1 2 3
klipless Reader
5/24/17 2:10 p.m.

So I have this Camaro that has been sitting in my garage for six years, and it hasn’t ran in just over a decade, although it supposedly ran when parked. I like to think that I have enough mechanical skill to get this thing running. However, I’m a total newbie when it comes to classic muscle cars and their carbureted witchcraft. I’m hoping to tap in to the hive mind to help me come up with a plan to get this thing running so it can finally be enjoyed.

The car is not a show queen by any measure…maybe from 20 feet…if you have cataracts. It seems to be pretty solid with a healthy dose of patina. I’m hoping that it’ll turn in to a nice driver’s car.

A little backstory on the car. My father-in-law spent most of his career working for the ad agency that had the Pontiac account. He likes cars, but isn’t much of a wrench twirler. Several years before I met my wife, his parents passed away leaving him with a modest inheritance. With his wife’s permission, he used some of those funds to buy one of his dream cars, a GTO. Fast forward a few years, and my wife (we still hadn’t met at that time) was over at her parents’ house helping out her mom. The phone rings and she answers it. After a few “uhuh’s” and “okay’s”, she hangs up and her mom askes who it was. It was the storage company a few miles away, and they’re closing up shop. Her dad needs to pick up his Camaro by the end of next week. A Camaro that his wife didn’t know about. Apparently this almost led to a divorce, but they’re still happily married to this day, c’est la vie. Anyway, the Camaro was parked at their house for several years before they downsized to a condo. They had no place to store it, so they gave it to my wife and me when they moved. Where it has sat for the last six years, mocking me. I’d like to get this thing running on the sly and surprise my father-in-law by picking him up for a cruise up and down Woodward.

So help me GRM! How do I get this thing running?

klipless Reader
5/24/17 2:12 p.m.

So last night I took the first step and started to dig in to the car. I pulled the spark plugs and a fogged the engine. I let it sat for a few couple of hours while I played with the kid. I came back and put a wrench on the crank pulley bolt. Success! It turns over. According to my HF torque wrench, it takes somewhere between 50 and 60 ft-lbs to turn it over. The internet tells me this is reasonable, if not a little on the high side. So now that I know that this thing isn’t seized, what’s my next step?

My thoughts are:

  • Install new battery
  • Change the oil and filter
  • Disconnect the fuel and spark
  • Crank it to see if it builds oil pressure

If that works, should I try to see if it’ll run off a little bit of starter fluid? Or should I run a fuel line to a gas can? I’m pretty sure whatever gas is in the tank and lines has turned to varnish by now. I’d rather not suck too much of that crap in to the carb.

If that all goes well, my next step was going to be replacing the fuel tank as well as the lines and filter.

Man, the Roadkill guys make it look so easy. Of course I’m hoping to show this car a bit more mechanical empathy than they typically do with their project cars.

Does anyone see anything wrong with my plan of attack? Any glaring errors or helpful words of advice? Thanks!

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
5/24/17 2:19 p.m.

Your plan of attace is sound.

I would replace fuel pump and filter, run hose to gas can for initial start.

You didn't say wether auto or manual. Regardless, make sure trans is in neutral prior to starting.

Also, plan to flush cooling and beakes, as well as replace all the hoses un every system prior to moving it the first time. Rubber does wonky E36 M3 when it sits.

cmcgregor Dork
5/24/17 2:20 p.m.

I think fuel line to a gas can is probably your best bet. Definitely don't try and run it on 10 year old gas.

Congrats on the car! I don't love the convertibles, but a 1g Camaro is a serious dream car for me.

klipless Reader
5/24/17 2:55 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: Your plan of attace is sound. I would replace fuel pump and filter, run hose to gas can for initial start. You didn't say wether auto or manual. Regardless, make sure trans is in neutral prior to starting. Also, plan to flush cooling and beakes, as well as replace all the hoses un every system prior to moving it the first time. Rubber does wonky E36 M3 when it sits.

Yup, it was going to get fresh coolant and brake fluid before I try driving it around the block. I'll also go through the brakes to make sure nothing is amiss. Eventually the trans and diff will get new oil as well.

