MCHinson

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

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This morning, I decided to get started on my preparation for the body work needed. The largest area of missing metal is the trunk tool shelf. It seems like the best place to start. Both ends of the tool shelf were rusted away. I used a wire wheel, an angle grinder, a small pneumatic grinder, and a chisel to remove the thinest metal and remains of undercoating to get back to some metal that I should be able to weld to. I then made a carboard template so I could transfer the shape needed to some sheet metal to fabricate a patch panel. I then marked the metal for cutting. I need to take the metal to a friend who has a plasma cutter to let him cut the metal pieces for me in the near future.  

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This morning I did a couple of random jobs on the Buick. I cleaned up the jack parts that I have and tested the fuel gauge sending unit. I hooked up my VOM to the unit and repeatedly moved the float up and down. The sending unit seems to work according to my VOM but it is not totally reliable and consistent, so I think I will be replacing the sending unit. I was able to lubricate the jack assembly and get it where it will move up and down like it should but there was one fairly major broken chip on the jack assembly so I decided to repair it using Grey Marine Tex. I wrapped the rod with paper and applied the Marine Tex. The piece that is broken is not structural so even with this repair, the jack should be functional (or at least as functional as it was when new). I don't actually intend to use the jack but I do want it to look correct. After the Marine Tex hardens, I will rehape the patched area to match the contour of the surrounding area and then I can paint it.    

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This morning, I used a file to clean off the excess marine tex on the jack assembly. Now I just need to find or recreate the collar with bumper hook that fits over that part of the jack assembly.  I also used some wood glue on a crack in the wood jack base. I then put some clamps on it to hold it until the glue can dry.  I decided it would be easier to work on the bottom door panel on the right rear door with the door off of the car. I had a hinge remover left over from my Model A Ford days. The top of it was too small for the top of the hinge pin to pass though it, but I was able to apply it to the hinge pin and then use a hammer to tap the pin up. It appears to be a bit easier to do this than to simply use a punch on the bottom of the hinge pin.  I was able to get one pin out wihout any problem but the second one did not want to move. I applied some solvent to the door hinges so I can give that another try tomorrow.  

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This morning, I removed the bottom hinge pin. I  found a large nut that the top of the hinge pin could pass through and put it between the top of the hinge and the hinge pin remover. With that, although a bit unstable, I was able to get the hinge pin moving. I then simply used a punch and a hammer to finish removing the hinge pin. I then removed the nut from the door check strap and then removed the right rear door. I removed the door and took it outside. I used an an angle grinder to remove the bondo that the previous owner had used on the bottom of the door as well as all of the surrounding thin area of metal. I then applied ospho to the inner panels of the door. It looks like I am making backwards progress, but I would prefer to get all of the bondo out so I can repair any past repairs with real metal instead of bondo. 

 

A week or so ago, I finally gave up on the local radiator shop that had not been making any progress on my radiator. This afternoon I made a trip to a small town a little less than an hour away and dropped off my radiator and gas tank. I think that this small town shop will be able to do what I need done in a reasonable time frame at an affordable price. I guess time will tell. 

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This morning, I started attempting to remove the left rear door to be able to prepare for metal repair on the bottom of the door. Initially, the bottom hinge pin just did not want to move. I reapplied some solvent and gave it a bit of time. While I was waiting, I decided to work on the hand throttle cable due to a recent question about that in another discussion on the AACA Discussion Forum. When I removed it from the car, it was rusted solid. I have had it soaking in solvent in a gallon paint can for quite some time. I opened up the can and removed the cable this morning to find that the cable was no longer frozen. I used a wire wheel to clean the remaining rust off of the exterior of the cable assembly. I then used Spray on Galvanizing Compound to make the exterior of the cable assembly look like new and hung it up to dry. Later I checked and while I still need to get a replacement knob, the hand throttle cable looks and works great.  

 

After a while, I was able to finally remove the bottom hinge pin and then used an angle grinder to get rid of all signs of thin and rusty metal in the lower door skin. I then applied ospho liberally to the inside fo the door panel. 

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Roger,

 

The car was left outside for over 20 years and the original body had much more rust. This is a replacement body that I found that was in much better shape. I don't think I would have been able to repair the original body. It just had too much rust for me to deal with it. 

