Gary W

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

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Wednesday October 24, 2018:  Front "Ride Height";  Coil Springs  (Part 1)

When I did the restoration, my rear leaf springs were broken and in horrendous shape.  I figured, I may as well change the front coils while I was at it so the car sat properly.

As the build progressed, those new coils just refused to sit down.  It was always "when the engine is dropped in, they'll relax....  when you drop the body, they'll relax...  when the front sheet metal is installed........."

And finally, "when you get a few miles on it and hit a couple bumps, they'll relax..."   It just never happened.

So...Yesterday, I bought both original coils to R&H Spring Shop here in Wall, NJ.  The springs were 1/4" difference in height, and they did a "cold stretch" to make both springs the exact same length.

Then, after work it was out to the wire wheel (again!), acetone wash and a coat of chassis black.

This morning, John came over and we removed the new coils, and installed the original, 80-year old coil springs.

I'm very happy we did.

 

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Flashback to April 21, 2017:  My new coil on the left, the old original coil (Still sporting it's factory yellow paint!) on the right.

Note:  The new coil was about 1/4" taller than the original.  Looks like a direct replacement.

 

 

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Last night, I spent an hour wire-wheeling the original coils, cleaning and spraying them to get them ready for today.

 

 

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Buick Part #1297818 is located on the top coil that is ground flat.

 

 

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Part # 1297818  "daubed with (yellow) paint for easy identification."

 

 

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Remnants of the yellow paint are still intact.

 

 

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I backed her out of the garage, and allowed the rear tires to hit the curb so she won't move when jacked up.

 

 

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Just look how high the front fender sits!  And I can jump on the front bumper and cannot get it to budge!

 

 

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The manual clearly states the distance as 4 1/4" from the control arm to the chassis for the Series 40 - 60.

 

 

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So, while the car was sitting on it's tires still, I measured the distance.

 

 

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It measures 6 5/8".  That explains the wide gap over the front wheels.

 

 

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I used a plastic tool to release the hubcaps.  Tried not to mar the new finish.

Loosen the lugs first.....

 

 

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Jack it up, remove the rest of the lug nuts, remove the wheels.

Then I slid the jack under the chassis and let the jacks hold the weight of the car.

The curb stops any rearward movement.

 

 

 

Here's the link to the front end disassembly from 4/21/2017:

 

Here's the link to the Coil Spring Removal Process specifically:

 

 

 

Part 2.....   NEXT!

 

 

 

Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Wednesday October 24, 2018:  Front "Ride Height";  Coil Springs  (Part 2)

The car is jacked up and supported by the chassis now.   The brake drums are hanging free.

 

 

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I decided to measure with the front end fully free and hanging loose.  The measurement is now 7".. which means the difference is only about 3/8" from fully loaded to fully free.

Basically the difference of the rubber bumper squashing.

 

 

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I removed the stabilizer bar linkage.

 

 

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Lined up the jack so it is over the control arm closest to the center of the car.

 

 

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Now the jack is supporting the control arm .

 

 

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I removed these four bolts.

 

 

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And slowly dropped the control arm down, releasing the spring.

 

 

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The old, 80-year old spring on the left.  The new replacement coil on the right.

Again, they are very comparable in height.  It seems the diameter of the wire of the new spring is heavier.  It just looks beefier.

But I don't know if the new spring is harder, is composed of different metallurgy, is heat treated,......  I don't know.

All I know is that I could have installed a 14 1/2" metal rod and it would have acted just the same as these springs!

They simply DO NOT give at all.

 

 

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After buttoning it all up, I had to go for a ride!  (of course)

 

 

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She is sitting just right now.

 

 

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It takes the bumps beautifully.  

 

 

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I went back to check my measurements, and I am around 4 5/8"  A little over, but I don't mind that at all...

 

 

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She looks great now, and handles so much smoother!

 

 

Post # 180 from 4/23/2017 details the coil assembly:

 

 

 

Have a great night out there!!!

