any solutions for seized pistons?

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

my son is in the process of restoring a 1953 International Harvester 3-ton truck. R-162, engine SD240, (in its former life it was a Cdn army truck)

There is one piston seized in the almost bottom dead centre position.

Since this is the second block, (1955-57 SD240) the first met with an unfortunate press accident :( , a great deal of pondering is taking place before making any hasty/drastic moves to remove the piston. (The press is out of service)

Has anyone had experience in removing a seized piston intact?

Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

A suggestion is to soak it with a good penetrating oil (like liquid wrench), let it soak. Then using a sturdy piece of wood on the piston, hit the wood with a hammer in an attempt to jar it loose. (?) Good luck...

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

thanks, podster, that's what he's trying now, but he's anxious to see results. We've suggest that he be patient..... it could take a while (as long as a month).

This piston is the last of the 6 to come out, and he's pretty much stalled on engine work until it does, so I understand his frustration.

thanks, again


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

This will hopefully teach your son patience. When successfully done, the he will be proud of his work.

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

Hope this info may aid a bit ...

.. found that by rocking the flywheel I could see some movement in the other piston.
After soaking for a few days with WD40 and ATF, I hammered the top of the pistons alternating, using a judicious amount of force on a wooden block. The movement was very small at first, then after moving the piston about a centimetre, it came free.
The pistons now turn freely all the way in both directions.

- Magpye

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

thanks Magpye, the engine is completely dismantled at this point, mounted on an engine stand, and is subjected to several daily attempts (applications of WD40, ATF, and choice encouraging words, lol, let set for a while, turn over, whack with wooden block/hammer, repeat....)

If one can presume by looking at the other 5 freed pistons, the rings are the cause of the seizures. The next plan of action (in addition to the daily dousing of lubricant coctails) is a round metal block, (sized the same as the piston diameter) a wooden block and a 6lb sledgehammer. (the 8lb sledge will be the reserve)

Pondering, patience and persistance will be the answer, I think, lol.

thanks, again.


Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

well, that didn't take too long, lol the seized piston is FREE!

carb cleaner, part of an elm limb, and the 8lb sledge (applied repeatedly for the better part of this morning) saw the piston (intact) part company with the block.

and all is right with the world.

Now he's anxious to get it running.

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

Wunnerful .. anxious to continue to 'hear' about any/all progress

Maybe it was a 'good thing' that the press was outta service. It's not that difficult to do unintended damage in severely scoring/pitting the cylinder walls far beyond any tolerable specs ..

Hint: would like to see more photos too .. ex: that engine work/progress .. and the old Internat'l body

- Magpye

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

lol, he's in a great mood this afternoon, got his momentum back! it's good to see. Since this block is the second one, he's got his choice of head/crank/tranny parts. Mix and match to use the best he's got.

he's planning on running the pto off the transmission, rig up hydraulics, so he can put a dump/flat or stake bed on the back of the truck.

There's an International Club in Alberta, and an amazing network of parts supply out there. Completely by chance, he found a decent donor truck a couple miles from home, (that's where this second block/tranny came from) My husband is is the 'automotive' industry with connections for some of the other things.

Since it's the 'simple basics', it'll be a very good project. (I'm learning all kinds of new things, lol) There's bits and pieces of truck all over the shed and garage. lol

He's got the 1928 Hudson Essex that, (was my Dad's) now that he's old enough to drive it, lol he takes out to the local cruise nite and shows. He's thinking if he goes with the tip/dump hydraulic bed for the truck, that he could take the Essex to the shows at a distance......

He's a 'purist' so this project will be as close to the original as possible...... original army green......

I'm looking forward to the progress on this, I'll keep ya'll posted.


Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Sounds like you all are having a grand ol' time! Glad to hear that the piston is free with no damage. I'm glad there are still purists out there. There seem to be fewer and fewer of them. Everyone wants to make a hot rod!! lol.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Great! Give him a big ATTABOY from us. How about a picture of the 1928 Hudson Essex, that's an unusual one and we'd like to see it.

