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248 engine general questions about my '39


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We have reached the point in our restoration where we are starting to open the engine. I have always wondered why it is turquoise with a black head rather than the gray it is supposed to be. Long ago Dave Corbin confirmed it is definitely a 1939 engine.

Here are my questions that hopefully some of you who have seen multiple 248's and/or 39's can answer....maybe???

1. How many miles did these engines typically last? I need to check again, but I am thinking my odometer reads ~75,000. Would/could an engine of this period last that long?

2. There is quite a bit of gray sludge in the oil pan-metal. It turns over fine. Would it be possible that is was rebuilt somewhat a long time ago and this not cleaned out? The oil itself iwas fairly clean sitting on the sludge.

3. Ok, not an engine question, but the car has a brand new clutch in it. This makes me wonder why it was put in and never used? By all accounts the car has not been driven on the road in 40+ years. Possibly 1960's.

4. It has domed pistons---would they have been that way from the factory?

5. What are some thing I could look for to see if someone has been inside the engine before?

I know these are vague questions, but my curiosity is getting me. I always wonder why a car like this was parked. I know it would have driven really, really poorly based on the torque tube area wear (the universal joint was rubbing the inside torque tube) and the sloppiness of the suspension. As far as the engine, we will probably have it rebuilt anyway, but as we continue along, these things really make me wonder about the history of the car.

Would all of these repairs cost too much to justify during that time?

Any and all information is very much appreciated from those more experienced than I.

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1. How many miles did these engines typically last? I need to check again, but I am thinking my odometer reads ~75,000. Would/could an engine of this period last that long?

Absolutely. A 39 Buick cab had done 500,000 miles without major work during the war, according to my Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1942.

2. There is quite a bit of gray sludge in the oil pan-metal. It turns over fine. Would it be possible that is was rebuilt somewhat a long time ago and this not cleaned out? The oil itself iwas fairly clean sitting on the sludge.

Could be engine stop leak.

3. Ok, not an engine question, but the car has a brand new clutch in it. This makes me wonder why it was put in and never used? By all accounts the car has not been driven on the road in 40+ years. Possibly 1960's.

Who knows? Ours had a whole heap of work done, yet had broken pistons and no compression rings to speak of.

4. It has domed pistons---would they have been that way from the factory?

Yep. Turbulator pistons! They got them from 1938 onwards.

5. What are some thing I could look for to see if someone has been inside the engine before?

See if there's a stamp on top of the pistons saying .010, .020, .030, etc. Measure the bearing journals. That sort of thing.

Any and all information is very much appreciated from those more experienced than I.

Good luck!

Cheers

Grant

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Seeing as you probably will have it rebuilt anyway, take the head off and it will soon be apparent. My first '39 was "running when it was parked". Hahahaha

When I took the head off most of the rings were broken. Some twit had put new rings in but hadn't removed the ridges. Every hole in the rocker shaft was blocked.

My engine had the grey sludge and was told it came from leaded petrol.

Nothing quite as nice as starting up a new engine.

Danny

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Billy,

When i pulled the pan off my '40 Ltd, I too found about 3/4' of gray sludge in the bottom, however with mine, the oil pickup float was sunk in the mud. had broken off the tube, but there was enough solder left on the tube and float to re-orient them correctly and re-solder them back together. I stretched the spring in the oil pump pressure relief valve from 2 3/4" (what I found) to 3 1/8" so now she has 30 psi @ a "hot" idle.

My oil pump gears measured .0025" from the "lid" after emerying the housing, and I'm told that .004" is the max allowed. I did mine on a piece of 1/2" steel plate and emery cloth.

I'm running Kendall 10w30 and a pint of STP, now and except for a slight valve tick on #5 cylinder when cold (which i'll fix this spring) she runs great, w/ 76,000 on the clock.

Mike in colorado

BCA #45728

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Billy,

It's been mentioned before but I'll mention again before you possibly start dismantling.

WATCH OUT FOR THAT FLYWHEEL !!

Mark it well so it goes back on the same way it came off or your timing mark will be way out. It's a real trap for young players.

Danny

(voice of experience :) :) )

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Billy,

It's been mentioned before but I'll mention again before you possibly start dismantling.

WATCH OUT FOR THAT FLYWHEEL !!

Mark it well so it goes back on the same way it came off or your timing mark will be way out. It's a real trap for young players.

Danny

(voice of experience :) :) )

Got that covered-thanks Danny!

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Hi,

My brother had a Dickens of a time timing his '37 Chevy Master Sedan because of this issue. Turns out the flywheel has three timing marks, which narrows the odds to 1 in 2 of getting it reinstalled OK. The prior installer did not beat the odds...

--Tom

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  • 4 months later...
Anyone know what color the plug wires should be for this? Gold or black? Thanks!

Billy,

Just as an FYI, I bought individual "replacement" plug wires from Carquest that have a 90 degree plug end and a straight dist end as follows:

7 pcs ea P/N BCW 7222 @ $2.99ea

1 pc ea (for cyl #8) BCW 7226 @ 3.39ea

10 pcs EC -ST25 dist end contacts w/ long ctr pin

I cut 1/2" off the 90 degree plug end rubber so the would make proper contact under the engine cover, and I shortened the wires @ the dist end to match the origional length, and installed the new brass contacts. Total cost w/ tax was $28.16 and I had enough spare wire off of number 5 or maybe 6 cylinder to take the 2 spare ends and make a new coil to dist lead. Total time involved was less than an hour.

