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Barn find 1939 Buick


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Since we are talking about 1939 Buicks - I thought I would show off the one I got back on Labor Day.

The story on this one I aquired it from the orginal owners family - the original owner passed away in 1955 - the car was put up in a garage (78,000 miles) at that time and did not see the light of day till I pulled it out back in Sept.

Its all there - the plates on it are from 1955, the tires held air and are still holding air - I think the owner had bad aim getting in and out of the garage as the fenders are kinda banged up - also it was repainted, but the paint is flaking off - it has the original upholstory.

We have not tried to start it yet - I've had the front end rebuilt and we are working on gas tank, fuel and brake lines, radiatior, carb rebuild etc.

It is my understanding that these cars had La Salle transmission in them? Also does anyone know how these engines will go before they need to be rebuilt? Hopefully I'll get it running in the next few months and go from there...

Ken J.

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"Since we are talking about 1939 Buicks "

Ken, mate, I'm happy to talk '39 Buicks all day.:D:D:D

It's always nice to see yet another '39 beasty is still out there and that there's another story to be told.

"It is my understanding that these cars had La Salle transmission in them?"

I'm not sure about that. You may find that some internals are interchangeable with other '39 on GM boxes but I would think not directly interchangeable as a complete unit.

"does anyone know how these engines will go before they need to be rebuilt"

That is one of those unanswerable questions and is dependent on soooooo many things. Given your car's situation you may be lucky and with a little pre-start preparation it just may fire up and be acceptable depending on what you want to do with the car and your budget. I was "just" going to pull the head off mine and give it a valve job. That turned into 8 new valves and all new guides. Then, with the head off, I had found that several cylinders were scored so ordered pistons...........

Anyway, I now have a nice new fully reconditioned engine. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

Danny

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Ah, the old "while I'm at it" syndrome!

Nice car! In my Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1942, a 39 Buick taxi in San Diego I think, had done 500,000 miles without major work. May be out on the milage, but under if anything!

Welcome to the "39 gang"! We may have to get some jackets made!

Cheers

Grant

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I do like the idea of the rubber covers on the rear fenders at the rear end of the stream boards. Anyone ever come across someone that reproduces them for the '39 and or '38 ??? I am also of two minds about stream boards. They do make the car look cleaner and tidier but the running boards do have that "old car" appeal about them. I have a set of both and probably wont make that decision for a while yet.

Danny

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Ah, the old "while I'm at it" syndrome!

Nice car! In my Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1942, a 39 Buick taxi in San Diego I think, had done 500,000 miles without major work. May be out on the milage, but under if anything!

Welcome to the "39 gang"! We may have to get some jackets made!

Cheers

Grant

My suggestion for the jacket is that on the back-side there is a large reproduction of the steering wheel and gearshift lever with an arrow pointing to the turn signal switch with the following statement:

"IT MAKES THE TURN SIGNAL BLINK AND BLINK AND BLINK AND................!"

and by the way, where can I get an external sunvisor like that? I like it!

Jim, (Cush)

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Welcome to the world of 39 Buicks :)

That color is interesting on a sedan. Sequoia cream is only on convertibles according to literature, but was on advertisements for sedans. What is on the firewall data plate ?

If you list the data plate info, engine number (near distrubutor) and frame number (near the starter motor) the ever helpfull Dave Corbin is likely to tell when it was built to within a few weeks

Edited by 1939_buick (see edit history)
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Yeah - when I bought the car, I was told I could get a bunch of money for that visor - the low rider folks really like them... :) - don't worry, I'm not going to sell it - I think it looks cool

Olbuicks - hmmm not sure that is the one because I have a picture of the car with the granddaughter (the one who sold it to me) sitting on the fender when she was 2 years old - so that would have been 1946 - perhaps you are that was in the 50's when you loaned it to him - I think I have some squatting rights though - isn't that 20 years LOL!

The mechanic that is working on it has a neighbor who is a retired master mechanic - he has had old Buicks and got as excited as can be when he saw the car - anyway, he is the one who said it had a LaSalle transmission and said it would do 80 mph in second gear - he wants to help work on the car... Hopefully withing the next few weeks they will get it in the shop and start fixing/rebuilding stuff to get it running again.....

