64LesabreJ

1964 Buick LeSabre 4 Door Hardtop Headache

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I have a 1964 Buick LeSabre (4 Door Hardtop style number 4439 I think?) in original condition that has been asleep in the garage for years. There is a hole in the gas tank. I am told no one makes gas tanks for this particualr car anymore. Any ideas? 

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Be sure to fill with water and flush all fumes out of the tank before you start cutting on it. Otherwise it’s liable to go boom! 

Dave S 

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Welcome! If this is your first new car, then extra welcomes! Either way, cool car.

For me the first thing I do with a tank is determine how bad it is. Are we taking about one or two pin holes, or is the whole thing rotten? See how much flex there is in the bottom of the tank. As said above, there are lots of ways to fix them, but when they are too far gone, there are better options. There are various products to reseal tanks, I've had good luck with the Por15 tank seal product on my tractors. It might take a few containers for a big car tank, but it coats well and gives me good peace of mind. I often do it on my old tractors just because of the little rust flakes it eliminates in tanks that have been siting a long time.

Next find out what all used the same tank and see if you can find a suitable. Perhaps see if the other body styles used a different tank that might still fit. If so, two door cars are more likely to have repop. Of course you can always go fuel cell too, while generally would limit range or take up lots of truck space, it's a viable option to enjoy until repairs or replacements come about.

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I would like to welcome you too.

Yes the gas tank is  a problem but not a big problem. If you found a sending unit I would pick one of them up odds are the one in your car is shot. Where do you live? I am sure we can point you in the right direction near  your home. 

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2 hours ago, John348 said:

I would like to welcome you too.

Yes the gas tank is  a problem but not a big problem. If you found a sending unit I would pick one of them up odds are the one in your car is shot. Where do you live? I am sure we can point you in the right direction near  your home. 

The sending unit is fine. Im in NYC btw. The issue is there is a small hole in the tank. Tiny but a hole none the less. Pics of the car attached. It has a few dings in the front, as you can see, but I have a new grill and bumper. hood needs a bit of straightening. I bought this car when I was 16 in 1995. Had it ever since. Its basically sat in a garage  since 2012. i started it up last march and TONS of black smoke came out lol

 

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Edited by 64LesabreJ (see edit history)
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I repaired a single small hole once by running a sheet metal screw in hole with a leather washer. I have also used JB weld successfully for a small group of pin holes. And I have also cut out and welded new steel in as mentioned above. If you get connected to the Buick community in BCA you may find a good used tank. If your tank is clean inside, probably better off trying to fix it. 

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Once I saw the pictures I knew it was Manhattan, worked there for almost 40 years. Is that where you keep the car? I had a small hole in the tank of a 63 Chevrolet Station Wagon  and believe it or not someone told me to take Ivory Soap and get it 'mushy' and rub it into the area where the leak was. It worked! There are some great guys in the Buick Club on Long Island I know one of the guys fairley well, I will PM you his number and I suggest that you give him a call, he might know of someone who has a good tank  

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7 hours ago, John348 said:

Once I saw the pictures I knew it was Manhattan, worked there for almost 40 years. Is that where you keep the car? I had a small hole in the tank of a 63 Chevrolet Station Wagon  and believe it or not someone told me to take Ivory Soap and get it 'mushy' and rub it into the area where the leak was. It worked! There are some great guys in the Buick Club on Long Island I know one of the guys fairley well, I will PM you his number and I suggest that you give him a call, he might know of someone who has a good tank  

 

Thanks so much John. I got your message. The car is in a heated garage and yes that was in Manhattan a while back

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No problem, that is what it is all about trying to help each other.

 

Try the soap trick, it held for a few years for me. it might be a cheap easy fix until you get it resolved permanently 

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2 hours ago, John348 said:

No problem, that is what it is all about trying to help each other.

 

Try the soap trick, it held for a few years for me. it might be a cheap easy fix until you get it resolved permanently 

 

Yep Im going to get a bar of ivory soap and rub it on there!

