My approach to a car that has been in disuse for a long period is to
completely go through each component of each system. I’ve taken shortcuts in
the past and regretted them. Perhaps others have much better luck than I do.
But, as an example, if I don’t inspect, clean and/or replace the fuel lines,
then, the fuel lines will pass their contamination along to foul my newly
rebuilt SUs. Or if I don’t remove, boil out, repair holes, coat or line the
inside or even go all the way to replace the fuel tank if needed, then
somewhere, sometime, rust particles will collect and/or plug the fuel pump or
move ahead and do the same at the SUs. If I partially rework a system my
fortune is such that the untouched component is the one that fails. So, I
have learned to try to do it right and rework each component of a system the
first time. That seems to work better for me.
Some can make “patching” work for them. That’s great. But I like to try to
get these cars back to original form and reworking a total system gives me the
best results so I don’t have to retackle parts of the whole again.
To me, the brake and fuel systems are a must for total rework if the car has
been unusued for a prolonged period. The engine is a different story. While
not trying to be inclusive, the condition prior to storage would seem to be a
factor on whether it can be fired up and used after a long period of disuse.
Of course, the quality of the storage is another aspect of attempting to start
it after a period of disuse.
Two stories come to my mind. I bought a 150S engine in 1978 that had not been
started for many years. The seller had bought a complete car which was not
restorable but was cannibalizing parts for resale. He strongly advised me not
to start it without a thorough inspection. One could say that he was only
protecting himself by that advise. But I had known him for many years and
expected no misrepresentation and received none on that transaction. At any
rate, I blindly took his advice and disassembled the engine and compeltely
renovated it. On another ocassion, I bought a Series III, E-Type in 1989,
after inspection and recommendation of a mechanic-friend. My untrained ears
could not pickup nor evaluate the engine noise he did. He suggested that I
have the car flat-bedded to my residence instead of driven simply because he
did not like a certain engine sound. I negotiated an adjustment for the
mechanics concerns and upon removing the cylinder heads, one burned valve was
discovered. The V-12 engine appeared solid to me but I had only worked on 6
cylinders in the past. So, I simply didn’t know what to look for but someone
Electrics are another story too. Visual examination will show the condition
of the wiring. My 120M has the original wiring which is still effective. But
I wouldn’t dare disturb some of the wires for fear that the old, hard
insulation would fall away. I don’t have that problem on the 150 FHC that I
am completing since I installed all new wiring along with inspecting and
reworking appropriate gauges, switches and electrical components.
I suppose how to approach starting or running a car that has been subject to
prolong storage is an open-ended issue. It practical terms it probably comes
down to knowing what you have as you proceed. Bob Oates