High Desert

My father's first car, 1957 Roadmaster Convertible, makes it to my worshop finally!

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Posted (edited)

Good news! It made it to the new photo spot under its own power today. Got the engine initial break-in done but it still needs some tuning. 

 

I just drove it from the shop to the patio, maybe 150 feet. 

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Edited by High Desert (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, High Desert said:

Good news! It made it to the new photo spot under its own power today. Got the engine initial break-in done but it still needs some tuning. 

 

Would you mind describing your break in procedure?  I realize that’s as bad as showing up in a firearms forum and asking AR or AK, but with any luck I’m a month away from breaking in a 57 364 and I’ll take all the experienced advice I can get. 
 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Angelfish said:

 

Would you mind describing your break in procedure?  I realize that’s as bad as showing up in a firearms forum and asking AR or AK, but with any luck I’m a month away from breaking in a 57 364 and I’ll take all the experienced advice I can get. 
 

Sure! I've rebuilt six or seven engines in my life with varying levels of focus on initial break-in and they have all performed well. Sometimes I feel like this is the mechanic's version of an old wives' tale or throwing salt over your shoulder. "I know a guy whose sister's cousin didn't do a good initial break in and two weeks later, Bam! He threw a rod." 

I generally believe that the initial start focuses on helping the new cam and lifters make friends with each-other by keeping the oil pressure high. Subsequent drives, putting the engine under varying load conditions help set the piston rings. 

 

Regardless of old-wives-tale status, properly rebuilding a nailhead is an expensive task and we need all the "luck" we can get. Most of what I did for initial break-in was before the engine started. 

 

1. Remove the distributor and use a drill and chucked old distributor shaft (without the drive gear) or cutoff large blade screwdriver shaft to prime the oil system by driving the oil pump for about five minutes. Since I did this with the engine in the engine stand, I installed an oil pressure gauge in the oil pressure fitting hole on the right side of the engine. If no gauge is available, that hole will need to be plugged or hooked up properly if the engine is in the car. 

2. Set the static timing. The manual has good instructions for this. 

3. Prime the fuel line and carburetor. I did this by using an old 90w gear oil bottle half-filled with gasoline. The spout can be inserted into the carb fuel line to feed fuel until it hits resistance, meaning the carb is full. 

4. Fill the radiator with water. If there is a problem that means the cooling system has to be drained, it is better to just work with water than coolant. I normally drain and fill with coolant after several heat cycles. 

5. Double/triple check all fittings and connections. 

 

Most of the things listed above focus on on being able to start the engine quickly and bring it up to operating temperature without having to shut it down. 

After that, it is pretty simple. 

 

6. Start the engine and run it at 2,500-3,500 rpm for 15-20 minutes. Fluctuate the rpms within that range every few minutes. I like the Buick carb-actuated solenoid for this. I could just lean over the left fender and start the car while keeping an eye on ensuring things are working correctly.

 

Good luck with yours! It makes me feel good to hear another Buick is getting a refreshed engine. 

 

 

Edited by High Desert (see edit history)

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Pre-priming the oil pump is only needed to be done until you build oil pressure.  Any longer than that, and you are just washing off assembly lube from all the journals and surfaces.

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On 6/18/2020 at 8:42 AM, Caballero2 said:

Just a suggestion, in light of your area, I bought this at Napa, bolts right up, works very well.  It is thermally activated.

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I noticed the fan was essentially free-wheeling yesterday after I shut the engine off, so I took your good advice and upgraded the clutch from a 1963 Lesabre. The new clutch moves a lot more air at idle. One small difference is that the old clutch has four fine thread studs to mount the fan. The new clutch takes four coarse thread bolts with lock washers. 

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Posted (edited)

I became aware of the temperature sensing capability of this design while towing a trailer with a car enclosed through Idaho on a day of 100 plus degrees.  With the A/C going full blast in my '82 Chevrolet Silverado, one could hear and feel the fan clutch engage then drop out when the temp gauge dropped into the save zone. I believe that the design allows the clutch to actually lock up when the high temp is reached. Others may chime in if that is not correct.

Edited by Caballero2 (see edit history)
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Took it for a voyage around the neighborhood the evening with my son. I enjoyed the wide eyed stares as we passed people. 

