MCHinson

1938 Buick Century Model 61 - Four Door Touring Sedan - Trunk Back

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Thanks. It sure would be handy to have one of those in the garage, but I don't think I can afford to buy one or justify the space it would take up in the garage. I think that a few small rivets will be the best substitute for the average home restorer.

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On 12/7/2017 at 2:13 PM, MCHinson said:

Thanks. It sure would be handy to have one of those in the garage, but I don't think I can afford to buy one or justify the space it would take up in the garage. I think that a few small rivets will be the best substitute for the average home restorer.

Yep, that's what I typically do on the cat whiskers. Paint the rivet heads black and they "disappear".

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I just got back home with a 1938 Model 41 that will serve as a body donor for my 1938 Model 61 project. In the past 32 hours, I have driven 20 hours, spent two hours loading a car on a trailer and I think I will get some sleep. I will unload it in the morning and figure out exactly what extra parts I have. Here is a photo of the seller with the car after we loaded it on the trailer, after we loaded up quite a few boxes of parts. It was interesting loading it up with a bit of ice on the driveway. I also took one photo before I turned onto the road from his driveway, which shows the result of recent weather which is why it was important to get it as soon as possible, before any more snow fell. It was a stalled restoration project due to the seller having back surgery and being unable to complete the restoration. It is basically a complete car plus it came with quite a few extra parts. 

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Good deal Matt! I know you are glad to get that body.

 

Now help out a non-Buick guy -- what are the body differences between a Model 41 and a Model 61? Or are they just trim differences?

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According to Dave Tacheny, who has disassembled more 1936-1941 Buicks than anybody else in the world, the Model 61 and Model 41 body shells are identical except for the pattern of the hidden captured nuts on the body where the front fenders attach to the body. The only other thing that I am aware of is that the window moldings on the Century have some additional bright trim that the Special does not have. It is obviously no problem just switching the window moldings over to the new body, although I do have a small amount of metal repair to do to some of the window moldings from the Century. I might just carefully measure and mark the Special window moldings and cut a number of very small slots in the moldings to attach the Century bright trim to the window moldings. I think that might be easier.

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This morning, I rolled the 1938 Special off of the trailer and was able to then use my 1937 Century to pull it down the driveway with a rope and into a space in front of the garage. I then was able to roll it into the garage so I can get started on removing the body soon. The body is not perfect, but it is certainly a lot better body than the original Century body. It will certainly be a much easier restoration than the original body would have been. The Special body is nearly rust free. I think the comparison of the trunk photos best shows the difference between the condition of two car bodies. I think that the presence of an original 1938 Jack in the trunk speaks to how complete the Special is. Tomorrow I will have to get started on inventory of the boxes of parts to see exactly what extra parts I have. As soon as I can get the body off of the Special and onto the Century chassis, I will be able to get my modern Buick back into the garage. 

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Wow, that is a great looking body.  The only question seems to be what might be missing?  Anything, it looks complete to me.

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This was a complete drivable car that the owner disassembled to restore. It should have all of the parts plus some extra parts. The engine that is in it is an incorrect later engine. I guess I should have bought the spare engine that he also had, since it now looks like it was the original engine from this car. He was unable to complete the restoration due to medical issues. I feel a little bad about just using the body of this one since the Special would be a restorable car itself. The incorrect engine does make me feel a little less guilty about tearing it apart to use as a parts donor. I either need to sell the remains of the Special and the extra parts or I might be tempted to do something crazy with it after I finish the Century project. 

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Today, I cleaned the extra parts out of the Special interior so I can soon get started in removing the body from its chassis. I spent a bit of time rearranging the garage a little bit so I could stack the 1938 Special parts that I can't use in the back corner of the garage. I put most of the parts that I expect to potentiailly use where I can get to them a bit easier. I removed the seats and put them aside as I expect to use them instead of the original Century seats, as the springs are in better condition. I also discovered a couple of interesting non-Buick parts. It seems I now have a spare 1938 or so Oldsmobile heater and a 1938 or so Motorola radio to sell. The instrument panel gauges look nice. The floors are nice and solid. The car came with the original Philadelphia PA, "Wilkie" Buick dealership logo that was originally mounted on the trunk lid. If I decide to reuse it, it is going to need some attention and some new chrome plating.

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This morning, I decided to start taking some stuff apart on the body donor car. After having lightly soaked the body bolts with acetone/ATF overnight, all of the body bolts came out without much effort. The hardest thing to disassemble was the right running board. I figured out why the previous owner had not removed it. I easily removed two of the four bolts holding the running boards to the brackets but discovered that two of the nuts were weathered or worn to the point that the 9/16 socket slipped on them. I discovered a quick trick that really saved me some time. If you ever encounter a nut that should be 9/16" but the nut is worn too much for the socket to grip it, try a 14 mm socket. Apparently a 9/16" nut that has been exposed to the weather for about 79 years on the bottom of a running board perfectly fits a 14 mm socket. They came out easily with that socket. The only other problem is I dropped one of the nuts and have not yet figured out where it rolled. 

