Gary W

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

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Sunday October 7, 2018:  Front pillar windlace retainers, windshield garnish molding, rearview mirror, defrosters


I finished last night getting the last of the panels installed.  Today I turned my attention to the front of the car





Flashback to November 3, 2016...  Ready to drive her home.  

The focus is the windshield pillar and the windlace retainer sandwiched between the windshield garnish molding and the front door garnish molding.




January, 2017:  documenting the removal of the windlace retainer, 




Peeling back the fabric reveals a steel retainer, held in by three serrated nails.  Notice how nice the fabric is tucked around the steel part.




And now out, I can see where the laces were cut, how they all fit...




I wire wheeled these, primed them and painted them in the Summer.  My marks are on there from when I removed them from the car.

The single hash mark denotes "drivers front", the arrow points "up", always marked on the side that sits to the car so they don't show.

Quick little dremel trick that saves tons of time a year later!




Extra headliner fabric up top, the original fabric just under, the metal retainers and the nails, still bagged and tagged.




Mark where the nails go through.  




Punch the holes out.  This way the nail (I ended up using screws) won't pull your fabric on the way in.




Temporarily, I used duct tape to keep the fabric in position while I went out to the car.




Pull back the windlace just enough to find the body mounting holes.  Mark them with blue tape because you cannot find them when you are juggling all the material...





Align the metal retainer, punch through the holes in the fabric, carry the punch through the windlace and any other fabric in there.

I used #10 SS slotted screws and they fit perfectly and the retainer tightened up nicely.

Once tight, remove the duct tape, flap the material over the windlace




And I tucked it under the rubber windshield seal to finish the install.




With the windlace retainers installed, it was time to install the windshield garnish molding.

The service manual states to replace the center division after the garnish is installed, so I had to remove it first.

I taped the outside center division to the glass so the center piece wouldn't fall off and scratch the hood.

Then it's just four screws and the center division comes off with the rubber under it.




Protect, protect, protect that beautiful woodgrain.  I really didn't know how this was going to go.




My son and I had a little slow go for a bit, but we were able to get it in.  Notice, no screws yet.

Still trying to line up the top where the rearview mirror attaches.




I did get all the lower screws in place, then replaced the center division, and attached the rearview mirror.

Then I needed help again to install the defroster deflectors.  What a pain with all the wires, glove box, radio!!!

Much easier coming out!



Part (2) next




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Sunday October 7, 2018:  Front pillar windlace retainers, windshield garnish molding, rearview mirror, defrosters  (Part 2)




Here's the dash now with the defroster deflectors installed.  It really looks beautiful!




You can see the rearview mirror and the windlace retainers installed.

I need longer defroster hoses now that I've installed a radio.




This resizing really makes all the photos look so fuzzy...  Sorry about that.


Question:  I have all the lower screws and the two that go up the sides of the windshield garnish molding.

I cannot for the life of me find where the upper screws go in!




Here's a photo of the front when I took the glass out.  It looks like the garnish screws made an imprint between the windshield rubber and the frame.

They aren't really in anything....  This can't be correct..... correct?



Thanks for following along!!



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I found that i had to use an awl or pick type tool with a flashlight to 1. find the hole and 2. give me a sense of the "angle of approach" for the screw. with that it was easier to get the screws in and done.

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Here is my homemade ice pick/fabric lifting tool and my Brad pusher which is magnetized. The head of the Brad goes in the tube then you simply push hard or tap the handle with a mallet. I left the Brad high just to show the location and angle I’ll put the tip into the fabric. Go into the fabric about an inch then lift the  handle up away from the fabric to pop the fabric over the head of the brad. You need to first get through the fabric with the point of the tool then lay the tool almost flat so you don’t stick the tip into the panel board. Sometimes I lift the tip up popping the fabric over the nail head too. If you’re in deep enough with the brad, the fabric will pop over fairly easily. 





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Thank you Ted!  I really appreciate the expert advice.  

I have about 20 tiny brads to pull the fabric over, but I  just needed to know the proper technique.  I don't want to ruin the fabric at this point!!  

I'll get out in the garage today and give it a try.


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Wednesday October 10, 2018:  Pulling fabric over the brads


The forward edge of the rear panels attaches to the nailer strip using a bunch of fine wire brads. 

I used a slight variation of Ted's technique displayed above.... and it worked very well!

Thank you!




Here you can see where the material is kind of "dimpled" at that lower area where I just pushed the brad through.




Another close up view of the "dimple" it creates.




I'm using a retired dental tool like the "ice pick" Ted detailed above.




Going in parallel to the fabric, but not grabbing the foam board underneath, I was able to turn the handle, lifting the tine and freeing the material from the head of the brad.




Look at that!  Presto-magico!  Thanks again!







