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1941 Buick Limited Limousine

Matt Harwood

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I guess this is as good a place as any to post updates to the Limited. I bought it four years ago to sell, but when it arrived, it was in poor condition with a lot of needs. It was BADLY misrepresented by the seller. So I shoved it in the corner and forgot about it for about a year. Then I started chipping away at a few projects and tweaking things and discovered that underneath the neglect there was one hell of a great-running car. The paint is just OK, but the interior is gorgeous and the thing runs like a freight train. I rebuilt the carbs, replaced the cracked exhaust manifolds (with another set that cracked), and did a lot of tuning to get it just right. My goal is to make it a bulletproof high-speed tour car that will go anywhere in any weather. With radial tires, new shocks, and a fresh alignment, it's just a joy to drive now.


Planned upgrades include either yet another set of manifolds or (more likely) having a set of tubular exhaust headers made to cure the exhaust leak permanently. The other advantage to headers would be getting the exhaust decoupled from the intake (they are bolted together) and removing a LOT of heat from the carburetors. That's really appealing to me, even though this car has exactly zero heat or vapor lock issues. I also have a pair of 2-barrel Rochester carbs that I am considering installing with a fixed linkage so they're both working at all times rather than the stock progressive setup. There are some who say the car will idle better, get better fuel economy, and make more power with that upgrade. I don't care about show-quality or 100% authenticity (although I don't want to go too far astray, either), but I do want this thing to be reliable and comfortable. It runs so well now with the Strombergs, however, that I'm loathe to take it apart. Last summer it chased down a '41 Packard 160 convertible coupe with overdrive without apparent effort, and that guy was VERY surprised (well, not surprised--dismayed, actually). He's used to being able to walk away from just about any pre-war car and frequently boasts about his car's performance. The fact that the limo weighs about 600 pounds more than his convertible was not lost on him. This big guy is impressive as hell. I am starting to suspect that the engine is not entirely stock.


Anyway, some of you may remember that the big guy was sidelined last spring when I took the rear differential cover off to change the oil, had an issue with correct cover orientation, and ended up doing it twice. But while I was in there, I was advised to take some things apart like the main bearing caps "just to see how they look." Sadly, I dropped one and broke it, so the car has been out of commission all summer, much to my dismay. I've found a machine shop willing to make me a new set and they should be done this coming week, so hopefully it will go back together and not blow up when I put some power through it. I'm also over my anger at being goaded into doing something I knew I didn't have to do. I lost a summer with my car because of it, but what the hell? It's only time and money, right?



In the meantime, I've been doing some upgrades in preparation for having it back on the road, perhaps for the fall colors tour after Hershey. First there was the LED brake and tail light upgrade:



When I finished the LED brake light upgrade, I noted that it took quite a bit of muscle to get the brake lights to come on. It was possibly the switch, but most pressure switches are go/no-go and not directly related to the amount of pressure, so I figured the master cylinder was going bad. The pedal was rock hard and the car stopped OK, but the brake lights taking that much pushing was a tip-off. So I ordered a new master cylinder from Bob's and it showed up a few days later This afternoon, my son, Riley (age 9) and I installed it. It took me, my wife, and both boys to push that Limited across the shop and every bit of muscle we could spare to get it up the ramps and onto the lift, but once it was up there, it was all good. I taught Riley how brakes work, how to pull the master, and why we use flare wrenches on hydraulic fittings. It came out without a fight and the new one went in just as easily. I grabbed son #2, Cody (age 11), and had him push the pedal while we bled the brakes underneath. Result? MUCH improved pedal feel and brake lights that come on with a light touch instead of a heavy stomp. No leaks, no issues, no problems. It's a bit of a pain to bleed brakes on these cars simply because the reservoir on the master is so small so you have to keep refilling it after every push, but not a big deal. All buttoned up and ready to go.


A few months ago, I bought a correct battery hold-down bracket with heat shield for my Century but since the Limited doesn't have one and just uses a hokey homemade hold down the previous owner invented, I decided to use it there instead. A quick coat of black paint and a trip to the hardware store to get some J-bolts, and it will be ready to install tomorrow. The engine bay on the Limited isn't show-quality, but it's not bad, either, and this should be a nice upgrade that will tidy things up and hopefully eliminate a CLUNK up front when I hit big bumps.


I'll post some photos of the battery when I go back to the shop tomorrow and finish the job.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Love those BIG Buicks, how about more pictures, so us the inside.

I purchased some LED  tail lights for my '39 and could not get them to work.

With some experimentation I discovered the tail light would work.....until the bulb made contact with the brake light terminal, then nothing.

Since the LEDS need so little current to work, I figure there is either a bad ground or some feed back somewhere in my wiring.

I gave up because I already have too many projects and did not need to add another to the ever growing list of things to do.

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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You know how sometimes the hard jobs turn out easy and the easy jobs are enough to kill you? Today I had that. Installing that battery bracket should have been a 10-minute job. It wasn't.


I painted the bracket yesterday so it was ready. I degreased it but didn't make it perfect since I figured it would stand out in the imperfect engine bay, so I think the final result has a pretty consistent look.




Then I pulled the battery and found evidence of leakage in the past--some surface rust and a lot of efflourescent dust, so I cleaned all that up. In hopes of preventing it in the future, I cut a rubber mat and put it on the tray under the battery, then reinstalled the battery.


I went to the parts store and bought some J-hooks for the hold down but found that the 'J' part was too narrow to fit the original tray's openings. Rather than drilling holes in the car, I modified the J-hooks so they'd have a wider hook (modified on top, original on the bottom):




The problem is, the modified J-hook shortened the overall length by just enough that there were only one or two threads showing above the hold-down bracket. Lots of tweaking, some thinner washers, and finally I managed to get the wing nuts to grab and tightened everything into place:




Not such a huge difference, but at least the battery won't move around. Engine bay looks decent although this particular task made no real difference in the way things look.




Barney, here are some photos of the interior. I believe the rear seat area is original with replacement carpets, while the front seat area has been restored at some point. The color combination is similar to the catalog illustration, blue with gray.


RearSeat2.jpg.e58963842d46a1c8a321d0023f4d332f.jpgRearSeat1.jpg.e5401e55e0bb7dcbbe5d3fdc4686db86.jpgRearSeat3.jpg.9e3a300986e15feea6e16aeb34a13f9f.jpg gallery_87514_310_114916.thumb.jpg.15e1d79f8cd5b7dd044be2ba2cda51de.jpgFrontSeat1.jpg.8a88d9381ad27f894ce9b6c77ad3d25b.jpg


I've discovered that sitting on a small cushion that raises me up a bit makes driving it a lot easier. The seat isn't very adjustable and it's rather close to the steering wheel, but by elevating myself on a black leather cushion that's about 4-inches tall, it gives me not only a better view (the lower cushion is pretty low) but more legroom and easier access to the pedals, particularly the clutch. It looks silly when you look in and see the driver sitting on a booster cushion, but it's far more comfortable and easier to drive that way. At some point, I may have the lower seat cushion reworked to be about four inches taller and see how that works. For now, though, it's a nice place to spend some time, both as driver and passenger. My wife, Melanie, refuses to ride up front, she likes the back seat much better--who can blame her?