 

I am still quite happy with the body donor car. There is some fairly minor, easy to repair rust on the bottom of both rear door frames and doors. There is a relatively small rusted out place in the rear tool tray in the left rear corner of the trunk thank the previous owner had attempted to patch with fiberglass. All of the rust that needs to be repaired in this body is probably about one squre foot or so.  

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Christmas came early today. I received a shipment of parts from Dave Tacheny today. The exhaust manifold was the primary thing that has been preventing me from finishing the chassis restoration.  The parts look great and the prices were reasonable. I also removed the right front fender. All but one of the bolts came out easily. One of the captured nuts broke loose from the body so I used an angle grinder to remove that one bolt. 

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This morning, instead of working on the Buick, I attended the local Christmas Antique Car Display put on by some local AACA friends. They have quite a collection of bikes, motorcycles, Model A's, Model T's, a few other Brass Cars, some other American Steel and various small imported cars, which are shown in the first group of photos in and around the Stonehenge Buidling.  Visitors park their antique cars in the adjacent parking lot outside the Extreme Detail building next door.  

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Matt, I find this thread quite confusing. You decide to restore a very rusty Series 61, even the chassis is very pitted and then buy what looks to be a nice and quite restorable series 41 and pull it apart to put on the rusty old Series 61 chassis. The logic of all this escapes me....

 

John

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The Century is a much more rare and desirable car. The 320 engine, transmission, and rear end combination is worth the trouble. It was passed on to me at a very good price because Al wanted to see the car saved. The Special chassis will be either be passed onto someone who needs it, or else I will use it in my next project. The bodies on both cars are essentially the same, so I chose to use a better body to restore the Century. The Century chassis is solid and has been almost completely restored at this time. The original body on the Century was too far gone for me to have the time and money to restore it. Also, the Special has the wrong year engine in it, so it would not be possible to restore that car with that engine to original condition. In the end, I will have a nicely restored Model 61 and then we will see what the final story is on the Special.  

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This morning I removed the left front fender and left rear fender. The previous owner had obviously removed the left front and rear fenders recently. The bolts in both were all in nice condition and easy to remove. I then removed the right rear fender. For a fender that had apparently not been removed since 1938, it came off relatively easily. There were a couple of bolts that broke but I was able to remove the rest of them wthout any major difficulty. The pattern of the cuts in the apparently original fender welting are shown in one photo. This afternoon, I used a local AACA friend's larger blast cabinet to remove the surface rust from the exhaust manifold. 

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This morning I removed the center floor section over the transmission and the floor panel that surrounds the pedals. I removed the accelerator pedal and linkage.I removed the bolts holding the steering column to the dash, and removed the horn button, horn ring, and steering wheel. I disconnected the steering gear from the frame to allow the steering column to drop lower, and removed the ignition switch from the column. I think that the body is basically ready to remove from the Special chassis as soon as I disconnect some wiring. While I would probably prefer to do the body work on it Special chassis so I don't have to be too careful not to make a mess of the restored Century chassis, it will be better to go ahead and move the body to the Century chassis soon so I can get the Special chassis out of the garage to enable me to get our daily driver back into the garage before the weather turns cold. I also primed and painted the exhaust manifold with VHT primer and VHT Cast Iron Gray paint. 

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Yesterday, I worked on the Buick for a while but did not accompish anything worthy of mention or photos. This morning, I had better luck. I removed the instrument panel as well as the temperature guage sensor and the oil pressure line. I then removed all of the other wiring that connects between the body and the chassis. While in the area, I removed the bolts that hold the firewall pad to the firewall. I temporarily have an unruly pile of parts such as the headlight switch, turn signal switch and miscellaneous wiring from the Special on my workbench. 

 

Recently, on the 1937-1938 Buick facebook page someone posted a comment indicating that they had been told that the front fenders of a Special and Century were identical. I replied that they have different part numbers and that Dave Tacheny had told me that they were different. Today, I was able to confirm that Dave's information was correct. I took the left front fender from the  Special body donor car and the right front fender of the Century and photographed them side by side so it is easy to see how they differ. It looks like it would be fairly simple to adapt a 40 series fender to fit a 60 series, but they are certainly different.

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It looks like with a bit of cutting, relocating and welding it would be fairly simple to use one in the place of the other. I am happy that I don't need to do that, as I have the correct fenders for my Century project, as well as an even better set of Special spare fenders that I don't need and really should sell. 

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Thanks. Glad it seems "methodical", sometimes I do some stuff that seems sort of random to me. It just depends on what parts I have and what I might not have. I was about out of stuff to do when I was waiting on a few parts from Dave Tacheny and before I had located the Special to get the replacement body. I did not do anthing today because I had a Red Cross blood donation appointment this morning and it was raining so I did not want to do the body swap today. I need a good weather day to roll the Special out of the garage, remove the body, roll the Special chassis out of the way, roll the Century chassis under the body and gently lower the body onto the Century chassis. It might be better to build another body dolly for the replacement body and do the body work before I translanting it onto the Century chassis, but it will make storage much easier if I just go ahead and swap the body onto the Century chassis so everything important will easily fit into the garage.   

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