MCHinson

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

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It can still "lozenge" = one long side moves forward relative to the other. One diagonal brace would be enough, in the bottom, acting as both tension and compression brace. If you have shorter pieces, put one each across a pair of opposite corners, about 2 or 3' long.

 

You are making good progress! Xclnt.

Edited by Spinneyhill (see edit history)

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Hi Matt!  Isn't it amazing how fast these cars come apart?  Honestly, if you could get a few uninterrupted weeks you can have the car down to it's frame.  

 

About lifting the body, If you have a few guys, you will have a lot easier time than I had, but what I did was:

1.  Used the hoist with a bolt in the spare tire holder in the trunk to lift the rear

2.  Rest the rear down on a piece of 2X12 supported by two strong jack stands

3.  Go to the front, use the hoist to grab that piece of wood in the center and raise the front.

4.  I used "GO-JACKS" under all four tires to slide the chassis out sideways

5.  Then you can basically "parallel park" your wood frame under the body.

 

**  The only difference I see with your frame is that I attached 2 angle iron brackets to each corner to help stabilize the legs.  The painter loves it.  Very easy to maneuver in the shop.

 

 

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The body is bolted on to that piece of wood up front, and the crane is lifting from the middle of the wood.  The wood is pre measured to drop right on to the wood cart.

 

 

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This was delivery day to the shop.  Notice the metal angle brackets at each corner.  Just helps tie it all together.

 

 

 

Matt...you are doing a great job!!!  I was where you are just 6 months ago, but I love seeing it all again.  Every photo adds so much to the knowledge base.

Good Luck and keep up the great work!

Gary

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Gary,

 

Thanks. I actually bought the angle brackets like you used but when I started to assemble it, I realized that the ones I bought were a little too long and rather than bother to swap them for smaller ones, after it was all together, it felt solid enough that I decided to leave it alone unless it seems less stable after the body is loaded. I took the angle brackets back to Lowes and will pick up some shorter ones if it seems to need them. There is something to be said for the stability of 2 x 10 boards with sufficient 4 1/2 inch long screws holding it all together. I actually worry more about the lag bolts holding the casters into the 4 x 4 posts and the bottom 2 x 10s than anything else on the design.

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This morning, I removed the doors. First I removed the right front door. The door check strap nut came off with no problem. After having been soaked in solvent for a few days, the bolts came out of the top hinge without any problem. Two of the three bolts came out of the bottom hinge without any problems. The head of one of the bottom bolts was so rusted away that there was no way to grip the bolt head, even after trying vice grips,  so I used an angle grinder to grind the head off. The portion of the bolt that was still in the hinge cause a bit of damage to the door skin when I removed the door.  

 

Next, I removed the right rear door. When I had the same problem with the bottom hinge of that door, I tried something better. I used the angle grinder to grind away two sides of the bolt head. This enabled me to grip the remaining portion of the bolt head with a set of vice grips and extract the remains of the bolt and enabled me to remove the door from the hinges. The amount of rust on the bottom hinges was surprising. Even after the hinge bolts were out, it took some work with a rubber mallet to separate the door from the hinges.

 

Next, I removed the left front door. Since the top hinge was totally rusted into two pieces, after removing the door check stap nut, I was able to simply rotate the door downward and the remains of the bottom half of the bottom hinge bent down and I was able to lift the door off of the hinge and remove it.

 

Next, I removed the left rear door. A couple of the bolts were rusted to the point that I could not use a socket on it, but I was able to simply grip the bolt heads with vice grips and remove them. The hinges on this door were rusted so that it was actually a bit difficult to remove the door from the hinges after removing the bolts. A few extra hits from the rubber mallet were necessary to separate the door from the hinges.

 

I removed trunk prop so that I could open the trunk all the way in an effort to use gravity to get more solvent into the hinge bolts. Hopefully after a day of so soaking, I will be able to remove the trunk lid. I also reapplied solvent to the remaining few bolts that are holding the floor panels around the shifter and the steering column. I hope that I will be able to get those apart tomorrow.

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This morning, I removed the floor panel that covers the transmission. Even after soaking in solvent overnight, three of the bolts required an angle grinder to remove. Next, I removed the floor panel that fits around the clutch and brake pedals. All of the bolts came out of that with no problems. The steering wheel horn button and horn ring came off with no problems. I loosened the steering wheel nut and the spring tension popped the steering wheel right off. I replaced the steering wheel loosely so I can still drive the chassis in the driveway as needed. Next, I  attempted to remove the steering column bolts. All but one came out without much effort. The one with the slotted screw head refused to come out. I reapplied solvent to it liberally and will try it again tomorrow morning. If it refuses to come out tomorrow, I will drill that one out. After that one is out, I only need to cut or removed wiring before I should be able to separate the body from the chassis.   

