One of the more common questions we get at Super Chevy is "How do I start an engine that has been sitting?" With money getting tight these days, buying an older engine or resurrecting one that you've been storing is becoming more and more common. The biggest damaging factor is going to be iron oxide, more commonly known as rust. Rust forms when the oxygen in water reacts with iron, forming that red stuff we as muscle car fanatics fight constantly. Luckily, one thing that prevents rust from forming on metal is oil, which flows through almost all the important areas of an engine. So, if the engine has been sitting indoors for under two years its pretty safe to say there won't be much rust formed in the cylinders. Anything over that time we would recommend tearing it down just to be safe. We have two motors in our stable that fit into these categories. The first engine is Danger Mouse, a long-term dyno mule that we tried multiple power recipes on. It's been stored at Speed-O-Motive (West Covina, California) in a controlled environment since the last story. We will be bringing the Danger Mouse series back soon, so we wanted to fire it up and make sure its still ready for action. DM will be our short-term storage example. We also have a sidebar if you want a little more info on the life of this mouse motor. The second engine we have is a bored-out 283 that was rebuilt back in the late '70s, then stuffed under a bench and forgotten. The guy we got it from said it has never been fired up, but until we crack it open we wont know if he was shooting straight or not. This will be our long-term example and the procedures will reflect that. We had Edson Gutierrez at Speed-O-Motive do all the wrenching for us and he even put Danger Mouse on the dyno to see what it makes. We found some bad stuff going on in the 283, so that one will need some machine work before it can be safely fired up. By the end of this story, you should be able to follow the steps to safely start just about any engine- unless it was left out in the elements unprotected, that is. 0-2 YEARS SITTING Drain the oil and inspect. You are looking for water, sludge, or any other contaminants. Pull a valve cover and inspect. Here you are looking to see if the rockers are backed off, broken or missing parts, or if there's sludge and/or rust. If you find something in the oil, that might be a good indication you need to crack the motor open. Drain the oil and inspect. You are looking for water, sludge, or any other contaminants. P Mark the number one plug position and then pull the distributor. No need to bring number one to TDC at this point; we can do that later. Fill with new oil and prime the engine with a priming tool chucked in an electric drill. Spin the oil pump until you see the oil running out of the rockers. If all the rockers are flowing oil, that is a good sign. If there are one or two that are not flowing oil, pull the rocker and look down the pushrod to see if it's clogged. With oil flowing freely, you might want to readjust all the rockers now that the lifters are pumped up. Mark the number one plug position and then pull the distributor. No need to bring number o Pull the float bowl on the carb and look for dirt and varnish. If you are clean, then move on. If not, pull the carb apart and rebuild. Pull the float bowl on the carb and look for dirt and varnish. If you are clean, then move Next, pull the plugs and give them a good look. If you find small rust dots on the end of the plug, that is a good indication you have rust in the cylinders and you should pull the head to look closer. Ours were clean so we are good. Next, pull the plugs and give them a good look. If you find small rust dots on the end of Since all our checks showed no rust or sludge, we were confident we could spin the engine over. We brought the number one cylinder to TDC. You can do this with a starter button and your thumb over the plughole waiting for the air blast from the compression stroke or use a breaker bar on the crank. Since all our checks showed no rust or sludge, we were confident we could spin the engine Either way you do it, just verify the timing mark is on 0. Now, drop in the distributor. Before you put the cap back on, look at the rotor and inside the cap to inspect the terminals. If they are covered in crud, get in there with some sandpaper and clean them up, or replace them. Now, drop in the distributor. Before you put the cap back on, look at the rotor and inside With the cap on, hook up the ignition wires and remember going clockwise its 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 for pretty much every Chevy out there. With the cap on, hook up the ignition wires and remember going clockwise its 1-8-4-3-6-5-7 After all your checks, fire up the engine and set the timing. After the timing is set, let the engine idle so you can listen for clacking, ticking or grinding noises. If the engine passes this test, look at the instruments and watch the oil pressure and coolant temp. If the engine comes up to normal operating temp with no issues, you can crack the throttle a few times. After all your checks, fire up the engine and set the timing. After the timing is set, let The rings will need to be re-seated because the possibility of microscopic rust particles forming is pretty high, so run the motor up to 1,500 rpm for 10-15 minutes so the rings can seat again. After that, you'll want to put the engine under a load, by either driving the car or adding load with a dyno. This will up the cylinder pressure and use it to force the rings against the cylinder walls, seating them even better. After we were confident the rings were good to go, it was time for a pull. The 355ci small-block went from dormant to laying down 433hp at 6,000 and 409 lb-ft at 5,000 in its current configuration. Not bad for small cubes and pump gas! The rings will need to be re-seated because the possibility of microscopic rust particles Danger Mouse was stored properly so there were no real issues except for this small water leak. Danger Mouse was stored properly so there were no real issues except for this small water 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By Calin Head Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!