Getting a “Barn Find” Up and Running

29th May 2016

In the classic car collector community, the term “barn find” has a special significance. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, 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 old barns but they are more likely to have been resting away in a garage or some official storage facility.

You will see “barn find” cars advertised for sale fairly often.  In case you decide to purchase one,    

If you are lucky enough to be the new owner of a barn find, you may elect to get it towed back to your home or actually try and drive it there.  In either case, you are going to starting up a car that hasn’t run in a long time.  This is not like starting a car that has been recently running.  With assistance from the service techs at Caitlin of Jenkintown, PA, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we have assembled a list of the things that barn find cars typically need to have done.

Get a new battery

Batteries don’t last long in storage.  They typically lose charge and then degrade.  If the car has been in storage a long time, its best to replace the battery with a fresh one.

Drain the gas

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

Oil the cylinders

It’s not a bad idea to pull each of the spark plugs and squirt a little oil into each cylinder.  Old timers like to use a product called “Marvel Mystery Oil” when doing this (you can get it at any auto parts store). 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.

Check the Air Filter

If the car has been stored for a long time, check the air filter.  It won’t have gone bad but you have no idea how common it is to have a mouse nest or two in there. Obviously pull out all the nesting materials and vacuum the other debris out.

Replace the Tires

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

Good luck!

Getting a barn find car or truck 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 but head home!

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.