Storing an engine for a while – what do I need to do to protect it?


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A good mate of mine has begun dismantling his customised P5B sedan apart to effect further modifications. In the meantime I've let him stash the V8 we just pulled out of it in a corner of my garage. He might well be putting a completely different engine back in his car, or he might end up reinstalling this one. Either way, I wonder what I ought to do to ensure the original V8 doesn't corrode into a solid and useless lump? We drained the oil sump, but there is probably some coolant still in the block, despite the lower rad hose having been removed. I didn't try and open the drain taps yet. There are a couple of rags stuffed into the carbs, and the spark plugs are all still in place. Is there anything else should I be doing to it, chaps, beyond throwing a tarp over the top and ignoring it?


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I believe some people recommend ATF down the bores? I think making sure the coolant channels are dry would be 1st priority. long, long, term maybe back off the rockers? I don't really know, I'm just spreading old-wives-tales I've heard....


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I am trying to remember the standard we had at Austin/ BMC for long term storage of engines, its about 50 years ago when I looked at it. One thing I am certain is that a special preservative oil was put into the bores and then engine turned over about one revolution . Afterwards all the apertures were sealed , inlet, exhaust and all the breathers . This was on new engines that hadn't been run , so I think they had oil in them but certainly no water. I had an unused ex MOD generator set that had been sealed up in 1945 and 50 years later I opened it up That had a sticky treacle type substance all over and inside it that took ages to clean off , both inside & out. I have a couple of 2200 TC engines in the back of the garage, they have tape over all the apertures, oil in the bores and most importantly kept dry. A lot depends on how long you think the storage might be, generally it will be longer than you anticipate!


Active Member
You've drained the old oil, this is good as it has contaminant which will cause corrosion. You are best to full with new oil and pump it around the engine, turn the engine if you can while spinning the oil pump via the distributor drive, to flush the old contaminated oil from the working of the engine (bearing, followers, bores etc.
Get rid of all the traces of petrol, i.e. drain the carbs, clean if you can and blow out any fuel lines.
Other than, just try to keep the condensation out, if you can wrap it great. I'd not be overly worried about bores etc but I suppose it will do no harm. If putting stuff down the bore write a note, to remember to empty bores before turning over in the future.

Good resource is "Prep a marine engine for winter", or lifeboat engines. These are stored and expected to work the next time the start button is pressed.

Roverp480 just posted and good advice there too.

I'd re-fill it with oil and then add another gallon, put some down the spark plug holes, turn it over by hand and put the plugs back in. Then re-oil the cylinders and turn it over by hand every few weeks. Oiling and turning is mainly to keep the bores and rings rust-free, the extra gallon is to stop the oil pump draining down so you're pumping oil not air.
Get all the petrol out of the carbs and petrol pump, flush out any coolant with a hose and dry the block and stuff the exhaust ports and inlet with oily rags.
If you take parts off, put them in bags along with any nuts & bolts and tie them to the engine so they don't get lost.
If you store it resting on the sump, you might find it'll leak as the weight of the engine squashes the sump gasket so think about putting it in a tray to contain any oil.
Cover it with plastic in case your garage roof springs a leak.
I'm not sure that his would be practical but a friend stored an engine completely submerged in a barrel of old oil for some 20 or so years and it came out perfectly preserved.


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Thanks for the useful advice, gents.
Cobraboy, that Lotus table is jolly nice. Alas, I live in an apartment which isn't on the ground floor, so repurposing an engine into a table isn't an option for me.


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I'm actually hoping my mate just puts this engine back in his car! He regales me with notions of installing a modern Chevy LS V8 with a Tremec manual gearbox in his P5B Saloon, and I'm trying to talk him back down to Earth and just hang an LT77 behind the original motor. So as to avoid being outgunned in the bragging department. :LOL: Although if he does modernise his car with a much more powerful engine and a slick shifting box, it would surely be pretty damn cool.