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1938 Buick Century Model 61 - Four Door Touring Sedan - Trunk Back


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MCHinson, I just reread your thread from page one to here. You really did a remarkable job on this Buick. These are  truly great cars. As a youngster, in the 50's and early 60's, I remember seeing  several 1937, 1938 Buicks running around the neighborhood just being used as everyday transportation. . They were the very dependable automobiles. Really appreciate the work you put into it. Thanks, John

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4 minutes ago, John S. said:

MCHinson, I just reread your thread from page one to here. You really did a remarkable job on this Buick. These are  truly great cars. As a youngster, in the 50's and early 60's, I remember seeing  several 1937, 1938 Buicks running around the neighborhood just being used as everyday transportation. . They were the very dependable automobiles. Really appreciate the work you put into it. Thanks, John

 

Thanks for the kind words. 

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Posted (edited)

Today was an odd day. Difficult to believe but I had other things today that I had to do that were a higher priority than working on the Buick. By dinner time, I think I was suffering from withdrawal. I went out to the garage after dinner and, needing to do something on the car, I installed the door and rear body side mouldings. 

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Today, I decided to deal with a problem that I noticed when I picked the car up. When I initialy removed the hood moulding from the rusty hood, I was unable to remove the rear most threaded moulding clips on both sides of the hood. The moulding slid out, but the nut was rusted solid on the threaded stud. I meant to grind those off later if solvent failed to loosen them up. I apparently never got back to that job and the two clips were still on the hood when Levi painted the hood. I applied some solvent to them yesterday, but this morning, they still would not budge. I very carefully took an angle grinder and ground off the nuts and removed the clips. I then applied some ospho to the small area of previously rusty metal under the clip. After that treatment, I painted the area to prevent any future rust. Luckily, the moulding totally covers the area where the old clip had been. I then installed the passenger side moulding permanently. I should receive some additional threaded moulding clips soon, and then I can install the driver's side hood moulding.  

 

Next, I buffed the chromed portion of the front fender light assemblies. While they look much better, they are pitted enough that I expect to replace them in the near future. They will work until I have time to get the other pair of them rechromed or find another pair that have already been rechromed. The first photo shows the remains of the clips that I had to grind off of the hood.   

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Posted (edited)

I took Sunday off and today my business that pays for restoration took up most of my time. I recently found out from Brian DePouli that the 1938 trunk emblem recessed areas should be painted in a translucent red paint. Brian suggested the perfect paint so I ordered it. I arrived today, so I pulled the emblem off and painted it today. This evening, I reinstalled it. I also received a recently ordered trunk handle assembly gasket and since I found the time to do a little bit more work on the car so I installed the trunk handle assembly and license plate. I finally got everything right and all of the hardware finally lined up and went together like it was supposed to. 

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Today, I was busy with other things but I did get a little bit of time to work on the Buick this evening. I cleaned up and painted the brackets and other hardware that secures the rear  bottom edge of the engine side panels to the cowl. I also installed the hood latching mechanism on both sides. These consists of a number of rods and brackets and the handles that unlatch and latch the hood sides. Since the latching mechanisms had been disassembled before I bought the two side panels, it took me a few minutes to figure out exactly how everything went together. Luckily they were labeled to show which side they were for or it would have taken me quite a bit longer to figure out how it all went together.

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Today, after cleaning up my workbench, I went to work on the front fender mounted parking lights/turn signals. The original fender lights were just parking lights. I picked up some universal park/turn sockets from Advance Auto Parts. These require a 3/4 inch hole to mount. I picked up a step drill bit at Harbor Freight tools to enlarge the mounting holes to fit the new sockets. I used a punch to drive the original sockets out of the assembly and then used the step bit to enlarge the mounting holes to fit the new sockets. I installed the sockets and bent the tabs down to secure them. I then assembled the lights and soldered the wires to the terminals. It is important to put all of the parts together in the proper order before soldering the socket contacts. Unsoldering and resoldering the terminals is not fun. The larger sockets will fit in the parking light assemblies, but there is not much extra room. I also soldered an extra ground wire to the socket and connected it to one of the small screws that holds the assembly together. I am not looking forward to having to open those up again to change the 1154 bulbs in the future. Changing an original bulb is hard enough, but the 1154 bulbs and new sockets just barely fit in there.