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I don't know if a professional upholstery shop could have done as nice a job as what you have done here.  Unless they took the car apart and had the experience in putting it back together, it would not have been as nice.  Since you are not a "shop" you have the luxury of taking your time, test fitting and checking, fitting and checking until all is lined up correctly.  The results are absolutely stunning.  Plus you have the Forum members to council you on questions that may be puzzling you with the small items that you are not certain of.   


Your installation is truly a work of art.   And the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.   I cannot imagine what you would have had to pay to have this job done by a high end upholstery shop, but it would have been a very large expense in your restoration.  And it probably would not have been done as nicely as your job.  Who knows what corners they may have "cut" to get the job done?  You have not missed a trick with this.


I am in question about the clearance of your door handle.  Does the passenger side have the same issue?  And do the pictures show how much clearance there was originally?  If the clearance was there, then it has to be the mounting of the stem?  If that checks out, then there has to be an issue with the panel and the fabric not seating against the frame properly?  


We are sure that you will figure it out.  You are too finite of an individual to let that get past you.  I am sure that it is whirling about in your head and that there is an answer to the mystery.


All I can say is.......WOW.  You have done such a fantastic job with the upholstery.  Can't wait to see the seats being done and then installed.  That will be the end of the job? Or are there any other items left to do? 




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Thank you for the kind words! 


I really appreciate the support and I am so happy that my work is being followed by so many fellow enthusiasts!

I have to admit, I was nervous about tackling the interior.  The most valuable installation tool, the thing that helped the most, was meticulous notes and photographs as I removed the interior from the car.  Especially those rear panels that attach to the armrests.  I studied them over and over and developed a plan to do the install.  I actually wrote my notes directly on the panels as I removed them and it helped immensely.


I really wish these kits had some sort of instructions, even a simple step-by-step  "guide" so you kinda know what to do first....  But I'm sure there are as many opinions and techniques out there as there are  installers.  Everyone has their own "tricks of the trade", their own "order of operations"  and maybe that's why they don't include hard and fast instructions?  All I hope is that by detailing the way I did it, someone else out there can see the steps I took, the materials I used and maybe will decide to tackle their own interior job.  And most likely will come up with a better way to do the job!


All in all, I am very satisfied with the quality, fit and finish of the LeBaron kit.  A few spots needed trimming, but overall a very nice kit.  I think the key is take your time, measure, measure and then measure before cutting anything.  




My notes, numbered right on the panels before I took them all apart.

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Condition of the panels that I was working with:




They were all cracked and stained, but they served their purpose getting the new panels installed.


It was with great pleasure that I finally dumped these in the trash!!!



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Fabulous and fascinating work you are doing.  Your photos and notes have been, and will continue to aid my project greatly.  My car, (model 47 Special) is missing one of the rear seat armrest frames.  Might someone offer an idea how one might find an old one, or fabricate a new one?


Neill McKinstray

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Hi Neill;


You should try Dave Tachney first.  Give  him a call and see what inventory he has.  I had one frame that was good, but the passenger side was in pieces.  It took a lot of epoxy, wood glue, duct tape and some wood strips to create enough support to get it back in restorable shape.  


Your Model 47 is a four-door "plain back" sedan.  My Model 48 is a two-door model.  I wonder if the size of the single door vs the size of your doors changes the size of the rear armrest, or are they fairly standard along the different models?  My part # A-99001 was molded into the driver's side.  My passenger's side armrest was damaged right at that spot where the part number is molded in.  I'm sure if you can find one, it can be easily trimmed to work in your car.  They seem like they are made from some sort of pressed cardboard??  or something along those lines.



Here's your Model 47.  I notice the rear door hinges are over the rear fender a bit.  I think that will change the size of the armrests.

If you can zoom in on the drawn inset photo from this page of the brochure, that armrest is shaped completely different that mine.




This interior photo of your back seat shows your arm rests are differently shaped than mine.  

I don't see ash receivers in these either.




My Model 48 has a lot of room between the door and the rear fender.  

I don't know if that changes the size of the rear seat upholstery panels and armrests?




This photo of a Model 48.  Here you can see the difference in the shape.




After cleaning up 80 years of crud, this is what I had left to work with.



I finally ended up using epoxy to hold all the seams together.




Ready to be reupholstered.



I'm so glad to hear my work is helping you out!

Good Luck with your restoration!


Here's the "Armrest Build" from March:




Edited by Gary W
Added photos (see edit history)

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Friday October 19, 2018:  Installation of Seats:   Part One:  Rear Seat


UPS delivered the upholstered seats from LeBaron Bonney at 4:00.  My son and I spent about an hour getting them installed. 

Actually, after restoring every little bit of this car, the seats kinda "drop right in".

We were able to take her out for a little ride around the block.  Put about 5 miles on the odometer.  

