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1937 Buick Limited 91


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4307 <BR> posted 05-21-2002 08:21 PM <BR>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------<BR>Hi,<BR>I have purchased this Buick and am slowly trying to accumulate parts and info to do a first class restoration. Anyone out there willing to comment or correspond? Especially someone who has actually restored one of these giants!? A particular question: Is there a Buick steel wheel with the appropriate lug hole patterns that would fit this that is a seventeen inch wheel. I can see CCCA and BCA purists cringing already!! BUT...IF they would fit and IF they had the fender clearance....I would be gearing up this slightly low geared car for a little better suitability for modern highways. I am hoping a nice set of 7:50x17 whitewalls I have will work. Perhaps some of the bigger GM cars 1933-1936 would have such wheels? Know anyone with such wheels in the barn??? Also, how much do purists and the BCA frown on choosing one's own color? Or, at least, a different color which was available? I do not care for the gray color. Thank you anyone for your comments!!!<BR>Perry BCA 38398

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Perry....this is AMERICA...where...hopefully...we still respect the private property rights of the individual...it is YOUR car...if you LIKE it enough to fix it up....GOOD FOR YOU...who CARES what some OTHER guy thinks...! ( that is...assuming you really LIKE the car, and aren't just fixing it up to try and sell and make a fast buck off it....)<P>Now...if you are trying to make a fast buck..I STRONGLY recommend you immerse yourself in the Buick Club, where you will find the kind of expertise that will give you enough info. to do an ACCURATE restoration.<P>If you just LIKE the car for what it is...go ahead..and do what YOU want with it..again..it is YOURS ! I have 1940 Packard parking lights on my 1938 Packard Twelve...They "look right" to me..and they conceal modern directional signals. I LIKE it that way..!<P>As for MODERN driving conditions...forget your idea of changing outer wheel diamter. Yes, you will, in effect, be lowering your numerical final drive ratio...but...by too little to make any difference.<P>Sad fact is....highway driving speeds were considerably lower in those days, so those frail long-stroke engine designs (necessitated by a combination of requirements and fuels of that day) got along fine with crusing speeds in the 50 mph range.). Unfortunately, Buick elected to keep the old "poured babbit" connecting rod design clear into the 1940's...so while the UPPER end of these fine engines gave good performance...the LOWER ends would come apart VERY quickly at extreme engine rpm. Before you do anything else, pull the engine down and get modern "insert" type connecting rod bearings installed. I do not know enough about Buicks to tell you how to do this...not sure whether there is enough "meat" in the con rod big ends to bore em out to take a modern size "insert" rod bearing...or whether you will have to try and find a set of late straight Buick con rods. If you want to know how serious this problem is...go do some research and find some newspaper articles on what happened to a lot of those fast late 1930's Buicks which showed up for the first day's opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike....!<P>Because Buicks of that era had what we call a "torque tube" drive, fitting a modern over-drive type aux. transmission...is a real pain-in-the-neck. Again, the BUICK Club would be the first place I'd look on how to solve the excessively low gearing problem. <P>Bottom line...combined the incredibly "low" gearing of the 1930's...with those dinky poured babbit rod bearings..and you have a GUARANTEE of engine failure if you try and drive at sustained high speeds.<P>If you just happen to like Buicks of the 1930's...why not just remove the entire engine and drive line, and do a nice neat job of installing modern L 480 four speed automatic transmission behind a nice Chevrolet "mouse" (the ubiquitious ultra reliable and good performing "small block" of 350 - 400 cu. in)....and a modern "Hotchkiss" type drive line. Nobody will be any the wiser...and if you do a neat job..you can always convert the car back to "stock" if you should want to sell it.<P>( or...you could get a Packard or Pierce Arrow Twelve....1938 or later Cadillac V-16...and enjoy what a REAL "classic" car is all about.....! )<P>Pete Hartmann<BR>Big Springs, AZ

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Perry:<P>I restored a '39 Model 90 and it was a long a difficult job but in the end very rewarding.<P>Although my Buick was not comfortable cruising a 75 MPH, it was rather comfortable at 65, and I was using the standard wheel/tires (750X16, if I recall). The specs on your '37 are similar. Keep in mind that for a given size tire, there are variations in circumference. You can get that info from the tire manufacturer. Just make sure you get the most circumference you can to give the car better cruising capability. I wouldn't fool with changing the wheel diameter. This will be lots of trouble, may change the appearance of the car more than you would like, and I don't think you'd really get all that much more performance.<P>On the color, it makes no sense to restore a car and paint in a color you don't like! I would start first by looking at chips available for that year and trying to find a color you like from those. I'll bet you can find one. Going to non-standard colors is less advisable because it may devalue the car or simply not look right on it. For example, fire engine red on a model 91 will look like a shrine circus car, believe me.<P>Good luck!<BR>Bill.