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I would rather replace a tank with a new one, than try to fix it in most cases. It is possible the tank is in good shape, just got punctured by accident. But more likely it is rusty inside and metal fatigued. In that case replace it.

 

If it happens that no one sells replacements you have to get a little bit creative. Jack up the car, examine the tank and its surroundings and take some measurements. GM use very similar tanks on most of their cars for 20 or 30 years. Wide and flat, filler in the middle at the back, sender on top, fuel line at the right front. You may find that a tank from a different year, or one made for a Chevrolet or Pontiac will fit even though it is not exactly the same shape. Worst case, it might be a little smaller.

 

This is where you need to take photos and measurements under the car then go shopping on the internet. Look for sellers that give a photo and measurements. It may take a few hours of net surfing but I am sure you can find a suitable replacement.

 

Don't forget new hanger straps if your old ones are rusty.

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4 hours ago, John348 said:

No problem, that is what it is all about trying to help each other.

 

Try the soap trick, it held for a few years for me. it might be a cheap easy fix until you get it resolved permanently 

Thanks.

 

I spoke to James. Great guy!

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1 hour ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I would rather replace a tank with a new one, than try to fix it in most cases. It is possible the tank is in good shape, just got punctured by accident. But more likely it is rusty inside and metal fatigued. In that case replace it.

 

If it happens that no one sells replacements you have to get a little bit creative. Jack up the car, examine the tank and its surroundings and take some measurements. GM use very similar tanks on most of their cars for 20 or 30 years. Wide and flat, filler in the middle at the back, sender on top, fuel line at the right front. You may find that a tank from a different year, or one made for a Chevrolet or Pontiac will fit even though it is not exactly the same shape. Worst case, it might be a little smaller.

 

This is where you need to take photos and measurements under the car then go shopping on the internet. Look for sellers that give a photo and measurements. It may take a few hours of net surfing but I am sure you can find a suitable replacement.

 

Don't forget new hanger straps if your old ones are rusty.

 

I have a dumb question. I bought this car when I was 16 in 1999. Its been a LONG time since Ive done anything with this car. I lost the car keys. With the ignition thats not a problem because the ignition key slot turns without a key, as it was designed to do. 

 

However the door locks which used the same key as the ignition, at least on my car, are a problem. I ordered a replacement lock and key from JC Whitney. Question...how easy is it to swap the lock cylinders out? Im pretty handy but have have never done anything like this before. 

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64 LeSabre:

I would try very hard to get a key made that fits the ignition and the doors before replacing the door lock cylinders.  It can be somewhat difficult and you run the risk of damaging the paint on the doors.  If you can take the ignition lock out of the dash, you could take it to a locksmith and get the key made.  It will be more expensive that just making a key, but it may be well worth it.  Back in my day, GM dealers could make ignition keys from the numbers on the glove box lock cylinder.  You might call a dealer and see if they can do this with your car.  I've used this method to make keys for a '64 Chevrolet, so if the dealer still has the books and still makes keys then removing the glove box lock is very simple (if the glove box isn't locked also) and this will probably be your cheapest way to get the keys made.  Good luck!      Larry

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30 minutes ago, mtnchev said:

64 LeSabre:

I would try very hard to get a key made that fits the ignition and the doors before replacing the door lock cylinders.  It can be somewhat difficult and you run the risk of damaging the paint on the doors.  If you can take the ignition lock out of the dash, you could take it to a locksmith and get the key made.  It will be more expensive that just making a key, but it may be well worth it.  Back in my day, GM dealers could make ignition keys from the numbers on the glove box lock cylinder.  You might call a dealer and see if they can do this with your car.  I've used this method to make keys for a '64 Chevrolet, so if the dealer still has the books and still makes keys then removing the glove box lock is very simple (if the glove box isn't locked also) and this will probably be your cheapest way to get the keys made.  Good luck!      Larry

 

Thanks! I'll have a look at the ignition lock today. Any advice for taking it out? Ive never dont anything like that before

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Back then the keys were primitive. There were about 35 different keys used for ALL GM cars and trucks for a period of many years. I think there were 5 different keys and 7 different notch patterns, something like that. It was not uncommon to find your 55 Chev keys fit your neighbor's 62 Oldsmobile, etc.

