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1949 Super Sedanette Survivor


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Great adventure you shared with your brother! Bet you were both grinning like idiots. When you're dealing with marginal brake hydraulics on these old beauties, just remember that you do have a backup system - the emergency brake. If the rear drums and shoes are known to be good and the cable and foot pedal are operating properly, you can haul an old car to a safe stop using just the bio-mechanical power of your left foot. That's no reason to neglect the primary system but it's good to know you have a second chance, when the main pedal goes splat.

Just had to call up your gorgeous photos again, so's we don't forget what we're talking about.

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Woohoo! Got to take my first test drive!

After pulling cautiously out of the garage and down the driveway, I decided to take it up and down the street. Made a turn around at the cul de sac, taking up the entire circle to turn, and headed back toward the house. Those finger grips in that big steering wheel are not just there for looks! Anyway, it was stopping and going pretty good, so I kept going. It was about 8:30PM last night, and I went the mile or so to my brother's house. I pulled up in his drive and honked the big ol horn. :cool:

After mulling it over for a few minutes (or maybe 30 seconds), we decided to take it out for a more serious test drive. The dash lights are not working, or I don't know how to turn them on. So my brother held a flashlight to the gauges so we could see how fast we were going. First we went down a windy road for a mile or so at about 45. It was a bit wallowy on the tighter turns. I think the shocks are going to need some attention. But the handling was reasonably good. It tracked straight and the steering felt as tight as it should.

The engine pulled well, and fairly smooth, but there was just a hint of roughness. I haven't touched it yet as far as tuning goes. It's burning very clean--no trace of smoke from the exhaust. The Dynaflow... well I guess you don't talk about how they shift... it just goes. The good thing is that it goes. We took it out on a highway and got up to about 55 and it rode pretty smooth and quiet. There were a couple of random interior rattles when hitting bumps in the road but it's pretty tight overall. The heaters worked Yay! We put the old radio on an old station for a while -- it picks up a lot of stations! Turn signals are hard to get used to with the lever being on the right side of the column instead of the left.

Now for the bad. Going around tight left-hand turns, like pulling a U-turn at the light, the transmission slipped badly. I'm pretty sure it's just low on fluid. What fluid do they take? The manual just says "add Special Buick Oil for Dynaflow Drive". What the heck is that?

Then the brakes started squeeling under use. I think it's the front right side. I had them a little tight to start with, assuming that they'll quickly need readjusting, so they were a bit on the hot side. I didn't turn the front drums either, so maybe the surface is not the best for bedding new shoes. I'll have to pop that drum off and check it out.

The engine temp stayed below the 1/2 mark on the gauge the whole time, if it can be trusted. Headlights and charging system (still 6 volt) seemed to be working pretty good.

When I got it home and parked I saw a nice trail of red tranny fluid where I backed it into the garage. All in all, nothing unexpected for first run-out of a 64 year old original car.

Gerald,

That was a fun first ride in your car. I'm sure it will fit under the tree if you want to make a Christmas gift of it to me.

Thanks,

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Congrats on your test drive! The dash lights on my '55 re-activated on their own last week (woohoo!) after numerous weekly drives to the cruise night where the drive home is always lights-on - so some cycling of the switch might bring those back. Also try twisting the knob to run the brightness rheostat (if your '49 has that) through some cycles. Dash lights - mmm it was sweet to see those without doing any extra work...

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Nice car. I have found on the post war Buicks that the headlight switches often suffer from corrosion problems in the dash light rheostat area. I have fixed them by using a continuity tester and testing EVERY connection. I have found that the rivet connectors in the switch get oxidized and fail to pas voltage. I clean the connectors and bridge the connection with some carefully placed solder. There are about 6 rivets holding pieces together that corrode and need to be cleaned.

Bill

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My plan to rebuilt the master cylinder isn't going to happen. This one is too pitted. I really like the "Made in Dayton USA" on the casting. Too bad I can't keep that. The replacement will probably be blank or say "Made in China" :rolleyes:

I'll keep this one around though and maybe get it resleeved for that frame-off job someday.

.... then go get it relined in non corrosive brass :)

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What a beautiful car. Congrats! Really, the 49 Sedanette has to be one of the true classic Buicks. Right up there with the 50, 51, 52, 53,....come to think of it, they are all beautiful! Wish I still had my 55 Century. Should never have sold it.

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If you can find "Type A" automatic transmission fluid (the older stores in poorer neighborhoods with more old cars have it around here), that is cheaper to buy and also closer to what was used in the transmission years ago, but Dexron III works fine.

For the dash instrument lights, I had the same problem in a '66 Caprice that I own--not working. It had been sitting up for years unused by its two previous owners. Figuring I needed to replace the headlight switch, I tried to remove it, but the little button on the side would not depress to allow the knob & shaft to come out. So, I sprayed the whole switch with a light coating of WD-40, hoping that would allow the knob and shaft to come out, so I could remove the old switch. Guess what? The next night I drove the car, and the dashboard lights began working perfectly! I think the WD-40 probably removed a light coating of surface rust from the contacts on the rheostat, and I don't need a new headlight switch after all.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

1948 model 56-S

1948 model 76-S

1949 model 51

1949 model 59

and others...

