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1941 Buick Limited Limousine


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Matt, only you can decide which way you want to go but if it was me, I would pull the existing gas gauge, clean up the mounting area and gauge backing so that it will ground properly and see if that doesn't fix it. Maybe you could install a separate ground wire with less work. I think that a good ground on the existing gauge is likely to solve that problem. With as much work as you have put in it so far, I think that making the gauge work properly will make you feel a lot better about it.   

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Matt Harwood wrote:"I also have a question that's completely unrelated to gas tanks, but something became shockingly clear to me today. I bought this handsome 1942 Packard 160 formal sedan with a divider window just to have some new inventory. The price was right, I've known the car for decades, it's an all-original 38,000-mile survivor (just how I like my cars), and I think it will make a nice tour car for someone (not me, don't worry). Anyway, I took it for a drive this morning and realized that the Packard rides much better than the Limited. Not a little, but A LOT. There's almost no impact harshness on bumps, but Packard just oozes over them and you barely feel them. My Buick, even with an all-new front end, new shocks, and radial tires, still kind of crashes over bumps. It's not even close. I can't imagine that the Buick did not feel as good as the Packard when they were new, so what am I missing on my car? Why does my car still send a significant shudder through the entire body every time it hits a bump? Why does the Packard feel like it's made from one chunk of iron while the Buick feels almost fragile?"

 

Matt, as others have suggested, it's probably the tires. But, have the Buick's springs been cleaned and lubricated? Are they the correct springs for the car or have they been replaced with something "close"? Incorrect or binding springs will make for a miserable ride.

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19 minutes ago, MCHinson said:

I would pull the existing gas gauge, clean up the mounting area and gauge backing so that it will ground properly and see if that doesn't fix it.

 

Matt (Hinson), I'm not sure you're familiar with what's involved in removing the gauges on a '41.  I think on the '38 it's pretty easy to pull out the whole instrument cluster.  On the '41 it's a major undertaking.  I sounds like Matt (Harwood) will eventually want to replace the messed up wiring in his Limited with a new harness, and that will be the best time to deal with repairing/replacing the existing gauge.  But in the meantime, getting a replacement dash unit will enable him to complete the diagnosis.  That's my take, anyway.

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1 hour ago, 95Cardinal said:

Matt Harwood wrote:"I also have a question that's completely unrelated to gas tanks, but something became shockingly clear to me today. I bought this handsome 1942 Packard 160 formal sedan with a divider window just to have some new inventory. The price was right, I've known the car for decades, it's an all-original 38,000-mile survivor (just how I like my cars), and I think it will make a nice tour car for someone (not me, don't worry). Anyway, I took it for a drive this morning and realized that the Packard rides much better than the Limited. Not a little, but A LOT. There's almost no impact harshness on bumps, but Packard just oozes over them and you barely feel them. My Buick, even with an all-new front end, new shocks, and radial tires, still kind of crashes over bumps. It's not even close. I can't imagine that the Buick did not feel as good as the Packard when they were new, so what am I missing on my car? Why does my car still send a significant shudder through the entire body every time it hits a bump? Why does the Packard feel like it's made from one chunk of iron while the Buick feels almost fragile?"

 

Matt, as others have suggested, it's probably the tires. But, have the Buick's springs been cleaned and lubricated? Are they the correct springs for the car or have they been replaced with something "close"? Incorrect or binding springs will make for a miserable ride.

 

How can coils bind?  I go for tires. 8 ply are for a LOAD.  I know you do not like modern stuff on your old car, but perhaps try a set of inexpensive radials.  "Try it, you might like it" sort of thing.       Kinda sorta the same on the fuel gauge. An after market, mounted beneath the dash, TEMPORARILY,  directly from the switch, straight to the sender.  All temporary, of course. 

 

  Hang in there,

 

  Ben

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Matt,

 

I would look at the difference in construction and air opressure in the tires.

 

The Buick "should" ride at least as well as the Packard, and likely better.

Maybe the Buick has "enhanced" springs, incorrect shocks, too much tire pressure?

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I'm with Neil Morse. Get another gauge and make it work on the bench. Then you know. The tank is out. The time to do this is now.

