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ITS COLD, I THINK I'LL FIX SOMETHING


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Its cold here in Vegas and the garage is heated so I decided to fiddle with the car. I have a gas tank in my 38 that is not stock, the previous owner put a new tank in it when he got the car in the early eighties because the original was all gummed up. He had a Buick collection and many parts. I don't know what tank is in my car but it is not a 38 Buick tank. Last weekend while in Los Angeles I met a guy that has been collecting Buick parts for 45 years. I ended up with a almost new 37 tank which has the filler neck on the passenger side and a heavily damaged 38 tank with a perfect filler. I can switch fillers and have a real 38 tank as the only difference on 37 and 38 tanks is the filler location. I also got a working 38 sending unit but I would like to replace or shellac the corks. If anyone knows what kind of shellac I should use that gas will not hurt, please let me know, or should I just make some new corks. I also got a real nice 38 carb and choke assembly that I sent to a place in Florida to be restored. Since the garage is warm and its cold outside I decided to pull the fuel pump off the car because it leaks. It turns out the casting where the bowl is seated in has a piece broke out of it so it leaks. The fuel pump is rare in that it is a double diaphram type with only 5/16 mounting holes. The 38 block has 5/16 holes in it but in 40 they went to 3/8 holes. It is very hard to find a double diaphram pump with 5/16 holes. I can easily get a 40 and later pump with 3/8 holes and then make some 5/16 shoulder bolts but the earlier ones look a little different from the top and I would rather keep it. I think I can use the later bottom part with the earlier top and that way the broke casting problem will be gone. Another project in the heated garage is the installation of a 38 radio and the antenna. Any way its fun tinkering around with the old car while its cold out and its so nice in the garage.

 

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Obviously your car has been changed from the original style single acting pump to the double acting pump (with vacuum). The wipers are much happier with that.

 

A couple of years ago I decided to rebuild the fuel pump on my '38 Roadmaster anticipating problems with the very old pump with ethanol going through it. It turned out that my pump was a "hybrid" someone had ginned up long before I got the car.

I got the parts from  Bobs, but everything on the vacuum side was wrong and didnt fit. Bobs was great working with me on sorting it out. Turned out that the number stamped on my pump was for a '50s engine. Someone must have built it up from a bunch of different parts.

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I also think mine is not the original but it is a  38 or 39 pump, thats why the 5/16 holes, not 3/8. Also the vacuum part of it is different than the 40 and up. I sent it to Terrill Machine in Texas. Bobs has one with the 5/16 holes but its at the rebuilders and its been there for over a month and Bob has no idea when it will get back to him, he says the guy who does them is very slow.

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Google maps a moment ago for Las Vegas:

Mostly Sunny · 10°C (50 Fahrenheit)

1:57 PM

Learn something every day.  Always thought Vegas was sunny all the time with minimum 100 degrees!

Good luck with the projects from a wet miserable day in Wellington 12°C and summer will come one day.
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Since you seem to have the time, why dont you rebuild the pump yourself? - it isnt hard. If you know the number stamped on the pump mounting flange, Bobs will probably be able to supply you with the correct parts.  Plus you'll learn something...even if it is that you'll never do it again. Since a stock '38 Special pump is a single stage, you cant just order parts for a '38 Special.

There are a number of tutorials on You Tube showing some of the tricks to make it easier to do.

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Since you seem to have the time, why dont you rebuild the pump yourself? - it isnt hard. If you know the number stamped on the pump mounting flange, Bobs will probably be able to supply you with the correct parts.  Plus you'll learn something...even if it is that you'll never do it again. Since a stock '38 Special pump is a single stage, you cant just order parts for a '38 Special.

There are a number of tutorials on You Tube showing some of the tricks to make it easier to do.

I don't have as much time as it seems. I am in Los Angeles right now ion business and I'm here at least twice a month. I have a V8 powered motorcycle that I need to put back together as well as two more that take maintenance. I have a girlfriend in another country that will be here in a few weeks. I just returned from two weeks in the Philippines with her and it was the second trip in the last eight months. The Buick overdrive project that I did in my driveway was fun but it took to much time. As far as the Buick is concerned I like fiddling with it but I'm fine with letting skilled guys fix some things that I remove and replace. I'm capable of doing the work on the car if I want to but everything is a balance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anybody else with a 38 or 39 Buick Special seen or heard of a double diaphragm fuel pump with 5/16 inch mounting holes? Is it possible that a 38 Buick 320 inch Roadmaster or Century double diaphragm pump has 5/16 mounting holes and could fit a Special engine. I doubt it but I hope someone with more knowledge than me will chime in. I heard that the 38 Buick Special with a shiftless transmission transmission had a double diaphragm pump, can anyone confirm that? I believe Lewis Jenkins put the double diaphragm pump on my car in 1982 but Lewis has passed.

