BillhymerMD

My first venture into the pre-war era - 1929

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The oldest car I had owned up until June was a 1951 Cadillac...and I really  thought that was old.  I have always admired Cadillacs of the late 20s and early 30s.  I stumbled upon this car on ebay one fateful day in May.  I really didnt need another project but I just couldnt get the car out of my mind once I saw it....  I bought the car and then told my wife later that day....yikes.  Sometimes it is indeed easier to say I'm sorry then to ask permission. 

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The car was shipped and arrived to a very excited family ready to bring her back to life...

 

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Boy it was really dirty but underneath the dirt was a pretty amazing car.  Alot of paperwork outlining the history was also with the car.

Nearly 100% complete.  The only thing missing is the distributor assembly ( a bit of a problem) and 3 window cranks.

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I aquired the build sheet...the car was originally dark blue and black.

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It was restored between 1970 - 1972.  I spoke to the owner's son at that time...in his 70s now...and he remembers the car and that restoration well.  His father showed the car avidly, winning at Hershey in 1973.

 

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According to the son, who sold the car in 2001 after his father died, it was in wonderful condition at that time and alwasy kept in climate controlled storage.  It was sold to a gentleman in California and then spent more then 10 years in non-climate controlled storage and slowly began to decay.  Its now ready for a rebirth...

 

After we cleaned it up a bit it starting looking like its old self again...

 

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Now that it is clean...the very easy part...I've got to get the thing running again...

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Edited by BillhymerMD (see edit history)
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What specifically is your distributor problem ? Does it use the same self destructing Delco-Remy pot metal nightmare as on my '27 Cad? If so , there are a couple solutions available to you. - Carl

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Bill, what a great find, story and car. She sure brightened up for sure. Here is the link for a vendor in Australia. I think he has your handles. A bit expensive, but they do first class work. On my 28 Buick the old pot metal handles just crumbled. Replaced most of them with their products. If yours are pot metal, or missing, you may want to go this route versus trying to find some old stuff. http://www.vintageandclassicreproductions.com/cadillac.htm

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Great story and car, congrats on your acquisition of it!  Let us know when you get it running, looks like fun!

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Welcome to the world of roaring 20's cars. I've always had a love for the 20's cars, the move from a very basic car to something more modern. The 20's was the years of innovation. Car manufacturers were prevalent and constantly coming up with new innovations and making the automobile experience a bit more comfortable.  The years of moving from the crank to the electric starter, although some cars had the electric starter in the teens. inside temperature and gas gauges were becoming standard, chrome was appearing on the car to offer a bit more bling and many more manufacturers were offering colors instead of black. Various types of shocks were introduced to make the ride smoother, and the innovations go on and on. Not yet the fine cars of the 30's and 40's but getting there. Cadillac was the choice of the successful businessman and of course many of the gangsters of the time. Good luck with your fine automobile, looks like she'll be ready for another 40 plus years.

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Beautiful car! Are you going to keep the paint or go back to the original blue and black? I find it interesting the number of cars restored in the seventies that went with the brown fender, beige body color scheme. It seemed to be the choice in so many cases.

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What specifically is your distributor problem ? Does it use the same self destructing Delco-Remy pot metal nightmare as on my '27 Cad? If so , there are a couple solutions available to you. - Carl

Carl I was left with only the hole (for lack of a better term) where the distributor assembly (Delco Remy model 4042, 4041 or 4023) bolted on to. The story I got was that it was sent out for a rebuild and never rejoined the car for whatever reason. I've investigated all leads trying to find it without success this far. It's a difficult piece to find I've discovered.

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Bill, what a great find, story and car. She sure brightened up for sure. Here is the link for a vendor in Australia. I think he has your handles. A bit expensive, but they do first class work. On my 28 Buick the old pot metal handles just crumbled. Replaced most of them with their products. If yours are pot metal, or missing, you may want to go this route versus trying to find some old stuff. http://www.vintageandclassicreproductions.com/cadillac.htm

Thanks John...this looks like a good lead and though expensive the window cranks are very close to the original. Mike

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Beautiful car! Are you going to keep the paint or go back to the original blue and black? I find it interesting the number of cars restored in the seventies that went with the brown fender, beige body color scheme. It seemed to be the choice in so many cases.

For now I would like to just get it running well...replace what should be replaced, tires and such, and use the car. Tour it. Eventually it will need a proper, correct restoration and I'm torn about the color. Ideally I want everything to be as it was for the car but I do like the "new" color scheme they put on in the early 70s.... What are your thoughts about that?