 

Gary

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On 11/25/2017 at 6:18 PM, neil morse said:

We have multiple reasons to be grateful to Gary for creating this thread, but one of the lessons that we can take from his experience in this restoration is NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY when you are dismantling your original car!  I haven't been keeping a detailed score, but the headlight switch, I believe, is either the second or third item that he needed to resurrect because the "new" part that he purchased turned out to be defective in some way. 

 

 

I remember this from last year and I'm so glad I did not throw out my original coil springs.  Those 80-year old springs saved the day!  

It's so baffling to me that we cannot reproduce a part like that exactly as is should be.  Springs seem like an easy part to make as long as the steel diameter, length, metal composition...... is the same.

But it's the "rebound" that was missing.  The new springs just did not compress at all.  

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2 hours ago, Gary W said:

As the build progressed, those new coils just refused to sit down.  It was always "when the engine is dropped in, they'll relax....  when you drop the body, they'll relax...  when the front sheet metal is installed........."

And finally, "when you get a few miles on it and hit a couple bumps, they'll relax..."   It just never happened.

 

It's unbelievable that people still try to promote this kind of BS to try to cover up the fact that a part is not right.  I had a very similar experience with my '48 Chrysler Windsor (6 cylinder) years ago.  I got new coil springs for the front end, and the thing was riding high in front like a super-stock Pontiac dragster!  The guy who replaced the springs assured me that it would "settle down" after I drove it for a while.  Sure ... and Santa Clause comes every Christmas, too!  It turned out that he had installed New Yorker coils (8 cylinder).  When he changed them out for the correct ones, the car looked right again.

 

It's funny that you posted that quote from me.  I was just about to repeat the same thought!  I'm so glad you got things sorted out, and your Buick looks fabulous.  

 

 

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Good call, Gary.  That made a huge difference! 

 

I put this before and after picture together for everyone to see the difference a little better. 
 
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I took a liberty and flipped the before picture to a mirror view so the car would face the same direction, figured that was easier than asking Gary to reinstall the too tall springs again and take a before pic!
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Yes. I was wondering when things would balance out. The cars stance looks perfect now. My 37-41 has the original springs and they have not been removed. I have my problem on the rear springs. I removed the rear axle to replace the clutch and rebuild the transmission in 1988. Then when I got back to the car around 2005 I had the springs sent out to be re-arched by a local spring works "Gaumer  Enterprises" here in Chambersburg. From 2006-2009 I dealt with health issues and it was not until 2011 that I was able to work on the car seriously. Getting things re-assembled and the weight of the car back on the springs they are now showing some sag The rear is lower. The car should be of a level attitude with a normal load of passengers.

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I do not have a good side view of the car when I bought it in 1987. only the "Auto Trader " ad photo prior to my purchase to compare.

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One of the pitfalls you found is not surprising. That spring chart lists a bunch of springs for different applications.  Often a supplier just knows his part is for "a '38 Buick" and that is good enough.

 

However, you have done an incredible service by recording and posting your step by step restoration. I'm sure it has been invaluable to many who have not commented.

 

Congratulations.

OK, what next?

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Just a heads up, I'm the guy that, if I am ever fortunate enough to see the car in person, will walk over and say to you "isn't that front end a little high?" without introducing myself first.

 

Beware of people like me ;)

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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I think you hit the nail on top of the head, as shown in the seventh picture of post #1327, where you have the original spring on the left and the replacement on the right. The diameter of the coils in the new spring look like they are greater than the original. That alone will affect the spring constant (or the spring "k' factor in physics.) Also, notice how the coils of the original spring get closer together as you move down the spring to the bottom and the replacement spring's coils are all equidistant, top to bottom? The Buick Engineer's designed them that way on purpose to provide greater support as the applied load increases. You can see the very same characteristic in the springs that are used in your valve train.

 

I would get a dial caliper and measure the diameter if the coils on both your original and the replacement springs. If the new ones are greater, I would contact your supplier and ask them for a refund of your payment for sending you the improper replacement spring set. An experienced, knowledgeable and careful coil spring manufacturer, would not have done that.

