Jump to content

1939 Buick Special restoration


Recommended Posts

Looked at 2 of my 1939 41's.  No obvious ground from cowl/firewall to anywhere.  Or to/from head.  Both have a braided ground cable that runs from battery to a bolt of the clamped coil bracket that secures it the to block. However both these cars have botched wiring.  One has house wire. Will look at some other 39's tomorrow if Owen C is out at his family car compound.

 

Have you point to point tested the rear harness from the front/rear plugged connection?

Have a wiring diagram some where but cannot find it

Edited by 1939_Buick (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a wiring diagram somewhere too.  I was hoping my question of whether there is supposed to be a body to frame ground somewhere would be something that would be easy to answer for someone, so I can then check to see if I have it there too.

 

The brake lights work just fine until I ground the turn signals.  Once the turn signals are grounded and work, then the brake lights and head lights dim when the brake pedal is pushed.

 

I guess I will just try running a ground to see what happens.  I'm not an electrical person at all.  My brother comes over to help me with this stuff, when he can.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If your car does not have the braided cable on the coolant sensor that attaches to the cowl, just attach a heavy wire from anywhere on the engine to any where on the body .  Perhaps a 6ga or better an 8ga  from the neg battery post to a bolt or large screw on the cowl.

 

  Ben

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Body shell needs to be grounded. But the front sheetmetal-fenders are attached to the frame. Your good paint job may acting as an insulator somewhere

Maybe crossed wires and/or worn wire insulation.

Does the horn work? The (old) wiring down the steering column can be problematic.

With the turn signal/signals grounded you could try disconnecting (open circuit) the other items one by one (left head light. right head light, left brake, right brake, centre tail light, horn) to see if the problem still exits. Does the roof light work OK?

This problem may be hard to find-fix 

Edited by 1939_Buick (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, connecting that to the cowl didn’t help.  Actually, I had just finished the dome light and it was working.  After I attached that wire to the cowl, now the dome light quit.  I disconnected it to see if it made a difference, but it did not.  Nothing accomplished today except I found the braided ground wire.  I’m not touching it until my brother comes back over.  I don’t understand electricity.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not great on electricity either, but I can tell you that when I got my '41, the temperature gauge sensor tube was not grounded, as shown in your photo.  In fact, when I got a new temperature gauge to replace the old one, I was surprised to see that extra sheathing at the sensor end of the tube.  I drilled a hole in the firewall and attached the terminal when I installed my new temperature gauge.  But my car's electrical system functioned perfectly well without it before I did the replacement.

 

Also, if the '39 is like the '41, the dome light (and other interior courtesy lights) are on a fuse in a housing in the hot wire powering that circuit that's located under the driver's side of the dash, just before the 6-pin connector that joins the front and rear wiring harnesses.  Sounds like you blew that fuse.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

My brother came over today and we found the problem—the headlight switch.  I have 2.  The first one was incredibly worn (had grooves in the brass contact and Bakelite slide) and wouldn’t turn the lights on at all unless you really pressed hard sideways on the knob, while posing with a rather odd facial expression as one might make when trying to hold in a fart.  This other one worked well at first, but now it’s also inconsistent.  We have cleaned it every way we can, but the brass on the slide just isn’t creating consistent contact with all of the wires.  This one has a small groove.

 

I am going to take each wire out and try to squeeze the clips tighter as best I can and we will see what happens.

 

Other than this intermittent switch problem, the wiring/electrical is done.  When the headlight switch has good contact (basically everything connects to it on a 1939) the tail lights, dome light, brake lights, turn signals, license plate light, and turn signals all work.  We also installed the horn ring and the horn is working.  
 

