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Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!


Guest timinbovey

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Guest Rob McDonald

MIKE, have you seen the pictures of Tim's mom?! She is so cute, a stone would get all romantic. And I'm not talkin' just 60 years ago, either. There's a fairly current photo of her somewhere in here and she's still a babe.

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Hey Tim,

I'll bet you didn't think your mom would get this kind of attention when you started this link!!

I cannot make any excuses for Rob's comments, since he has always been right on in the past.

I only hope your mom is enjoying it as it was meant to be enjoyed!!!

Hey, and tell your dad to relax, Rob is a good guy, and besides he is way up there in Canada.

Yup, he is a Canuk!!

Cheers, Mike

PS: She does look pretty...really!

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Guest timinbovey

Update time:

Had plans to work on the car LAST weekend, but last Friday night, Mom had what turned out to be a "small" heart attack (if there is such a thing). the nearest hospital with a cardiologist is 90 miles away, so the local hospital transferred her there via ambulance. So last weekend was spent driving back and forth between here and Duluth. Mom's home now and doing very well, being treated with meds. So.. another scare gets past us.

Started working on the car a bit today. Figured I should drain/flush the cooling system and change oil. Replaced thermostat and upper and lower radiator hoses, filled with new coolant. I really need to change the heater hoses (they're NOT originals) just to be safe but I don't want to get that involved if it's not necessary -- like to get the folks around the block or something before it's too late! Anyway, I thought "Maybe I'll bypass the heater so I don't have to worry about it". I did this in my Edsel years ago when the core started leaking -- we never drove it except on nice summer days, so never missed the heater. but the buick has TWO heaters, AND the transmission cooler is also part of that system apparently, so I didn't see a fast easy way to bypass, so I'm running on the older hoses so far. Is there an easy way to just run the trans cooler?

So I warmed it up and jumped into an oil change. Last receipt I can find was for an oil change in 1988, but it's never been driven since, just started occasionally. So, drained the old oil and removed the filter.

Question is, what are you all using for oil filters? The car had a Baldwin P-26 in it. My FLAPS sold me both a Fram C4P and a Carquest 85100. Neither compare exactly to the Baldwin, although I notice the Fram site lists the C4P with a specific listing for 1959 Roadmaster with 8 cyl 320 engine, but it looks the last like the Baldwin I took out. Is the Fram an OK choice, or is there something better? Whatever I put i won't be in there long, just step one in flushing/changing/flushing for this season.

So, that's where I'm at thus far. I also see I'm going to need to rebuild the carb (no surprise). The car runs nice, idles beautifully (all the tapping under the valve cover is long gone now) but starting still requires a spritz of starting fluid. I'm assuming the accelerator pump isn't giving it that squirt of gas needed to start 'er up. Any tips/surprises involved in a carb job? I haven't rebuilt a carb in many years (had my son around to do that up until he moved a few years ago).

Need to again thank all you guys for the help and advice. Hopefully, eventually, I'll know more about these Buicks and be helpful to someone else down the road.

Tim in Bovey

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Glad to hear Mom is okay! That had to be quite a scare!

Since the car was last used in 88 chances are you are just now introducing Ethanol gas. The gas will eventually attack the gaskets in your carb requiring a rebuild. It may also attack your diaphragm in your fuel pump, requiring a service. But, if your car runs good right now, I would recommend holding off on both those things till this up coming winter. Go after other things necessary to make the car roadworthy. Tires/ brakes/ fresh brake fluid in the system.

As for the hard starting, the most important thing to check is the choke mechanism. The choke may not be closing all the way when the car is cold. Also it could be that the carb bowl was empty when you watched for the spritz of gas. One thing is certain, if the accelerator pump was not working, you would have driveability issues while under way, and you said you did not have that problem.

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Guest timinbovey

Actually, the car was last driven in 1972! While in storage they used to start it now and then and change the oil every few years! No troubles with the gas up here -- in Minnesota we have non-ethanol gas available only for "small engines and classic cars" and around here in fishing and snowmobile country, darn near every station has an ethanol free pump! So that's what's in it. Already did the brakes with everything new from pedal to wheels, and exhaust, and new tires, belt and hoses too. Dad converted the car to a manual choke back in the 50's, does not seem to help getting it started, and I can see that it opens and closes manually just fine. The car hasn't actually been moved under it's own power since the 70's. Just this year got it running. Once started, runs nice and smooth.

