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

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This morning, I drained some of the gas out of the fuel tank to get a look at it. It is a bit dark, but it looked clean. I then decided to remove the front end nose piece, the only remaining body part on the car. I drained the radiator. I had previously removed most of the bolts holding the nose to the radiator. I padded the area between the fan and the radiator and then removed the large bolt securing the bottom of nose to the frame. Next, I removed the two remaining bolts securing the nose to the radiator and lifted the nose off and added it to my growing parts pile. I then removed the radiator hoses and radiator. The radiator core looks good, but the bottom of the radiator frame is rusted into two pieces.


Next, I removed the gas, oil, and vacuum lines from the engine. I removed the temperature sensor and the oil pressure gauge supply line from the engine. This enabled me to remove the instrument panel from the chassis and add it to the parts pile. 
























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This afternoon the weather was so nice, I went outside and pulled a few more parts out of the body.  I reached under the dash and removed the studs and nuts that hold the speaker screen in the middle of the dash. I removed the screen which reveals the best sample of the original dash woodgrain. I struggled for a few minutes to figure out how the dash lock was held into the dash. Finally I found the small screw on the bottom end of the lock assembly which holds the lock in place. Removal of that screw allows the lock assembly to be simply lifted out of the dash. I then removed the lighter from the dash. Removing it is acomplished by first removing the small nut on the back that holds the wiring on the lighter, gripping the assembly in some pliers and using a wrench to loosen the nut that holds the metal piece that secures the lighter into the dash opening. I then removed the two screws that hold the glove box door to the dash, and removed the glove box door.


Next, I removed the headlight knob from the headlight switch by pressing the small lever on the switch that clips to the knob stalk, holding the stalk in the switch. I remember reading how to do that in an old Torque Tube magazine in the past. Without looking up the article, I could not immediately remember how to unscrew the switch assembly to remove it from the dash. I took a few minutes and puzzled over how to get the switch out of the dash until I happened to look at the hole where the swich knob had been removed and realized that it simply requires an allen wrench to unscrew the switch bezel from the switch, allowing the switch to be removed.  











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While Sunday is typically a day of rest, I had to do a little bit on the 1938 Buick. Today, local AACA and 36-38 Buick Club member, Larry Howard brought over his set of Rollmaster Wheel Dollies that he had offered to loan me for this project. I jacked up the chassis and put it on the Wheel Dollies. This should be handy as I continue this project.


After that I decided to remove the orange tape from the steering wheel. I had noticed that the steering wheel did not look like a typical ivory colored "banjo" wheel. After removing all of the orange tape, I then removed a section of the clear tape that was under the orange tape to reveal the remains of the original steering wheel. I found the steering wheel to be something that I had not seen before. It is obviously a cast plastic type material but its color was like a dark wood. After finding this, I did some research and found documentation in the Torque Tube, Volume XII, Issue 2 (Nov-Dec 1993), that showed that 1938 Large Series cars had a Mahogany colored wheel.  These are seldom seen because most have been recast and most have been changed to Ivory colored wheels since most people think that they look better. How that wheel showed up on my 1938 Century is a mystery to me. Perhaps a prior owner liked the look of the mahogany wheel and installed it. I also removed the gear shift knob today. It was obviously not an original Buick part. It appears to be a wooden knob that probably was a pretty good color match for the steering wheel years ago.  





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Check that TT issue again or ones near it. It's not just large series cars that had the mahogany steering wheels it is every series BUT the Specials. But know one knows that anymore, I was kinda surprised I didn't get asked for documentation on mine. I better get some in the car before I do get asked.


BCA member in OH Richard Gumm will recast in the dark brown,he did mine.

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Thanks. I may need to read back through all of the old issues. I understand that there are no hard and fast rules on any production cars. There are always cars that don't follow "the rules", and any publication can also be found to have errors. While my previous experience is mostly with 1937s rather than 1938s, I found it interesting how rare these apparently are now. I have also yet to see a Special without the optional "banjo" wheel in person. I have only seen photos of one of those steering wheels. I think that the Ivory banjo wheel has become seen as the expected wheel on these cars. Now, I have to give some serious thought to what color I want to use for the steering wheel. Maybe I will get a chance to see your car again and look at it closely before I have to decide on this one.

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It gets even more interesting...


While looking for information regarding disassembly of the ignition lock without a key, I found out that even some Specials were built after June 20, 1938 with Mahogany steering wheels in Flint. This information is from Torque Tube Volume III, Issue 1, Page 22 (September 1984).

