Rob McDonald

RUST DOES SLEEP, ACTUALLY (life with a '57 Roadmaster)

206 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Last month, I tagged onto a thread that was started by KIWI56R. Responding to his anguish at the current cost of '57 Buick ball joints, I related my own long-ago purchase of an NOS set of these. They were for my Roadmaster Riviera sedan that's been sporadically "under restoration" for close to forty years now.

I'm new to this forum technology and it took me until now to figure out how to return to that thread. When I finally linked back in tonight, I was really touched at how many people have replied to my request for encouragement to get back out to the garage and enjoy this magnificent hobby again. They urged me to start a new thread on my long experience with this car (purchased February, 1973), so here goes.

It's been so long since I've had this old thing out in the daylight, I don't even have any digital photos of it to post here. I promise, that's on tomorrow's To-Do list. Thank you all for this very warm AACA welcome - I'm feeling a twinge of motivation already. ~Rob

Edited by Rob McDonald
to attract more specific interest (see edit history)

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Wow, purchased in 1973!!! Great to hear you're pulling her out and getting her going again. Look forward to following your progress and seeing and hearing the details here.

If I might suggest, you may want to add " '57 Roadmaster " to the end of "Rust Does Sleep" as it is more likely to pull more 50's Buick enthusiasts in that way. Just go back to the first post and "edit" it. Just a suggestion. :) Holler if you need help starting to post pics etc.

Buickly,

MrEarl buba.gif

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Thanks, MrEarl, good advice. I don't want to be flooded with replies from desperate people, thinking that I've discovered the secret to halting rust. It's pretty simply, really. Just never take a car out of dry storage. Today, I'm about to start the process of breaking that rule. Pictures at 11. ~Rob

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Rob:

I just finished (99.8% anyway) a '57 Roadmaster convertible. I purchased mine the fall of 1992. I guess that makes me an old timer in restoration too, but just about half as long as you. Loving care takes a lifetime, just ask my wife. Welcome back, you will find lots of support here including just where to acquire what is needed to get you over any sticking point.

Dan

'57 - 76C

'57 - 56R

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Cool. Welcome. Looking forward to the photos and hearing more about the car.

At least I was on this earth when you bought the car...but I wasn't very big....

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Rob, welcome to the club! I bought my 1957 Special in 1985 and am finally getting around to restoring it as well. You have me beat by a few years, but I can tell youthat this forum is the besti thing since sliced bread. If you need or want to know anything, this is the place. The people on this are the best by far with knowledge and the curiosity to learn all the time. I wish you luck and many enjoyable times on your path. Drop a line or a post anytime..many will respond to your needs.

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I think I've figured out the photo posting routine. Attached, I hope, is my patient project as seen today, November 14, 2010. Looks like it's almost ready to go, doesn't it? Well, it has looked like this for a very long time.

I actually have almost every part required to finish this. It's time that's been in short supply. One major purchase that remains is the upholstery materials, which are exactly like what's installed in TG57Roadmaster's beautiful (and finished) almost-twin to my car.

Back when such things were possible, I picked up all the sweep spear moldings that I need at a swap meet - NOS, still in the thick wax paper packaging. I was also lucky enough to find a good rear bumper end from a single-exhaust Special and had another not-so-bad one rebuilt in heavy steel. The chroming bill for the front and rear bumpers and the rear quarter bottoms came to just $800 - but those were big, fat 1980s dollars.

The engine hasn't run for probably fifteen years but I'm not expecting any trouble there. The air is dry out here, so engines don't generally seize unless you leave them outside with no cylinder heads. I'll pull out the spark plugs and spritz in a bit of light oil, then disconnect the fuel line and spin the engine over for a while, to get the oil pressure up. I'm pretty sure it'll fire right away and run just as sweetly as it did when I first built it, in 1985. The Dynaflow's seals dried up years ago, so today I was surprised to see that it had dumped yet another quart of fluid into a pan that I'd left under there, when I had the car towed to its present resting place four years ago.

That tow was quite an experience. My wife and I had just built a new house only two doors down from our old place. I rounded up some neighbours to help push the Buick into the new garage. Six of us could not budge it. The seals on at least two of the brake cylinders had let go since the car was last driven and those wheels were now locked solid. A tow truck was finally called in.

As we winched the car out of the old garage, one wheel popped free and started to roll but the other one held on tight. The right rear tire skidded across the concrete floor and didn't let go - with a great clang - until it started down the driveway. The concrete there had a rougher surface and offered more frictional torque to counter the bond between the brake shoes and the rusted brake drum. I expect I'll be needing some brake parts, which happily are still easy to find. Getting the brake drums off is going to be a huge challenge, I'm sure.

