How to start an engine that has been sitting for 5+ years? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-14-2004, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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How to start an engine that has been sitting for 5+ years?

Guys and girls,

I need some hints for checking and starting a 1960s engine that has been sitting for 5+ years. What I have in mind so far is:

1. Drain the tank and fuel system (including float bowls on the carb) to make sure there is only "fresh" gas getting to the cylinders.

2. Oil change.

3. Remove spark plugs. Shall I put WD-40 or any "miracle oil" in the combustion chambers?

4. Crank to see if oil pressure builds up. Are there any shortcuts (such as spraying oil on the camshafts) to reduce wear risk of damage during that phase?

5. Clean distributor contacts and crank engine to check spark on plugs.

6. Insert spark plugs, crank engine and see if it starts.

Anything else I should consider?

Any suggestions are appreciated.

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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-14-2004, 10:27 PM
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I favor Marvel Mystery oil over WD 40, though I've never tried it for what you're doing. It sounds like the engine can be turned over by habd, right? If so, then you're on the right track, I would think. Good gas, good oil, good spark, a little extra slick in the cyls. Would you need to worry about glazing the cylinder walls as if it were a new startup? I wouldn't think so. When we start engines at work that have been dynoed then not run, sometimes for a year or two, we put in fresh fluids, crank for oil pressure and light em up.
(Big diesels) Make sure you crank it with the plugs out to evacuate the MMO from the cylinders so you don't break a piston rod.
Best of luck, let us know how it comes out. Pictures of the new rig?

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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-15-2004, 12:32 PM
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I always sqirt a bit of "red x" down each bore, leave at least overnight, and then spin the engine over without plugs in ( put a peice of rag over the s/plug holes to catch the red x ) it helps free up the rings, then, plugs in, fingers crossed , good luck
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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your feedback and encouragement.

How much "Marvel Mystery Oil" or "red X" shall I use per cylinder? Any suggestions about the quantity?

Thank you in advance,

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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 08-18-2004, 05:05 AM
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I'd think that 5ml would be more than enough.


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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-27-2004, 03:19 PM
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Using Marvel Mystery Oil as penetrating oil...DON'T!!

When my '69 GTV was removed from its 30-year nap, the PO's mechanic decided that before starting he should pour some MMO into the plug holes and leave standing for a few days before hand cranking. I don't know how much he used, but I'm attaching pictures of the damage it did. Had to pull the head because the valves were so caked up with the stuff they got stuck in the guides and took about 10 minutes to close. This makes for very low-rpm driving. He may have used too much, and he may not have run it long enough after getting the car started. Or maybe the stuff isn't suitable for that purpose...after all, it isn't a recommended use on the label.

Anyway, make sure you know what you're doing and are prepared for the possible consequences! Just my $.02. Sorry about the rant, but you shouldn't have to pull a 22K mile head!

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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-27-2004, 10:17 PM
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I like PB Blaster for the cylinder/piston/rings. Soak them up as noted in earlier posts, leave it for a day, then blow it out the spark plug holes. See if she is free with a 5th gear roll. If all good, then dump the oil and replace and give her a crank.

I would also add to your list....replace the fuel filters. Let us know how it turns out.

Best Regards,
John M

[SIZE="1"]1978 AR Spider Veloce 2000....the first and still here...Bianco
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-28-2004, 07:11 AM
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That damage seems very extreme for the type of use we are talking about here. I have used MMO on a few engines that have been stored and it never has caused any problems. I tend to use about a capful per cylinder. It is a very thin oil and I would think you would need to use a huge amount to do that type of damage.

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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-28-2004, 12:20 PM
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Hi everyone,
I have used Marvel Mystery Oil on all sorts of engines from Model A Fords to Ferrari V12s including a Knight sleeve valve engine. I have never had any sort of problem. One cap full will usually do and remember it takes time for the Mystrey to work ! Over night is minimum. Then crank by hand with the plugs out until things move about freely. It makes zero sense to try to start an engine that will not turn over by hand. Alfas are something of a pain to turn over by hand but if that is the case, push it in gear.
I have never seen MMO stick the way the substance in the pictures above is sticking. Are you sure it is MMO, all MMO and nothing but MMO?
I will bet that John M's input will work just fine. I like to free the engine before I change the oil.

Nothing good has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm !
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-28-2004, 01:25 PM
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G'Day All,

This site may give some ideas

1988 75 TS, 1989 164
[COLOR="Red"]My web sites:[/COLOR] [URL=][COLOR="DeepSkyBlue"]Craig's Place[/COLOR][/URL] & [URL=][COLOR="Orange"]Craig's 164 Place[/COLOR][/URL]
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-28-2004, 05:18 PM
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The heavy varnish deposits above look more like those I have seen in engines (and fuel systems) which have had VERY old gas in them from long storage. I also have not seen this sort of problem with MMO and have used it for this purpose. However, that said, it remains that ANY lubricant used to clean/lube cylinders and rings should be thoroughly blown out before attempting to start the engine. A little too much left in can 'hydraulic lock' the engine, causing major damage.

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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 12-29-2004, 04:30 AM
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I like good old fashion diesel... Frees everything that is stuck and it doesn't leave any crap behind that will ruin a good oil.

Mats Strandberg

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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 01-01-2005, 10:31 PM
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You said, "thirty-year nap", didn't you? Do you suppose the guy who owned the car at the start of its nap might have pickled the engine with something? The residue you so clearly show in the pics doesn't look at all like what I'd expect from MMO. Now, granted, I've never let MMO evaporate to see what it leaves behind. But the brown gummy substance looks much more like varnished soybean oil than any hydrocarbon I've seen. Maybe it is a cosmolene type of thick grease used to preserve engines. If it's a gummy consistency and doesn't dissolve in MMO, then it probably isn't MMO residue. I have no connection with MMO or Cosmolene.
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 01-02-2005, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BigSwede
I like good old fashion diesel... Frees everything that is stuck and it doesn't leave any crap behind that will ruin a good oil.
I cant get MMO... diesel sounds interesting since its so easily available. Big Swede, will appreciate if you can explain how you use diesel. do you let it sit for a while and then just crank the engine without the ignition to free up?? How much diesel? do you need to drain the diesel before cranking with ignition on?

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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 01-15-2005, 11:15 PM
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I've got one frozen up, which ran when "stored" by the previous owner...around 1990! I put MMO in the cylinders a few months back, but still can't turn it over with a rachet on the front pulley. Should I try a breaker bar or will this damage the engine?


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