I still need to adjust the parking brake and align it better (you can eyeball it and tell the front isn’t close) and it will be “done.”  Of course it will never be finished, no project ever is, and that’s half the fun, but it will be all put together and ready for whatever maintenance comes about.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good you are making progress ☺️

 

I read a thread recently where a 1938? headlight was dissembled and repaired, but cannot find it

Dec 2020 Buick Bugle has an article starting page 38 on a 1937 headlight switch

Another---> https://forums.aaca.org/topic/318503-1939-headlight-switch/

 

But the real question: when will it be fully on the road, all legal etc?

Edited by 1939_Buick
Edit. Bugle article (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the headlight switch threads was in GaryW 's 1937 Special restoration thread. I believe Las Vegas Dave also had one acting up, and I believe the car was a 38. That may have spilled over into his thread as well.

 

There are three triangular sliding contacts inside, and they look alike, but they are not. Getting them in in the wrong order creates all sorts of havoc. The most common failure seems to be one light going off when the knob is all the way out, and you switch from High Beam to Country Beam. I'm not sure if that is due to wear or or due to dreaded previous owners getting the triangles in the wrong order.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue with the switch is that a groove forms in the sliding part, making the electrical contact weaker and weaker over time.  I would love to find a switch out of a low mileage car that someone switched to 12v or simply doesn’t need for whatever reason.  I’m not sure any used ones will be any better than what I have.  I have already completely disassembled and cleaned both of them. 
 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I went under the dash and squeezed every metal

clip and connection as best I could on the switch.  I very carefully and intentionally connected everything back as perfectly lined up and tensioned as I could.  The rear body harness seems reliable now (trunk/license/brakes). The inside trunk courtesy light sockets need to be cleaned out better.  They work when you hold the bulb a certain way.  I almost think they need a different bulb because the connection is pretty far down inside the socket and they work great when you press on them and go out when they turn and “click” in, but the same ones were in there when I got the car.   They were exposed to the elements for some time before I acquired them.  

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎1‎/‎25‎/‎2020 at 9:13 PM, 39BuickEight said:

The issue with the switch is that a groove forms in the sliding part, making the electrical contact weaker and weaker over time.  I would love to find a switch out of a low mileage car that someone switched to 12v or simply doesn’t need for whatever reason.  I’m not sure any used ones will be any better than what I have.  I have already completely disassembled and cleaned both of them. 
 

 

Bill,

Can you post a picture of the switch, or at least the contacts ?

It might be possible to lay some silver solder on the contacts, and give your switch a long life.

 

Mike in Colorado

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,  we have thought about solder.  I just don’t think soldering the slide (to create just a slight layer of contact) will hold up.  Soldering the individual wires would creat a very inconsistent contact as they would all need to be 100% perfect and I’m not sure we could achieve that.  I think we would be creating more of a problem if we did that.  It’s still a possibility though.  
 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I learned a trick for repairing the contacts in the clock that might work here.  In that repair, a host material was soldered to the contacts, allowing the two new host materials to take the contact rather than the solder.  I would agree with you that soft solder repair would wear very quickly.  If a new host, such as a brass button was soldered onto the contact area, the solder would hold in shear very well, while allowing the new brass contacts to take the wear from the sliding action of the switch.  Figuring out the best material to use for the brass replacement buttons is a challenge as is the daring task of filing down the existing contact points and totally ruining the switch.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Kgreen has it right.

It might be tedious work, but a thin sheet of brass soldered to the contact button, seems to be the answer.

Still waiting for pictures of the contacts / switch to firm up the solution................

 

Mike in Colorado

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/25/2020 at 6:55 PM, 39BuickEight said:

My brother came over today and we found the problem—the headlight switch.  I have 2.  The first one was incredibly worn (had grooves in the brass contact and Bakelite slide) and wouldn’t turn the lights on at all unless you really pressed hard sideways on the knob, while posing with a rather odd facial expression as one might make when trying to hold in a fart.  This other one worked well at first, but now it’s also inconsistent.  We have cleaned it every way we can, but the brass on the slide just isn’t creating consistent contact with all of the wires.  This one has a small groove.

 

I am going to take each wire out and try to squeeze the clips tighter as best I can and we will see what happens.

