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Stuck engine in 61 chevy bel air

Hi, I have a 61 bel air with a 6 cyl and 2 speed automatic. It has been sitting in my garage for 17 years, and ran fine when put away. The engine won’t turn over, and I have tried penetrating oil in the cylinders and letting it sit and working it back and forth, all with no luck. I also tried pushing the car forward, but the rear wheel on the passenger side won’t turn. I dragged the car forward and the wheel skidded. I thought this was unrelated to the stuck engine, however, I’m not sure. Is it possible that the transmission or tourque converter is stuck and preventing the engine from turning as well as also preventing the rear wheel from turning? If so is it possible to loosen up whatever is stuck? Thank you in advance. All comments are welcome. I am a new user, so I hope I post this correctly.

Go and purchase a five gallon bucket of the cheapest oil you can find. And what you’re going to do is fill the engine with as much oil as it can take. This is called pickling the engine . Let the oil sit in the engine for a week and then try turning it back and forth by hand. If you feel the engine free up, drain the oil and see if the engine will completely rotate. If the engine rotates it doesn’t mean the engine isn’t damaged, but it’s a start.


It’s unlikely that the transmission or torque converter is causing this and I’m assuming that you have gotten on the harmonic balancer and tried to rotate the engine to no avail.
If so, the engine is stuck.

A lot could depend on the environmental conditions where you live. With high humidity and even being in a garage it’s possible for moisture to form inside the cylinders and this can eventually lead to aluminum corrrosion and seize the pistons to the cylinder walls. In some severe cases the pistons will flat never come loose and must be chiseled out followed by reboring, etc.; a.k.a. engine overhaul.

You might try filling the engine up with a lightweight oil of some sort. (5W, ATF, even kerosene)
Fill it clean up to the valve train and let it sit for a week. If it doesn’t come loose by then you may have to tear into it.

(The rear wheel is probably stuck due to the brake shoes seizing to the drum.)

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen rings rusted in place on vintage iron. 17 years you’re looking at major restoration of all systems. Even if you’re lucky enough to free up the motor, everything with a rubber component is suspect. At least one brake shoe is rusted to the drum too. Good luck, nice ride but it’s going to take a LOT of TLC to get it going down the road again…

As as been stated, if you can get the engine rotating, it doesn’t mean it’s not damaged.

When I’ve seen this, it’s often been piston rings frozen to the cylinder walls. I doubt all the pistons are frozen. It could even be just one.

I found it necessary to remove the cylinder head(s) and oil pan, and use hammers with “piston-size” wooden dowels to free the pistons. (Extended soaking with oil can help. ) If you can’t find replacement pistons, get the ring slots re-grooved (because they will be damaged), and get the piston knurled. Then hone the cylinders.

However, if the cylinder walls are badly worn, then you may be looking at a re-bore with oversize pistons.

You might loosen the starter mounting bolts to be sure that the bendix isn’t jammed in the flywheel. But is is unlikely that the engine has any effect on the rear wheels.

Was the hand brake set during this 17 years? If so it may still be set. I agree with all the above, plus I think you will find a lot more parts that should move but won’t.

Sorry, this vehicle didn’t have a handbrake… This one had a foot pedal parking brake.

True, I should have said “emergency brake” as that was what they were called back then.

Don’t give up hope. I helped my brother pull a 39’ Oldsmobile from the backyard of his girlfriend many years ago. The car had been there since it had run out of gas about 25 years before. His girlfriend’s father had tried to sell the Olds a few times but it was given up as a lost cause. He took the engine apart and cleaned everything. It took some time and a few parts but he finally got it running and it has been for over 30 years.

Dump diesel fuel down the spark plug holes. Let sit for day? week?
Then put socket and breaker bar on harmonic balancer bolt and turn it loose.

Then Fire than mutha up

I had the same problem with a vehicle I purchased that had an engine fire. The fire department poured water down the carb and then the owner let it sit for a year. The engine was frozen tight. I ended up buying a gallon container of WD-40, pulling the spark plugs, and filling each cylinder until they overflowed. I let it sit for a week, then topped them off again with the WD-40. Next I took a socket and breaker bar to the crankshaft bolt. I carefully pushed, then pulled the breaker bar until it finally moved slightly. Once it budges, it’s just a matter of working it back and forth until you finally make that complete revolution. It worked for me. Just be sure the transmission is in neutral if you have a manual transmission.