So hopefully my rear bearing caps will be ready this week and I can drive it again. I sure miss it...

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Matt, I hope you bearing cap solves yor problem. Your car looks beautiful.  I appreciate you very informative LED upgrade, I am gong to upgrade my '47, as I have always felt the current ones are very dim.  Keep posting as I find you car captivating, and I learn much from your technical posts regarding your trials and tribulations.


Best wishes, 




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6 hours ago, Jack56C said:

 I appreciate you very informative LED upgrade, I am gong to upgrade my '47, as I have always felt the current ones are very dim.


LEDs can be a definite upgrade.  However, my experience is that many a dim light is at least partially due to dicey electrical connections.  Did you check the voltage and ground at the sockets?

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For those who asked about 6-volt LEDs and what I used on my Buick, I just updated the LED FTW! post linked in the first post of this thread. It includes where to buy the LEDs, how much, part numbers, and other details. Hope this helps!

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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17 hours ago, KongaMan said:

LEDs can be a definite upgrade.  However, my experience is that many a dim light is at least partially due to dicey electrical connections.  Did you check the voltage and ground at the sockets?


Yes, cars electrics are top notch with all proper voltages at all of the lights. All grounds are cleaned and made shiny on a regular basis. I just find that although the tai lights are bright by 6volt standards, I don't feel they are adequate to be among modern traffic at night.  



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I, too, was missing the battery hold down piece for my '39 Century.  I bought the bracket from Bob's in Ca but I also bought the matching carriage bolts so installation was a snap.  I did not want the new paint finish so I sprayed the battery box with a black, hard, stone guard from a rattle can which matched the Ziebart undercoating which is in good shape on the rest of the underside of the sedan.  Good looks and secure.  Gary

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omgosh Matt....I Want Want Want this car...!!!  Beautiful, just regal and stunning.  Make no apologies for it..!  You can be very Proud of your Buick.  I would recommend any modern "upgrades" you make, be reversible, in the event you ever sell it. There are many purists out there that enjoy the authentic ride/handling of bias ply tires, original carb, and authentic experience of driving with the light that was originally provided in 1941. No surprise the Buick hunted the Packard, no surprise at all...!!??

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14 minutes ago, 1928Buick said:

omgosh Matt....I Want Want Want this car...!!!  Beautiful, just regal and stunning.  Make no apologies for it..!  You can be very Proud of your Buick.  I would recommend any modern "upgrades" you make, be reversible, in the event you ever sell it. There are many purists out there that enjoy the authentic ride/handling of bias ply tires, original carb, and authentic experience of driving with the light that was originally provided in 1941. No surprise the Buick hunted the Packard, no surprise at all...!!??


I happen to have a nicer one for sale if you want it...







Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Got my bearing caps for the rear diff back from the machine shop today. They looked weird but they're heavy-duty and fit well. No pictures because I didn't want to jinx it like last time. They're in there, the cover is on and sealed, just waiting for the sealant to set up so I can fill it with gear lube and take it for a drive. Maybe tomorrow night.


Bets on whether it blows up? I give it no better than 50/50 odds of surviving...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Picked this up at Hershey:




Hopefully the exhaust manifolds aren't cracked and will be usable. Into the blast cabinet this week and we'll find out. Finding a complete setup like this is really rare these days--thanks to a fellow board member for the find!


I'll have an update on the rear end later this week, too, don't worry. Hint: it moved around the shop under its own power for the first time in six months and I'm planning on taking it on a tour this weekend...

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Well, dangit, that dual carb setup is from a small series car. Looking at it last night, it just didn't look big enough to my eye, particularly the exhaust tube from #1 cylinder. Sure enough, I measured it this morning against the Limited and it's three inches shorter. Dang.


On the shelf it goes--maybe the guy who ultimately buys my '41 Super convertible will want it to convert that car back to a dual carb setup.


Dang. Dangdangdang.

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So far, so good. The new bearing caps in the rear end seem to be holding. I can't tell if it's noisier than it was, but there's definitely some whining. Hard to tell if it's the gears, bearings, tires, or something else. It's not loud, but I can hear it. I may go through it this winter and put all new bearings in and be done with it. Wish it didn't come this far, but better safe than sorry. Getting bearing caps was difficult and expensive--gears are probably impossible.


We're going to take it on a long-distance CCCA tour this weekend and see what happens. It seems like its old self again, so I'm confident we won't have any problems. I've done some short runs near the shop and everything seems happy.


Here's a short video of a drive to the gas station this afternoon, and I'll upload another video of a high-speed run down the street. Sorry about the camera placement on this one--I moved it for the second one. You can hear how crappy the engine sounds with the cracked manifolds but you can't hear the rear end, so I guess that's good. You'll also note the incredibly poor quality of northeast Ohio's roads. Sorry about that, not even the limo's suspension can absorb that kind of punishment. Also look for the cop in the speed trap waving to me--I was easily going 50 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. They know me, but he's sitting there because the Porsche dealer up the street likes to use that stretch of road for high-speed test runs...


Here's hoping the rear end doesn't explode tomorrow!



Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Slightly longer video with a high-speed blast down that same stretch of pavement where the cop was sitting earlier and on the streets around my shop. The sucker is STRONG but it sure sounds lousy with those cracked manifolds. That has to be job #1 this winter, I can't take it anymore.



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Buick finished the tour (about 250 miles) this weekend without incident, but I'm 100% finished with the broken exhaust manifolds. It just sounds like junk. Not so bad at cruising speed, but one of the stops was a local car show and rolling in clunking and ticking and grumbling just wasn't cool. That big car is supposed to be silent. So we're going to put it on the lift, tear off the exhaust, and build it all new from the cylinder head all the way back. Enough is enough.


As for the rear end, it held together, but I'm not sure it's healthy. There's some noise that sounds like gear noise, but it could also be bearings or maybe even tires. We drove for a while with the windows up and it was much quieter in terms of gear noise, so maybe it's the radials, I don't know. But I suppose we'll tear down the rear end and do all new bearings just to be safe. I want to look at those new bearing caps and see if they show and signs of duress. I'm trying to locate a U-joint as well--if I'm tearing the rear end out, may as well put in a new U-joint and have everything fresh for next year.


All this stuff is really subtle. The sounds are not prominent and when we went out to dinner with passengers in the car, none of them mentioned any of the noises, even when I asked my friend Norm, who is an experienced car guy (own owns a '32 Pierce). So these "problems" and "noises" that bug me so much are apparently not noticeable to anyone but me. But as long as it's making those noises, it's going to bug me so we're going to spend some time and money to make it right.