 

As for the sending unit, if it can swing 28 ohms, it isn't the reason for the gauge not working, but it still sounds screwed up to me. Unless the new gauge is extra sensitive, it won't be able to swing all the way from empty to full. Now is the time to fix it. A bench test will show if 28 ohms is a problem or not. It is all apart, and easy to test. Do it once and do it right.

 

 

On 5/21/2020 at 7:42 AM, Matt Harwood said:

I can't believe I was so stupid as to take the gas tank out during prime driving season. What kind of idiot does that?

 

You and I can share the dunce cap then, as I am about to do exactly the same thing. A broken gas gauge is frustrating. I am sick of carrying a stinky gas can around. More than that, the last gas can I had was one of the "new style" ones with no vent. One hot day last year it exploded. I came outside to find gas pouring out of the trunk. It is not lost on me that it is prime driving season, but I have had enough of the broken gas gauge. Carry on. You are almost there. Good luck.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/22/2020 at 12:37 AM, Bloo said:

0-28 ohms is enough to get good swing on the gauge (but to get all the way from E to F you are gonna need all 30 of them).

 

It is either a bad gauge, or it is connected incorrectly. The gauge must be grounded. These GM gas gauges are all the same electrically from the mid 30s (or earlier) through sometime in the mid 60s.

 

Here's how it works. There are two coils inside pulling opposite directions on a pole piece. The pole piece is attached to the needle.

 

One coil is grounded and runs on 6 volts all the time. The other one is grounded through the sending unit resistor. How hard it pulls is variable, depending on how much resistance the sending unit provides.

 

The coils are in a constant tug-of-war to move the pole piece. Since variation in the battery voltage affects both coils, it doesn't screw up the accuracy much.

 

 

 "The gauge must be grounded" (bolded) is a detail that Skip Boyer told me when he refinished my dash panels and I subsequently clear coated them. He stressed that the gauge housing had to have full contact with the dash panel for grounding.  Second time I've heard this.

 

As for getting a new gauge, would a tested rebuild from a trusted vendor be better?

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, kgreen said:

As for getting a new gauge, would a tested rebuild from a trusted vendor be better?

 

I don't know. Either way, I would bench test it and make sure it works.

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Thank you for all the helpful and supportive words. You are all good friends, even though I've met only a few of you face-to-face.

 

Today I went back and tried again. Looking at the NOS gauge I saw that only the little hair-like wire that connects to the ground plate on the back was disconnected. I can probably fix that and the gauge will work. Not sure what the black substance is that holds it in place, maybe solder, but I can probably clean it off and solder it back together.


How do I know it will work? Because I hooked everything back up with the grounds in the right spots, and the gauge moved. It didn't work especially well, showing about 7/8 on the high side and 1/4 on the low side, but the needle moved as I moved the sending unit through its range of travel. I am confident that it is a grounding issue with the gauge in the dash, either that it does not have a good ground or the little wire on that gauge is broken like it is on the NOS piece. I will have to determine if replacing the gauge is the right course of action or whether I can simply repair/enhance the ground connection. Either way will require me to go into the dash and do significant disassembly, and I worry evermore about that fragile wiring harness.

 

Since the gauge readings were erratic, I re-tested the sending unit, which also gave me strange readings. At first it was showing about 4 ohms on the low side and maybe 28 or 29 on the high side, which explains the gauge reading. But then it would drift. Holding it on the high side and it would gradually count down from 28 to 0. Eventually it stopped showing any readings at all, with the multimeter showing O.L. instead. I'm pretty sure that indicates that something inside the sending unit is broken.

 

Because I'm me, I got angry and this is what became of the sending unit. It's obviously done and can't be returned. Meh, $90 flushed.

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I had written a big dissertation about how I'm bi-polar and things like this use up so much of my reserves that I find it hard to function, but none of that is really your lookout. It does explain why I appear to be such a hotheaded crybaby, but in reality the only emotions I am able to feel are crippling sadness and white-hot rage, and when I'm not feeling either of those, well, that's what I call "happy." It's why projects like this are important to me--they give me motivation and a challenge and allow me to focus my attention and energy somewhere other than keeping the monster locked in its box in my head. It's also why when things go sideways that I lose my mind--literally and figuratively. It is very hard for me to regroup and when a goal is moved out of reach, it makes the rest of my life difficult to live. The monster does not go quietly back into its box.