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Mr. Hartman: Please read the CCCA Bulletin for May 2002. Turn to page nine. Read the letter from David Honer, paying attention to the last two paragraphs. It might appear that up until 1935 when Packard went to insert bearings that Packard may have had more problems than Buick with babbit bearings. Your comment on this would be most welcome.<p>[ 05-23-2002: Message edited by: Chuck Conrad ]

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Henry VIII<P>I am not familiar with the particular test series Horner's article appears to be quoting from, but I have no doubt it is correct. But don't over-estimate the significance of those test results. <P>First, bear in mind the 733's motor did what it was designed to do.. WHEN it was designed to do it..(mid 1920's) when it was conjured up to take the place of the Packard SIX in Packard's cheapest line of cars. It was not marketed as a high performance car, and for good reason..it sure as hell WASNT ! ONE reason why the larger Packard eights seemed to give a LITTLE better service at high speeds MAY be because they were geared a bit "higher" (numerically lower)...because their greater power permitted it, and thus werent quite so hard on their rod bearings.<P>I personally have no use for the smaller Packard cars for just that very reason...they were GOOD at what they were...for the price...but for those of us who are willing to pay more...and get the "top of the line" Packards, we just get more "real" car.<P>Going to "insert" rod bearings did terminate the long struggle for engine durability "at speed" which affected the entire auto industry". General Motors did get better service out of its poured babbit connecting rod bearings than Packard did, but it didn't matter...until the early 1930's when the U.S. Highway system really got going, you couldn't hold high speeds for more than a few minutes anyway. <P>If you look at the conflicting theories behind the design of the two different bearing "schools of thought" between GM and Packard, you will see BOTH were compromises. Buick used a THINNER poured babbit, which provided better shock and heat transfer to the connecting rod. However, it was more susceptible to "wash out" from oil pollution. Packard was more concerned about bearing damage from oil pollution problems, thus used a thicker babbit, BUT...that was more likely to "pound out" at high speeds.<P>Being something of a "speed junkie" myself...if I were forced to choose between a BIG Buick and a small-engined Packard of that era...put me down for the Buick any time !<P><BR>Pete Hartmann<BR>Big Springs, Arizona<p>[ 05-23-2002: Message edited by: Chuck Conrad ]

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Hi Chuck !<P>I think you would have done the group a better service had you left in the the abrasive comments of that Henry 8 fellow, and my chastizing him - all of us should remember this is for fun and education...and personal diatribes just waste everyone's time. I think the group benefits from knowing who got 'out of line' and why, and what can be expected from the group in the way of a response to that kind of childish nonsence. <P>Pete Hartmann

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Peter: The first part of my post I was just having a little fun. However my last thoughts I still stand by. The last part of your reply to Perry was out of line and uncalled for. That is what I thought and didn't complain. Not every one in this world was able to obtain thier classic for less than $100.00 like you did. Even in this club the prices of the Packard 12 along with some others make them on obtainable even for the upper middle class. So your advice about buying a real classic ie Packard 12 or Caddy 16 is out of line and uncalled for. If you think I should be banned then have Chuck do so. being banned wouldn't upset me at all.

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Back to the Buick questions. I believe that the ring and pinion gears out of a later year buick will interchange to produce a more advantagous ratio. (do double-check the parts books as I may be wrong)<BR> Also the connecting rods out of a later 320 engine with inserts should interchange. This was such a reliable engine that it was used though 1952. <BR> Bill

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Lighten up..Henery VIII...I say again..this is for FUN and EDUCATION..! I dont think anyone would recommend your rights to express yourself be interferred with, so long as you keep away from grossly out of line personal insults. Nobody is going to "knock" you for having an abrasive sense of humor.<P>Pete Hartmann

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Henry VIII and Peter.<P>I took Henry's comments as a joke, albeit at Peter's expense. I do understand how he might not have been very amused. On the other hand, I took Peter's comments to be extremely rude and very inappropriate conversation among gentlemen. <P>Trying to be fair, I deleted portions of both posts, but Peter's was the one that <I>anyone</I> would find offensive. If somebody is flirting with being banned from this group, it is Peter.<P><B>A Cautionary Note To All:</B><P>You can be rude in private all you want, but this is a public place. Rude public behavior is something we should not have to endure in our daily lives. It will not be tolerated on this forum.

