Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 14, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Hello Team Camaro peeps. I am about to try to turn over and then start up the 327 small block in my 1968 Camaro RS. She ran okay 17+ years ago, and then was parked, for about 2 or 3 years outside, then stored the rest of the time in my dad's basement. A few weeks ago I pulled all of the spark plugs, and filled each cylinder with a combo of WD40 and Marvell's Mystery Oil, and have let that sit there and penetrate the rings, with the plugs put back in finger tight only. This weekend, I plan on
-dumping all of the oil out of the oil pan and doing a fresh oil change and oil filter change,
-pulling all of the spark plugs,
-pulling the valve covers, and pulling the distributor and spinning the oil pump with an oil priming tool attached to a drill to lubricate the bearings and the valve train while monitoring the oil pressure by attaching an oil pressure gauge,
-re-installing the distributor into the exact same spot before the crankshaft is moved or rotated,
-turning the crankshaft over by hand with a breaker bar and an engine rotation adaptor tool attached to the harmonic balancer (or something makeshift like a pipe attached to some bolts screwed into the threaded holes on the harmonic balancer),
-if I am able to spin the engine over freely by hand, then I am going to hook up the battery, then try cranking the engine over with the starter and the spark plugs still removed, to rid the cylinders of any extra penetrating oils that have been soaking in there,
-install fresh spark plugs

If all goes well, then I am going to re-install the old Holley 4 barrel carb that I pulled off of there, (I did a rough clean up of it, but not a rebuild), run some fuel to it out of a gas can (I dropped the gas tank as well and had it boiled out and had some soldering done to the sending unit, but I still need to re-install the gas tank, as well as clean out and blow out the fuel line and replace any old rubber parts on there), and see if I can get her to run again! And if that is successful, I have a brand new Holley Avenger 670 that I got for a birthday present that I will then install. Whew.

Okay, so does this sound like I'll be addressing everything needed to get the engine started, or at least to turn over, for this weekend? Have I missed anything? I have done my fair share of carb swaps and tinkering and minor wrenching and such in the past, but have only pulled a distributor once before with a friend's help (when I first bought the Camaro, as the previous owner had installed an aluminum intake manifold, and re-installed the distributor incorrectly off one tooth on the cam gear), and I have never brought an engine back to life that has been sitting dormant for 17+ years, this will be my first.

Also, it has come to my attention that motor oil has changed and been reformulated since I parked my car in the mid to late 90's, and now motor oil is missing zinc and phosphos and such, to not ruin catalytic converters, etc. I am running an old aftermarket flat tappet hydraulic cam in my engine, a Crane HMV272 that I had installed in the engine in 1985 or so when I had the engine rebuilt and also installed a set of camel hump heads with the 1.94 and 1.50 valves, and pressed in hardened exhaust valve seats. Crane recommended that I only use straight SAE 30 weight oil, as the thinner multi grade oils would destroy my cam lobes, so Castrol straight SAE 30 weight is the only oil that I have used in the engine for a decade straight, until I parked it in the mid 90's. I've done a lot of searches on these forums here, and on other forums, and I believe that I have narrowed down my choices of motor oil that I need for my engine and especially my old aftermarket camshaft down to Valvoline VR1 SAE 30, Brad Penn Penn-Grade 1 SAE 30 High Performance Oil (not their break in oil), and Joe Gibbs Driven oil (although it appears that they don't make a a straight SAE 30 weight, only multi grade which wouldn't be good for my camshaft, or they only have the break in oil in straight SAE 30 weight, but can't seem to find it on their website now, plus I don't know if I want to be running a break in oil all of the time). What do you guys think of these oils, and do have any particular recommendations for these, or for any others?

Okay, I ask these questions not trying to single out or promote any particular brands of oil or whatever, so I hope that I'm not violating any forum rules in my questions above about oil, I'm simply looking for help in the oil predicament that I seem to be stuck in, and looking for the recommendations that you guys are currently using. I have heard from a couple of mechanic friends who's opinions that I highly respect, that adding a zinc additive to a modern off the shelf oil can change or alter the chemistry of the oil, conflicting with other additives and such, making for a not so good outcome. Is that true?

Also, I have been warned that running an oil without the zinc and phosphor and any other stuff needed on the old aftermarket Crane hydraulic tappet camshaft will ruin the camshaft instantly, from the very first start-up, even though the cam is well broken in and seasoned, and that the camshaft lobes will flatten and even shred, and I'd get metal shavings in my engine and oil - I certainly don't want THAT to happen, I just want to get a good oil system dialed in now, and stick to that routine. So, is that true as well, that a modern non zinc oil will instantly destroy my old aftermarket flat tappet hydraulic camshaft?

Lastly, yes, I realize that I could fix this problem by swapping out my current camshaft for a rollerized system, but that is pretty expensive, and if that were the case then I'd rather apply the $700 to $1,100+ for a rollerized cam swap towards a new crate engine instead, whether that's some type of ZZ small or big block, or even an LS engine. Okay, so many questions from this new guy. Thanks for listening, I'm interested in hearing your suggestions and advice. Cheers!

