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How To Do A Frame On Restoration - Book 2 - The 1957 Riviera Estate Wagon - Model 49D

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Enjoying this thread, Jim, and not only because I lived in MI for 19 years (Bloomfield Township near Detroit). I'm a Riviera man now but I'll always have a soft spot for those late '50s wagons! It's great to see these being restored - at least for me an homage to our parental generation. Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year My Buick Bretheren! Hoep 2015 is a great year for all of you!

As for the follies of the last two days, Got the new brake MC feed line installed, started on removal of the Radiator and fan items to access the front brake line to replace. The radiator seemed to have good fluid in it, and not rusty or anything...maybe the car will be a runner after all? looking positive, either way. Once I got that out of the way (and Mike Middleton - you are right, I will replace the bolts with studs and nuts to ease the installation of the fan / pulley's on the car), I could access and remove the old front brake line. So far, all the fasteners have been relatively easy to remove, even though they have a pretty good coating of surface rust on and around them. Started work on the front right brakes and drum. Should be finishing that today, between a glorious day of college football and a few beverages, of course! Here's some eye candy for you visual people..the saga continues...











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Well, the holiday vacation is about over, and the days of spending 10 - 12 hours in the garage tinkering and wrenching are coming to a close..back to the salt mines, everybody! That said, I did manage to get a number of things completed on the Old Wagon during the holiday break. Got all new stainless lines in and hooked up, all new hoses and cylinders at all 4 corners, all new brake shoes at all 4 corners, the master cylinder in from Old Bessie (until I rebuild the power unit I have sitting in my basket of parts), all backing plates cleaned, primed and painted, all drums cleaned primed and painted. On top of that, I managed to get most of the front of the engine compartment components removed - generator, PS Pump and brackets, radiator and shroud, and engine wiring harness. Now time to get into the details of the restore of those items, piece by piece. I am going to try to build my own harness for the engine compartment, so shouldn't be too bad, I don't think. I have a majority of the correct wire from the Old Bessie restore, so I should be able to do it. Any way, for you visual people out there, here is what went on:












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  • 2 weeks later...


Since I just renewed my BCA Membership for another 10 years and my self imposed dead line to get the Special back on the road for my son's 2016 wedding wondering, are you considering driving the Special (or the Wagon?) to Allentown in 2016? Should things work out for me it would be a bucket list thrill to get a group together for that trip. :D

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Hi Doug,

I'm hopefully going to Springfield MO this year, and will be working toward going to Allentown in 2016 for sure. Hell, Bhigdog and Buick5563 owe me a beer or two, I think! ;) I would like to drive the wagon in 2016, but Old Bessie is still the dependable one at this point. I'm all in about getting a car-a-van together for that road trip!

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  • 1 month later...

Well, it's been a awfully long time in the cold frozen north, but today is the beginning of the long thawing process I hope. Been slowly peeling back the layers from the onion on the engine compartment. Was great to have my Canadian brother dei (Doug) stop by and kibbutz on Buick this and that's. Hoping we can do that more often as the time and the weather gets better. As I have stated, when I bought the car, the previous owner had no idea if the car was a running car. He was going to hot rod the thing, pull the engine and tranny and replace with a crate engine. Of course, I am going to bring the car back to original and need a running drive train. I was basically assuming that the car probably sat for 2 decades at least with out running. Speaking to Old-Tank, usually cars are put away and left like that for a reason, like it quit running. So, over the course of the last few weeks, (when I haven't been travelling)I have been slowly dismantling the engine to a point to see if I could hand crank it or was I in for a big $$$$$ bill for a rebuild.

I removed the plugs and the valve covers, I put the Marvel's Mystery Oil in all the cylinders and on the valve train and down in the rocker shafts to the lifters and let it set a week. Well, today ladies and gentlemen, I found out the answer after the visit from my friend Doug I decided to see if the darn thing would move after the Marvel Mystery Oil treatment. Yep. Turned over by hand, all valves and lifters seem to move, didn't seem to have any issues, so it will be on to top end stuff (compression, etc) to see if it is within spec. Drop the pan, pull the oil pump and clean the check valve, pull the intake, take out and clean the lifters per Buickman's method, then re-assemble, if there are no issues. So I do have some work ahead, but not anywhere where I was thinking, which is a huge relief! Here are some shots of the engine disassembly and a nice shot of the engine with the hand cranker on it!









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I enjoyed the afternoon also. Next time I should put a pair of coveralls in the truck and give you a hand instead of holding you up eh?:D

I hope to spend time on mine this weekend, temps or not, and find out if I have your luck too.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, another few weeks have passed in the cold north that disguises itself as Michigan and slowly but surely, things have been getting done on the long roof. Since I have a bunch of parts off the engine, I thought I would get my handy bead blasting cabinet out and do some cleaning and painting of the niggly little items for the engine while they are off. I also had a chance to take some stuff to a plater to get things replated for a few of my Buick friends as well. With the pleasant surprise of the engine being able to turn over, my next goal is to get it to actually run. I am hoping to have that happen sometime this month. I will need to get the oil drained and pan taken off and any sludge cleaned out as well as drop the trans pan and to the same. In the mean time, for a couple of hours a night, I've been slowly getting things in shape.