I don't mean to burden any of you with this, but that's why I seem like such a lunatic over such simple, stupid, irrelevant things. Hope is the wrong word, but it's all I have, and when projects that were my focus are derailed, I lose hope and it becomes very, very hard to function without that focus. 

 

So that's where I am now. I have a long weekend that I was hoping to use either 1) driving my favorite car, or 2) improving it with a simple project that would be a success story. Both of those have been taken from me and it will be another week at least before I can get another sending unit to continue the project and determine whether I can fix the gauge. And that is just so goddamned hard to push through sometimes. I'm sorry for being that way, and I'm grateful to all of you who treat me as a friend despite the fact that I seem like a head case. Seriously, thank you.

 

I'll screw myself back together in a day or two, maybe try to solder that gauge, and try all this again whenever I can get a new sending unit. 

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Where’s the pat on the back emoji?

Its a frustrating hobby that makes you punch things and throw stuff for a relatively balanced dude. Hang in there Matt. 

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Posted (edited)

Matt.....the good news is you have it figured out. You will fix it. The additional work from the wiring harness issues, is par for thr course. I had two medium jobs to do in the shop this week. The first was an oil leak. Had a hard time replacing the leather seal with a modern unit. Found one after hours of on line searching, It went together ok. Total time estimated to repair it,  Five hours. Actual time to repair 14, most of it on the computer. The actual fix was easy. The second repair estimated 16 hours to replace a cosmetic covering. Actual time so far 34 and I’m not half done yet.......always have new things popping up. The good news, I can handle it in house. Ok news, the additional supplies were under 200 dollars. I’m sure it will take all next week to finish, The ass kicker? Coolant leak that I didn’t know about that I found while it was on the lift. Another ten hours..........all on a 100 point car. The coolant leak is simple, just labor  time to repair. Always have to look on the positive side. Hang tight, you will get the car all dialed in. 👍

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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FYI Buick fans: You can buy this sending unit at Summit Racing for $42. As far as I can tell, it is identical to the $75 units at Bob's and CARS. It uses a hose barb end, but I can add my own flare fitting easily enough.

 

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It is also in-stock available for immediate pick up and I live 30 minutes away. I will be back to work on the project tomorrow.

 

I also picked up an aftermarket fuel gauge, which I'll hide in the glove box just so the project isn't a complete failure. I'll worry about the original gauge over the winter when I can spend the time to totally disassemble the dash and perhaps install a new wiring harness.

 

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Problems are solvable, I know that. As a result of my condition, I am relentless in pursuing solutions (I have a hard time changing tasks), all in an effort to avoid failure and additional delays. So I ordered the parts, then Riley and I already drove down to pick them up in person. It is 7PM and I have the parts I need to continue work tomorrow.


Again, thank you guys for being awesome.

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If you are going to do an aftermarket gauge, make sure it can deal with the 0-30 sender. Most of the aftermarket stuff (historically anyway) was on it's own program, and required a matching sending unit. That might not be true anymore. I have heard of gauges with electronics inside that can deal with multiple standards. I haven't seen one yet.

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28 minutes ago, Bloo said:

If you are going to do an aftermarket gauge, make sure it can deal with the 0-30 sender. Most of the aftermarket stuff (historically anyway) was on it's own program, and required a matching sending unit. That might not be true anymore. I have heard of gauges with electronics inside that can deal with multiple standards. I haven't seen one yet.

 

No worries there, that was one of my specific criteria: https://www.summitracing.com/oh/parts/atm-1425

 

 

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21 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

 

How can coils bind?  I go for tires. 8 ply are for a LOAD.  I know you do not like modern stuff on your old car, but perhaps try a set of inexpensive radials.  "Try it, you might like it" sort of thing.       Kinda sorta the same on the fuel gauge. An after market, mounted beneath the dash, TEMPORARILY,  directly from the switch, straight to the sender.  All temporary, of course. 

 

  Hang in there,

 

  Ben

 

Thanks for that, Ben.

