First start after sitting (23 years)!


With the warmer weather, I once again able to get in the garage and start tinkering.  When I left off at the beginning of winter, I had turned the car over with starter fluid but it stopped running just after. I suspected I had a fuel problem but  I wasn’t quite sure where to start.  I ordered a new fuel pump and a set of race ramps and patiently waited for spring.

As I began to prepare for the fuel pump replacement, I did a bunch of research.  I am new to working on cars and I wanted to be certain I knew what I was getting into before I started.  As I was researching late last week, I stumbled on someone having a similar issue.  There was a suggestion in the thread that it could be the float in the carburetor that was the issue.  It seems that when the car sits, they have a tendency to expand and they get stuck.  When the float is stuck, it blocks the gas from entering the carburetor therefore, not allowing the car to start.  There were two ways to attempt to push it down.  The first was with a hammer knocking a screw at the back end of the carb, the other was using a small screwdriver and pushing down through the carb air vent.  I opted for the second solution.

So on Saturday, I went and picked up a small battery charger to charge the battery in the car.  I then worked on the freeing the float.  I was surprised that it felt like a rock when I put the screw driver down the air vent hole.  I pushed around blindly a bit and freed up a bit of debris.  After gently working it for a bit, I was finally able to feel the float push up and down, success!  I patiently waited for the battery to charge which finally finished Sunday morning.  I hooked the battery up, popped the engine and of course got the family for the first start.  With video rolling, I cranked the engine and absolutely nothing happened.  It seemed that the float was not the problem and I was back to lamenting the fuel pump change.

On Monday while I was eating lunch at my desk, I began doing some more research on the forums when I came across another post suggesting a different issue.  It seems that the fuel sending unit in the gas tank could be sending air rather than gas if there is not enough gas in the tank.  This seemed odd to me but I was thinking, I changed the tank out and put about 1.5 gallons in the tank to get it started.  The post suggested that 5 gallons or so should do the trick to let gravity help the sending unit to get the process started.

I was curious so after dinner I ran up to the gas station and filled my gas can up.  I came back to the house and dumped about 3 gallons into the tank.  I cleaned up the mess that I made from spilling gas and hooked up the battery.  My youngest was outside with me talking and I popped the hood (I do this in case there are sparks or something else concerning going that I should know about it!).  I climbed in the driver seat, turned the key and pumped the gas. Nothing.  I tried again.  Nothing.  I held the gas to the floor and turned the key.  Eureka!  The engine caught, white smoke poured from the exhaust and the car shook like crazy.  I turned it off.

At this point, my wife came out and my oldest some came out as well.  My youngest was lamenting that he did not get it on video.  I handed him my phone and with a smile, I climbed back in and turned the key.  It once again started up, more white smoke and rattling.  I turned it off.  I gave my phone to my son and faced timed my father.  This was his baby first and he had not heard the car running in 30 years.  I got him on the line, handed the phone to my son, climbed in and turned the key.  She was running.  She was not sounding pretty but she was running for the first time in 23 years!  The noises were not the best but they were coming from the mufflers.

It appears that the baffles in the mufflers are the cause.  I turned to the forums on Corvette Forum to get more information.  So the next step in the journey begins.  We now move on to the brakes and will need to flush the radiator.  Then come the tires!  Such a good first step accomplished for someone with no experience!

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