 

I looped one heater hose to the inlet and outlet to enable me to remove the heater. I removed the radio and the heater. They both came out with very little effort. After the overnight solvent soaking, I was able to remove the screws that held the trunk lid to the hinges with little problem. The two screws that held the trunk lid prop were not as easy. I used my angle grinder to remove those to enable me to remove the trunk lid prop from the body. 

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This morning, I attempted to remove the remaining bolt holding the steering column to the dash. It was still uncooperative. I attempted to drill it out and that did not work because the nut on the top side decided to start turning. I then crawled under the dash and removed the four bolts holding the instrument panel to the dash. This led me to the interesting job of disconnecting/cutting/removing all of the wiring harness from the dash and separating it from the car's body. The temperature gauge line needed to be disconnected from the engine end and carefully worked through the firewall to remove it without damage. I was very happy that the temperature sensor unscrewed with no problems from the engine. Removing it resulted in a fast flow of clean coolant pouring out, which appears to indicate that the interior of the water jacket is in much better shape than the engine in many restoration projects. The oil pressure line needed to be disconnected from the instrument panel and carefully worked through the fireall from that end to remove it without damage. I was then able to reconnect those two gauges to the instrument panel, independent of the body to allow the body's upcoming removal from the chassis. I bagged the instrument panel in a trash bag to protect it from any more rain that might fall before I move the chassis inside the garage.

 

With the instrument panel out of the way, I was able to use an angle grinder to remove that last bolt holding the steering column bracket to the dash. I removed all of the remaing wiring harness from the loops that secured it to the body. I removed the voltage regulator and horn relay from the firewall. I also removed the clock from the dash. With the exception of simply removing the steering wheel (and maybe totally removing the steering column unless I can easily lift the body quite high), it appears that the body is ready to be separated from the chassis. Hopefully, I will be able to get access to an engine hoist or some friends on Monday to attempt that job.

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I could not help myself. This afternoon after church and lunch, I decided to do a little bit of preparation for removal of the body from the chassis. I did find one additional body bolt in the center of the rear in the remains of the trunk. I thought I took a photo, but aparently did not. I removed the accelerator pedal and linkage. I also managed to maneuver the clutch and brake pedal through the floor opening to get them beneath the raised body's floor. 

 

Using my best "kids don't try this at home" techniques, I raised the body about 4 inches off of the chassis. I used a floor jack under different corners of the body using some bricks as spacers, and some wood scraps to spread the force over a larger area of the rusty body sheet metal. I placed a couple of bricks under all four corners of the body to keep it raised. I also inserted two 2 x 4 boards between the body and chassis. The 2 x 4s can be used as lift points for the body's removal. 

 

I then removed the steering wheel. I am still debating if I want to try to maneuver the body off with the steering column installed or if I want to remove it before further body removal. I would like to leave it, and be able to drive the chassis around after I remove the body, but I realize it would be a lot easier to remove the body with the steering column removed. 

 

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You'll have a much easier time with the column out of there.  You can always put it back on after you take the body off.  I was lucky in that my 32 Dodge has removable wooden floors.

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Yes I realize that is the right way to do it. I have been holding off until the last minute to remove the column because I have a neighbor down the street who is a diesel engine mechanic. He works for a large construction equpment repair company. If I knew him a little bit better I could ask him to stop by with his work truck and use its auto crane to lift the body off with the steering column in place. I actually have another plan in place but I will save the explanation for this evening when I will have photos. I will probably be removing the bolts in the steering column long enough to lift the body and then reinstalling them as soon as the body is off. With the auto crane it would have been fun to see the body lifted off with the column still in place, but that is going to happen unless my neighbor sees what I am doing and offers to help with the auto crane.    

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Remove the column.  You have to lift way too high to clear it.  only three bolts puts it right back on.  It may be easier to remove the transmission lid with the shifter (or simply just remove the shift lever) to get a little more room to work.

 

Matt, you can support the rear with the spare tire bolt and an engine crane.  That opens the entire rear up with almost no interference to slide the chassis out from under.  

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My "Labor Day" holiday certainly involved a lot of labor. Late on Saturday afternoon my son and his fiance were in town and visited my mother-in-law. He told me that her A/C had died and her lawn was badly overgrown.  Saturday night, I checked the A/C and determined that it was not anything simple that I could fix, so I referred her to the Heating and Air Conditioning contractor that I use. They came on Sunday and fixed her A/C. I found out that my wife's nephew who had been mowing her lawn recently moved away and her previous yard care company is no longer in business. I told her I would come over and mow her lawn on Monday.