 

Other than this intermittent switch problem, the wiring/electrical is done.  When the headlight switch has good contact (basically everything connects to it on a 1939) the tail lights, dome light, brake lights, turn signals, license plate light, and turn signals all work.  We also installed the horn ring and the horn is working.  
 

I still need to adjust the parking brake and align it better (you can eyeball it and tell the front isn’t close) and it will be “done.”  Of course it will never be finished, no project ever is, and that’s half the fun, but it will be all put together and ready for whatever maintenance comes about.

NOS ebay currently 200.00 buy it now. One year only and obvious why! Good luck!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

NOS light switch did the trick.  Also found a loose wire under the dash that was the dome light problem.  Heater switch connected and works.  I’m not sure where the recommended power point is for the heater.  We ran it from the lighter.    We didn’t want to keep connecting stuff to the headlight switch.  
 

need to:

 

—bolt front seat in

—run hoses from engine to heater (Going to flush and fill while I’m at it, just because)

—front wheel alignment

—adjust (take slack out of) emergency brake

—finish (cover) trunk floor with something

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to see it is coming along Billy.

Not a Buick question but an American speak question. 

You have written "soldering" but listening to American TV shows it sounds like"Soder" 

Is it written as soldering but yet pronounced soder (sodder)?? Or is a local area thing ??

 

Danny

Edited by danhar1960 (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Heater done and working.  
 

I have a question, what is the secret for getting the good to stay up, besides putting a random piece of wood in there as another prop?  Mine refuses to stay open with the factory props.  After 5 minutes, it lands on my head, or slams on my hand.  I already have one paint chip from it slamming down.  I don’t want to wedge the prop rod up in farther because it will put an outward dent it in the hood.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had similar problems with the hood prop on my 1939 Roadmaster. Bob's has a button-style rubber bumper for 1948 models for hood to radiator that is supposed to work for hood props for 1939.  HB-48 at $2.50 each.  I ordered two. One worked fine, the tail pulled through the hole and it anchored. On the other one, someone must have enlarge the hole slightly and the edge of the tail won't anchor. Maybe a thin washer of a slightly smaller diameter would help.

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply.  It just seems no matter what I put on the end of the support arm, it just looks like it will predictably fall down.  It just looks like a bad design—as if there needs to be something attached to the bottom of the hood so it doesn’t slide out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a poor design. I also saw evidence of dents from the underside of the hood from the square prop end. The round bumper helps when you extend the rod to its fullest length. The rubber might provide some friction to prevent it from slipping.  I don't have the car at the house right now, so I can't take a look at it.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Cut a 1 inch piece of heater hose and slip on the end of the prop - has worked for me for almost 10 years without slipping. There is a change in the profile of the hood making a small indention that is the best place to position the prop to assist in keeping the hood up. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/23/2020 at 6:10 PM, 39BuickEight said:

NOS light switch did the trick.  Also found a loose wire under the dash that was the dome light problem.  Heater switch connected and works.  I’m not sure where the recommended power point is for the heater.  We ran it from the lighter.    We didn’t want to keep connecting stuff to the headlight switch.  
 

need to:

 

—bolt front seat in

—run hoses from engine to heater (Going to flush and fill while I’m at it, just because)

—front wheel alignment

—adjust (take slack out of) emergency brake

—finish (cover) trunk floor with something

 

 

new list:

 

—adjust valves

—adjust emergency (parking) brake

—finish trunk floor

 

 


Of course there are always other little things to do.  Today I decided to mess with the jack.  I planned on completely restoring and painting it, but after I wire brushed the surface rust off, I kinda like it the way it is.  There is some wear on the top, so I can only hope whoever used it in the past came out with all their limbs still attached.

