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Join Date: Sep 1998
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posts: 19
Starting a stuck 914 engine

I recently bought a non-running 1972 914-4 (it has a stuck engine, but otherwise in great condition--barely any rust). When the engine is in gear, I can turn the wheels about half a revolution before they stick (making a clunking noise I think is coming from the fan). The starter seems to work fine, so I don't think that is what is sticking. I have heard that it is common to find rusted pistons in 914s, and an easy solution to this problem is to pour an oil called "Move It" (or "Mystery Oil") through the spark plug hole into the cylinder and wait for a few days for the oil to dissolve the rust before trying to move it again. Is this the way to go, or should I remove the engine and sand the cylinders down (another suggestion I have received)? Or could my stuck engine be due to something else I haven't thought of? Any suggestions or help will be much appreciated. Thanks for the advise.
Old 09-02-1998, 07:31 PM
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"Welllll here's a little story about man named Jed (JP that is)....
Here is the real story, I found a rusted out 72 914 with a 1.7. The motor was also seized, althtough I didn't try it until the motor was out of the car. I bought some stuff called "PB Catalyst" after having good experience with "PB Blaster". It is the same idea, spray it down the spark plug hole, let sit for a minute or two, then start up the motor. Well after using it once I got the motor to turn over with the starter and gave cold compression readings (they should be done with the motor warm by the way) of 110,100,120, and 90. not great but for a seized motor, not bad. After getting the motor running in the car I treated it again. This time the warm readings were in the 125-130 range for the first 3 and up to 120 for the lowest (sorry I don't have the exact #'s). So it is possible to bring a motor back from the dark side, I never even took off a head, but be forwarned. If the car was in otherwise good shape then why was it stored, I would be wary that it may have a dropped seat. Soooo treat the motor see if it turns over then do a compression test. If the numbers are not at the very least above 60-70 (vary low numbers but should indicate that the vavles are more or less O.K.) then pour a tbs. of oil down the plug hole, if comp goes up the rings are bad. If not the valves are burnt/broken.
The moral, I bought a car for next to nothing, put in $75 in parts, gaskets and oil. Didn't even bother to take off a head. By the grace of our Blessed Mother of Acceleration got a motor that has run for 800-1000 miles with little oil consumption no leaks (belive it or not) and decent power. By the way I may be a redneck from Ohio but I would not "sand" the cylinders, (I have heard worse, like scaping the ridge off a cylinder with a pocket knife) you can buy a cylinder hone that hooks up to a hand drill, but for $150-$175 you can buy 1.7 big bore pistons/cylinders/and rings. The latter is better in the long (or even short) run.
Old 09-02-1998, 09:22 PM
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Thanks for your advice, JP. I couldn't find any PB Catalyst or PB Blaster, so, because of a few other recommendations, I ended up using Mystery Oil and letting it sit for a few days. I think it worked, but I'm not exactly sure: when I jack the back wheels up, (I think) I can turn the engine in gear with the back tires (pretty easily--the plugs are out). BUT, when the wheels are on the ground, it just won't budge--it won't even rock back and forth. With ONE side jacked up I can turn the tire only 180 degrees in each direction before it stops. And I can't get it to turn over at all with the starter--it just goes "clunk" and won't turn. So I think I may have another problem I haven't considered yet. Also, when I removed the spark plugs, 3 were perfect (a little white, but ok) and the 4th was bent and blackened (although not stripped). Is there anything else I could do to get this thing to turn over before I pull it out of the car?

If I have to replace the cylinders, would you recommend big bores versus the stock cylinders? Anything else obvious I should change while I have the engine out of the car? (I have little idea what is worn, as I can't get the engine to turn over.)

If worse comes to worse, I have a working engine I stripped out of a completely rusted body (a '71 914-4 1.7) that I could just put into this '72 914-4 1.7 with the non-working engine. But I really wanted to "do it right" and get this engine (which LOOKS like it's in better shape--cleaner, better cared for) to work. Plus, I bought both (a working but rusted out '71 914-4 1.7, and a beautiful but siezed '72 914-4 1.7) for $750, so I feel pretty good about the whole thing anyway (better if I could drive the thing).