 

This morning, I stopped by Tractor Supply to purchase four farm jacks to use to remove the body from the chassis on the 1938 Buick Century project. I am a bit of an independent minded person and I figured these would enable me to do this job without any assistance from anyone else. I think that I will be able to use them on some other projects in the future to further justify the expense. The local Tractor Supply store only had 3 of the 54 inch tall farm jacks in stock. They were also on sale so they currently cost the same price as their 48 inch tall farm jacks.   I bought the three 54 inch jacks and one 48 inch jack. I figured I could get the job done with those. When I got started on the job, everything worked well except the 48 inch jack actually turned out to be defective. I will return the defective one and pick up another 54 inch tall farm jack as soon as they have them back in stock. 

 

I was not willing to delay my plans to remove the body so I started the job by improvising for the fourth jack with some piles of bricks and a floor jack. That did not work well, so I relied on Gary Wheeler's recommendation that you can lift the rear of the body from the spare tire bracket mounting area. I took the the third farm jack and put it under the center of the rear of the body. The sheet metal is pretty rusty there, but I was able to get the lip of the farm jack under the panel where the spare tire bracket bolt would have been and it worked fine. 

 

When I got the body lifted, I realized that I needed to remove the emergency brake assembly to remove the front cable. I knew that the rear emergency brake cable was rusted in two, but the front cable looked good so I did not want to cut the cable. I simply leaned in the driver's doorway and used a ratchet to remove the emergency brake handle assembly from the body, disconnected the cable, and fed the cable through the body to allow the body to be rolled away from the chassis.  I removed the bolts holding the steering column to lower the column and reinstalled them after I rolled the chassis away from the body. I also removed the top of the transmission with the gear shift lever and reinstalled them after I had rolled the chassis away.

 

By going around to each jack and raising it slowly being sure to keep the body fairly level, I was able to lift the body up enough to roll the chassis out from under the body and then roll the body dolly under the body. I then lowered the body onto the dolly. I then simply rolled the body and dolly off to the side of the driveway for storage. The body dolly feels a lot more solid than the body does. I have already contacted Dave Tacheny about a replacement body. Locating a much more solid body to use in this restoration sounds very promising.  

 

Last, I rolled the chassis into the garage and beside my 1937 Century. Tomorrow, I need to do some rearranging in the back of the garage and pick up a set of wheel dollies that a local AACA friend offered to loan me for this project. As soon as I do that, I can roll the chassis into the back of the garage which will allow my daily driver to return to its normal garage space where the chassis will sit tonight. 

 

    

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Today I did not do too much on the car project. I had a friend come over and pick up about a pickup truck load of stuff that was taking up space in the garage. Hopefully he will do well auctioning some of it off and can use the rest of it. I am just happy to have the space in the garage. I got the garage mostly cleaned up, although he needs to come back with his trailer for one large item that is still taking up space. I removed the remains of the wiring harness to get that out of the way. I then applied solvent to all of the bolts and nuts that were easily accessible and to let it soak in a bit in preparation of their eventual removal.  If I was not so tired yesterday, I would have probably thought to do that, before putting the chassis inside the garage. I then used a floor jack to manhandle the chassis into a sideways position in the rear of the garage so the daily driver can again fit into the garage. It  will be pulled out again soon for pressure washing and blasting, but it is good to see it in the garage where I can work on it in the air conditioned space for now. 

 

I have some non-car stuff to do tomorrow morning so I don't know how much time I will have to work on the car tomorrow. I also need to spend some time putting together a plan of the best order to disassemble the chassis components and what to actually restore first. I do think that number one on the list is to remove the running board brackets from the chassis. Even though I know they are there, and do my best to step around them, it is amazing how many times I have bumped and/or cut my shins on those brackets in the past few days.

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This morning, I took care of those pesky running board brackets. I won't be hitting my shins on them again any time soon. I also removed the tail pipe hanger that I should have removed before removing the body from the chassis. I saw those three screws sticking up underneath the back seat but did not look to see what they were before removing the body, but it was certainly easy to remove it after the rest of the body had already been ripped away from it. I also removed the ignition lock from the steering column. I applied more solvent to the fitting on the brake lines in preparation for their upcoming removal. I took photos of all of the brake lines and fuel lines to document how the replacement lines will need to be routed. I did find one brake line that does not look correct. I can't imagine why the brake line to the right front brake runs over the frame instead of through a nearby hole in the frame. With the splice fitting and that line running over the frame with some rubber padding, I suspect this might have been an old repair so I will have to do some research to see if that routing is correct. 

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Yesterday was a dreary rainy day. Today is a beautiful day with sunny skies, light breezes, and comfortable temperatures. Technically, we are in a state of emergency here in NC since this morning due to the forecast track of Hurricane Irma. Locally, we won't have any potential for any of the effects of Irma for several more days. This afternoon, the forecast track looks a little bit better for us as the forecast track has shifted a little bit west of us. Last night, I had a little bit of normal shopping to do, and was able to stock up on a few hurricane supplies without too much trouble. I topped off the gas tank in my daily driver and filled a couple of gas cans with non-ethanol fuel for my generator in case it is needed. 