Silly me...I was thinking that car had rear leaf springs.

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Matt, glad to see you back at it, and coming up with a solution! I too consider you a friend, and it’s also nice to see someone else in the hobby close to my age (I’m 38, with 2 kids).

 

Goid luck, and I’ll be following!

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Updates:

 

One, the new sending unit works properly and checks out with a correct 0-30 ohm sweep.

 

Two, I don't know that I will ever get the original gauge working. Tried hooking things up to re-test with a functioning sending unit, and it went back to its old self, showing just above empty with the sending unit in the empty position, and just below empty with it in the full position. It's surely a grounding issue, but while fishing around to try to get that hair-like wire back in place, I must have brushed up against something else because one of my test leads melted. I disconnected everything and decided I can live without a factory fuel gauge. To hell with it.

 

Three, the aftermarket gauge almost works correctly. Shows empty but only registers 3/4 full on the high side. I can live with this since the empty end is the important reading anyway. Kind of frustrated that the relatively expensive gauge didn't include a mounting bracket, so I went to the auto parts store to buy one. The only way to get one, unfortunately, was to buy another gauge. So I ended up buying a $18 oil pressure gauge to get the $2 mounting bracket. We are now in the "throw all the money at the problem and drown it in cash" stage of this project.

 

Four, I need to install the aftermarket gauge, run wires for the sending unit and ground, and work out a way to connect the existing hard fuel lines to the hose barb connector on the sending unit. I am leaning towards cutting both ends off and making a flared connection with a union. Easy, leak-proof, it will look somewhat period-correct, and I have the fittings. I may try sweating a fitting onto the pickup tube but given my luck lately, I'll probably burn the shop down instead. Flare fitting it is.

 

Five, I need to get power to the aftermarket gauge and have it switch on with the ignition, so I guess I'll connect it to the ignition switch. I currently have seven or eight wires attached to my ignition switch, and I want the extraneous ones gone. I decided to start with the wiring, and getting rid of those extra wires meant installing the bus bar. I found a suitable location under the dash over by the E-brake where it would not interfere with anything and would be out of sight. Decent access and close enough that I can just relocate the wires from the ignition switch to the bus bar. Drilled two small holes, used self-tapping screws to secure it, and started moving wires. Purple wire with 10-amp fuse is for the spotlight. Power wire for the Redi-Rad radio adapter isn't long enough, so I'll have to get creative and relocate the unit. Back up light isn't connected so I trashed that wire and will reconnect it when I get to that project. Fuel pump needs to be switched with the ignition, so I decided I would install and wire up the relay while I was at it. Also need to run 10-gauge primary wire to the bus bar, have not decided if I want to pull from the voltage regulator or from the starter solenoid. Leaning towards voltage regulator since it's right there, but I don't want to have a whole pack of wires attached to it. I may relocate the power wire for the fog lights (which is on the voltage regulator) to the bus bar to simplify things. Here is the bus bar installed:

 

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For the fuel pump relay, I found a suitable spot tucked behind the dash near the bus bar. I made a small bracket and angled it so that the relay would be spaced away from anything else under the dash. Easy access should I need to replace it and wire connections will be easy. It is also out out in the open, more or less, so it won't get hot. The galvanized metal bracket should provide good ground where it connects to the metal dashboard lip.

 

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I made and connected a red/white 12-gauge power wire for the relay since that terminal would be difficult to reach once it was installed. Shrink tubing sucks, at least the crap you buy at local stores. It's either as big as your thumb or as small as a toothpick. I have 5 or 6 sizes and exactly none of them are suitable for 12-gauge or even 14-gauge cloth-wrapped wire. Made it work anyway.

 

I will re-route the wires for the fuel pump: the power lead from the ignition switch to the fuel pump toggle will remain and the wire from the toggle to the fuel pump will be relocated to the relay's output side. I will make a new wire to go between the toggle switch and the trigger terminal on the relay. This will insure that the fuel pump will only run with BOTH the ignition and the toggle are on. One or the other and it will not operate. It's nice having only the appropriate wires connected to the ignition switch now (The white one doesn't belong, but I don't know what it does so I'm going to leave it alone for now).