Tim in Bovey

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Here is one neat advantage of the gas pedal starter.

Disconnect the manual choke mechanism, and then hold the choke closed all the way while cranking the cold engine. If it catches faster than you experience normally, you will know it is the choke.

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Guest shadetree77

I attempted to bypass my heater system at one point. I didn't have any luck with it. It actually appeared to make my car run hotter. But in all fairness, that was before I had my radiator professionally cleaned out so that might have been a fluke. There is no easy way to do it either. It involves splicing in a shut off valve to the hose that goes to the underseat heater and then putting a screw-in plug on one of the holes in the water pump. I don't remember which one at the moment.

The Fram C4P should work just fine. It's a little different than the originals but to my knowledge, they don't make that exact type anymore. The Fram one is close enough though. I've used them on mine before.

What kind of carburetor does yours have? Mine had a Carter 2 barrel 882S. I rebuilt it myself. It was my first carb. rebuild. If yours is a Carter I might have some rebuild tips for you if you decide to go that route. Either way, make sure you get a good rebuild kit for your exact application. Be aware that they are kind of pricey. If your accelerator pump is original I would say that the leather "boot" around it is deteriorated which may be causing a problem. But if it idles beautifully and the only problem you have is starting I wouldn't think that the problem would be your pump. Just like John said, your bowl might have been empty when you began trying to start it. The fuel evaporates from the bowl after the car sits awhile and when it's empty it can take the mechanical fuel pump a little bit to fill it back up. That's where an electrical fuel pump added to the system as an assist to the mechanical pump can come in handy. Flip a hidden switch under the dash, prime the system, then away you go.

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Guest timinbovey

Well, that was the longest delayed oil change in history! Finished up the oil changing (went with the Fram filter) flushed and refilled the cooling system. Found no sludge or slime in the filter housing or oil pan (I imagine random years of changing the oil and never driving it probably helped there). Ran it in the garage yesterday for about 45 minutes. Quiet and smooth. Wanted to be sure the cooling system held up, and give fresh oil a chance to work its way through everything. Got up to full operating temperature for quite some time, oil pressure stayed good, etc. Still smokes a little, but nothing like the first few times we ran it.

I'm seriously considering putting it back on the ground (so much easier to work on the engine when it's not up in the air). I think my only under the car concern now is... the rear passenger side wheel turns with more drag than I'd like. I know it's not a brake adjustment problem, as I've adjusted to tight, then to very loose, and it still drags. I get maybe 4-6 inches of rotation with scraping sound (sort of) before it engages the rear end. BOTH sides at the rear did this when I first put the brake drums on. Not doing it anymore on the drivers side. I've gone over the brakes, etc and all looks perfect and if I loosen the bolts that hold the drum on, it goes away. Can't seem to find anything hitting the drum (I thought it might have been the backing plate but I don't think so now).

I think next big step will be putting in on the ground, starting it up, putting it in gear and seeing if it MOVES! It's licensed and insured so if the moment feels right I might even take it around the block, IF it moves. Scary, however. But this is a small town (very small) the block is small, and one car on the road is considered traffic, so, we'll see. Hopefully one day this coming week. Still gotta rebuild the carb for sure (it's quite filthy and has had no attention for 50 years, so it deserves it, even if it runs OK.) We'll see how it goes :)

Tim in Bovey

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My rear brakes did similar, and the problem was solved by brake-cleaning and wiping down very well the shoes and drums. The problem was caused by an oil leak at the axle-bearing. A little oil residue can be a big problem, so clean thoroughly!

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Guest timinbovey
My rear brakes did similar, and the problem was solved by brake-cleaning and wiping down very well the shoes and drums. The problem was caused by an oil leak at the axle-bearing. A little oil residue can be a big problem, so clean thoroughly!

Except that every single part in the entire brake system is brand new, from drums, cylinders, shoes, to the master cylinder and all the lines!

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Guest timinbovey
Tim, regarding the dragging drum, I believe there are only two things the drum CAN hit. The shoes and the backing plate. Perhaps as a test , pull the drum and place a thin [ no more than cereal box thick ] spacer between the drum and axle.

