably shut the motor down to quickly.

              I would dump the oil before attempting any startup.. Then dump it again after the initial shutdown

            • Terry, NJ
              Terry, NJ commented
              Editing a comment
              If I had a 40+ year old engine, that was sitting in a dusty barn, I probably not start it on the old oil either! In fact, when I bought my first A in 2010, I filled the crankcase with diesel oil and after a few days, I drained it and replaced it while I heavily dosed the top end with MMO. It still didn't do much good. #4 Exhaust valve was frozen in place, turning it over did nothing. Had the owner done what I suggested in regards to the STP and the oil into the upper cyl. perhaps it would been easier to start . But the guy who just threw it in a rickety old barn, that began falling down around it, didn't bother with any kind of prep and the car reflected it. I have often said, if I knew what I know now, I'd have left it there. It was junk ! And why? Precisely because there was no, zero, zip nada, attempt at preservation.

          • #7
            All of above. Please insure that you check trans and diff oil levels.
            After a 46 year slumber, my barn car had less then an ounce of gear oil in the differential. Jeff


            • #8
              Model A assumptions can many times be very costly:

              With a case similar to that of reply #7, in many cases it is advisable to assume absolutely "nothing" when acquiring a newly restored, and/or an un-restored, and/or any Model A that has been in storage for some time, (even while undergoing major repairs), where the owner did not use it recently.

              One sad story I heard about (12) years ago was from a prominent gentleman who told me about picking up his completely and expensively restored Model A where while after traveling a long distance home, he heard a terrible differential noise.

              He said that the only "Happy" part of his experience was that after he immediately called the restorer who was honest enough to admit he forgotten to provide differential oil in the differential and offered to make all repairs at no additional cost.


              • #9
                For sure check all fluids. In 1969 I bought a 1961 Corvan, and in 1998 I bought a 1985 Caravan, and in both cases the sellers worked on the rear end and never put oil back in them. The damage was done by the time I got them home to check the fluids, so don't even test drive it without knowing the fluids are full.


                • #10
                  FWIW: Thoughts On ..... After Long Time Storage:

                  From one (1) additional actual fuel tank experience, after I bought my aforementioned 1930 Town Sedan about (12) years ago.

                  If the inside of a Model A gas tank looks like it has dull, black paint inside ..... and/or dull, black peeling paint inside ...... it very well could be that the tank was coated inside with a former Model A magazine article recommended horrible sealer made from mixing black "Permatex" with "alcohol".

                  This terrible "peeling" non-adhesive sealer mix was described in an article written in "The Restorer" in the 1970's. Today's gasoline with ethanol dissolves the "Permatex" and allows the "Permatex" to mix with today's ethanol gasoline creating further problems.

                  After running one's engine, this gasoline mixed with dissolved "Permatex" coats the inside of one's carburetor and the inside of one's intake manifold with a thick coat of tar looking paint. Carburetor jets become clogged.

                  Luckily, immediately after rebuilding my engine, (and before the carburetor began malfunctioning), I only drove my Town Sedan about (10) miles with this vintage recommended coating after filling up with today's ethanol gasoline.

                  This tar like coating is not removed easily with Kroil, PB Blaster, paint thinner, lacquer thinner, alcohol or similar products; however, POR 15 Marine Clean mixed with about (3)parts water emulsifies it & removes it immediately.

                  Cleaning the insides of a "Permatex" coated Model A fuel tank with POR Marine Clean is a different subject.


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by tbirdtbird View Post
                    2. In any event, at least do an oil change and get oil to the mains and cam
                    I agree and think getting oil to the mains should be explained. I would never think of pulling the distributor and refilling a qt or two down the hole if not for seeing it in a thread.


                    • #12
                      Rare Long Term Storage ........ Flashlight for gas tank ..... Oil pan removal ?????

                      How about Grandpa's old Model A in his shed. Parents drop off their two excited grand-kids at Gramp's house. Kids are playing in Gramp's Model A, behind steering wheel and on fenders. One kid opens hood, see oil filler cap, removes it, looks inside. Other kid picks up an empty can and pours dirt in opening. Then, wow! Look at that gas cap ...... get dirt and pour it in gas tank ...... cool.

                      Sounds unimaginable; however, I knew a senior mechanic who related this story about one of his customer's experience years ago ...... as one can imagine, most kids never replaced the oil filler cap and the gas tank cap ........ and with dirt adjacent to his gas tank opening, Grandpa knew what to expect from his little loving, curious grand-kids ...... he removed his oil pan and flushed his gas tank.

                      Moral of this Model A story might be:

                      Prior to driving your Model A home, be cautious of well behaved grand-kids who were trained to be diligent enough to clean dirt around gas tank opening and replace gas tank caps and oil filler caps after pouring in dirt..