 

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Stopped there, but since tomorrow is Memorial Day, the local VFW asked us to bring a car for the drive-by that they're doing instead of a full parade. Got into one of my favorites, which I know to be reliable, and it would not start. Cranked until battery gave up, which wasn't long enough to pump fuel into the bowl. It doesn't have an electric pump and some asshole installed a 5-inch stud for the air cleaner lid when only a 1-inch stud is warranted, and it has a snorkel that's bolted to the intake manifold, so I can't lift the air cleaner high enough to remove it and prime the carburetor. Scratch that one. Went to another car and tried and that one wouldn't stay running--probably a fuel pump that has decided to give me the finger. Tried a third, which had a dead battery even though it has been on a tender which says it's fully charged, and finally got the message that old cars truly suck.

 

Went home in my CTS. Screw them all. Old cars are shit.

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12 hours ago, KongaMan said:

Take the pink wagon.  It's cool as hell.

 

Wagon's broken, too. Now waiting on fifth master cylinder. Apparently they all leak. I'm starting to think it was designed that way on purpose. On the plus side, I've gotten very good at removing and installing it and bleeding the brakes. Two of them failed before we even put them in the car, so that saved a little time. Two of the suppliers have refused to accept returns because the parts had been filled with brake fluid, so that's $400 we don't have anymore. Another simple job on an old car that has turned into a nightmare and has cost five times more than it should.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

. Two of the suppliers have refused to accept returns because the parts had been filled with brake fluid

 

Whoa!  Thats rediculous!  How else would you test them to see if they were okay?  I am going to assume these were bought online.  And then say; 

This is one good reason to deal with local vendors. 

 

 

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When my career was restoring  cars, I never wanted to work on my own automobiles. I was around them all day and when all was said and done, I just wanted to get in a car and drive without messing with them. I NEVER got as frustrated working on other people’s cars as I did on my own. So I bought a new Fiat Abarth.
I eventually folded that business (cuz I realized I was a terrible businessman) I sold my little green 48 Buick hot rod to your truck driver and my three 55 Buicks sat in my garage, untouched and undriven for two years. I bailed on this forum because there was too much political BS going on in  addition to the fact that I “didn’t like cars anymore”. 
Since you “have to be” around old cars for your business, maybe take a break from driving them for a week or two. Don’t let it go two years (they really turn to crap). Go drive a new Mustang or Mini Cooper or something “cool”. That will work until the first time your two year old Abarth drops you on the side of the road, and then you will be back to old cars. 

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35 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

Whoa!  Thats rediculous!  How else would you test them to see if they were okay?  I am going to assume these were bought online.  And then say; 

This is one good reason to deal with local vendors. 

 

 

I also prefer to shop locally for just this reason. However, finding a master cylinder for a 1956 Chrysler station wagon (which uses Imperial brakes and suspension) is easier said than done. No local store could get it--I started with my local O'Reilly's where a friend works. They usually come through eventually, even with really unusual stuff. But despite the fact that the computer said they could get the part, they ultimately could not. Even NAPA, which often has a lot of obsolete stuff, had a listing but could not actually order the part.


I suspect there is only one shop rebuilding all the master cylinders and all the Mopar vendors stock and sell the same junk. With four of them failing like that, I am assuming there's a casting flaw that went unnoticed until the bores are honed--probably uncovering a pattern defect that leads to a leak. If this next one fails, I'm just going to send one of the spares to White Post and have them sleeve it. A lot more expensive, but what's the alternative? The only functional "hobby" car we have right now is Melanie's Mustang, whose clutch just started chattering violently yesterday while she was driving it. I told her to park it and I'll deal with it over the winter when I install the 5-speed.

 

I'm just so tired. We're burning through all this money on these stupid projects that should cost a fraction of what they do. I should be keeping in my pocket in case cars stop selling when things go to hell in about three or four weeks...                                             

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4 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

I should be keeping in my pocket in case cars stop selling when things go to hell in about three or four weeks...   

 

I know exactly what you are feeling Matt regarding our hobby / driver cars.

I have put off getting at my car even with all what I have in stock thinking I will need to put her back together as like what your are experiencing, I'm sure one thing will lead to another and my small business is way off it's mark...  