Good call on shifting in to neutral. Although I was going to put it up on jack stand this weekend to make it easier to crawl around and keep it from running away on me when I start it.

It's a 350 small block backed up by a four speed manual. No power steering or brakes either. I looked up the body tag a couple years ago and found out that it was originally a green car with black top. Someone had it repainted before my FIL bought it. I like the red w/rally stripe a bit better.

klipless Reader
5/24/17 2:59 p.m.
cmcgregor wrote: I think fuel line to a gas can is probably your best bet. Definitely don't try and run it on 10 year old gas. Congrats on the car! I don't love the convertibles, but a 1g Camaro is a serious dream car for me.

My reasoning for trying starting fluid first was to rule out the carburetor. If it runs off that, then I know I'm getting some spark. Maybe I'll try the gas can first and use the starting fluid only as a diagnostic.

A convertible wouldn't have been my first choice either, but you can't look a gift pony[car] in the mouth. The plan is to get it running and enjoy it for a few years before replacing it with something a little more track worthy.

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
5/24/17 3:00 p.m.

Make sure the clutch actually disengages. Ive had them get stuck from sitting.

Go ahead and begin lubricating everything that moves now. Because you will alsways find something else, and i guarantee it hasn't been done in 15 plus years....

Grease turns to sand over time. Prevent the premature wear now beforehand. Like door hinges and latches, steering box, etc.

APEowner GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/24/17 3:10 p.m.

Awesome car! I love the story as well. You're on the right track but I'd do a bit more prep work before first fire.

While it might run, the chances of it running well with that carburetor are somewhere between slim and none. The chances of it flooding and dumping raw gas into the engine are somewhat higher. Because of that I'd rebuild the carb before I even tried to start it. You should also probably throw a set of points in it as well. I'd also spend the $30.00 on a new fuel pump and as others have suggested run it off a gas can initially.

I also like to prime the oil system before I fire up a car that's sat for a while

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/24/17 4:51 p.m.

because you mention Woodward I assume you're in the Detroit area. I am in Canton and I grew up working on cars of this era. I have a distributor with no gear on the end, which is used to drive the oil pump so you don't have to turn the engine before clean oil has been circulated everywhere. you're welcome to borrow it.

on a long-dormant engine, I pull the spark plugs and give a good squirt of Marvel Mystery Oil or ATF into every cylinder, a couple days before I do anything else. When it's time to actually wake the beast, I change the oil and filter. Then I mark the harmonic balancer in its current location regardless of position, then pop the distributor cap and take a pic that shows the orientation of the distributor housing and where the rotor is pointing. Then remove the distributor and drop in the modified dist for spinning the oil pump. then i remove a valve cover and hook my electric drill to the pump and spin it righty tighty until i see oil coming out the tops of the pushrods. at this point, with a helper or a trigger lock keeping the oil pump spinning, i turn the crank one revolution, which allows all the open valves to close, taking the valve spring force off the lifters and allowing them to get a better pump from the oil pressure. there's no time limit on this process, so work slowly, maybe 5 minutes before turning the crank the first time, then another 5 minutes before turning it again so your mark is lined up again and your rotor will be pointing in the right direction. then it's just a matter of putting your distributor in and lining it up to it's original position.

things to have on hand for start-up:

  • fire extinguisher.
  • valve cover gaskets.
  • carb rebuild kit.
  • gas can with line to inlet of fuel pump. can should be level with or above pump inlet.
  • trans gear oil.
  • diff oil and gasket for diff cover.

now that I'm not poor anymore, i'll disassemble / clean / rebuild the carb before attempting to fire the engine.

if you have compressed air, when you take the inlet line off the fuel pump, remove the gas cap from the tank and blow air through the inlet line back to the tank.

if the car has drum brakes (for sure on the rear, maybe on the front), at least one piston in each wheel cylinder will be stuck in its bore, I'd almost bet my paycheck on it. rebuild kits are available pretty cheap, as are wheel cylinder hones. I've cleaned up some pretty bad pitting with the NAPA hone, and have never had a problem rebuilding wheel cylinders. Shoot the bleeder screws, tube nuts, and mounting bolts with PB Blaster a day or two before you plan to remove them.

