Storing Your Triumph
by Ken Streeter,
Extracted from various Internet articles,
including items from British and Z-car mailing lists
One of the most frequently asked questions every October is that of “How do I store my Triumph for the winter?” This article is intended to help in answering that very question.
Q: What is the *minimum* I should do before storing my car?
A: Just run the car until thoroughly hot, drive it into the storage area, kill the engine, drain the carbs (if any), remove the battery and take it inside, make sure the antifreeze is good, put the vehicle up on jackstands, and fit a quality car cover
Q: Anything else I should do for more protection?
A: For added protection for the engine, you can unscrew the plugs, drip a few drops of engine oil in the cylinders, crank the engine around a couple of revs to distribute the oil on the cylinder walls, then put the plugs back. Yes, the exhaust will smoke some at startup, but no damage should result from the smoke.
Q: Any common “car storage” myths?
A: Running the engine while on jackstands is a bad myth. You won’t be able to run it long enough to fully warm the oil which means corrosive combustion products will condense and mix with the oil. You’d be setting up the same conditions as exist in cars “driven by little old ladies to the store and back”, ie, ideal conditions for sludge to form. Engines can be stored for years with no more precautions than making sure it was good and hot when turned off. If you’re really paranoid, pull the plugs and hose each cylinder with something like CLP Breakfree or LPS. You could even replace the plugs with some of those anti-corrosive vapor emitters sold out of some catalogs.
Q: Should I use a car cover? Any disadvantages or precautions?
A: Generally, car covers are good things. Two precautions are to avoid moisture condensation (get a cover that breathes, or make sure there is plenty of ventilation, or store in a dry environment), and watch for cover flutter if stored outdoors in the wind (this will dull the paint).
Q: What about using the car a minimum amount while in storage, rather than completely shutting it down? Is that good or bad? –
A: — The following was sent in by a reader of “The Shelby American” magazine. — The qualifications of the author are unknown. — For an alternative set of directions, see the subsequent article (immediately following this one)
From a reader (The Mail SAAC). The Shelby American is a once per year publication of the Shelby American Automobile Club. Copied without permission.
MINIMUM USE OR STORAGE
We’ll break it down into two types of storage: long term and short term. Short term storage is essentially a lengthened period of inactivity. The main question, here, seems to be how long can you go without starting a car before you begin to risk damaging it? And the answer is about 4 weeks. If you let your car sit longer than that without taking special precautions (outlined in ‘Long Term Storage’, below) you’re courting disaster. The internals of your engine, transmission and rear end are bare metal surfaces which are highly susceptible to rust. In fact, they can cease operating effectively if they begin to get even a slight amount of surface rust. They are bathed in oil during normal operation and oil prevents rust. When the car sits, the oil drains off of some of these surfaces. Moisture is the key ingredient necessary for the rusting process and when the bare metal encounter moisture the result is… rust. The less moisture in the air, the less the tendency for rust to occur; dry weather in the southwest and colder temperatures in the northern climes help to ward off rust. High humidity accelerates it. Some so-called ‘experts’ advise people who don’t drive their cars throughout the year to start them up periodically to circulate the fluids and, thus, keep the internal bare metal surfaces coated with oil. While this might seem reasonable, it is the automotive equivalent of the ‘old wives tale’. It is exactly the WRONG thing to do. A car in short term storage needs to be driven at least once a month. It requires more than just getting the water temperature gauge off of the peg. The oil temperature should also be brought up to normal operating conditions – and this isn’t possible if the car just sits in the garage – no matter how much you rev the engine. You need to take the car out for a drive for about 20 miles or a half an hour. When you go out to the garage to just warm the car up, what you’re doing is raising the temperature inside the block – but the engine doesn’t run long enough for the engine block to get entirely heated. As a result, when you shut the car off the difference in temperatures (hot inside but cold outside) causes condensation on the inside. Condensation is moisture – and moisture causes rust. A car sitting too long without being run also invites fuel in the carburetor and fuel pump to evaporate, leaving behind a gummy residue. Gaskets dry out are then prone to cracking and disintegrating… more things you don’t want happening to your car’s engine! So Dr. Hipo recommends a half hour of exercise once a month, every month. On the way back home you should stop off at the gas station and top the fuel tank off… because condensation can also form on the inside of a partially empty gas tank. The oil change interval isn’t effected too much by inactivity. Moisture can be collected in motor oil and if it is, it reduces the oil’s lubricating ability. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish thinking that you don’t have to change oil just because you’ve only driven the car 250 miles in the past year. Under those condition, an oil change once a year is warranted (although changing the filter probably isn’t – you can stretch that to every other year).
Long Term Storage
Long term storage is another story entirely. Here, instead of breaking that annual 250 miles into twelve 20-mile drives once a month, you’re using the car 250 miles all at once and then putting it away for the next eleven months. Or longer. The way to prepare a car for this kind of storage is to drive it long enough to heat the block (about 20 miles or so) and then change the oil. With the car idling at about 3000 RPM, slowly pour about a half a quart of oil down the carburetor. Be careful not to dump it in all at once – pour it in a slow, steady stream. The exhaust will begin to smoke and the engine may even stall. If it does, do not attempt to restart it. What you’ve done is to coat the intake and exhaust ports, the valve steams and guides, combustion chambers, piston surfaces and cylinder wall with oil – the very surfaces which are most exposed to moisture – and rusting – during storage. You should then seal the carburetor and oil breathers and back off the valve adjustments until all the valves are closed. This