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Store engine as-is or tear down?
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:03 am    Post subject: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

I have a virtually complete 36hp engine that I bought a few years ago and have been collecting missing parts for eventual rebuild.

The engine was stored in a shipping container for years. It is siezed but has oil in the case.

I removed the tinware to reduce the physical size of the engine, but left the (rusty) distributor and fuel pump in place. It's been under the bench in my garage since then.

I often wonder whether that's the best way to store it, or if I should strip it down to parts and coat them with clean oil to inhibit rust.

If I keep it intact; is there any benefit draining the old oil and maybe filling it with fresh to ensure there is no water from condensation in the case, and to ensure that the internals are coated? The drain plug was siezed when I got it, but I could invert the engine to get the existing oil out through the filler aperture.

Which is the better option? It's likely to be a few more years before I rebuild this.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 3:29 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

I'd get it unstuck now if possible. Fill 4 cylinders for a week with a mixture of 3parts automatic tranny fluid to 1part acetone. It's only gonna get meaner to unstick with more passage of time. But remember, worn out motors are hard to become "seized" just sitting. Good motors, much quicker!
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

Iíd tear it down and bag/tag all the usable parts.... itís just gonna get more stuck as time wears on.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:09 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

Leave it all together and keep squirting stuff in the cylinders. The ATF/acetone mix is good. So is Kroil. Squirt some in each plug hole once a week.

An engine takes up a huge amount of space when disassembled, and that's also when parts get lost and damaged. Put it on a rolling furniture mover, and roll it under a bench till you are ready to rebuild it.

Cleaned up parts like cranks and cases like to rust and corrode when sitting. All the internal parts are covered with a nice protective layer of old oil and sludge right now.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:50 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

As above, put some solvent in cylinders, then stand it so cylinders point up, leave it that way for days or as long as possible the flip and repeat, I have gotten seized motors free this way, rings rust to cylinder walls most of the time,
other wise crank/rod is seized somewhere. However had a salvaged T4 that would not turn over, only about 15 degrees or so, dist was missing and the dist drive had worked up some and seized, bound up the crank gear so it would only turn that small amount, once apart it was ok.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 10:15 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

how do you collect part for a rebuild if it's seezed??? Shocked it's all junk untill determined otherwise.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 10:39 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

pull the rockers off. pull each plug and fill wd40 or atf. put plugs back in and let sit for a few weeks. pull plug and drain then try to turn over. if it frees up good. then repeat, fill each cylinder atf or oil put plugs back in. plug the intake ports. drain the oil and label what you did and put in storage.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:16 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

I agree with Mark, itís gotta come apart for a rebuild anyway. I tore my turnkey engine apart because it was easier to store for me. I couldnít carry down to my basement in one lump, but after I took it all apart, I cleaned all the pieces.... separated all the goodies and organized everything. Itís all shelved and sealed in my storage area.

Another thing, if the cylinders are stuck and you unstick them with copious amounts of oil and magic.... theyíre still rusty and need attention...yeah you can get it running and check it out, but the cylinders still have damage.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

While you could go either way... personally I prefer to hold off on the disassembly until right before I'm about to start restoring or rebuilding something.

When the disassembly is fresh in your mind it just makes everything else go more smoothly with planning, assembly, parts buying. If you wait too long, you might forget some things about how it came apart which could have be useful or saved you time

When you take things apart and then move onto whatever else and put the parts in boxes in storage there is always the chance that things get lost, re-arranged, mislabeled, destroyed by rats or weather. Plus, sometimes "out of sight, out of mind" plays it's part and that leads to procrastination, etc. Sometimes you forget where you put stuff or simply never get around to opening the boxes...

I'm not the best organizer Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

mark tucker wrote:
how do you collect part for a rebuild if it's seezed??? Shocked it's all junk untill determined otherwise.


Just ancillaries that were missing or damaged when they come up for sale cheap enough (intake manifold, carb, rear tin).

With regard to it being seized; I haven't put any serious effort in to unsticking it (just a ratchet on the pulley. It moves maybe half an inch in each direction, but I haven't applied any serious force. I've assumed it'll need new pistons and cylinders regardless of whether they're the reason why it's seized or not. If they turn out to be serviceable, that'll just be a bonus as far as I'm concerned. The distributor is heavily rusted, so that could be seized and preventing the crank from turning.

