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Thread: My 1964 Electra Project

  1. #51
    Sr (grey-haired) Member Rob McDonald's Avatar
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    JOSEPH, your concern about getting "upside down" in the cost of upgrading your beautiful car is well founded. I advise Whoa! on the temptation for new paint and uphostery. If you don't love your 'Lectra yet, expensive finishes are not going to carry you over the threshold. Enjoy your ride the way it is and revel in the thumbs-ups, all the while keeping an eye out for a voluptuous '50s replacement.

    As for the driveability of a '64 Electra versus a '53 Buick Roadmaster, for example - no contest. Sorry, the older car is a stop light slug by comparison. For that you can blame the Dynaflow but it doesn't explain away the wandering steering that follows every dip in the pavement or the plan-well-ahead brakes. 'Fifties seats are sofa comfy and SUV upright, though, and luggage capacity is much better under the '53's big squarish bustle. Driven sedately, both cars with get you about 15 miles per gallon around town. The '64 might hit 20 on the highway, if you don't spend a lot of time in the passing lane.

    From what I hear, older Buicks may have more trouble with the ethanol-diluted gas that the US has saddled itself with. You have to go looking for gasohol in Western Canada - but then we are sitting on an ancient lake of the real stuff. Not to rub it in but I heard a news report yesterday that, due to drought conditions, corn fuel is now more expensive than gasoline. Kind of like diesel - it wasn't supposed to go that way.

    Once you've got the basic mechanicals sorted, a '64 Electra will provide you effortless driving pleasure. 100 miles to visit the folks? No problem and you'll be using less gas than your lead footed brother-in-law in his Escalade. The feeling of bigness will quickly fade away, particularly when you're parked next to his tarted-up Suburban. I used a '65 Coupe de Ville as my winter beater from 1994 to 2002. It only felt over-sized when trying to negotiate Tim Hortons drive-throughs, which I could avoid unless my three kids were with me, lined up in their child safety perches across that cavernous backseat. Man, I miss that Cadillac.

    Your ginourmous Buick with its rocket-glow instrument panel makes me smile, which is what old cars are really good at.
    Rob McDonald
    1957 Buick Roadmaster model 73A, owned since February 1973
    1962 Valiant Signet
    1967 Valiant 100, daily driver

  2. #52
    Ben Bruce BCA# 44599 First Born's Avatar
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Joseph, I just drove my '50 to Concord and back for the BCA Nationals. Just get in and go!! Worst case ,she breaks down and has to be towed home for what, a hundred bucks?? Me thinks you worry too much.
    Mike is correct, the '64 is a lot more friendly to drive, as far as handling. We old farts that grew up in the '50s, '60s, had no choice. And as each improvement came along we embraced it. As for fuel mileage, ANY old car is worse than today. But will you get as much attention in a new car??
    Also, there were after market FM converters available back then. I just scored one for my 6V.

    Ben
    Last edited by First Born; August 22nd, 2012 at 07:28.
    1995 Park Ave
    1950 Super Mod 52
    1950 Special Mod 41D Second owner

  3. #53

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quote Originally Posted by trafalger View Post
    Thanks for the tips.

    Realistically how hard is the 64 to keep on the road when compared to a 50s? I'm not talking about the accessories, i mean just pure road worthy? Obviously I want something I can enjoy and drive.

    I worry about the size of the car and the gas mileage. I really wish i had a buick guy local that I could just get 10 minutes with that could look at the car and tell me if I'm about to drop a tranny in 3 months, or if it sounds like the headers are about to come out of the engine. I'm not a big engine guy and this thing is by far the oldest car I've ever worked on much less driven.

    I'd love to be able to drive her to my parents house which is about 100 miles away, but I guess I'm just scared of it as a whole.
    The 64 should be relatively easy to keep on the road. No one can accurately guess when something like a transmission will blow. Heck, I have seen transmissions blow on new cars as well as engines. Old, new, cheap or very expensive, they all break down. As far as driving the car 100 miles it will probably just be stretching it's legs at mile 99. I drive my 54 Buick everywhere. It is very dependable. Me thinks you need more drive time in the car around town. Eventually it will click that the car starts, drives and performs just fine. Putting it on the highway should not be a problem then. To be sure though, safety first. Brakes, front end steering parts and tires are in good shape.

