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My 1931 Model 67


JoelsBuicks
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One suggestion would be to put only a very few nails in the skin of the doors until you have them hung 

 

on the car and adjusted right, then go back and put all the nails in. We tried to tell this to a guy in our Model A Ford Cub,

 

But he didn't listen and then ended up super frustrated and brought the car to us to adjust the doors and paid us to go back and pull all 

 

the nails out so we could tweak the doors to fit.

 

Another big learning lesson is to let the metal trim pieces determine the opening width for the doors, not the wood- The sill board metal cap pieces 

 

and the roof rail metal trim pieces.

post-154773-0-28155500-1451595938_thumb.  Tweaking the door to fit

 

 

post-154773-0-19359600-1451596015_thumb. installing nails after fitting

 

 

post-154773-0-13140400-1451596035_thumb.  Good diagram to learn the names of the wood pieces.

Edited by bmg1959 (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you for that helpful advice. In fact, I did pretty much what you suggested and did a temporary fit into their respective places and made some measurements and marks that will guide the final glue-up for this wood. I was surprised to find that my old course of action was taking me about 3/16" away from having good door margins on the driver's side and about an 1/8" off on the passenger's side. Once the back half is married to the front half, this would have been difficult to change.

On another note, I wanted to post about using T-nuts for some of the wood pieces. It's fairly commonly known that re-wooding can't always be done as originally because there were many screws that were used and then the metal placed atop the wood, thereby covering the screw head. Essentially we are left with putting the wood inside the metal instead. Such is the case with the horizontal wood piece that tucks in below the rear quarter window. The pic shows the use of the T-nuts that are imbedded into the back of this piece. They will mount to a vertical member behind the rear quarter window. The other pic is the glue-up of the rear door post. This piece is still removable from the body.

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Edited by JoelsBuicks (see edit history)
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The Roof. I used to have a dog that was infatuated with my roof. It's all she ever talked about.

When you have absolutely none of the old roof wood, you are left desperately looking for any and every clue that will give you some sort of starting point. The only comfort you enjoy is; most of this will never be seen and, you can always start over. If you ever thought that rotted wood was a really bad thing, just think of no wood at all - it's many times worse. Exhausting all reasonable sources of information, I moved ahead.

I started with the last thing first, the ten slats. They go the length of the roof and sit atop the bows. A big chunk of clear cypress was reduced to just under 7/16" thick and about 1-7/8" wide.

Then, I made the bows. The bows run across the car and support the slats and they do have a subtle curve. I decided to maintain the same curve on the underside of the bows as well. They are mortised into the rails that flank the slats and support the roof metal and the strip that helps hold the roof fabric.

I did not evenly space the bows along the rails, instead I concentrated more of them towards the rear where the roof curve is more pronounced and would therefore subjected to more downward force resulting from forcing the straight slats to take this curve. The whole thing was glued and screwed.

Forgive me for deviated from whatever original looked like, the evidence will soon be concealed.

Thanks again, more to come.....

Joel

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Please allow me to switch gears momentarily.  Long before I found a '36 Buick in real bad need of a carpenter, my hobby was building furniture.  If you've ever priced walnut or cherry wood, you know that you'll end up with hundreds of dollars in a project before you ever start.  Add to that the fact that I grew up in the shadows of huge walnut trees.  In short, I was just a sawmill away from having my own supply of hardwood.

 

In 1992, I met a gentleman in Missouri that owned a very old sawmill.  A few years before that, he was crippled by a tree that fell on him; he can still get around but with much difficulty.  This essentially ended his sawmilling days and the old mill needed a new home.  I made a deal for the mill and spent the next year modernizing it and building a shed for it.  All of the old wooden structural components were replaced with steel and it was set up in a concrete foundation.  I built a solar kiln to dry the wood and soon I had a lifetime supply.

 

It's amazing how fast time goes by and now the mill looks old again.  I still run it from time to time.  Back in about 1996, a friend called me from Memphis and told me to come and get a cypress tree that was pulled from the Mississippi River.  It was a log that was 77 ft long.  To make a long story short, It's now part of my '31.

 

The blade is 48" diameter and it is powered by a 6-cylinder combine engine.  It's dangerous to say the least.  When people heard that I had a mill, the logs just started coming. 

