Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Auto Restoration for Beginners

akashinoakashino Posts: 36
Okay, hopefully we can have a good conversation
here about Auto Restoration from engines to bodies.

I'm hoping that this will put to pro's and
amateurs together for some honest and insightful


  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    Okay, I have a 1979 Suzuki LJ80 that my father put away 13 years ago and hasn't touched since. It's a 2 seat 4x4 with a 797cc engine and a 4 speed manual tranny. A month before he put it away, it was fully serviced (valves, oil, grease, new plugs, etc).

    I recently dug it out of the garage under a tarp covered in dust and found it in excellent shape, no rust, no puddles from any fluid.

    Now, I want to get this thing on the road again. The tires have to be replaced, I will replace all hoses, drain and replace all fluids, check all seals.

    My question is this: What would you strongly suggest I do to ensure that the motor doesn't blow up when I try to start it? Should I take the whole thing apart? Should the gaskets be replaced?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I've started engines that have sat longer than that. It kind of depends, I think, on the conditions under which the car was stored. In some engines, the piston rings have rusted to the cylinder bores, and well, then you are pretty much hosed no matter what you soon as you turn the engine, no matter how gently, the rings will break.

    But if the engine isn't stuck when you try to wiggle it (DON'T DO IT YET!), you may come out okay.

    Here's what I'd do....remove the spark plugs, squirt Marvel Mystery oil (about 2-3 tablespoons)into each cylinder, let it sit overnight. Next day, squirt some spray lube in each cylinder (NOT WD-40...WD is not a lubricant, oddly enough---go find the word lubricant on the can if you don't believe me!)...anything, chain lube, silicone lube, whatever...then try to turn the engine by hand...if that works, next step is to disconnect the ignition coil wire (on some cars with electronic ignition, it may be best to ground this wire before cranking) and then spin the engine on the starter for 10-15 second bursts. Assuming you've checked for a clean fuel supply already, you can then reconnect the ignition and give it a try. Once it starts, just let it idle until you have some oil pressure and it starts to warm up. Then rev it a little bit for 5-10 minutes altogether. Then shut it off and drain the oil and refill with clean oil and filter.

    That should do it....oh, and while the engine is running, check for can run without water for some time, but not without oil of course.

    I've brought back many engines from the dead. Be optimistic. The only engines I had bad luck with were flat ones (like VW and Porsche)...they seem to suffer mightily from storage.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • andy_jordanandy_jordan Posts: 765
    shocks / springs.

    It sounds like the car wasn't jacked under that tarp so is there not a risk of suspension damage? I always thought thatif the vehicle wasn't moved for a prolonged period of time the weight of the vehicle would cause the car to 'settle' (for wont of a better term).
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    If Shifty's method fails to produce the desired results that is, is to pull the heads and wack a piston or two with a 3lb hammer and a chunk of Oak!

    Remember the first rule of Auto resto though. "Don't force it...Use a bigger hammer.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    True enough, if an engine is stuck solid, you don't have much to lose by getting aggressive.

    Sometimes the suspension comes back to life with some driving around, sometimes not. Tires and brakes are usually shot, though.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    I'll try the Mr Shiftright's method, but what the heck is Marvel Mystery oil?

    The trucklet was fully serviced (I'm talking engine overhaul, body work and fresh paint) and then put to rest for some unknown reason, so who know's what it's like?

    I've bought all the replacement hoses (downright cheap for this sucker). Drained the gas tank and replaced the fuel hose and filter and will probably change the oil and filter this weekend before I try to start the engine since I don't know what the oil is like after 13 years.

    Rad's been flushed and pressure tested with no leaks.

    Found an grease stain on the right rear axle so I'll assume I have a leaking axle seal which I'll get the dealer to fix.

    Oh yeah, forgot, drained and replaced the oil in the differentials (front and rear) and the transfer case.

    My goal is to get it running well enough that I can get it to the dealer for a full systems check on the brakes.

    Hope I've done enough.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    You've done more than most people would!