Stupid side question: when both back wheels are jacked up and one is turned, is the other supposed to turn in the SAME direction or the OPPOSITE direction as the one you are turning? When I turn the right rear tire in the "car is going forward" direction, the left rear tire rotates in the "car is going reverse" direction. This doesn't make sense to me (highlighting my inexperience?), but others have assured my that the differential is designed to do this when the wheels are off the ground. Why would this happen, and what is the reason for this design?
Old 09-08-1998, 07:53 AM
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Last question first, the 914 has an "open differential" from the factory. The opperation you describe is normal (however I tend to mix things up) however a limited slip differential, posi-traction, locker, (I think) will turn the wheels in the same direction. It functions this way so that while making a turn the inside wheel does not bind up or hop because the outside wheel is turning faster.

As for the big bore kits, you get a 7% increase in displacement, possibly a 7% increase in hp, all for $150-160. The omly down side I can see is it probably increases the compression ratio so if you're not allready using 93 octane you should.

The only way a spark plug gets bent like that is if something smacks it. In your case my guess would be a dropped seat or the head of a valve broke off. Look close at the plug does it have small dents in it? They are from little bits of your engine that exploded into the chamber. Good news is that this damage doesn't usally hurt the short block (although it is probbably next) and all you need is a rebuilt head and pistons and cylinders. Take off a vavle cover and look while turning the motor (as much as it does) to see if the rockers move. If not it may just not be their cycle, but pull the rocker shafts off (keep them in order) and see if the valves in the suspect cylinder are even with each other. If not I would get ready to take off a head.

Another possibility (someone else mentioned it on the list) is that the starter, clutch, or tranny are jamming everything up. I've even found mouse nests in a 3 year old Corvette that ate the injector harness so don't take anything for granted in a 25 year old car.

Have more ideas but have to go.
Old 09-08-1998, 08:45 AM
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Back again. I was in a similar situation with my 914. The owner before the PO hade put one Porsche 1.8L head on and one VW 2.0L bus head on, then the PO put on an exhaust incorrectly so it burnt both heads at the ex port and cracked the VW head. So instead of rebuilding the motor in the car, I bought a 72 parts car with a 1.7L. I did a compression test (I suggest you do this first to the 1.7L you have) then removed all the tin ware and fan housing, cleaned the motor by hand (pressure washers tend to blow water into the motor) replaced the oil cooler seals, main oil seals, pushrod tube seals(while I was there I removed each lifter to inspeact it, clean it, and use "engine building" pre-lube on it along with the pushrod tubes and rocker shafts). I also cleaned and changed the oil sump screen and gaskets (DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THIS BOLT, it looks like the drain plug and only needs 10 ft/lbs). After putting it all back together with new hoses, belt, plugs, wires, coil, etc. I put it in the car to drive around untill I FINALLY rebuild the 1.8L into a 2.0L. So for a couple of weekends and about $50 in gaskets (the ignition parts you can reuse, but cost $100-$150 with hoses and all the little stuff) you will be able to drive your car while you take the other motor apart. Another thing I did before the motor went in was to fix (Heli-coil) the exhaust studs, file the heat exchangers flat, use new copper gaskets, and use a copper spray on the gaskets, ports, and pipes. So far no exhaust leaks, NO OIL LEAKS, and about 1000 miles. The added beifit is you will learn how to do it better the next time.
Old 09-08-1998, 03:41 PM
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Hey, thanks again for the terrific advice. I am going to take your suggestion and put in the "working, but not-too-great" engine from the "parts" car so I can drive the rust-free body around. That way I can leisurely fix and expand on the "nice but siezed" engine. We'll see how it goes, but I'll probably give it a try this weekend...
Old 09-09-1998, 05:33 AM
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