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Starting (1st Fire-up) of New Motor

~ The Initial Fire-Up ~
Course #101

This topic comes up regularly on the Q&A Board, so I thought I'd type it out here once & for all. It's my "recipe for success" when it comes to starting a freshly rebuilt motor. Having done quite a few over the years myself, I hope it will help you to bring yours to life - there's nothing like hearing her catch for the first time!!!

Advance Preparations: Your Crew - I would suggest enlisting two other people to help during your start-up. Like so many things automotive, you're going to need more hands and eyes than you have yourself - not to mention some moral support & troubleshooting suggestions should you encounter some setbacks - if nothing else, you'll want to high-five somebody once it's running! Conversely, too many "helpers" milling about isn't going to make things easy either, so don't plan a party around this part of your project (yet). Simply pick a pair of level-headed friends or family members who have at least some mechanical skills (or can make up for the lack of them by following orders like a first-week Marine recruit) As you continue to read the following instructions, think about which tasks you can divide among each member of the team (including yourself) of things to do and to monitor.
Heh... here's a likely pair - Think these two
have ever even *SEEN* an engine before...?

OK, Today's the BIG Day... Here We Go...!

PHASE I - Preparing the Theatre of Operations ~

Step #1 - Establish ORDER in the place where you are going to work - if it's outside, try to make it a flat driveway or concrete pad, free of as many obstructions (other cars, woodpiles, etc.) as possible. If you are in a garage, clear yourself a decent area to work, remove any flammables that may be nearby, and so on. You'll have enough to be concerned with without tripping over unnecessary items or burning the place down!!!

Step #2 - Clean the floor / pad under where the car will be (or already is), so that no existing fluids already there will be confused with possible new ones resulting in the fire-up process. Your creeper will roll better too! Another clever option is to put a *BIG* piece of clean cardboard - like from a refrigerator box - under the whole front end of the car. Makes it real easy for you to slide in & out from underneath, and solves the fluid marking issue as well.

Step #3 - Clear off your workbench, or establish a central tool area nearby (but not too close) to the car. You'll want the following tools ready & waiting as soon as the motor is running, so better to queue them up now:

* Timing Light
* Distributor Cleat Wrench
* Extension Cord(s)
* Electric Drill & priming rod
* Various appropriate rachets, extensions, adapters & sockets
* Open-end wrench set
* Various Screwdrivers

(suitable for adjusting the carb)
* Clean Rags / Paper Towels
* Small Catch Pans

(for those possible leaks we were talking about...?)
* Funnels
(including a Trans funnel for automatics)
* Fluids
(Anti-freeze, motor oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, tranny fluid, etc.)
* A Water Source
(a big, spouted container or nozzled hose)
* Small Can of Gasoline
to prime the carb with (Note: *NEVER* use ether or other starting fluid on a new motor!!!)

Oh, and while we're in the subject of safety... A Correctly-Rated Fire Extinguisher and Ready Access to a telephone (in case of emegency, to call around for a tool or part, or just to order lunch)

OK, everything set...? ON TO PHASE II...!!!

PHASE II - Juices ~

Step #4 - Move the car into position & raise it onto four jack stands so all the wheels are level and a few inches off the ground.

Step #5 - Remove the distributor,distributor oil drive gear, valve covers, and spark plugs (as you'll soon see, this last detail makes turning the crank by hand a lot easier!). Using the drill & priming rod, pre-lube the motor by spinning the oil pump. Turn the crank a few times with a big rachet & socket to ensure that oil gets to the top end of both heads. Have someone observe the oil pressure gauge to confirm oil pressure during this process.

Step #6 - Return the motor to TDC (top dead center). The easiest way to find TDC is to continue to turn the crank clockwise with the rachet, watching the valve train on #1 cylinder. During this hand rotation, confirm that the #1 intake valve has opened. As it begins to close, turn your attention to the harmonic balancer, until the next time the mark on it comes dead even with the zero on the timing indicator. You are now at TDC on the compression stroke, and that's where you want to leave things for the next important step.

Step #7 - Re-install the distributor and the distributor oil drive gear with the rotor pointing to the #1 cylinder on the cap, then rotate the distributor housing to also point at the rotor once it's installed.
NOTE: It's easy to get the rotor pointing in the right direction, but I must stress the importance of getting the housing orientation correct. It's a common error to bolt down the distributor with the housing so far advanced or retarded that the motor won't start. I always mark the housing where the #1 tower is at with the cap on it. You can then install the distributor with the rotor pointing at this mark - combined with the TDC alignment you just did, the motor is now "timed" enough to get it running and make the final adjustments with your timing gun.

Step #8 - With the distributor re-installed & indexed to #1 cylinder, replace the valve covers. Map out the rest of the firing order & (carefully!) check the cap and spark wiring of the spark plugs and firing order. Now is also a good time to gap and install the spark plugs.