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As long as you have the same number of coils, and the same wire diameter the spring rate will be the same, as long as both springs are made of steel.

 

Think of the spring unwound, as a torsion bar. As long as the wire diameter is the same, and the length of wire that is actually bending remain the same the rate will be the same. That means the number of pounds force needed to move the spring one inch will be the same.

 

Remove a coil? All else being equal, the spring rate will be higher (shorter piece of wire to twist), and it will take more force to move the spring that one inch.

 

Add a coil? All else being equal, the spring rate will be lower (longer piece of wire to twist), and it will take less force to move the spring an inch.

 

Concerning ride height, rate is not the only thing to consider. There is also preload. In a nutshell, if you have 2 springs of identical wire length and wire diameter (identical spring rates), but one is an inch taller, and you put identical weights on them, the one that started out an inch taller will still be an inch taller.

 

It is never quite as easy on a car as I make it sound. As you change ride height on one end of a car, the weight on the springs also changes, as the weight transfers from one end of the car to the other.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Coil Spring Specs:

 

I just ran out to measure the wire diameter of the new coil spring.  It is  11/16", or  0.6875"

Buick specified a wire diameter of  0.648"  ( 21/32" ) for the Series 40.  (It gets progressively larger through the series)

So the reproduction coil is made from a slightly (1/32") larger diameter wire.

So, being the height, #coils, wire diameter all seem to match, It must be the material used or the manufacturing process that makes the new spring unyielding.

 

Buick fabricated their coils from Silicon Manganese and specified a deflection rate of 95   (pounds/inch deflection at the wheel)

 

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So, there are a few variables here that can affect the way the spring acts.  

 

Gary

 

 

Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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Saturday, October 27, 2018:  Front window garnish welting / install garnish moldings

 

I feel like things are being delivered in "dribs and drabs" but this morning LBB FedEx'd the front window garnish welts.

So I took advantage of the Nor'Easter and spent a couple of hours in the garage installing the garnish moldings.

 

 

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Had to clean up the workbench.  Didn't want to scratch the woodgraining.

Here's the welt that was delivered this morning.  It is the correct 65" length.

The Model 48 has only two doors, and the windows are larger that the four door models.

 

 

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First, I installed these rubber bumpers in the garnish.  They had to be shortened by 1/4".

 

 

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The welt comes like this.  First I wanted to make a nice finish down where the molding meets the door.

 

 

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I pulled back the fabric and cut the black rubber tube.

 

 

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Then, by folding the material over, I got a nice, neat finish.

 

 

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I actually duct-taped the end to the inside of the garnish, and began marking out all the mountings and the curves.

 

 

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Once I had it all mapped out, I made all the releasing cuts necessary so the welt would lay in nice and flat and not cover any holes.

Then, I removed all that cardboard as it made it very difficult to make nice fluid corners.

 

 

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Again, using Permatex headliner adhesive, I sprayed a small, light thin coat around the perimeter.

I figured I didn't need too much as the pressure from this molding on the door frame will most likely keep the welt secure.

 

 

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After allowing the Permatex five minutes to tack up, I started the welting on the rear corner, and slowly began securing it in place.

 

 

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I just went by feel here, allowing the inner rubber tube to just fall over the lip nice and even all around.

 

 

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Then over to the door.  I don't have any pictures as I was working alone, but first I pushed the door lock mechanism screw all the way down into the door to give me just a little more room.

Basically, I was able to lift the lower edge over the door window sill and engage the lip.

A few well placed fist bumps and the molding fell into place at the lower edge.

Then, slowly I started from the bottom corners and with pressure, seated the part little by little.

I had to use a plastic tool in the corners to get it all around the brown fabric piece that I put in last week.

(My car did not have the fabric piece under the garnish welt when I took it all apart, but I believe it is supposed to be there)

 

 

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Here you can see the garnish molding, the lace welt all sitting on top of the brown fabric piece.

