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72 Buick Skylark, Seized engine. Need advice

1972 Skylark, v8 350. 47000 miles. Purchased by my Aunt, driven till late 80s or early 90s. Purchased by my step father, driven minimally, possibly due to gasket isssue below. parked in barn and cranked occasionally until my step father died in 2012. not sure the last time he cranked it, maybe 2011, maybe 2009… I recently got the car from my mom and the engine is seized.

The engine is currently apart, intake, heads off, fan off, exhaust off.

There seems to have been a head gasket failure on the front passenger side cylinder and water/coolant/moisture got into that cylinder, there was some rust on the walls, not lots of it. I took a small buffing wheel and buffed most of it out. soaked cylinders with oil from work overnight, still wouldnt budge. cleaned out oil, sprayed with Pb Blaster, waited hour, tried prybar on crank, and wouldnt budge.

The engine is still in the car soaking atm with the pb blaster, will be second night soaking. I need advice on how to unstick the engine in this old classic. the plan will be to remove the engine soon. we moved it into position yesterday.

Im open to any suggestions, as this car will be much better than my 99 Camry… thanks folks !

Fill the crankcase with as much oil the engine will hold, using the cheapest oil.

Then let the engine sit for about a week.

This is called pickling.

Then drain the oil and see if the engine will turn over.


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A 1972 Buick Skylark was not actually a great vehicle when new. Frankly I would rather put money in the Camry.

the camry isnt a classic though… and needs 4 struts, ball joints, tie rods and all the control arms basically a full front end rebuild and an alignment, 3x outside door handles and one inside door handle. 300k miles… so… meh? oh and the ac/heat quit working in it, and the electric windows are starting to get buggy on the driverside, i have to help it move up with my hand or it sticks

Classic , I guess so but not really on the list of collectors. Even ones that look and drive good are not worth a lot of money. This is something you return to use because you want to . You might sell it later for about 25 % of what you spent to make it road worthy.

thanks for the advice but i think your missing the point of the post. namely how to free a seized engine.

Follow @Tester 's advice, get a much oil around every seized part as possible and let it soak. This engine has been sitting at least 7 years, maybe more. Lots of time for rust to ‘weld’ parts together. You might get lucky and after a long soak the parts will free up and it will turn, you might not get lucky and have an anchor on your hands. A rebuilt engine can run anywhere from $1,500 on up, you might be able to find one at a bone yard. Best of luck to you.

Since you will be pulling the engine I think (Tester please comment) that a machine ship could press the pistons out. I would assume the engine requires a complete rebuild at this age and inactivity.
Out of curiosity, what body style? I still would like aBuick Sport wagon!

This Buick that has been sitting for 35 years is going to need all of that plus more to make it safe to drive.
All rubber parts, hoses, suspension bushings, shocks, complete replacement of brakes, lines and master cylinder and booster. Exhaust system. And with the cooling system being left open all these years you’ll need a new radiator and heater core. Transmission will need to be rebuilt with new torque converter.

Edit - forgot tires.

I would be surprised if you can get this car road worthy for less than $15,000.00

Edit #2 - Forgot, we don’t even have a running engine yet, add another $3500.00

Edit #3 - You can buy a running driving one for less than it will take to get this one running,

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Make sure you also pour oil down on top of the cylinders/pistons during the suggested soak. It is likely locked up between a piston and cylinder wall.

You may get this car running BUT it may be a massive oil burner after all this. Remember that there may be more rust on the cylinder walls than you can see and the piston rings (you also can’t see) may be rusted tight to the pistons. I bet it would smoke a lot if you got it going with this minimal work.

Get the longest breaker bar you can get and then slide the longest steel pipe you can manage over the end of the thing. Hang off that pipe and bounce up and down. If you get it turning, then great. Otherwise it is going to need a complete teardown and rebuild.

You really need time and effort to get it done. However, locate an old experience machanic that is as old as the Buick itself to help you figure it out.

