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Bringing Dad's 1951 Roadmaster Back!


timinbovey
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  • 3 weeks later...

I am new to this Forum and just found this thread. What a great story. This would make a great movie!

Beauty is only paint deep, love goes all the way through. I have said that before, but in this case it is so very true. I have developed a lot of respect for you as I read through this. I was so caught up I could not stop reading it.

Thank you for this uplifting and inspriational story,

Donnie Wallace

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  • 9 months later...

You may have noticed on this forum in another post that Dad passed away this past Friday morning, and I won't go into that here. It wasn't unexpected following recent issues but still sad.

Ironically the funeral tomorrow brought my Son up from Kansas yesterday, who went right to work on the car today. The fuel flow issue is solved with replacement of the fuel line from tank to fuel pump. We also discovered a leak around the filler pipe joint on the tank which we only found because he had the passenger side of the car lifted only, sloshing gas to the drivers side where it was dripping very slowly. No crisis for now. We took the car for a test drive around the block, then around several blocks and back to the garage with no issues. He adjusted the screwy aftermarket manual choke that Dad installed years ago, and we tested the charging system for proper operation -- all A-OK. Brake lights kaput -- switch is bad. It was fine when the car first arrived here, but as you see in the first test drive video, no brake lights. At least that's easy and I don't have to lay under the car to replace it! Will I have to bleed the brakes after changing that switch?

I must admit that I got a bit misty driving the Buick thinking Dad missed seeing it drive again (he did see it go halfway round the block last year, so he knew it was on it's way back).

Coming here to the forum was just for a quick update and a bit of a diversion as we're busy with funeral plans and will have a house full of relatives tomorrow. Tough times but we all go through it. My Son confirmed he's looking forward to inheriting the car, I reminded him that if I do as good as Grandpa he's going to have a 30 year wait.

Tim in Bovey

Edited by timinbovey (see edit history)
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  • 6 months later...

Many of you may have read that Mom passed away on December 10th. It's been a tough holiday but I'm recovering.

Now my interest in working on the seems to have been renewed. About all I've done on it the past year was replacing the brake light switch which of course solved the problem there. I was kind of up to my eyeballs taking care of the folks the past year.

Next on the list is to have the radiator addressed. When we first got 'er going I didn't notice any leaks, but now that it's been run a bit there seem to be several. Used to be a pretty good radiator shop just a few miles away but they've long since turned into more of a general auto shop and I'm not sure if they repair/record/rebuild radiators any more, but there's a couple shops up in Hibbing that are listed too, so I'll see what can be done. I don't know if radiators are something that get repaired anymore, but I'll know more next week. I'm not seeing anyone offering new units for this car.

AFter the radiator, I'm going to follow through on ordering a new gas tank. No point messing with the old one, once it's out it's not all that expensive to just put in a new tank compared to the cost and time trying to fix up the old one.

So, that's the update. Been a mild winter thus far -- last year we had about 3-4 weeks of -30 (yes that's below zero) weather. Only one or two days where it got below zero at all so far this year, and in the 30's the past few days.

Tim in Bovey

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Tim,

I was vey sorry to hear about your Mom. It seems like I lost a family member with the familiarity with your family that we've all gained through your thread.

I'll be interested in what you find out about local shops repairing the radiator. You've got a great car with a unique and very meaningful provenance and I am looking forward to seeing progress. I hope you can make it to the Buick National meet in Springfield, MO in June.

Geoff

Missouri

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I'll also off er my condolences on the passing of your Mom. Our family has sustained several similar losses near Christmastime and it clouds the Holidays somewhat, but all one do is carry on.

Glad to hear about progress on the Roadmaster though. The rad on my '41 was in a similar state, and I went for a full recore, with a more modern high density type of core in the original mounting, so it fits right, though the core type is not correct. This way the cooling is much improved. Anyway, that was the choice I made for my car.

Keith

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So what's the scoop on removing the radiator? R&R of the radiator doesn't seem to be addressed in the shop manual. Is it simply a matter of removing all bolts associated with holding it in? Is it necessary to remove the hood completely to get the radiator out? Or will the hood swing up far enough one way to get it out? The local radiator shop indicated that yes, they can indeed repair or even recore the radiator. Not that I'm going to pull it out in the next day or two as it's mighty cold up here. But when a decent day hits us I want to be prepared.

Which brings up another question. Is there a more involved manual that a guy should have on the shelf besides the standard shop manual? It seems like to many procedures I want to undertake are not addresses in the shop manual. I'm suspecting the shop library needs something more involved. It seems that for my Corvair there was an assembly manual that literally told everything you'd need to know about every nut and bolt in the car.