The curvature really came out nice and smooth.

 

 

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Here's the front section.  It's finally starting to look finished!

 

 

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And then it was time to get the awl and find the holes buried in there!  It takes five screws to secure it into position.

Again, everything came out nice and straight.

 

 

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And then, during the build I think I lost one of the original door lock buttons.  I'll have to seriously look through everything I have but I ordered this set of replacements in the meantime.

Of course, there is the obvious difference of the overall appearance, but....

 

 

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The original part has a nice threaded insert to secure it into position.

 

 

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The reproduction does not.  It is just a plastic hole that you thread as you go.

These developed small hairline fractures radiating from the center when I installed them.

For now, they're in, but I need to find my originals.

 

 

 

Next couple items:

Take delivery of and then install both front door armrests / door pulls   AND  rear pull up shade. (Still waiting on these from LBB)

Install the robe rails  (rope) to the back of the front seats.  My problem is that the fabric covers the mounting holes, and I have no idea where the holes are.

I do have photos of the seat back when I took the car apart, and I was going to try to make a scale "template" to help me out...  tomorrow..

 

Have a great night!

Gary

 

 

 

 

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Gary,

The installation looks great.  Very professional for an amateur.  One thing really p*&&*s me off is the people that are "supplying" restoration parts to our hobby.  They think that they can produce inferior parts and have us happy with their junk.  If I were making a replacement door lock button, I would have the decency to at least make it look like the one that it is replacing.  AND I would have it pre threaded so that it would not crack when the customer is putting it on.

Most of them are going to Asia to get the parts made.  "Cheaper" is the main quotient here. And they have the balls to offer their junk to the serious restorer looking for a good product. 

I would not mind paying a few dollars more for a replacement part if it looked the same and would function as the original did.  I am so disappointed with so many products that I was told that they would be like the original only to find when I received them, they were any thing but.  I send them back and end up restoring or making my parts as best as I can vs. using their Chinese crap.  On occasion, you can find someone who really cares about our hobby and will put out a good replacement part.  

Recently, I had a gentleman restore my gas tank sending unit.  I talked to him and he told me to send me the dash gauge along with the tank unit.  He restored my sending unit and calibrated my gauge, ensuring me that when I installed the sending unit, I would get an accurate reading for the amount of gas that was in the tank.  He is Wolfe Engineering if you, or any of the forum members in the future, need to know a company that does outstanding work and will deliver on what they say.

As far as the guys out there proclaiming to be suppliers of "restoration parts", most are selling sub standard crap.  I have had better luck on Ebay buying original parts from estate sales than I have had with "catalogs"   from suppliers.  Very disappointing.  

Your Buick looks better than the day it was delivered to the dealer back in 37.  A testament to your planning, diligence, and artful craftsmanship.

Not much left to do on your "list", eh?  Great work, Gary.

Randy

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I Need A Favor......

 

I want to install the robe rails on the front seat backs.

Unfortunately, the seat backs were upholstered, and LBB did not mark where the mounting holes are.

I've been trying to use a straight pin to poke, in a "hunt and peck" fashion to try to feel where the pin drops through.

I think I've got the two mounts that are the most center, but I cannot find the outer mounting holes.

 

I do have photos of my seats when I took them out, but photos are two dimensional, and it's really hard to find the exact spot.

And you only get one shot at this, I don't want to mess up the finished seat.  So....

 

If anyone out there has a Model 48, and can help with a dimensional drawing, a template, measurements....  even a better photograph, I'd be grateful!

 

Appreciate any help.

Gary

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 I hope someone with a model 48 can chime in. I have a model 44 so it should be the same but it has seat covers installed. Unfortunately they never reinstalled the robe rails. If nobody can help after a day or two I'll try and see what I can do locating the ones on my car. Your new seats are too nice to damage and at times I get curious what the condition of my seats are anyway.