    Oh, my 54 gets 15mpg on the hightway averaging 65mph. Considering she is 2 tons of fun I'm pleased with that kind of mpg.
    Last edited by avgwarhawk; August 22nd, 2012 at 08:23.
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  4. #54

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Thanks guys for the words of encouragement. I know I worry ALOT about everything.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  5. #55

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quote Originally Posted by First Born View Post
    Also, there were after market FM converters available back then. I just scored one for my 6V.

    Ben
    Do tell?
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  6. #56

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quote Originally Posted by trafalger View Post
    Thanks guys for the words of encouragement. I know I worry ALOT about everything.
    You are not alone with worry. A lot of folks worry about breakdowns and issues that cost money to repair. It's natural. My brother did the same concerning purchasing a old car. Worry of something major blowing up. Not until he realized I drive my 54 without issue all weekend, have a blast and really only worry about when I can go drive it again did he finally make a purchase! He now owns a 1960 Imperial.
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  7. #57

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    New exhaust pipe is installed, got to drive it around the town tonight just cruising around. Had a great time.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  8. #58

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    got to drive it around the town tonight just cruising around. Had a great time.
    And that is what it is all about. The more you do to it the better it becomes, more fun to drive and dependable.
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  9. #59

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    I've not posted any pictures lately, just put this on last night.

    Behold! the best looking $5 dollar and 92 cent Autozone tail pipe you will ever see!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  10. #60

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Does the trick!
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  11. #61

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    There is a music on main event tonight in Monroe NC where they play beachy type oldies music, so it will be her grand debut. I'll see if I can take her downtown and park her right on main street...hehehe
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  12. #62

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Got to drive some more tonight downtown. Finally got the chance to goto Sonic!

    Hopefully this weekend we will get brave enough to drive her to the drive-in movie about 30 miles away.

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    Last edited by trafalger; August 23rd, 2012 at 19:56.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  13. #63

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    The old girl is showing what she can do.
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  14. #64
    Riviera addict RivNut's Avatar
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    AM/FM was available, but only in mono; no stereo. You could fade the sound from the front speaker to the rear speaker though.

  15. #65

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    The new washer knob came in today...

    Before
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    Thanks for the help guys, I was only alerted to this piece being on ebay by a fellow member and I would have never known that a 64 Rivera was the same knob.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  16. #66
    Senior Member
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Joseph,

    A little about your car as I have an identical model in my garage and have owned it for almost 40 years. You have a TurboHydromatic 400 transmission and as a matter of fact, the first year for the Turbo 400. This transmission combined with a nailhead is a bulletproof combination. Let's put it this way, mine survived a 16 year old car crazy male and had over 100,000 miles on it at the time. I don't think there is anything you can think of that I didn't try back "in the day". Neutral drops? No problem. Slam into Low at speed? Never an issue. Oh, since this was the first year of the 3 speed turbo 400, Buick didn't think to put a 3 speed indicator in the shift quadrant, just L and D. Little know fact: If you shift into L above 25 mph, the transmission will go into 2nd gear, below 20 it will drop into first gear. If you shift into L above 25 and just leave the gearshift in L, as you slow down and reach 20 mph, the transmission will drop into 1st gear all on it's own. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. In other words, I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the driveline.

    The '64 model Buick's were modern automobiles as others have said. Your '64 will drive, brake, accelerate, and handle much like today's automobiles. A fifties era auto will not. Not that it is such a bad thing, but you will need to re-think your driving technique when you get behind the wheel of that 55 Roadmaster...
    Brad Conley. BCA #10449. 70 GSX Prototype, 71 Black GSX, 87 GNX Prototype, 2 86 Grand Nationals, 75 Skyhawk, 1972 Electra 225 Custom 2dr, 1972 Estate Wagon, 1972 Centurion Convert and a host of other Buicks!

  17. #67

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Thank you very much for the post

    I got her title tag and registration today. So look out!!!!

    Any fun stuff you can share about a 64 would be awesome

    Tomorrow I'm heading to car quest to see if they can match her paint so I can touch up a few bad spot until I can afford to have her repainted. I wish I knew someone local that had a paint booth I'd love to learn how to do that

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Conley View Post
    Joseph,

    A little about your car as I have an identical model in my garage and have owned it for almost 40 years. You have a TurboHydromatic 400 transmission and as a matter of fact, the first year for the Turbo 400. This transmission combined with a nailhead is a bulletproof combination. Let's put it this way, mine survived a 16 year old car crazy male and had over 100,000 miles on it at the time. I don't think there is anything you can think of that I didn't try back "in the day". Neutral drops? No problem. Slam into Low at speed? Never an issue. Oh, since this was the first year of the 3 speed turbo 400, Buick didn't think to put a 3 speed indicator in the shift quadrant, just L and D. Little know fact: If you shift into L above 25 mph, the transmission will go into 2nd gear, below 20 it will drop into first gear. If you shift into L above 25 and just leave the gearshift in L, as you slow down and reach 20 mph, the transmission will drop into 1st gear all on it's own. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. In other words, I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the driveline.