Specials with Mahogany Steering Wheels.pdf

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This morning, I had some non-automotive tasks to acomplish but I decided to do a little bit on the Buick project, before getting ready for this afternoon and evening's anticipated arrival of some Tropical Storm force wind gusts and rain associated with the approach of now Tropical Storm strength Irma. I rolled the chassis out of the garage this morning to use my small electric pressure washer to at least get the top level of dust, rust, grease, dirt and other grime off of the chassis. While I had it out, I swept out the garage. I then blew off the remaining water with my air compressor and put the chassis back in its space in the back of the garage. I then used the pressure washer on the fenders and then stored the fenders inside the garage to protect them from the potential wind gusts. I then secured the body's doors outside as well as used some bungee cords to secure the remaining parts that I do not expect to reuse in this project on the floor of the body. I now have all of the parts that I expect to reuse on this project stored inside the garage for the storm. I then stored a few other things that are normally outside in the garage for the storm. I cleaned the gunk from the chassis off of the driveway and now everything should be adequately secured for the approaching storm.  There is not much extra room in the garage right now, but after the storm, I will probably move the fenders back outside to free up some room. I also have some extra engraving equipment from my engraving business that takes up a lot of storage space in the garage. I have decided to sell some of this extra equipment to free up space for this project. In a few days, it looks like my ebay auctions will help me have more space in the garage for this project, as well as a bit of cash to buy parts.   






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Yes, they are a challenge to store while off of the car. I do have tall ceilings.  I am thinking of rigging up a system to suspend them overhead. If I don't do that, I will probably need to  move them back outside for storage until I am ready to restore them. 

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I had a busy day today so I did not have as much time to work on the Buick as I would have preferred. This morning, I wasted a bit more time than I probably should have removing the ignition lock. I had read instructions in a few old Torque Tube issues and knew that with a working key, it would be easy to get the lock cylinder out, but without a key, you have to drill out a pin to get it out. After drilling the pin out, the cylinder comes out inside the lock case. I then took the lock cylinder in the lock case to a local locksmith to learn that they could not remove the cylinder from inside the case without a working key. I can probably find a replacement and I probably don't need to, because I anticipate buying a better replacement body for this project and should buy the ignition lock with the body so I will have the ignition key to match the door and trunk key.  Just for the fun of it, I cleaned up the ignition lock assembly a bit and painted the recesses in the On/Off switch. I think it looks pretty good, although I doubt I will actually be using this part. 


Later in the day, I delivered my radiator to a local radiator shop. The radiator appears to be in decent shape internally but the bottom strap that holds the core is rusted in two. They radiator shop folks were quite concerned to inform me that there would be a delay because their guy who specializes in that sort of repair would be out for 2 or 3 days due to some eye surgery. I assured them that I had plenty of time to spare before I had to worry about it. I told them there was no rush on the job.


This evening, I decided that I had to accomplish something else on the Buick so I removed the engine splash pans. These came off relatively easy, but a lot of crud was wedged up in there so I had to sweep the floor again after getting them off.






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This morning, I decided to remove the front brake flexible hoses. I ran out of time when I initially took the rest of the brake lines off, so this morning, I finished those. This afternoon I had a visit from my sandblaster. We went over the chassis and made our plans for doing the sandblasting next Tuesday, weather permitting. After that I removed a couple of items that he suggested would be good to remove prior to sandblasting. I pulled the starter off without any problems. I even found a little bit of a mouse next inside, when I removed the starter. I have no idea how that got in there. Next I removed the coil. I then removed the two bolts that secured the vacuum line on the right lower side of the engine.


My sandblaster plans to have me remove the wheels during the sandblasting so he can do a better job on the wheels, hubs, drums, etc. Since I will be removing those while he blasts the fenders, I decided that it would be best to remove the lug bolts once here in the garage to make sure they all come off without any problems. I used my impact wrench and removed all of the lug bolts on three of the four wheels without any problems. On the right rear wheel, only one of the lug nuts would come out. I did my best to apply solvent to the remaining lug bolts and allowed them to sit for a few hours. I gave them another try this evening. The impact wrench would still not budge them. In another example of "Kids don't try this at home", I have to admit that for many years, I have successfully used a set of 1/2 inch drive sockets that are not designed to be used with the impact wrench. When the impact wrench did not remove them, I decided to give a breaker bar a try with the 1/2 inch drive socket. I placed the socket on the breaker bar, placed the socket on one of the lug bolts and took one foot and put some pressure on the breaker bar. For the first time ever, the "breaker bar" lived up to its name. The socket snapped. I reapplied some more solvent to the lug bolts and will give them a try after I go shopping for some impact rated sockets tomorrow. I am certainly happy I did not wait until next Tuesday to try to remove the wheels for the first time. 









