Lotus Elan

Older engine rebuild

PostPost by: GuyC » Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:35 pm

Hello All,

Hope you guys can offer some advice, I am currently looking at a car for sale which had an engine rebuild in 1987, did 2,000 miles up to 1990, then was left in storage until 2014. Current owner recommissioned the car and has done about 200 miles since. I was passenger to a test drive and the engine pulls well, shows good oil pressure (~40psi running, 15-20 idle) and no smoke on start up. Questions I have are:

1) Do you think the engine rebuild in 1987 will still be good? i.e. would the seals have dried out or bores pitted, etc. after being left stood all that time?

2) If something were to go wrong related to it being stood about for so long, would this have presented itself by now?

Appreciate the help.

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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:57 pm

There are two ways to look at this. Sitting for a long time can result in loss of lubrication on valve guides and crank bearings, rust in the bores, acid deterioration of lead bearing surfaces, ring seizure, etc. And these are not wonderful things for an engine's longevity.

However, lubricated metal not exposed to the elements can stay in fine condition for a long time. I've opened engines that have been still for many years and found nothing horrible. And I've rocked free a Honda motorcycle engine that suffered ring seizure from open valve exposure while parked outside but which now runs just fine. For that I merely applied a generous dose of spray lubricant down the plug holes, let it sit while driving it home across the country, and it freed almost by accident while rolling it down the ramp off the pickup. With no sign of a broken ring, there's little value in surgery at this point.

Your engine has been run after long storage, so any mechanical damage as a result of that has been done already. No use worrying about that now.

Seals can also dry out, but less-so with modern materials. In that vein, a seal that has been loaded by being compressed or stretched into an unnatural shape and left there will be the first to fail. Again, worry about it when it happens.

Overall, beyond replacing all fluids and watching for trouble, I would not treat this engine any different from any other at this point. You'll likely be inside it for a water pump in the not-too-distant future regardless.
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