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

most pics of the Essex aren't digital, currently the camera is with our other son. lol

Here's one that shows the car, although it's not a close up, (The car was used a couple of weeks ago to take my neice and her friends to their grade 8 graduation celebration)

According to the research, this car was manufactured in 1927, but sold in 1928, and so is considered to be a 1928 model. It runs very smooth/quiet, loves the gravel roads, lol.

The car is in near the condition Dad found it in, (paint that the previous owner had done) the interior is the original mohair, foot rest in the back seat, wooden steering wheel, and wooden spoked wheels. The fabric on window shades is not original, and they are non functional. There are NO turn signals, and only one brake light. You would be amazed at the number of people who so NOT understand hand signals, Makes driving this car a definate challenge. lol

Dad had the original engine (Super Six) rebuilt when he bought the car 12 yrs ago) Our son has restored other parts that Dad had 'tinkered' with, lol. (took off the electric fuel pump system, and repaired the vacuum canister for the fuel system)

The brakes on this car are constrictor band, rear wheel only, and if it rains, you have NO BRAKES!

The plans for this car is (eventually) a frame-off restoration. $permitting, lol Back to the original colour (hunter green/black) and varnished wooden wheels.

In the meantime, we take her out on sunny afternoons, there's a lot of the countryside you see when you travel at a top speed of 30 mph!

When the camera comes back home, I'll get a couple more pics for you!

Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

Isn't she a grand and lovely gem of an auto !!

Makes sense. Your Dad modified the fuel system .. so gravity wouldn't restrict (or cut-off) the 'power' when going up-hill. (oh my gosh, I need some refresher courses!) However, it looks like I jes may get the course .. right here on this thread.

Putting in requests for pictures - with close ups of the tire 'tread' and all of the above you've mentioned so for - the mohair interior, the foot rest, that wooden steering wheel & spoked wheels.

Huwwwy .. go fetch yer cam'ra from the other son! You guys've got 'fans' in anxious await ! (heehee)
I don't think that any of us .. wanna miss one iota of any thing!

- Magpye

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Hurry up with the pictures!! Race over to your son's and grab the camera, get the pics printed and scanned on here!!!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

What a fine ride! I'm intrigued by the window shades. No windows? or was it for privacy purposes? Looking forward to more photos please!

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

in the interest of experimentation, I've dug up some photos of the Essex, taken in our backyard a few years ago. I scanned these into the computer, and, if all goes well, they will transmit well enough for you to have a peek!

here goes!

The 'trunk' on the rear of the car was a factory original option, at a cost of $50 dollars! The base purchase price of the car in 1928 was $795!

Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

the rear interior, and a close up of the front wheel!

Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

and under the hood,

when the camera comes back home in a couple of weeks, I'll take more photos for ya'll.

We really enjoy this car!

Thumbnail by drivenbonkers
Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

The pictures came thru just fine. The car is a delight and the pleasure is ours. Thank you. pod

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

((I'm in awe, once more))

The simplicity of by-gone days and our wonderful automobile engines!

Ya know .. 'tune ups' are virtually extinct .. now-a-days, with the later model vehicles. Look at the ROOM to work and piddle under that hood!!

I know we all are thankful for our air conditioning, our power assist steering and brakes, and a host of other wonderful lil ditties we've become 'conditioned' and accustomed to ... but oh boy! Do ya ever wish that we could revert to (or go to) 'those' days.

'Hurry' wasn't possible - so no big deal. 70+ hiway speeds didn't exit, and weren't even imaginable that I heard tell of ...

Even camping and vacations .. had a whole new (and more 'family' value) meaning, then!

Where has the need for simplicity gone!?! .. Ahh now, I understand the 'why' of it - but I don't accept that we haven't tried to hold on to some of it a bit tighter. Our children can't even grasp the concept.

We can only read about it .. or, there are 'fanss that are lucky enuff to dedicate and/or prescribe to .. (their) retaining the actual pieces of it {like you guys and your Dad did, etc} .. or, listen to the tales about so much of it, by our elders.