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Guest BillP

Cream and coffee is a seventies cliche'. Research color schemes applied to the car at the time of manufacture. You may find that they are more elegant and striking than a modern interpretation of what a 20s-30s car should look like.

 

That being said, I like your car! Get it running and enjoy it.

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I've never been a fan of the coffee and cream.  I think the original colors would enhance the appearance of your car.  Just one man's opinion, it's your car to enjoy - whatever color you choose.  i agree that getting it running and then driving it is what it's all about.  I've been restoring my 32 Dodge for two years and I can't wait to get it on the road.

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The 29 was originally sold to Mr. Henry C. Eckebrecht of Chicago, Illinois. He took possesion of it on 2.8.29. Original color was Calumet Blue and Black. He sold the car in the early 1930s to the T.R. Miller estate of Brewton, Alabama. The Millers owned one of the largest milling and logging companies in the south. They kept the car from the 1930s to 1970 when it was sold to J.O. Raines. Raines didn't particularly like the dark color and embarked upon a restoration, changing the colors to butterscotch and brown. A friend who also has a 1929 cadillac sent me a color sample of Calumet blue...it's very dark. Knowing me, even though I like the current color scheme I'll probably go back to the original color scheme for the sake of correctness. However, the car originally came with disc wheels and no side mounts...at least the build sheet didn't list side mounts. I like the wire wheels and love the side mounts so that staying. Here is what the inside and engine compartment look like...after a cleaning:

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Guest BillP

It is terrific that you have that history. Usually, after it becomes just another used car, the legacy goes along with attentive periodic maintenance.

 

It's funny, I'm a fan of disc wheels and rear-mounted spare wheels, but, as has been said, "That's what makes a horse race."

 

I hope you quickly find a distributor and get some drives in. Those heavy classics are like nothing else on a country road.

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Carl I was left with only the hole (for lack of a better term) where the distributor assembly (Delco Remy model 4042, 4041 or 4023) bolted on to. The story I got was that it was sent out for a rebuild and never rejoined the car for whatever reason. I've investigated all leads trying to find it without success this far. It's a difficult piece to find I've discovered.

O.K. , your distributor luck may be about to take a favorable turn. Last week I placed a couple of calls for you. Wayne Elsworth apparently is in touch with you , but our discussion still needs more info. Perhaps a temporary plug in. For example , we guys with '26 amd '27 Cads can just drop in a '37-'39 Cad-LaSalle distributor , which in some ways runs better than the dual point original. My other call was to Bruce at Classic and Exotic in Michigan. I have had them do a comprehensive rebuild on my original distributor. I could use every superlative to compliment their service. They are the finest shop I have ever found. We humble Cadillac owners are fortunate in that such greats as Duesenberg and Stutz also used these Delco-Remy distributors . Their shop , consequently , can tend to our mere mortal , non-billionaire needs as a collateral service. Bruce just returned my call. They have a '29 Cad in the shop right now. That can serve as a reference for exactly what you need. With all the parts they have on hand and reproduce to higher than original specs , they can probably make you one ! It would help if someone can get you any rebuildable core (Wayne , perhaps ?) even if not quite the part number of your car. The differences can be minor , and a different part Classic and Exotic manufactures would make it identical. Cap , rotor , points are scarce. Are you a member of Cadillac LaSalle club ? If so , someone may help. Join. I have a possible source for you when I get back to Seattle next month. Bruce awaits your call. Direct line is 248-362-2097. My name is Carl Fielding for reference. They also rebuilt my cantankerous Cadillac Johnson carb. Everything they do is superb work with a very minimal turnaround time. In my world , their prices are very reasonable. Compared to other solutions I was considering before finding them , they would be a bargain at twice the price. Literally. I hope we and our Cadillacs will be in good enough health to meet at the CLC Grand National in 'Vegas next April. Good luck , and let us know how you make out with all aspects of your impressive old Cadillac. - Carl

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Thanks Carl...very helpful and I will do as you suggest. That is above and beyond the call of duty to do all that leg work on my behalf and I do thank you sincerely. Hope to see you in Las Vegas in April. Who knows maybe the 29 will be raodworthy by that point. Mike

