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Idle engine

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  • Idle engine

    I just picked up a '67 Bird with a 390 motor. The guy I bought it from said it was running great back in 2002 when it was parked. So my question is on prepping for attempting to start.

    I'm thinking, changing all fluids and getting a new battery. A friend rec. pulling distributor and spinning oil pump with a drill to coat the motor.

    What else?



  • #2
    Idle engine

    Hi Jim, thanks for saving a Tbird from the crusher! Have you registered it with the Thunderbird Registry? If not, you should check it out to see if it is registered and if not do so. Here is the link to it.

    You can go to the Search engine there, type in the VIN # and it will give you a Registry number if it is registered, or it will come up blank if it is not. If it is not, then you can go through the registration process.

    As to what to do before starting the engine, draining and replacing the oil would be good, and other fluids. Put a battery tester on the battery to see if it is still in good condition to be charged up, or replace it. That part about pulling the distributor and spinning the oil pump, I will let some one else comment on this and whatever else one should do with an engine that has been sitting for awhile before starting it.

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    '59 Tbird "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" aka "Tweety Bird"
    "It's Hip To Be Square"
    Thunderbird Registry #33025 VTCI #11178

    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or (Cell) 210-875-1411 (Home) 210-674-5781


    • #3

      Thanks for the info! I'm going to to do allot of research before I attempt to turn that 390 over. I went to the Tbird registry and we weren't listed but we are now!

      Looking forward to talking and sharing with everyone on here!



      • #4
        I would pull off the distributor cap and rotate the crank until the rotor points toward #1 spark plug tower, then put the timing marks at TDC. This makes it easy to reset the distributor after manually running the oil pump.

        Set your drill motor to run in reverse. The hex oil pump shaft is probably 1/4" so use a socket that can't fall off
        (or it may end up at the bottom of the engine).

        Pull both valve covers off and watch the oil as it bathes the rocker arms. If you have any that are 'dry' work on them later.

        At this point, the distributor may be remounted. If the distributor doesn't fall all the way down, it just means the hex isn't aligned with the oil pump shaft. Hand crank in either direction and it should drop within 1/2 crank turn. Return the timing marks to TDC and notice the rotor. If it points before or after #1, do it again.

        Now you can start the engine. Pay attention to the 'dry' rocker arms and notice if they ever lube. If not, pull the shaft and open all the oil holes. None of this work requires money, but a good deal of time. Believe me, it will pay for itself.

        When the rockers all work well, replace the covers because you're done. After running the engine, determine if it tends to overheat. If so, remove he starter and core plugs, flush with a garden hose (and a coat hanger), and replace with six brass 1-3/4" core plugs.

        These old engines are workhorses but many decades of non-use make them somewhat of a challenge to put back in operation. All rubber needs to be replaced throughout the engine, cooling and fuel system. That small fuel hose coming off the frame is notorious for leaking when you least expect (and far from home). I hope this helps. - Dave
        My latest project:
        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
        --Lee Iacocca


        • #5
          Good advice

          Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated! I'll keep you posted on progress!



          • #6
            Idle engine

            Thanks for all of the advice. I'm contemplating buying a 2nd '67. There's a decent unit for sale that looks in great shape. The guy says he was in the middle of an engine overhaul and never finished. Only asking $1200 and from the pics, not in to bad of shape. Maybe I can part pull one to the other and get the first one road worthy while I track down parts for the second.

            I only paid $1200 for the first so for $2400 I'd have a his and hers?