Oh dear. I just got a message from the Administrator that there's something wrong with the photos I tried to upload tonight. Coincidentally, I see there are fresh instructions for this on the Me and My Buick forum page, posted by Centurion. However, it's very late, so that will have to be tomorrow's project. Thanks for listening. ~Rob

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Hi Rob! When posting the pictures, try to post a couple at a time. I have had a heck of a time trying to post 9 - 10 pictures at once. Upload 2 or 3, then go back to upload a couple more. Once they are uploaded, review your post to make sure that they are there, then hit send. that is what usually works for me. Looking forward to seeing your version of TG's twin!!

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buickjim (if I may call you that, for short), your way sounds easier that uploading to a website, as recommended by Centurion. Here goes...

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Nope, that didn't work either. However, it's gone and got late again. Tomorrow's another try. ~Rob

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YEE-HAH! I got it to work! The photos were just too big at first, so I knocked them down to size in iPhoto.

Here it is, the cumulative product of about a week's worth of work and almost four decades of procrastination. Even when I squint, I'm having a hard time imagining this dashboard ever looking like the one in TG's car. Like everything worthwhile, though, the first step toward completion requires taking the first step. Which I've now done. ~Rob

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post-59990-143138354353_thumb.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Sounds like you're really excited about getting back on your fitysebem. I too am getting back in my barn and on some projects I had to put aside while doing time. (in the wardens honeydew patch, 5 years but with good behavior I was released in 4). So I know how you feel.

Love the two tone. What color is that bottom. And it's a four door hard top. :cool: . That car looks like it's traveling 100 mph just sitting still. That was always one of Harley Earls design criteria, that a car look like it's moving while sittin still. Look forward to following your progress. Keep up the enthusiasm, it's contagious. :)

Edited by MrEarl (see edit history)

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Rob, Great photo's! Congrat's on getting them posted. What a beauty!!!Remember when you get started that every great race starts with the first step. I have attached a couple of photos of the same endeavor on the dash. You to will beam when it is done, especially when you look at what your own hands have done to bring it back from chaos (or what seemed like it at the time!) It is awesome that you are restarting an adventure that began decades ago..keep the faith and keep posting and asking questions. The people on this forum are the best living encyclopedia of restoration that has ever been assembled!

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Rob,

Lookin' fine! Be very careful when you remove the dash's aluminum fascia. The "engine-turning" is an applique,

rather than a pattern actually swirled in metal like the '40-'41's. Too many have tried cleaning the fascia's

surface, with even mild product, and watched that lovely finish disappear. After the 4 vertical cove zoomies

are removed, if the panel needs any cleaning, test the area under the zoomies first (it won't show if you

screw it up) before proceeding.

I think I might have used plain water/soft cloth to remove what little needed cleaning on mine; just be careful!

Jim,

Nothing like doing it up right!

TG

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TG:

Did you get the PM that I sent you earlier today? I do not find it on the sent function my PM activities.

Dan

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LAMAR, the colours are Dover White over what might be Starlight Blue Metallic. Way back when the paint job was done, I found the correct code for the white but the blue was a match-up job, which turned out pretty well. I'm uncertain about this because the body ID plate says the Paint is CO. "C" is Dover White but there's no "O" code that I've found. Maybe the "O" indicated no two-tone and the blue was added by the dealer or sometime later. As you say, though, it does look sharp.

JIM, you are so right. I'm finding you people to be very encouraging and helpful, just like "car guys" were twenty years ago. Of course, many of us are the same guys, just greyer.

OTHER JIM, the Dynoc pattern on my instrument panel is in good shape, so taking your advice, I'm definitely going to leave it alone. I did most of the work I needed to inside the dash years ago, when I installed the factory A/C out of a parts car. So other than blowing out some dust, there's not much to do in there but put it all back together.

On AACA's Buick-General Forum last week, I put out a call for the dust seals and steel seal covers, which didn't come with the NOS ball joints that I put in the car thirty years ago. So far, no replies. Would any of you have a parts car out the the back forty, which might give these up? Even if the joints themselves are worn out, as usual, these pieces might be usable. Or, they could serve as a pattern, to help me find something that fits. Any leads? ~Rob

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Posted (edited)

I've let this thread get a bit stale. Sorry, I'm supposed to be posting my progress on resuming this restoration project. Honestly, there hasn't been any garage action yet. Through their posts, I've been watching Mike and Mud and Adam get all sorts of jobs done, so that should count for something.

I dug out my musty collection of Buick sales literature and uploaded the upholstery options for 1957 to the Buick - Post War forum. That was a positive hobby-oriented action, although it didn't actually require my going out to the garage.