    The '64 model Buick's were modern automobiles as others have said. Your '64 will drive, brake, accelerate, and handle much like today's automobiles. A fifties era auto will not. Not that it is such a bad thing, but you will need to re-think your driving technique when you get behind the wheel of that 55 Roadmaster...

  18. #68

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quick question, I noticed a water leak in the passenger side so I think my heater core is shot. I'm not really worried with that as I'm a guy that will have the air on in the winter. That being said I also noticed that my water control valve under the hood is pretty much frozen solid in place. And the control cable for it is well rusted and broken.

    My question is, in the meantime I have just bypassed the valve all together with no water running to the heater core. Is that going to f' anything up?

    Where can you buy those control cables? My gut tells me that the valve is pretty simple if i can get it apart to fix, anyone got any tips? And should I worry about that heater core, does a leak always mean the core is shot or could it be something else? I was reading the manual and it looks like to get that core out is going to be a MAJOR undertaking.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  19. #69

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Holy cow what a day.

    We got up at 7:30 and cleaned out the trunk all the way to the metal (the PO had left a bunch of crap back there and it was all NASTY) The carpet had literally disintegrated. Anyways got all that done, headed to car quest, got them to match the paint on her and picked up some sandpaper to hit some of the touch up spots.

    Picked up a bunch of wax and a buffer (on sale for 15 bucks) and various other cleaners.

    I was able to shine and refinish the runner plates that I found in the trunk from the PO that got all the carpet secured down, shampooed all the interior carpet (prolly pulled up 40 years of ick)

    We washed and waxed the car 3 times in all, sanded and touch up painted the few bad spots we had, and I was able to buff out some scuff marks from the PO.

    It's 8:03pm and we're stilll working on her, but all in all I've very pleased with today. We got to drive her over 45 miles with no issues whatsoever. Her paint looks 100x better and I even got to shine up the chrome. The carpet is clean and the trunk is empty, the musty smell is totally gone now and I swear to god the car runs better. I think she knows we're trying to get her back in fighting shape.

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    Carpet washing!
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    The runners are in
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    All done for the day (if you look at my earlier pictures you will notice she had a boo boo next to the I, if you notice that is now all gone!)
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    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  20. #70
    Riviera addict RivNut's Avatar
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    To add to what was said about the TH400 transmission that you have in your '64; it is a one year only transmisson. In '65, Buick incorporated a variable pitch torque converter into it as well as different valve bodies, etc. - no interchanges. If you're wanting the transmission to up shift through all three speeds when you want (manually,) it's easy. Hold the shift lever in L (1st gear) until you want to shift to 2nd gear, put the lever into D and let the transmission shift into 2nd. As soon as it shifts in to 2nd, pull the lever back to L; the trans will stay in 2nd gear until you move the lever to D to engage the 3rd gear.

    Cables for those cars are not reproduced. If you can get the cable off, let it soak in some penetrating oil, that should free it. One thing to be very, very cautious about is trying to move the cable or temp. control valve using the levers under the dash. The corrosion is stronger than the die cast. The lever will break with hardly any pressure! One of the Tech Advisors for the Riviera Owners Assn. has found a way to use the vacuum going to the air door to operate a later model vacuum controlled temp control valve. Place it somewhere in line in the heater hose, run a Tee from the door control vacuum line and you're good. He says that Buick over engineered it to begin with and the vacuum is much simpler to deal with.

    What does the face of your "thumb knob" look like for the ones you're missing. There were a couple of different styles - smooth, ribbed, "rough"?

    One thing that hasn't come up yet is a discussion on wheels. Through '64, the bigger Buicks had a 3-3/8" diameter hub on the rear axle and the front hub assembly. Only wheels for 64 and earlier will fit. In '65 (first year for Rally wheels on all big cars) Buick went to a smaller diameter hub. You also need to look for wheels that have the raised bump between the bolt holes so the rivets on the front drum assmebly will have a place to sit.

