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1958 Buick Caballero


Now that the car has safely made it back to Michigan, I think I can safely start the project thread for the Caballero.

This car was offered on the Station Wagon Forum: http://www.stationwagonforums.com/fo...ad.php?t=31784

Bill (moparandfomoco) offered it up and I was lucky enough to be the first to respond.

I flew out to Albuquerque and spent a fun 4 days with Bill and his son, Anthony. As soon as I got a look at the car, I knew I would take it, so we got it ready for a short trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, where it would be easier to coordinate the transport arrangements.

I arrived late on a Thursday night and we went to see the car on Friday morning. This is how it looked:

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Bill and Anthony helped get the car up on jackstands and I got underneath to see what needed to be done to hold the rear axle in position.

You Buick fans know this car has a "torque-tube" drive train; without the transmission in place to hold the front of the torque tube, the rear axle is free to float around.

Here's Bill, clearing out the vegetation and making sure there are no critters under the car:

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I was happy to discover that the front of the torque tube was already chained to the frame, so all we needed to do was tie down the rear axle.

We pumped up the rear tires and headed off to Harbor Freight for some ratchet tie-downs and tarps to wrap the loose parts.

you can see in this photo that the rear axle was sitting too far forward in the frame; the tire was hitting the front edge of the wheel opening:

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We got the axle into position using 4 tie-downs (2 pulling forward, 2 pulling rearward) and re-checked the tires. The rears were leaking badly, so we pulled the wheels and went in search of a tire service shop to install inner tubes. Chihuahua Tire & Auto Repair to the rescue!

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After lunch at BackRoad Pizza (Bill knew it was a good "Triple-D" recommendation!), we put the rear wheels on and got it rolling!

Bill, Anthony and I managed to push the car from the back of the yard up to the end of the gravel driveway, where it sat next to the home-owner's Buicks:

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The muscle-men celebrate our little victory:

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We left it at the end of the driveway. Bill had found a local tow company to pick the car up the next day and move it near his house for the cross-country pick-up.

It was about 98F by the time we headed back toward Albuquerque. Yeah, it's a dry heat, but it still felt hot!

Next morning, we pushed the car a little further up the driveway so the roll-back could easily got to it. Loading was uneventful and we set off for Albuquerque.

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The truck needed fuel, so we stopped at the first available spot. The car drew quite a crowd!

Bill had arranged to leave the car at a friend's home. I truly lucked out on this deal; Bill, his wife Ruselle and their son, Anthony were SUPER hosts. We had some fun looking through the neighborhoods for old cars and trucks; they are everywhere out there!

The day after we moved the car to Albuquerque, I got to the car early and started prepping it for shipment. There was a lot of dust, sand, parts and junk in the car. Bill, Anthony and Anthony's friends helped wrap up the bumpers and get everything back into the car. By mid-day, it was ready for pick-up:

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Here's the whole team of helpers.

From left to right; Bill (moparandfomoco), Anthony, Greg, Chris and Marilyn (their Mother), who is holding a copy of "Automobile" magazine with a picture of a 58 Caballero on the cover).

I can't thank Bill and Anthony enough for their help and hospitality. God Bless them!

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I flew home to Michigan and Bill met the transport company at the car a week later. Here it is as it arrived in Michigan:

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My intention was to disassemble the car and restore it, but I have been talking to a lot of people about restoration vs. preservation.

I haven't made up my mind yet, but I am leaning towards getting it roadworthy and preserving it.

More to come!

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95Cardinal,

I'm with Skyking...a frame on restoration is the best way to go..btw, nice ride! Looks like a real find there. Since your from around these parts, we should collectively exchange info and restoration road-blocks and a-ha experiences with our long roof projects!

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95Cardinal,

I'm with Skyking...a frame on restoration is the best way to go..btw, nice ride! Looks like a real find there. Since your from around these parts, we should collectively exchange info and restoration road-blocks and a-ha experiences with our long roof projects!

buickjim;

Sounds great!

I sent you a PM with additional contact info.

Joe

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
I do love Buick wagons. This one looks to have a great body but you've got a lot of glass to find. You mentioned the bumpers were inside for the ride home. Is there any interior, at least to serve as a pattern? Thanks for a good start to a long story.

I've got several (damaged) headliner panels; not sure if there is a complete set.

The door trim panels and the rear compartment and center pillar covers are in the car, but they need to be replaced.

All the metal garnish trim appears to be present, except for one A pillar cover.

I have a complete rear seat (with trim cover, but not usable), but no front seat.

I have found a good parts car about 2 hours away, but have not been able to bring it home yet.