I'm also investigating a new carburetor setup to replace the stock progressive Strombergs. More on that later...


Here are some shots from the covered bridges tour this weekend (which was led by the guy in the VW and included all makes and models):




That second shot is interesting because that was the only bridge with a posted weight limited (8000 pounds). The guy following me was a 450 pound dude and his 350 pound wife in a late-model Camaro convertible. He was right on my rear bumper and as we went through the bridge, there was a very loud CRACK and a lot of creaking.


Let's see: 5200 pounds of Buick, 350 pounds of Matt and Melanie, 100 pounds of luggage and tools, 4000 pounds of Camaro, 800 pounds of passengers, and YIKES!


We were easily 2200 pounds over the limit, which was well beyond the safety margin, I'd imagine. After we parked, I went back to talk to the guy, who was working pretty hard to extricate himself from his car, but was beaten to the punch by one of the volunteers in the tent set up next to it selling various baked goods (each bridge had a separate club selling goodies). That lady came up and started chewing him out better than I could have. She said that was way too close for comfort and not to do it again. Problem solved!


Fun tour, car performed flawlessly, and aside from a rain shower while we were eating lunch, the weather was great. A good way to finish the year!



Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally got my fog lights! I've been kind of looking for a set of these for a few months to replace the too-small generic fogs on the front of the Limited. I bought a set of near perfect NOS lenses at Hershey but struck out in finding a set of lamp fixtures. A set with brackets showed up on eBay two weeks ago so I bid on them. Then I bid again. And again. It was starting to get out of hand, but I was pretty sure that I'd won them. Unfortunately, I was sniped with 4 seconds remaining and lost them by $3. Frustrating! But also just as well because, yes, I had auction fever and had allowed myself to bid more than I wanted to.


Anyway, the seller contacted me the other day and said the buyer who sniped me at the last moment had failed to produce the cash, which seems very strange to me. Why snipe and bail? What's the point other than to just make a bunch of strangers angry? I reluctantly agreed to buy at my final bid. My reasoning was that I already had $150 worth of lenses, was I really going to get another chance to get a set of lights cheaper than this? Just bite the bullet and spend the money. It's advice I've given here a thousand times, so I put my money where my mouth is.


They'll probably need to be re-wired and have new sockets installed, which is easy. I'll repaint the brackets and if necessary, I'll send the housings out to be re-chromed. I'm going to use my NOS lenses because they are GUIDE while the lamps I bought are B-L-C. The lights are identical and were both made by GM/Guide, but the B-L-C brand was ostensibly for sale in auto parts stores and non-dealership shops. The markings on the lenses are the only differences and all the parts are interchangeable. There is some speculation that these semi-rectangular lights were designed specifically for the 1941 Buicks, but nobody has been able to provide documentation. They show up in official 1941 Buick accessory literature and apparently no place else, but lack of proof isn't proof. Either way, they're the right lights for the big limousine (the car shown isn't mine but it's one I just sold with the same lights installed).




Somewhere in my parts cache, I have a very rare factory fog light switch that fits into the dashboard center stack with the other switches and even has a knob labeled "FOG LAMPS" (it replaces the "ACCESSORY" knob on the right-hand side). But I'm kind of saving that for the Century. On the other hand, here's a car I use almost every day and I'm not getting any younger. Will have to decide.


Next up is getting the rear end rebuilt with new bearings and resetting the pinion depth (I'm going to have my friend Doug Seybold handle it), then get those headers built so I can have a new exhaust system installed. Going to be busy this winter!

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If you want to watch a great Humphrey Bogart movie with a lot of late 1930s and early 1940s Buick Limiteds, check out "All Through the Night," a Warner Brothers release from 1942. Bogart is a big-shot Broadway gambler in New York City who spends a night on the trail of "Fifth Columnists," Nazis.  His personal fleet includes a 1941 Limited with noisy exhaust manifolds, too! 


Bogart's gang includes William Demarest and a very young Jackie Gleason.  There are also many European actors in the film, including Peter Lorre and Conrad Veidt.  A must watch film.  Great fun!

Edited by BuickBob49
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Have you seen the Internet Movie Cars Database?  It's a great resource, put together by some very industrious guys somewhere in Europe, that exhaustively catalogs cars in films.  Here's the entry for "All Through the Night."




Here's a shot of the '41 from the film.






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  • 2 months later...

I'm still hoping to get the car to Doug Seybold in the next few weeks, but that doesn't mean I can't keep working on it now. In another thread, I went into some detail about how I intend to install those fog lights, but I thought I'd duplicate some of the information here, just in case. Click on the photos to enlarge.


Back in 1941, when these fog lights were installed either by the factory or by the dealer, they were wired into the headlight circuit so that they would not operate with the hi-beams on. That involves running wires from the headlight switch, to the fog light switch, and to the hi-beam switch. That's a lot of wires, a lot of connectors, a lot of places for something to go wrong, and a lot of heat and current running through that headlight switch. Instead, I decided to simplify and put the fog lights on their own circuit. Yes, yes, I know, it's illegal to use fog lights and headlights/hi-beams at the same time, but we're talking 6-volt bulbs on a car that probably will never see fog or snow where the lights are actually needed. They're purely decorative, but they still need to work, right? I bought an NOS fog light switch from Auburnseeker here on the AACA board, which I was thrilled to get. That switch slots into the original instrument panel to the right of the radio speaker in one of the two "ACCESSORY" slots (the one on the left of my car is used for the windshield washer). You can either use the ACCESSORY knob or a knob labeled FOG LIGHTS—if you can find one. I have a FOG LIGHT knob, but I'm kind of saving it for the Century, so I'll just keep the ACCESSORY knob for now.


NOS fog light switch (note 3 terminals) and its location on the dash


I will be using a relay to handle the heavy current and simply let the switch in the dash activate the relay. That way there's far less electricity inside the car and the power source can be closer to the lights so more juice will (theoretically) reach the lights. They're only 25 watts each, so it's not like they're super powerful, but if it's so easy, why not do it? I bought an NOS headlight relay that should do the trick and look totally stock wherever I end up stashing it in the engine bay, probably near the headlight junction block on the driver's side. I also bought some authentic-looking cloth-covered wire, 12 gauge black for grounds, 12 gauge yellow with black tracers for power to the relay, 14 gauge red with white tracers for the switch wiring, and some 2-strand 12 gauge armored cable for power and ground for the lights. If I do it right, it should look pretty authentic in the Buick's engine bay. Now that I see that these lights are only 25 watts each, not the 55 that I expected, these wire sizes are probably overkill (50watts/6volts = 8.3 amps). But bigger never hurts, right?


