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Old 09-15-2004, 09:12 AM
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Trying to revive an old flat head that's been sitting

I do some volunteer work at a local farm and I am looking at acquiring a couple of 1937-38 Ford flatbed trucks for use to give hay rides to folks.

I have never worked on a flat head before. I don't know how long they have been sitting for certain. One maybe 2 years, the other maybe 10. I know one ran when parked.

I figured I'd pull the plugs and pour a little bit of deisel or ATF into each cylinder to lube and free the pistons (I don't know if these engines will even turn yet). I plan to let them soak for about a week.

How do I prime the oil pump before actually cranking it?

Any other precautions I should take to prime and prepare these engines for cranking? Can I use starting fluid to help them out once the deisel is ejected out the cylinders?

I take it the spark plugs are not something I am going to be able to pickup at the local chain stores, right?

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Old 09-15-2004, 12:24 PM
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Just a few points. First, because of the type drive (gear) the oil pump can't be primed prior to firing as is done on most modern engines. Secondly, the most common occurance on old flatties that have set for a while is stuck valves, so if you have weak, or no, compression on a few cylinders the heads may have to come off and the valves freed.
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Old 09-15-2004, 01:04 PM
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I think you should find an antique auto parts dealer in your area before you get these things. If you can't, or if they don't carry stuff for the 37-38 flathead Ford, do not get into this project.

I accasionaly work on a 34 flathead, and let me tell you that it would be long junked if it weren't for Mac's Antique Auto Parts in my area. EVERYTHING goes wrong with these engines (from what I've experienced), and no you can't get even spark plugs from a regular Pep Boys or someplace.
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Old 09-15-2004, 04:12 PM
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Use Marvel Mystery Oil in the cylinders to free it up. Comes in a pint can red/black/white label found at most established auto parts stores. Drop the oil pan and clean it real good along with the canister oil filter if still equiped. Turn it over by hand a little each day untill it turns freely. If it looks like it will run, put seal restoring additives in the oil and water and hope for the best.. Flatties tend to leak from everywhere after they sit for a while and as stated above can test your patience but rate a "10" on the Kool scale in rods. Macs is great for replacement parts and Speedway has a lot of hop up and dress up equipment.
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Old 09-15-2004, 05:15 PM
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Doc here

First , If you get the flathead's to turn over, the best way to pre lube them is to get a charger, and extra battery, and just crank them for 5 or 10 minutes with the plugs out on a full new crankcase of oil and filter canister. Do a quick Compression while doing this, to give you an idea of what the prospective of actually running is..

That will get the oil going to where it needs to be, and hasn't for 10 years, and may, if you have stuck valves (which they do so well) it may help to loosen them up.

On the plugs, I don't remember if the 35-7 Flattie had them, but if they are wide base plugs (like a 3/4 wrench size) you can get Plug adapters to go in there and use standard AC delco plugs. However, Because of the slight reach differences you'll have to experiment with different plugs until you find ones that don't foul out...

If your going to rebuild them, you can still get kits,and parts from places like Hemmings and others at a reasonable cost.

Before you Start, your going to want to replace points, rotor , Cap (If you can find one) And Coil (just because) Check all your wiring, after 10 years of sitting that cotton clad is a favorite of Rats for Shelter and food...You don't want any fires...Install a new power and ground cable at the battery..

Get a new fuel filter, or chuck the old one and install a new glass site in-line one at the carb. Clean or By pass the tank for your test run. It's probably full of evil things...

You will probably need to rebuild or at best clean the carb after sitting that long, If you don't do a rebuild kit, pull the air horn off the top and get some carb cleaner and spray and wipe it down good.clean out the float seat and screen, make sure the needle is free and the float actually does...If I remember right, It should be an old Zenith Carb...

Get yourself some new radiator hoses and a new fan belt (S) (you may have to make your own hose from universal's with a 90 molded bend in the middle) and about 10 gallons of water...maybe some radiator sealer...

If luck is with you, And The drive train isn't seized up, you might even be able to drive them up on the trailer...or home if your like, really Irish...

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Old 09-15-2004, 06:05 PM
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If the truck that was parked two years ago was running, I could probably have it going in a matter of minutes. The one that has sat for 10 years would probably take half a day. Now I will contradict myself. Most every thing has been covered, but I will sort of organize what has worked for me over the years. First thing I would do is remove all the plugs and spray in the Marvel mystery oil and then remove both carbs and pour a bunch of mystery oil down the intakes to let the valve stems soak (all that have any opening) for 2-3 days. I would then remove the fuel pumps and order rebuild kits for the carbs and pumps. Dennis Carpenter Reproductions, Bob Drake Reproductions, Macs Antique Autos, and La baron-Bonney all have rebuild kits, along with many others. Obsolete Ford Parts in Oklahoma City may be the closest for you. The carb float needle tends to stick closed when the gasoline evaporates out. Also, the check valves in the fuel pumps stick closed and will never pump until they are broken loose. The diaphragm is also most likely dry rotted as well. Look under the truck seat and see if there is a good old fashioned hand crank. If so, try it on the motors after the 2 days soaking to see if you can turn the motor by hand. Chances are good that you will. The next challenge will be the clutch. Some times they will just stick to the pressure plate. If the do not release, just give the truck a gentle tow when the motors are free (clutch pedal depressed) and it should break loose with no problem. The ideal of cranking over the motor with no plugs installed, but not for 10 minutes. The above mentioned mystery oil will lube the top end and the slinging action should help the bottom end along with the little bit of action on the oil pump. When the motors do fire up, don't run for more than a couple of minutes the first few times and increase the duration, looking for the obvious fluid leaks etc. For what you have planned, I would not tear into the motors unless they dust don't flat run. Also, don't look for big compressions, they will run on about 85 and don't expect much more.

Most likley, the trucks still have the old mechanical brakes. A little lubrication one all the pins and clevis' would be in order as well as the ball sockets on top of the front kingpins.. If thay have been converted to hydraulics, then new /rebuilt master and wheel cylinders will be necessary cause the old ones will be rusted and pitted beyond repair. The old tranny and rear end grease level should be checked and changed in the future. I would not do that until you have driven the trucks enough to see if you are going to have to replace any seals.

When you get tired of them, let me know. I'm looking for a good core for my roll back of the future!!

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