After shortblock is on engine stand remove oil pan and push out each cyl/rod. Than you will find out condition of cyl walls

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That is close to the amount I had in mind . Of course on a forum we get to make all kinds of assumptions and by the description of what the OP is driving now I wonder if they even suspect all the work this project will take.

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All good suggestions on freeing the engine. A buddy of mine got a '59 Pontiac with a locked up motor running that sat for 25 years after soaking it with automatic trans fluid in the cylinders for about 12 weeks. It actually ran OK after but it had good head gaskets.

IF you get the engine to turn, and you might. It MAY burn copious amounts of oil because the rings are damaged and the cylinder walls are damaged. If you live right, open doors for little old ladies, feed the poor, visit the sick, it might run OK and not use too much oil. If not, the block needs to come out and cylinders bored and oversize pistons installed and while you are there, a full rebuild. And rebuild the heads, too.

Then the bigger problems arise. All the brakes need rebuilding. The master cylinder may need replacing, the fuel lines are crumbling rubber. The fuel tank is a rusty mess on the INSIDE and needs to be cleaned and the rust sealed. And on and on (see @It_s_Me 's comment) It will take lots of time and lots of money to make this car run and stop. You could buy a better old Camry for less.

Having done similar things many times over the years, I will say the most likely scenario is you have most of the rings rusted to the cylinder walls. Especially in light of the prior water breech. This will make it nearly impossible to turn over, even with lots of leverage. And leverage will most likely result in cracked rings. BTDT. Engines can run reasonably well with cracked rings, ask me how I know :wink: It won’t be super obvious at first. The heads are off, that is a big bonus. ATF is usually the penetrant of choice for this as Mustangman pointed out. Having access to the tops of the pistons is a bonus and I’d suggest a can or two of B’Laster PB with repeated soakings over time before you attempt to rotate it at all. Go slow and make sure there are no rust ridges left if you get it rotating. No sense talking about anything else until you get past this point…

if you want to pull motor than you could even take off the timing sprockets and see if the cam will come out. than the only thing left is the pistons/rings

It sounds like this is a project car. Sure, he could buy a car that most people would think is newer and better for less money than it will cost to make this one roadworthy but I don’t think that is the point here. This one has classic muscle car looks while a Camry is… well a Camry… A Camry may be a great, reliable, and safe car but it is nothing to get excited about besides. The groceries being brought home on sale may be more exciting.

My guess is the Camry will be the daily driver and this will be the project car that gets driven on nice days. The good thing about a car like this is that it will be easy to work on compared to most modern cars.

I find it interesting that the younger generations like the older cars. People like my parents who lived through them want nothing to do with them. They are like “We want a car that starts in the winter, doesn’t overheat on hot days, and doesn’t get flat tires at the drop of a hat.” Newer cars are more reliable but that isn’t the point here.

I like the looks of this as well.

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That’s how I would use the car, too, but the OP thinks differently. Based on his comments, I’m thinking he wants to drive the Buick INSTEAD of the Camry that needs a buncha work. Every day, as a commuter car.

went to check on engine tonight after work, still stuck. didnt have much time mostly dicked around, resprayed cylinders, jacked up and put on jack stands, planned.

i plan to drive the car around town and on the weekends full time and sometimes to work. body style is 4 door not 2door unfortunately. the 15k investment you guys are tossing around is absolutely silly… a decent overhaul kit on rock auto is under 200. a top notch one is around 600. tires i expect to have to buy, so i dont even really count.

all the engine work that isnt machining will be done by me and my father in law. as well as the small amt of body work and possibly paint. i have the advantage of an ex father in law that has a home bike shop. i may put a cheap paint job on the car, this i expect like the tires. i dont plan to bore out the cylinders unless its absolutely necessary. some hoses, belts, maybe a couple hundred more ? i doubt i will go over 2k in this car honestly. and if i can get it unstuck with minimal damage, it will be solid and look good.

if i can get by with the 200 overhaul kit, 400 in tires max, 500 paint max. another 200 belts hoses max. i still have 100 left for fluids. really dont expect to spend 700 paint and hoses though. some of that will go into eventualities. again no more than 2k.

Someone may be in for a big surprise.