D9BC0507-770A-4C7B-89A6-406D4BC97BFC.jpeg

7166984C-FC93-4C50-9001-442039FC25B3.jpeg

6F08147D-6342-4946-9724-25A317472585.jpeg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/17/2020 at 12:57 PM, jvelde said:

Cut a 1 inch piece of heater hose and slip on the end of the prop - has worked for me for almost 10 years without slipping. There is a change in the profile of the hood making a small indention that is the best place to position the prop to assist in keeping the hood up. 

 

I did this today.  The heater hose seems to “grab” the hood better than the rubber thing I had on there.  Definitely an improvement.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

And now the water pump is leaking.  Maybe next year I will get it on the road.  I wish I was competent enough to fix it on my own.  Any tips on doing it without making a mess of everything, that I can pass along to my brother, would be great.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

With water pumps, I've found the best thing to do is let the pros handle it or simply buy one of those brand new ones that the big supply houses are selling now. I just put a rebuilt pump in my '41 Limited and it wasn't a big job (if I were just replacing the pump, I mean) and the pumps themselves are not expensive. They can either do an exchange or sell outright.

 

Alternatively you can send it to one of the rebuilders like Gould or Flying Dutchman and they'll rebuild it for probably less than an exchange or new one, but the downside is wait time.

 

Water pumps are not a big deal and replacing it, while a bit of a tight quarters job, isn't awful. Do it now and you'll never have to think about it again!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Billy,

Doing a water pump is easy. Just a couple of bolts, and I think one requires sealant when you put it back in.

Slip a big piece of card board down the back side of the radiator prior to pulling the fan.

It will save your knuckles and the radiator fins too.

I had a great experience with the "Flying Dutchman" who rebuilt the pump on my '40 Buick LTD five years ago.

Great work, fair price and rather fast turn around.

WHILE you have it out, it would be a good time to do the standard Buick "bypass valve fix"

The bypass valve is just below the pump's inlet and is the primary source of overheating, along with plugged radiators of course.

Lots of threads on these forums on how to fix it, but basically you rip the guts out and bang in a frost plug and drill a 5/16' hole in the plug.

This lets the water from the head get out and not be "overpowered" by what's coming up from the radiator.

You could also read up on what other folks have done with "Evap-o-rust"  Cured my overheating problems big time !!!

 

Mike in Colorado

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

It may just be a gasket.  The water pump that was originally on the motor before we ever started restoring it was bad almost immediately, so we put this one on from my parts car before we put the motor on the frame.  I can’t see exactly where it is coming from, but it’s definitely wet under it.  I just hate that all the nice new paint that Dad put on the engine to make it look so perfect is now getting ruined.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, 39BuickEight said:

It may just be a gasket.  The water pump that was originally on the motor before we ever started restoring it was bad almost immediately, so we put this one on from my parts car before we put the motor on the frame.  I can’t see exactly where it is coming from, but it’s definitely wet under it.  I just hate that all the nice new paint that Dad put on the engine to make it look so perfect is now getting ruined.  

 

Don't sweat the paint. In fact, it might be an opportunity to clean it up even more. I was overall fairly pleased with how my engine looked and didn't mind showing it off. But pulling the pump showed me that more could be done:

 

1094098558_2020-02-2915_21_09.thumb.jpg.71ccbe31fb35151cd764cbf462f0bffd.jpg  2-29-20-5.thumb.jpg.0aa8dd944d3f87cace745daa530dd17a.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

How much coolant will spill out when it comes off?  Is there a way to minimize that without draining it all?  It’s brand new from where i just hooked up the heater, and I don’t have a reasonable means to collect it under the car.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the coolant will drain out when the pump is removed.  I drained as much as I could by removing the lower hose connection at the radiator and letting it drain into a large tub. Got about 80% of the coolant. I want to also recommend Flying Dutchman who my rebuilt bump but when I received it, it leaked worse than before. Turned out it was caused by a cracked ceramic seal that occurred in shipping. He sent me a replacement immediately and later I returned the bad one. Great service and the new pump works flawlessly.

 

Steve D

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...