It's getting about time to de-winterize the ski boat this year, and I got to thinking about what happened last year.

It has a carbureted Chevy 350, and the winterizing process involves spraying a can of preservation goop into the intake until it dies. So it takes a bit of cranking to clear enough goop out that it can catch again.

Meanwhile, I'm cranking and cranking and cranking and occasionally pumping the throttle until it starts, and it's easy to have it catch mid-pump and rev up quickly.

When it catches mid-pump and revs up, I'm concerned about excessive wear because it doesn't have oil yet, from having sat all winter...or does it?
Is the extra-long cranking before the first start of the season, enough to distribute the oil so that it's no different from a normal startup?

Or perhaps even better than a normal start, since a normal start seems to catch almost immediately, with almost no time to distribute the oil first?


2 Answers 2


The ideal method requires a moderate level of mechanical skills. There is a tool available (small block Chevy oil pump primer) that turns the oil pump with out cranking the motor over. The distributor is removed, the tool is essentially a distributor shaft with most of the parts missing. The end of the tool turns the oil pump which circulates the oil through the motor. Reinstalling the the distributor is somewhat complicated but possible with a good YouTube video.

  • Fitted cams and distributors and never needed a youtube vid to do it...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 28, 2020 at 19:47
  • I did that when I rebuilt my '97 Jeep engine. That's an I6, but the same idea - leave the distributor off, put a big flat screwdriver bit with a socket extension on a drill, and run the pump until you get oil up top. Then put the distributor on, wonder why it doesn't run very well, fuss around a bit, figure out that the distributor is one tooth off from the camshaft, take it back off again and reinstall...
    – AaronD
    May 1, 2020 at 18:00

Assuming this is a 4-stroke engine then it will have an oil pump.

This starts to turn and deliver oil as the engine starts to turn - it may require a fews turns to pick up oil from the sump. The more turning you do to get it started, the more oil is pumped around the oilways.

When I start a re-built engine for the first time I remove the plugs and spin the engine until the oil gets to the valve gear and/or the oil gauge shows pressure.

I have also re-purposed a fuel pump to pump fresh oil into one of the oil galleries, which then goes through all the galleries. Often there are removable plugs at the ends of some of the galleries which you can use for access, make sure you are connecting after the pump and not before otherwise you just pump oil into the sump - depending where, and if, a non return valve is fitted.

Some engine test beds have priming pumps for fuel and oil and some of our lab engines at university had oil priming pumps fitted for the same reason...

  • The oil pump in a SBC sits at the bottom of the oil pan submerged in oil, so it does not have to "pick up oil" as you say, it is always primed and ready to go..
    – Moab
    Apr 28, 2020 at 12:08
  • @Moab I worded my answer to be applicable to more than one engine in the hope of more people being able to find it useful.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 28, 2020 at 12:09
  • I get that but the question involves a specific engine, you could add it to your answer citing it is engine specific.
    – Moab
    Apr 28, 2020 at 12:11
  • The fools at Buick did not put the oil pump in the pan on the 350 ( engine X in 1980 era). It had to suck the oil up about 6 in.. Apr 28, 2020 at 19:43
  • So a problem for Buicks when sludge plugged the oil inlet screen. Apr 28, 2020 at 19:46

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