My own daddy would be blown away and mitey proud .. in your sharing you guys' endeavor .. with the Internat'l truck and the Essex! Born in 1888 and a self-taught gunsmith, blacksmith and auto mechanic, and more - - a virtual 'jack-of-all-trades' and a gem for his time.

Okay .. guess I'll put on the brakes to my 'nostalgia' run! .. Besides, I'm goin' downhill; fast! .. LOL ..

Sue (& family) .. we're enjoying it all - immensely so!!

- Magpye

This message was edited Jul 16, 2006 1:29 PM

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

Love the Essex!! I live to see old cars like that! There are several people around here who still drive those old vehicles regularly and they drive them everywhere. It is really neat to see people just stop what they are doing to stare at the cars as they drive by. I am really lucky too as we have a car club in Odessa, which is our neighbor to the east and they have cruise nights for several months of the year and one or two car shows a year. Another town to the north also has a car show once a year. You always know when there is a show going on because you see all these old cars and trucks going down the road and they are just GLEAMING. It is very neat to see.

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

podster, Magpye, pepper23, I am pleased that you enjoy these photos, I enjoy sharing them with you.

There is nothing nicer than the days we go for a tour. So many people do, in fact, drop what they're doing to point, or wave. Those waves are usually met with waves and an 'uuuuugggggggaaaaaaaaggga' from our horn! So many other motorists give you the 'thumbs up' as they pass..... especially the other 'classic car' drivers/passengers, lol.

There are many cruise nites during the summer, but we only attend the ones in our town. (the turnouts there are very good, 50 - 60 cars, but the Essex has been the oldest one there)

There's something about that many cars with their hoods up, everyone congregates around the cars, I still haven't figured out what they're looking The variety is endless, there's a early corvettes, late model corvettes, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks, there's stuff right from the '20's through to 2006, lol Something to appeal to everybody!

The other cruise night locations are too far away for our ole gal to make the return trip before dark. We're not that visible to other motorists after dark, so we tend to have her parked in the garage before dusk. (six volt electrical system, and two 11-candlepower head lights)

We take her out to the various festivals/shows and fairs locally as a car club member.
There's where the conversations turn to 'my dad had one of those, or my grand dad had one of those, or I lost one of those', lol

This past May the local seniors residence had their second annual car show in their parking lot. So many of the residents and their families came out, so many conversations. It was really fun to see eyes light up, and memories come flooding back...... This is what I love about the car, see people's reactions to it.....

After the show, one resident mentioned to her daughter about seeing the Essex, and she remembers riding in her grandfather's Essex. The daughter contacted us to see if she could arrange a ride for her mother. She set it up as a surprise for her mom! (The daughter was concerned that her mom may not be able to get in/out of the car. she's pretty much confined to a wheelchair with balance issues) Mom was wheeled out to the Essex, and then was told that her ride was to be in it. I don't think she's stopped grinning! I know I won't forget the look on her face when she realized that she was going to ride in the car.....

Daughter had to keep telling Mom to stay seated until they got close enough to the car to assist her in...... Mom was so excited! We had a fabulous drive. The Mom's 94 year old sister is visiting from Ireland in August, so we've set up a tour for both sisters for then....... They're planning a family dinner at a local restaurant so the sisters will arrive by Essex......

Update on the International:
Now that the piston is freed from the block, the plan for today is to make the arrangements to have the heads 'done'. Taking the best pieces of the two heads and related parts to make up one. Son has sourced the engine parts, and will be ordering them asap (gasket sets, bearings) His goal is to have engine back in and the truck running by the end of August!

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

Ohhh Sue ..

What you guys did (and plan again soon) for the gal and her aged Mom .. is truly the epitome of sweetness and unparalleled graciousness!

I can easily 'see' those wonderful smiles beyond belief, and her face beaming so proudly. I’ll bet the daughter reflected just as much so .. seeing her Moms’ joy.