Honestly, these cars are dead simple. if you're local, I'd love to help you get it back on the road, but i won't have a lot of free time until after June 20th.

Crackers HalfDork
5/24/17 6:00 p.m.

For me, on something this old dropping/cleaning the fuel tank and replacing all the rubber fuel lines is pretty much standard operating procedure. (Unless I know it's service history.)

Followed by brake hoses.

Carb rebuilding is almost always needed. Rochester accelerator pumps like to fail when they get old and sit, especially if they still have the original leather pump seal or ever ran on ethanol blended fuel.

I would also pull the thermostat housing to see how clean or gunked up and rusty the cooling system is and drop in a new thermostat. If it's really nasty I'd flush the system and slap a new water pump on it. (SBC water pumps are basically consumables so get a good one with a lifetime warranty because you'll be replacing it again eventually.) I had a car that rusted the impeller bad enough it was just cavitating so it would overheat for no apparent reason. (The freeze plugs started leaking soon after, but I digress.)

I didn't realize the RS/SS was available with a small block. Really do learn something new everyday.

GTXVette Dork
5/24/17 8:14 p.m.

I can guarantee the floats have sunk. Q-jets are simple to work on but a rebuilt is going to leave you with more Hair than not. wish I had one to just send you. I would almost pay to help restore that car. If it was Green then you got to go back but that car is worth a small Fortune. A good restoration Isn't cheap but it is so close to Original PLEASE do not Modify ANYTHING. If it's more than you want to deal with Let Me Know we can make it Day ONE new! Serious, change nothing. Or give me a number $$$$

5/24/17 9:52 p.m.

I have a 67 RS SS Vert. Lot's of good recommendations above, I'll add, DO NOT FIRE IT UP IN THE GARAGE.

I've been working on 1st gen Camaros since they were a couple years old and owned at least one most of the time since I bought my first street car (a 68 Camaro) in '74. There's enough of us old guys here to answer almost any question you might have.

Gearheadotaku GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/24/17 10:04 p.m.

Convertible 4speed is a very desirable car. You've got a good "keeper" there. I'm in the metro Detroit area too and would be happy join a "GRM" day to help get it running again. Be sure to re-pack the wheel bearings to.

coexist New Reader
5/24/17 11:36 p.m.

I would start figuring out how to get some info from the FIL without tipping your hand. "Running when parked" doesn't mean much, even from a relative (who kept a hidden car secret). There was probably something wrong that led to it being parked.

I agree about not changing anything, due to the originality. However, I would be tempted to buy a new or known rebuilt carb to get it running and KEEP the original for future use.

NOHOME PowerDork
5/25/17 5:57 a.m.

This checklist was done for the Brit car crowd, but is pretty generic.


mazdeuce MegaDork
5/25/17 6:02 a.m.

I know people have already mentioned a fire extinguisher, but for the love of God, set a fire extinguisher or two on the ground right next to you when you go to fire it up. And keep them very very handy as you go through the sorting process.

klipless Reader
5/25/17 8:26 a.m.

Thanks for all the great advice. I feel like I'm much closer to having a cohesive plan, instead of just winging it. But as it has been said before, no plan survives first contact.

Safety first. You can't see it in the first picture, but there's a rather large fire extinguisher (fully charged) mounted by the door to the house. It will be relocated by side when I try to fire it up the first time. I'll make sure to have a buddy close by and arm him with one too. II'll also push it out of the garage and chock the wheels, maybe even put it up on jack stands.

@AngryCorvair. Yup I'm up in Milford, but my in-laws are just a couple of miles off of Woodward. I appreciate the offer to lend me an oil primer. But it sound like something that I'll be using each spring when I fire it up for the first time. If that's the case, then I should probably get one of my own. Would something like this work? From my little bit of research, it sounds like some only prime the oil pump, while others prime the whole engine. Hopefully the car is running by June 20th, but if not, I might take you up on the offer.

My plan for the weekend is to order the following:

  • Oil primer
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • New points and condenser (Is it worth upgrading to Pertronix?)
  • Thermostat
  • Gas tank
  • I'll pick up some fuel line and a handful of filters locally

While I'm waiting for those to come in, I'll make sure it shifts to neutral, as well as change the oil and filter. I do have some Marvel oil on hand. What's the best way to get that in to the cylinders? I have a leftover syringe that I use to inject sealant in to my tubeless bike tires. I might feed the tube end through the spark plug hole and push it in that way. I'll turn the engine over a few times afterwords.