Concentrating on bringing in money another way and that is slow so with free storage and no even local car gatherings... leaving those nuts and bolts and tools right where I left them till things are in better shape. 

God I hate the expression "We are all in this together" from the Powers That Be but here on the Forums dare I say it kinda does apply?

Hang in Matt, that's all I'm going to do. (What real choice do we have?)

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 I'm with you, Matt, on the frustrations of old cars! Read my thread on my son's '55 Special I'm doing now. 

Also, I'm a bit behind on this thread, as I reading through this was thinking that the same thing might be happening to yours as it did on my '41. One of the tiny tiny wires to the coil of the dash unit was broken, appeared to have corroded or something, but with a very small soldering iron and a steady hand I got it fixed, and it has worked great since then.

 

 Parts!!! OMG!!! I had quite a few teething troubles with mine, and they were all related to substandard parts of one kind or another. Nothing I could return, as either I didn't have the receipt, or mostly because it had been too long. You know how long it takes to do a car, esp on one's own.

This one night, I was right ready to send the car for certification in a day or so, but the horn would not work, my son was about 10 or so at the time, and was helping me. After going through things two or three times, I'm standing looking under the hood and start thinking about that bright shiny new horn relay, which I bought from a well known supplier here. You know the drill, I am trying to go through everything to make sure it all works well for me.

 My car was something close to a worn out wreck of a car, that another guy started on before I bought it, so it was an all or nothing car.

 So, I knew right where the old, very ugly relay was, put it back on, and you guessed it, horn worked fine! Not for the first time that has happened!

 

 About the other thing you mentioned, ride quality, we never had the chance when you were at my place, but it would of been interesting to have done a ride and drive comparison between the two '41s. One that's just big, the other that's really big! I think mine rides nice, though not as cushy as the '56 Roadmaster, but is fairly comfy on most roads. I'm running Diamondback radials, which I think you do too. I have them on the '41 and '56, for a few years, and have been very happy with them.

 Keith

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On 5/19/2020 at 3:24 PM, Matt Harwood said:

Could it be the tires? The Packard is sitting on Lester wide whitewall bias-plys. The Limited currently has Hercules 10-ply truck radials from Diamondback.

 

Say Matt, I think the tires are likely the difference.  I just replaced the tires on my Silverado with a used set LT 8-ply radials.  The ride is notably harsher than it was with the old P-spec tires.  It's a truck after all, so it doesn't bother me, but the change in ride quality was readily apparent.  As an experiment, what if you temporarily swap the tires/wheels from the '40 Super to the '41 and go for a ride?  That would at least tell you to what extent those truck radials impact the ride characteristics.

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A quick update, again filled with frustration. I've spent a few hours after work each night and about six hours today working on putting the car back together and it has been... difficult. The gas tank isn't back yet, but I've been hoping to get everything in place so that I can just install it, hook up some wires, and go. Anyway, as of today, my progress amounts to installing one wire to the sending unit in the back of the car and, well, that's it.

 

Since I have been working in the glove box, I decided to connect the wires for the NOS clock I installed a few months ago. There were two stray wires already in the glove box, and remarkably enough they were connected to correct terminals--one on the instrument light switch for the clock light, and one on the headlight switch to supply power to the clock itself. But since the NOS clock has an intact wiring harness, I actually removed those wires and connected the NOS wires in their places. In anybody else's car, the clock would have worked. In my car, it did not. Instead it released a puff of smoke and remained inert. That was kind of strange since it's protected by a 2 amp fuse which didn't blow--how could current under 2 amps fry the clock? I don't know. Just par for the course these days. As with the fuel gauge, I have lived without a working clock all these years so I guess I'll keep doing so for a while longer. At least the NOS clock was outrageously expensive.

 

Failing there, I decided to make and connect wires to power the new fuel gauge in the glove box. Easy enough, just solder a spade terminal on one end and an eyelet on the other. Well, it turns out I can't do that. Period. I simply cannot solder wires. No, I don't know why. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've burned my finger pretty badly, I've melted a bunch of wire insulation, burned some cloth insulation, and screwed up a dozen wire eyelets. And not one of them ended up soldered to the wire. Check this out:

 

 

 

No idea what I'm doing wrong, but I guess I'll just crimp all my connections like the jackass that owned this car before me. 

