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55 Special - runner


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Couple more shows/cruise nights:

Halloween fell on the usual cruise night, so they did "Trunk or Treat":

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2 days later, one of the major car shows in Tucson (652 cars registered):

post-92541-14314226705_thumb.jpgThough my car didn't win anything, I guess I was in good company. The T-bird to the right won first in class (not sure which - there were a bunch of classes), and the Corvette to the left also won first place in class - and the Corvette only opened the hood for less than a minute to show the engine to one guy! Lots of positive feedback on my car, though. Lots of people either had Buicks or knew someone who did, or just liked it.

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One more fix added this week - was able to swap out the goofy "skull" fan switches on the dash for stock ones, thanks to one of our forum members...

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Still need the vent slider knobs and the parking brake knob, but it's getting closer. The little silver knobs on the vent sliders are actually tire valve caps thanks to a prior owner. He did a lot RIGHT with the bodywork and paint, but the interior details - not so much.

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John the 55 Buick had lug bolts that thread in to the hub and axles. Most custom wheels require a lug nut with a shank and washer that threads on to a stud. This is why most guys with older Buicks will put chrome steel wheels on if they want a custom look. I'm leaning towards flipper wheel covers, the old hot rodder in me just won't leave thing as they are.

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

GoPro Hero2 with an external mic between the stereo speakers. You can see the shadow on the back seat after I turn left onto the main road towards the beginning of the longer video. I put it on "spot metering", so it would set to the brightness of what's outside. The video I did back in April, I didn't know about that setting, so that one looks more like driving on the Sun.

I love the video's What camera are you using? Mud
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I showed them to my kids - my son says "that's what I see". My daughter says "I never get to see the steering wheel". Doesn't matter what car, they always have to sit in the same places...

Great videos, Eric.

It has been so long since riding in the back seat, I have forgotten the view. Different from drivers view.

Ben

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GoPro Hero2 with an external mic between the stereo speakers. You can see the shadow on the back seat after I turn left onto the main road towards the beginning of the longer video. I put it on "spot metering", so it would set to the brightness of what's outside. The video I did back in April, I didn't know about that setting, so that one looks more like driving on the Sun.

Santa, I want a Gopro for Christmas! Mud

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  • 3 weeks later...

The partially-primered '56 that I put on here a while back, well, that guy had a secret. And here it is. Out for it's first cruise night last night:

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Yes, Thursday night cruise night is year-round around here. This '55 has a green/white interior. I haven't been bringing a camera to these lately since it's been dark/nighttime, so this is with a no-flash, better-than-I-expected phone's camera... He didn't open the hood, but I'm guessing it's original. I didn't get to talk with the owner, but someone who knows him was saying it was found in extremely original condition (though surface rusted ALL over).

The red '55 Century that I have in my gallery was also there last night, so that's 3 '55 Buicks at the cruise night last night...

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  • 2 months later...

Still been making it to the cruise night nearly every Thursday night. Did a pretty nice show last weekend. Limited to 200 cars, each car got 1.5 parking spaces, and the spots were pre-assigned by class...

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Also finally saw the '60 again - I'd seen it once before at the cruise night, but it was dark so no photos. And the guy with the '55 found me and said his car was parked outside (a lot of nice cars parked outside - maybe because the show required the car to be there the whole time)...

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Will add more in the gallery...

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  • 1 month later...

Since the last posting, did another show + cruise night nearly every week. Decided to get the suspension into better shape. Willie (Old Tank) contributed some front springs, and I also used his shock installation webpage to get some new shocks in there. Not quite done yet, but it's gone easier than I thought it would.

Springs as received:

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Sanded clean:

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Primed & painting underway:

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Suspension opened up:

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Shock modified w/ the vintage brackets:

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I think I prefer the spring on the left:

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Edited by Eric W
wording update (see edit history)
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Got the front end finished up today. The spring swap gave 3" of lift on one side, 3 1/2" on the other. That's before & after measurements of center of wheel opening to the garage floor. Part of that difference may have been due to the front springs being lowered with a torch, which may not have been all that precisely controlled. Part of that difference may have been in the new springs - I didn't put them back-to-back to check, though they are the same part number. But I suspect a big part of this may be from the rear springs.

