Need advise starting a mothballed car

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Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by jcfx » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:47 pm

I have a Jeep that I want to get rid of and I have a prospective taker for her, I mothballed her because my knee
didn't like the manual clutch, I'd like to start it up to get out of the garage and driveway, it's been dormant for close to 17 yrs.

The battery is dead as a door nail so it goes without saying a fresh battery is first to get.
My first thought is to drain half of the crank case oil and refill it so that the cylinder head gets some lubrication,
and drain and refill the radiator which looks empty.

What would be a check list of things I need to do to prep it to be started ?

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by Russ Hanscom » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:54 pm

Several thoughts; For one, I would remove the spark plugs and crank it over a bit to get oil throughout before attempting a real start. Fuel system could be a challenge - drain and fresh fuel for a start. After you do get it going for a bit, new fuel and oil filters might be a good idea.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:56 pm

jcfx wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:47 pm
I have a Jeep that I want to get rid's been dormant for close to 17 yrs...What would be a check list of things I need to do to prep it to be started ?
Here are some suggestions:
  • If the Jeep has sat all these years with fuel in the tank you are going to have a problem. The tank and fuel suction line may be gummed up and rectifying that problem is going to be a real challenge.
  • As for the engine, begin by removing the spark plugs, injecting a small amount of motor oil into each cylinder and manually rotating the engine two full revolutions to spread the oil.
  • Completely change the engine oil and replace the filter. Since the engine hasn't been run for years, the oil galleries will be dry and little oil will be trapped in the bearings. So pour as much fresh oil into the new filter as possible before installing it. Doing so will reduce the time it takes to pressurize the bearings after the engine fires the first time.
  • Verify that the brakes are still operable before you try to move the Jeep. It's not unusual for the seals to go bad in a master cylinder, wheel cylinder and/or disc brake caliper after a long period of disuse.
  • If present, remove the water jacket drain plug(s) from the engine to verify all coolant is out of the block.
  • While the aforementioned drain plugs are out, flush the cooling system with plain water.
  • Verify that the lower radiator hose isn't plugged up.
  • Once all cooling system checks/maintenance have been performed fill it with the usual 50:50 antifreeze/water mixture.
  • Remove the air filter and use Gumout® to clean the air intake, etc. Don't get carried away with spraying Gumout into the intake.
  • While the Gumout used in the previous step is "soaking in," drain and refill the transmission, if an automatic. That old ATF will be mucky after all those years.
  • Replace the air filter, install fresh spark plugs and a new battery, and see if you can get it running. As soon as it starts and assuming the brakes are okay, shift the transmission through all positions to get the ATF circulated.
Good luck!
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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by John Hasler » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:24 pm

Also verify that the clutch will release.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by GlennW » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:59 pm

Not familiar with Jeeps at all, but on Chevrolet engines the camshaft drove the distributor and the distributor drove the oil pump. Removing the distributor allowed you to insert a shaft in a drill motor that would engage the oil pump so you could run the pump to prime it and pre-oil the engine prior to starting.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by jcfx » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:03 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions, good stuff about the the lower radiator hose, the brake seals, and the clutch releasing ( it's a 4 sp )
I don't think the lower radiator hose is plugged up, I took good care of as my daily commuter vehicle although I am a bit
perplexed that the radiator was empty looking down the filler hole, I didn't think anti freeze would evaporate out of a closed system.
I did manage to check the oil when I cleaned up the garage to a point where I could pop the hood, and oil on the dip stick is golden
colored with a hint of gasoline so I may have changed the oil prior to mothballing.

I have been fretting over the gas in the tank, I'm not certain how full the tank was when I mothballed it and disposing the
old gas will be a problem since I'm in the city. Guess a new battery will tell me, if the fuel gauge and tank float is working.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by warmstrong1955 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:17 pm

Besides what has been mentioned.....has this thing been stored inside, or outside?
And if inside, was it temp controlled?

I've fired up many old diesel engines that had been sitting for years. Last one was a 16cyl Cummins that had set around in SE Alaska for 8 or 10 years.
Typical thing though....
Oil dumped, filters changed.
Fuel tank drained & refilled. That long....fuel will be garbage.
Fuel filters changed. System primed with new fuel.
Like Glenn said....oil system run to fill system & oil all. Easy with an external oil pump, don't know watcha got.
Injecters pulled, and cylinders misted. Solvent guns and ATF work well...and don't over do it. (Since we had ATF....but any light oil is good)

Transmission, diffs....if you don't change the oil, at least pull the drain plug, or use a suction gun on the diff's & x-fer case to see what is at the bottom. Oil goes up....water goes down. Again....stored inside or outside makes a big difference.