    Pretty soon your car will be like new again. Keep it up.
    Ed Raner
    ROA #279 - Charter member
    Vice President - ROA Board of Trustees
    www.rivowners.org

    1963 Riviera - Original - Black w/ white custom leather
    1964 Riviera - Claret Mist w/ white custom vinyl - "Tastefully Tweaked"
    1990 Riviera - Arctic white w/ taupe leather - SE with the Gold Package
    1993 Riviera - Shapphire Blue w/ white leather - SE - This one is Linda's

    Gone but not forgotten - (3) '63, (2) '64, (2) '66, '67, (2) '83XX, '84, '84 conv. '85, '95 (2) rust bucket 63's for parts

  21. #71

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    I think I'm detecting a budding love affair!! Every little bit you do adds up to really nice ride in the end. She is looking good and proving herself every time you leave the driveway. She has found a second life in your hands. Keep it up!
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  22. #72

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quote Originally Posted by trafalger View Post
    Quick question, I noticed a water leak in the passenger side so I think my heater core is shot. I'm not really worried with that as I'm a guy that will have the air on in the winter. That being said I also noticed that my water control valve under the hood is pretty much frozen solid in place. And the control cable for it is well rusted and broken.

    My question is, in the meantime I have just bypassed the valve all together with no water running to the heater core. Is that going to f' anything up?

    Where can you buy those control cables? My gut tells me that the valve is pretty simple if i can get it apart to fix, anyone got any tips? And should I worry about that heater core, does a leak always mean the core is shot or could it be something else? I was reading the manual and it looks like to get that core out is going to be a MAJOR undertaking.

    Bypassing the core is fine. Heater cores can and usually are a major undertaking. I can not comment on the cable and availability. However, I believe one can be made. If there is wetness on the passenger side floor it is usually from the core.
    Chris Gossweiler
    1954 Buick Special 48D. It is a 264 and nothing more.
    BCA#-46800
    I adore my 54!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jWYdKAIQX4

  23. #73

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    The ones I'm looking for are smooth...here is a pic

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    Quote Originally Posted by RivNut View Post
    To add to what was said about the TH400 transmission that you have in your '64; it is a one year only transmisson. In '65, Buick incorporated a variable pitch torque converter into it as well as different valve bodies, etc. - no interchanges. If you're wanting the transmission to up shift through all three speeds when you want (manually,) it's easy. Hold the shift lever in L (1st gear) until you want to shift to 2nd gear, put the lever into D and let the transmission shift into 2nd. As soon as it shifts in to 2nd, pull the lever back to L; the trans will stay in 2nd gear until you move the lever to D to engage the 3rd gear.

    Cables for those cars are not reproduced. If you can get the cable off, let it soak in some penetrating oil, that should free it. One thing to be very, very cautious about is trying to move the cable or temp. control valve using the levers under the dash. The corrosion is stronger than the die cast. The lever will break with hardly any pressure! One of the Tech Advisors for the Riviera Owners Assn. has found a way to use the vacuum going to the air door to operate a later model vacuum controlled temp control valve. Place it somewhere in line in the heater hose, run a Tee from the door control vacuum line and you're good. He says that Buick over engineered it to begin with and the vacuum is much simpler to deal with.

    What does the face of your "thumb knob" look like for the ones you're missing. There were a couple of different styles - smooth, ribbed, "rough"?

    One thing that hasn't come up yet is a discussion on wheels. Through '64, the bigger Buicks had a 3-3/8" diameter hub on the rear axle and the front hub assembly. Only wheels for 64 and earlier will fit. In '65 (first year for Rally wheels on all big cars) Buick went to a smaller diameter hub. You also need to look for wheels that have the raised bump between the bolt holes so the rivets on the front drum assmebly will have a place to sit.

    Pretty soon your car will be like new again. Keep it up.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  24. #74

    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    Quote Originally Posted by avgwarhawk View Post
    Bypassing the core is fine. Heater cores can and usually are a major undertaking. I can not comment on the cable and availability. However, I believe one can be made. If there is wetness on the passenger side floor it is usually from the core.
    I figured as much...and honestly i'm not going to drive it in the winter. I'm totally not gonna worry about it.

    Winters here in NC are like 45 degrees.
    ----------
    BCA# 46718
    Joseph
    Monroe NC
    1964 Electra 225 (work in progress)

  25. #75
    Ben Bruce BCA# 44599 First Born's Avatar
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    Re: My 1964 Electra Project

    I agree with Chris. And whats not to love?? Beautiful car.

    Ben
    1995 Park Ave
    1950 Super Mod 52
    1950 Special Mod 41D Second owner

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