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Just so you know know digital VOMs do not react that well to the rheostats on our gas gauges. I keep an old needle type meter I got from radio shack years back just for those tests. Same thing when testing heater switches and light dimmers in our cars. Often pulling the top off the sender, cleaning up the rheostat coil, the contact tip, then applying dielectric grease to the tip will fix any issues with the sender. Don’t forget to change out the cork floats. I had a pair simply disintegrate from the new gas. Often when looking for modern replacement floats it seems many are always sold out. The small aircraft supply houses always have them. 

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Thanks. I might check it out a bit further. I still have a cheap needle type VOM in my on the road toolkit in the trunk of my 1937 Century.  

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Starting today, my photos should look a little bit better since I am now using a refurbished Nikon D5100 that I recently bought on Ebay. My previous Nikon D3000 camera works fine in outdoor lighting but something happened to it some time back that causes flash photographs to not be illuminated properly as they used to be. 

 

Today I removed the front doors. The first step is to remove the nut from the door check strap. This is easy to do with the door open by simply using a wrench or a ratchet. It is important to remember to remove this before you remove the hinge pins. Trying to use a hammer and a punch to remove hinge pins previously was difficult. It is difficult to hold a punch on the bottom of the hinge pin when it sticks down below the surface of the hinge. This morning I tried a few other methods of removing door hinge pins. I am sure that the best way would be to use a hinge pin remover that is large enough to fit these hinge pins. I will not mention the couple of ways I tried that did not work well but here is the easiest way that I have found with the tools that I have. Holding an old sledge hammer head that I had against the bottom of the hinge pin and strking it with a few blows from another hammer forces the hinge pin upwards slightly until the bottom of the pin is flush with the surface of the bottom of the hinge. After the initial movement, it is then quite easy to take a punch and tap the pin upwards and out of the hinge. The second photo is an attempt to demonstrate how this first step works since you really can't see it in the first photos. Even with a couple of other unsuccessful method attempts, I was able to remove the two front doors much more quickly than I was able to previously remove the two rear doors. These doors will take no or almost no metal work but I thought I should take them off to be better able to work on them. 

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There are varying theories on this, ranging from absolute truth to total BS, but striking a hammer with another hammer is usually frowned upon.  They can apparently shatter and spray metal shards.  Just a friendly warning, and I may be all hot air.

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7 hours ago, Taylormade said:

There are varying theories on this, ranging from absolute truth to total BS, but striking a hammer with another hammer is usually frowned upon.  They can apparently shatter and spray metal shards.  Just a friendly warning, and I may be all hot air.

 

Been testing that for 70 years since I first heard it. No conclusion.

 

  Ben

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8 hours ago, Taylormade said:

There are varying theories on this, ranging from absolute truth to total BS, but striking a hammer with another hammer is usually frowned upon.  They can apparently shatter and spray metal shards.  Just a friendly warning, and I may be all hot air.

 

I am aware of that but in my personal experience, it works just fine. I would guess that a very hard hammer blow to another hammer head in a situation in which it could not move, might shatter it, but I have never had a problem. As I stated previously, I am sure that a properly sized hinge pin removal tool would be the best way. With the tools that I have in the garage, that was the easiest way to remove the hinge pins. I tried a lot of different methods and that sure was much easier than any other method using the available tools at my disposal. 

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This morning, I took the two front doors outside and used an angle grinder on the door bottoms to see how bad they were. The passenger door has quite a few very small rust out spots that were revealed under the paint upon its removal. I need to decide if I want to weld up each individual hole or if I want to install a patch panel over the entire door bottom. The driver's door only had 3 very minor spots that needed attention. I took out my welder and welded up those spots and then reground them flat. My welding is still not great but my ratio of welding to grinding is getting better. 

 

The most interesting item that I discovered is a part number on the bottom of the door skins on both front doors. One is clearly "P19" The other one is a bit more difficult to read but I think it is also "P19".  I have no proof, but my suspicion is that the P19 indicates that it fits Fisher Body style number 4419 and 4619. This makes me really wonder if anybody has ever found any type of numbers on the bottom of other doors of other Fisher Body Styles of the era. I am really curious about what might be on Buick Model 81 and 91 doors, since their Fisher Body style numbers also end in 19.   

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I recommend this sanding disk on your grinder rather than the abrasive disk I see in your photo.  This pad is available in 36, 60 and 120 grit from HF.  It does a great job of removing paint, bondo and weld finishing.  That grinding wheel is way too aggressive.

