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1937 Buick Model 48: RESTORATION HAS BEGUN! (Photo)

Gary W

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Installed the starter tonight with the newly painted mounting bolts.  Looks nice.  Want to finish the right side of the engine tomorrow.





Began running my new "pre-bent" stainless steel brake lines.  So far they seem fairly close.  So much nicer working with clean parts!




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Cleaner and SAFER , too. Superb job , Gary ! All that work at the pace you are doing it ! You will be putting many happy miles on it soon ! I have had a question swimming around in my somewhat empty head for a while. Did you raise the compression ratio ? If so , to what ? If not , why not ? In general , all you Buick guys , is this a routine procedure often done ? I sure wish I could significantly boost the compression on my flathead Cadillacs. With your O.H.V. Engines , I would think this would often be done , the better to run on modern 87 octane gasoline , and reduce EGT , etc.  -  Carl

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The two engine modifications are:


1.  I used 1938 "domed" pistons instead of the original 1937 "flat top" pistons.  There was enough clearance between the dome and the head/valves/spark plugs so I'm assuming that modification will increase the compression.  But by how much..........couldn't tell you.  


2. New valves.  The original exhaust (or intake?) was "bell" shaped, and now all the new valves are flat so I guess that will cause a slight compression increase also.


The bores are all standard, so I did not have the engine bored, just honed and installed standard size '38 pistons and new rings.


***** I only went with the '38 domed style because EGGE doesn't manufacture the flat top pistons anymore and the technician told me everyone is going with the '38 style and they work fine so the decision was made for me.  I wanted to use original style flat top pistons.  I really wasn't looking to raise the compression, or increase the performance.  I like the way she runs. Also, I was told (right or wrong?) that sometimes it's hard to get the car to idle nice and smooth if the compression is boosted too much.  Is that correct?


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HI Gary , as a statement of fact , that is literally 100% correct. BUT , "boosted TOO MUCH" is a relative term. Right now I have to run to dinner out. I'll be back rather late for my dissertation tonight. Might have to wait until tomorrow. If someone else does not beat me to it , I will be happy to hold forth. It does bear repeating from time to time.  - Carl

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Continued to install engine components:


Started this morning installing the manifolds.  I decided to use my original manifold washers (belleville?).  The ones I got from the vendors were too large and did not seat.  The  washers i got from Mc Master Carr fit nice, but were so thin!  I'm sure they would have worked, but honestly I didn't like them aesthetically so I went to the original thick washers. Installed new studs and gland rings, I used a copper gasket, and put a thin coat of high temp sealant over the exhaust ports.  Torqued it all down to 30 pounds.



The three choices i had.  Large from vendor, Original and new stainless from McMaster Carr.  



Too Large to seat properly without cutting the manifold 



The washers from McMaster Carr fit nicely, but I didn't like the thin washer in there.



Gland rings installed.  Then the copper gasket with a high temp sealant around the exhaust ports



Lift it into position, push onto the gland rings started running the washers and nuts over the studs.



So here it is installed.  Looks nice!





Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Right side of engine block components:



Cleaned up and installed the distributor.  Then installed the rubber boots at the plug end and ran all eight wires through the harness.



Tried to line them up nice and neat 



Labeled all the wires 1 - 8, then labeled the distributor 1-8 in the proper firing order.  Made a preliminary cut, then a final cut, installed the rubber boot, then the brass connector.



Once all eight wires were installed, then came the coil, a new wire between the coil and the distributor, and the main coil wire.  Installed the fuel pump and the motor is starting to look like it should!



Coming together nicely!


Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Here's a little project that I did tonight in just about 30 minutes.  You know that valve on the side of the block to drain the water?   Well, mine did not have a 'tube" or an outlet on it, so when I opened the valve to drain the block, the rusty water ran all over the side of the engine.  So:



I cleaned the valve but there was no tube outlet.  So I found an old brass tube and put a slight bend in it.  



Marked it where I needed to cut it so the valve can be screwed in and still clear the block.



After the cut, and dressing it down with a file, I test fitted it and then soldered it into position.