When I get over there I'll get the data plate and other numbers.....

I'll keep y'all posted!

Ken J.

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The LaSalle transmission is an open driveline transmission, the Buick is the closed driveline type with a torque tube. Gearing may or may not be similar and interchange. Back in the day the Cadillac and LaSalle, Packard, and Buick transmissions were desirable for hot rodding purposes. The Buick could be modified to open driveline with some work. And then came along the factory four speeds in the late 50s and 60s and these became the way to go, or the beefed up hydramatic transmission by B&M and others. Jim 43

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I also would not attempt to start the engine without pulling the oil pan and completely removing all of the sludge, which it is almost certainly going to have pounds of. Most of that cars running life, if not all was lived pre-detergent oil days. Clean up inside the block and the oil pump and screen as well. Washing off the valve springs and tappets would be good too, using great care at all times not to smear any of the sludge into any oil passages. After all this I would probably continue to use non-detergent oil in the engine. If you rebuild the engine eventually, go with detergent oil then. Garages were almost religious back in 1955 about putting an oil change sticker on the drivers door or in the opening, and with luck the type of oil used will still be readable. I would stick with it if it is still available. Jim43

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Thanks - yea I was planning on pulling the pan and the valve cover and checking that all out - it does have the sticker and said it was serviced at 72000 miles - it now has 78000 miles - so I think its about due :) - I can't read what kind of oil it has though

What would you suggest I used to clean inside the block/oilpump/value springs/tappets etc?

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Hi,

I once ran my 40 LaSalle up to 80 in 2nd gear--actually a little over--to see if it would reach 100 like a Duesenberg. Fat chance. Thought I'd likely send a few pistons out through the heads, but it survived.

I do not recommend repeating that feat. I'm no longer young and stupid. Well, no longer young, anyway.

--Tom

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Thats kinda what I figured - I have to admit, I've used gas, carborator cleaner, brake cleaner and kerosene.

I'm really glad you guys mentioned the non detergent oil, I'm not sure I would have thought of that - and I suppose you can still buy non-detergent oil?

Thanks again

Ken

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Thats kinda what I figured - I have to admit, I've used gas, carborator cleaner, brake cleaner and kerosene.

I'm really glad you guys mentioned the non detergent oil, I'm not sure I would have thought of that - and I suppose you can still buy non-detergent oil?

Thanks again

Ken

Sure can. I buy mine at O'Reilleys, but I'll bet that any old auto parts store has it.

Still liking that sun visor-I tend toward obsessions. I may have to look for one of those until I find it. Then I suppose I'll need one of those after market gadgets that help me see overhead traffic lights because of my new visor being in the way. It never ends!

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The putty knife and kerosene are what I would use too. I get non-detergent at the parts stores, no problem yet. If it has a can oil filter with lines that is one thing that can be removed for a good cleaning. Jim 43

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Sure can. I buy mine at O'Reilleys, but I'll bet that any old auto parts store has it.

Still liking that sun visor-I tend toward obsessions. I may have to look for one of those until I find it. Then I suppose I'll need one of those after market gadgets that help me see overhead traffic lights because of my new visor being in the way. It never ends!

All you wanted to know about the Fulton Sunvisor, (told you I was obsessed):

Fulton Sun Shield (Sunvisor)

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Sure can. I buy mine at O'Reilleys, but I'll bet that any old auto parts store has it.

Still liking that sun visor-I tend toward obsessions. I may have to look for one of those until I find it. Then I suppose I'll need one of those after market gadgets that help me see overhead traffic lights because of my new visor being in the way. It never ends!

All you wanted to know about Fultons:

Fulton Sun Shield (Sunvisor)

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Sure can. I buy mine at O'Reilleys, but I'll bet that any old auto parts store has it.

Still liking that sun visor-I tend toward obsessions. I may have to look for one of those until I find it. Then I suppose I'll need one of those after market gadgets that help me see overhead traffic lights because of my new visor being in the way. It never ends!

All you wanted to know about Fulton's Sunsheilds:

www.indfloorcoating-repair.com/fultonsunshield.htm

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  • 1 month later...