 

Thanks again, Joel      

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When you view these pics, please keep in mind that none of this is permanently glued , screwed or nailed, except the cowl wood and base sill wood. In other words, I'm still in the fit stage. Truth be told, I've had a few too many fits. One thing I know is that it will be difficult to reverse course once this wood is permanently installed. Mostly this is because I will use a seam sealer as sort of a "bond" between metal and wood. This will help prevent any squeaks. Once that stuff sets up, it will be nearly impossible to separate. Also, good wood glue will be used on the joints.

Nothing else much to report, just remember it all comes back apart.

Thanks,

Joel

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Gary and Ernie, thank you for the nice words.

When I have to improvise on certain wood pieces I often wonder just how close I came to building it like it was done the first time. This is the case with the front roof wood above the windshield that captures the end of the wood slats that hold up the roof fabric. There was just nothing left to duplicate. Frankly, this car came with too many pieces missing.

Just to digress a bit, it truly is a problem when you get a car that someone else started restoring and passed away. What makes it worse is when the heirs of these cars neither shared the passion nor had enough of a connection or emotional investment to help make sure that the project got the best shot at being successful. What you're left with is a pile of pieces and parts that were gathered in haste and subsequently represented as "that's all there is." I shouldn't complain because I got what I bought or should I say bought what I got. It's all a bit sad but a good lesson none the less.

This front roof piece - maybe I'll call it a header was made out of white oak. I felt that a little more strength is in order. I also want no doubt that it will hold the screws that secure the ends of the slats. I would bet that this looks nothing like the original but it should work and when the car is finished, it will remain hidden until someone has to make another - hopefully long after I'm gone.

Thanks,

Joel

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Dale,

I have a lot of respect and admiration of artists who seemingly have the ability to see and create things unique to one's imagination. My sawmill has seen logs that only an artist could appreciate! I have to say those weren't my favorite to saw.

I recall those days looking through my Fine Woodworking magazine and seeing artworks of craftsmen and hoping I could do that. It never happened. What little right brain I ever had atrophied during engineering school and never returned. My furniture was always plenty straight and square or perfectly round; completely calculable in every way.

The pics below show a burial flagcase that I made for the wife of my Dad's best friend. He was killed in the 1983 Beirut Embassy bombing. This is made from Oklahoma wild cherry with Hackberry inlay.

Ok, back to the Buicks!

Thanks,

Joel

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I have discovered Seam Sealer. A week ago today I permanently fitted, glued, screwed and nailed much of the wood for the back part and roof of my car. Seam sealer can be pretty messy stuff but I also used it liberally on the surfaces of the wood that snug up to the body. I am quite positive that if this stuff existed in 1931, Buick would have used it! Once cured, it is flexible and paintable and is stuck to the wood and epoxy primer. It seems to be an excellent way to make poorly fitted wood pieces look and feel solid.

Even for the metal-to-wood fastening, like on the various braces, I use the seam sealer. The old Buick manual calls for the use of friction tape for these joints to control the squeak. I am hoping that this stuff will do the same. One thing is for certain, I feel sorry for the next guy that has to pull this stuff loose.

If I have any regrets, you all will be the first to know!

Joel

P.S. - I'm not connected in any way to anyone who makes or sells seam sealer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two hundred twenty two slotted, flat-head screws are holding the slats to the cross bows. I deplate the zinc off of the screws and then coat them with primer. In the presence of moisture (an electrolyte) the zinc will set up a half-cell with the iron and things corrode fairly quickly. At least that's my story - maybe I just don't like that on this 85 year old car and I can say the same for using the slotted instead of phillips head screws. Properly countersunk and drilled, it all went together quickly.

Although the finish look will be original, the next material to go atop this wooden lattice will be completely unconventional. It will be cut from single 1/8" thick, 4'x8' sheet of black high-density polyethylene. I made the wood structure to allow for that additional thickness. I'm not sure how I arrived at the idea but I wanted something relatively stiff, waterproof and with longevity. Regrets? I've had a few.... and this may end up being one of them.

Door wood is next, it's already cut but not in.

Thanks, Joel

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I've known for a while that sooner or later, I will have to address the shortage of side window channels. I need to find the "mirror image" of all of these pieces because they are for one side of the car only and I don't know which side yet. The Filling Station has something similar but will likely require some modification. Once again, this is a good example of the pitfalls of buying someone else's project.