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This morning, I bought some impact sockets. With the new 3/4 inch socket, after they had soaked overnight with solvent, I was easily able to remove the lug bolts from the right rear wheel. In preparation for the upcoming sandblasting, I need to remove the trim from the body parts that will be sandblasted. I remotrved the stainless steel trim from the front nose assembly. The nuts on the bottom couple of trim clips were so rusty that they required an angle grinder to remove.  I was able to disassemble the hood halves by sliding them off of the center stainless steel trim. After getting them apart, I can see that the hinge portion of the hood halves is rusted even worse than I suspected. I was able to scrape many years accumulation of grease from the left engine splash pan. Underneath the caked on grease I was able to find a patch of the original black paint. I removed both front fender lights. All of the hardware came apart easily using only a ratchet and socket. Then I removed the tail lights from the rear fenders. One of those nuts was rusted so much that a socket could not grip it, so I used vice grips to remove that one. I stacked the fenders and hood halves on the chassis in preparation for moving it all to the sandblaster's soon. 


I still have to remove the leading edge trim on the hood halves. I have the hardware on those soaking in solvent so that I might be able to remove the hardware without resorting to the angle grinder. My pile of bagged and labeled parts is getting larger. Hopefully in the near future, as I sell some of my extra engraving equipment, I will have a little bit more room and will figure out an organized storage system to organize the parts in a more orderly system to make it easier to find things as I start the restoration and assembly process.


I just noticed that today marks one month since I arrived home with this project. I am happy with the amount of progress that I have made in a month. I am afraid that the pace of this project is likely to slow significantly soon. 














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I started out the first few days using PB Blaster. I have always had good results with that. I have always heard that a 50/50 mix of acetone and automatic transmission fluid was the best and cheapest solvent to use on rusty hardware. I never had a need for enough at one time to justify buying a gallon of acetone until now. A few days after I got started on this, I bought a squirt can, a gallon of Acetone and a few quarts of ATF. When the can gets empty I fill it half full on ATF and then top it off with Acetone. I don't know how much I have used but I am sure it is much cheaper since I think I used nearly a can of PB Blaster each day until I switched to mixing the ATF and Acetone. 

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I had to spend quite a few hours today on some non-Buick projects so I only had a few minutes to work on the Buick today. Despite extensive solvent soaking, the nuts did not want to come off of the front hood trim pieces. I think the main problem is that it is just too difficult to get enough leverage using a screwdriver and a wrench as opposed to two wrenches on things like this rusty hardware. After unsuccessful attempts to remove the four nuts securing the two remaining pieces of trim to the hood halves, I took out my trusty angle grinder. After a few minutes, the nuts were off and those two last pieces of trim were off of the hood halves. I also removed the small rubber bumpers from the hood halves. I think that I will remove the muffler and tailpipe, but after that, I don't think that anything else needs to be removed from the chassis before I take it to the sandblaster. 



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This morning, I was able to do a little bit more disassembly on the remains of the body. I had previously soaked the firewall pad bolts and the windshield molding screws in solvent. First I tackled the firewall pad. I was able to drag an air hose out to the body in the driveway and use a small impact wrench on the nuts while reaching through the doorway and holding a screwdriver on the screw head on the other side of the firewall with my other hand. I was able to remove 8 of the nine bolts using this method. My arms were not long enough to reach the bolt in the top center of the firewall pad. On the ninth one, I was just able to grip the outer edge of the screw head with a pair of vice grips. The weight of the vice grips was heavy enough to hold the screw head in place enough for the impact wrench to remove the nut. 


After that I tackled the windshield molding screws. In spite of several applications of solvent, I was unable to simply use a screwdriver to remove most of those screws. I did find that if I gripped the screwdriver in one hand and twisting it while simultaneously using a hammer to deliver blows to the end of the screwdriver, I was able to finally get all of the molding screws out. After I removed the screws, I was able to remove the windshield molding. While in the area, I also removed the rear view mirror. After that, I removed the two horns from the firewall. 










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