Here's the finished product installed in the block.  I have the tube at a slight angle so there is room to slide a vinyl tube over it when I need to drain the block.



The tubing has room to slide over easily.



End of the day!



Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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One question...


Does your car have vacuum or electric wipers? I would have expected vacuum wipers but you seem to have  a single stage fuel pump instead of a 2 stage fuel/vaccum pump.

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Vacuum wipers.  I finished last night by installing the vacuum start switch into the intake manifold, the other tapped hole is for the vacuum wipers.

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3 hours ago, Gary W said:

Vacuum wipers.  I finished last night by installing the vacuum start switch into the intake manifold, the other tapped hole is for the vacuum wipers.


Interesting. I know that my 1937 Century uses a double stage fuel/vacuum pump for the wipers. I thought that they were all equipped like that. I may need to do some more research. If your wipers don't work well when the car is finished, you may wish to consider a double stage fuel pump.

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Years from now, when your grandson is doing another restoration on the car, he will look at that block drain petcock you added and think to himself "Gee, those Buick Engineers certainly were clever!"


Now I'd like to see just how you put the new, full-flow oil filter arrangement together. And what (spin-on?) filter you have chosen to use.

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Good evening , Gary W , and all. "Tomorrow" as per my previous short promise above ,  has come and gone. I will only be able to introduce my observations here , only to prove them later. Perhaps until the weekend. So let me try to get to the bottom line for now.


1)  There is an often stated misconception that raising the compression ratio on an old , say 5.5:1 or 6:1 compression engine to perhaps 7:1 or 7.5:1 imposes unacceptable loads on the rod bearings. This is categorically false. 


2). The elevated EGT from the use of a gasoline of higher octane than design spec. is not universally known. We all do know , however , that a very high EGT is not exhaust valve friendly.


3). Gary W , you are LUCKY that you could not get flat tops if in fact you have boosted your C.R. to some useful degree.


4). I have to break here , but will attempt to convince the readers (if indeed they are skeptical and NEED convincing) , of the veracity of the above. 


     I'll be back. Meanwhile , any comments regarding raising the compression ratio of old low compression OHV engines and the good fortune Gary has been blessed with by default to domed pistons , are encouraged.  Always running behind , - Carl



Edited by C Carl
Hastily made clumsy structure & sp. (see edit history)
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Gary, nice job on everything, this should turn out to be a great car. Just an interesting bit of info for you is my 38 has never been touched and it has a little tube like you added to your petcock already. Another bit of info is that most all 38 Buicks came with the wipers being run by the engine manifold vacuum, there was an optional double stage fuel pump that could be special ordered to power the wipers but was extremely rare. It also came with different factory made fuel lines. I had one of these pumps on my original 38 and thought someone must have added it but the lines going to it were factory lines that are held together with factory clips. In any event I sent to Terrill Machine in Texas to be rebuilt and the owner got back to me with some surprising information according to the number on the flange of the pump.



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.  The number 1523687 is stamped on the flange. The easy way to tell if its a rare 38 double diaphragm pump is if it has 5/16 mounting holes. The later double diaphragm pumps all have 3/8 holes in them, the 38 Buick blocks were all threaded 5/16 holes in the block, the later double diaphragm  fuel pumps with 3/8 holes in their castings will not bolt to a 5/16 block unless you were to fabricate special shoulder bolts.


Edited by LAS VEGAS DAVE (see edit history)
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Specials have the single stage fuel pump. I had my wiper motor rebuilt and when returned, the rebuilder said that was the best he could do. So, it still did not work. "Rainex" is great stuff. I needed it on out 36-38 trip to Nashville in Sept 2015 also on the downpours we had at Allentown. I bought a later NOS replacement from the '"wiperman " at Hershey 2 years ago. I installed that one last fall. It works fine but the bushings on the wiper arm towers need attention. So I was ready for any April Showers on the 36-38 tour to Wilmington. Oh well, hope we can meet again.


C Carl's points are all good comments. Just remember that the bit of extra H.P. will not overcome the R.P.M. to rear axle ratio issue.