Tim in Bovey

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Tim,

If the 51 has the side opening hood, I would just remove it for great access. The only hassle (ok, two) is making sure you have a safe place to keep the hood and aligning the posts and hinges when replacing. With two people, this is not too tough and you will have unparalleled access.

Can't address the radiator renoval, but it looks straightforward. Visit the Old Car Manual Project on the web for your shop manual.

Geoff

Missouri

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Tim;

I've also found that the manual seems to be a bit scant on some topics. My thoughts are that it was written for the professional mechanic, and they presumed that the user had certain level of knowledge of the cars.

On my '41 (with the side opening hood) I think that I put the rad in with hood off, but it might be possible to do it with the hood up. There are a row of 3 or 4 bolts down each side of the rad which holds it place, and it will lift up and out once they and the hoses are removed. They can be hard to spot, and you will need a socket with an extension to reach most of them. The rad may be a bit heavy, especially if it has a fair bit of crud in it, so careful of your back!

A word of caution, it is easy to bang the rad on the fan and do some damage to it while lifting it out, or putting back in. Removing the belt and fan adds to the work, and is really not necessary, but gives you a bit more space to take it out.

Keith

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... A word of caution, it is easy to bang the rad on the fan and do some damage to it while lifting it out, or putting back in. Removing the belt and fan adds to the work, and is really not necessary, but gives you a bit more space to take it out.

Keith

Or you can put a thin plywood sheet between the two while removing and reinstalling.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just did the radiator out-recore-reinstall on the '51 41D. One thing to be aware of is fan position. Look down at the lower elbow fitting on the back side of the radiator. Rotate the unequally-spaced fan blades so that fitting can come straight up out of the car. Ask me how I found out about that (picking up heavy radiator, it hits fan blade, put it back down, figure out what it hits...). Don't know if this is the reason for the unequal spacing on the fan blades, but it works...

Other items - I removed the horn relay on the upper left side of the radiator frame so the screws for the horn relay are out of the way. Also there is 1 screw on each side of the radiator frame that is NOT a radiator attach bolt. I guess those just hold the fender sheet metal. I pulled those out because they will interfere with sliding the radiator up.

As the others said, what's left is top hose, bottom hose, 3 bolts on each side. Then radiator can come straight up (with the hood off). I could not see any way to do this with the hood on. Pulling out the old one, there's no reason to protect the fins. With the new core, protect from fan blade contact with cardboard or plywood when the radiator is on the way back down.

I got the hood out of the way by myself - unlatch hood. Slip 2 ropes under hood near front and rear. These are tied to the garage ceiling. Put tension on these ropes, lifting hood a couple of inches. Back car out from under the hood. Hold hood up at rear, and unhook the rear rope. Set back end of hood on the floor. Then it's just leaning on the front rope. Not too bad to then just pick up the entire hood and put it out of the way.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Egad! I'm back. I'll try to make this brief. After Dad passed away a year and a half ago I really lost my drive to work on the car.  I was really dedicated to getting it on the road to give him a ride in his car before he died. Didn't make it.  But he got quit a kick out of the fact that it was out of storage, was running, and that I was working on it all the time. After Dad died I was very busy taking care of Mom who would up in assisted living with pretty severe dementia/Alzheimer's and Mom passed away last December.

 

But this spring it's going to be time to do something.  Clearly I am not capable, nor do I have facility, do rebuild the engine/Dynaflow myself. Basically working in a one car garage.  I'm good with a wrench, but the last engine I rebuilt was a Chevy 6 in a '54 back in 1976 and I was a lot younger then!  Anyway, my Son IS an ace mechanic but he is in Topeka, KS. If we can get the car to him he can and will do the job (he's already looking forward to inheriting the car some day). 

 

So basically I'm after three things by this spring.  A safe way to get the car to him.  Topeka is 11 hours from here.  Whatever parts he's going to need to rebuild the Straight 8, and whatever he's going to need to go through the Dynaflow.   Is there a good comprehensive parts source?  I feel like I haven't looked for Buick parts in ages. 

 

The car is still in the garage and starts right up. Smokes like a sun of a gun, but it runs.  And it can be driven around the block.  We'd like to build it to make it a reliable driver.  I don't need to hot rod it, or do a lot of fancy modifications except things that would add to reliability.  Once it's back home up here there are no freeways, no city traffic, just pretty easy driving. 

 

Not planning on doing anything till spring, but I can accumulate needed parts in the meantime.

 

Tim

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 Tim, glad to hear from you, and that you are getting going on the car again! I understand your situation, as after my Dad passed away, it was tough to get moving on things again.