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Thanks for the encouragement and advice everyone!

I noticed that this thread is missing engine pictures. Today was so nice out (80 degrees!) that I took the opportunity to wash down the engine. I sprayed it with some orange-clean degreaser and then hosed it off with water. That took a lot of the oily surface grease and dirt off.

So when I went to start it, it wouldn't fire up. I figured that the ignition was probably wet, right? So I got out my leaf blower to dry everything. That's when I learned about oil-bath air filters...

I found out that a 150 MPH leaf blower is not the best way to dry off an oil-bath air filter. I'm sure glad that I had more of that orange-clean left because I had to do the whole thing over after bathing the entire engine compartment in sludgy muddy looking oil. But I'm looking on the bright side. It was a very effective motivator to get me to clean the air filter and put in fresh oil. :P

Oh, back to getting the engine started. I pulled the distributor cap and saw that it is in pretty bad shape--about the worst I've seen on a running engine. I'm surprised that the engine even runs with that. The rotor was totally rusted and the carbon button in the cap was completely eroded away.

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  • 1 month later...

Wife and I wanted to go out for a night-time drive in the '49 but my dash lights haven't been working. I traced the problem down to the rheostat. No power was making it across. It looks like a somewhat complicated job to remove it, so I cheated and just bypassed it by moving the output wire to the input terminal. That sets the lights on full brightness, but after seeing the result I probably would always use them at full brightness anyway.

We took our drive then--just a brief tour through downtown. We had the radio tuned to pick up an oldies station on skip from Toronto Canada -- 740 AM. Thought we were going to cause an accident from all the heads turning and gawking drivers. :cool:

Anyway, the thing that struck me about the dash lights at night is that they have this kind of eerie ghostly look to them--almost like a negative of a black and white picture. I tried to get a photo. It doesn't quite capture the full effect, but I thought I'd share.

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  • 4 months later...

Small updates:

Just got a few problems sorted out. The car had been running very rough when accelerating. Seemed like it was starving for fuel. Things got complicated when I filled the gas tank up about 1/2 way. When I got it home I saw fuel leaking under the car. It was a rotted rubber line going to an inline electic fuel pump. The elecric pump was not wired in and so was unused. I decided to replace the entire hard line since it was quite rusty, and to leave out the electric pump. These cars didn't need electric pumps new, they shoudn't neeed them now. Besides, I though it might be restricting fuel flow.

I followed the original routing and bends most of the way, and secured the tubing in the original clips where possible until it got to the front. The original hard line takes a 90 degree turn routing through holes in the frame before turning foreward again to connect to the fuel pump. I had to cut this section out and use rubber tubing there, since it was impossible to reproduce the original routing without having the body off the frame. There are already rubber grommets in the frame where it passes through, so this should be reliable enough.

Getting the fuel line replaced improved the fuel flow a lot. Before, the flow into the glass fuel filter sediment bowl appeared feeble and only arrived in weak spurts barely able to fill the bowl. Now it fills quickly and stays full. After all this work, there was only a slight improvement to the running of the engine. It was still stumbling badly on any acceleration. But at least it's a lot safer now!

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There was one thing remaining that I suspected could be causing the severe stumbling on acceleration -- ignition. I had already replaced the cap, rotor, points, condenser, and plugs, but the rest was still old and possibly original. The plug wires were dried up hard and cracked. The coil was rusty. The enging was idling smooth though.

I got a new 6V coil from Rock Auto, and decided to go for the original style laquered-fabric covered wires, purchased from CARS. The Rock Auto coil is not a very good fit. It's enough fatter than the original that the clamping screw doesn't reach. I'll look for a proper Delco replacement later. The plug wires come as a kit and have to be cut to length. The wire set was probably universal fit for V8s since the wires were all very long. Just duplicating the lengths of the original wires, I was able to save enough from the kit wire cut offs to probably build a second set!

I don't know if it was the coil or the wires or both, but that did the tricK! Now it's running smooth at all speeds and accelerates smoothly as it should. I suspect that the higher cylinder pressures from acceleration were enough to blow out the spark or cause spark leakage with the bad wires.

Next thing to tackle will be the severely leaking Dynaflow. That's going to be a big job...

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Edited by Wheelnut (see edit history)
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There was one thing remaining that I suspected could be causing the severe stumbling on acceleration -- ignition. I had already replaced the cap, rotor, points, condenser, and plugs, but the rest was still old and possibly original. The plug wires were dried up hard and cracked. The coil was rusty. The enging was idling smooth though.

I got a new 6V coil from Rock Auto, and decided to go for the original style laquered-fabric covered wires, purchased from CARS. The Rock Auto coil is not a very good fit. It's enough fatter than the original that the clamping screw doesn't reach. I'll look for a proper Delco replacement later. The plug wires come as a kit and have to be cut to length. The wire set was probably universal fit for V8s since the wires were all very long. Just duplicating the lengths of the original wires, I was able to save enough from the kit wire cut offs to probably build a second set!