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The fuel pump mystery was solved today. I had sent my double diaphragm pump with 5/16 diameter mounting holes instead of the normal 3/8 diameter mounting holes to a shop in Texas called TERRIL MACHINE in Texas. The owner called mr yesterday and said the numbers stamped on the flange according to his book was a double diaphragm pump that was an option for 1938 and 1939. It differs from the later ones because it has the smaller mounting holes and a slightly different vacuum section on the top. It has four screws showing that the later ones don't have. I will take some pictures of it when I get it back. Nobody I talked to until yesterday ever told me there was an optional double diaphragm pump for the 1938 or 39 Special but the owner of Terrill Machine went and double checked his book and said the book even gives the number stamped on the flange. I am happy that the pump is original to this car and is also very rare.    

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Don, when I was taking off the pump I notice that the lines going to the pump are factory line all clipped together with original factory clips that could not be easily taken apart and then put back on so I left them alone. I was thinking at the time that if it was a single diaphragm pump originally then the vacuum lines should have been added later for the pump and not be connected to the fuel lines in an obvious original factory set up. I just did not know about the possibility of this being an original pump so did not understand the lines either

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Dave,

I think your argument is 100% correct. Those clips are a major clue.

A PITA question.

On a single action fuel pump. The vacuum feed at the wiper motor is  on the left hand side of the wiper motor. Since yours is fed from the right, is the vacuum motor feed on the right too?

In other words, is it a different vacuum motor?

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Don, here are some pictures of the pump, notice also that the pump shaft goes under the cam lobe instead of being pushed from the side. Also notice the four screws on top and the 5/16 inch mounting bolt holes. The number 1523687 is stamped on the flange. It is an AC pump. The line goes thru the firewall to the wiper motor, I haven't got under the dash yet to answer your question. CAN I SEE IT BY LOOKING UNDER THE DASH?

post-154011-0-05765300-1451749045_thumb.

post-154011-0-07381300-1451749072_thumb.

post-154011-0-67250500-1451749099_thumb.

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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Tomorrow I am supposed to pick up the gas tank from the radiator shop. I left it with them while I've been out of town to clean it out and add solder to the neck and neck brackets and check for leaks. Its now a 38 gas tank made from parts of a 37 and a 38 If I get it back tomorrow it will be installed by the end of the day. The car hasn't run for five or six weeks because of the tank and fuel pump being out of the car. The fuel pump was installed yesterday so It will be ready to go once the tank is in. I think this time even the fuel gauge will work properly since I found and fixed the problem of it not going all the way to empty. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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I got to drive the Buick today with the rebuilt fuel pump, gas tank, and sending unit. No leaks at the fuel pump and the gas gauge now reads from empty to full. Bob senior from Bobs Automobilia called and said my radio was finished and working good, installing the radio is a project coming up soon. It was raining today so I got to use the wipers, they work as good as wipers from that era ever worked, nothing to write home about but at least they don't stop when I give it the gas under a load. I guess the vacuum part of the fuel pump is doing its job. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The fuel pump mystery was solved today. I had sent my double diaphragm pump with 5/16 diameter mounting holes instead of the normal 3/8 diameter mounting holes to a shop in Texas called TERRIL MACHINE in Texas. The owner called mr yesterday and said the numbers stamped on the flange according to his book was a double diaphragm pump that was an option for 1938 and 1939. It differs from the later ones because it has the smaller mounting holes and a slightly different vacuum section on the top. It has four screws showing that the later ones don't have. I will take some pictures of it when I get it back. Nobody I talked to until yesterday ever told me there was an optional double diaphragm pump for the 1938 or 39 Special but the owner of Terrill Machine went and double checked his book and said the book even gives the number stamped on the flange. I am happy that the pump is original to this car and is also very rare.    

Dave: Will confirm your pump is original as it was an option for 1938 and 1939 Series 40 Synchromesh cars. It was standard, though, for the 1938  Self Shifter equipped cars.  This option was a package with the package part number 1394539 which contained all the clips, fittings, and pipes.  The pump and package parts are shown on pages 17 and 18 of the Abridged Edition of the 1938 Service Bulletins.  Recently there was a pump with the same number as yours(1523687) that appeared on Ebay for an absurdly high price. Although the number on the flange appeared to be correct, it was obvious that a later model vacuum section had been fitted and the pump had been poorly painted. Good to know your pump is working as it is supposed to.

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Thanks 

 

Dave: Will confirm your pump is original as it was an option for 1938 and 1939 Series 40 Synchromesh cars. It was standard, though, for the 1938  Self Shifter equipped cars.  This option was a package with the package part number 1394539 which contained all the clips, fittings, and pipes.  The pump and package parts are shown on pages 17 and 18 of the Abridged Edition of the 1938 Service Bulletins.  Recently there was a pump with the same number as yours(1523687) that appeared on Ebay for an absurdly high price. Although the number on the flange appeared to be correct, it was obvious that a later model vacuum section had been fitted and the pump had been poorly painted. Good to know your pump is working as it is supposed to.

 

Thanks for verifying this. It was a very well kept secret amongst even the experts of the 38/39 models. I would love to have a copy of the pages you refer to if possible.