As Rob knows, my 58 Estate Wagon is getting close. If you're doing a restoration, you can PM me re hard to find parts ... like the headliner and lino that goes in the cargo area. Great project, you'll love figuring it out. MH

Thanks for the offer; I will definitely be looking for assistance!

Edited by 95Cardinal
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95cardinal, Frame30, and 57buickjim, did you see the white 1958 model 49 parts car that was posted on the Buy/Sell forum a few days ago? http://tulsa.craigslist.org/cto/4733697632.html Model 49 being the Special Estate Wagon with center post. In my opinion, it is too far gone to restore, but still has some nice parts on it. I'm probably the closest since it is in Tulsa, OK. and I'm in northern Texas. I was sort of thinking about it, since I am restoring a 1958 model 49-R, but I've had it awhile and have assembled virtually all of the parts I need to complete it. Was wondering if three or four of us wanted to go in on the parts car together, I could go get it, remove parts that are needed, and then dispose of what is left when all parts are removed. If two guys wanted the same part, I guess we would have to sell or have an auction of that part, otherwise I'd think any of the three or four owners could have what they need without cost. Not sure of the best way to compensate me for transport of the car, parts pulling work, etc.--just thinking out loud here--would just want my costs covered, no more.

After six or seven years, my wagon just got painted today! Will try to attach a photo.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

post-32059-143142864613_thumb.jpg

Edited by Pete Phillips
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And so it begins....December 4, 2014 update

Borrowed a friend's truck & trailer and brought the Caballero home last week.

15314623203_507bf08f5f_b.jpg

First order of business: release the stuck tailgate latches.

It took a while, but I finally convinced the latches to release. Now, I need to get more PB Blaster into the hinges so I can free up the tailgate.

15927643276_70c9921542_b.jpg

I removed the roof rail moldings and seals, as well as much of the rear compartment trim. Lots more to do in that area!

So far, no rust or corrosion in any of the window channels; it's all just very dusty!

15761299848_3f49b20211_b.jpg

Once that was done, I started to remove the front end sheet metal.

I started by measuring the gaps at all the fender/hood/door interfaces and setting the door/fender/hood positions where they need to be.

15746816678_7cc51cf88c_b.jpg

Then I drilled alignment holes in the fender and hood mounting brackets so I can more easily - and accurately - position the sheet metal during re-assembly. You can see the small finishing nail (locator) in this fender mounting bracket photo:

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Then I started removing the attaching bolts. There must be about 100 bolts holding all this front end sheet metal together!

Got the fenders off, then the grill.

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Then pulled the fan shroud & radiator.

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I can't believe how good the metal looks under all that dust!

Neat design; the entire inner front sheet metal assembly can be removed in one piece.

I was surprised to learn that this entire sub-assembly is held on to the frame by only 5 bolts!:

15948044492_b98e5bd918_b.jpg

After that was moved aside, I finished removing the hood and got some assistance from my wife to move the hood to the open area in the garage.

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I was ready to quit at this point, but HAD to see what was under that dusty old carburetor...

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The throttle plates were all tightly closed and covered with more of the desert dust and crud that is all over the frame and underbody.

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I was pleasantly surprised; the underside of the throttle body was clean and the throttle shafts feel snug.

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Just for giggles, I tested the starter switch...IT WORKS! The switch contacts close at about 20 degrees of throttle opening.

I think I can make that work when I get this baby back together!

Next step: borrow an engine crane/cherry picker and pull the engine. Can't wait to see what I find under all that dust and dirt!

Edited by 95Cardinal
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What Skyking said!

I have always been jealous of western cars and the condition of their bodies but Cardinal, you are from Michigan and know what you have there. The other nice thing is that the bolts will come out with a bit of PB Blaster and NOT snap off in the nut!

I noticed that the car came with standard brakes? It surprises me that as heavy as it is they would not have power brakes. If you are keeping it original now would be a good time to consider a period correct tredlevac power brake unit and give you a bit more advantage there.

Also, what is the story on the missing glass? Was it busted out (shot?) or did someone buy everything but the tailgate window?

Will be watching your progress with much interest.

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This will be an amazing car to behold when done - it is already! Is that copper a factory color? If so, even better! I look at your car and then at all the SUVs out here in San Diego, and can only say "wow - we really took a step back when it comes to road presence!" Keep up the good work and all the postings!

P.S. I spent 19 years in MI, many of them in the OEM auto industry (not GM) and I can easily see today's designers posting a pix of this car, as they usually do with other older cars, for inspiration throughout the Design studios. Also, keep in touch with Bugle Editor Pete Phillips, who I'm sure you know also is restoring a '58 Cab.