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That, Chuck...DID it. I simply havnt the patience for this kind of arrogant ignorance. Good day...and good luck. If any of you have any SERIOUS questions that I can be of assistance on, please feel free to call.<P>Pete Hartmann<BR>Big Springs AZ

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Regarding the highway reliability of the pre-war Buick straight-8 engine, I have never heard of excessive failures. In 1988, I followed a 1941 Buick Super with original straight-8 from Seattle to Michigan at an average highway speed of 65-mph. The car did not miss a beat all the way to Michigan and back again.<P>Like Critterpainter, I have also heard that the rear-end gears from a later Buick can make the pre-war models better-suited for Interstate highway travel. Typically, I hear people looking for the gears from a '55 or so Buick Century.<p>[ 05-25-2002: Message edited by: Centurion ]

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While it is possible to change the ring and pinion in 30's Buicks, I seem to recall that the '37 is quite different from the '38 and newer version. My Hollander's Interchange indicates that the big series '37 rear is all by itself, whereas the '38 and newer will, with some effort, interchange at least into the early 50's. <BR>In my own experience with Buicks of this vintage, they will cruise just fine at 60. If you wished to see just how fast the engine is turning, you might connect a test tachometer ( a tune up type piece of equipment) and take a spin down the road noting engine speed at given road speeds. These engines are fairly slow turning, producing peak power around 3400 rpm, so if you were to keep the engine speed below 3000 rpm it will probably last forever.<BR>Having mentioned tires, it might be worthwhile to check the diameter of what you have . I have found that actual size varies between brands. I think that the Coker tire web site lisats tire dimensions, so you compare yours with other brands.<BR>I hope this is of some help.<BR>Jon Lee

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Perry:<P>My own Buick 90 had so many restoration problems, mainly missing parts, rotted wood in the body (yes, the 90 and 80 series had quite a bit of wood, particularly where the body meets the frame) that I never really gave much attention to the rear end. As I recall, the 90 series axle was unique in terms of torque tube length and axle ratio relative to all other series. While the ring and pinion might be changable with other series axles, I wouldn't count on it. And changing the pinion is not a minor job because of the torque tube setup.<P>I suggest you complete the car and try it with the axle you have. I know that I drove mine for many thousands of cross country miles and never found the stock rear axle to be a problem. The car cruised well enough to not be too intimidated by modern traffic. Keep in mind that the brakes, steering, cooling and fuel systems don't exactly encourage pushing the car to 75 MPH anyway, even though the engine has plenty of power for that kind of driving.

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Wow, I did not know asking a question or two could lead to such craziness. Webmaster, sorry I asked the wrong question. As for the first issue all I will say is that I thought Mr. Harmann's last comment was a little arrogant to a stranger, but car nuts are sometimes eccentric and I took little offense by it. I would say his final comments substantiate your decision to warn him, although I am not privy to all that was said. Enough of that, though! No, I cannot afford a Duesy or V-16 Cadillac, as a matter a fact, the thought of using the seventeen inch tires for "highway overdrive" stems from the fact that I happen to already own a nice set of Denman seventeens!! The two comments about the 37 Limited being a car of its own is what I have found in research regarding ring and pinions. I consequently bought a brand new ring and pinion set immediately when I saw it on Ebay on the basis that if mine happens to howl, I would regret not purchasing them for the rest of my life. The other thing concerning this. American made rear ends were amazingly durable...least the ones I have used/observed in very old vehicles. It is my observation that those who have trouble with them are those who tear into them (I know not everyone who does has trouble in consequence, but many do). A thorough cleaning and inspection without undoing the assembly is all I intend to do, unless something shows a problem. In fact, if the oil looks decent and I can rinse it clean with a small nozzle, I may not break a bolt!! Then, not much difference if it turns out to have howl or noise...it will be roadtested before any finish work is done, and then I will of necessity rebuild it. This thing is so scarce, I am not so sure I want to tempt fate on this one of a kind part, even were I a differential specialist.<BR>I appreciate also the comment about tires being of different sizes (sidewall ratios). I think I will not be able to put my plan in effect, even if I do find appropriate wheels. The seventeens (in my living room) look like big truck tires!!! They were for a short time on a 1935 Cadillac. But I do not know if the lug-hole pattern was the same on it as on the 16 inch Buicks, anyway!!! I might add that I bought them from the Cadillac owner because they rubbed his fenders on a tight turn (but, maybe, just maybe, I keep hoping they would not rub mine). Thank all of you Mr. Hartmann included for taking the time to try to help me. More comments are welcome...Perry