Need to finish cleaning all the dirt and sand from inside the car to be able to hit higher speeds though. My eyes can't take the chaos! 

 

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Hi Don

Great story and great progress. The car is coming along very nicely. 

Thanks for sharing your progress. 

Steve

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13 hours ago, FireballV8 said:

Hi Don

Great story and great progress. The car is coming along very nicely. 

Thanks for sharing your progress. 

Steve

Thanks Steve!

 

Part of this is just documenting for myself the car's progress. I've always been drawn to a story though. I don't attend many car shows but when I do, I'll spend 90% of my time at the places where someone has set up an album of his/her car, showing it in stages from start to current state, with a story. 

 

I've noticed that the type of car or truck doesn't really factor into my infatuation with the history. Without the background and history, it is just a car. When the history is there, it is more of a time machine.

 

As I continue to refine the driving ability of the Buick (the carb still needs work as does the steering gear), I'm keeping Dad updated so he can plan to come the 600 miles to my place for one goal, to ease this silent monster from the driveway and down the road like he did when he last drove it in his teens. Though not a smoker, he plans to bring a cigar, so he can pull up to a park and smoke it while gazing through the windshield as if he had conquered the world the same way he remembers his father doing in the Roadmaster. I never met my granddaddy but he had good taste to pull over and purchase this car back in 1963 when it was out of style and broken.

 

I'm compiling a list of questions for my Dad to answer on camera about his memories of both driving the car and of the connection he had assigned between a decrepit Buick and his own father who died when Dad was only in his early 20s from a heart attack. I have some other interviews to capture also from other family members and friends. I'm contacting the small town newspaper and school newspaper to see if I can find a copy of the photo that shows him driving the Buick around the school football field while his cousin, just elected homecoming queen, sits high on the folding top in the back, waving at the crowd. 

 

He attended her funeral a few years ago.

 

I'm not a sentimental person and have told my kids to define only four things at any given time to keep purely for sentimental value. My feeling is that keeping too many items for sentiment only clogs the arteries of your life. This car has been one of my four things. Now that it is almost roadworthy, the sentimental portion can take a back seat to us having fun with it.

 

For the love of a good story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, High Desert said:

I'm compiling a list of questions for my Dad to answer on camera about his memories of both driving the car and of the connection he had assigned between a decrepit Buick and his own father who died when Dad was only in his early 20s from a heart attack. I have some other interviews to capture also from other family members and friends. I'm contacting the small town newspaper and school newspaper to see if I can find a copy of the photo that shows him driving the Buick around the school football field while his cousin, just elected homecoming queen, sits high on the folding top in the back, waving at the crowd. 

 

Agree with you 100% regarding this!

 

I have a few video tapes with Dad and his cars plus a lot of photos let alone three of his antiques so believe me when I say "they are special".

 

Dad saved this article from his local paper.

The T was his daily driver (sitting behind the wheel) in 1941.

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So I support your idea, hearing your Dad's stories in his own words will be a great treasure for all.

Edited by dei (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

The carburetor came off today. I noticed that the car started and idled well but had no accelerating power. My neighbor said it was the timing, but it felt more like a clogged main jet to me based on my experience with riding and repairing old Honda motorcycles. Hondas were more prone to having clogged idle jets but the inverse symptoms did seem familiar. 

Sure enough, the driver side main jet was clogged. The past version of me didn't do a very good job on this carb. Granted, that guy was tired from just getting it unfrozen so I'm not too upset. 

Everything is getting re-cleaned I'll try to assemble and check performance tomorrow. 

Edited by High Desert (see edit history)
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The carb is fixed! I took it apart as far as I could. Soaked the cast iron base in vinegar overnight to combat the lingering rust. Soaked the other bits in acetone. Blew out all possible ports. Polished the crud and rust off the butterflies. 

I then sat down at the kitchen table and spent several hours ensuring it was reassembled correctly. 

 

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From tonight's drive, I was laughing when I stood behind the car for this photo. I've been fighting with the lights and blinkers. Bulbs have been replaced, fuses pulled and checked. Hours dedicated to getting everything working properly. 

I never thought to check the license plate lights but there they both are, working perfectly even though they have been completely ignored by me. 