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In preparation for the eventual arrival of a correct distributor assembly...which I am working to secure with Carl's help, I've drained all the old gas, dropped the oil pan and replaced the oil. I used 15w - 40 meant for Diesel engines this first time. I was surprised how clean the oil pan seemed. No debris, no sludge. I put the oil pan back on and threaded the float back into its proper hole. I used an anaerobic gasket maker to seal things up. I then discovered the float wire never made it back up to its position so oil level could be measured. I screwed something up. With great frustration I crawled back under the car, took all the nuts off the pan and then discovered it was really glued to the block like crazy due to the gasket maker. Lesson learned. I put the nuts back on deciding that I would run the car a bit before dropping the pan to flush out all the old oil. I'm going to need a stucco knife and mallet to get that pan off now. I pulled the oil filter and cut it open to discover a mess inside (see below). I'll need to convert that to a spin on type I suppose. I've pulled the plugs, squirted some mothers marvel oil into each cylinder. Engine turns over nicely. There is an inline fuel pump and filter near the tank, with pressure regulator that I discovered. Someone before me bypassed the vacuum pump. I'll replace the fuel filter. This car really is turning out to be a lot of fun.

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Oil filter

And you don't have to reinvent the wheel to replace the filter. Bob's Automobilia sells repros with a spin on/off NAPA 1060 element inside. This is a 21 micron filter with anti-flowback valve built in. This is not as fine a filter medium as , say a Frantz , more like a full-flow, which was its design purpose. Don't let this bother you , as it is vastly superior to the original. The original had an expected service life of 10,000 miles !! With the 1060 , you will have a very easy way to access an oil sample to determine first oil change point. I have been successfully using 20w/50 full synthetic in my '24 amd '27 Cads. This is too heavy for a modern high speed engine with the tight clearances now possible. Wonderful stuff for our relatively loose, slow old mills. Amsoil really does have certain advantages in their 20w/50. I can cite unbiased independent reference for you , and all , later. Disclaimer : I have no interest in , representation of , nor am I a dealer of this or any other product. BTW , I have machined an adaptor to incorporate a full-flow filter on the '24. '27 uses a bypass filter like your '29.

But a bit more about your distributor : Apparently , though I have not seen the more recent '28-'29 distributor , they share much in common with the '26-'27 pot metal time-bombs. The weights and linkage , I believe are different. If they are still pot metal , they may be vulnerable to self destruction as are the earlier. I believe the cases are still pot metal. Pot metal is not an alloy , but an amalgam. The dis-similar metals over long time suffer galvanic erosion , swell , and crumble. This may or may not be to some degree a function of old battery lead in the mix. Speculation. However , this is all to caution you to inspect carefully any old distributor you find. Any erosion , cracks or weakness must not be used for long. Classic and Exotic makes metallurgical upgrades for all inferior pieces. I wonder if you can simply drop in a '37-'39 Cad or LaSalle distributor (relatively easy to find , indestructible, and cheap). Might be a very good temporary short or long term substitute while you get the expensive original exactly , no compromise , right. I like the originals, since I do like to use the manual advance-retard control. This is less necessary in a synchromesh car like yours. (By retarding the spark , you can drive extremely slowly in top gear if under light load , and then slowly and gently accelerate. Eliminates one double-clutch downshift , and one or two double-clutch upshifts). Cadillac was very proud of their 10 - 30 mph acceleration abilities for their early V8 cars.

Many of us use Olson's Gaskets. Do you have a fine screen above the pan as the earlier engines had ?

Thank you for sharing the excitement of your recent acquisition. You will be running very soon , and will be sharing the slow , stately , cozy elegance with family and friends. Easy does it for these time capsules from a slower era. They will not handle adequately in an emergency situation , so when they ask you how fast it will go , "almost twice as fast as a sane person ought to drive it ". Funny , that answer seems appropriate for my fast V12 Mercedes Benz ! Hmmmmmm........... - Carl

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And you don't have to reinvent the wheel to replace the filter. Bob's Automobilia sells repros with a spin on/off NAPA 1060 element inside. This is a 21 micron filter with anti-flowback valve built in. This is not as fine a filter medium as , say a Frantz , more like a full-flow, which was its design purpose. Don't let this bother you , as it is vastly superior to the original. The original had an expected service life of 10,000 miles !! With the 1060 , you will have a very easy way to access an oil sample to determine first oil change point. I have been successfully using 20w/50 full synthetic in my '24 amd '27 Cads. This is too heavy for a modern high speed engine with the tight clearances now possible. Wonderful stuff for our relatively loose, slow old mills. Amsoil really does have certain advantages in their 20w/50. I can cite unbiased independent reference for you , and all , later. Disclaimer : I have no interest in , representation of , nor am I a dealer of this or any other product. BTW , I have machined an adaptor to incorporate a full-flow filter on the '24. '27 uses a bypass filter like your '29.

