Pre-start checks for barn finds

Pre-start checks for “Barn-Finds”

The only way to know how good or bad an old "barn-find" TS3 engine is, is to dismantle the engine and start cleaning, inspecting and measuring.

These days, because:

· New original spares are in very short supply.

· Churchill Special Service Tools are required to restore / recondition a TS3.

· The costs of proper restoration / reconditioning are high.

…. , starting an old TS3 (or any other diesel engine) up after years of inactivity is a very bad idea.

NEVER stick a battery on an old “Barn-Find” and attempt to start it.

In most cases I recommend you don't even turn the engine over by hand before stripping, checking, cleaning etc, which also includes fuel injection equipment, water pump, thermostat and blower.

If you disregard these recommendations, you could easily cause thousands of dollars in damage to an engine that would otherwise be in good condition.

Here is a check list of things to do before attempting to start a “Barn-Find” engine:

1. Remove the sump to check for sludge build up. Clean out where found.

2. Remove big ends to check condition of bearing shells and crank pins.

3. Replace shells if worn or damaged.

4. Strip and recondition engine if crank pins are worn or damaged.

5. Remove intermediate main caps to check condition for shells and main journals.

6. Replace shells if worn or damaged.

7. Strip and recondition engine if main journals are damaged / worn.

8. Install new sump gasket, oil and filter (Shell Rimula R3 Plus SAE30 monograde).

9. Remove both rocker covers to check for any damaged or missing parts.

10. If parts are found to be missing, damaged or worn, do not attempt to start the engine and have reconditioned.

11. Remove the DPA injector pump and remove the fuel return housing.

12. Invert the pump over a large, clean, clear plastic container to drain out old fuel and any foreign matter.

13. DO NOT attempt to dismantle the pump.

14. Check inside the pump housing through the fuel return opening for corrosion. If any is found, or the fuel in the clear plastic container is contaminated, have the pump serviced by an experienced fuel shop before re-fitting to the engine.

15. For earlier inline injector pumps, remove sump plate to check condition of cam lobes and tappet rollers.

16. Remove the tappet cover to check for any foreign material

17. If wear and / or foreign matter is found, have pump overhauled by experienced fuel shop.

18. With all 3D-199 engines (early with inline injector pump), check that the venturi on the intake manifold is clean and working properly / freely.

19. Remove and clean the venturi components if dirty / gummed up.

20. Check that the vacuum pipes between the venturi and the injector pump are in good condition and all unions are tight.

21. NEVER loosen one of the pipes between the venturi and the injector pump while the engine is running (3D-199 engines only).

22. NEVER attempt to start a 3D-199 engine with the pipes between the venturi and the injector pump damaged, loose or missing.

23. Replace the fuel filter.

24. Remove injectors and have tested at a fuel shop to make sure needles aren't stuck, damaged or worn out. Have serviced by the fuel shop if they are.

25. Check the condition of the lift pump by pumping fuel through using the priming lever.

26. Make sure the lift pump cam lobe is in the lowest position before using the hand primer.

27. Assemble and bleed the air from the FIE.

28. Remove the outlet manifold from the blower to check for debris, damage, corrosion etc.

29. Make sure the rotors are turning freely and not stuck. If stuck, remove blower and have serviced (Special Service Tools and experience with Wade blowers required).

30. Remove the exhaust manifold to check that the exhaust ports are clear and not blocked with carbon deposits.

31. If so, de-coke the exhaust ports exactly as described in the workshop manual (see

32. Remove the thermostat housing to check the thermostat is not stuck open.

33. You could start the engine if the thermostat is stuck open, but will need to replace the thermostat later because as with all diesel engines, correct operating temperature is extremely important.

34. Check that the water pump pulley is turning freely, with no play in the bearings and keep an eye on the pump for water leaks when filling the cooling system and running the engine.

35. Do not start the engine without water in the block. Rig up a closed circuit between water pump and thermostat housing and fill with water, bleeding air out of the top of the block from the water temperature sender opening.

36. If the engine is OK, make sure to use a good quality inhibitor in the coolant water.

37. Remove the air chest drain valve and clean in petrol.

38. After cleaning and blowing out with compressed air in each direction, shake the valve next to your ear to make sure the ball bearing is loose and moving freely.

39. If not, repeat the cleaning exercise until you can hear the ball bearing rattling inside the valve.

40. Insert a piece of wire into the air chest opening to make sure the hole isn't blocked.

41. If blocked, wiggle the wire around in the hole to clear and suction out with a flexible rubber tube fitted to a vacuum clearer.

42. Do not re-fit the drain valve until after the engine has been started so air from the blower can flush any other debris out of the drain hole.

43. Refit the valve with a new copper washer after no more oil or debris is visible and the hole is clear with a good stream of low pressure air from the blower.

44. This exercise should also be done as a standard maintenance item for engines still in regular use.

45. Once back together and the fuel system bled, the engine will start after a few turns to clear air through the injectors from the injector pipes.

46. Once running, stop the engine and re-start.

47. If not starting instantly and running well on all cylinders, the condition of the cylinders and rings should be identified and properly reconditioned.

48. DO NOT run any TS3 for any length of time under no load. They are not designed for this sort of running and will “oil up”.

49. Run the engine up to operating temperature and switch off.

50. Check the new oil for signs of moisture on the dipstick.

51. Remove the oil filler cap to check for any moisture / condensation.

52. If moisture is present in the oil and / or on the oil filler cap, the engine may have loose cylinder liners, requiring a full recondition.

53. All work being undertaken as described above, should be carried out by a competent diesel mechanic, experienced with Rootes TS3 engines, strictly following the workshop manual instructions and using new original Rootes spare parts as required.

54. DO NOT attempt any work to a TS3 engine without the Rootes Workshop Manual (available on