Best regards,

Mike in colorado

:D:D:D

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Grant, Mike, Danny, anyone :) Does anyone know exactly which decal goes on the air cleaner for my car? I see a few sites with different ones, for some reason the last one seems correct, (and (edit) now I see Grant used the first one, so that must be correct) Also, should there be a decal on the oil cap?

d15.png

d20.png

1939-buick-oil-bath-air-53773big.jpg

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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I went with No2 for my Std air filter and No3 for my Heavy Duty type which is effectively the later type oil bath style. I have one of each.

Std '39 filters didn't have an "Oil bath" as such, just the filter material dipped in oil and then drained before installation.

No1 and No3 specifically refer to filling oil to a specific level.

Can't really do that on a Std '39 filter so I'd say No2.

Danny

Edited by danhar1960 (see edit history)
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My wife and I laughed at the "oftener" too, nobody says that, al least nobody with any schooling :P

On the other hand, we do use jeez Louise all the time :)

I suppose #2 is correct for me since mine doesn't actually have the bath.

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Struth !!! Fair dinkum Grant, fair suck of the sav! You comen the raw prawn with us Aussies ?? I'm happy to give it a burl but the Yanks here might think we're all just ocker yobos and not ridgey didge. Maybe next time I chuck a sickie I can fire up the old keyboard and give it a bash. That must make it your shout next Grant.:eek::eek:

Hooroo for now,

Danny

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Crikey Danny! I'm fair dinkum, and would never come the raw prawn! I'd never start a blue with me Aussie mates! The Seppos may think we're not the full quid, but nothing to go crook over. I'll bring the anzacs and a few tinnies next time I'm in cooey. Oh, and a doona in case it's cool. Room for the Torana?

Cheers

Grunter

PS I play an old commercial every day on my radio show, and today, Madge soaked a lady's fingers in dish washing liquid. Yesterday, Mrs Marsh soaked chalk in liquid to show how it does get in!

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:):):) We really must be a pair of old bogans mate.

Madge and Mrs Marsh ......... That's going back aways !! :):):) They just don't make them like that any more (thank goodness).

And just to get back on track, there was a decal remnant on the oil filler (crankcase breather) off one of my original engines that hadn't been buggered with. I'm reasonably sure there should be one there as quite a few of the suppliers seem to list one for '39s.

Bob's has them in his catalogue. ("catalog") DE-1

Danny

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:):):) We really must be a pair of old bogans mate.

Madge and Mrs Marsh ......... That's going back aways !! :):):) They just don't make them like that any more (thank goodness).

And just to get back on track, there was a decal remnant on the oil filler (crankcase breather) off one of my original engines that hadn't been buggered with. I'm reasonably sure there should be one there as quite a few of the suppliers seem to list one for '39s.

Bob's has them in his catalogue. ("catalog") DE-1

Danny

Well, that's the father's day gift sorted then!

Cheers

Grant

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Billy,

Just as an FYI, I bought individual "replacement" plug wires from Carquest that have a 90 degree plug end and a straight dist end as follows:

7 pcs ea P/N BCW 7222 @ $2.99ea

1 pc ea (for cyl #8) BCW 7226 @ 3.39ea

10 pcs EC -ST25 dist end contacts w/ long ctr pin

I cut 1/2" off the 90 degree plug end rubber so the would make proper contact under the engine cover, and I shortened the wires @ the dist end to match the origional length, and installed the new brass contacts. Total cost w/ tax was $28.16 and I had enough spare wire off of number 5 or maybe 6 cylinder to take the 2 spare ends and make a new coil to dist lead. Total time involved was less than an hour.

Best regards,

Mike in colorado

:D:D:D

Hopefully the black wires had a copper wire in them, and not the modern stuff that just doesn't carry the juice like copper, leading to misfiring, and a real mess.

Cliff

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My friend and I dropped the pan on my '40 Limited, it too had the sludge on the bottom, and the oil pickup was stuck in it. But I had been driving the car and it did maintain oil pressure. We cleaned out the entire pan, and then cleaned the bottom of the engine. That was at about 68,000 miles. The odometer has been working on and off over the years, but I guess it now has over 80,000 miles on it. It smokes a bit under acceleration, but not bad. At this rate, I think it will easily go 100,000 miles. And I am 99.999 % sure the engine is all original and has not been rebuilt.

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I was reading around today and this question came to mind...Is my dash supposed to be woodgrained? I read on one site that only the Centuries and up were, and my original dash had some decent spots that do not appear to have been that way, but I see that some restored Specials that do have it done.

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I've seen plenty of Specials online that are woodgrained. Including some original ones. My father has done a reasonable job of woodgraining the coupe.

n1180632791_30314997_7878.jpg

He's turned down quite a lot of work. But he is helping a very nice chap with his woodgraining here in Christchurch. Trouble is, earthquakes keep getting in the way!

Cheers

Grant

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  • 3 weeks later...

any thoughts as to the originality of this engine:

Buick | eBay

It has the Buick 8 decal on both sides of the valve cover? I've never seen that before. Looks like the fan is not painted, and the transmission is painted black. I'm not looking for mine to be 100% correct, but 90% would be nice :)

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Billy,

I've never seen a decal on both sides of the rocker cover before and every fan blade I've seen was black.

He says it's "all original"! It looks to be the correct engine and parts (except for the spark plug cover). It doesn't look to be in "original" condition, it looks like the engine has been repainted as has most everything else in the engine bay area.

The bloke says "Black is one of the easiest colors to touch up". That doesn't sound right although I'm not a paint expert.

Danny

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  • 2 weeks later...

alright, here's another question...

Does anyone know how much to torque the head bolts? It says to use a 9 inch wrench and one hand in the manual. Any idea how that measures?

Also, do I need to put any special sealer other than the typical head gasket?

Thanks again folks!

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