I will have to repair my block drain as you have done. Beautiful, well thought out and researched work!

Best Regards:


Edited by dibarlaw (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, dibarlaw said:


Specials have the single stage fuel pump. I had my wiper motor rebuilt and when returned, the rebuilder said that was the best he could do. So, it still did not work. "Rainex" is great stuff. I needed it on out 36-38 trip to Nashville in Sept 2015 also on the downpours we had at Allentown. I bought a later NOS replacement from the '"wiperman " at Hershey 2 years ago. I installed that one last fall. It works fine but the bushings on the wiper arm towers need attention. So I was ready for any April Showers on the 36-38 tour to Wilmington. Oh well, hope we can meet again.


C Carl's points are all good comments. Just remember that the bit of extra H.P. will not overcome the R.P.M. to rear axle ratio issue.


I will have to repair my block drain as you have done. Beautiful, well thought out and researched work!

Best Regards:



Larry, I added a note to the post above yours about a double diaphragm pump that was available on a 38 Buick Special.

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Transmission apart, all bearings checked and nothing mechanical done.  The transmission shifted nice and smooth, so I opted to install all new gaskets and simply reinstall it in the car.  I was instructed to heavily grease the u-joint.... so I did!  Cleaned, degreased and rubbed it down with acetone and painted it Buick engine green to match. I will be sending the gearshift lever out to be chromed.  

Installed the flywheel cover and a nice copper ground to the starter.  Then I riveted some extra "asbestos substitute" to the fuel tank upper support irons to replace the black sticky stuff that came off.  (I had a roll left over from the Model "T" restoration after I wrapped the muffler)








Is that enough grease in there?



the only thing I want to do is chrome the gearshift lever





Gas tank straps.


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So, for those who have been following along, you know that I had to replace my rear leaf springs.




In the series of photos that follow, I'll show how I prepared and installed the new set of springs from Eaton.  When the new springs are delivered, they are stacked and clipped on the third leaf.  So, I carefully disassembled the leaves, and marked them so they went back into the same stack they came out of, just in case there was a little discrepancy between the two sets.  I took delivery of the springs, disassembled them and had each leaf blasted to get rid of any manufacturing slag and to prepare them for paint.  These photos show how I accomplished this transition:





Spring leaves arrived Friday afternoon from the blaster.  (And some other parts)



Painted every leaf.  Top, bottom and sides.  Allow to completely set overnight.



Paint dried and ready for  Slip Paint.  I apply two coats of Slip Paint on all the rubbing surfaces.  I wash all the leaves with acetone and the Slip Paint graphite paint bonds nicely.



The leaves take on a charcoal grey look when the slip paint is applied.



Second coat applied and and allowed to dry overnight.




DSC_0987.thumb.jpg.957d5a205f4c2bb8506c5c6568defb09.jpgWhile the slip paint is drying, I spent time restoring all the spring plates, u-bolts, shackles and the shackle bolts.



I had to drill out the petrified grease from the top and the side hole



Install a grease fitting....



Pump the grease through it until it spits out clean!  Repeat 7 more times.



Back to the springs.  Set them up in the proper order, getting the long side and short sides in proper orientation



You'll see the grey "slip paint" over the gloss black.  Don't worry.  It looks sloppy now, but will finish nice in the end!



First I use a long bolt to line up all the holes in two dimensions.  Look down the leaves to be sure you are not "tilting" them in any direction.  Once satisfied:



Clamp it in position with the long, temporary bolt keeping everything aligned.



Install the spring center bolt, It'll slide right in after lining things up



Tighten up the bolt.  Notice the clamps are still in position.



Release the clamps and start installing the spring rebound clips.  Notice I find it easier to start at the end, and slide the clip up into position.



