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ITS COLD, I THINK I'LL FIX SOMETHING


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Dave, I'm your age. I bought my running '31 Buick 66 for $280 in 1962 and the non running , but complete and good,  '38 46s in 1973 for $135! They were cheap then.

 

Thats what I remember, lots of these old cars were still around and could be bought cheap. If they weren't running it usually didn't take much to get them running and there were still plenty of junk yards that had the old cars and it was easy to get parts. Maybe the junk yards didn't sell the old cars for scrap back then because as I remember it was so easy to find almost any old car in a junk yard to get parts from. Now that there aren't many old cars left and no old cars in junk yards the prices for the few remaining are crazy, supply and demand doing its thing. I feel lucky as most of you do to have my old Buick today. Back in the days we are talking about I might have found this same car for a couple of hundred bucks. Today the running board insulators cost more than that. By the way the same thing has happened with motorcycles. I bought a 1933 Ford 5 window coupe that still had a working radio in it and it was all original and damn near flawless for fifty dollars in 1956. Treasure the memory of those days because they are gone forever.

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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??? 

Jeff you are right and its all explained in my clock instructions for the initial installation. It was all done at the light switch terminals where the clock harness hooks to originally. I had just spent a couple of days off and on on the floor under the dash working on mounting the radio,  I was hoping to never get under the dash again after that so I was pleasantly  surprised when the clocked started working without having to do that. Today is day three and the clock is ticking like its new and even keeping good time. I still haven't fiddled with the non working glove box light that is activated by tilting the clock but I will eventually get to it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I had some extra time so I decided to install the new in the box from 1938 spark plug wires. They are Packard brand and say from 36 to 42 Buick. My old wires were slightly frayed in some spots and I mostly only replaced them for cosmetic reasons. After I put the new ones on, the car started right up and ran smoothly. Not a big job but I'm happier to have the new wires in the car than in a box on a shelf. I also decided to change the oil, so I let it drain while I fiddled with the plug wires. New oil, new wires, ready for more driving. We still drive the car almost every day and then it goes back in the garage. Radio and clock and overdrive are all still working good so I'm running out of projects. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

My clock quit today. The mechanism that winds it is what quit. I would like to send it to someone who is familiar with these clocks to fix. Can someone know of a place that is good? If I don't get a reply I will take it apart and clean the points and see if that works but I would rather send it to someone with experience.

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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Projects:  The clutch on the 46s crapped out yesterday. A spring that tensions the fingers in the pressure plate broke (I found "crumbs" in the cover ) for some strange reason and the clutch, when disengaged, sounds like it has gravel in it. Since I'll have to deal with the rear end to get the clutch out, I'm going to install the 3:90 gears too. Damn!!

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Hi Don, Sorry to hear about the clutch. Its a PITA to replace it because of the rear end but at least you'll end up with the 3.90 in it and a new clutch. Keep us posted on the progress, maybe even some pictures. I decided to try to fix my clock myself. I took it apart and cleaned the clock gears and oiled the bearings with clock oil. The clock works fine but the electro magnet that winds it does not. I cleaned the points but the magnet only moves the winding arm a little and then it stops. I don't know what to do next unless I decide to send it to a clock guy who can repair the coil or whatever it needs to make the winding arm work. Maybe I can find another clock with a good winding mechanism and a bad clock. My clock project seems insignificant next to yours.

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I found that when the clock magnet winds, it doesnt go very far, but it cycles every few minutes as described in the manual. I expect the there may be some adjustment on the toggle mechanism that moves the points, but I am reluctant to experiment on a clock that is otherwise OK.

I'm dragging my feet on that clutch job.

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I can relate to dragging your feet on the clutch job. Just the thought of pulling the rear end is enough to cause that and then you still have the trans to go. For me I always find the hardest part is getting started, once under way its not so bad, and once its done it seems easy. After pulling the rear end out of mine and installing it again with the overdrive unit it doesn't seem to be that big a deal. In any case you'll eventually get to it on a day when it just seems to be the day to do it. Do you have the luxury of a nice garage with a lift? As far as my clock goes I have decided that I didn't pay enough attention to it when I took it apart. I should have connected it to the battery when it was out of the case to see if the winding mechanism worked and how far it moved if it did work. I have another clock in the car now that works great but cosmetically is not as nice as the one that I took out. I'm sure I can switch around the parts to make the nicer one work again and reinstall it, thats an option. I also have a lead on another clock that cosmetically is terrible and may or may not work but its cheap. I hope to get it and just MAYBE the electro magnet is working and also if it is I will carefully see EXACTLY how the winding mechanism works before I strip it for parts to repair the nice one. If it does not work I will take the two I've got and make one really nice one. Its all bench work so as far as a project goes so its pretty easy.  