 

I had cleaned up and painted all of the nuts, studs, and backing plate that fits under the fenders. The first one worked perfectly. The second one, did not initially have a ground. It seems that both Levi and I painted everything just a bit too well. I removed the backing plate and related hardware. I scratched the fender in the area where the light mounts, and wire brushed the rest of the hardware a bit more. I reinstalled it and it works perfectly now.    

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Today I decided to tackle the headlights. I removed the headlights from the car one at a time. I rebuilt the light "pod" wiring harnesses using the wires from the Rhode Island Wiring harness. The light pods have a small junction block on each light that fits through the opening in the sheet metal where the light attaches to the car. The original wiring has a ring connector that was crimped and/or soldered on the inside edge of the junction block and the harness from the car attaches to the outside of the junction block with a lug connector. I disassembled the junction block and used a wire wheel to clean up the junction blocks, screws and other related hardware. I rebuilt the light sockets by removing one wire at a time and replacing it with the corresponding wire from the wiring harness kit. This makes it much easier to feed everything where it needs to go, and not make any mistakes.

 

I decided that the wires from inside the pod could just be fed through the body opening and attached directly to the feed wire lugs on the outer side of the junction block on the same screws to give slightly less chance of failure and a slightly more direct connection from the pod wiring to the wiring harness that supplies power to the light. I also drilled a hole in each headlight inner lens assembly and attached an oversized ground wire that I fed beside the other wiring and secured it under the washer on the rear headlight mounting bolt stud to give a good ground.

 

The replacement lamp assemblies that I am using on this project were missing two of the four small clips that hold the reflectors in the inner housing. I created two ugly but servicable replacement clips out of two pieces cut from a large ring wiring crimp on connector. The reflectors were a bit tarnished. Since I did not have any lamp black and alcohol to clean them as directed in the owner's manual, I took some Semi-chrome polish and a soft cloth and gently cleaned the tarnish off of the reflectors. They are not perfect but certainly good enough for now. 

 

I reassembled the lights and installed them. The lights both work properly. My 1937 Buick has sealed beam headlights installed behind original lenses. For comparision, I took a photo of the headlights on the 1938 Century side by side with the Sealed Beam headlights of my 1937 Century. While the Sealed Beam lights on the 1937 Century are slightly brighter, the lights on the 1938 Century are almost as bright.

 

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Today, I installed the driver's side hood moulding. The original glass for the instrument cluster somehow got cracked while I had it on the workbench waiting for reinstallation. To avoid any chance of that happening to another of my spare instrument clusters I decided it was time to install the instrument cluster face that I had repainted and the speedometer. Rather than take the time to rebuild the original Century speedometer, I decided to just intall the speedometer out of the body donor car. I carefully removed the rest of the instrument cluster from the car. I reassembled the repainted face, glass insert, and remaining instrument cluster parts and cleaned and installed the other speedometer. I reinstalled the instrument cluster and installed some recently purchased LED bulbs in the instrument cluster. I may rebuild the other speedometer in the future and swap it out. The face of that speedometer looks slightly better than the one that I installed in the car today. Swapping speedometers can easily be done. It just requires disconnecting the speedometer cable and removing 3 screws.  

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Today, I started on the front vent windows. The original ones from the body donor car buffed up well enough that I will be using them. They work perfectly so I will install new rubber and new glass. lubricate the operating mechanism, and use them. To disassemble them, you remove the bolt that secures the bottom stud to the operating mechnism. The top outer channel can then be flexed enough to remove the top stud from the outer channel. The window frame can then be lifted up and removed from the operating mechanism. After removing the frame assembly, I buffed the window frame before removing the glass. This made it a bit easier for the heavy buffing. After the initial buffing, I removed the glass and the original glass setting material. I first used a razor blade to attempt to loosen the glass setting material. After that, I attempted to slide the glass out. One side came out slightly, but the other would not budge. I then decided that it would be easier to break the glass to get it out. With heavy gloves, after carefully shattering the glass over the trash can, I was able to remove the remaining glass and use a screwdriver to pry the remaining glass setting material out of the window frame. I painted the outer frame assembly and allowed it to dry while I did some additional buffing on the window frame. When I was happy with the buffing, I lubricated the operating mechanism and reinstalled the window frame in the outer frame. I will install the glass later since I need to carefully go through the box of glass and find those particular pieces of glass. After finishing that one, I did the other one. 

 

Next, I worked on the front door division bars that goes between the vent windows and the front door windows. First I did an initial buffing on the Chrome on the outside of the division bar. Next, I peeled the window run felt out of the division window channel. I then peeled the rubber out of the other side of the division bar. After that, I did some additional buffing on the chrome. I then installed the rubber strip in the division bar. The rubber strip is inserted and then the metal tabs are bent down to secure the rubber in place. Next, the felt window run channel is cut to the correct length and simply glued into the division bar. I did some minor touch up painting on the inside original woodgrain on the division bar and sprayed it with a layer of clear coat. After that I wrapped rubber bands around the top and bottom edge to make sure that the window run felt stays in place while the adhesive dries. I then restored the second division bar in the same manner as the first.    

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This afternoon, I decided to go through my glass order and find the vent window glass. I then decided to install the front vent window glass into the frames. I first test fit the glass and then following the method used by Gary Wheeler in his 1937 Buick restoration, I used 3M Windo Weld black urethane to install the vent window glass. On the first one, I don't think I used quite enough of the urethane at first, so I pulled the glass out and added a bit more. I used a bunch of painter's wipes and paper towels cleaning up the mess I made with that procedure. With the second one, I laid the urethane down nice and thick and following Gary's instructions, I will leave that one alone and use a razor blade to remove the excess urethane after it has dried. 

 

Next, I decided to test fit the glass in the rear vent windows. That did not go so well. It looks like they either sent me the wrong glass, or else their pattern is wrong. If the rear vent window was a fixed glass, the glass they sent would probably be the right size as it is almost the same size as the outer frame that the vent window frame goes into. I have emailed my glass supplier so he can take care of this issue.   

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Posted (edited)

Today, I cleaned the excess black urethane from the vent windows with a razor blade scraper. I then installed the front vent windows and the vent window division bars. Those tiny screws are really difficult to see when you drop them on a concrete floor, but after a while, I found them all and installed them all. A replacement driver's door latch assembly arrived from Dave Tacheny in today's mail so I installed it. Swapping that was easy, simply remove 6 screws from the latch and three screws from the interior door handle assembly, swap the latch assemblies, and reinstall the screws. No more driver's door handle droop! 

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This evening, I decided to work on the main front door windows. I took the old windows and removed the mounting hardware. I used a razor blade knife to cut the majority of the old glass setting material from the glass. I then was able to use a chisel and a hammer to carefully tap the metal mounting hardware off of the glass. I then used a grinder wire wheel to remove the rust from the metal. I used a small chisel to remove the remaining traces of glass setting material from inside the metal channel and used a wire brush and file to clean up the remaining rust inside the metal channel. I then test fit the glass into the metal channel and after that, I applied windo weld to the glass and inserted the glass into the metal channel. I then repeated this for the other front window. Tomorrow, after the setting compound has dried, I will have to temporarily remove the division bars between the main windows and the vent window,s install the main window glass and reinstall the division bars.  

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Today, I installed the two front door windows. I removed the vent window divsion bar and opened the vent window. I carefully formed the side window run channel to the correct shape by bending it around the window glass and cut it to the correct length. I then carefully inserted the window glass and window channel into the door. I put some masking tape on the edge of the door adjacent to the location of the screw locations for the screws that secure the window channel to the door. I marked the location of the screws on the masking tape. I reinstalled the vent window division bar and closed the vent window. I then lowered the window glass while holding the window channel in place. I then drilled holes in the window channel at the marked locations. for the screws I then installed the four small screws that secure the window channel to the door. When tightened, the screws sink into the window channel so that they are totally hidden and don't interfere with the glass. I then removed the masking tape and repeated this same procedure on the other front door. 

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Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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I recently discovered this, and just read the whole thing! I'm very impressed with the work you've done, and the pace at which you've accomplished it. Really nice!

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1 hour ago, Ken_P said:

I recently discovered this, and just read the whole thing! I'm very impressed with the work you've done, and the pace at which you've accomplished it. Really nice!

 

Thank you but I am just an average guy with decent mechanical skills with a decent sized garage who can take something apart and put it back together. I don't have any particular skills. There are lots of people in the hobby and on this forum who are willing to help and lots of technical advice available online. If you want to see a really great restoration story, check out Gary Wheeler's story: 

Gary is a really skilled guy. I was inspired by his work. He made it look easy. I wanted to do a restoration and it gives me something to publish as Editor of the Torque Tube II for the 36-38 Buick Club. I am enjoying the work and doing the best I can with the resources that I have. 

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Yesterday, I buffed my best two windshield wiper transmissions. While not perfect, they were good enough to use until I find some that look better. When I started to install the left one, as soon as I dropped it into position, the arm broke off of the transmission. I had another left one with an intact arm but it is pitted terribly. I called Dave Tacheny and asked him if he had any decent ones and he did not. I told him that I did not know how to disassemble them and he told me how to do it. Following his instructions, I applied a good dose of solvent to them both and left them overnight. This morning, following his instructions, I installed a sacrificial nut on the threaded shaft on that transmission and then placed the nut in a vice. I then held the bottom of the wiper transmission in one hand and took a rubber mallet and tapped the top of the wiper transmission with the other. With a few gentle strikes, the transmission shifted and separated from the shaft. I then did the same to the pitted one with the intact arm. I then installed the assembly with the good arm in the better transmission housing. You just need to drop the chain assembly into the housing, line up the small socket with the shaft hole and tap the shaft into place. 

 

I have very two minor issues that follow, but first I want to add the disclaimer that despite the following paragraphs, I have been very happy with everything else I have purchased from Steel Rubber Products. During all of this time working on the wiper transmission housings, I discovered that the gaskets sold by Steel Rubber as 37-38 Buick Windshield wiper base gaskets do not fit on the 1938 wiper transmission housings. I suspect that they fit 1937 ones fine and were just incorrectly assumed to also fit 1938 ones. The 1937 and 1938 ones are shaped slightly differently. Attempts to stretch them out to fit on mine broke both gaskets. Having no gaskets that fit, I applied Black RTV silicone sealant to the back of the housings where the gaskets should be. I allowed the sealant to cure and will install them tomorrow. 

 

Before I picked up the car from the paint shop, I installed the original door check strap rubber gaskets and nuts. Since the rubber was rock hard and I had purchased replacement door check strap rubber from Steele, I decided to install the new rubber on the door check straps today. The originals are all rubber and are installed with separate nuts. I don't know what they actually fit, but the replacements have a nut molded in the center which is designed to simply thread onto the check strap. Unfortunately the nuts in the rubber pieces are not the right size. They must be grade 8 nuts because it took a lot of effort to drill through them to enlarge the hole enough to be able to actually install them on the car's door check straps. 

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Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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There is another way to remove the shaft, place a whole bunch of washers under the nut and tighten, add more washers as needed as you go and the shaft will slowly pull out of the housing. but hitting things with hammers is a great stress reliever 😄

 

Also note '38 has two different size wiper arm housings. The big series ones are wider than the small series so that may be the issue with the gasket as I don't recall an issue with their gasket on my big series cars.

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Today, I only had a few minutes to work on the Buick. I installed the windshield wiper transmission assemblies and attached the arms to the windshield wiper motor. Hopefully I will have more time tomorrow to work on the Buick. 

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5 hours ago, Roger Zimmermann said:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but would it no be wise to install the windshield first?

 

No, The windshield glass can easily be installed with the windshield wiper transmissions in place. Installing the wiper transmissions while the windshield is out is much easier as you can simply reach through the windshield opening with one hand and hold them in place while you apply the bottom bracket and install the bolt that holds them in place. 

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This morning, I prepared the back door windows. I placed each window on my workbench and placed the new glass on top of them to use masking tape to mark the new glass where the metal bottom channel was to be installed. I then removed the metal bottom hardware from the old windows. Again, I used a razor knife to cut as much of the old glass setting material away as possible and then used a chisel and hammer to tap the metal hardware off of the glass. I then cleaned up the metal channels by cutting out the remaining glass setting material, wire brushing them and then using a file and wire brush to clean out the inside channel. I then installed the metal hardware on the new glass using Windo Weld glass setting material.  I also spoke with my glass supplier today. He is going to send the correct rear vent wing window glass. 

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Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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Today, I installed the two rear door windows. As before, on both, I gently formed the window run channel around the glass to obtain the correct shape and cut it to the correct length. I marked the location of the mounting screws on masking tape on the edge of the door. I then installed the glass and lowered it to the bottom of its run. I then drilled the holes for the window run channel mounting screws, installed the screws, removed the masking tape, and tested the window's operation. The only surprising thing is that, as you can see from the masking tape locations, it looks like there should be one more screw but there was not hole for a screw in that upper corner on either the left rear or right rear door. 

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Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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Are the channels thick enough that the screw heads bury deep enough into the felt to avoid interfering with the glass?  Just getting ready to do this job on my 32 Dodge Brothers and this part of the operation has me concerned.

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The channels from Steele appear to be just like the originals. The screws are very small. The channels are thick enough for the original flat screw heads to sink into the felt and be totally hidden. I had a few screws missing and had to replace them with slightly domed headed screws and they also are completely covered by the felt. You can't see or feel them at all. 

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Good news.  My original channels were attached by a different method that I can’t duplicate.  Do you know the size of the screws you used?  I assume they are flat-headed sheet metal screws.

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14 minutes ago, Taylormade said:

Good news.  My original channels were attached by a different method that I can’t duplicate.  Do you know the size of the screws you used?  I assume they are flat-headed sheet metal screws.

 

The originals were flat head sheet metal screws. I don't know what size the screws were. I just bought the closest thing that my local hardware store had to the originals. They were oval head. I bought a few more than I needed so I have taken a photo of one of the extra ones from the hardware store. Hopefully this photo will help you.

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I decided to do a bit more work on the trunk area. The original wood shelf in the trunk in this car was so totally rotted away that it could not be used as a pattern. I placed a large piece of cardboard on the shelf support brakets. I then took two smaller pieces of cardboard and used a spacer to trace the outline of the side edges of the trunk onto the side pieces of cardboard. I then cut out the traced pattern. I then moved the side pieces outward to the correct width and taped the two outside pieces in place on the center section of cardboard. I then removed the cardboard and cut it from side to side 15 inches from the forward edge of the pattern. I arrived at this measurement by comparing it to the division in the two pieces of plywood that make up the trunk shelf in my 1937 Century. In the near future, I can use the cardboard pattern to produce the two pieces of plywood that will make up the trunk shelf. 

 

I also dealt with one other trunk related item. When I did the metal repair in the trunk took tray, the bottom of the repair did not look quite as nice as it should. I thought that Levi was going to tidy that area up but apparently he forgot to do that. Today, I used a small amount of body filler to tidy that area up. As soon as it cures, I can do a bit of sanding to that area and then paint it black. That should be sufficient to prevent any problems with any chassis judges and to make sure I don't give away any more details, I am not going to take a photograph of that area. 

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This morning, I sanded and painted the body filler patch on the bottom of the trunk tool tray repair from yesterday. I also delivered my trunk shelf pattern to a good friend who is a good woodworker and who offered to produce the plywood trunk tool tray for me. Other than that, I was too busy with a paying job to do anything else on the Buick today. I will also be busy with that job tomorrow, but will try to find some time to do something else on the Buick tomorrow too.   

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Posted (edited)

Getting ready for the soon to come windshield and back glass installation, I looked through my parts and found the windshield center divider bar. I realized that I should have had Levi paint it black, but since I did not, I cleaned it up, primed it and painted it gloss black. It looks like it should be fine. If not, I can always remove it and take it to Levi and have him paint it for me later. I also found the inside center windshield divider from the body donor car. The original woodgrain on it looks good. I cleaned it up and applied a coat of clear coat to shine it up a bit more. 

 

I found the rear window division piece from the body donor car and realized that I should have woodgrained it when I did the rest of the woodgraining. I applied a base coat of brown paint so I can woodgrain it tomorrow. 

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Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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