WiringDiagram.thumb.jpg.0d323a1bc12cbb30492aa01975620029.jpg 5a774f7ad84e8_foglightdiagram.thumb.jpg.ae336b821279ec409b05f2915a580035.jpgRelay1.jpg.d459ff2687c08e129b63bcc864056548.jpg
Using a relay allows you to remove much of the load from the switch in the dash


You'll note the fog light switch up above has three terminals, and even after some discussion (http://forums.aaca.org/topic/304973-6v-fog-light-wiring/) we're still not sure what all three are for. It is probably to kill the fog lights when the hi-beams are on, but another board member suggested that it was to illuminate the taillights whenever the fog lights are on, which I can see being a useful safety addition. I did some continuity testing with my multi-meter and found that the terminal on top and the terminal on the right in back are the two I should use to simply have the switch work as an ON/OFF switch for the lights. The third terminal is live when the others are off and dead when the others are on, strongly reinforcing the idea that it should be linked to the hi-beams somehow. I'm going to ignore it and simply wire it as an ON/OFF switch. I'm probably going to pull power from the ignition switch so that the lights will be off when the engine is off and there's no possibility of killing the battery (remember that since I'm using a relay, it will only pull a few milliamps off the switch--just enough to energize the coil in the relay--because it doesn't have to power the lights themselves). My other thought was to pull power from the parking light terminal on the headlight switch so that at least the parking lights need to be on (and therefore the taillights) to power the fog lights and turning the main headlight switch off will also kill the fog lights. I still haven't decided which way to go yet.


I won't go into the details of how a relay works, but for something like this with a relatively high current load, it makes a lot of sense. Note that I am using a headlight relay, which is rated for 30 amps and continuous duty. There are some who say horn relays are OK, since they're heavy-duty, but they aren't rated for continuous duty. Use the right part for the job. I think I paid $25 for it on eBay. You can get modern relays at your local auto parts store for $3 or $4 if you're on a budget (they don't care if there's 6 volts or 12 volts running through them), but they look very wrong if mounted out in the open.


The first thing to do is rebuild the fog lights themselves, something I probably should have done weeks ago so that the lights would be ready to install. I didn't, so that's what I did most of the day and it was a little frustrating--I was ready to GO! I had my shop manager Michael polish the housings (which turned out beautifully!) and paint the mounting brackets black just to help them blend in, although they were probably silver cadmium plated, or perhaps even chrome, when they were new. The light housings are in very good condition with chrome that will look exactly right on my driver-grade car. The reflectors are also in excellent condition, needing just some silver polish, and I’ll be replacing the B-L-C lenses with those Guide lenses I picked up at Hershey.


The first step was to test the lights, so I hooked them up to a battery and verified that they were operational. Both of the bulbs that came with the lights are good, but I ordered a few more just to be safe. They’re an unusual GE Mazda design with a flange that seats on the base of the reflector and twists to lock. You’ll also note they wear a removable black diffuser that is designed to shine light to the sides and downward, which is exactly what fog lights are supposed to do. They’re removable so they can be installed on future bulbs. Kind of nice that they’re still part of the set.


Bulbs are OK. Black diffuser on the bulb helps to aim the light down and to the sides.


As expected, the wiring inside is shot. Buick Guide fog lights used unique wires with a silver outer coating that you can still see on them today, although it’s a little yellow with age. That wire is reproduced, but I decided to use armored cable so that I could include a ground wire to ensure the lights were reliable (I also like the look of the armored cable). Fog lights like this are typically grounded through the housing and brackets but with paint, dirt, rust, and age working against them, I figured a separate ground wire would be a good idea. I am planning to solder the ground wire to the outside of the bulb socket--does anyone see a problem with this? I'm not completely convinced it's the right choice.


Silver wire is unique to these fog lights


To replace the cracked and broken wires I thought that I would simply use new button terminals and pigtails that are available at any auto parts store. Unfortunately, all of those seem to use tiny 18-gauge wires that are too small to safely power 6-volt fog light bulbs. I tried disassembling one of them in an attempt to attach the button terminal to the 12-gauge wire, but it was just too small and fragile. I ordered a set of new button terminals so I can simply solder them onto the 12-gauge armored wires, which has the side benefit of eliminating a splice inside the light housing. That’ll have to come later.


There’s also a gasket around the perimeter of the housing and that, too, has crumbled and cracked. I found some weather-stripping at a home center that should work. It’s a kind of putty, so it’ll be a little sticky when it comes time to disassemble the lens to replace a bulb, but it fits well and seals up nicely. The bulb socket attaches to the reflector with three tiny spring-loaded screws and some kind of phenolic spacer. That spacer also crumbled, so I’ll replace it with this flexible weather-stripping as well. It will allow some movement so that the bulbs are easy to remove, but also seals up the assembly from behind to prevent condensation.


Outer gasket is crumbling. I need to
make a new button terminal  and pigtail


But without new button terminals and their associated wiring, I couldn’t continue with the lights. Since I still had some time, I decided to see if I needed to drill some fresh holes in the Buick’s splash pan to accommodate the new fog light brackets, something that had me very worried. There were some small, generic fog lights already on the car, but they were never hooked up and were too small for such a big car and were partially hidden behind the bumper. They were each secured to the splash pan with a single nut, which I had my 9-year-old son, Riley, remove.


Look at those little tiny fog lights that
someone stuck on the car. Sad.


In a completely unexpected turn of events, the new brackets fit and lined up perfectly with the existing holes in the splash pan. Nice! If you work on cars, you know things like that just don’t happen very often. But even though the brackets fit, there was a bit of a gap between the splash pan and the upper part of the bumper clamp. As a result, tightening the bracket only bent the splash pan down and didn’t lock the upper part of the clamp to the bumper bracket. It would have held reasonably well, but the lights would have wiggled as I drove. I cut a small spacer from some tubing to firm it up and also cut a pair of rubber washers to protect the paint from the bracket on top. It gives a finished look and the bracketry is rock solid on its mounts. These fog lights won’t vibrate.

Clamp on the bumper needed a spacer. Bracket on top fits well and is in exactly
the right spot. Nice!


Next up, I'll finish rewiring the fog lights and start wiring the switch and relay. I hope that'll be evenings this week if I have the time and energy after hours, but more likely it'll be next Saturday.





Edited by Matt Harwood
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Thanks for this!  I've got 'decorative' fog lamps on my '41 that I'm contemplating making functional again (they're Guide, but not even wired to anything, so what's the point?), and even though it's far down on the list of things I need to address, your explanation will be immensely helpful when I get there.