But the sky was getting dark and cloudy and rain was only minutes away, so back in the garage she went.



First four photos are from LeBaron Bonney.  Scott Holbrook sent me these from their upholstery shop when the front seat cushion was done:




This is the new fabric that coordinates with the panel fabric.




Couple of shots of their workmanship.




Drivers side




Passengers side.




4:00.  The long-awaited shipment finally arrives!




Step 1:  Push the beast out of the garage so we had space to open the doors get the cushions in.




The rear quarter, drivers side.  The heavy Dynaliner that goes around the trunk opening had to come off.

 It prevented the rear seat from fully seating against the package tray and made it quite impossible to run the screws in from the trunk.




Front compartment.  The only thing that had to be removed was that steel plate that holds the front seat bottom in place.




Unboxed and ready to go!




I first crawled under the car and pushed an awl through the Dynaliner so we could locate the mounting holes.

My son was inside with the sheetrock knife marking the openings.




We cut the opening large enough for the metal tabs to fit in.




While I was under, he was inside making the cuts.




Heave the back cushion up and over the mounting holes, a couple well placed shoves.....




And we had it positioned.  Tighten up the mounting bolts inside, run three screws through the trunk to secure the back and this cushion is done.




The lower cushion simple drops in place.  And I have my first passenger!!



Front seat next....

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Friday October 19, 2018:  Installation of Seats:   Part Two:  Front Seat



Onto the front seat:




With one of us on each side, we held the seat frame forward, dropped the rear into the slide channels under there and slid it into position.

Then the metal side retainers can be installed to clip the front slide channels and lock the seat down.




There are well placed holes in the wood frame so you can access these bolts.




Then with a single screw, the outer hinges attach to the seat frame.




Line up the middle hinge arms and run the single bolt through.




I will get better photos once the weather clears, but I'm pretty happy with the result.




September, 2017...  1 month away from getting his driver's license.




Ready for it's maiden voyage!  



The interior is not fully complete yet.  I still have to:

Attach the welt to the front window garnish moldings, and install the garnish moldings. (I'm waiting for the welting still)

Install the front door arm rests / door pulls

Install the rear shade

Install the robe rails, which are fabric ropes behind the front seats.

Install the trim around the base of the front seat.

I want to either make or find floor mats.  I can see this light camel carpet getting very dirty, very quickly.





Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Friday October 19, 2018:  Maiden Drive......  Road Manners


Kyle got behind the wheel and took her out for her first drive.

I recorded this quick 16-second video, thinking I could drop it right here on the blog, but the size limitation only allows about 2 seconds of video.


Heres the YouTube Link:




Couple of observations:

All the gauges seem to be functioning fine.  

Oil pressure is around 30 - 35  when running, drops to about 10 at idle.

Checked the speedometer with the WAZE app and its right on the money.

Temperature stayed around 140 - 160...  But rose when we parked it back into the garage to about 180 after sitting for a few minutes.

It is pulling slightly to the right, I plan to get the front aligned soon.

The front end just looks and feels like it's sitting about an inch too high.  I think my new coils are for a Century or perhaps a Special with side mounts...  Just looks a little off.

The steering wheel needs to be centered while the car is running.  I thought I had it perfect but it is a few degrees off.

The horn blows when you steer to the left, but only when sitting still.  Not when driving.

The brakes work, but feel like they need to work better.  Maybe needs further adjustment at the wheels?

She runs strong, quiet and tight!  No rattles, squeaks... I think all the Dynamat / Dynaliner really helps the quietness.


Like I said earlier, we only put about 5 - 7 miles on her.  Its raining today.  I hope to stretch her legs a little more tomorrow morning.



Have a great weekend!




Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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 Gary you've done a fantastic job. Thank you for sharing the journey with us. You have another car to be proud in your fleet.



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Wow! It looks very nice.


Will the front ride height settle a little with use?

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I am just trying to imagine how frustrating it must have been for you with the car sitting in the garage for all those months, waiting for the upholstery.

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I can't say that a professional upholstery shop could have done a better job than you have.  You have been so meticulous with this restoration, fitting the headliner, door panels, welting and the interior trim moldings with the seams all in alignment is as professional as it gets.   Great job.

When do they deliver the seat upholstery or do you already have them?  Can't wait to see you do the seats.



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Hi Randy;

Scroll up the page to post 1314.  My son and I just installed the seats yesterday.  (Friday, 10/19)

They look great and the installation didn't take but more than an hour.

Thank you for following along!

I have a few more odds and ends to install before her official unveiling!





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Thanks for the update on your work. It is beautiful. Is the seat fabric tan and gray Bedford cord? Looks like the OEM material on my 41 Special.

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Thanks for taking us all on your journey and congratulations.


Enjoyed the trip, Gary

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