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Re-awakening an Engine - Not Quite the Usual ?


I now have the donor 1500 for my project Spitfire. According to dates written on the oil filter the engine was last run in 1997.

I will be using the alternator, distributor, flywheel/clutch, water pump, intake/exhaust manifolds, and carb off the old engine. The plugs will be new and I will set the valves, do an oil change, and all the regular mundane stuff.

The donor engine turns over freely by hand so I'm not worried that the rings are stuck or bores rusted. However, short of tearing the engine apart, what other things should I look at prior to restarting the engine?

Mickey Richaud

Staff member
Country flag
For a very good description, go to Tony Barnhill's site (it's still active), theAutoist.com. Look for the technical/tips section and click on "Awakening a sleeping MGB". It's about the best out there.



Freshman Member
just because it turns over doesn't mean something isn't stuck.
Err on the side of caution, and once you get the oil changed,
take out the dizzy and run the oil pump a while with a drill motor.

Make sure the oil is getting to the top, and you can see it coming up and out.

Take out the plugs and pour some thin oil, diesel, marvel mystery oil or etc. in the cylinders and let it soak a couple of days. This will creep into gum, varnish and light rust and loosen up any sticky rings.

Turn it over a few times with no plugs, to spread out the lube before trying to start it.

Just precautionary


I would pull the oil pan while the engine is out of the car. You clean out any sludge that may have accumulated and pull a main bearing and a couple rod bearing caps to inspect for wear.
The cost is minimal and could save a lot of time.


Country flag
Have you done preliminary compression testing on the cylinders yet? They will change, usually for the better, once the engine has gone through some heat cycles but it would be good to know that you've got some level of compression. (sorry if you already did that on a separate thread)


To those who asked, I haven't done anything to the engine yet. In spite of the number of times I've worked on engines, I don't own an engine stand or I probably would already have the pan off. Perhaps I will be able to "get by" leaning the engine over sideways to remove the pan.

I was wondering about the Marvel Mystery Oil or diesel/kerosene in the bores to soften deposits around the rings.

I believe I still have a drive I made for the GT6 which I'll use to run the pump by drill prior to cranking.

I'll read Tony's site soon. Based on the advice above I'll plan on ordering a few items like a rear main seal and pan gasket, and while I'm waiting on the parts I'll put a little MM oil in the bores and perhaps kerosene in the sump so when I do remove the pan the goo will hopefully be easier to remove.

I'm afraid the compression tests will have to wait until the engine is bolted into something.

Thanks for all the advice.
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