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Only 18K Miles on Engine, Sitting for 15 Years - Engine/Ancilliaries - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
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p1renn

Only 18K Miles on Engine, Sitting for 15 Years

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I'm about 40% into my restoration and now it's time to tackle the engine. I had a local British car shop look at the gearbox already, and it's in excellent shape (no need for a rebuild). The car was reported to run only 18K miles, and while I'm not entirely sure of that (the owner passed away and his daughter sold the car to me), everything during the restoration process indicates it's true. I've already torn apart the car and all of the common wear items showed little use. The steering rack, brake disks, pads, UJs, driveshaft UJs, etc were in excellent condition.

Anyway, that leads me to a question about what to do with the engine. If it really has 18K miles, rebuilding it seems like a waste of money. But after having sat for 15 years, I've heard that it's possible for the piston rings to seize to the liners. That would be a problem. Also, it seems like a god idea to tear the engine down a bit to confirm that it's in good shape. Has anyone resurrected an engine in a similar state as mine and have some advice?

I've never rebuilt an engine (I was actually looking forward to giving it a go if necessary), so I have little idea what to look for. Can I simply remove the Cam covers and have a look to make a determination of the overall wear or do I need to go deeper than that?

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In your place, I'd try to go with what you've got. Take the plugs out and spray some aerosol light oil into the cylinders...not a huge amount(!)...I'm assuming there is oil in the sump....what does that look like? I wouldn't bother with taking the cam covers off to start with...have a peer in the oil filler cap and see if it's all clean, by all means. Jack up one rear wheel and engage top gear, then rotate the engine by turning the lifted wheel. Assuming the motor turns without any obvious problems, I think I would leave the plugs out, go to neutral and try the starter..get somebody to crank her over for a while, keeping an eye on the oil pressure gauge. You may get an indication on that, you may not...whatever, you should have circulated some oil about by then. Put the plugs back in and try to start...need new fuel, the old stuff is probably cattled...oh, sorry, just seen you're from California...cattled comes from Cockney rhyming slang, "Cattled" from "Cattle trucked" meaning, er, not much use!! But I digress..Should start up...do NOT rev the beast...then you can check the oil pressure..if there isn't any after, say, 20 seconds you'll have to shut down and get further into it. Assuming all is well, inspect the engine and car for any leaks etc. A drop of lube on the camshaft seals may be needed to stop them squeaking..don't get any on the cambelt!

After that, it'll need some miles, carefully, to see what develops. You may have leaky oil seal and similar problems, but it's possible that all will be well and I think it's worth giving it a go...if that doesn't work, and you get problems, then it'll be time for the strip down and rebuild!! Good luck....I've had cars come back from the dead before and prove reliable!! At 18,000 miles it should just about be properly run in.

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I'd highly suggest prior to startup or even turning to engine to inspect the cambelt. 15 years is a long time for any belt to just sit stationary with tension applied. At the very least I'd suggest a replacement of the belt before running the engine for any significant period of time (i.e. more than a few minutes).

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Firstly hi ..

I would take the spark plugs out and then try to turn the engine over by hand(Not by the starter motor.)If their has been water in the engine all that time it may have rusted the water pump.But If all is turning ok then you will need to put a new cam belt on and I would put some new oil and filter ,also drain the coolant out and renew.

If it doesnt turn over it will need to come apart ,good luck and hope it all goes well Mark

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Absolutely - changing the belts are a given. The engine is out of the car and on an engine stand so it should be an easy job. The other issue I forgot to mention is that the water passages are full of rust and calcium deposits for having sat so long. I need to find a way to clear those if it's possible with the engine out of the car.

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Since the engine is on a stand, at the very least I would pull the sump and have a look at the bottom end and cylinders. I would also pull the water pump and inspect and rebuild if necessary.

With the water pump off you could try flushing the coolant passages through the block and see how it flows.

After sitting for that long there's no telling how corroded it could be inside.

I would be very leary about just putting it back in without being able to justify to myself that it's in good working order.

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Check all the seals and at the very least change the rear crank one. That's the most involved one to renew if it's dried out and leaks once up and running.

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Hadn't realised the engine was out of the car!! Since it's out, might just as well dismantle it and inspect it totally. No point in putting it back in without being certain all is well. As for cooling passages..they're all in the head, the block is just a water bath surrounding the liners. I'd assumed the engine was in the car...and it seemed worth at least trying to keep it there. Agree totally about the cambelt...I'd forgotten about that!

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Hi Renn:

In my restoration of my S1, I've had the same situation - car has 24K miles on it and previous owner said it "sat unused for 20 years". It seemed to run fine. But because the timing belt was over 20 years old, I didn't race it around.

At the very least, I had to replace the timing belt and then all the rubber. Thus, the engine came out - and I'm glad I did.

When I pulled the head, found the liners #2 and #3 were corroded - those two pistons were in the down position. Could tell from the corrosion pattern that water sat in there for "20 years".

Thus 2 new liners, rod bearings and new rings. Replaced the water pump - JHPS.com offers an improved rebuilt one you might check out. Where ever there was rubber I replaced it.

Engine about to go back in the car.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Bob

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Mine was stored well so hopefully no water issues. But yes, I'm getting some help from a local British car shop to freshen everything up and make sure it's healthy prior to firing. No sense in throwing money away if the engine has such few miles.

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