Best to go checkin' and a-lookin' before you crank anything over.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by jcfx » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:23 pm

GlennW, my Jeep has a AMC 258 inline six, not sure if the oil pump is driven by the distributor.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by John Evans » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:50 pm

DO NOT Repeat DO NOT start it using any fuel in the tank !! No matter if tank was full or part ,that gas has went sour and if run through engine sure as God made little green apples you will end up sticking the valves with shellac [ie fuel gum]. Start engine with a temporary fuel supply !! With that time period the tank MUST be pulled and boiled out, at a radiator shop usually. Fresh gas with alcohol especially will dissolve any old fuel deposits and sticky valves here we come. Storage longer than 3-4 months out here in AZ the fuel will go bad. Been involved in more than one head pull to fix stuck and bent valve. Tip for all oil reservoirs axles trans etc,loosen the drain plugs 2-3 turns before you move/drive Jeep and any water in there will run out through the threads if any in there.

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by steamin10 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:59 pm

On older field cars I have done, it is always the same ritual. Knowing that time and money are the same I cut to the chase. With a hot battery I pull the plugs and spin the engine over with a shot of new engine oil in each cylinder. About three tries of about ten seconds each should bump the oil pressure guage. This lubes bearings and moving parts and cyclinders before you fiddle with anything else. A coffee can for fuel on the ground to suck out of will replace the tank for now, and some wd 40 or hot shot fluid will aid the fire off for a first firing. Go sparingly with the starting fluid. It should fire up, if not then you need to trouble shoot until you have gas, spark and life. Worry about radiator and cooling when you have something to cool. Put a qt of kerosene or diesel fuel in the oil and run the engine at idle for 5 or 10 minutes until it warms up, dont race the engine over 1/3 throttle. Shut down and drain the now warm and flushed gunk out of the pan and do a normal oil change and filter while you chase any other problems, like evaporated brake fluid. Most likely the fluid will be contaminated from age at that long a period and should be flushed. Changing all the fluids is a great idea, as normal use will create acids over time in the presence of moisture, and there is moisture in just the humidity that everything will inhale with temperature changes. The wilder the swings, the more air transfer. Adding a half pint of engine oil and a half gallon of alky to half a tank of new fuel will make short work of crud in the fuel system, and lube the valves in the first few minutes of real running too. Remember the rubber seals will be aged and dry. Deisel will soften gaskets and give them some life back as will oil in the fuel. A new carb filter or inline filter is in order after the first few miles of running, or the crud can stop up things where you dont want them, if there is any. Not all the gums and junk will come out in 5 minutes. So a quick change should forewarn you of visible signs of trouble before it happens.

This is what I do with pre -electronic age stuff. When the computers read and take over, all bets are off, they have a mind of their own. But I have yet to find a computer that can fix a car, it just blurbs out what it sees like a bad child on a road trip.
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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by Harold_V » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:47 am

John suggested removing the fuel tank and having it hot tanked.

Good luck with that. :shock:

From my recent experience of having the radiator fail in my ancient Kubota tractor, hot tanks are no longer a part of radiator shop equipment (at least here in the NW. EPA saw to that. New radiator, anyone?

Could be engine rebuilders still have them. Dunno!

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Re: Need advise starting a mothballed car

Post by liveaboard » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:07 am

I spin the oil pump with a screwdriver in a drill after rebuilding an engine.
But I wouldn't bother to do that with an old Jeep; you have to reset the timing afterwards, and if it won't start you have no way to tell if you just created the problem of if it's something else.

I would put some oil in through the sparkplug holes and spin it, that's a good idea.
Smell the fuel, and you'll know if it's bad. Probably is.
If the oil looks clean, leave it; change it after running for a spell.
Check hoses for brittleness + cracks.
Eyeball everything for a while. I used to do that when I worked in a garage. My boss used to ask me; "Did you stumble across the problem yet?" The answer was often yes.
Check the air filter for animals. Seriously. Rats and squirrels take up residence in there.
Spray grease on the door hinge pins, hood too.

If it's been in a damp or saline environment there may be all sorts of electrical problems, as switch contacts may be corroded.

The tires will be out of date and dangerous at highway speeds; if they look ok, selling them on is a big crime in my opinion.
It's a real thing.
A friend of mine had a major accident after buying a 20 year garaged cherry Mercedes, he was happily driving it home on a clear dry road when a tire delaminated. The thread caught on something and pulled the axle out of place, the car flipped 3 times. One passenger died, another had his scalp stitched back on. They sent a helicopter...

I had the spare changed on my 20 year old car; the spare is on a non-matching steel wheel it was almost never used and looked perfect. I put a knife through the sidewall and pulled, just to be sure it didn't end up on someone's car.

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