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1940 Oldsmobile Barn-Find Restoration


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The thrust bearings are what determines the end play. Before I finished putting the engine together, I would mic the distance of the crank main bearing where the thrust bearing is located to determine the size. Then go back to the bearings and find out where the difference is. Could be the wrong bearings or the crank is worn. Need the crank specs to determine the problem

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  • 3 weeks later...

Nope, it was just as I thought. Tightening up the front pulley pushes it against the timing gear, which in turn presses against a steel thrust washer, which rides on the brass thrust washer, which is pinned in place against the number one main bearing. There is no thrust bearing, per se, as we know them. Different, but it works. After tightening, the endplay is within the .004 specs.

Had a minor setback today. The new piston came and I had changed out the rings, so it was ready to go. I figured I would pull all of the pistons back out to double check them for damage, since the #5 had broken. Also, I was not satisfied with the smoothness of rotation. Turns out that number #4 and #6 both had a broken lower oil ring. The cylinders and pistons were ok, though I had to work the lands where the breaks had occured. Not sure if it was something we did or old metal in the NOS rings. Probably the fact that we were installing the pistons with the block horizontal. Stupid idea on my part. Never did it that way before and never had any issues before, either. I found two of the old oil rings that looked good and got the pistons ready to install. Decided that this was a good time to do things right and drive out all the wrist pins and apply assembly lube, as they had gotten pretty dry over the last 40 years.

We then reinstalled the pistons, checking rotation after each installation, and found no issues. Then, just to be safe, we double checked the torque on the mains.

Installed a new timing chain and verified rotation again.

Tomorrow we will install the head.

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Head is installed; three passes on the bolts. Did a cold adjustment on the valves. So far, so good.

Finished searching the garage. It's official now, the cam plunger and spring are seriously missing! Bad, bad, bad. I am really hoping one of you has a replacement or specs to get it custom made.

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  • 2 months later...

Very good looking car. Doesn't look as if it needs as much work. You can wire-wheel the rust and sandblast the chipping paint. Luckily none of the windows need to be replaced and if theres no moisture inside the car then everything is still sealed correctly. Good luck with the project!

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Thank you, Bob Petters, for supplying us with the cam plunger and spring! What a show-stopper that would have been. We rebuilt the carburetor using a kit we bought at the Hershey. Worked fine, except the needle valve was wrong. The old one looked fine, so we are reusing it for the time being. Installed a new timing chain and heat riser spring. Rebuilt the fuel/vacuum pump. What an experience that was! Never done that before. Not for the faint of heart. Rebuilt the distributor and nstalled it along with the oil pump. I hope we got them pretty well geared in right. Thought the water pump was going to need replacing, but it seems to be water tight. Took it apart and cleaned it up. The engine is just about ready to return to its home now. Just need to get the bell housing clutch, starter and generator ready. We have a new front end wiring harness on the way from Rhode Island Wiring. Bought some NOS motor mounts, so that won't be an issue. Mom repaired the oil pick-up screen with a little metal sewing magic. Another headache solved! Photos to follow when I can get them posted.

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Edited by Erndog (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

:) Well, the stars lined up and we finally got the engine put back in the car. It was a learning experience to be sure. I discovered that we forgot to mark the flywheel when we removed it, so setting it up so that the timing mark was right was a real challange. We finally figured it out and got the flywheel installed. The bolts went in a whole lot easier then, too, since the spacing is microscopically different. Of course, when we went to install the bell housing we discovered that it had to go on before the flywheel, which we had already torqued. It is not as easy to install a flywheel when the bell housing is on already. Then we proceeded to install the clutch. I used the same place to reline the clutch as the one that helped with the brakes. They had the right facing in stock, removed the old, sandblasted the metal and clear-coated it, installed new facing all for $50 with tax. God, I love them! We shortly discovered that the clutch cannot be installed with the bell housing cinched up. Eventually we got past that hurdle. Then we had to get the transmission installed. It took a little inginuity to disengage the clutch to free things up enough to get into the pilot bearing. Finally, we were ready to install the motor. We carefully babied her into place and after some re-education with motor mounts and the oddities of Olds motor mounts, we got her in.

Next we need to start hooking things up and get the new wiring harness in. Also need to go through the fuel system, tank to front. Making progress little by little.

Click on pictures to enlarge

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Edited by Erndog (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

Made new brake lines all around. Found a major kink in the fuel line, so started repairs on that. May go ahead and make a whole new one. Installed a new wiring harness for dash and engine compartment. The old one was in shreds. The only thing that I think I goofed up on was that the clock light is always on. Easy fix. Found the original trunk key in the seat. If I had found it earlier, I would not have had to ruin the perfect original cardboard dividers that go behind the back seat.