Step #9 - Fill the radiator with 100% water (it cools better then anti-freeze, and if it should leak into the oil pan, it's not as hard on the bearings as anti-freeze is.) There should be no thermostat in the motor upon fire-up - you don't want to restrict water flow in any way at this time, nor do you want to risk creating an air lock in the heads. Leave the radiator cap off so you can adjust fluid level & monitor the cooling system flow once the motor is running. If you are concerned that overheating may be a problem, you can put a household window fan on a stool in front of the car to blow air through the radiator. Have your source of water ready to top off the radiator as needed. Once the motor is running and you have checked the water level and coolant flow in the system, and you are ok with the system, you can put the radiator cap on for the rest of the break in period.

Step #10 - Now it's time to run down through the final "pre-flight" check. Inspect the throttle linkage for free movement and correct any binding or obstructions (check this before you fill carb with fuel). If you have an electric fuel pump, it's wise (even with a new fuel system) to flush the line for a quart or so into a safe container, to clear out any rust or other debris that may have settled in during your project (and be CAREFUL! Remember WHAT you're working with here!!!) Once this is done, reconnect and look for leaks, checking all connections and hose clamps from the tank foward to the engine bay. Make sure the needle valve & seats are shutting the fuel off once the bowls are full and not filling the motor with fuel. Well, it can happen...! Give all of the adjustment screws on the carb a turn (you don't want to find out after the motor is running that one of these is frozen!) Put some fresh gasoline into the tank (today's additive-rich gas goes bad rather quickly, so freshening it up is a good idea) If your car will still be using the stock mechanical fuel pump, you have (hopefully) either replaced the original or otherwise confirmed that what's on there is in working order. In either case, it's advisable to install a new fuel filter & line from the pump to the carb - that way you know you're clean up to the carb inlet. For your initial start-up, I recommend a see-thru type filter - lets you see fuel flow & whether there is any significant residue collecting in the filter. You can always switch back to the stock metal cannister type later.

Step #11 - Time for your final fluids check:

- Is your Oil Drain Plug in & tight? (Don't laugh...)
- Oil Filter installed? (Don't laugh again...)
- 5 quarts of your favorite Motor Oil in? (I don't hear anyone laughing now...!)
- Tranny Fluid in? (if applicable)
- Fuel Filter in?
- Power Steering (if applicable) topped off?
- Washer Reservior filled? (hey, might as well,
your gonna be needing it reeeeeal soon now, son...!)

OK, take a break & clean up the area, make sure any extra tools are out of the engine bay & back on the bench / tool area so you know where they are when you need them... 'cause it's showtime!!! On to Phase III -->

PHASE III - Lighting the Fuse ~

Step #12 - Before you hit the starter for real, let's double-check a few basics - eliminating these now will save you some guesswork if you should encounter any unexpected difficulties in the next few steps. Turn the ignition key "on" (as if you were just going to listen to the radio) & check for power to the ignition system & to the coil. To do this, remove the coil-to-distributor wire & "bump" the starter - just a quick jolt to get it to cough, really - to make sure that it's operational. Even if it's brand new, this test will make sure the soleniod is engaging correctly, & that your major connections from the battery are flowing. Once the starter is confirmed, grab your timing light & attach it to the #1 cylinder plug wire. Double-check the oil level in motor (yes, I KNOW you already did this... but once more won't hurt, & then you're sure - right...?) Hopefully, your battery has remained fully charged. Make one last check for any leaks that might have appeared since the priming, water fill & fuel check (using the cardboard method? Pull it out & flip it over now - if you spilled any fluids by accident, this gives you a "clean slate" to work with) If all of these final "pre-flight" checks pass muster, then it's time to assign yourself & your crew the all-important "launch positions." You'll need one member on the key & watching the gauges; he is also responsible to shut the motor down if the oil pressure drops below 20 lbs., or, if the water temperature goes over 220 degrees at *ANY* time during the break-in run. He is also to stay alert for any sign from the other two members that he should kill the ignition switch. The second member is to monitor the engine itself - looking for topside leaks, odd smoke, flames, sparks / shorts & key fluid flows and levels, and controlling the throttle settings. The last member should be in motion, ready with the fire extinguisher, able to access the critical tools that the engine monitor might call for, & to move from fender to fender, checking each side of the engine bottom for leaks. Everybody clear on their assignments...? OK, THIS IS IT!!!

Step #13 -
Your helper with you under the hood should be swift, quick and able to communicate with you over the noise of the running motor. Is to keep the amount of run time the motor has on it since it fired and note the time if the motor is shut down before the break-in run is finished. He should look for any leaks an inform you of them. And place pans under any leaks that appear. He should be ready to get you any tool or equipment you need. Start the electric fan and posistion it so it blows thru the radiator and to check the fluid level in the radiator. And to call the fire dept if you catch the shop on fire.
Your job is to make sure everybody knows thier job and to have a set of hand signals set up so everyone is on the same page and the guy behind the wheel knows what you want him to do from your hand signals. Hearing over a motor that is running at over 2500 rpm's isn't easy, esp if it has open headers. To get the motor running and set the timing. You will need to squirt fuel into the carb to keep it running untill the fuel pump picks up and the carb is full and it will run on it's own.