    Oh, Marvel Mystery oil is just a light can use automatic transmission fluid, which is like a 10 weight very high detergent oil...any light oil will do.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    Where is the Bardall man when we need him.

    Ls1v8 feeling mighty old right now. "What is Marvel Mystery Oil?" Heaven help us, and pass the STP, please.....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I think you need to re-think this whole thing...the project is going to cost you an enormous amount of money, you know. Had you thought about just buying another of the same car in mint condition for around $3,000 and, if you are sentimental about the old one, use some of the parts on the new one? Someone else I know did this, and felt pretty good about it afterwards.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I was told by my cousin (ASE Mechanic) that it would take at least 10 grand to fix this car up, and it would be worth about a fifth of that when I got done. Then again, I never looked as cars as an investment (which, to me, implies you're looking for a monetary return. Old cars are the wrong way to go.) Besides, I'm not gonna do the whole thing at once. I'm planning ot take it in pieces, and spread the cost over a longer time. First will be the tranny, and get the car drivable. Then the engine. Then work on cosmetic things like paint, interior, ect. Anyway, its not so much as liking a 78 Mercury for being a 78 Mercury, but because I practically grew up in that car, learned to drive in that car, went through high school and a year of college in that car. I don't think a different one (even in identical colors) would have the same "feel" to it. Then again, I've learned sometimes you do things despite the practicality (or total lack thereof).
    Look on the bright side, I'm jumping in with eyes wide open 8-)
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    Funny, like rea98d the LJ80 I'm restoring was the car I learned to drive in and had it all the way through high school. A lot of good memories in the little trucklet. A lot of friends have taken a ride in that thing. Anyway, I'm with you, it doesn't have to be a classic, it just has to be meaningful.

    By the way, the tire size on this thing is nothing I have ever seen before. Must be an old way of doing tire sizes. I'll post it later and maybe someone can help me convert it.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Please don't tell us us it looks something like E78-14. Then I'm going to feel old. I still have to translate metric sizes into the old letters before I have a feel for how big of a tie we're talking about.
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    ... dgraves1,

    Hate to do this to you there buddy, but believe me, no intent to make you feel olf. The tire size believe it or not is FR78-15.

    Can anybody tell me what size tire I should be looking for???

    Suzuki LJ80 Update:

    Suzuki Canada was kind enough to track down a service manual in Japan and get it to me, what a godsend!!!

    Spent the weekend taking the engine apart and draining replacing all fluids. The oil filter was a bugger, ended up getting one from Canadian Tire after making the parts guy go through his tech library. Not the same, but it will due for now.

    Replaced all of the rad hoses and pressure tested it, good to go.

    Took the valve cover off and lubed the valves, lifters, camshaft, rocker shaft et al., new gasket, and closed her up.

    Used an air hose to get oil in the cylinders and turned the crank a number of times to get it lubed and moving.

    Wiring, distributor, rotor are in A1 shape. Replaced the plugs after

    Got a new battery and will install it next weekend.

    Should I replace the timing belt since it hasn't moved in 13 years?

    Now, next step is to clean and replace the airfilter (replaceable foam) get gas in it (I drained close to 3 gallons 13 year old gas), and fire it up.

    My goal is to get the engine running, warm it up and check for leaks. If no leaks, get it towed to the dealer for brake work (I don't trust myself on the brakes) and check the axle seals and such.