 

Oh, and the reminds me--everything in the car is offline. About 60% of the wires under the dash have been disconnected by my poking around in there. All those little plastic Pep Boys crimp connectors have given up and I have a bunch of wires dangling that I'll have to trace, install terminals on each one, and reconnect them somehow. But since I can't solder, I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish that. Right now, the turn signals, about half the instrument lights, and the ignition are offline. This project is really turning into a mess and it should have been a 3-hour job. Like I said, everything I do feels like it's uphill both ways.

 

So I need to figure out soldering so I can fix all those wires, or give up and just crimp them and hope for the best. I'm pretty close to bagging it all and just shoving the car into the corner next to that piece-of-shit Lincoln, a place I have come to refer to as the "trash zone." This car has lived there before, it'll still fit right in.

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Matt, Take a break until another day. The terminal that you are using may not be designed for soldering. If it is aluminum, it will not transfer heat well. I suspect either the terminal you are using is not transferring the heat or you have some bad solder or the soldering iron tip is corroded enough that it is not transferring heat as well as it should. Soldering irons should not typically be red hot. After you come back to it, I would pick up another roll of rosin flux solder, some different terminals, and either another soldering iron, or else use some sandpaper or a file to dress the end of the soldering iron. With a good clean soldering iron tip, decent rosin core solder (no separate flux needed) and a terminal designed out of a metal that is intended to be soldered, you should be fine. 

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Matt, I have two thoughts after watching your video:

 

1.  I have never soldered anything using the set up that you are using, i.e., having the part of the wire you are trying to solder extending a few inches from a vise.  I always have the terminal and the wire down on a piece of wood on my bench where I can firmly hold the iron against the part I want to heat up.  I'm wondering if the floppy wire is preventing you from ever getting the iron on the terminal firmly enough to transfer the heat you need to melt the solder.  It looks from the video as if the iron is never really holding contact with the terminal for long enough.  Even with a hot iron, it takes a few seconds for the heat to transfer. Try clamping the wire to a piece of scrap wood on your bench and firmly holding the iron against the terminal.  I'm pretty sure you will pretty quickly find that you have heated the terminal sufficiently to melt the solder and allow it to flow into the right places.  (I'm assuming here that the terminal is the kind intended to be soldered.  As Matt Hinson also points out, you have to have the right kind of terminal to begin with).

 

2.  The tip of your iron seems plenty hot, but a problem that I've sometimes had is that the set screw that holds the soldering tip in place is not completely tight.  As I say, yours seems plenty hot from the video, but I'm just throwing that idea out there as well because I once had a situation where the barrel of the iron was getting very hot but the tip was still not doing the job, and the solution turned out to be a loose set screw.

 

Hang in there and please don't stick the soldering iron in your eye.  That is not a proper technique and will cost you style points for sure. 😉

 

Neil

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Posted (edited)

Well. I for one DO solder hanging out in the air like that. It has to be easier to get something hot when it isn't pressed against a heat sink. Get it hot, melt the solder with the work and get back out quick! Thats what works no matter how you accomplish it. As for solder guns, I don't like them. They can work fine, but have no thermal mass and in my opinion don't work as well as a nice hot iron. Neil morse's idea about a loose soldering tip is a good one. That, or just corrosion where the tip attaches to the barrel are two super common problems. Always make sure the tip is tinned on the soldering end. As for the terminal, it looks like the right kind as near as I can tell from the video, but as MCHinson said, if it is aluminum it wont work.

 

EDIT: Always use 60/40 or 63/37 rosin core solder. The hardware store will push "lead free" solder. Don't fall for it. It is difficult to use and also inferior.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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On 5/19/2020 at 3:24 PM, Matt Harwood said:

The Limited currently has Hercules 10-ply truck radials from Diamondback.

Bingo - you just found the source of the problem with ride and sorry I did not notice in comment or would have said something at time of your post (aka - a brick of a tire). 