Tried to get the engine to fire with just some gas in the carb. It did, but I will need a real fuel supply to get it going right. Pulled the left rear fender and removed the gas tank. It is full of rust, has some bad old repairs and is starting to get pinholes in it. Repairs have been estimated to be an easy $400. Therefore, if anyone has a spare gas tank in good shape for this car, I am interested.

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Edited by Erndog (see edit history)
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  • 9 months later...

Well, way overdue for an update!

Tried to locate a tank for over six months. Evidently, they don't exist or nobody is letting them go. Cleaned up our tank and took it to be reworked in January or so. Still waiting on it. Should be ready next week, as the previous several weeks.

On a better note, we had the radiator rodded out and returned to as-new overall, and then installed it.

Worked over the passenger side front suspension and shock absorber; hadn't been done yet.

Cleaned, regreased, and reinstalled the front wheel bearings. Installed the brakes all around. Front slave cylinders were fine after rebuilding, but the rears needed to be replaced. Brakes work great!

Took a lot of doing, but finally got the emergency brake cables freed up and usable.

Reinstalled front fenders.

Reinstalled the hood and the shined up grill with new red accent stripes.

Painted and installed one parking light grill. Other still needs stripes painted. -painful.

The starter was kicking out early, so we installed a new drive gear assembly, and reinstalled the starter. Haven't tried it, yet.

Removed all four doors and installed new weatherstripping. all door trim panels are off for redoing when ready. Installed proper weatherstrip for trunk.

Reinstalled the headlights.

Located and bought a replacement piece for the big trim at the rear license plate.

Rebuilt both rear shock absorbers. What an education! Both were frozen. Discovered that we broke the screws that hold the two pistons together in one. Didn't realize they existed until the pistons would not relocate after stroking. Replaced screws. All better now! Rear of car bounces approximately 1 and 1/2 times or less, as per design.

Been cleaning and painting underside in preps for receipt of gas tank.

Sandblasted all four rims (spare is still in original condition in the trunk) for free at work (-$) and painted them. Had new tires installed on the rims and put the front wheels on the car. Backs are waiting for gas tank.

Looks nice with those big 4" whitewalls!

Still looking for new muffler, horn ring, and a few small items.

Getting closer!!

Pictures forthcoming.

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My guy has had the gas tank for several months now. I always get the "It'll be ready first thing next week" or "I'll call you day after tomorrow", which he never does, etc. Very frustrating. Yesterday morning he said it should be ready to pick up in the evening. Called at about 3 pm and he had already gone home for the day and nobody else knew much about the tank. He did a great job on my radiator, but he has lost me as a customer for anything in the future. I would like to get it back and installed before my son loses all interest in old cars.

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Well, finally got the gas tank back last night. Looks pretty fair, but pretty rough coating on the outside. Feels good and smooth on the inside. Functional, not asthetic. However, it is not like these grow on trees. Had to take the spare tire indentation and filler neck from the original tank and scab them onto a very similar new tank. Too busy to work on it right now, but hope to jump on it in a couple weeks.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Installed new gas tank sending unit into the tank, since it won't be accessible after the tank goes in.

After much blood, sweat, and tears, got the tank filler tube through the opening between the frame and the body. The tank won't fit up into the saddle and is generally way off in several dimensions. Will take it back to the shop next week for adjustments.

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  • 3 months later...

Thought I made a follow-up on the tank, but I guess not.

We cut the filler tube off at about four inches from the tank. Fits into the saddle just fine now. Got a piece of marine grade rubber tube and a few of the heaviest hose clamps I have ever seen! Mated up with the truncated cap end of the tube. The rubber is kinda stiff for getting the exact right angle coming through the fender, but will have to do for now. Still need to do gas line fit-up, but work has not allowed any time for this in the last several months. Doing what we can when we can.

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  • 3 months later...

Well, lapping the valves was not a good choice for a 70 year old engine. Should have had them ground while the engine was out like I usually do. After engine would not run we did a compression check and found horrendous results. To make matters worse, my tester was too deep and bent the exhaust valve in #1 jug. We removed the valves and took them to the shop to be ground. I was able to talk the machinist into making a housecall to grind the seats and lap the valves in. Had to replace four exhaust valves, one wouldn't dress and three were bent. Reinstalled them yesterday and adjusted them. Getting those keepers installed on one of these engines with it still in the car is probably the most tediously difficult thing I have ever done. Thank God I got it done. Next time I will pull the engine, or at least remove the right fender and engine compartment wall. Now to put stuff back on and see if it will run...