Well - we are tearing into the Buick - I have a couple of questions....

Does oil turn into sluge over the years? We took off the oil pan and and there was about a inch of sluge in the pan - the car sat for 55 years. Looking up into the engine, all looks pretty clean - I think there will be sluge when I pull off the valve cover - how should I clean the insides of the engine before I try to start it?

Finally, the mechanic working on it is a little concerned about the crankshaft rod bearing tolerences - he says they are 1.994" - the connecting rods have some play back and forth on the crankshaft - is this ok?

Thanks for all your help in advance! Hopfully we will get this thing running.

Ken J.

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Hi Ken.

Sludge! The wet stuff is easy to clean, but I had to use a scraper on the hard stuff. I used petrol and kersene to clean our engine up. I had an air powered kerosene gun as well, but it wasn't that good. I did use petrol and an air gun to clear out the oil passages with success. As for the rods, are you doing a full restoration or fixing the car up as a driver?

Cheers

Grant

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Ken J,

I too found about 1.5" of gray sludge in my '40. I cleaned it out w/ a putty knife and gas and a parts cleaning brush.

Make sure while your in down below, you check the oil pickup float (the flying saucer) and that it is well soldered to the hinged tube that comes out of the oil pump. make sure it is free to bob up and down. Pull the oil pump (2 bolts) and check the distance of the 2 gears from the lid. it should be no more than .004". If it is, sand down the pump body with emery cloth on a FLAT surface (not the lid) till it is about.0025" clearance. This will give you good oil pressure. Also you can streach the oil pressure relief spring fron the stock 2.75" to about 3.25 to increase oil pressure. An old 50's trick usually done by "local" garages. I blew out my lines and passages w/ brake parts cleaner and air.

I cannot tell you what your rod/main bearings should measure. Is yours inserted, or babbitt bearings ? Plastigage is available @ most parts stores though.

Read my post about a CLR radiator/block flush procedure as recommended by my local shop.

Best regards,

mike in Colorado

1940 Buick limited (90)

BCA# 45728

AACA#994416

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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Good damn job Ken !!! I did about the same with my 33 that was stored in a barn for 20+ years-

What I do, and always do, ( works for me thing ) is pull the plugs and pour a 1/2 gallon of kerosine in the engine. Let it sit for a week or so, drain COMPLETELY, couple weeks. Fill with Rotella, squirt with MM oil, run till hot, drain, fill with R oil again and off you go. Change again after a couple 100. I change oil a lot cause my wife likes the oil for the horse paddock.

Really is one of those works for me, old school things.

What a nice car Ken, the visor is killer. New Mexico, looks like you are just downhill from Mike & I.

Sandy

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Mine are babbit bearings - yea we did pull the oil pump - that stuff is on there like cement - do you know if just the screen is available? We did take it over to a guy who has some sort of super parts cleaner and got it cleaned pretty good.

Ken J.

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Sandy,

You've got to tell him to pour the kerosene in the valve cover (rocker box) and the MMO in each cylinder. A 1/2 cup/cylinder will do, and when you hit the starter with the plugs OUT, for the first time, be sure and lay an old towel over the engine, or you'll have MMO all over the shop. That' s how we got the "jake" to fire up on our Waco 7 when we bought it from a museum in St Louis a few years ago. Took 3 days of soaking, but we flew it home to Moline Ill.

Ken,

If you really want to strip the oil off you could use Xylene or MEK from the hdwr store, but don't get on any paint, or you'll be sorry. Both are really strong solvents. Then there is always a wire brush, or sand blasting.

Mike

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Sandy - you mention Rotella - isn't that a detergent oil - and isn't that a no no in these old engines?

Thanks for all the advice... yes I am just down the hill from y'all

Ken J.

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Yes it is. I don't know about it being a " no-no " . I used to use only non-detergent oil, but changed and and have been using the Rotella T . This was suggested to me by a couple old time pros.

Works for me.

Sandy

Sandy - you mention Rotella - isn't that a detergent oil - and isn't that a no no in these old engines?

Thanks for all the advice... yes I am just down the hill from y'all

Ken J.

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