    Any thoughts from the folks with experience out there????
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    There's probably a Table somewhere. Working backwards, the 15 is the wheel diameter in inches on both numbering systems. The 78 is the aspect ratio which is the same in both systems. 78 used to be pretty standard, anything lower was a "low profile" tire. The "R" just means radial. Now the fun part - in the metric size, the 225 is the width of the tire. But in the "old" system, the letter (F) was a load rating so it was dependant on the tire volume. Therefore, you can't just translate the letter into a width. The width would depend on the wheel size and the aspect ratio. So an F78-15 would have a different width than an F60-14.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    The answer is that people didn't do much sizing up or down then. When your tires wore out you got new ones just like the ones you had. The drag racer types (like me) just put the biggest damn tires they could afford and fit on the back and didn't worry about what it did to your speedometer reading.
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    Amen dgraves. I used to buy the widest 14 or 15 in Bias belted tire $25 would buy. Redlines were optional
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    I drained about 4 gallons of gas out of the tank. It was left as is for 13 years. My question is "is there anything I should be doing to the gasline?" I mean is leaving the gas in there for 13 years going to cause me problems? Also, what do I do with the old gas? I'll bet dimes to donuts that the gas is leaded so wht can I do (Legally) with it????? Is it good to use? Can I treat it with a stabilizer and use it? Water it down with fresh gas and use it?
    HELP !!!! :-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    No, gas breaks down over time and forms a nasty varnish like substance. All you can do is bottle or can it and take it to a toxic recycling place in your area. Stabilizers are meant to be used in GOOD gas to keep it stable. It can't help gas turned bad already.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    Thanks Shiftie, but what about the stuff I couldn't siphon out???? Will adding a tank of fresh gas dilute it? Should I take the whole gasline apart and flush it? Will it have done anything to the gasline, gas pump, fuel gauge or gas tank?
  • andy_jordanandy_jordan Posts: 765
    What is the best way to clean varnish, carbon etc from an engine / fuel system.

    I know of a couple of engine cleaning systems - Motorvac and another whose name escapes me from the North East, but does anyone know if they work.

    What about some of the bottle systems, anyone know?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Oh, I think you just take everything motto is that nothing out of a bottle will fix an ailing engine.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • andy_jordanandy_jordan Posts: 765
    that was what you were going to say.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    To have a barbeque! Nothing like the tasted of possum roasted over an open gas can!
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    That would be great idea if we had possum's in Toronto ;-)

    Anyway, I took apart the brakes and guess what I found? Rust, crud, leaking wheel cylinders and lot's of fluid. But the most exciting find was that the beast has drums on all wheels plus an "emergency" drum brake (now called a parking brake) on the driveshaft behind the transfer case.

    The brakes are NOT self adjusting. You actually have to periodically go through a hole in the drum and spin the star wheel to adjust the shoe clearance.

    Man, talk about freakin' STONE AGE !!!!
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    Okay, fuel system is clean, new filter and all, so the line is bone dry. Do I have to prime the line or will the pump get it going? If not, how do you prime it?????
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    If the usual ways fail, I've taken an air hose and stuck it in the gas tank filler neck to force gas up the fuel line to the fuel pump...
  • lefty53lefty53 Posts: 1
    Does anyone know how to polish syainless steel to look like chrome?
  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    Okay, the engine runs, but rough. Got a lot of exhaust, but no blue smoke so I'm happy. Problem is that the battery wouldn't charge and when I hit the light switch I could hear the relay under the dash going nuts, and then she stalled. I did run it for a half hour and she got nice and warm but not hot and NO leaks :-)

    Could it be an alternator? Can an alternator go bad just sitting in a dry garage??? Could it be the relay? Could it be anything else?

    Also, the roughness in the engine. Should I have taken the carb apart knowing that the gas in the fuel system before I drained it was old leaded gas, or could it just need a tuneup after 13 years in hibernation?

    Thanks in advance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Could be lots of things...ignition probably, old plug wires, corrosion....a good run on the road might help (also known as an "italian tune-up").

    How old is this battery...if more than 4 years old, throw it out and start with that.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • akashinoakashino Posts: 36
    ...would be a good choice if I had the wheels and brakes setup

    Anyway, the battery is brand new. I'm going to take a voltmeter to the alternator tonite.

    As for Italian tune-up's, a friend also suggested blowing the crap out of the cylinders by using measured amounts of distilled water and a hot high reving engine by putting the water in through the carb. Apparently the explosiveness of the steam as it hits the cylinder will blow the heck out of the crap in there like the carbon deposits and blow it out the exhaust. Just becareful not to use too much water at a time since you could blow the engine.

This discussion has been closed.