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I finally finished rebuilding the fog lights themselves, which turned out to be a lot more work than expected. There were several problems, the big one being the undersized wire pigtails on the replacement sockets. Some of the issues were my problem--as you may or may not know, "Harwood" is apparently a Gaelic word for "overkill" or "He who works waaayyy beyond the point of diminishing returns." As I mentioned, I wanted to upgrade the grounds in the lights since they originally grounded themselves through the housings, mounting brackets, and ultimately the bumper brackets. Since all those things are old, dirty, rusty, and covered in paint, it's not really a great ground path. So I decided to run a separate ground wire along with power from the sockets inside the light housings. I also thought the bulbs in the fog lights were 55 watts each, not 25, so I used 12 gauge wire, and, well, since it was out in the open like that, I used armored cable with two leads in it. Glancing around my shop, I saw that every single other car with fog lights had one weenie little naked 16 gauge wire and no ground, and they all seem to work fine. But that's not the Harwood overkill way. Surely those engineers could have done a better job, right? Anyway, I was committed so it was time to make it work.


12/2 armored cable comes from
Rhode Island Wiring Service


Step one was figuring out the socket problem. I refused to spend all that money on quality wires only to do a splice to an 18-gauge fire-waiting-to-happen inside the lights themselves and risk it melting inside the housing. That meant I had to figure out a way to make my 12-gauge armored cable into part of the socket. After a LOOOONG search on the internet, I finally found brass button socket terminals, although they were only available for 18 gauge wire (go figure). I bought 10 of them anyway. They showed up late in the week and step one was getting them onto the ends of the 12-gauge wires inside the light. That meant threading the wire through the bottom of the reflector housing, through the socket spring, through the plastic insulator disc, and ultimately attaching it to the button terminal. The little terminals were adequate and after a little trial-and-error wherein I sacrificed three of the terminals, I finally got one crimped in place. Just to be sure it would stay, I also soldered it. Good joint, very solid, it isn't coming loose. But problem #2 is that the joint is now larger than the hole in the plastic insulator disc. Dang. Cut it off and try again, careful to make a tight, small splice and use minimal solder. OK, it fits pretty well now. Great!


Button terminal is secure and fits well
(it slides down into the socket and rests on
the plastic insulator and spring)


I also needed to figure out how to attach the ground wire that I had inside the light. There were no nuts or screws to use inside the housing, so I soldered the wire to the outside of the bulb socket. Not so easy to do, but a clean solution that puts the ground right where it's needed. I forgot to take a photo of this step, sorry. Just imagine a wire soldered to the side of the socket--that's what it looks like.


Step two is reassembling the light. The armored cable is considerably larger than the original single strand of wire, so I needed to enlarge the hole in the back of the light housing. I did that with a step bit in my drill and tidied up the edges with a round file. And because I'm doing the overkill thing, I added some shrink tubing as a strain relief and so the armored cable wouldn't rub on the housing and chew it up. It also fits tightly enough to seal the opening.


Shrink tubing protects the housing and
acts as a strain relief.


Next up was reassembly. There was a rubber gasket around the perimeter of the reflector that sealed to the glass lens, but it was shot, so I used some flexible weatherstripping that was like putty. It was the right size and sealed up very well. And even though there was no gasket around the perimeter of the lens where it fits to the outer housing, I note that the bottom of the light housing and bezel are rusty down there and filled with dirt, so I figured I could seal it up better. A little more weather-stripping around the perimeter of the lens where it goes into the outer bezel and it should not have any problems. There's a little rotating clip at the bottom of the outer bezel to hold the lens in place, so I squished the weather-stripping and twisted the clip into place. The putty squeezed out the edges, so I trimmed it with a razor blade so it was invisible.


Assembled1.jpg.16bdf765deae57733659376e8d20cb8e.jpg Lens_gasket1.jpg.7f2e13a6056bd42be0b3a0f862c84cca.jpgLens_Clip1.jpg.57d9c3d672eccc4392da7d3ae905f2ad.jpgLens_gasket2.jpg.fb10dea66b27e4ad0f683d5f1b53fb6a.jpgLens_gasket3.jpg.d3e663f69dfa1714ef67aac0af718197.jpg
I used flexible putty-like weather-stripping to seal the lens into the housing. Note the little clip at the bottom that holds the lens in place.


Last thing before I assembled everything was cleaning the reflectors, so I used a little silver polish to brighten them up, installed the bulbs and bulb covers, then reassembled the lights. Mounting them was easy, although I'm still undecided on whether I'm going to run the armored cable through the splash pan (I have two little grommets that are just right) or just run it through the grille opening behind the lights like all the other cars in the shop. Just for grins, I hooked them up to the battery just to see how they look. Nice!



Lights have unique swivel-washers so you can adjust the angle on the bracket. They look great!


I'm hoping to wire up the switch and relay tomorrow. I should have rebuilt the lights weeks ago when I first got them but it was a good day project.


Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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I spent this afternoon connecting the fog lights to the car's electrical system. My goal is to make it look as OEM as possible, even though I'm not quite doing it the way the factory recommended. I still want it to look like it was all installed in 1941. To help with that, I bought a bunch of cloth-wrapped wire in various colors that would look right, the aforementioned NOS relay used to correct dim headlights, and even a bunch of connectors and terminals that were similar to what they were using in '41. My initial plan was to put the relay on the firewall and pull power from the battery and run wires on the passenger side of the engine bay, but as frequently happens, plans and reality aren't always the same. I discovered that by putting the relay on the driver's side of the engine bay on the inner fender, the armored cables from the lights would reach all the way to the relay without the need for a splice. That's much better. And at a fellow board member's suggestion, I decided to pull power from the BAT terminal on the regulator rather than from the starter solenoid. That means the hot wire that runs +6 volts directly to the relay will only be about 16 inches long. That's better, too. 


211Diagram1.jpg.dfc2271a407ab52ed66fc8f75f597ea3.jpg 211Wires2.jpg.136980dca1f121643fc3725662bbd250.jpg
Wiring diagram that came with the NOS relay and brand new cloth-covered wires
(yellow = 12 GA, red = 14 GA, black = 12 GA)


I ran the armored cables through the grille rather than drilling new holes in the splash apron, which would just be an invitation for rust. Nobody but I will notice and the wires are mostly hidden by the lights anyway. I pulled the upper radiator shroud and routed the armored cables up the driver's side and alongside the harness for the headlights. I vowed to keep it all 1941, but zip ties are so damned handy (and since they wouldn't be seen}, I used them to secure the armored cable to the radiator cradle so they don't move around. Sorry. 


211Shroud1.jpg.1f8e437e511be30cd6920d50338402af.jpg 211Shroud2.jpg.aaece8865c055738d33984248f747276.jpg
Removing the radiator shroud was easy and gave good access to the area
behind the grille. Looks like I forgot to take a photo of the armored cables in place


I discovered there's a nice flat spot on top of the inner fender on the driver's side where the relay would fit perfectly, be protected from water, and wow, there's already a hole drilled to mount it! I positioned the relay and drilled a second hole, then cleaned the surfaces since the mounting legs will be the ground for the relay. A little dielectric grease on the feet, two sheetmetal screws, and it was securely mounted.