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This will be an amazing car to behold when done - it is already! Is that copper a factory color? If so, even better! I look at your car and then at all the SUVs out here in San Diego, and can only say "wow - we really took a step back when it comes to road presence!" Keep up the good work and all the postings!

P.S. I spent 19 years in MI, many of them in the OEM auto industry (not GM) and I can easily see today's designers posting a pix of this car, as they usually do with other older cars, for inspiration throughout the Design studios. Also, keep in touch with Bugle Editor Pete Phillips, who I'm sure you know also is restoring a '58 Cab.

Thanks for the comments, Jan!

Yes, it is the original paint on the car.

It was called Garnet Red, but it really looks like a copper or cinnamon color.

I haven't decided whether I want to retain the original color. If I do, I will probably add the second color and make it look like this one:

post-47436-143142879214_thumb.jpg

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Awesome Cabellero!

BUT,

Caution on using "Sharpies" for notations on the painted surfaces…..

I , too did this on my 49 Jeepster (yes, it's got a BUICK engine/trans!) about 14 years ago…. In my case I had

primed the whole body with PPG DP 50; first coat after metal work.

Then I cleverly went around to went around the body and made various notes to myself on high spots/low spots

using a "Sharpie". Then proceeded to continue to level those spots with further sanding and skim coat.

In some spots…where the finish body work did not include some spots where I used the "Sharpie" IT BLED THROUGH ALL LAYERS OF

primer/sealer/base coat/pearl coat/ clear!!!!!!! This was all top drawer PPG material. Trust me, you must ensure ALL

remnants of the ink is sanded/blasted into oblivion before any body work or paint work. I don't know what's in that stuff,

but NOTHING I tried would prevent bleed through.

I noticed this (in horror) only after I committed to the final color coats and watched it bleed through; much like playing with

invisible ink as a kid! Tried heavier coats of sealer & base… only to see the ink materialize as it dried…..Luckily

the two or three spots of ink remnants were in somewhat inconspicuous areas and will only be seen if I point it out to you.

I use post it notes now!!!!

<script type="text/javascript" src="safari-extension://com.ebay.safari.myebaymanager-QYHMMGCMJR/4c89dc4e/background/helpers/prefilterHelper.js"></script>

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Awesome Cabellero!

BUT,

Caution on using "Sharpies" for notations on the painted surfaces…..

I , too did this on my 49 Jeepster (yes, it's got a BUICK engine/trans!) about 14 years ago…. In my case I had

primed the whole body with PPG DP 50; first coat after metal work.

Then I cleverly went around to went around the body and made various notes to myself on high spots/low spots

using a "Sharpie". Then proceeded to continue to level those spots with further sanding and skim coat.

In some spots…where the finish body work did not include some spots where I used the "Sharpie" IT BLED THROUGH ALL LAYERS OF

primer/sealer/base coat/pearl coat/ clear!!!!!!! This was all top drawer PPG material. Trust me, you must ensure ALL

remnants of the ink is sanded/blasted into oblivion before any body work or paint work. I don't know what's in that stuff,

but NOTHING I tried would prevent bleed through.

I noticed this (in horror) only after I committed to the final color coats and watched it bleed through; much like playing with

invisible ink as a kid! Tried heavier coats of sealer & base… only to see the ink materialize as it dried…..Luckily

the two or three spots of ink remnants were in somewhat inconspicuous areas and will only be seen if I point it out to you.

I use post it notes now!!!!

<script type="text/javascript" src="safari-extension://com.ebay.safari.myebaymanager-QYHMMGCMJR/4c89dc4e/background/helpers/prefilterHelper.js"></script>

This is great info; thanks!

I plan to have the entire body media blasted, but it's good to know that these inks will bleed through!

Joe

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Awesome Cabellero!

BUT,

Caution on using "Sharpies" for notations on the painted surfaces…..

I , too did this on my 49 Jeepster (yes, it's got a BUICK engine/trans!) about 14 years ago…. In my case I had

primed the whole body with PPG DP 50; first coat after metal work.

Then I cleverly went around to went around the body and made various notes to myself on high spots/low spots

using a "Sharpie". Then proceeded to continue to level those spots with further sanding and skim coat.

In some spots…where the finish body work did not include some spots where I used the "Sharpie" IT BLED THROUGH ALL LAYERS OF

primer/sealer/base coat/pearl coat/ clear!!!!!!! This was all top drawer PPG material. Trust me, you must ensure ALL

remnants of the ink is sanded/blasted into oblivion before any body work or paint work. I don't know what's in that stuff,

but NOTHING I tried would prevent bleed through.

