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My 53 Buick tow-car (mod. 79R)


Buick Bruce
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I finally got this car dug out of the corner of my garage where it's been sitting almost 24 years. There's a service tag dated 10/26/66 for lube and new battery that lists mileage as 94,138 - same thing now showing on the odometer. So either it's been stored for almost 44 years, or the speedo cable is broken or disconnected (haven't checked that out yet). This car was used for towing, as there's the mounting remnants of a substantial hitch. There's also three lead plugs that are peened in holes on the left rear bumper - maybe an alternate license plate mount when the hitch was on.

Bottom line is that this car is mostly original. My question: is there any accumulation of data/photos that provides a reference for "original" for 1953 Buicks. I am beginning work on this car, and could contribute detail photos for any items of question or interest before I get too involved (realizing of course that there are always some differences depending on assembly date and plant). My goal is to get it running & drivable so I'm going through brakes, carb, and putting in a trans I got recently that was rebuilt 7 years ago but never installed (any way to bench test this before hand?). I do not plan to do any cosmetic work now or in the near future. I'd like keep as much as possible "as is" for people to check out for now. I really hope to have it at Wavecrest this year, but if I run into too many obstacles and don't make it, anyone going to this show that is interested in seeing this car is welcome to stop by - I'm 30 minutes away.

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Edited by Buick Bruce
typo (see edit history)
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Here's some more pics.

For many years after I got this car, I was able to find some great parts (also had time to go to a lot of Nationals - was on the BOD back then). What was equally as exciting as digging out the car was going through the parts I had stashed inside.

One item of note is that 53 Buick wagons (both Super & Roady) used vinyl upholstery - I have seen many references over the years that list interior seats done in leather. I have been able to look at 6-7 original 53's over the years - both series; all had the same vinyl as what's in my car.

Another item that caught my attention is that the Di-Noc wood grained decal (at least on the pillar between doors) was installed before painting. I see where mine was flap-folded on the top, then masked, with some paint on the Di-Noc - also appears that the decal may have been over an ivory base color.

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The rear fender welt on my car is black. I was trying to turn the engine over yesterday but was only getting clicks from the starter relay . . . with a second battery jumper cabled in. So I decided to check the starter and found an engine splash pan mounted under the starter. Original splash pans aren't very common, but I can't say as I ever remember seeing a splash pan on any V8 Buick before. Interesting! Anyway, today I got the splash pan off and found out my starter solenoid was hanging up. Got it loosened up and cranking and there's oil pressure, so now it's time to add some gas and see what happens.

I did run into a problem with the brakes. The right rear backing plate was loose and had been for some time. Bolt holes are elongated and bolts partially worn through on the shanks, with the mounting surface out of line with the rest of the plate. There's even some galling on the axle housing where it bolts up. I have a few other torque tube 3rd members for parts, but turns out they all have the smaller brakes. At least now I know the difference.

This is also the first time I've opened up a 4BBL Stromberg carb. The looping idle tube are rather unique. This is one heavy carburetor, still using a cast iron base for the throttle valves.

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I finally got the engine running yesterday. The starting circuit is still intermittent - I adjusted the starter relay and accelerator switch on the carb per service manual specs, and thought I'd pinned it down to the neutral safety switch as it was showing high resistance, but after cleaning it up there's still a weak connection somewhere.

So . . . looking ahead, I decided to pull the power brake booster and master cylinder to check that out. I was VERY surprised to find out that this car does not have power brakes, and there's no evidence that it ever did have power brakes installed. I always thought that all 1953 Roadmasters had power brakes, but read in the service manual that it was only standard on the Skylark.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I went to look at a 53 Buick steering wheel last Sunday evening that was on the local Craigslist. I met a guy named Jason that is working on . . . of all things . . . a 53 Roadmaster Estate Wagon! What a small world. It turns out this was a car that had been acquired by a local chapter member right around the same time I got mine. We stayed in touch for a few years, but as local chapter activity declined, we each moved in different directions. So now Jason has this project, eager to get it back under way. And through our fortunate meeting, he now can use my car as a reference for details he needs, and maybe we can do some trading to be able to upgrade both our cars.

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  • 1 month later...

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