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X2 what Adam said. and would like to add, that's a neat paint cabinet! What are the white sheets hanging in the back? Something to absorb the overspray? How big is that cabinet too. I'd like to replicate that if you don't object. Thanks!

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Thanks Adam and John!

John, thanks for the comments on the paint cabinet. I will send you some more pics on it. The white sheets are pieces of paper blocking the vent system. I have it positively vented to outside, but block them off after I turn the fans off so the cold air doesn't come back into my shop. I like it because I can hang the parts to paint and get very good coverage and lighting on the parts while painting.

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Hey team, here are some photos of the aforementioned paint booth for doing the niggly little items in my basement shop. All standard lumber and parts from Home Depot or Lowe's. Really is a great little tool for doing medium to small parts and has an exhaust fan system that I have connected to fresh air. Just FYI for you DIY'ers.














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Yep. I built one out of foam core for doing parts for Old Bessie, but wasn't sturdy enough, and I had some engineering improvements in mind, so I built this one for the long haul. Figured that I can do a whole heck of a lot more parts in this one.

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Flash....late update....With the help of my Canadian Buick Buddy dei (Doug) we attempted to get the long roof brakes bled and operational yesterday, but to no avail. It was a great time having Doug over to jaw about our cars and catch up on life, and give me a hand with the wagon. After his departure, I was irritated that with all the new parts and such, the dang thing didn't want to bleed or take fluid in the lines. So, I removed the master cylinder again and it checked out ok. Checked all the lines for clogging..which should be impossible, since they were brand new stainless lines. All clear. Re installed master cylinder again. filled with fluid. Again. Attempted to pump the brakes to get fluid to move. Nothing. Now really irritated. Had a beer and decided to re-read the shop manual section on brakes and go to bed. Got up this morning after reading the manual and decided to make sure the pedal height was adjusted properly for manual brakes. Indeed it was off by 1", do adjusted it to correct height. Topped off reservoir, again, and pumped the pedal. After about 3 pumps, it started to develop pressure and I proceeded to bleed the brakes. As of this moment, the long roof now can stop. Also did a bit of detailing on the master cylinder while I had it out.

Next up, getting her running.







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That's great you got things figured out and working!

Sure didn't figure with all the pumping and using the vacuum pump too the pedal adjustment height would prevent the flow from going through the master but.... I'm never too old to learn something!:eek:

It was good to spend time around a mind like car guy and came home with even more motivation (support) for moving ahead with my projects.

Thanks for the day and safe travels Jim!

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  • 5 years later...

Well everybody, its been a while since I put an update in this crazy thread! I'll answer a couple of questions first: 1. Yes, I still have the long roof. 2. Got bogged down with 3 yrs of international travel, so was really hit or miss working on the car. 3. Had a little pandemic hit last year, caused a bit of a stir. 4. My employer eliminated my position last spring, and I decided to retire to work on the Long Roof (if you don't believe that, ask my wonderful wife where I am all the time and what I am doing)


All that aside, I'm looking forward to catching everyone up with what has been going on with the illustrious 1957 Buick Estate Riviera Wagon in my 2020 Stay In Place Remodeled 2 Car Garage!


In that period of time, Wifey and I decided to buy a small trailer, a 2015 Shasta AirFlyte Retro, built to the 1961 design, with current upgrades.


That being said, the new task of my long roof will be to tow that baby across the US on Route 66 to CA and back on the Lincoln Hwy Route 30 back to good old MI. So, what you are about to see is the small veering off course of a fully correct 1957 Buick restoration, to a somewhat modified 1957 Buick Estate Wagon Long Roof Long Hauler! The picture is of the trailer, with Old Bessie lined up in front of it. Bessie does not have a hitch, but when I did this picture, that's when I had an "aha" experience to change the long roof restoration to hauling this little beauty!


When we last left off, I was finalizing the original brake system and a few issues that I had with figuring out a small issue regarding pedal height and getting the brakes to work. That issue has been resolved and in fact, with the trailer factor, I've decided to move to front discs using the Scarebird mounts and associated parts recommended. Actually, was an easy remove and replace, and took about 4-5 hours. The hardest part was removing the backing plates. All the components for the system are specified by Scarebird and can be purchased locally at your NAPA or through Rock Auto. Was a lot easier than I thought. I also put on a dual MC for the system, with a little flash, and had to modify the mounting a bit, but it works and is very solidly mounted. One item that you will need to do this is a splitter block for the front / rear brakes so each area is provided fluid separately from the MC. I feel with this system on the car, it gives me a little more stopping capability with the trailer hooked up. 


Next up what the heck has Jim been doing with the body of this Long Roof..


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Let me be the first to say it's good to see you back!


Also so glad you and your family came through the virus. 

We have not been effected directly with it but know a few who have and lost people. (So sad.)


Looking forward to the day you, me, Joe and possibly Larry can get together for a lunch one day and catch up in person. Of course a visit to your garage to see the long roof would be a nice thing to do also!


If you recall my wife Cindy and I came over the week you purchased the trailer and I have been saving posting a shot of it till you let the news out so here it is. 




I like your shot best since that day the Special was parked on the other side of your everyday car and there is the long roof with work table ready for you.




Looking forward to your progress on the wagon. Maybe you can share some experiences of camping in the Shasta?


Stay Well my friend.


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