211Fender1.jpg.46698cd66bdd00e32986b8aa7e8e8842.jpg 211RelayMouted1.jpg.9f2928d6d2c52daee21499c9d896f1ed.jpg
It turns out there's a handy place to install the relay on the driver's side inner fender
right next to the carburetor intake tube.


Looking at the diagram for the relay, it's a little different than the one I downloaded from the internet (and I was really bummed that I had to destroy that neat little NOS Delco box to get the relay out). It shows the power coming in at the fuse, the power output at the forward (left) terminal and the switch input at the rear (right) terminal. That actually works perfectly and includes a 30 amp fuse on the relay itself, so I can omit the inline fuse that I was planning to use--two fewer splices to make, two fewer places for things to go wrong. I will, however, downgrade the fuse to a 10 amp unit since the fog lights' draw is 8.3 amps (2 lights x 25 watts each = 50 watts/6 volts = 8.3 amps) and I want to keep it safely under the wires' melting point.



If I'm reading this right--and I think I am--it looks
like power comes in at the fuse and goes to
the lights at the lower left


I peeled back more of the armored cable to expose the wires inside (the armor is just flat wire wrapped around the conductors), then secured it with some shrink tubing so it would not continue to unravel. I used some flag-style terminals that were what GM was using in 1941, which I also acquired from Rhode Island Wiring Service. They're a little more labor-intensive to install than the usual crimp connectors you buy at the auto parts store, but you'll note that they stacked neatly on the relay terminals better than standard eye terminals would. I initially planned to route both power wires from the lights into one connector and connecting that wire to the output terminal on the relay, but if I did it that way, you'd have to cut wires to remove the fog lights for service in the future. In the interest of making it easier on some theoretical future owner, I connected each power lead separately so the lights can be disconnected and removed without any cutting. The flag terminals made it easy and I bent one upwards and one downwards so they would clear each other on the terminal. After some frustration, I went out and bought a new soldering iron with some serious horsepower to heat up that big terminal and the wire inside. Soldeirng was the only way to make the terminals secure because I don't have the special crimping tool they require. The result was a super-clean installation with the wires running in neat parallel lines.


211Wires1.jpg.5c352e172cc644fde8c1b0e1fc65f831.jpg 211Terminals1.jpg.c08c847a26987d37400054dd659463e0.jpg
Wires exposed and terminated to connect to the relay. I did this for
both fog lights.


It was at this point that I decided that I would use the relay's mounting feet for the ground wires for the lights as well. The wires were already right there. Two more flag terminals and I bent them up a bit so they would fit neatly under the mounting screw. It was a little tight and I wished I had thought a little more carefully about ground wire routing, but it's not bad. I also keep second-guessing myself on my choice of colors--some say black should be hot and white ground (as in your house) but in a car, black means ground.


By slightly bending the flag terminals, they 
fit neatly and don't interfere with each other


Next step is to get power to the relay. Ideally, you want a direct +6V to the relay, which will ensure as much juice as possible reaching the lights. The shorter the wire, the less resistance you'll have and the more current will reach the lights. I'm using 12-gauge wire throughout, and while I initially thought I'd pull power directly from the battery, mounting the relay on the inner fender meant I could run a short wire from the BAT terminal of the voltage regulator to the power terminal and get a full +6V to the relay. I took some of my cloth-covered 12-gauge wire and added another flag terminal, giving it a bit of a bend to clear the battery wire already on the regulator. It was easy to route it to the relay where I installed a regular eye terminal rather than another flag terminal. I debated this, but since that wire will be hot all the time and is in a place where a tool or a hand could brush against it, the eye terminal with as much shrink tubing as possible would be safest. 


211Regulator1.jpg.f2ad3d726a85e1a3b23ce240d3d64790.jpg 211Terminals2.jpg.967ba6b4e546ecd3bc8bc1f670481541.jpg 211RelayMounted3.jpg.b9d05f04a15b84b46bc0d8e26a065977.jpg 211Wires3.jpg.355d87ebe6a711803fbab550096ecc2f.jpg 

Another flag terminal connects the +6V power to the relay with an eye terminal on the relay end. I routed it

alongside an existing part of the harness to keep it neat and secure


The remaining terminal is where the fog light switch wire connects, which will be the last step of the job. I haven't mounted the switch yet, but it should be relatively easy to run a wire (I'll use the red 14-gauge wire) through the firewall and to the terminal on the relay. I haven't yet decided where to pull power for the switch, but I'm now leaning towards the taillight terminal on the headlight switch. By using the taillight terminal, the fog lights will only work when the parking lights or head lights are on and it makes sense that when the fogs are on, the taillights should also be on. It also means that the fog lights will switch off with the main headlight switch. And finally, since I already have LEDs in my taillights, the extra few milliamps pulled from the taillight circuit by the relay won't overload or overheat the ancient headlight switch. My other thought is connecting it to the ignition switch so the lights go off with the ignition, but that doesn't seem as elegant.


Finally, just to make sure I did everything right, I put a jumper wire between the relay's switch terminal and the parking light terminal on the fender, then turned on the parking lights. The relay clicked audibly and the fog lights came on. Flip it to headlights and the fog lights went off (because the parking lights go off when you turn on the headlights). Back to parking lights and CLICK! Fog lights back on. The fog lights even register on the ammeter. All good!


So far, so good!


I'll get the switch installed this week or maybe next weekend, although I think I'm traveling. I'm eager to get it done and move on to the next project.



Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Almost finished today but realized I didn't have one of those bezel nuts to hold the switch in place but that's the last step. I probably have some in my cache of Century parts, but it's probably easier to just buy a scrap switch that has one already attached. I was able to access the blank slot by gently prying the ACCESSORY knob out of its slot--it's only held in with a piece of spring steel screwed to its top. I'll re-use the knob, which it's designed to do. Interestingly enough, there's a little pilot hole where you're supposed to drill and tap a hole for a set screw to hold the knob on the shaft of the switch. I'm pretty sure I have a tap that will work.


Switch_1.jpg  218Switch4.jpg.79c2d485f80d313cfc1b134ca2dbfc86.jpg
I need one of those switch bezel nuts (left) to hold the new switch (right) in place


First thing I did was connect wires to the switch itself so I could position it, then route the wires. One goes to the relay and the other would connect to the headlight switch terminal that feeds the taillights. I used standard ring terminals, soldered them in place, and wrapped them in shrink tubing. The red wires will be easy to identify in the future, although I need to make a wiring diagram so the next guy working on this car someday doesn't have to wonder what's going on. The rest of the wiring appears to be a newer wiring harness with correctly-colored wiring, so I'm grateful for that. It wasn't particularly well installed, but I can fix that as I work.