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 14, 05:47 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

I haven't read everything yet, but I'd first run some high quality synthetic that will clean for a short while. I mean 10 miles after hitting operating temps, 20 minutes of run time or so. I'd use Pennzoil Ultra Platinum(mixed with a quart or two of the below if you want to be safe), I have seen that stuff clean amazingly in just a short time.

After that you have serval choices.

Royal Purple XPS
Valvoline VR1 Synthetic

Both can be found at local parts stores(call first, usually not well stocked) and both are good synthetic oils WITH the additive packages your car needs.


Some will say that's overkill for the first oil change, but its at least being very safe, and getting any built up crud out. Also, if by our really worried about the Ultra Platinum. Not having the additives, mix in a quart or two of the mentioned oils.

H, and don't forget to get that Marvel back out of the cylinders.

Formers: 1969 RS 350, 700HP 1967 Flash-in-a-pan Firebird 400, 2002 Z28 M6 1SC/1SZ

Last edited by SnakeEyes; Sep 4th, 14 at 06:04 PM.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 14, 09:30 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

I use the Amsoil Synhetic with the zinc additive for the older cars. http://highzincsyntheticoil.com/
And I would have some http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-produc...ts/power-foam/ for spraying into the carb once you get the motor running to unstick any stuck valves in the heads. You could also put some seafoam in the oil and fuel tank to unstick any gummy parts as well.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 14, 06:30 AM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Until I replaced my flat tappet setup this past winter with a retro roller setup, I used Valvoline VR1 non synthetic. When the old flat tappet setup was removed from the engine, the camshaft lobes and bottom of the lifters looked like new. Synthetic oil does offer some advantages over dino/mineral oil but one drawback is that gaskets and seals are more likely to weep, seep and or leak due to the synthetic molecule sizing and structure. Multi weight oil should not cause you any issues, its the zinc and phosphorous additives that matter to a flat tappet setup.

69 Camaro Z/28 RS, original Azure Turquoise, M21 & 3.73 12-bolt posi. NOM 406ci, AFR 210 heads, Straub hyd. roller cam & Dynatech 1-3/4" > 1-7/8" headers, QuickFuel 750 Annular. Photos at:
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 14, 08:34 AM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Unlikely your 327 will have a crank snout bolt to turn over the engine. With the plugs out you should be able to put a socket on the alternator, grab the belt tight with the other hand and turn over the motor that way. This is how I do it.

And I would advise against trying to blow out the mystery oil with the plugs out. Big mess. Just fire it up and let it smoke. Fire it with the old plugs. Change to the new plugs later. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby when starting an engine the first time. All you will need is gas, oil, air and spark(timed correctly).

If you run a priming tool with a drill, expect it to take at least 5 minutes to reach the rockers. it will not reach the same oil pressure as when the engine is running. Being lazy, and considering it was running when you parked it, I would leave the distributor in place and just dump a quart across each set of rockers and call it good.

I think I run the same cam as you mentioned. It's pretty mild and torquey. Good for a driver. I use Cam-Shield additive and Castrol 10-30 for several years now. No problems whatsoever.

Good luck, report back later!

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327 L30, K-K, Deluxe int, tach & gauges, 12 bolt posi, 4 speed.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 14, 12:27 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Well, if he possibly put in too much oil in the cylinder, isn't there a possibility of hydrolock? That's why I suggested getting it out, he didn't say if he used an ounce or filled them(I have seen things on the internet that prevent me from assuming the best)

Formers: 1969 RS 350, 700HP 1967 Flash-in-a-pan Firebird 400, 2002 Z28 M6 1SC/1SZ
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 5th, 14, 01:27 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Rotella T6 and Delo LE synthetic 5W-40 weights both have over 1200ppm zinc.
Oils have come a long way since 1985.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I've been spending the weekend hanging with my dad watching football and the Mecum auctions on tv, and going to the Roamin' Angels car show. So, I'm going to roll up the sleeves, and start working on the engine as soon as I finish this post.

Motor oil wise, I ended up going with Brad Penn SAE 30 weight. I also bought some Valvoline VR1 SAE 30 weight, to use in the clean out process, and after I get the engine up and running then I will substitute one quart of ATF fluid for one of the quarts of Valvoline VR1 for a temporary quick clean out - I don't want to waste the Brad Penn on the clean out oil change, as it was semi hard to find and a little pricey. I've asked around, and have received the same advice that you guys say here, that my cam is obviously well broken in and seasoned by now, so maybe I'll try a good 20W-50 in the future, like the Valvoline VR1 or Royal Purple or something, once I use up the Brad Penn Oil.

So, I'm going to drain all of the oil right now, pour in the Valvoline, pull the distributor, pull the valve covers, spin the oil pump with that oil priming tool attached to a drill, and then turn the engine over by hand. Then I'll see if I can crank it over with the key and starter.