Then I install the rubber into the bottom, under the spring clip.  A little silicone helps here



A C-clamp is ideal to seat the "tabbed" end fully, and it keeps the bottom side with the rubber insert from "bowing" out when you wrap the clips around





Once I'm happy with the fit of the clip, over to the vise to squeeze everything together and keep the leaves from slipping out of position. Tap the round hole over the tab with a punch



Then punch the tab over to lock the spring clip in place and they are in tight.  You see the thick graphite paint.  It looks sloppy BUT... I then light sand the graphite paint that is exposed, wash it down with acetone and give it a final coat of Rusteoleum Automotive Gloss Black





Springs are assembled and ready for installation!  They look great and the graphite paint means no grease.  they stay lubed and slide easily.



Install the shackle bolts, then the spring plate......



Install all new rubber parts and the U-bolts





Front coil springs next





Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Looks like you are moving along quite nicely.

In following your progress, I noted in your post #128 the picture of the exhaust manifold Bellville washers on the ends seem quite a lot bigger than the ones in the middle. IF they "seat" on a casting parting line, they will put a very localized stress on the casting and IT WILL POP !!  Ask me how I know.

You could use them if you just ground them down close to the same size as the others. Filing or very light grinding on the seating surface will also help the washer seat on the 2 end port "ears".


Second point. Did you tear your distributor down to check the condition of the weights and springs ? I did recently and found that my 3 balls were no longer round and they had worn a track in the groove in the housing at the points plate, so the vacuum advance was not working properly.

Thanks to Dave Stovall (Dave's Buick) who gave me the proper part number, I upgraded my '40 distributor with NOS part # 1914446 distributor plate that replaces the 3 balls with 3 plastic inserts, and now the points plate slides very easily. I also found an "O" ring just the right size at True value Hdwr, to replace the tapered cork gasket at the base of the distributor, where it fits into the block. As a result of this rebuild, I have noticed a bit of performance improvement, on acceleration especially. And she does not leak anymore.


Item three, gas tank, I used a section of wash machine drain hose, slit down the center as my rubber cushion on the upper frame rails above the gas tank and also on the new straps I had to use. I bought Chevy s-10 gas tank straps and welded on the curved end that I fabricated from 10 gage  cold rolled strip.

The drain hose is nice and soft, about an eighth of an inch thick, and is easy to cut.


Best regards,

Mike in Colorado

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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53 minutes ago, 27donb said:

I really love how shiny the chassis is!




That's called a differential cover, third member cover plate, or down under a crown and pinion cover plate.

Got to ask Danny or Grant about that last one.

Back then Ford was still using a banjo diff, and you should see how may of those "jack stands" are still around.

I got two............

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017:  Today I accomplished the following:

1. Removed the sheared-off shackle bolt from the chassis mount, and finished the right leaf spring install by brazing the bolt head on (TEMPORARY MEASURE) so I can complete the install

2. Tore down the rear brakes

3. Rebuilt both rear wheel cylinders

4. Installed the brake lines to the rear wheels

5. Installed the gas tank

6. Finalized by cleaning and painting the drums and backing plates and touching up some spots that got scratched along the way.

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For those of you following along, I wrote about shearing off a shackle bolt.  Thankfully it was the one in the spring end of the shackle, not the chassis end.  The other bolt was seized in place and would not move.  So I was able to install the LEFT leaf spring, but the right spring was just hanging there.  So, in preparation, I disassembled the the right rear spring on the car so just the main leaf was hanging loose.  Today, my best bud John Torchia (87 years old, and knows how to do everything!) came over with his acetylene torch.  We also "repaired" the sheared off bolt head (TEMPORARY MEASURE) so I could get the right spring installed.  So here goes!



The right rear spring left hanging on the shackle.  The head of the shackle bolt that goes in the spring was sheared off, the upper bolt through the chassis is rusted and seized in place.  I began by removing the tin covers.



Spring covers removed 



Removed the center bolt which will free all the smaller spring leaves, leaving only the "clipped" leaves hanging



The smaller leaves will drop free once the center bolt is removed



Knock the spring clips down to the eyes, which will free up the last two leaves, leaving only the main spring hanging free



After disassembly and ready for the torch!



Push the chassis outside.  Fire up the oxy-acetylene torch.....