At the moment; my only real concern is if the cam journals are worn out or if it's previously been line bored to its limit, rendering the case junk.

I think that I have less invested in the engine that the sum of its parts or at least enough to break even, even if the case turns out to be junk and I can't get a decent case cheap enough.

I rebuilt the 1600 dual port that I'm using in the truck last winter, so this engine will be a 'for fun and education' rebuild.

Right now, I just want to understand whether it's better to leave it be, or strip it down and store the parts. The chance of mislaying bits did come to mind.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

Leave it all together. Forget about all the witchcraft and VooDoo magic bullshit with the oils and sprays. Put it in the corner and cover with a piece of plastic and leave it alone. Put all your spare parts in a plastic tote so they don't get lost. When you are ready to rebuild it then tear it all apart and throw away all the junk.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

Most likely the distributor shaft is rusted up and seized in the bore, or the jugs are rusted to cylinders, or a bearing spun and rod(s) tight. Or some a combination of all 3. Or a rod is broken or something, who knows...

Letting it sit vs taking it apart now wont make a difference. If its junk its junk... if it's usable then letting it sit until you get around to it won't make a difference, as long as you take care of it, maybe spray some oil into it now and again, don't let it sit in the rain or mud, etc.

The only real reason to spray oil into it is that overtime the heads and valves, etc, will dry out. And condensation can get in there and oxidize the heads and rust valves. Spraying a little penetrating oil or ATF into the intake or plug holes can help it from getting worse and might loosen some things up a bit for when you do take it apart.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:15 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

I could see storing a complete engine if it turned over, and you were fairly confident it was a useable core. All you would be doing is prep work for it to not get any worse for future rebuilding.

If itís seized up, take it apart to find out why. Get a cheap borescope camera, and actually see if itís the cylinders before dumping anything down them. If itís moving a small amount forward/backward, you could be simply rotating a seized flywheel bearing within the case bore, and the dowl pin rocking in the case is whatís stopping it from turning over. If itís the cylinders, you wonít be reusing them, and youíre going to 100% take it apart after getting it to turn over, Iíve had better luck using the acids in soda pop to dissolve ring corrosion instead of trying to get an oil to seep past them. This is not something you leave sit in the engine, so disassembly needs to be done as soon as you get things moving. You need to disassemble stuff to see what is reusable. It would be a shame to collect parts for a rebuild, only to have an unusual catastrophic failure render most everything junk. Knowing now if it is not useable will allow you more time to search/collect something that is usable between now, and when the project will be worked on.

Iím also with anthracitedub in taking it apart for organization, and ease of transport.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:50 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

vwracerdave wrote:
Leave it all together. Forget about all the witchcraft and VooDoo magic bullshit with the oils and sprays. Put it in the corner and cover with a piece of plastic and leave it alone. Put all your spare parts in a plastic tote so they don't get lost. When you are ready to rebuild it then tear it all apart and throw away all the junk.


My point is you can't tear it apart if the cylinders are seized, without destroying the cylinders/pistons, only chance you have of getting it apart is to soak the p&C
and or some heat, if op isn't concerned about them, they can be cut off later, and determine the status of rest of engine.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 9:00 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

NO sense in keeping it together for a future rebuild, as you have no idea what if anything is still good. For example: I had gathered a half dozen 36hp engines, and they were taking up a good amount of space. I decided it was time to see if one was good enough to run and make a project move under it's own power, so I picked what I thought was the best candidate, and it turned out to be completely hammered. I broke it down completely and saved what pieces I could. I ended up completely disassembling all of them, and the worst one that had sat outside with a thrown rod actually had a perfect case. It was free and I almost didn't take it cause it was so filthy. The one I paid some money for supposedly ran, but had 2 cracked heads, cylinders with a severe taper worn, burned rod journal, and the cam bore was worn so badly the cam wobbles around. My point is that you don't even know what to shop for, till you know what you have thats good. In the end, I have enough parts for 2-3 engines after disassembling six, but thats picking the best parts from the pile.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 9:24 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

eggs actly. you may end up storing nothing usable.and then let a good one pass by at a good deal thinking you already have what you need.... tear it appart & shit can the dead stuff.you can always stick the parts all back in the case for storing if thats your thing. personaly Ive never been able to store a compleat unknow engine....I just gotta know and it only takes a few min to a hour to do. good stuff gets stored the rest get recycled..
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:02 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

As gheekton noted.....if this were a,high miles, unknown condition of wear....runner.....then yeah. Fog the cylinders, fill with ATF or snake oil of choice, wrap it tight, keep it in a warm dry place to prevent condensation build up and leave it assembled. Maybe turn it over every 6 months.