I noticed this (in horror) only after I committed to the final color coats and watched it bleed through; much like playing with

invisible ink as a kid! Tried heavier coats of sealer & base… only to see the ink materialize as it dried…..Luckily

the two or three spots of ink remnants were in somewhat inconspicuous areas and will only be seen if I point it out to you.

I use post it notes now!!!!

<script type="text/javascript" src="safari-extension://com.ebay.safari.myebaymanager-QYHMMGCMJR/4c89dc4e/background/helpers/prefilterHelper.js"></script>

This is why I always use a pencil to mark my highs and lows. NEVER use a Sharpie. I learned that years ago on dry wall.

Edited by Skyking (see edit history)
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I get all of this, but clearly the pics were taken before disassembly and sanding.

When you have a Baggie with shims in it, that you took off and swore you would remember what "two up, 1/8" then washer" means two years from now.

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I get all of this, but clearly the pics were taken before disassembly and sanding.

When you have a Baggie with shims in it, that you took off and swore you would remember what "two up, 1/8" then washer" means two years from now.

Mike, in this case it really doesn't matter using the sharpie on the old paint. The car will be blasted removing all to the metal. It's from there on I wouldn't use it in any other way..............

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Joe,

Probably the best method might be to now photograph all points that are marked in sharpie before media blast, then disassemble with photos, and notes in baggie, then redo after paint with grease pencil - easily wiped off body (it's what they do in the OEM's on bodies in the production process still). That way you will have the millions of photos tied with the parts and then you can reproduce it on the body during assembly.

Just some thought from a guy in the auto industry and who has done this before...

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Joe,

Probably the best method might be to now photograph all points that are marked in sharpie before media blast, then disassemble with photos, and notes in baggie, then redo after paint with grease pencil - easily wiped off body (it's what they do in the OEM's on bodies in the production process still). That way you will have the millions of photos tied with the parts and then you can reproduce it on the body during assembly.

Just some thought from a guy in the auto industry and who has done this before...

Jim,

Yes; that's what I've been doing.

I've got photos of every mounting point showing how many shims/washers were at each attachment point. All my notes are visible in the photos.

I wrote the notes on the panels now so I can take photos and make the adjustments before I remove the doors.

I'll drill small pilot holes (like I did on the fender and hood attachments) to get me close to final alignment for re-assembly after paint.

Once it's blasted clean, I don't write on the parts themselves. If I still need any notes on the parts from that point on, I will use masking tape or post-it notes.

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December 13, 2014 update

I was able to remove all the trim and the headlight buckets from the fenders. I can't believe how solid the metal is on this car!

On both fenders, all the mounting tabs and holes for trim clips are in great condition, except where someone apparently ripped the "bull's-eye" emblem out of the fender!

15827959670_d607388ce8_b.jpg

So far, the only rust I've found is in the doglegs at the back of the rear doors. There are also a few pinholes in the passenger side rear floor pan where there was a pile of leaves and junk laying on the floor, but otherwise it all looks excellent.

The die-cast headlight housings and the eyebrows are almost perfect!

15829474877_295b714cd1_b.jpg

The headlight buckets are a little rough on the back side, but they look like new inside!

Once all the front end sheet metal was out of the way, I borrowed a friend's engine lift to pull the nailhead.

After a couple of false starts due to some air in the hydraulic cylinder, I was able to begin lifting. This engine is no lightweight!

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I thought I had disconnected everything, but I missed one of the transmission shift linkage brackets. Luckily, I caught it before destroying the pivot bracket.

15827764798_8e53c17ab1_b.jpg

Engine out and on its way to the open garage bay.

15392904654_74ec069d40_b.jpg

Had a VERY scary moment when the engine swayed "downhill" and the whole shebang started to go over. I was able to control it and keep everything from tipping over, but now my back is a little angry at me.

Sorry; no pics. I had my hands full at the time!

I have an old welding cart that worked perfectly as a "nest" for the engine. I left the lift connected so nothing can tip or roll while I proceeded with a preliminary inspection.

I pulled the rocker covers and didn't see any obvious valve train problems. There is a little condensation visible, but that's the only issue I see.

15829127259_e5cd757d32_b.jpg

The crossover manifold came off easily, but the water pump is being obstinate. One bolt won't budge; I'm going to let the PB Blaster soak for a day or two before I try again.

15829123369_445604ac71_b.jpg

When the engine was still in the car, I had tried to roll it over by hand and I couldn't get it to move more than a few degrees. I had not removed the spark plugs yet, so I was hoping it would move freely after I got the plugs out...

After pulling the plugs, I poured a few ounces of MMM in each cylinder.

After a few hours, I tried to turn the crank but it still won't move more than about 10 degrees. I was hoping it would be free, but no such luck.