As for the questions on how much WD40 and Marvell's Mystery Oil that I filled each cylinder up with, well, um, I indeed did fill up each cylinder with as much as I could, like ounces of oil - especially with the Marvell's. I'm new to this, and I didn't realize that a little bit of that stuff goes a long way, so that was overkill. So I will indeed make sure that I pull all of the spark plugs, and then crank over the engine, that way I don't get hydrolock. Thanks for pointing that out, I immediately read up on what hydrolock is, and I now know that fluids won't compress, and that I could bend a rod or other stuff with those fluids in the cylinders - see, I learned something. So, I'll pull all of the plugs, and put some rags and towels around to help catch and sop up the extra mess from the oils shooting out of each spark plug hole. I'm going to thoroughly clean the extremely dirty engine bay anyways, that will be my next project.

After I get the engine to crank over with the starter, rid the cylinders of the WD40 and the Marvell's oils, and hook up the old carburetor and get her running, then I am going to add a quart of ATF fluid to the fresh Valvoline oil, and let the engine idle for a good 10 or 15 minutes until it's fully warm, without revving it or anything, then after it's all warmed up I'll shut her down, drain all of that oil, and then do another fresh oil and filter change with the Brad Penn SAE 30 weight oil. I'll post my results and the outcome later tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

So, the next time I load up my floor jack, supplies and specialty tools, and chase down special oil and a distributor wrench, load them all into my truck and then drive 150+ miles to work on my '68 Camaro, please remind me to bring the keys! Luckily my dad still had an extra set. WHEW!!! And interestingly enough, my dad still had the the original keys to his '68 Camaro that was stolen from Southland Mall in Hayward in 1971! (1968 Camaro in British Racing Green(?), with a 3 speed manual (quirky, yes?), and houndstooth interior with a fold down rear seat). My dad's old keys are the less worn ones in the middle, and that's my GM trunk key on the far left, and the strange square "USA" one on the far right is a copy of my ignition key - it's not pretty but at least it works for now!





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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 10:59 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Excuse me but I thought I read to run synthetic oil (Valvoline VR1 Synthetic) and Pennzoil Ultra Platinum after changing the oil and filter to clean the engine out. It has the zinc in it. I wouldn't recommend using transmission fluid mixed in the oil. No telling what effect a mixture would have on your cam and lifters. Also on the seals and gaskets too. I agree also with changing to an oil that will clean the engine on short milage. Then change to the Brad Penn oil and new filter. Be sure to get a good filter Mobil 1, K&N, Pure One, and Wix. Don't cheap out with the good oil.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 9th, 14, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Yeah, I couldn't find any Pennzoil Ultra Platinum, and believe me I looked. I ran out of time hunting for it, so I picked up the Valvoline VR1 for the first oil change.

I've had numerous engine building friends and a couple of mechanics and even the guys at Gotelli's Speed Shop recommend initially adding 1 quart of ATF after priming until warm up, but not driving the car with the ATF in there at all, or putting any kind of load on the engine, or even revving it - just add it, warm up the engine through idling, then dump it. I feel safe in doing so in getting this advice from people who's opinion that I know and trust, their mutual opinion was that the detergents in the ATF would clean out any residual gunk out of the engine, but again, only keep it in there for a 15 minute idle warm up with no load, then immediately dump it. So if anyone else has a strong objection to this please let me know. I could hunt down some Pennzoil Ultra Platinum if need be, it's not too late. Thanks for the tips on the oil filters, too. I definitely have a good oil filter, and the Brad Penn Oil with a really high zinc and phosphorus content for the immediate second oil change, so yeah, I don't want to cheap out on that stuff!

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 9th, 14, 05:07 AM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

JMO, I would just run a good brand petroleum based oil and change oil & filter after break-in - treat it as a new engine.
Then continue with petro-based oil throughout its life as synthetic oil will find gasket leaks...

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 9th, 14, 08:41 AM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

AMSOIL has its ZROD synthetics for these cars. Shoot me an email if you want more info. on them.
I would also NEVER put ATF in an engine oil. Old school tricks might have worked but also might not be best for the engine as a whole. Several changes of oil and filter are cheap insurance too.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 9th, 14, 01:27 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

He could also just dump a can of seafoam in the oil for the clean out, just thought of that. Also, If you can't find Ultra Platinum, regular Pennzoil Platinum is good too, it was the top recommended oil on Bob is the Oil Guy for years. Its just the UP is better.

Pennzoil made a big stink on BITOG about how cleaning their newest oils are.

Formers: 1969 RS 350, 700HP 1967 Flash-in-a-pan Firebird 400, 2002 Z28 M6 1SC/1SZ

Last edited by SnakeEyes; Sep 9th, 14 at 01:45 PM.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 14, 04:10 PM
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Re: Engine start up after 17 years sitting, plus oil recommendations?

Lot's of good advice on break in process. pick the one that sounds best for you. After break-in I like the Joe Gibb's non synthetic oil. It's high zinc also. Synthetic may be good for LS & LT's, but I like non synthetic for my older 350.
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