In looking at other sites around the subject of plug wires, there were 2 tools mentioned. One is under $10, and consists of a tiny set of jaws to make the strip & crimp, but the force is applied by using the little jaws in a bench vise. The other is around $90 or so, and is essentially the same thing, but with handles to use it as its own independent tool. Do you have either of these? I guess what I'm asking is, how did you cut/strip/trim/crimp the cut-to-length plug wires?

I too found that the replacement coil was too large diameter for the original clamp. I forgot about that aspect of the coil adapter bracket that I made - a simple bolt-on bracket that orients the coil to contacts-up. The coil that was on my car was short where it should have been open, and open where it should have had continuity - so I didn't even try to start it with that one. By mounting it contacts-up, the bracket not fitting doesn't really matter because it can't go anywhere.

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Eric, there was no need for any crimp tools for the wire set I got from CARS. There were metal 90deg connectors for the plug ends already crimped on, similar to original style. The other end that plugs into the distributor needs to be trimmed to length with a pair of sharp wire cutters or sturdy scissors. The cut end gets a brass contact with prongs that stabs into the wire core to make contact. It's designed so that you just squeeze it on with your fingers. When you insert it into the distributor cap it grips the wire securely, and you slide the rubber boot down onto the cap.

I did have to tweek the preinstalled 90 deg ends a bit so that they would grip the plug tips more tightly. But no special tools needed.

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A lot of replacement coils are fatter --- just get a longer screw...and probably not noticeable enough to lose points in judging.

Car is too rough all around right now to win any beauty contests. For now my focus is on making it a nice driver while trying to stay as original as is practical.

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  • 11 months later...

There hasn't been much happening with my 49 for quite a while. I've been busy finishing the workshop which will ultimately have a car lift. I'm putting off pulling the leaky Dynaflow out until then. In the meantime I've driven the car a few times, but it leaks so badly that it's really not practical to drive. Mostly I just sit in it in the garage and soak up the vibe.

 

I do have one new development. I came across a set of very nice nearly NOS taillight lenses and bezels. These look like they have never been used but there is a  tiny bit of shelf wear. So now my question is, does installing these hurt the originality of my car? Why do I feel guilty replacing the 'patina' originals with these shiny vintage replacements?

 

What would you do?

 

 

 

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I have always felt the 2-door 49 rear fender is as cool as they get.  Side profile, for sure.......

 

I have a pair, someday will make a 2-wheel trailer out of  such.

 

Love dim dare SEDANET/CONVERTS tooooooooo!

 

Dale in Indy

 

P..S.  Install the lights, and of course KEEP the originals.

Edited by smithbrother (see edit history)
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My God that's a beauty. Another one of my favorites. Given I just found one of my dream Buicks in survivor form I shouldn't be, but am still jealous. Well bought and one worth paying good money for!

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As far as replacing worn bits, do it! It is way to nice to be repainted, for sure. But keeping it original does not mean neglecting to take care of it with original parts. When they are worn to the point of being unsightly, nothing wrong with sprucing it up!

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 Glad I found this thread again after the upgrade. Glad to see you are making progress with your car. I understand that the patina has charm, but I tend to agree with "lancemb" there is nothing wrong with making some improvements, especially since you can always put the old parts back on anytime, though I bet you won't want to when you're used to the look of the new ones.

 Keith

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Thanks guys for the encouragement!

 

This car seems to have a ghost. Seriously. It's the little old lady original owner that is very jealous and protective of 'her' car. And as far as she's concerned it's still hers. At first she didn't like me touching it even. She approves that I've been taking good care of it though now and keeping it garaged. At first she was not enthusiastic about the new lights when the old ones were "still perfectly good!" But I think she's starting to like the idea--I told her it was something like getting new pairs of shoes, and that I'd still keep the originals. That seems to have done the trick.

Edited by Wheelnut (see edit history)
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  • 4 months later...

Speaking of the ghost in the machine... I just got a neat letter from the nice lady that sold me the new NOS tail lights. It turns out that these were purchased from the estate of the late "Wasted" Willie Glass. Apparently these were considered of value to him (based on how they were wrapped and stored?) Since he was mostly a Ford guy I wonder what he had in mind for these. So I guess a little part of Willie lives on in the '49. Well, I suppose he did have a lot of little parts...

Thanks Willie for saving these for my car!

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Simply Beautiful!  One of the prettiest cars ever produced.  I'm a little biased of course.

 

Absolutely spruce away.  They're "original" parts after all, it's not like you're using aftermarket knock-offs.  If, for example, the car had a tail light broken in 1951 and replaced, what's the difference?

 

Best regards,

Steve in Mpls

'49 Roadmaster Sedanet

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  • 1 month later...

Hi wheelnut, I want to install a gas door guard but I don't have a clue how the gas door looks on the inside (rubber bumpers et cetera) since mine doesn't close how it should (misses bumpers and screws and what have you). Could you make a picture of the bezel on the body where the gas door rests on? Thanks in advance! Cheers, Wilfred

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  • Wheelnut changed the title to 1949 Super Sedanette Survivor

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