 

Carl

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 Can anyone with a 1937 or 1938 Buick model 44 or 48 help Gary with the lap robe mounting holes?

 

Carl

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I have the seat from my 46 coupe that looks a lot like Gary's. It is totally shot and needing reupholstering. I'd be happy to take it apart and send measurements and photos. i just need a week or so as I just back from a trip and am off again Thursday.

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12 hours ago, bhemi said:

I have the seat from my 46 coupe that looks a lot like Gary's. It is totally shot and needing reupholstering. I'd be happy to take it apart and send measurements and photos. i just need a week or so as I just back from a trip and am off again Thursday.

 bhemi I appreciate the offer, but I don't think we can make Gary wait that long. He has waited too long to get his upholstery done already. I just took the seat cover that has been on my car probably since the 50's off my passenger seat. I'm attaching a picture of the outside lap robe pull hole. The holes are about 15 1/4 inches apart. I measured down from the welt and it was 1 5/8 down. What surprised me when I measured the distance between the two holes was the one closest to center was 1/4 lower (1 7/8 inch). I don't know if that is standard or when they are installed they just eyeballed things or the designers thought it was aesthetically nicer.

 Gary, I hope this helps. If you need some other measurement or something let me know as I assume our seats are the same.

 

Carl

PA310085.JPG

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Carl!

Thats the measurement I need!  Thank You so much.  

I really appreciate you doing this for me.  

I'm going to use your photo now and try out your measurements against my seatbacks.

 

Gary

 

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Gary, if this looks like it is familiar to your seat back, ( although my seats were out of a Lasalle) I will be at my shop in a few hrs and can take some measurements, though the large holes look very similar to Carl's picture

seat.thumb.jpg.0d33881986bf1e1c56e6fdf6c0088731.jpg

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Please take some measurements for me!  That seat looks exactly like mine.  

I really appreciate you guys helping me out.  I don't want to take a chance ripping the fabric at this point.....

 

You guys are the best!

Thanks again!

Gary

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Also, great write up on your issues with the coil springs, as that has been something I have been contemplating replacing when I refurbish the front end. they seem to be in good shape, but its one of those, "while i'm doing this, I might as well...". How are the replacement rear leaf springs working? same jarring effect as the new front coils? I do not see any broken leafs, they do not have their protective cover anymore, but seem to be in tact. Im not sure if having the car blown apart for, conservatively the last 30+ yrs with no weight on them has been advantageous or detrimental for their condition.

Both came from Eaton, correct?

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3 minutes ago, Gary W said:

Please take some measurements for me!  That seat looks exactly like mine.  

I really appreciate you guys helping me out.  I don't want to take a chance ripping the fabric at this point.....

 

 

Will do! I would have to imagine, the gm split bench seatbacks of that era were the same across the board, with the main difference I've found in the handful of seats I came across trying to buy one being the position of the handle to adjust the position forwards and backwards. even the track itself that came on the lasalle seat, is identical to the track that came with my car....just with no seat attached to it....thanks to whoever was trying to part the car out at one point

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1 hour ago, Stooge said:

How are the replacement rear leaf springs working? same jarring effect as the new front coils?

 

The rear leaf springs (from Eaton) not only hold the car at a perfect stance, but they ride like a dream.  I just took her out for another 15 mile ride, and she takes the undulations beautifully.

 Measure your front coils.  I had mine stretched to 14 1/2".  R&H Spring Shop did a "cold stretch" on them and the front rides beautifully now.  I honestly think I could have had them stretched to 15" without a problem.

The new front coils I purchased from Eaton simply did not give at all.  Way too stiff for the Buick front end, at least for my Special.  Maybe a heavier front ended Century, Limited or Roadmaster would have a better chance of making them compress.

 

 

 

1847320138_DSC_30952.thumb.jpeg.eb2803517fb4fb4b7ecb9a0fd74d334f.jpeg

 

She's sitting nice and level now.

 

Thanks again for your help!

Gary

Edited by Gary W (see edit history)
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