Ben

That's what I was thinking... that about the only thing the drum can drag on are shoes or the backing plate. If I loosen the three small bolts that hold the drum to the hub, the dragging goes away -- and I don't have to loosen them a lot, just to finger tight. If I snug them down with a wrench, the drag is back. I've got to take a closer look at that before I put it back on the ground. As I recall, I didn't notice the plate bent at all, and I did try different drums last fall -- did the same with two completely different ones. I can't remember if the original one did it too, and it's long gone (it was pretty trashed).

Tim in Bovey

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  • 1 month later...
Guest shadetree77

Tim, I was searching EBAY and I ran across a seller that is selling a picture of a "1952 Buick Roadmaster With Hot Lady". I thought I recognized the "hot lady". Sure enough, it's a picture of your mother in front of your '51! Do you know this guy? Just thought you should know. Here's a link to the auction:

1952 Buick Roadmaster with Hot Lady Original Kodachrome 8 x 10 Photograph | eBay

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Sounds like the edge of the drum is rubbing in the groove of the backing plate. Have you scraped out the groove and run some 80 grit sandpaper in there to try and knock off any excess scale and rust? I would also do so on the edge of the drum.

And Robert is right about that picture. Looks like a budding entrepenure is lifting photos from this forum and trying to make a living selling reproductions. WTH... why didn't I think of that!?!

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Guest timinbovey

OK, first of all, yes, that's MY photo, being sold by someone I do not know, and he will be receiving a message from me as soon as I'm done typing this! Holy crap, man!

More importantly, the CAR DRIVES! Took her off the jacks today, fired it up, let it warm up a bit, and having no idea if the transmission would work, tried drive and reverse in the garage and both seemed to work, so I took off for a short ride around the block (video below if I remember how to put it in here). The good news is, it was very smooth, the transmission seemed to work fine, and the brakes worked perfectly. Not bad for the first time out. I got about 4/5 around the block and she quit and would not start. Would fire on starting fluid, but I noticed no gas pumping into the clear fuel filter I had added inline. Fortunately I planned for trouble and it was slightly downhill all the way home, down the alley and into my driveway. Obviously a fuel delivery issue. No time to explore tonight, but at least this is something pretty simple. We've had it running for up to 15 minutes to a half hour at a time while working on it, and the fuel pump is brand new from Kanter, so we'll see. In the meantime, I've got an ebay seller to write to, and with any luck a very short video shot by my wife will be below!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UR9pOixU7l0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Tim in Bovey

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Guest timinbovey

OK, here's the message I sent to the ebay seller:

"Number of questions about this photo. First -- from where did you purloin this photo of my MOM standing next to my DAD's Buick? We OWN this slide, it's RIGHT HERE in my hand, the ORIGINAL Kodachrome. It has not been published, offered for sale, or given away. Although Mom (85 years old this Friday) appreciates being called a "Hot Lady". You have violated our copyright, you are LYING in this listing as you couldn't possibly have made the print from the original as it's ours and we have it. I am in the process of restoring this car -- Dad bought it new. My guess is you grabbed the photo from the Buick forum online where I posted it months ago. Remove it, do not relist it, or I will advise eBay of your illegal actions."

Note how his listing is all lies. Obviously there's no way he made this from the "original slide negative or print" since I HAVE the original SLIDE from which there are no negatives.

We'll see what happens!

Tim in Bovey

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Guest shadetree77

Awesome! The video worked fine by the way. Great to see another Buick hit the road again and she sounds great. Great job Tim. As for the EBAY thing, amazing what people will do on there to make a buck. I believe this is the 3rd or 4th EBAY scam I've helped bust up using this forum. The first 3 was a guy trying to sell a car HE DID NOT OWN. I'll keep an eye out for more of your pictures. I search EBAY nightly for '51 and '52 stuff.

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Guest timinbovey

It definitly needs to have the carb rebuilt. I've done nothing to it at all except spraying it with some Gumout while it was running yesterday. The accellerator pump squirts nothing, so getting it started takes a spritz of starting fluid. That and a burned out left blinker bulb, and it's pretty much driveable. Exhaust and brakes are all new now, tires all new, fluids all renewed. So now, it's just basically some careful local driving to see how she holds up. It was sure smooth until it quit yesterday!

I'm wondering if I was simply out of gas! First time it's been running off the jacks. On the jacks it sits level, but it's quite back end low when on the ground, I suspect the gas moved to the back of the tank and didn't reach the pick up for long. I have not had a chance to check it out yet. We've run it quite a bit while working on it and only put in lawnmower gas can quantities of fuel, so no idea what may have been in it.. a gallon or two at most I'll bet. The gauge said empty, but don't know that it works anyway. Will know more later today. However, it is now parked next to our garage, instead of in the garage, so today it's getting washed for the first time in probably 40 years! I'll take a couploe pics after she's washed up.