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The clutch job isnt a strange one for me. I replaced the clutch on my '38 Roadmaster a couple of years ago. That was even tougher since the trans on it is about twice the size and weight of the Specials.

With the cheap clock at least you dont have to worry about messing something expensive up.

I'm all for making one good thing out of several bad things.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I took the electromagnetic winding mechanism that worked and put it on a clock motor that worked and has a real nice dial on it and made one good clock out of two. The clock is working nicely at least for now. I also ordered a six volt electric fuel pump that is regulated to 4psi from Summitt Racing. Its an inline fuel pump and I will install it if I start having vapor lock troubles with the upcoming warm weather. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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The last few days have given me some more time to fiddle with the Buick, I installed a 6 volt electric fuel pump with a 2.5 to 4 psi pressure. It;s mounted horizontally right at the gas tank. Its filtered before any gas gets to it. I decided to hide a toggle switch in the running board bracket so that no wires show inside the car or engine compartment. Normally its not turned on and the car seems to run great on the original fuel pump but if it gets hot and vapor lock becomes a problem I can throw the switch and have the electric pump keep the float bowl full. I think this might work but won't know until the weather gets hotter here. I also took of the ORIGINAL distributor cap and rotor and replaced them. The condenser and points were replaced by Lewis Jenkins but not the list cap. It was corroded bad, the worst cap I ever looked at. Took the car for a drive and it was a world of difference, the engine runs smoother and feels more powerful. It also got new plugs gapped at .027 each. Another little improvement for the Buick, its really a great car.

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We drove to a "CARS AND COFFEE" car show this morning. Many late model Corvettes, Mustangs, Porsche etc now go to these shows, also some muscle cars and hot rods, but we had the only original old car from the thirties. The weather is real nice now but the heat will be here in a short time. I decided to take out the 180 degree thermostat that I put in at the beginning of winter and replace it with the 160 degree thermostat I took out at that time. I also flushed the system and put in new coolant called SUPER COOL which is premixed with WATER WETTER and corrosion protecters. I think I'll flush the system and change the thermostat every year, its no big deal and it should keep everything clean.

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Checked the timing today and found out it was retarded. I advanced it to where the points were just starting to open when the 4 degree advance line on the flywheel was even with the pointer.  It made a big difference. It accelerates much quicker and feels more powerful, I should have checked the timing a long time ago. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I started on the clutch and differential gear ratio change today.

I pulled the differential assembly (by myself) and removed the ring gear carrier (it looks good). I hope the switch to the 3.90's wont be too difficult.

I'm getting to old for this stuff - I'm tired!!

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Las Vegas Dave - I did that last year and it was very straight forward.  There was not anything in the way, just a little cramped getting at the front bolts. Had mine off to check the oil pump and the pan had very little sludge.  I had been using non-detergent 30 wt oil for about 12,000 miles, so wasn't sure what i would find.  Previous owner was using detergent oil, so since it was so clean I changed back to detergent.

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1 hour ago, jvelde said:

Las Vegas Dave - I did that last year and it was very straight forward.  There was not anything in the way, just a little cramped getting at the front bolts. Had mine off to check the oil pump and the pan had very little sludge.  I had been using non-detergent 30 wt oil for about 12,000 miles, so wasn't sure what i would find.  Previous owner was using detergent oil, so since it was so clean I changed back to detergent.

 

I took off the pan and cleaned it out. It had sludge in it but not to much. I had to pull the stabilizer bar down to get the pan off but that was easy. The pan had never been off and I doubt that I will ever take it off again. I use 15/40 oil 

made for classic cars sold by Hemmings. 

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If you havn't already put the pan back on, one alignment trick that works well is to use a couple of pieces of 5/16" threaded rod about 4" long in the block. One on each side toward the rear of the engine That will help align both the gasket and pan as you manipulate them back into position.