If its partially,siezed.....but has any value at all.....disassemble it. Clean and oil what you can and discard whats dead.

The problem with just letting it stay in one lump as it is.....is that rust does not stop. Items that may be salvagable NOW.....may not be down the line.

Also, you have no idea how far down the line you might get back to this. If you wait that long to find out what may be trashed.....and maybe trash even more parts that could have been salvagable due to ongoing corrosion.......its virtually guaranteed that several years down the line, GOOD quality parts WILL be less available.

Once you know.....you could spend that time collecting the occasional part that you KNOW you will need instead of opening it up.....and surprise!.....its more trashed than it could have been and parts are harder to find.

Just my 2 cents.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

Maybe all this is a sign to just start the rebuild now? Normally when I say I'll do something in a few years in never gets done Laughing

I still say wait say wait to open the can of worms until you are ready to eat them Laughing and aren't you getting hungry?

I would agree tho, assume your engine core is complete trash until it can be confirmed otherwise (...if another 36hp core falls into your lap or you see one for a great deal somewhere. then buy it. Don't assume anything you have is usable.... they are mystery parts.)

If it's filled with oil and in a dry location I dont think the corrosion will get worse, now versus a couple years down the road. Do whatever makes the most sense for you. Tearing it down will tell you the condition of what you have, so maybe that makes sense for you...
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:02 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

evanfrucht wrote:
Maybe all this is a sign to just start the rebuild now? Normally when I say I'll do something in a few years in never gets done Laughing

I still say wait say wait to open the can of worms until you are ready to eat them Laughing and aren't you getting hungry?

I would agree tho, assume your engine core is complete trash until it can be confirmed otherwise (...if another 36hp core falls into your lap or you see one for a great deal somewhere. then buy it. Don't assume anything you have is usable.... they are mystery parts.)

If it's filled with oil and in a dry location I dont think the corrosion will get worse, now versus a couple years down the road. Do whatever makes the most sense for you. Tearing it down will tell you the condition of what you have, so maybe that makes sense for you...


Yes.....un-disassembled and cleaned up.....rust will continue. Depending on its thickness rust contains enough oxygen to continue rusting for a while.

Stoppijg it now could be the difference in only having to machine to first oversize or second. Or it could aldeady be at maximum and yoy let it continue to rust and its done.

You can tear it down, clean, neutralize....protect.....and then just slap it back together. No need to even put the rods, PR's or pistons back in . Slap jugs and heads on....bolt loosely, seal and shrink wrap. Stack rods and pistons and parts on top of engine. Ray
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:21 am    Post subject: Re: Store engine as-is or tear down? Reply with quote

I am about to put 2 engines into storage. Both came out of cars in running condition, needing work but running. I left the oil in them and will plug/seal all orifices. Then they go in the unheated hay shed until I have a use for them. At that time they will get torn down and rebuilt as needed. It's been my experiance that bare parts collect rust way faster exposed than buttoned up inside an engine. If keeping an engine together for storage is bad then why aren't you guys taking your engines out, tearing tearing them down every fall and putting them back together again in the spring? If this were actually the case you would walk into a museum and the cars and airplanes would be surrounded by bins of parts and the engine bays empty!

That is how Dad and I always treated used engines. In fact one of those engines was put in storage 30 years ago as a spare to be rebuilt. When I built my sand rail I pulled it out of storage and just used it as is for 6 seasons. It ran just fine actually, I didn't even open it up before running, I knew it needed work but it ran. It still needs rings and the end play on the crank is getting worse so I rebuilt another out of 2 other spare engines to take it's place.

My question for the "tear it apart" guys is how do you insure that the parts that are still usable are kept in the order that they ran at? Piston and pins with their jugs, lifters with their cam lobe etc to preserve wear patterns?
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