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Edited by kgreen (see edit history)

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Thanks Keith,

 

The driver's door is the only one that is not going to be receiving a patch panel. I had the grinding wheel and was using because it was fast and easy as I really expected to be replacing about everything that I used that wheel on until I got to the driver's door. I think I was careful not to take too much material off of that door but will certainly need to pick up a sanding disk or two in the near future. 

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Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from the radiator shop that my radiator and gas tank were ready. With plans to install those soon, I decided that I need to soon be able to install part of the wiring harness so I will be able to get the car running again. To be able to install the front part of the wiring harness, I will need to get the firewall painted. This morning, I sanded the firewall and applied primer to it.  

 

This afternoon, I picked up the radiator and gas tank. The shop repaired the radiator and painted it black. They checked the fuel tank and found it to be solid with no leaks and a clean interior. I will need to sand the exterior of the gas tank and treat it with galvanizing spray in the near future. I will have to take some photos of the radiator tomorrow. The radiator shop that I used only took one week and the work looks great. It was also much more reasonably priced than I expected. I am very happy with them. If anybody nearby is in need of a radiator shop, I would highly recommend Bobby's Alignment & Radiator Service in Wallace, NC. 

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The radiator held water and the car ran cool. The main problem with it was the bottom part of the frame that held the radiator together was rusted away from 20 + years of sitting with damp leaves and other residue around the bottom of the radiator during the car's hibernation outdoors up north. As far as I know they simply repaired the radiator frame, dipped it, tested it, and painted it. With a quick glance, it looks like new. 

 

I still don't understand how the inside of the gas tank was in such good shape except for the fact that it was full or nearly full of gas when parked and the fact that the gas was obviously non-ethanol, which is not much of a surprise since it was 25 years ago when it was parked. 

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This morning, I took some photos of the repaired radiator. It looks a lot  better than it did before they repaired it. Then I decided to work on the gas tank. I used a couple of abrasive pads to sand the surface rust off of the tank. I then sprayed a coat of galvanizing spray on the tank exterior. I also used my sandblaster to clean up the gas tank mounting hardware and straps. The straps appear to have been previously painted black. The tank straps on my 1937 Century appear to have been plain steel or perhaps have been treated with some sort of zinc galvanizing, or similar finish. Does anybody have any information on what finish the gas tank straps on a 1938 Buick should have had originally? Tomorrow I plan to finish cleaning them up and I need to figure out what finish to use on them. 

 

Tomorrow I also need to find and clean up the bolts used to mount the radiator so I can get it reinstalled soon. 

 

 

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This morning, I finished cleaning up the gas tank mounting hardware and straps. I then quickly painted that hardware semi gloss black and then carefully carried the parts back inside the garage to dry, since it was a bit cool outside today.

 

I spent some time looking through my parts boxes to find the radiator mounting hardware that I will be needing soon and happened to run across the lighter assembly. Realizing that I really should install that in the dash, I wire wheeled the mounting bracket, and electrical connection hardware, buffed the chrome trim and ivory colored knob and installed it in the dash. 

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This morning I decided to try repairing the gas tank pickup/gas gauge sending unit. The pickup tube was fine. The sending unit was generating erratic readings. I understand it should generate smooth readings between 0 and 30 ohms. I drilled out the three brass rivets that hold the unit together and gently separated the parts. The float unit turns an arm with an electical contact that moves across the wire rheostate. I simply used some electical contact cleaner on the wire of the rheostate assembly, cleaned up and gently bent the arm's contact to get a good firm contact with the rheostate. When reassembled, the assembly appears to work just fine. I don't know how accurate my meter is but it is quite close to showing a range of 0 to 30 ohms. 

 

The hardest part was riveting the assembly back together. I did not have the original style brass rivets but I was able to use standard 3/16" aluminum rivets and then drill out the center of them to allow the mounting screws to go through the rivets. I used a small air grinder to cut off the excess height of the rivets so that I shoud be able to easily apply some gasket material and reseal the unit on the gas tank. 

 

Although, I could have probably gotten away with treating the original cork float with some ethanol resistant sealer, I decided to replace the cork with some modern plastic float material. I lightly ground down the float rod so I could remove the cork floats. I have the plastic on order and will replace the float when the plastic comes in.  

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