 

I got the trans and clutch out this morning - falling down easy with the rear end out of the car.

 

My grinding in the clutch was exactly what i thought it was. One of the release lever tension springs broke and got ground up. Fortunately the flywheel and disc are OK. I have a spare pressure plate so I am set for getting it back together. The photos show the source of the spring and grinding. You can see one of the springs missing from the left hand release finger. The second photo shows some of what was still in the clutch. I'm happy the newish disc wasn't ruined.

DSCN1956.JPG

DSCN1952.JPG

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Today I put a carb that I got on eBay on the 38. It was supposed to have been rebuilt years ago and then put on a shelf and never used. I put it on the car and it had only two problems, it leaked and the vacuum switch didn't work. I replaced the vacuum switch with another one I had after I made a new gasket. That cured that problem. After driving the car which ran great I noticed the leak from a plug in the bottom of the float bowl. I had to remove the carb again in order to tighten the plug but afterwards and another test drive with my wife the carb is dry as a bone everywhere. I adjusted the idle air mixture a final time after the car was up to temperature and its running great. I have another carb at a carb shop in Ohio getting rebuilt and also the one that I just took off the car which needs to be rebuilt. The fellow I bought the carb from on ebay also sent me a carb kit so I think I'll use it to rebuild the one I took off the car myself. I now have 3 carbs for a 38 Special, if someone gets in a bind for a carb let me know. 

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48 minutes ago, DonMicheletti said:

Do your spare carbs have the crazy '38 Buick choke? They are a royal PITA to adjust and almost never work right.

 

One of the carbs has a frozen up choke that is stuck on wide open. On both of the other carbs the chokes work perfectly. I have read that they rarely work so I guess I got lucky. The whole choke assembly and the vacuum switch are way over engineered. A manual choke and a push button starter would have been just fine in my opinion. It could be changed but still just trying to keep the car original as possible so it is what it is. Luckily everything is working as good as new. Some have told me to change the carb but I've resisted and kept it stock, now I have enough carbs to last a lifetime. I also purchased a NOS vacuum switch on eBay for a spare.  

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Definitely keep the original carb. The choke mechanism is a real Rube Goldberg, but with patience can be made to work. Often the problem is the little piece of flexible cable that goes from the choke butterfly to the actual choke mechanism.

If you have a bum choke mechanism, go ahead and take it apart - you cant make it worse. Often just cleaning is the fix.

A "wrong" carb is easy to spot and is a common thing changed on the '38's.

One other thing to check is the little "Push rod" that goes between the choke mechanism and the vacuum switch. If that gets gummy and doesnt slide freely, the starter switch wont work.

You are right a push button and manual choke is fine - but it takes all the fun and frustration out of making that original choke and starter work correctly.

The vacuum switches come up pretty often on E Bay

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I checked the little rods that work the vacuum switch on all the carbs and they were free and worked good. Two vacuum switch work fine and one doesn't. The choke that doesn't work and is froze up will be one of my projects yet to be worked on. We drove the car today and for the first time there is not even the slightest leak coming from the carb while running or after we parked. I agree with "but it takes all the fun and frustration out of making that original choke and starter work correctly." and that goes for the radio, the clock, and everything else on the car. It would be easy to put late model stuff in the car but although it would be a better car mechanically, it would not be a 38 Buick any more or drive like a 38 Buick anymore. How is the clutch going?

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The clutch is going well. I did find the remaining parts of the broken spring in there and also found that the 3rd spring was broken too - ready to jam even more stuff up.

The clutch and transmission are back in the car and the clutch works fine (without the torque tube in). It was a tough job working alone on that. 

Next, I'll start assembling the differential with the 3.9 gears. I hope everything fits OK.

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  • 8 months later...