 

I thought I had a leaking rear main seal on the engine despite being slow and deliberate during assembly. Turns out the compression fitting for the oil pressure was leaking instead. 

 

Whew! 

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I was cleaning and organizing the workshop today when I found the leftover paint I used on the passenger side fender. 

Well, that got me distracted because I didn't the next two hours sanding down rust on some exposed areas and spreading paint. I only had about an eighth of a quart of the mint green left, so the finish is not as smooth and shiny as I would normally lay down. The end result still shows that the car has age-related scars but no longer any open wounds.

I don't believe the green paint on the car matches the factory color. Dad said that Grandaddy mixed multiple colors of laquer he had laying around in an attempt to match the color before painting it himself. That accouts for some of the reason the old color looks more blue than what I applied today. 

You can see the passenger door dents from the deer's rear hooves remain, well, dented. I did no dent repair today, only rust. 

 

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Battle scars cannot blemish its beauty.

DAN

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Looks awesome!!  Another one on the road!  I know of 2 more that should be on the road soon too (before mine).  The army is growing!

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I've disconnected the speedometer and temporarily capped that area on the transmission because the speedometer is noisy and not accurate. The car has gone on numerous test drives totaling over 100 miles, coming home after each run for small checks and adjustments.

The engine is smooth, full of torque, and sounds so cool through the exhaust system. 

I have been fighting with the power steering, which isn't working. The pump has come out about five times for checking, cleaning, and reassembly. It does have a little scarring inside. I had put the relief valve together incorrectly initially but doing it right has provided no better results. 

Following the manual, I removed the steering gear to clean and check the valve assembly. It went back together with the right parts moving freely. 

Still no power steering. 

The manual says to check the pump pressure with a gauge that should show ~850 lbs of output pressure. Yeah, I don't have one but increasingly believe that the pump is not performing. 

Luckily, lack of power essentially turns the system into a slightly stiff manual steering but it is still annoying. 

I'm smiling between those low speed turns though! 

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Edited by High Desert (see edit history)
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The 56 manual says the power steering is a power assist system. Essentially that is described as providing more assistance when required ( sharp low speed turns) and less as need is reduced ( straight highway driving).  To apply this to your car, from my observation it is very difficult to turn the steering wheel when the car has no power steering and is fully stopped.  It is a two handed job. It is harder still to turn that non power steering car when stopped and there are radial tires.  If you can turn your steering wheel when stopped with one hand then your power assist is working. 

 

By contrast the 72 Electra has full power steering all the time. Sometime it seems like a strong wind appropriately placed can turn that steering wheel all the time.  Between the two cars I prefer the 56's system.

 

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10 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

The 56 manual says the power steering is a power assist system. Essentially that is described as providing more assistance when required ( sharp low speed turns) and less as need is reduced ( straight highway driving).  To apply this to your car, from my observation it is very difficult to turn the steering wheel when the car has no power steering and is fully stopped.  It is a two handed job. It is harder still to turn that non power steering car when stopped and there are radial tires.  If you can turn your steering wheel when stopped with one hand then your power assist is working. 

 

By contrast the 72 Electra has full power steering all the time. Sometime it seems like a strong wind appropriately placed can turn that steering wheel all the time.  Between the two cars I prefer the 56's system.

 

It is absolutely not a one-hand steering system right now. You are correct in that the power assist only works when needed. The service manual describes it that way too. 

I just don't understand what would degrade the pump performance so much. It is a pretty simple pump.

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I don't know either. Did you replace the high pressure line to the steering gear?

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35 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

I don't know either. Did you replace the high pressure line to the steering gear?

Yep, replaced both actually just in case they had crud in them. Brand new! 

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7 hours ago, High Desert said:

Yep, replaced both actually just in case they had crud in them. Brand new! 

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It may not be the problem but in the picture it looks like the high pressure line is distorted where it runs over the top of another line (perhaps the vacuum line to the master cylinder?).  As I understand the pumps operation on my 56, when the system is not needed the bypass valve diverts the pressure back to the reservoir instead of to the steering gear box.  Perhaps that distortion is causing an erroneous symptom in the system or restricting fluid to the steering gear box?

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