If time permits, I'll start tearing in to the brakes, but I'm thinking I'll wait until it's running before I do that. The driver's side window doesn't go all the way up, so I'll fiddle with that as well. We might be getting a new puppy this weekend, so I'm sure I'll have less time than I think.

Thanks again for all the helpful words of wisdom.

klipless Reader
5/25/17 8:49 a.m.

Carburetor question.

Several guys at work say just buy a new carb and slap it on there. My initial thought was to have it professionally rebuilt. It's a Holley 4130. A few years ago, I was going to try rebuilding it myself. I bought a rebuilt kit, but lost my nerve when I saw the exploded parts diagram. I'm fortunate that I have the budget to buy a new carb, but I'm trying not to spend my way out uncomfortable situations. I have good theoretical understanding of how carburetors work, but I'd like to have the more intimate knowledge that comes with rebuilding it.

Buy a carburetor:

  • Pros: Just works, gets the car running faster
  • Cons: Cost, My carb knowledge stays the same

Have the current one rebuilt

  • Pros: Cheaper than buying a new one, hopefully one less thing to diagnose if the engine doesn't start
  • Cons: My carb knowledge stays the same

Rebuild it myself:

  • Pros: Cheapest option (just need to buy cleaner), +10 to car cred, it's the GRM way
  • Cons: Potential to screw it up royally, Fiery death of either me or the car

So I think you can tell where my heart is on this one. If I rebuild it myself and screw it up, I can always go back to option 1. So, anyone have some links to good how-to's?

APEowner GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/25/17 9:00 a.m.

That primer is perfect. Spin it till you get pressure. Turn the engine over by hand and run it again.

I have not had good experience with Pertonix in recent years. I've fixed several weird running problems by removing them. If you're only using the car as an occasional weekend cruiser I'd keep the points. If road trips are in its future then I'd just upgrade to an HEI.

For oiling the cylinders the syringe is an excellent way to go.

I'm going to repeat my recommendation to rebuild the carb before you try and start it. It almost certainly needs to be done and it's going to be much easier on your freshly awakened engine if you're not dumping raw gas into the cylinders and reving the heck out of it to keep it running.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/25/17 9:19 a.m.

In reply to klipless:

I've never primed an oil system after sitting for less than a year, but it certainly won't hurt anything to do so. I work at Beck and Pontiac Trail, could easily do a lunchtime hand-off.

4130 is a pretty simple carb. You can most certainly DIY that rebuild successfully. I have a Holley carb book at home, I'll see if I can find it tonight.

A '68 SS/RS ragtop 4-speed is a very cool car. I'd love to help get it back on the road.

Oh, one more thing: fire extinguishers!

GTXVette Dork
5/25/17 1:02 p.m.

Being it's a Holley I am Ok with that for you, But a Correct Q-jet is ...well.. Correct. when we get cars we spend a lot of Time and Money Finding the parts as they came, because Today All Original is worth the Most.

NOHOME PowerDork
5/25/17 2:21 p.m.

The problem with trying to learn carburation from an old carb is that it is an old carb; its just a bad teacher that will lead you in the wrong direction.

It is going to be worn and have a host of bad habits that have nothing to do with carb theory. Your manuals all refer to a healthy device and will be of no help.

You have a steep enough learning curve getting this thing on the road, look at it this way, you would not learn how to make your own rubber bushings, so why beat yourself up over a carb unless you have to?

fasted58 MegaDork
5/25/17 2:58 p.m.

Holley carb is easy-peasy even for a first timer

Don't go all Trick-Kit on it yet, rebuild as is

klipless Reader
5/26/17 8:51 a.m.

Not sure how much work is going to get done on the Camaro this weekend, what with all the racing to watch an all.

Oh, and we're bringing home this guy tonight, so there's that.

wawazat Reader
5/27/17 2:52 p.m.

Milford,eh? When you get that on the road and out to Woodward this summer I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll be in my '69 Cougar convertible.

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners