Beemon

Me and my beautiful 1956 Buick

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Okay, so maybe not so good looking Buick right now, but it's about time I stop flooding "Post War" with topics and start my own Me and My Buick thread.

 

A little bit of history:

 

The car was purchased brand new as one of two, by my grandfather, from the Kessler dealership in Detroit, in 1956. A few weeks prior, at some point whether returning or going to the army base, my grandfather rolled his 1953 Buick Roadmaster off an embankment and came out with nothing but his life. He needed new transportation, and with the aid of his then girlfriend at the time, placed an order for one Buick Century with all the bells and whistles save AC, power windows and power seats. I'm told that my grandmother rolled the car off the assembly line, but it seems all flair considering assembly line cars had a special stamp on the firewall ID tag. Before leaving service, he purchased for his mother a sister Century (Red and Black) that had every accessory option available. The two of them then set out west, back to Seattle, where the Red and Black Century was gifted to my great grandmother, and the Blue and White Century started a family in 1958.

 

Fast forward to 1978, the last year licensed. My grandfather is driving around a 1971 Estate Wagon 455, while his oldest son and daughter (my mother) are bombing around in the 56 Century. A good 20+ years of pampered service got my uncle through 2 years of community college (I got free parking when I went because it still has, to this day, the Green River Community College parking pass on it). One fateful afternoon, sometime after three teeth broke off the reverse ring gear in the Dynaflow, the front pump became plugged up on a rather large upward climb. My grandfather, raising a family of 5, had fallen on hard times and the car sat in a lofty car port from that day on.

 

Fast forward to the mid 80s, where my grandfather's youngest son was in auto tech class in highschool. With good intentions, but misguidance, tore the still running 322 apart. Upon inspection, worn rocker arms were found and a few broken valve springs, among other common wear parts for a 200,000 mile car. The heads, timing cover, sprockets, chain, lifters, rocker arms and valve covers were stored in the trunk/front/back seat, the intake and Rochester 4GC left down in the basement, and the bock left bare with pistons and all to the elements, shielded only by the roof over it's head and the lofty hood. The car quickly became a pipe dream and was left in shambles.

 

In 2010, my grandmother passed away and was the first time I can remember the whole family being in one place. My uncle (oldest son) moved to Oklahoma, and my aunt (youngest daughter) moved to Colorado. It was an unfortunate time, and while on her death bed, the car had come up in front of my grandmother several times. After she died, the house was quickly deserted and the question of who got the car was left unanswered. No one wanted it because it had zero value and was too much work. At some point around this time, and being close to graduation, I had shown interest in the car. It was my favorite since I first found it 13 or so years prior (then 18 at the time of 2010), and I had started doing a lot of research. My mother had threatened to scrap it several times during this point to clean up and sell the house, and I had pooled every thing I could save between going to the college part time and barely making enough money to pay for the classes. My saving grace was my first few tax returns, and I had saved up enough money to have the engine sent out for rebuild in 2013. Another year passes and the next tax return was used to cover the transmission. In 2015, I had amassed enough parts to finally fire the old beast off, and she awoke with the fire of a thousand suns. Her slumber was over, and it was the first time I had witnessed my grandfather cry after the passing of my grandmother. The herd came flocking, everyone suddenly wanted the car, and we got in notarized writing that the car had been gifted to me and was put in my name after a state patrol inspection October of 2015. Lady Century's legacy was reborn.

 

Of course, most of you all are up to date with what the car has gone through, in fact, we've both gone through a lot. The 322 powerplant is now out of a 1956 Buick Roadmaster, salvaged from an LS swap after my original engine had torn itself apart on the grounds of poor workmanship. The rear end, as I found out from my grandfather, didn't have the correct pinion pre-load, which allowed the pinion to hammer the carrier and prompted me to find a rear end from a Special. The power steering box and pump, after being rebuilt, are still sloppy and the pump itself was put together wrong, which resulted in the pulley tearing apart the end shaft - also a junkyard journey. My starter flew itself apart, and eventually so did the generator to an extent, which prompted me to find a junkyard replacement for the former and a re-manufactured replacement for a 1956 Chevy for the latter. I have also upgraded the brakes on the front to Roadmaster brakes and repaired the master cylinder myself. The suspension from front to back, save the front coil springs, A-arm bushings and king pins, have been replaced completely. I also replaced the original Rochester 4GC with a Carter WCFB. I even rebuilt the power antenna, rebuilt the tube radio, and repaired the clock, blower motor and cigarette lighter. This car is fully functional front to back, with front and rear speakers and all the fixings of a 1956 luxury sports car. All that's left to do now is paint, glass, chrome and interior - the hard stuff.

 

This car will be following me on my exodus over Snoqualmie pass, where I will spend the next two years at Washington State University, fulfilling my degree in Mechanical Engineering. This thread will be the continuation of my experiences with my Buick as I journey forward. I hope you guys enjoy the ride!

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Nice write up Ben!  Reminds me that I need to document the purchase of my own cars for their next owners.

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Great Buick family car story Benjamin, I really enjoyed reading that!  

 

On August 2, 2017 at 1:11 AM, Beemon said:

All that's left to do now is paint, glass, chrome and interior - the hard stuff.

 

IMHO, you've been through the "hard" stuff. Compared to all what you've been through, the rest will be easy peasy. 

 

And somebody got a haircut. :o. You should go to Hollywood and become a body double for Giovonni Dibisi, one of my fav actors.  Bettin you get told that a lot. :)

 

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Somebody should send a copy of this to the judge who didn't have the balls to judge in your favor over the engine issue. Make him feel like crawling under a rock. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, 1956322 said:

Any idea whatever happened to the black and red one??

Nobody knows, but the black and red one was thought to be damaged in a collision and sold. My grandfather was upset because he wanted to take the AC out of it and swap it over. This happened mid 60s, around the time my grandfather changed the kingpins and put the wrong pinion preload on the differential that destroyed the ring and pinion gears. I'll have to dig up some pictures! 

 

Lamar, I have never heard that one before! I've been somehow compared to Hugo Weaving before, as well as Tom Pretty back in highschool when I straightened my long hair. I don't think my mother's picture taking skills do me any justice, either! :P

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Yesterday I set off on an adventure to flush the fluids... all the fluids. 

 

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Transmission fluid was... not what I expected. I'm hoping this is just micro shavings from when the Dynaflow blew up in the 70s that didn't get flushed out when rebuilt... and not another "Professional rebuilt this wrong" type deal. Pretty easy job, overall. Pulled the torque converter drain plug and oil pan plug and let drain for about 30 minutes. Filled almost exactly 10 quarts of Valvoline DexIII/Merc fluid.

 

Differential was another one of those things...

 

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Stay away from the cheap hand pumps! I was trying to suck the fluid out of the rear end and the plastic straw came loose and fell down inside. No big deal I thought, I'll just get it with a 4 finger grabber.... Oops. The fingers came off inside the diff, too! Well my cousin and I spent the rest of the night using nothing but a pen magnet and a hooked coat hangar wire to get everything back out. We had to shine the flash light through the hole, look inside as best we could, and then try and fish everything out. Needless to say, we got really drunk. On a side note, I highly recommend the $16 priced hand pumps pictured in the last image. They use the Chinese finger toy type mechanism to hold the plastic tubing. I replaced the rear end oil with two parts 85W-140 Valvoline and one part Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Stabilizer.

 

At this point it was already 11:30 at night, and I still needed to adjust the front brakes. Brought them tight, then 13 clicks out each side. Shop manual says 15 clicks, but I wanted a little less pedal. It was 1:30 at this point. I don't know if anyone has issues with spinning the star wheel, but the location with respect to the steering knuckle on the front is just terrible for adjustments... retracting is never an issue, it's always expanding the brakes.

 

With all that time wasted, I'm behind schedule. Today I need to flush the brake lines, flush the power steering pump, flush the coolant and adjust the rear brakes/parking lever. An oil change is also planned, but I need to dump my 13 quarts of oil at the nearest auto parts store first.

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Crap all over the magnet is normal in an automatic. I wouldn't be too worried. 

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Getting a little scared there, all things considered! I'm assuming it's probably clutch pack then? 

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Probably wear on the steels of a clutch pack I guess. I dont have any books nearby that show me the inner workings of Dynaflow, but speaking in general terms, that is not much crap at all.

 

I know this is counterintuitive, because ultimate cleanliness is necessary when assembling an automatic transmission. Tiny bits of dust can cause sudden and catastrophic failure by causing valves to stick, among other things. Clean assembly practices are crucial.  In operation after the rebuild though, there is crap inside. A lot. A disturbing lot.

 

In a 727 Mopar transmission, for instance, there is a donut shaped magnet laying in the corner of the oil pan, located by a dimple. These are extremely durable transmissions, and can easily go 200,000 miles or more if treated nicely, kept adjusted and full of clean fluid. When you take the pan off one of these at high mileage, that magnet will be a giant fuzzball. You cant even really see the magnet. There will also be a bunch of black colored powder and small flakes of non-ferrous material, that probably wore off of the clutches and bands, laying in the pan. Why this is not a problem, I don't know. If there are no recognizable big pieces of anything, you can wash out the pan, clean off the magnet, change the filter, adjust the bands and put it back together. If you take the pan off of a nearly new one, there will still be residue, and quite a bit more than you expect.

 

Every automatic in use has some residue laying in the pan. Most have magnets like the 727. The magnet, If present, will always be fuzzy.

 

If the magnet is catching stuff, thats good. Thats why its there. I would add it to any automatic transmission that doesn't have one.

 

 

Edited by Bloo
a word (see edit history)
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That is typical for a transmission.  Good reason why a magnet is usually found inside the trans just for little bits of metal like this to get stuck and stay put.  Drive on! 

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Took the Buick for a shake down run camping this weekend. We went West instead of East over the mountains and found ourselves near the edge of the peninsula around Hood Canal. The beaches were a let down, so we took a leisurely drive to Lake Cushman in the only car that seats 6, and there was time for vanity photos.

 

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Buick in the front, gang in the rear. While we were out, we had stopped at a gas station and someone offered me $7000 for the car. I laughed, the next time this car goes up for sale is probably in 70 years.

 

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This one was at camp. 

 

It was a pretty fun weekend excursion before going to college after this week. Time is running down my summer clock fast. Aside from a few bouts of vapor lock, the car performed flawlessly. My WCFB is still running a little lean, enough to get barely noticeable pinging under load... timing is at 5 degrees BTDC. I've never had this issue with the 4GC. Starting to think it's the cheap rebuild kit? Maybe not enough pump shot on the accelerator pumps (replacement was a little bit shorter) or there's a small obstruction in the main metering system. The pinging only occurs under load, so fuel is being restricted somewhere... It's too close to school, so the Edelbrock 1406 will most likely go back on before I leave. And because I have chrome valve covers, I gotta find a chrome air cleaner to match now! I've also added an electric fuel pump and regulator to the shopping list before leaving, but will most likely forego those additions. I've started a thread in modified about making a fuel cell out of my old Luber-Finer canister, looking for some input on that as well. The college is located in an area where it will be nearly as hot as our short lived heat wave, so vapor lock may be a common issue over there.

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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Pinging in these car is usually caused by timing (advanced too much), octane of gas (too low) and cylinder head temperature (more pinging the hotter it is).

That replacement engine you have may have the original pistons which will be higher compression than the replacements in the other one.  Carbon buildup may contribute too.  If there are deposits built up in the cylinder heads due to hard water, that can lead to hot spots and pinging.

Leave the freakin' carburetor alone unless you are unsure of jet and rod numbers.

If there is part throttle pinging, check that the correct vacuum advance is installed (just because it fits don't mean it will work right)...a too light spring will enable too much advance during part throttle.

Sparkplugs with too 'hot' heat range will ping and run-on when shut down.

Needs some checking, but leave the freakin' carb alone. :D

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Willie, couldn't resist... 

 

Took the Carter off, pulled it apart and found fine granules of while powder in the passages. I thought I had gotten it clean but I guess not... the Rochester carbs I had professionally dipped, however I can't afford that so close to school so I put the Edelbrock back on. Pinging gone. I used Edelbrock 1106 adapter to mate the 1406 to the manifold. It's from their flathead line and comes with everything you need, so you don't have to drill your own holes or deal with those cheap adapters from Speedway. The only issue I see from the design is that it's a dual plane, but the manifold isn't, so there is most likely turbulence at the opening. Regardless, I haven't had any driveability issues. I also stopped at the local speed shop outlet store, Warehouse West, and they fixed me up with a chrome air cleaner I really like. It goes well with the valve covers and was priced right. 

 

Among other things, I adjusted brakes front to back 12 clicks after tight. I also adjusted the parking brake, it was a bit loose for some reason (probably me). I also pulled the generator off and put the alternator back on. It uses a 4.75" spacer on a thru bolt to keep it snug against the generator bracket. I used a 2 v belt pulley to align the pulley with the water pump. Lastly, the exciter circuit was wired to the ignition switch with a diode to keep current from back feeding through the ignition switch. I took the road draft tube off again and added the PCV system, as well as replacing the old distributor with my 65 distributor. I knew I said I was going to keep this engine stock, but I have a feeling I'll be better off with this setup while at the university in the middle of no where. Just a gut feeling I had last night when contemplating the drive. Out of necessity, I'll be putting the electric wipers back on "just in case". I don't want to get caught going over the mountain pass at 65MPH while raining/snowing on the way back home for the holidays and have the wipers stop most of the way up the pass like it did during orientation. I also replaced the seal beams with some Delta conversion headlights. It replaces the seal beam with a H4 bulb housing. The cut pattern is phenomenal. It's much like a modern headlight, where it diffuses light on the driver side down and diffuses light on the passenger side outwards, so it doesn't blind the person in front of you. The beam is much more crisp, I highly recommend them to anyone who uses their car as a driver. 

 

Lastly, I did the oil change today. Nothing out of the ordinary. I think I do have a rear main leak. It looked like oil pan, so I torqued them down to spec but the leak is persistent. When I get over there, my first priority is getting in line with the local auto shop boys and hopefully we can get the motor out to do a bottom up inspection (remove crank, replace seal. The leak isn't terrible, definitely not as bad as 8 gouged cylinders sucking up all my oil... that's for sure. 

 

Anyways, pictures as follows!

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All that's left now is the wipers, brake fluid flush and power steering flush. When I get the money, I'm definitely going to purchase a CPP steering box. The play in this one is awful for having it "professionally" rebuilt. Maybe even replace the pump, too, since it seems to create red dust from the front seal.

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Russ Martin offers the above adapter for cheaper then I'm seeing the edelbrock one for.. He wants 40

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I have both adapters, the Edelbrock adapper is far superior, believe me. Those cheap aluminum adapters are really shallow and the transition from big port to little port is really sharp. The Edelbrock adapter is a gradual change, and it's dual plenum design is not restrictive at all. 

 

Look up Vicky Blue's steering box thread. He uses a CPP steering box to replace his box after he found out it was unsaveable. I believe the term was "anyone who fixes this for you is robbing you." I can relate. 

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26 minutes ago, Beemon said:

Custom fit bracket, rag joint and fittings I believe. 

...and a 56 manual steering pitman arm

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28 minutes ago, old-tank said:

...and a 56 manual steering pitman arm

Oh, I forgot about that... but wasn't it off a 55?

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18 hours ago, Beemon said:

When I get over there, my first priority is getting in line with the local auto shop boys and hopefully we can get the motor out...

 

Just out of curiosity: how many times have you pulled the engine from this car?

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29 minutes ago, KongaMan said:

 

Just out of curiosity: how many times have you pulled the engine from this car?

Twice: the first time was initial rebuild and the second time was when I replaced it. 

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