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Perry:<P>Thank you for the courtesy of thanking ME !<P>For your info., the reason I decided to withdraw from this chat room, was not the petty insult of Henry VIII itself. ( I simply added a paragraph to my response, to warn him that he should focus on the purpose of this "site", which was to exchange info. on classic cars, and thus hopefully fulfil the purpose of the CCCA. I further warned him that in my view, the Editor of this chat room might well consider "banning" him if his mis-directed energies continued"<P>Much to my surprise, Mr. Conrad elected to, in effect, "side" with Henry VIII. That is his right..after all, he has donated his time to over-see this chat room. He has made his choice, and he should stick with it.<P>In my own case, I believe it would be a dis-serivce to fellow CCCA enthusiasts, to continue to contribute to a "site" where the kind of erroneous (and in some cases, potentially dangerous) info. is allowed...even encouraged to go un-challenged. When that policy changes, I will be back.<P>Since "dropping out" of this chat room, I have been contacted by E mail or telephone by several of you with legitimate technical questions, where you thought I could be of assistance. I am easy to find - listed in the Packard and CCCA related directories.<P>To that end, be assured I welcome any "jawing" about Packards and CCCA, and look foward to helping where I can.<P>To the rest of you, all I can do is wish you well.<P>Pete Hartmann<BR>Big Springs, AZ

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I have seen some very good advice given to Perry by the Buick people in this chatroom. Peter I think in your post you are wrong about something. Please name me or anyone else who quote< HAS GIVEN ERRONEOUS OR POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ADVICE>. I have never seen this occure in this chatroom since I have been visiting this chatroom. When making statements like that, you better have the STROKE to back those kind of statements.

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I don't think you are going to be able to change to a 17 in rim. All the Limited series had a larger center hub hole, no other Buick rim would fit only the limited series. If you start digging into the limited series you will find that not much will interchange from the standard Buick to the Limiteds,Brake drums are larger, Berings are different Brake shoes are larger, Shocks are different, all suspension is different. I have had and owned a lot of Buick over the last 30 years, but never had a limited series simply for this reason, parts were so difficult to locate, don't get me wrong they are a great car,but you must have paitience when looking for parts and information.<P>Jim Schilf / palbuick@aol.com

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Thanks again, all of you, for your comments. Jim, I think you are getting through to me...I wanted to believe I could pull that one off. Sounds like my only chance would be to find someone who owned an earlier limited series that were 17 inch. 33-36. Of course, I would still use the 16 in the wheel wells.<BR>But the odds of that are probably near zero. Do you happen to know if such a rim was made?<BR>Also, I apologize that I have been remiss in commenting...have had to work more hours than I would have dreamed at the time I first posted. Thanks again!!

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  • 3 years later...

perry,

your car probably has the stock 4.2 ratio,and with 700x16 rubber you get 2150 to 2200 mph for every 1000 rpm.at 70 you compute to 3245 rpm,which isnt to bad.

buick rears are nearly the same from 40 to 55 and are available in 3.9 3.6 and 3.4.according to buick engineering your car peaks at 91-92 mph and around 4200 rpm.not bad for 1937.the lower ends are much stronger than some would lead you you to think.make sure the journals are round and ideally 1.400 to 1.800 in clearance.the senior eights create a lot of heat around the bearings,so use 20-50 valvoline racing or equivilant,make sure it has a high flash point and good viscoscity index.in 1949 after 5000+ engines buick converted to insert type rods and these will drop in your engine.good luck.

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