Getting a “Barn Find” Up and Running

Getting a “Barn Find” Up and Running
17 Aug 2016

Barn Find

Among car enthusiasts, the term “barn find” has a special significance. A barn find is an automobile that has been in storage for a long time, sometimes for decades. In some cases these cars are actually stored in barns but they are more likely to have been stored in a garage or some other storage facility.  You will see “barn find” cars advertised for sale fairly often.

If you are lucky enough to be the new owner of a barn find, you are going to have to get it running at some point. This is not like starting a car that has been recently running.  With assistance from the service techs at East Hills Jeep of Greenvale, NY, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we have assembled a list of the things that barn find cars typically need to have done.

Install a new battery:

Batteries don’t last long in storage.  They typically degrade beyond the point of using them again.  Its best to replace the battery with a fresh one.

Freshen up the gas:

Gas that has been sitting in a fuel tank for years has gone bad. It will be have a turpentine smell to it because all the more volatile compounds have evaporated away. Plus, if the tank isn’t full, it may have a lot of condensation at the bottom of it.  The best thing to do is drain the entire tank. The best way to do this is to use a ball siphon hose or a powered one.  Spend some time and siphon out as much of the old gas (and water)as you can.  When you are satisfied that you have virtually all the old gas out, pour in several gallons of fresh gas and a bottle of Gas Line Antifreeze.

Oil the cylinders:

It’s usually a good idea to pull out each of the spark plugs and squirt a little oil into each cylinder.  This can be some old motor oil or 3 in 1 oil. The reason for the squirt of oil is to give just a little lubrication to the cylinder walls before you start the car. It will make the starting process at little easier because the cylinder walls will have a little oil on them.

Remove the Air Filter:

If the car has been stored for a long time, the air filter has likely gone bad.  You are likely to have mouse nest or two in there too. Pull out all the nesting materials and vacuum the other debris out.

Replace the Tires:

It’s possible that the tires on an old barn find car will look intact but they probably aren’t safe. After sitting for a long time, the rubber will dry out and become fragile. If the tires are really old, and you are driving the car anywhere it would be smartest to get a set of new tires on the car.

Good luck!

Getting a barn find vehicle up and running takes a little extra care but it’s a labor of love. There’s nothing like hearing an old barn find car start up after sitting for a decade or so. It’s a special moment.  In most cases, it’s best to have a barn find car towed to its final destination but if its starts up and idles, and you don’t have to go far, take it easy and head home!

featured Image by Flickr



Ana is full time teacher, consultant and passionate writer!

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