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  • 4 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Yes, but college and the failure of the engine to run has taken its toll on the enthusiasm. Been fighting to get the engine running for almost a year. Following a lengthy conversation with Bob Petters at Hershey and a pep talk, I got it running last night!! More to come.

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Not really. The last things I did were disconnect all the wiring and just used jumpers for the minimum required circuit across the coil, etc., and rebuilt a correct carburetor for it. It started acting more promising and then with more timing adjustment it got going. I then systematically reconnected wires to determine the culprit, but it never stopped working. All wiring is back in play and it still starts. The weird thing now is that it seems to only be firing on #1 and #4, and maybe an occassional other cylinder. I am getting very good spark to all of the spark plugs, and I have compression on all cylinders. I have all of the valve lashes set at ~.013 for the time being, and the valves were all just reground. About the only thing left is the timing, but can it be that far off and still have two jugs working?? I installed a Pertronix ignition system into the distributor and now I am wondering if the magnet section on the rotor shaft is for an 8 cylinder engine by mistake. Not sure how I can check that one out, though.

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College? Seems the last info I had was that he had yet to get his driver license? It cannot have been that long?

Yes, continued maintenance of enthusiasm is a real problem. Sometimes, it is just best to take a short break.

I concur on dumping the Petronix and going back to what Olds knew worked in terms of the distributor.

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Yes, time flies so fast. Faster than this Olds, at any rate. My boy is in college and my daughter has gotten married and started grad school since this thread started. ...depressing.

Anyway, I agree the Pertronix is suspect. Today after work I will pull the distributor and change things back. Yesterday, using a timing light on the wires, I determined that the spark plugs (except for #1 and sometimes #4) do spark for the first 5 seconds or so after the engine starts. Then...nothing, zippo! So I am thinking that the distributor, being a little bit worn out, probably has some slop in it on a small scale. As the speed increases, the rotor shaft may be moving axially just a bit. The Pertronix units are very sensitive in that direction. This unit actually has an extra 1/16th plate that I originally did not install because I didn't think the mounting screw was long enough. I could not get any spark whatsoever and contacted Pertronix. They said the extra plate had to be there to line up the magnets properly. I added the plate and all was good. So, if it is that sensitive there is a good chance it is messing up for whatever reason. I will report back with what I find out.

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Well, I changed the distributor back to original equipment, but left the 40,000 volt coil in service. Holy cow!! She runs like a top, and on all six cylinders! Once she got running, I discovered she was about 20° advanced. Fixed that and moving on.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

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""Yes, time flies so fast. Faster than this Olds, at any rate. My boy is in college and my daughter has gotten married and started grad school since this thread started. ...depressing.""

Don't look at it as depressing. It's just a mark to gauge your progress. Hang in there - your restoration will mean alot to your kids when it's finished. They too, will hold some pride of completion and dedication by their Dad! Of course it was their help that made it all possible!!

Great news with the engine, keep up the great work, we are following your every hurdle!

Chuck

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Interesting info on the Petronix conversion.

I have been thinking about converting one of my cars to electronic ignition and have been researching the pros and cons on the net.

In my searches I came across this article regarding the different types of ignition leads avalible and how some types of leads will not work with electronic ignition and can damage the module.

This may not be the problem in your case but it is certainly food for thought.

Ignition Wiring - Rod & Custom Magazine

Edited by DavidAU (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: a couple days after getting the engine running, my boy came home from college for the weekend. Of course first on the agenda was having him "try" to start the engine. Boy, was he excited and happy! After basking in the purr and glory of success, the inevitable was next. He got in the passenger side, I behind the wheel (he doesn't have 3-on-the-tree experience) and we proceeded to see if she rolls. The previous videos tell the story. The enthusiasm has definately returned! Of course, now he is no longer willing to sell me his headache project. Now he is constantly asking, "what's the next thing we need to do?". Yes!!

Shortly before getting the engine running I decided it was time to find out why the engine seemed to get so tight occasionally that I frequently had to put oil into the cylinders to free it up. Before any real rpm caused damage. Turned out that the oil pump had never picked up a prime and wasn't oiling anything. I have never experienced that before, but filled it with oil and tried again (after trying the vaseline trick, which didn't work). Worked great after priming. Thank God for assembly lube. I bought a complete exhaust setup for Jonathan off of eBay. Very nice stuff, except the engine-end flange had to be trimmed down to fit into the manifold. After we did the initial drive I dropped the old system and replaced it with the new one. Turns out that the old muffler had about a 6" diameter hole on the topside. That explains the throaty volume. The new one sounds much better. I think we will tackle putting in the new windshield gasket and wiper gaskets next. That should stop the little water intrusions during rain storms. After we know it will stay dry in there we will redo the door panels. We have done one and it came out nice, but did not install it because of moisture.

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