 Anyway, I'll to try to answer some of your questions, I think that the parts you will need should be available. I have bought Dynaflow parts from a gentleman named David Edwards, in Mass., and have found him to be good to deal with and fair for pricing. CARS Inc., in N J "old Buick parts" is their website, you should find with a search, and they sell engine parts for Buicks and a lot of other stuff, as does the more well known Kanter Auto, also in N J. Bob's Autombilia also has a wide range of parts, and they have a good website.

 These are places I've bought from, and have been happy with the product and services I received, otherwise, I have no other connections or endorsements for them.

 Hope this helps!

 Keith

Edited by Buicknutty (see edit history)
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No, I've never done a compression test.  I'm kinda basing my analysis on blue smoke and that it will crank and start up with a very weak battery.  It's probably got maybe 4 hours of running time on it in the garage over the past 18 months. Still smokes like holy hell.  And I recall riding in it as a teenager -- I'm guessing around 1972 -- and it smoked a LOT then.  My Uncle who had been keeping tabs on the car had taken it out for a ride while we were there visiting. Grandma wouldn't even ride in it because it smelled so bad. I would have been about 14 then. I remember conversations about worrying about carbon monoxide getting in the car.  That would be something I could do quick before winter sets in, however. 

 

Not very scientific, however. 

 

Tim

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I just hate to see you investing in a rebuild if there is little need for it.  May I presume the blue smoke is coming from the tailpipe? Or is it coming from the road draft tube and oil filler cap?  There were several years where I hardly used my 56 and then one year I had it out and remember thinking it was really blowing a lot of smoke from the front of the car. Other than changing the oil and then driving it I did not do anything and it stopped belching all that smoke after some use.

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 Tim, I will second John on this, as it would be worth the trouble to do some research as to what the issue is, before pulling it all apart. Rings often stick in an older engine that isn't used much, or sits for a long time.

 However, fwiw, my '41 Roadmaster smoked badly, and it had sat lots too. I tried all the tricks, tranny fluid in the cylinders, etc. etc., and it all didn't make a bit of difference.

So I figured that the rings were hopelessly stuck, but I was wrong! They had lost their tension, and weren't gripping the walls well enough to seal properly any more, and were not stuck in the grooves at all.

 Anyway, it would be worth a try, before you rip it all apart.

 Only my few cents worth, Tim.

 Keith

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  • 4 months later...

Still hanging around here!

Needless to say haven't done a thing to the car since last fall. Sadly, this past winter was the first time in the car's history that it was parked outside over the winter. Too many cars, not enough garages.  But I did buy a good (i.e. expensive) car cover for it, and it was parked right by the driveway in the backyard so it was protected and we kept a good eye on it.  Seems to have made it through winter OK.

The good news is I bought a small commercial building -- basically it's a 6 unit mini-storage with an apartment on the backside and a HUGE garage off to the side, not part of the storage units (although same building) that's two cars wide and two cars deep, and is heated, and has a bathroom, and is about 4 blocks from my house. So as soon as I've got it cleaned up and a workbench built that's where the Buick is going.  Plenty of room to remove the hood and get to that radiator, etc.  So no more squeezing between the car and the workbench working in the one car garage!

If the car starts and drives like it has for up to a  block at a time, driving it down to the new shop will be the longest drive it's had since the 1970's (I think 1972).  I plan on mounting my GoPro inside and getting video of the "trip"

Tim in Bovey

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  • 2 years later...
On 3/20/2016 at 4:09 PM, timinbovey said:

Still hanging around here!

Needless to say haven't done a thing to the car since last fall. Sadly, this past winter was the first time in the car's history that it was parked outside over the winter. Too many cars, not enough garages.  But I did buy a good (i.e. expensive) car cover for it, and it was parked right by the driveway in the backyard so it was protected and we kept a good eye on it.  Seems to have made it through winter OK.

The good news is I bought a small commercial building -- basically it's a 6 unit mini-storage with an apartment on the backside and a HUGE garage off to the side, not part of the storage units (although same building) that's two cars wide and two cars deep, and is heated, and has a bathroom, and is about 4 blocks from my house. So as soon as I've got it cleaned up and a workbench built that's where the Buick is going.  Plenty of room to remove the hood and get to that radiator, etc.  So no more squeezing between the car and the workbench working in the one car garage!

If the car starts and drives like it has for up to a  block at a time, driving it down to the new shop will be the longest drive it's had since the 1970's (I think 1972).  I plan on mounting my GoPro inside and getting video of the "trip"

Tim in Bovey

Thats not Bovey, MN is it?

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