Heat the chassis boss cherry red and amazingly the seized bolt unscrewed right out!  Once the upper shackle bolt was out, the main leaf dropped free with the sheared bolt still seized in the eye of the spring.  The torch was again used to heat the eye, which actually caused the entire threaded bushing to drop out of the spring.  I was able then to put the bushing in the bench vise, and with a hacksaw, cut the bushing free from the shackle bolt.  Once the bolt body was out (remember the bolt head sheared off earlier) We jigged up the head and the body in a C-Clamp:



Sheared shackle bolt in the c-clamp.  Notice the fracture under the head, also notice the hacksaw marks down the entire length of the bolt.



This view shows the top thread, just under the head where the bolt sheared off.



Brazing the head back on to the body of the bolt.



The bolt threaded right in, and while I wait for the new shackle bolt to arrive, is a great TEMPORARY fix so I can keep moving along with the chassis build.  As an aside:  The grease still runs though the body of the bolt and exits the side hole as it should!


Next post:  Rear Brakes




Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Rear Brakes:  Rebuild


Once the rear springs were installed I got the rear stabilizer back in and the shock links.  Then on to the rear brakes:



Remove the three bolts that secure the drum to the axle flange



I needed a little persuasion here helped!



Here's what I found once the drums were removed.



Dismantle and remove all springs, keepers, shoes and of course.....



Those wheel cylinders!



Passenger side Wheel Cylinder



Driver's side wheel cylinder.  Nice right?  



Over to the bench vise to tap out the cups, pistons and spring



Used the hone on my electric drill to smooth out the interior walls and remove any rough spots



Wire wheeled all interior components...Adjusters, springs, retainer clips, wheel cylinders, emergency brake parts....



Begin installing the Wheel Cylinder rebuild kit components.  Dipped every part in brake fluid prior to installing



Snap on the rubber end caps



Rebuild kit installed and ready to go back onto the backing plates.



Wire brushed all the interior surfaces, hit them with Brake Kleen...high pressure aerosol acetone?, then gave everything a good acetone scrub down.



Parts back installed.



Adjusters all cleaned up, lightly greased, reinstalled.  I didn't paint the brake shoes, nor the inside of the backing plates.  I didn't feel it was necessary.  Also, the pads still have plenty of meat on them, but when I looked at those wheel cylinders, I don't think the rear brakes were working, so the front brakes were doing all the work.



Installed all the brake lines and the brass block.  tightened all the brake lines to the rear wheels.



Finished by scrubbing and painting the backing plates and the drums to complete the install.




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Finished the day by installing the fuel tank.  I had Moyer's Fuel Tank ReNu do the restoration of the tank and Bob's Speedometer restored the sending unit:



January 25, 2017:  Dropped the tank out from under.



The sending unit was stuck at 1/4 tank.  I ran out of gas on one of my first outings and had to be flat-bedded home so this had to get fixed.



Stripped down and ready to ship to Moyer's.  I went to the local bike shop and got boxes and with tons of packing material it made the journey just fine.



Install the sending unit FIRST.  I had to bent the fuel line a bit to clear the crossmember,  I didn't want to hear rattles or have the line get cut by friction.



Straps in and tightened down.  Honestly, a five minute job once the sending unit is installed.



Finished for the day.  If you look into the tank filler tube, you can see a reddish-orange coating that is applied to the inside of the tank. Hopefully will last for many years to come!





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Gary, when I did my brakes I just put the new shoes in without sanding or doing anything special, just adjusted them and they work great. Thanks for the great pictures once again. I also had sending unit problems and had it rebuilt by some place online. It still does not go all the way to empty on my gauge but it almost does and works good enough that i know whats up.

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Looking great.  Just me, but I would have given the inside of the backing plates a quick coat of paint.  A buddy left his bare and got rust streaks along the bottom in just a few months.  You're lucky, my brake cylinders would not clean up - the pits were too deep.  I had to have them resleeved.

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  • 2 weeks later...

All three of my water pump bolts are 2 1/4" long measured under the head.  the first 1 1/4" under the head is blind, the last 1" is threaded.

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