Step #14 - Now for the "BIG" event... One quick look at the plug wires and coil wire. If it's a mech fuel pump squirt a couple of squirts of fuel into the carb and motion for the driver to turn the key over (If you have a remote starter button, your helper under the hood can do this, once the key has been turned to the "on" posistion.).If the dist was indexed properly when it was reinstalled after the priming, the motor will start up on about the second revolution of the motor. As soon as it starts take a quick look at the fuel lines and carb for any leaks and possible flooding of the carb. You should be operating the throttle at this time untill it's running on it's own. And check with the driver for an ok on oil pressure.
Once it's running on it's own have the driver take over the throttle and bring it up to 2500 rpm's..). Take the timing light and set the timing anywhere between 30-34 degrees advanced and tighten the distributor hold down bolt. If it has headers moisten your fingers or take a damp rag and check for heat on each tube of the header or check for heat in the manifolds. Look at the water level and flow in the radiator and fill if needed. If everything looks good topside look under the car for any signs of leaks. Blip the throttle a couple of times. These sudden bursts of the throttle will encourage the lifters to spin. Check with the driver on water temp and oil pressure. Check with your helper on the run time.. If everything is going smoothly and it's an atuo trans have the driver run the trans thru the gears making sure he stops the wheels before he changes directions of the trans from reverse to forward and before he puts it in park. Blip the throttle every now and then or have the driver do it occasionlly.
By this time you should be getting close to the 20 mins of break-in time on the new cam. Anywhere between 20-30 mins of run time is good enough for the cam break-in.
Once you have reached the cam break in time then shut it down and let it cool back to ambient temp before you try to start it again.

Step #15 - If for any reason you need to shut the motor off before you reach the 20 min of break-in time for the new cam. Just record the amount of time it ran in the previous run-in's. And start from that point on the next run-in.
If you have to shut it down for any reason, leaks, whatever, etc.... repair or fix the problem(s) and let it cool to ambient temp. Then continue with the break-in.

Step #16 - If all has gone well and you have successfully accomplished the break-in.
Then hook both thumbs in your front pockets, stick out your chest and strut around the yard like a peacock. You have just brought another mopar to life!!!

Numbered Check List
*Things to do and Monitor*

1. Put car on 4 jack stands.

2. Clean floor under car.

3. Lay-out all necessary tools needed.

    * A. Timing light

    * B. Wrench needed to tighten distributor down

    * C. Screw drivers to adjust carb.

    * D. Small pans for any leaks.

    * E. Shop rags/Paper towels

    * F. Trans funnel.

    * G. Fluids.

    * H. Water source.

    * I. Gas squirt bottle.

    * J. Fan for cooling radiator.

    * K. Anything else you will need to check what ever you plan to do during the break-in.

    * L. Fire Extinquisher

4. Remove dist and valve covers and prime motor. Make sure theres oil to both heads and valve train.

5. Return motor to TDC

6. Re-install distributor.

7. Index distributor and rotor to #1 cly.

8. Install valve covers.

9. Gap and install the spark plugs and check the spark plug wires and firing order.

10. Fill radiator and place fan in front.

11. Check fuel lines for leaks.

12. Check carb for leaks and operation of all adjustments.

13. Check throttle linkage for smooth operation

14. Fresh fuel in the tank.

15. Check battery for full charge.

16. Check ignition system for power.

17. Check for power to coil.

18. Check starter operation.

19. Check oil level in motor.

20. Hook timing light to #1 cly spark plug wire.

21. Check for leaks in water, oil, and fuel systems.

22. Meeting of the minds. Final conference of job assignments and plan of attach.

23. Last check of spark plug wires and coil wire, carb operation and throttle operation.

24. Squirt fuel into carb.

25. Key "on" and start the motor.

26. Check fuel lines for leaks and carb flooding.

27. Check with driver for oil pressure.

28. Bring rpm's up to 2500 and set timing at 30-34 degrees advanced and tighten dist hold down bolt.

29. Check headers or manifolds for heat.

30. Check water level in radiator and cooling system flow.

31. Check for leaks under the car.

32. Blip the throttle and vary rpm's from 2000-4000 rpm's.

33. Check with driver for water temp and oil pressure.

34. Check Trans operation and fluid level.

35. After 20-30 mins of total run time shut motor off and let cool to ambient temp before starting again.

36. Make your parade lap around the yard.

Print This out and Post it on the Shop Wall


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