 

This morning, I decided that I should at least pull the valve cover off temporarily to have a look. No nasty surprised there. A little bit of sludge, but not nearly as bad as I expected for a car that sat unused outside for over 2 decades. 

 

Next, I decided to remove the brake lines. I managed to get all of the lines off and took photos that will hopefully help me check the replacement lines for correct bends and install them when I am putting it back together. The two front steel lines were both rusty to the point of leaking and basically falling apart. The rest of the lines were actually in better shape than I expected. After being well soaked in solvent in the past few days, I did not have too much trouble getting all of the fittings apart. Some of them were really rusty, but they did come apart for me. 

 

I plan to use a replacement body on this project unless something changes and I have to restore the existing rusty body. I still have some other parts stored outside. With the potential for a storm, I am going to have to move the fenders and anything else that I plan to reuse inside. By the weekend, I will need to have anything that I will be using, stored safely inside the garage. 

  

I decided to pull the hardware off of the trunk lid since I expect to replace the trunk lid, but might need some of the hardware. 

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Today's forecast shifted the projected track a bit to the west. If it stays on this track, we will be fine. No matter what this storm does, I think we will be OK. After a 30 year law enforcement career requiring me to to stay in town to work during storms, I am used to being prepared and riding out the storms in place. Even though I have been retired for 7 years, I just can't seem to feel a need to leave. It is kind of nice to have that option available if a really bad storm were to come here, but so far, I have not ever left home due to a storm.

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This morning, I disassembled a few other small parts that had been soaking in solvent overnight. First Iremoved the remaining nut from the trunk ornament. It did not want to come off yesterday but came off fine after soaking overnight. Next removed the previously stuck screws from the voltage regulator and horn relay. Then I removed the flexible line from the brake master cylinder and finally removed the cap from the brake master cylinder. It took a while to get that cap off. I was afraid it was not going to budge, but finally with the master cylinder in the vice, a large adjustable wrench on the cap and a few hammer blows on the wrench, I was able to finally remove it. The fluid inside looked pretty good, but there was some crud in the bottom after I poured out the brake fluid. I also removed the battery box from the chassis. The two bolts on that were a rusted enough that it was difficult to get a socket on them, but they came out easily. 

 

Next I removed the fuel line. The fuel line was not too difficult to remove. I then was able to easily remove the gas gauge sending unit from the fuel tank. After that came out, I removed the gas tank from the chassis. After that point, I decided to remove the remaining three hubcaps. Somewhere I have the other one, but need to find it and put it with these three. I then removed the wheel trim rings. Some of them were covering up a lot of rust on the wheels. I hope that I can use all of the wheels. Even if they are all usable, I still need an extra wheel for a spare tire. Finding a 15 inch Century wheel will probably be difficult.  Last, I removed the remains of a mystery hanger from the frame rail near the left rear tire. I suspect it is the remains of a tailpipe hanger, but it was not attached to anything.

 

Sometime soon, I need to figure out what to do with the 20+ years old gas in the tank. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when I pour it out. DSC_0654.JPG

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The chassis serial number tag was detached from the chassis before I got the car. This was going to make dealing with NC DMV to obtain a NC title very difficult. My initial plan was to remove the body and hopefully locate the chassis serial number that should be stamped on the top of the passenger side frame rail behind the rear wheel.  After removing the body from the chassis, I found that rust on the frame has made that number impossible to read. Cleaning up that section of the frame did not help read the number. I was planning to buy some chemicals that are used to "raise" serial numbers which have been obscured. These chemicals are typically used by law enforcement agencies to help identify stolen property on which serial numbers have been removed or altered.

 

A few days ago, I received a call from Al Proctor. He said that he was able to track down an old friend who had access to some long lost documents relating to this car. He was mailing them to me. Today, the documents arrived. The 1941-1945 Registration cards show the correct engine number and frame number, as found on the detached chassis tag. After speaking with a local DMV Inspector today, he told me that he thinks that solves any potential problem with getting the title. He is going to schedule an inspection visit in the near future, so I can finally get the process of obtaining a title started.

 

The documents also included some other interesting period documents. It is intriguing to hold WWII era documents such as the gas rationing folder and tax stamps related to your own car.

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His phone number is certainly in my phone. The funny thing is that I have responded to so many forum posts, facebook posts, yahoo 37-38 group emails and questions sent to me at webmaster of the 36-38 Buick Club, that I have typed his number so many times that I have it memorized. I have spoken with him about this project. He has a car that he will probably be parting out in the near future. He is going to call me as soon as he decides to part it out. We have already had some initial discussions about what parts he needs to leave on the car's body so I can pick it all up at once. If that one does not work out, he knows what I need and assured me that he will find one. The body on this car is restorable, but it has so much rust, it will be much easier to simply drop a better body onto this chassis.

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