If you know what makes and models might have these same channels, please let me know, it would help with the want-to-buy ad.

Joel

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Just a brief update showing the wood permanently installed in the rear floor. Those floor pans are not permanently installed; they're just laying in place. Again, I'm impressed with this seam sealer stuff. I use it between the wood and metal and when it sets up, it has the consistency of a rubber tire and it is firmly stuck to anything it touches. Notice the braces are installed attached to the curved piece and then from the rear door post down to the bottom wood.

Take care,

Joel

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I have this idea about adding another tail/brake light to my car. Although my intent is to restore this car to as original as possible, I wonder if things would be much safer with a second tail light. I have the light but not the bracket. If I had another bracket, I could make a strategic girth cut and do a 180 degree rotation and then weld it back together and it would match the driver's side. Then, it would be possible to install turn signals and use the cowl lights as signal lights.

I won't be trying to score any points with this car but I do intend to put it on the road as often as I can.

I need to think about this but I need to make up my mind before ordering the wiring harness.

Not sure why I put myself through this - anyone have a spare tail light bracket laying around?

Later,

Joel

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Joel,

 

I wish I could help. but I think the window channel pieces may well be differnt size, I have spares from a '32 57 Car, but I think the body is much the same as '31, but not the same for the larger series.

 

I would have thought the larger series also had two taillights, but this may have only started in '32.  I have the same thing with turn signals  with a simple two way switch along the dash, but there is no automatic turn-off.  Also, during the day, they are not very effective.  If you want it "correct" that is the way to go, but if you want a safer arrangement, more modern light should be on the bumpers.  Good luck. Let me know if you have some definite measurements of the window channels, and I will check. You can send my a PM.

 

John 

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Morgan, you're entirely wright about that. (Sorry, I just had to do that) I've given many hours of thought on exactly what you brought up. Just compare those 9 years back then with 9 years today and I can't hardly tell the difference in 9 years of today's car - I'm sure that the electronic gadgets have changed but I'm just not into that although I do appreciate the safety advances.

Now, contrast that with the fact that we have been riding on pneumatic rubber tires pushed along by spark ignited, piston driven engines for close to 120 years. I'm amazed at that too and frankly I don't see that radically changing in at least the next 30 years.

One of these days I'll find a way to read more history about the 1930s. Like you've said, the look and the structure of Buick (and everyone else) changed drastically in the wake of a struggling economy. There must have been so much competition at that time.

Morgan, thanks for the comment,

Joel

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Joel:

Thank you for posting about your journey into the restoration of a wood bodied Buick. I just came across this thread and it only reinforced my decision to pass on all the cars that were for sale with "just a bit of bad wood". I know I had the skills to do this type of work but not the facilities and space required to manage this type of undertaking. I have been working on just a small fraction of bad wood in the drivers door of my 1925 Standard touring. I taught Industrial arts (now Tech Ed) for over 30 years. I do not regret retiring but I do regret not having access to a fully equipped wood shop with space. Will we see you at Chickasha?

Edited by dibarlaw (see edit history)
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Larry, I won't be coming to Chickasha - the family will be out-of-state for spring break.   I would love to be there and it's only about three hours from me.   

 

When I first started the woodworking hobby, I loaded up on the very popular brand of tools sold at the local Sears store.  In a short period of time, I found myself completely frustrated with the integrity of these tools.  I was trying to saw oak and walnut and every tool I had was underpowered and unstable.  The fence on the table saw had movement, the router motor would shake within its plastic housing and the jointer had a stationary outfeed table which made the adjustment of the knives so darn hard and critical, I almost never removed them for sharpening to avoid having to reset them.  My drill press had terrible runout and saw blades that I used and thought were the best were actually just about the worst. 

 

Then I attended an auction at a high school where the woodworking class had been eliminated.  I bought a big, heavy planer and to make a long story short, I started quickly accumulating really good stuff and got rid of the other.  Several school auctions later I had a very well stocked woodshop and then built a woodshop for my Dad.

 

My intent with posting about this car and its woodwork is not to discourage others to try this.  In fact, I am wanting others to see that it can be done and that I could share some of the tips and trials and hopefully get some good advice from others.  Still, there are frustrating moments that deserve some time as well.  

 

I wish that I had the time to save every old Buick endangered by its wood.  

 

Thanks for sharing,

Joel   

 

 

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