The car leaned before the spring switch. I'm not going to worry about it until the rear springs are re-done, since it appears the rear lowering job was also done with a torch. Unfortunately, it's not driver-side-high, so driving alone doesn't contribute to evening it out. If it's still there after the rear springs are replaced, I might switch the front springs side-for-side, or work with shims on the rears.

2 things happen when the front is maybe 3-4" higher than the rear:

- headlights don't illuminate the road at all - they do brighten up street signs along the road, though.

- rear view mirror is good for maybe 100 feet. I can crouch down and see a little farther, but not much.

But it's drivable, and I wasn't sure I could do this and not miss a weekly cruise night...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Quick update - aside from making the weekly cruise night pretty much every week, I had the car at a 500+ car show last weekend. Will add photos soon. Buicks of note: There was a '59 in a funky custom style, Mike & Mike's convertible, a GS (maybe '70 or so), and my '55.

The '55 has had difficulty starting lately. Takes many hits on the starter before it catches. I got it to the show & back without diving into diagnosis. Day before yesterday, I got it figured out. Checked battery: 12.85V. Good. Got car started - checked voltage at high idle: 13.8V. Good. Next thing I had in mind was to pull the starter. First step of that - disconnect battery. Positive post looked a little crusty - not on the side you could see, but between the post and the clamp. So I cleaned that up & reconnected. Starts good now.

But it did drive me to research the engine. This car was converted to Chevy 350 before I got it. So I found the engine number & decoded it. It's a 1974. So at least now if/when it does need a starter (or something else), I know what to look for.

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Thanks to Mike & Mike for the jump at the cruise night last night. I'll need to work on those battery connections again, and maybe the starter. Anyway, here's some photos from the big show last week:

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Fun of forum posting. It won't let me delete the "attached thumbnails" which are different pictures, but essentially the same as a couple within the post itself. And there's a limit of 20 items per post, which appears to extend to additional posts within a certain timeframe that contain additional embedded/attached items. Anyway, after this expires, I'll add a couple of photos of my car at the show, with the new ride height (raised ~3 - 3 1/2" in the front, ~1" higher in the rear).

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Edited by Eric W
photos added (see edit history)
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Yes, much better. Also included your recommended shocks. I'll get some proper non-torched springs in the rear as well. Right now the front is pretty plush, but the rear still needs work.

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Not quite done yet, but it's gone easier than I thought it would.

Thanks Eric for your comments

That might be the next work on the car that I may do myself, if not to complicated (although I should also change the exhaust pipe).

Would you recommand any internet site to buy the springs ?

Any other pieces to buy and change at the same time ?

Also any specific "you tube video" to learn how to change them ? Maybe one of yours ?

Thanks in advance

Alain

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I used the shop manual instructions. There is a section on changing the springs.

The key item from the shop manual instructions is to remove the lower upright bolt.

By removing this bolt and not the upper, the alignment settings are not changed

(other than whatever results from the car sitting higher).

General order:

Crack loose wheel nuts.

Put car on jack stands.

Remove front wheel.

Remove shock. Can access top of shock through wheel well.

Disconnect sway bar link. If you forget this, the sway bar will prevent the A-arm from swinging down.

Put jack under the A-arm to hold the spring force. You might see the upper A-arm come off the stop.

In this configuration, the only weight on the lower upright bolt is the weight of the upper arm, upright & brake.

Balance the jack position under the a-arm against the upper a-arm sitting on the stop to have little/no load on the lower upright bolt.

If there is load on the bolt, it's a LOT harder to turn. I think I went slightly high with the lower a-arm and lifted up on the brake drum to unload the bolt.

On one end of the lower upright bolt is a nut. I think this really just acts as a jam nut, because the A-arm fork is threaded.

(I say on one end, because on my car, the bolt was threaded in from the front on one side, from the rear on the other side. I just put it back the way I found it, though the book might say which way is "correct".)

Remove the lower upright bolt. Only takes about a million turns. There should be seals between the upright & A-arm fork ends on both the forward and rear side of the upright.

Lower the jack until the spring falls out. If the spring doesn't fall out, the car wasn't high enough. Now you need another jack to lift the car higher...