 

A long winded way of saying an old time locksmith may be able to cut keys using just the number off the ignition switch or glove box lock. When the car was new it came with a little tag on the key ring. This tag had a number that the locksmith or GM dealer could use to make or order new keys. If you have the owner's manual the original owner may have written it down. you never know your luck.

 

I have a couple of pounds of old keys saved from junked cars may years ago. There is a good chance I have ones to fit your car. Too bad I am so far away. But there may be an old timer in your area who has a collection of keys. Then it is just a matter of trying them  until you get one that fits.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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2 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Back then the keys were primitive. There were about 35 different keys used for ALL GM cars and trucks for a period of many years. I think there were 5 different keys and 7 different notch patterns, something like that. It was not uncommon to find your 55 Chev keys fit your neighbor's 62 Oldsmobile, etc.

 

A long winded way of saying an old time locksmith may be able to cut keys using just the number off the ignition switch or glove box lock. When the car was new it came with a little tag on the key ring. This tag had a number that the locksmith or GM dealer could use to make or order new keys. If you have the owner's manual the original owner may have written it down. you never know your luck.

 

I have a couple of pounds of old keys saved from junked cars may years ago. There is a good chance I have ones to fit your car. Too bad I am so far away. But there may be an old timer in your area who has a collection of keys. Then it is just a matter of trying them  until you get one that fits.

 

I ordered the replacement door lock before i read that i could take the ignition key out and have one made. Anyhow the set was only $20. If its still a "primitive key" signature, maybe it will fit!

 

I bought this: 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.35.23 PM.png

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OK, First, you have the GM keys that were used from 1935 to 1966. There were just two blanks, known as B-10, the octagon hed one, and te B-11, the pear headed one. The ones in the picture are later style, 1969 and newer oval headed keys. The keyway is different between these.

 

Those B-10/B-11 keys have the same keyway, they just differ in head design so one could tell their trunk/glove box key from their ignition/door key IF the car used two different keys.

 

First question, did the car originally use two different keys, one that fit doors and ignition, and another one for trunk and glove box, or was it a one key car?

 

Second question in two parts: The ignition lock in your car has "lips" where the key gores in, right? And with the lock in the "Unlock" position aka "OFF", you can just turn the key to start, drive and shut off the car, right?

 

You cannot remove the ring holding the ignition switch without damaging the ring or the switch with this type of cylinder. Do not attempt this. You must remove the ignition cylinder from the switch assembly first. Of course, you need a key to do this..... Instruction is to insert the key, turn cylinder CCW, insert paper clip into hole inn face of cylinder, continue to turn CCW and pull the cylinder out.  As Rusty says, having a big box of old B-10/B-11 keys goes a long way to getting these cylinders out. Locksmiths also have ways to "pick" them to open them. There are way more than 35 keys (1935 to 1966) , but due to worn cylinders/tumblers/keys and "jiggling"  a surprising number of different coded locks can be opened with a key!

 

If it is a one key car, sometimes you can get the 4 digit code off the glove box lock. Sometimes that glove box code is on the cylinder inside the glove lock assembly. That's not convenient, as you also have to take that lock apart (key helps) to read the code. If you can get into the trunk and remove that cylinder, it also has the 4 digit code stamped on it. And then there are the doors. Those locks will have the 4 digit code, even on cars made with two keys. Yes, it is possible to damage some of the door panel in removing it, but I find this the easiest way if there is no key available to remove the ignition lock. YMMV

 

I can code cut those keys on aftermarket blanks, such as Ilsco. So can most old school locksmiths. Message me if you need help.

 

PS, 4 digit code begins with an 8 or 9.

 

Frank DuVal

 

Also  discussed here:

 

 

 

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