I started this topic last December almost a year to the day. Its cold again and I'm still fixing stuff. Todays project was the heater. Both of my heater motors, defroster fan and heater fan did not work good. They would make much noise and spin slowly, they needed lube at the least. When I last pulled the heater out I tried to lube the motors and although it helped it was only a bandaid. Yesterday it was about 40 degrees when I decided to try the heater, the motor made a terrible screeching noise and barely turned. I decided last night to take the heater out of the car once again and fix it correctly. The original heater in our car is still almost pristine as far as the paint and trim is concerned and the heater core does not leak. I found two 6 volt motors on EBay that were NOS for other cars but both had the correct shaft size and close to the dimensions of the stock motors. I've been saving them for some time as I knew the day would come when I would replace mine. My heater also has a motor on top that powers another fan in a defroster housing. This has to be disconnected from the main heater housing before the heater comes out of the car unless the glove box is removed. Its only held on by two screws but it takes a right angle screwdriver to remove them while you are partially upside down on the floor. Once thats done the heater will come right out. The heater body comes in two halves which entrap the heater core and its framework. The old fan motor can then be removed from its mounting brackets but not before removing the fan blade from the motor. This requires a small puller if you want to use the blade again without damaging it on the new motor. I installed the new motor being careful to route the wire in the proper stock recess and then out thru the stock grommet in one of the heater body cases. My new motor had two wires coming out of it while the stock motor had only one. One of the two wires on the new motor is a ground wire so I drilled a small hole in the case half and fed it thru the various parts to where it came out the hole and attached to a case screw. After redrilling the motor tabs so that the new motor would screw onto it and be centered correctly it had to be adjusted to make the fan have the right height above the heater core. Not a big problem but not just a simple bolt up. The defroster assembly I had purchased was also NOS but for a different make car. It was very close to the Buicks and worked perfectly after using parts of the original defroster housing and parts of the new one. I finally bench tested everything and it all worked like brand new. I got everything installed back in the car and am happy that although it was a PITA the car now has great heat, runs quiet and should last longer than me. 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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I've got to pull the rear end on my truck and fix the torque ball.  It is flopping around and needs to get fixed....soon.  Spring will be sooner than later.  Also have a lot of other things that I need to do to get ready for spring and touring season.    Think Positive for the warm weather.

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It was down to 55 degrees today when I was going to breakfast, the Buick because of the thermostat will only get to 160 no matter if you drive it or if it idles all day. I don't like that so much so I decided to put the 180 thermostat back in it until the summer. It likes getting flushed out once or twice a year anyway and getting new coolant. That job is always messy so after it was done I washed and spray waxed the car, it looks great. The car loves this weather compared to months of every day being 100 plus degrees. 

 

Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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JEES LARRY, 7 degrees! I will never complain again. when I bought our car it had immaculate original upulstrey so I took a mexican blanket and threw it over the front seat right away to protect it. Since I washed and spray waxed the car after replacing the thermostat I was also trying to straighten out the blanket. I lifted it off the seat for a moment and I saw the little chrome lever that looked like a seat adjuster. I pushed down on it but it didn't budge so I tried pulling up on it. It came out of whatever it was not supposed to come out of. I went to the owners manual and it seems it was a locking rod which when pulled allows the front seat to slide. It looks like it may have just had a cotter pin or something similar that went thru the little hole in the bottom of the rod after it dropped thru another tab. Can anybody enlighten me as to what the stock set up had, mine is missing. I attached some pictures of the seat gizmo and also of how nice the car looks after my cleaning it.

SEAT_ADJUSTER_LOCK_1.JPG

SEAT_ADJUSTER_LOCKING_ROD.JPG

SEAT_ADJ_LOCK_2.JPG

IN_GARAGE_3__12:16.JPG

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Dave,

 

If you will remove the row of screws from the finishing trim panel on the side of the seat you will see the seat adjusting mechanism. If you still have your July/August 2016 Issue of the Torque Tube II, you will find some diagrams of the mechanism in my story about seat adjuster repair on pages 9 and 10. If you need me to post a pdf copy of that issue, please let me know.

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17 hours ago, MCHinson said:

Dave,

 

If you will remove the row of screws from the finishing trim panel on the side of the seat you will see the seat adjusting mechanism. If you still have your July/August 2016 Issue of the Torque Tube II, you will find some diagrams of the mechanism in my story about seat adjuster repair on pages 9 and 10. If you need me to post a pdf copy of that issue, please let me know.

 

Thanks for the info and I will look for the issue when we get back to Las Vegas. I hope by Thursday.

 

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Dave,

Another problem you may have is the seat will not slide freely when you get things back together. 

The front hold down bracket, also behind that panel, can get gummed up. There is one on each side. You might have to remove them and clean out gunk. Also, if you tighten them up too much the seat will not slide. Kind of sneak up on tightening the adjustment if you remove them to clean them.

 

Don

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