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The overdrive, brakes, radio and gas tank and fuel pump projects are now done and all working great. I will take a short break and just drive the car for a while now but there will be something else soon enough. There is a newly rebuilt and restored carb coming soon so possibly I'll install it and have the one that is presently being used also restored. I could also use new plug wires so maybe I can find some NOS ones and do that. The car is actually running fine at this time so nothing is pressing. 


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I wouldnt trust NOS plug wires.  The key letter is the "O" - old. Not good with insulation. 

Get some good modern ignition wire and make your own. I have had crossfire problems on a straight 8 with made up reproduction wires.

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Don, I believe the old ignition systems aren't very high voltage compared to say an MSD ignition coil or fairly modern system. The way I test for poor plug wires is to start the car in the dark garage at night and while looking in the dark engine compartment and having the wife rev the engine I can see sparks if the wires are not good. I definitely agree that modern wires are available that will never be a problem but a real NOS set of wires would probably work fine and would keep everything original. The wires on the car now have some cracks and some missing insulation from age yet don't seem to be a problem other than looks. There is a set of NOS BUICK plug and coil wires on EBAY right now for the 38 BUICK, they're the correct wires but they are expensive. 

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There is only one way to find out. 

 

However, on the Buick, how much of the ignition wires show? Not much.

 

My cars have their original coils and I did have problems with the repro wires arcing between wires, visible in broad daylight..

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I bought the wires on ebay today so I guess they will come in a week or so and I'll put them on, might as well do new spark plugs at the same time. We drove the car to my friends house on the other side of town today. He has a lift in his garage which made it easy to screw a few small clips to the underside of the body to secure the antenna crossover wire that connects the two running boards. 

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GLOVE BOX CLOCK

 

The clock in my car has been off since I got the car. It had a fuse in it when I got the car but I took it out because I thought the battery would get drained. Today I put the fuse in it and I heard a THUNK and then the clock started ticking. After about 5 minutes the clock stopped. I pulled the fuse out and then put it back in and the clock made the same KLUNK noise and started ticking again. It stopped after awhile again. I then removed the fuse and checked it and it was good so I put it back in and the same noise came so I closed the door and left and it was ticking. I came out an hour later and it once again had stopped. This time I removed the fuse and reinserted it a few times and while the fuse was in it all of a sudden it made the THUNK noise again and it kept on ticking. I am leery of closing the glove box door again since with the door down the clock makes the THUNK noise every few minutes but is still working. Its been working for about 45 minutes now. If it works all night I will close the door and see if it keeps working. From what I understand the clock has a capaceter in it that somehow gets charged every few minutes and then runs the clock for awhile. The clock also has a light in it that shines in the glovebox when the door is down. The light comes on supposedly when the clock tilts, what kind of switch activates it? Anybody know anything about these clocks?

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  I believe the clock is an electrical wound mechanical one like the one in my '50. There is a specific method to supplying power after the battery has been disconnected  [ power off for an extended time for any reason] . I think with your removing and replacing the fuse, you followed that procedure, 

 

  As far as the glove box light, if no switch is visible, it may have an internal to the bulb socket switch that is "level' controlled. Do you have a shop manual?

 

  Ben

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The clock is a simple wind up clock. The wind up is done by an electromagnet pulling on the clock spring mechanism. The clunk you hear is that electromagnet winding the spring up. As you noticed it happens about every 5 minutes and is normal.

2 things can cause your problem, I believe,. Dirty contacts on the magnet switch and a dirty or sticky pivot mechanism. Cleaning those may help.

The fact that your clock does run down says that that the actual clock mechanism is OK. However a good cleaning and proper oiling would probably help everything.

If I remember correctly, the light "switch" is just a ball bearing that falls against 2 contacts when the door is opened and then falls away when the door is closed.

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Thanks for the info you guys. The clock is now steadily working even with the glove box door closed so I guess removing and replacing the fuse a few times did whatever it was supposed to do after an extended disconnect. The clock light is working but not the level switched glovebox light that is mounted on the clock. I will fool with it later, maybe just a bad bulb. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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Thanks for the picture Don, It looks like a basic wind up clock. The one in the car is actually keeping pretty good time, I'm amazed that it works just because its 77 years old and the design of an electromagnet switch that keeps a mechanical clock wound is pretty interesting to me. I'm 73 so when I was 16 these cars were already 20 years old, that was in 1958, by the time I could drive one. By that time clocks were electric, new cars were mostly V8's, radio's had FM etc. We could still buy thirties and forties cars very cheap and back when I was 16 in Southern California my only goal in life was to have a car or motorcycle. The old cars were simple and obtainable but I never paid much attention to the accessories like clocks, heaters, horns, radio's, etc or how they worked. I was always happy if it would just start and run and stop good enough not to crash.  

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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You are supposed to start your clock with a specific procedure.  Going by memory, starting with one lead of the clock connected and one disconnected, you touch the disconnected lead to the clock terminal momentarily.  Repeat until it doesn't spark when you do this.  I totally forget why you do this, but it was for a good reason. It may have had something to do with the inductance of the solenoid coil drawing too much current when first connected??? 

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