But a bit more about your distributor : Apparently , though I have not seen the more recent '28-'29 distributor , they share much in common with the '26-'27 pot metal time-bombs. The weights and linkage , I believe are different. If they are still pot metal , they may be vulnerable to self destruction as are the earlier. I believe the cases are still pot metal. Pot metal is not an alloy , but an amalgam. The dis-similar metals over long time suffer galvanic erosion , swell , and crumble. This may or may not be to some degree a function of old battery lead in the mix. Speculation. However , this is all to caution you to inspect carefully any old distributor you find. Any erosion , cracks or weakness must not be used for long. Classic and Exotic makes metallurgical upgrades for all inferior pieces. I wonder if you can simply drop in a '37-'39 Cad or LaSalle distributor (relatively easy to find , indestructible, and cheap). Might be a very good temporary short or long term substitute while you get the expensive original exactly , no compromise , right. I like the originals, since I do like to use the manual advance-retard control. This is less necessary in a synchromesh car like yours. (By retarding the spark , you can drive extremely slowly in top gear if under light load , and then slowly and gently accelerate. Eliminates one double-clutch downshift , and one or two double-clutch upshifts). Cadillac was very proud of their 10 - 30 mph acceleration abilities for their early V8 cars.

Many of us use Olson's Gaskets. Do you have a fine screen above the pan as the earlier engines had ?

Thank you for sharing the excitement of your recent acquisition. You will be running very soon , and will be sharing the slow , stately , cozy elegance with family and friends. Easy does it for these time capsules from a slower era. They will not handle adequately in an emergency situation , so when they ask you how fast it will go , "almost twice as fast as a sane person ought to drive it ". Funny , that answer seems appropriate for my fast V12 Mercedes Benz ! Hmmmmmm........... - Carl

Carl...thanks for the tip on the oil filter. A friend of mine had mentioned those although they state they are for Buick and I wasn't sure they would work for Cadillac...hadn't yet had a chance to call Bob. You say a 1937 - 1939 distributor may work in my 29...what model number is the Delco - Remy for 37-39? I do have a fine screen above my oil pan. Love the quote about how fast these cars go. Thanks again. Mike

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I don't offhand know the serial number for the '37 - '39 distributor. But it is common , and I do know a CLC member who dropped one right in to his '26 , and loves it . They still look very old and right at home. He has no intentions of ever changing it. I could check , although these are common , as they are extremely robust. When you talk to Bruce , bring this subject up. It is not what they do , but if a '26 - '27 distributor would be interchangeable physically with a '28 - '29 , then the later ones should serve all our cars if needed. Get it going . Man if you like working on 'em, you will be really pleased cruising them. They just go and go and go ! Seems like you could drive them anywhere. Just like they were designed to do ! And be sure to use as low octane gas as you can get. Gasoline was around 50 something in '29 , and that would work best in such a low compression engine. And the filter. My '27 is dead identical to the Buicks. Just give the dimensions of yours to the guys at Bob's. I hope it is the same . The fittings appear identical. By the way , your upholstery appears to be original ! Is it ? - Carl

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Another idea : While your car is laid up , it might be a good time to send the Sylphon thermostatic bellows controlling the radiator shutters out for renovation. It may or may not be working right now , but they don't last forever. Hopefully Jim Otto in Nashville , Tn. is still doing this work. He is a retired Sylphon engineer who still does some work for them. Return time is generally within 2 weeks. Also , use synthetic grease. Many years ago , when synthetic oil was not as prevalent as now , I found the oil I needed at the feed store in Billings , Mt. Talking lubricants with the gents there , they told me that they had switched to synthetic grease in all their farm machinery. Wear on lubricated surfaces was reduced to negligible , if at all. Ceased to be an issue. Use synthetic everywhere. - Carl

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Thanks Carl...you've given me Some homework and I appreciate it. I'll keep you updated as I work through each issue. Mike

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I want to thank Carl Fielding "C Carl" for going out of his way to help me. He sent me a distributor free of charge to help me get my Cadillac going, even paying for express shipping which was not cheap. He wouldn't let me reimburse him 1 cent. This is a rare individual, even in the old car hobby which is full of good people. Thank you Carl...I owe you big time. Mike

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