View Full Version : TR2/3/3A First Time TR3A Owner with stuck engine

04-19-2013, 12:15 AM
Hello All,

I have recently picked up an all original 61 Tr3a with 54k miles that has been sitting in storage for 20+ years. Upon getting it home and in the garage i set to work rebuilding the brakes and filling what little rust I have in the floorpans. The only holdup now seems to be the engine. It is not fully seized but it will not rotate in either direction more than 1/8 inch when i grab the fan, i can feel that all pistons move up and down minimally when the engine is turned that 1/8 inch. reading other posts on here i decided to try the blend of Automatic Trans Fluid and Acetone, but again to no progress. I Have loosened the rocker assembly and ascertained that it is not a stuck valve. I have taken the starter out and that is not the issue. the transmission seems to shift into and out of all gears fine, though it does seem to have a stuck clutch. Honestly i am at a loss for what could be seizing the engine. Is It stuck rings, a tappet, or something all together different that I am not thinking of?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated being as this is my first TR! I will flll in any details i have left out as they become relevant.

04-19-2013, 12:32 AM
Have you pulled the plugs? I'm guessing you don't have the hand crank to manually turn the engine.... Mine sat for 20 + years as well, but luckily turned OK. Others will chime in, you found the best place on the web for LBCs.

04-19-2013, 12:43 AM
When I went to start up my engine that had not been run for years, the advice that I got was first pull the plugs and pour some marvel mystery oil down each of the plug holes, then put the car in gear and rock it back and forth after the oil's had a chance to run down and through everything, and after that to take it back out of gear and turn the engine over by hand. Dont know if it was the best advice, but it worked for me.

04-19-2013, 01:42 AM
:encouragement: What Justin said.

04-19-2013, 04:47 AM
Stuck pistons or rings would be my first guess; but to get that much motion the crank would have to be right at TDC (or BDC) or perhaps a spun bearing on the stuck cylinder. A stuck lifter or valve, or FOD in the timing chain or a cylinder would give you a much larger range of motion, so I don't think that is it.

Another possibility might be the oil pump or distributor drive seized. I've never seen that happen during storage, but there's a first time for everything. Or the camshaft itself, for that matter. Have you tried pulling the fuel pump? Sometimes they can break and jam the camshaft. I don't see how that could happen during storage, but might be the reason it was put into storage in the first place?

Hmm, how do you feel that the pistons are moving? Are you actually probing down a plug hole? If not, could the fan hub be moving on the crank?

IMO, now that you know it's stuck, might as well start pulling it apart to find out why. The head & pan can come off with the engine still in the car; the flat rate manual only allows 2:15 to R&R both of them (though of course it will probably take you at least twice that long). If the problem proves to be something simple then all you've spent is a weekend and a gasket set. And if it's something more serious, you were going to have to pull it apart anyway, possibly after doing more damage trying to get it to turn.

My previous TR3A had gotten rings rusted to the cylinder wall during storage, and the previous owner (or his expensive mechanic) had broken it free. But the process broke the rings and tore up the cylinder wall, which is probably part of why I got such a "good deal" on the car. I drove it home that way, stuffed some new rings & bearings in it (literally with it parked in the street since the garage was full), and drove it for several years. It actually ran pretty good, although it leaked oil kind of bad even for a Triumph (due to all the blowby past the damaged cylinder wall) and sometimes made an odd knocking noise at idle (probably piston slap in the damaged cylinder).

Never did get around to rebuilding it; when I bought a second TR3 for the overdrive, I just swapped the engine along with the gearbox and sold the other car.

Geo Hahn
04-19-2013, 10:16 AM
Recently worked on an MGA with a similar symptom -- it had been parked for many months and the old fuel set up like glue. The 'stuck' bit was in fact the valves. Some penetrant and light hammering got them all moving again and allowed the engine to turn. start and run.

04-19-2013, 02:11 PM
the way i have felt the pistons moving is by probing the cylinders with a rod, then rotating the engine back and forth the 1/8 inch or so that it will turn. I am planning on pulling the pan and pumps as well as the dissi drive sequentially to try to find the cause. That will have to wait, I will be away this weekend but look forward to keeping all up to date on any progress i make! This is all very interesting and I very greatly appreciate the help i have recieved thus far! Thanks

04-19-2013, 03:29 PM
Since the clutch is stuck, can you rock the car in gear and get more movement on the engine? Trying to turn it by the fan doesn't give you much pressure and could damage the fan.

04-19-2013, 08:02 PM
I have been trying to rock the car gently in gear, with no progress.

Geo Hahn
04-19-2013, 08:09 PM
Another possibility that can occur on the TR3A is that the starter can jam in the flywheel. The solution to that is to put the gearbox into 4th and rock the car backwards (you're trying to back the engine up a bit).

I have been trying to rock the car gently in gear, with no progress.

For the jammed starter, at least, I have found that gently doesn't do it -- I get it rockin' hard until suddenly there is a loud 'pop' and she is free.

04-21-2013, 11:05 PM
Ok so progress was made tonight.

Being anxious to get to the bottom of the mystery I returned to the garage early this weekend, and made some interesting discoveries. I pulled the dist and fuel pump and that did nothing to help the engine turn. so i crawled under and dropped the pan. Upon dropping it knew immediately what was allowing the 1/8 inch or so of crank movement. The crank was positioned vertically as in #1 & #4 pistons at BDC and #2 & #3 pistons at TDC. This position allow for minute crank movements even with stuck pistons. Sure enough looking closer i see that 1 & 4 have what looks to be corrosion weeping past the piston skirts, probably from antifreeze making its way past the head gasket. Time will tell if that is truly the culprit when i remove the head. Hoping to no t have to remove the engine and get away with new pistons and liners with the block and crank still installed. Thank You All!