Wires connected to the fog light switch


Next thing was to pull the glove box loose to get access to the switch area on the right side of the center stack. Just a few screws and I was able to push it back enough to see where it would fit. A few wires from the heater switch were in the way, so I gently moved them aside and slid the switch into position.


218Glovebox.jpg.899d175b00f5c1fcd5a9a20675a43136.jpg218Switch3.jpg.cdbdeb4eb3644b0472009bf497025fdf.jpg 218Switch2.thumb.jpg.1c467d0605de3f7a9398fd7bd2942340.jpg
Switch fits neatly, as it should.


While I was inverted under the dash, I noticed that the power cable for the radio was not only starting to fray, but also attached to the ignition switch, along with a bunch of other wires. It's a common way for amateurs to pick up power under the dash, but the switch isn't really designed to move the kind of current that it takes to power the radio. There wasn't much I could do about the frayed wire beyond carefully re-wrapping it with some electrical tape and re-routing it to keep it clear of the cowl vent mechanism. I also examined the headlight switch and discovered that there's an open +6V post that isn't being used. According to the wiring diagram, almost every electrical accessory inside the car is fed through the headlight switch for some reason, but there's a big 8-gauge wire attached to it to feed power to the lights and other systems. I checked my radio manual and discovered that yes, the radio is supposed to be connected to that spare post. Nice! So I connected it there and tested it--all good. Then I took what I call the "signal" wire from the fog light switch and attached a fork terminal and slid it under the parking light terminal on the headlight switch. No photos since there's not much to see under the dash. I ran the second wire, the one I call the "trigger" wire through the firewall with a bundle of other wires, then tucked it out of sight and routed it up to the relay. I know I vowed not to use anything that wasn't available in 1941, but I did use two zip ties to keep the wires in place. Nevertheless, the finished result looks pretty tidy:

Trigger wire (red) connected to the relay
alongside the heavy power wire


Once it was all connected, I tested everything and it works as I expected. Success! By pulling the signal for the fog light switch from the taillight terminal, the fog lights only work when the taillights are on (meaning with the parking lights or headlights). Better yet, the fog lights shut off with the main headlight switch as well as with the fog light switch, so you're less likely to forget them. I also tested a full load on the headlight switch by turning on the hi-beams, fog lights, and radio, and then checked that 8-gauge power feed wire just to see if it was getting hot--nope. All good, working as intended. Last step was to fire it up (even after four months of sitting, the big guy fired in less than 10 seconds) and ensure that the generator can keep up with the electrical load. Again, no problems--at an elevated idle, it shows a slight charge with all the lights and the radio on. 


I'll find one of those mounting nuts this week and finish butting it back up, then move on to the next project. This was a lot of work, but it was also very rewarding.



Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Matt: I know where there is an engine with a dual manifold.  I haven't been able to even buy a wheel from this guy.  He bought two 41 Roadmasters when his uncle died.  He actually got the better car back together and running.  He has that for sale now, and I guess the manifolds are okay.  It wasn't running when I saw it.  The second car had no engine and I thought it was supposed to be a parts car.  The man builds street rods, and I don't think he knows yet what his final plans are, but he won't sell any part of it.  The engine was a 1940 block with the dual manifolds on it and it was sitting on a wood cradle sort of nearby in the barn.  This man bought that too.  If you want to try your luck, let me know and I'll give you the current owners name and phone number.  As I said, I can't get him to sell me even a wheel.  I dearly love your Limited, live or in pictures.

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3 hours ago, Dynaflash8 said:

Matt: I know where there is an engine with a dual manifold.  I haven't been able to even buy a wheel from this guy.  He bought two 41 Roadmasters when his uncle died.  He actually got the better car back together and running.  He has that for sale now, and I guess the manifolds are okay.  It wasn't running when I saw it.  The second car had no engine and I thought it was supposed to be a parts car.  The man builds street rods, and I don't think he knows yet what his final plans are, but he won't sell any part of it.  The engine was a 1940 block with the dual manifolds on it and it was sitting on a wood cradle sort of nearby in the barn.  This man bought that too.  If you want to try your luck, let me know and I'll give you the current owners name and phone number.  As I said, I can't get him to sell me even a wheel.  I dearly love your Limited, live or in pictures.


Thanks for the offer, Earl, but I think I've given up on the stock manifolds. The car is going to Doug's sometime soon for a rear end rebuild and he has indicated that he can fix the manifolds, but lord knows what that'll cost--I don't think I can afford it. I have my Century engine on a stand in the shop and we're mocking up a set of headers that should be discreet enough to not call too much attention to themselves. I'm not doing long chrome zoomies like the hot rod guys, just a pair of compact tubular headers that match the original manifolds more or less. There will be some hassles along the way, I'm sure, and I'll need a custom Y-pipe (the whole exhaust system is shot anyway), but that should cure the leaks. I'll have them coated satin black so they blend in, not shiny and most of the work should be hidden under the intake manifold. This isn't a search for more power, I just hate the way the thing sounds and I'm tired of rolling the dice on expensive manifolds that already have 80 years of use on them.


Another benefit to the headers is decoupling the exhaust manifolds from the intake, and thereby removing A LOT Of heat from the carbs. That should only be good. My car doesn't have vapor lock problems except when idling for long periods on very hot days, but this will only help and might allow for some slightly more aggressive tuning.


I'll post photos here as we progress.

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Matt, I sure hope I never have to go to that solution.  Right now I'm good (fingers crossed) with my 59K-mile car.  Seems it would be awfully expensive to machine a whole new manifold.  Either you're good or you sure have a good friend.  These old cars just suck you in and then you see all the stuff you can't put up with.  They are sort of like one of those "beguiling women" you know (laughing).  I just dropped off +/- $3300 in chrome work today in Melbourne, FL.  Great shop, but expensive and I'm likely looking at 12 weeks.  Nothing but two grill haves, two lead rear fender spears, one door handle, five bumper guards, two hood-pull openers and a front bumper.  Otherwise I'm collected excellent used chrome and quite a bit of NOS chrome.  I think with this splurge I've covered all of the chrome.  It didn't need any of this stuff done, but the original stuff, though good, just wasn't good enough for me.  Now I'm even looking at two bumper guard cores that are better than two I gave them <haha>.  All those on the car are better than those two.  I just don't want to take the car apart in pieces.  I want to let the painter remove all of the chrome at one time, give it to me, and install all the new stuff I hand him. 

Edited by Dynaflash8 (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, the fog light project is finally done (well, almost, I'll get to that). Everything works properly and I bought a used dash switch to get the bezel nut that holds the switch in the dash so I could finally reassemble everything. It was quiet at our shop last week, so I had my mechanic, Dan, drill and tap the ACCESSORY knob for me. Unfortunately, the angle of the hole wasn't quite right and the set screw doesn't grip the switch shaft, so I bought another ACCESSORY knob on eBay. I'll build a jig on my drill press to get it right next time, but that's the only missing detail. For the time being, I installed the spare DEFROSTER knob that came with the used switch. Nobody will notice and I'll have a correct knob on there in a week. It was interesting to note that the only way the fog light switch would fit and still have the knob fit in its slot was to turn it 90-degrees, with the wires on top facing the glove box. Installing it with the wires on top, which is what seemed correct to me, resulted in the shaft being a bit canted towards the passenger's side and the knob wouldn't fit. I wonder if that was intentional to keep all the wires from stacking up and possibly touching the switch above or below?


Interestingly enough, the spare switch I bought had a DEFROSTER knob on it, but it wasn't a 3-position defroster switch. It's just a simple on/off switch with two terminals, although I don't know what it's for because there are no simple on/off switches on a '41 Buick--they're all 2- or 3-position. The kicker is that I could have used that instead of the NOS fog light switch and everything would have worked exactly the same and I would have saved $50. Oh well, now I've got a spare if I need it.


Drilling and tapping the ACCESSORY knob
for a set screw
(we kind of missed the mark, though)


33Switch1.jpg.2c0a43c244cc024b5aea1438f00e67d5.jpg 33switch2.jpg.bb7b6d610f80720f26c55f59fdf40275.jpg
Dashboard all reassembled. Yes, I have two DEFROSTER knobs, but that's just temporary


Anyway, everything works as I wanted it to. I spent a few minutes aiming the fog lights to make sure they won't blind oncoming motorists. To test, I got into the car across the aisle from the Buick and simply tweaked them until they weren't shining in my eyes. The little black cover on the bulb surely helps, but with the headlights on, the headlights are FAR brighter than the fogs, so they shouldn't cause any problems for oncoming motorists (they aren't as bright as these photos make them seem, of course).


33Lights2.jpg.3256f6e4bf582e776249d48d2947338c.jpg 33Lights1.jpg.bfc842ef7ee4998b188e28d53e249779.jpg
I aimed the fog lights so they don't shine into oncoming motorists' eyes.


Next up: new weatherstripping and some sound deadening inside, or, if I'm lucky, a trip to Seybold's for a rebuilt rear end.




Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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  • 4 weeks later...

Today's project is titled, "No matter how nice your car appears, there's some hack mechanic in the past who has totally f*cked it up and deserves to have his ass kicked."


In one recent discussion, a potential old Buick buyer was looking for a car with "no previous mechanical issues to solve" and I almost laughed out loud at the concept. My project today demonstrates that even when you think it's going smoothly, some ancient hack mechanic is going to come back from the grave and wreck your day. It is the nature of working on old cars. If they ever invent a time machine, there are going to be a lot of mechanics getting their butts kicked as I travel through time getting even with them...


Anyway, I'm going out of town for the next few weeks and figured this would be a good time to pull the rear shocks and send them to Apple Hydraulics for a rebuild. I did my front shocks last winter but now that they're good, I can feel the rears are rather floaty. On most '41 Buicks, the shocks are bolted to the brake backing plates and there's a link that connects the shock to the frame. On the Limited, however, the rear shocks are essentially front shocks with just one lever arm instead of two, and they are mounted INSIDE the frame rails with the link going through the frame and linking to the axle. A completely different design, which is why most rebuilders don't have them on the shelf for exchange like they do the fronts. No worries, I can see how they come apart. Two bolts hold them to the frame, remove the link, and voila! It should slide down the frame and out a hole in the bottom. Easy!


Shock1.jpg.00af64e0206fcb8cec5a29bc5150467f.jpg Shocks2.jpg.352dca2488132c57e105f25771c244c5.jpg Shocks3.jpg.8d0d9532694938ccb2bfb7970a0714c1.jpg
Rear shocks are mounted inside the frame. Two bolts on the outside of the frame hold them in place and
disconnecting the link allows them to slide down and out


And for the most part, it was easy. The bolts holding each shock in place came loose without a fight thanks to my car spending much of its life on the west coast. The shocks slid out of the frame as designed (bringing a lot of trash with them--I'll have to figure out how to clean it out in there before I reassemble it). The shocks still have some action, so they haven't failed completely, but in either direction, the first two inches of travel has zero resistance, which is probably why it feels floaty--there's a pretty big dead zone in there.


Getting the shocks out was the easy part


Then I pulled out the replacement shock links I bought a year ago when I thought the links were loose and rattling (they weren't, I'll get to why in a moment). They're similar, but not quite the same despite the vendor saying they're all the same. Worse, it appears that the mounting studs for the links are supposed to stay in the links, not the shocks. They're embedded in the rubber insulator at each end, with a wedge-shaped stud that locks them into the axle mount and shock arm. Dang. Looks like my original mounting studs are A) stuck in the shock arms (easy to fix) and in the axle mount (not easy to fix). Worse--and this is where today's title comes from--it looks like someone welded them in place in the distant past in an attempt to keep everything together. I don't know if the shock links kept coming loose or the axle mount rusted out or what, but there's a lot of really crappy gas welding slag down there and it all looks like it's welded solid. Examining the situation more closely, I note that there are threads on the outside of the mounting studs, suggesting that they are, indeed, intended to be removable. Someone long ago did some kind of half-assed repair and now I have to deal with it.


Shocks5.jpg.705c3d9ecc4c9a27715ce44cb880f6f1.jpg Shocks6.jpg.bb67a3b0339386b2d29232a20d92fcd8.jpg Shocks7.jpg.fd4f6c29d0237e2f79910c6351943ed1.jpg
The hard part is going to be getting these link mounting studs out of the axle brackets--they look welded in place...
...And the welds are failing


Worse yet, the welds have cracked but haven't quite failed. Check it out:




So I have to figure out how to solve that little problem. Step 1 will be getting the studs out and step 2 will be reinforcing the mounts again. I'm going to think on it for a while and figure out how to do all that. In the meantime, I'll send the shocks out to be rebuilt.


Before I can send the shocks out to be rebuilt, however, I had to get the studs out of the shock arms. At a glance, they look pretty permanent and if not for the threads on the back of the studs suggesting that they are removable, I would have thought they were a permanent part of the shock arm. They are not. So I rigged up my hydraulic press and pressed them out. With 40 tons of pressure on tap, they came out without a fight and again, they have the conical shafts intended to lock them in place.


Shocks8.jpg.b71952e748879cb0b2a1892ddcf826cc.jpg Shocks10.jpg.6db78a32a36632ea03433a218a004f65.jpg
Link mounting studs came out without much of a fight on the press


Comparing the new and old shock links, they're about the same length, although the mounting studs on the new ones are considerably smaller with a MUCH smaller nut on the end. They are quite obviously not as heavy-duty as the originals. Does it matter? I don't know.



New shock links are notably smaller
and lighter-duty than the originals


Will this be a problem for the big Limited? Stay tuned and find out!

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