Procedures for starting a "barn find"

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LoStreet
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:30 pm

Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by LoStreet » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:14 pm

Still working on my '50 (see previous "Minor Improvements" post) - sanding body for paint next month, and having bumper and courmarant (spelling?) chromed. In the mean time, I have a friend who has a 55 Packard, literally sitting in a crowded barn, that hasn't run since the late 70's. He is no mechanic, and I am not much of one either. However, watching the rather stupid car shows on cable where they seem to start old rustbuckets with little effort (I'm sure most of that is staged), I'm still of a mind to try it. I have searched the web and found various techniques, but from what I've read, guys on this site seem to be extremely more knowledgeable. I wouldn't want to take any of your time to have to write out the entire procedures, so I thought I'd list what I plan to do, given the fact that I have not inspected the car closely yet, and see what ideas you might have on what I may be doing wrong. Here it is (not necessarily in this order):
1. Drain the gas tank, if indeed there is anything liquid in it, which is doubtful. I assme there is a drain plug, although I worry about these things being rusted and never sealing quite right again. A problem?
2. Pouring about a gallon of gas through the tank, still unplugged. What it looks like when it comes out will, I guess, pose other issues.
3. Replace the drain plug, fill with about 5 gallons.
4.Take off the carbureator and clean it with solvent and/or dry rags. Replace. Check gas lines for gunk and/or leaks.
5. Repalce the gas fiilter (I assume there is one).
6. Drain the oil, if it indeed has any in it. Pour a quart or two trhough, let it drain. Fill with new oil. Replace oil filter. Add water to radiator.
7. Hook up a charged battery,
8. Have a spray can of starter fluid (type?) ready to pump into carb.
9. Turn the key. I'm not particularly religious, and don't believe in praying willy-nilly, but I might tryr that at this point, mainly hoping that I don't burn the barn down.
Any suggestions? (If it's "call a mechanic", please just say so.)
Thanks!!!!

Dave Czirr
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Location: New Jersey

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by Dave Czirr » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:08 pm

Did you read this post? It may have some ideas for you.

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=859

LoStreet
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:30 pm

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by LoStreet » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:35 pm

Thanks, Dave, this was a great help. I should have probably pointed out that our goal here is to just find out if the car can and will start and run at all. If the evidence is that it has potential, we will go to one of several mechanics to really redo things like brakes, tune-up, check the transmission / differential (I wouldn't want to tackle that). It is also physically located so that is is not easily removed, and impossible to lift. It seems the main thing I didn't think about was removing and cleaning the plugs, and "priming" the cylinders with a little oil (although I'm not really sure how to crank the engine without plugs). If we find that it just won't turn over or other major issues, my friend may decide to just sell as is. Thanks again.

Howard56
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Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:35 am

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by Howard56 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:17 pm

Regarding your first concern on the drain plug -- yes, they can be and are frequently rusted tight. Hold the bung or part going into the tank with large vise grips or a suitable tool when trying to remove the plug. The fixed side is pressed or soldered to the tank. If it rotates loose, it is a very difficult repair. If plug does come out, suggest replacing with a brass plug.

The fuel filter was an option so you may or may not have one. Factory item would be a glass bowl affair right next to the carburetor. The stock element is ceramic and if old gas dried in the bowl, there is a possibility the element can look clean and pass air but be clogged with enough varnish that fuel flow is compromised. Suggest a good soak in acetone or another solvent to loosen any varnish then reverse blow with an air hose. Chances are the gasket will be hardened and not seal again when you remove the bowl. It's an odd shape so suggest obtaining a new gasket before tearing the filter apart. Max Merritt has them as an individual item.

dmdelavan
Posts: 187
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:54 am

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by dmdelavan » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:48 am

I have no quarrel with any of the suggestions noted above, but I add one of caution. Don't become obsessed with the notion of getting this vehicle on the road in as short a time as possible. You talk about starting the engine. I'm wondering if it turns over at all. A few good pushes on the fan will tell if this is a reasonable expectations or that it is "frozen" inside.

Is your ignition system complete and safe? If you pull the spark plugs (would you really want to try starting on 30 year old fouled plugs?) you can inject a lubricant---light weight engine oil, ATF, WD-40, marvel mystery oil have all been used-- to lube cylinders before doing anything more. Please drop the oil pan and clean it. You really shouldn't recirculate that old sludge.

Are the points in usable condition? Do you really think the condenser is good after all those years? These are cheap and easy fixes. How brittle are the plug wires? Again this is a part of thorough tune up. How solid are the battery terminal connections? They aren't that difficult to clean and firm up. Did you ground that new battery from the POSITIVE pole? It should be. Does the rest of the wiring look at least safe before energizing it?

The suggestions for the fuel system sound good to me but I would use gasoline as a primer rather than ether.

Are you going to drive the car right away? How about the tires and brakes being looked over first? Or is this too elementary?
If you really want to be thorough get the car on a lift for a really accurate inspection, preferably after a good steam cleaning of the chassis if that is possible. This will enable you not only to work in a clean environment, it will allow you to see lubrication leaks, etc., after you drive it a hundred miles or so and re- inspect.
I understand the anxiety and desire to get it going. But keep yourself from having to tow it back, or worse, on the first cruise. A delay of hours, even days or a few weeks will go a long way . And you don't need to do the wood graining yet.

I'd love to be with you and share the exhilaration of this grand experience!
Don Gutting

Prudence
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Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by Prudence » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:54 am

Good Morning...Barn finds are fun but can be a bit of work.

I think your list is pretty good, however I would do a couple of other things before I attempt to start the engine. A new condenser is a good idea and also to clean the points and pull the spark plugs, clean and gap and put a bit of Marvel Mystery Oil into each cylinder. While the plugs are out, you should be able to turn the engine over by pulling on the fan blade or the fan belt to see if the engine is free. If it is not, then more Marvel Mystery Oil and let it sit for a few days and try again. I would also suggest pulling the oil pan to see how much sludge is in it. Clean it out and replace and then fill the engine with fresh non-detergent oil. I would also feed the carb with a small can and hose and not go through what most likely is a gummy gas tank. A good Our Father and Hail Mary can't hurt! If it runs, then spend time on the fuel tank and gas lines. Brakes would be the next point of concern. Good Luck. Ernie

LoStreet
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:30 pm

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by LoStreet » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:18 am

Thanks to all. A lot of good pointers. Maybe I wasn't clear that the goal is just to see if it will start. Its current physical position makes it difficult to do much work on it. Once it starts (?) we can move the rest of the stuff in the barn out of the way (a monumental task, with several non-running tractors in the way, and no working garage door, by the way), get tires fixed, assure reasonable brake actviity for a slow drive (or tow) to the mechanics to have all the rest done. Where it is now, no mechanic will come to it for reasonable $$$. I'm a bit confused about the woodgrain commnet - maybe you read my previous post about that - but that was a totally different, fully running 1950. I'm only trying to take it one step at a time, and the first step appears to me to see if it's worth salvaging by me and my friend, or someone else.

dmdelavan
Posts: 187
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:54 am

Re: Procedures for starting a "barn find"

Post by dmdelavan » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:47 am

Wood graining only meant to assure that priorities are kept in order.
DEG

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