The engagement set up for when the sister from Ireland arrives .. shall be the topic of conversations from there on! They’ll be puttin’ on the ritz, for sure! (used to be 'putting on the dog') .. High stylin'!!

Such, has jes gotta do a heart ‘good’ ...

* I'll bet he'll achieve his goal and then some!! Jes keep 'em pitters comin' !!!! (hee)

- Magpye

This message was edited Jul 17, 2006 11:05 AM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

What a nice thing to do for the old gal! In these days they don't have much to keep them going. That and the pending ride will be on their minds forever. Thank you!
I was drawn to your original post as a 1940 Int'l pickup lives with us. We chuckle at the age group that it draws interest from. Also have some other vintage cars and each one attracts different ages. Ours have been suffering neglect over the last 6 years due to extensive medical expenses. Please ignore the dust.

Thumbnail by podster
Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

shucks, it wus nothin'. It's a really nice feeling to make someone's day brighter. Dad loved to take the 'ole folks' out for rides, we're just continuing what he started... in some ways he's still riding with us.....

podster, I LOVE YOUR TRUCK! Yours still has shine on the paint! OOOHHHH! They sure knew how to make 'em then. They are genuine works of art. Not like the boxes with wheels that pass as trucks now.

Now that there's an International parked in our driveway, I'm noticing so many more.........

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

There would be shine if it was washed. It has been repainted. A friend purchased it in Wisc. and drove it to Texas sans seat. He sat on a 5 gal bucket. When he bought it, it was cream body and burgundy fenders/running boards. He had it repainted. It looks stock but isn't. I don't know if you have noticed, the older vehicles don't have much for leg room. We could literally wear a 10 gallon hat for the head room though. Of course it was originally designed for work and the cab is so narrow, two people riding feel like their dating.

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

okey-dokey Sue ...

It's been a good 2 weeks have lapsed .. and we've been wonderin', if ya got that camera back yet? Is the project continuing? How's it goin'? ANY updates? How bout some pitters? .. jes something! .. lol

Not wantin' to pester you none - but ya know, you've had us 'hooked' from the get-go. (heehee)

Just let us know that everyone is okay .. that no one has managed to get hurt in any way .. soon .. Ok?


- Magpye

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

hey, Magpye! All are well here! and with you?

Younger son's still at CFB Petawawa, his training's not completed for another couple of weeks. I hope to get up there to visit Sunday, will get the camera from him then.

The Essex did the tour for the Mom and her Sister and Sis's daughter (from Ireland) on Tuesday evening. The day threatened to rain all day, but cleared up just in time. Son took the three ladies out for a grand tour around the town, then delivered them to the family dinner at a local restaurant. Gave the family a great deal to talk about and some great photo opportunities for them!, lol. Irish sister in the front seat behind the wheel! Apparently she was all grin!

The International's engine is in the shop.The estimate for the work to rebuild the bottom end just came back :(

(bore the cylinders, surface plane the block, grind the crankshaft, grind the camshaft, supply and install new bearings/pistons/rings) The estimate is what we expected, but still painful, lol.

Son's put his motorcycle up for sale. That $ will pay for the parts and some of the work. (starving student, lol) He's discovered he can source parts for less than the estimate quoted from the shop and he's learning that where there's a will, you find a way...... sometimes you have to get creative and go to plan B, plan C, ....plan Q, etc. lol

He's figured out what he can afford to/should have the shop do, and what he and his Dad will do here at home.

So, he's waiting(impatiently) for his bike to sell and his next paycheque, before he can go ahead with the engine work. ..

Patience, grasshopper......

NW Qtr, AR(Zone 6a)

LOL .. Just glad to 'hear' that everyone's okay .. and doin' well.

Machining .. (and the equipment/tools associated) certainly isn't something that most folks just happen to have out in the garage. Take it, the motorcycle is an 'xtra' vehicle .. so, he's not 'doing without' wheels, in the meantime.