As for the guy who was auctioning off the pic of Mom and the car on ebay, after my note (above) he's pulled the auction, apologized, and claimed he found the photo is a used computer he purchased at an auction. (Even though his listing says he scanned it from the original Kodachrome). Anyone here sell or auction off a used computer that may have had the image from this forum in it's cache? Anyway, I'm not gonna pursue it further but I'm gonna keep an eye on his listings!

Hopefully more news on the gas issue later today. Weird. When I was a little kid, like 5 years old, I used to sit in that car and play driving in the garage, now 50 years later I finally got to drive it for real!

Tim in Bovey

Way cool! Glad to see the buick move under its own power. I know pushing it was no fun. What do you have left to fix to get her road worthy (besides the fuel issue)?
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Guest timinbovey

I also noticed in the video that the brake lights did not come on, and I know they worked fine when I first put a battery in the car. Odds are I didn't reconnect something after the brake work. I'll check into that.

Well, my fuel flow troubles are clearly in the line or the tank, and nothing I didn't sort of expect. Although we ran the car quite a bit in the garage, this would be the first time it's been running and moving, so I imagine we knocked some crud loose someplace once gas was allowed to slosh around. She runs just fine off a can of gas on the floor. I'm thinking the easy and best thing to do is just replace the tank and gas line? I see an outfit called "Tanks Inc" or something like that lists a '51 Roadmaster tank for something like $250 shipped, which sounds a lot better to me that all the cost, time and trouble involved in cleaning, coating, etc the existing tank, and a new line is a piece o' cake basically. Anyone have any experience with Tanks Inc? Or know a good source for a new tank? We have an old timer mechanic just down the road and I'm going to enlist him to do any more under the car work. I've basically laid under it for nearly a year and I'm done with that!

The wife gave the car a quick wash now that it's parked outside next to our garage. It looks much happier. And it looks much better outside than in the one car garage! I'll try to put up a couple pictures later.

Tim in Bovey

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Guest Rob McDonald
When I was a little kid, like 5 years old, I used to sit in that car and play driving in the garage

Wow. You just flashed me back to about 1959 and me riding in the horn ring of my grandfather's parked '56 Pontiac. He came storming out of the house, yelling at me to stay out of the car. At least, I assumed that's what he said - he'd recently had a stroke that damaged his speech. Because of that, he was the only one I ever let call me Bobby, which was easy for him to pronounce.

Man, your Roadmaster sounds great and looks absolutely majestic gliding down the street. Your parents must be so proud of you.

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Tim;

I haven't had any personal experience with "Tanks Inc", but I've heard of a few other members buying tanks from them, without issues. I believe that the filler pipe is connected with a flexible hose, rather than the soldered in type that the OEM type is, but unless you're going for a 400 point BCA show car, I think that the new tank is the way to go. When I did my '41 Roadmaster, they weren't available, but If I have any troubles again, that's what I plan to do.

Keith

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I just purchased a tank for my 56 four door from tanks,inc. and it worked perfectly. It does have the filler pipe come separate in the box and you have to connect with a piece of hose, but it worked great and was a perfect match. Even the sending unit bolts in the same way. If you need, you could take the old tank and new to a welding shop to have the old filler pipe removed from the old tank and put on the new one. Matt

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Guest timinbovey

OK, good to hear about Tanks Inc. I'm thinking I'll just get a new tank and have the mechanic down the road install it, along with a new line. I messed up my shoulder installing kitchen cabinets/counters at my daughters place two weeks ago and I'm not up to getting the car up on jacks again and trying to do it myself. The local old time mechanic is highly recommended. Talked with him last week and he indicated it wouldn't be a problem. Attached a couple snapshots of how she looks today, out of the garage for the first time in a year!

post-52311-143142148916_thumb.jpg

Tim in Bovey

post-52311-143142148903_thumb.jpg

post-52311-143142148911_thumb.jpg

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Guest Rob McDonald

Like they say in Montana, She's A Butte! Be even prettier if you'd snap on the wheel covers... I know, I know, everyone's full of advice, when you're doing all the work. Good idea to get a handy mechanic on the project team.

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