I'll try moving it again in a couple of days, but I think I will have a pro go through the engine. The only V8 I've ever built was a stock 283 for my 1957 Corvette, back in about 1981. Not sure I want to tackle this one...

Back to the chassis; I removed the Y pipe; it is very heavy and it looks like it might be an original Buick part.

I hope to find the stamped part number after it's been cleaned up.

16014463812_eff3e548da_b.jpg

Now that the engine is out, I'll let it sit for a few days before trying to move the crank again.

In the meantime, I will start working on the tailgate hinges; they are stuck solid.

Probably won't have much more to report until January.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update 2015.01.05

I have made some progress recently...

The engine would not turn over by hand, so I pulled the intake manifold and the valley pan; everything looked very good.

No stuck valves, all lifters looked clean and appeared to move smoothly, but I could only get about 90 degrees of rotation on the crank before it came to a hard stop.

15829415137_da7609ae06_b.jpg

15829127259_e5cd757d32_b.jpg

I used a borescope to look into the cylinders, but I could not get a good look at the combustion chambers and cylinder walls.

I figured I had to tear it down further anyway, so I pulled the heads.

15993995797_a7da95189d_b.jpg

The obstruction was rust in the #8 cylinder.

15992361138_acc27e635c_b.jpg

A few minutes with some Marvel Mystery Oil and a soft wire brush and the engine was spinning smoothly.

16179035572_fdbe408268_b.jpg

Next step is to get it to a professional for cleaning/magnaflux and re-fresh.

It doesn't look like it needs to be bored, but I won't know for certain until it's cleaned and measured.

Picked up a parts car just before Christmas. It has a lot of stuff that I need, and some stuff I wanted.

It had a split folding rear seat; the only one I've ever seen; pretty cool!

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Started cleaning and prepping the grille inserts. I haven't decided if I can live with the original chrome or if they need to be re-plated.

There is a little bit of pitting and some "desert sand-blast" spots on the faces of the grille diamonds.

16019293910_92793562e1_b.jpg

16204765221_5a65744db9_b.jpg

Hubcaps off the parts car look very nice when they're cleaned up. Still need some TLC/polishing, but I'm going to be able to use them.

16177915971_f9dc0e0365_b.jpg

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I took the opportunity to try out my recently-acquired ultrasonic cleaner.

Here's the carb as it was being disassembled:

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16199011365_88b573c737_b.jpg

Into the tank:

16198192772_4d21547ae3_b.jpg

After 25 minutes in hot water & Pine Sol:

16019150510_45b33ccf50_b.jpg

15584098354_28c49eeb9b_b.jpg

On the third batch of parts, the cleaning solution was less effective, but I'm very happy with how it worked.

The internal passages are clear and I only need to do a little "touch-up" where the varnish was thickest in the bottom of the float bowls.

More soon!

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Most excellent progress!

For your grille……

What I do (about once every 2 or 3 years).

Since mine is still attached,

I use one of those little swiveling, rolling stools & a blunt cone shaped felt pad that will chuck up in your variable

speed 3/8 drill. A dab of metal polish on the end and let the drill do the work.

A favorite beverage is recommended since you'll be doing 160 of them!

I wipe off the residue and follow up with a bit of wax…. Last time it took 3 hours!

Good thing it wasn't cocktail hour…….

mike

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Most excellent progress!

For your grille……

What I do (about once every 2 or 3 years).

Since mine is still attached,

I use one of those little swiveling, rolling stools & a blunt cone shaped felt pad that will chuck up in your variable

speed 3/8 drill. A dab of metal polish on the end and let the drill do the work.

A favorite beverage is recommended since you'll be doing 160 of them!

I wipe off the residue and follow up with a bit of wax…. Last time it took 3 hours!

Good thing it wasn't cocktail hour…….

mike

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I've only gone over about half of the "bullets" so far and it's taking forever.

I like your idea...especially the beverage and the stool!

thanks!

Edited by 95Cardinal (see edit history)
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I took the opportunity to try out my recently-acquired ultrasonic cleaner.

Very interested in where you obtained this cleaner. Looks like it did a good job.

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Very interested in where you obtained this cleaner. Looks like it did a good job.

Doug,

I found it used on eBay.

They are typically listed under medical equipment or cleaning equipment.

I found a very basic Branson unit that doesn't have a timer or heater.

I wanted a unit that was big enough to accommodate a carburetor base and float bowl. This one has a 10 liter tank.

You can find new ones this size for under $400 with heaters and timers, but I found many complaints about poor cleaning results and early failures, so I went with a used "industrial" unit.

Joe

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