Now .. you know there's a bunch of 'beaming smiles' going on .. in reading the updates about the latest Essex tour for them galsers! (hee) I'll bet your youngest was mitey proud to be sportin' those ladies about town ... and it had to have made them feel a bit more pampered, being chaffeured. (Aww, such a sweet picture in my minds eye)

Any chance, that anyone there on the home front, may've managed to pull-off any pitters (or, snatced a copy or two, of theirs?) .. of which ya mite could slip in, here -?- Perhaps, if nothing else .. but a distant shot of the femalurn crew climbing on board the Essex. Understand, if not tho' ..

Patience. (Tis something available for purchase on-line, 'ey?) .. HeeHee
I’ll ‘work’ on it .. tomorrow; along with the wee lil procrastination difficulties that crop up every now and again. .. LOL ..

Glad everyone's still kickin', and healthy ...


- Magpye

Perth,, ON(Zone 5a)

drat! those boys of mine have gone to another auction sale!

this time they came home with a 5-ton '75 GMC former fire department pumper truck. (28,000 original miles) yes, the siren works! pretty clean/good shape

This one runs and made it home under it's own power!

So, the '53 project is being rethunk! and it appears that the '75 will be the one to be restored for now. Mostly cosmetic, with just the driver's side sill has rust. Parts are available, (hubby has worked GM for years)

They spent Sunday rewiring the ignition so you don't have to cross a couple of wires to start it.

Thoughts being entertained are to spiff 'er up and put a tilt bed to haul the Essex on.

Matching paint jobs? who knows........

pictures to follow.........

anyone need a '53 International basket case? lol

alabama, USA Minor Outlying Islands

I can give some idea about removing the seized piston using air.Put some wood stick between the two pistons so that they cannot come out side at a time.or else use some fuel to clean the dust around the piston then try to remove the piston using some nut player, if it not work you better call some mechanic to help you.
Car Auctions

Holsworthy, United Kingdom

This may be too late for you but it may help somebody else. Firstly it helps a lot if you have a lathe or a friend with a lathe as you may need mandrels (tubes) making to drive the piston out. The last project that I did was a British Seagull outboard motor. On these motors the piston has a sloping deflector top and there is no good place to apply the high forces that are needed. In particular applying force to the piston crown can make it cave-in and parts for these antique motors are difficult to obtain. Looking at the other end it is tempting to apply force to the connecting rod. DON'T DO IT! if you do the piston may come out leaving the piston rings and the piston skirt behind. The British Seagull Model 40 happens to have a 45mm cylinder bore. This is somewhat smaller than standard scaffold pipe (48mm outside diameter in the UK) so a length of pipe was obtained that was longer than the distance between the con-rod big end and the bottom of the piston skirt. About an inch and a half of this pipe was turned down to be nominally 45mm with a clearance fit in the bore. Wood was used at the top of the block in order to save the sealing spigot then by using pieces of steel and a large G clamp a lot of force was applied. Note that the piston cannot be damaged this way as the metal is in compression and the piston rings will prevent the ring grooves being crushed. Prior to all this the piston had been soaked with releasing fluid for a week and heated several times but still nothing moved. The clamp was tightened as much as possible, more releasing fluid was sprayed and the block and piston were left overnight. The next day when the clamp screw was struck with a hammer there was a different note. Instead of the high pitched ricochet as before, there was a dull thud. The piston had moved! With a car engine things are more difficult but even "impossible" pistons can be shifted. Just don't hit the piston crown and don't hit the rod or anywhere inside the piston. Good luck!

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm just going to add that I recently saw a list of common 'penetrating' oils listed by their apparent action on releasing some prepared rusted nuts from some bolts. They included Kroil, PB Blaster, WD-40 and others. The best fluid used was a 50/50 mix of acetone and ATF fluid. (I assume Dexron III or the latest version). Certainly it may need to be well shaken immediately before application.

This message was edited Jan 24, 2012 11:28 PM

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I Like diesel fuel or a mix of diesel fuel and ATF. The diesel does a great job of penetrating lubricates fairly well. The atf seems to add some body to the diesel.

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