Putting a spring IN:

Bolt seals -

The shop manual says to stretch the seals around the A-arm fork ends such that the seals can be brought into position after the bolt is installed.

I only did this on the end of the bolt away from the head of the bolt. At the head end, I slipped the seal between the a-arm fork and the upright before installing the bolt because you can lean on the upright a little to make space for the seal.

On the other end of the bolt, slip the seal into position BEFORE driving the bolt all the way in. Move the seal to its final spot when the bolt is just a little into the a-arm.

That way, you don't have to stretch the seal as much.

Spring -

There's a rubber "seat" at the top of the spring. It might fall out, or it might stay in the spring pocket.

On my car, one of these seats fell out, and it didn't stay in position when I put the replacement spring in. Of course I found this after getting it all back together and was ready to put the shock back in and the spring seat rubber was in the way.

So on the 2nd try I taped the spring seat rubber to the spring so it would stay approximately in position above the spring. Not sure what happens to the tape in there, but I'm not worrying about a little tape.

Raise the a-arm back up with a new spring in place. Watch the clocking of the spring. The cut end of the spring goes down, into a "pocket" in the lower A-arm.

The top end of the spring is ground (tapered).

The spring will probably shift around some on the A-arm "spring pocket". I found it will tend to fall outwards, but raising the A-arm higher, it settles (pops) back into position.

When a-arm is high enough, reinstall the lower upright bolt. Now if the jack lets go, the spring isn't going anywhere.

Slip the nut-end seal into position before socking the bolt all the way down.

Finish tightening the lower a-arm bolt.

Install the jam nut on this bolt.

Reconnect the sway bar link.

Install the shock.

Install the wheel.

Lower car off the jack & jack stand.

I only replaced the springs, but you might want to replace the spring seat rubber and the lower bolt seals.

Other related parts in the area that you are accessing at the same time include the shock and sway bar end links.

You could replace these as well, if the car needs them.

Online sources for springs? I don't know. For my car, Willie had some I could use.

It's looking like another forum member has some "pre-owned" for the rears that I will try. They're not exact for this model, but they're only 100lbs (total car weight rating) off.

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ERIC, I'm sweating from reading about your hard work. I have wrestled with the front and rear suspension of my '57 and can appreciate your efforts. I like your comment about the bit of tape you used to hold the upper spring seat. Although the natural urge is there to try to retrieve it, who really cares what happens to it?

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I think the tape is out of the path of any motion that might be needed between the end of the spring and the spring rubber. I'd rather have the spring rubber in there with a little tape than to not have it in there and find out how much extra noise that might make!

Good luck Alain with springs if you try them. Once you get over that you are releasing ~1/4 of the car's weight by letting the jack down, it's an orderly sequence of steps to be sure the spring energy stays controlled.

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

Been a while since I posted on this one. Made very few of the weekly cruise nights this fall because my son's baseball practice was at that same time. Decided that as the '51 41D was farther along, to focus on that. Also the '51 76R really got into my garage as a loan against the '55. So it was time for the '55 to move along. In this case, there is no local demand for such a car, but Craigslist got it on the way to northern California - somewhere near San Francisco. So look for it over there.

Here's the last show I did with it on October 26th:

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post-92541-143142871037_thumb.jpg - The C-list ad cover photo.

post-92541-14314287104_thumb.jpg - Waiting to be loaded. She actually ran out of gas just as the driver was driving her up onto the trailer. I had to go get a few gallons and try again... Not like she was telling me not to let her go... More like if I'd have driven a minute more, I wouldn't have made it to the pick up point... Gas gauge works, I just wasn't doing a good job of checking...

post-92541-143142871043_thumb.jpg - All clamped down and ready to go...

Big thanks to the forum members who contributed parts and advice - it's much improved over the time that it was mine...

Edited by Eric W
wording (see edit history)
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The buyer did let me know he's happy with it. He's already into fixing something that I wasn't going to get to... So it seems to be somewhere where it will be maintained and driven, and the ones still with me will have more focus...

Yes, I had a funny feeling the day after it left, but I'm having the rims for the 41D powder coated right now - so I'll be happy to see that one getting into better shape.

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