Through this medium, I got some basic instruction on chrome buffing - see the thread "Stainless Trim on the 56 Buick?", under Buick - Post War. There's been no response yet to my search for ball joint seals but that's certainly not holding up progress. Re-doing my car's rusted-out brake hydraulic system, damaged by all those years of storage, will be my first task.

It's good and cold now but I have a lovely new insulated garage with a powerful heater. No excuses there. Will tomorrow be it, the first day of the rest of my project? Let's see. ~Rob

Edited by Rob McDonald (see edit history)

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Rob,

Eating an elephant is slow work, it's just one bite at a time. Pick one thing to do, finish it and then take another "bite" ;) .

You can do it.

Have fun

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Posted (edited)

Rob:

Back in my engineering days, I drew up the ball joint seals in AutoCad. I will share them with you if you just happen to have a best friend that is a tool and die maker that can get them molded for you. I do not know if others would make it work as a small interprise. You could take a sample to your John Deere dealer and probably match them to some of the JD tie rod ends. You could have the steel cups made by forming some light fender washers around a sphere (trailer Ball).

Dan

'57 - 76C

'57 - 56R

Edited by Caballero2 (see edit history)

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I am new at this...just over a year and I have learned so much from this community.

Most importantly, don't set "Deadlines" or even time goals, they only serve to frustrate what should be a fun activity...in other words don't turn it into another "Job" that has to get done. You will only start to resent the whole idea.

Work on it when it suits you...don't when it doesn't. I think you will find it will take more time yes but also the quality of the work will be better and most importantly you will be having fun at it!

Eating an elephant is slow work, it's just one bite at a time. Pick one thing to do, finish it and then take another "bite" ;) .

You can do it.

Have fun

Mike said it best right here.....

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I'm not going to disagree with Bob, but one thing to keep in mind is that different people have different motivators. Some folks would be highly motivated by trying to meet self-imposed deadlines, however, haste can lead to frustrations and errors.

My '29 has been in the garage here over 2 years now with effectively nothing happening to it. I could use the excuse of the garage not yet being insulated / heated, but that is just an excuse. I keep filling my time with other stuff.

Ultimately, Mike said it well. If you are a planning type person, spend some time outlining what needs doing, then break those down into smaller, more concrete tasks, and make note what is needed for each (i.e. tools, materials, work to be done by yourself or professional). It was -29 C here this morning, so having something to do on a computer / at a table starting with pen and paper could be useful. You can even get more complex with it, indicating the order of tasks (i.e. body work needs to be done before paint as a simple example) or dependency of tasks. Once you have it broken down enough, then it can be easier to do as Mike suggested - accomplish a single task and check it off. Depending on your personal style, photos that inspire you can be used, or you may want to consider a white board in the garage to be able to jot things down on (I don't know if it is age or what, but if I think of something in the garage, I may no longer know about it when I get to the house to be able to write it down...or even getting the correct tool or what have you).

Hmm...as I go over that, I begin to think that perhaps it is time for me to start taking my own advice and looking at the '29 in a bit more depth / detail.

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Another thing to think aboot ( ;) ) is perhaps just put it all back together and drive it. You KNOW that the brakes need to be addressed. Do them first. New shoes, rubber lines, wheel cylinders, rebuild the master, etc. Get the car started and tuned. Put a fresh carpet in. Drive it and enjoy. It's waited this long. You don't HAVE to restore it by taking it off the frame. Sometimes by hanging around the forum, you feel you need to go farther than you really do. Your car appears to be in reasonably nice shape. After you have the car driveable and enjoy it for a couple of years, THEN maybe think about painting it and doing all of the disassembly, stainless buffing, etc.

Just another option.

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Great advice, Mike. As a Chapter Director, I get mail and phone calls from people who have acquired a car and want to know about what to do first, parts etc. My advice to them is just what you stated.

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Rob,

I agree with what Mike and Dave said. That's what I did 20 yrs ago, fixed my Special up to just drive it around and enjoy it as a clasic should be enjoyed. Now I am little more seasoned and able to spruce it up a bit with new / NOS / parts that is what is going on now. I still get it out and enjoy the heck out of driving it. No frame off resto, just fun simple pleasure of creating an beauty with your own two hands. Your's looks like it is in decent shape to do that. Just enjoy the iron that Detroit designed and built more than a half century ago and smile like heck when you drive it!! :D

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DAN, backing up several days, you made a generous offer to send me fabrication drawings for ball joint seals and covers. That would be fabulous! Please either post a .pdf file here or send me a Private Message, suggesting how this information can be conveyed. I use AutoCAD in my work, so the native file would be very welcome.

Depending on what I can find in the way of a match-up, I'll be very pleased to spread the word among the unfortunate community of '57 Buick suspension design victims.

Now please explain, how in the world did you decide to make these drawings a class project? ~Rob

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