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Posted (edited)

Matt, watched your soldering video - dad teaches soldering (for Model Railroading) and I certainly understand your position (at least you do not have someone standing behind you screaming you are doing it wrong) - the problem is that you are not conducting heat to the wire via the the outside of the terminal - put the soldering iron on the front side of the terminal so that you are touching the wires themselves and then pre- heat and apply solder via applying solder to soldering iron to melt solder more or less (the solder will flow) - aka use the soldering iron to melt your solder verses using the terminal.

 

And, everyone is correct - you need a good quality terminal too and you may not have one. 

 

I have also been tinning the entire terminal post solder of wire 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Sidenote: Some soldering irons only work when they are pointing downward - not upward or really even horizontal (aka a safety measure albeit in my opinion a worthless safety option)  

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Posted (edited)

First, thanks to all who offered tips on the soldering. I went to the supply store this morning and picked up some 60/40 lead solder, some different flux, and then to the electrical supply store and bought some different terminals. Together, those things seem to have solved my problem and the soldering proceeded without further incident. I'm at a loss to explain how I had all the wrong stuff, but there it is and obviously one or multiple ingredients were wrong. All of you helped me clear that particular hurdle and again, I'm grateful to have friends like you.

 

I finished terminating all my wires, including power and ground wires for the modern gauge. I already ran the signal wire for the sending unit a few days ago, so I put a spade terminal on that and left an extra few loops of wire behind the dash so that when/if I repair the factory gauge, I can simply transfer that signal wire to the factory gauge and [hopefully] it'll work. For now, it will power the aftermarket gauge hidden in the glove box. I am not going to bother connecting the light in this gauge, at least not at the moment. Too many wires.

 

5-31-20-1.thumb.jpg.16aceb40746851475aa1cef2a68ea9b9.jpg

Gauge mounted in the glove box. Note the yellow wire and the black

plastic wire with it—those were already in place to power the

clock but I removed them and used the harness on the NOS clock
(also pictured). The wire in the back of the glove box is the

wire for the Redi-Rad radio adapter.

 

To power the aftermarket gauge, I initially thought I'd connect it to the ignition switch as original, but it dawned on me that there's a better solution: connect it to the power terminal on the original gas gauge. It will still get power from the ignition and I won't have to add another wire to the ignition switch. While I was poking around behind the dash, I removed the wires from the factory gauge and snugged up the mounting nuts, both of which were fairly loose. My hope was that maybe they were so loose that the gauge wasn't grounding to the housing properly. I don't know if that was the problem, but it was a thought. I reinstalled all the wires, snugged down the nuts, and moved on. I traced a few of the loose wires whose terminals broke off and reconnected three of them, getting the ignition and ammeter to work again so it's making spark and should start once it has gas. The turn signals are still offline, however.

 

Having had enough wiring, I decided to make new fuel lines. The lines in the car are original and I guess they're OK, but they look like hell. New lines are cheap insurance. I always use cunifer tubing, which is easy to work with. I also have to adapt the pickup tube to the fuel line--the sending unit came with a hose nipple, but I don't use rubber hose in fuel systems. I looked at the old sending unit and it had a double flare female fitting sweated onto the end, but I'm not sure I want to tackle that. Instead, I gave it a single flare for a union that will connect it to the fuel line. By 1941 Buick was using double flares for most fuel line fittings, but single flares are easier to work with and good to 800 PSI, so I don't think they're worth the added hassle. It's just one more thing that I can screw up and I just don't trust myself to do it right--I've lost my confidence so I'm hedging my bets with single flares.

 

5-31-20-2.thumb.jpg.a84847a6755feac1be5698e9aca6427e.jpg 5-31-20-3.thumb.jpg.bf0b9265d621102b4533cd5ea8486bb2.jpg 5-31-20-4.thumb.jpg.c9da1de1c54921f2994a1ea4f6df70d4.jpg
Single flare on the sending unit pickup tube should be fine. My only concern is
getting a good seal—steel tubing isn't as forgiving as cunifer and can be hard 

to seal properly with a single flare. We'll see how it goes...

 

Then I started on bending the fuel lines. I was able to remove the factory fuel line intact without mangling it, so it was relatively easy to duplicate. I ran some cunifer tubing through my tubing straightener (great tool, worth every penny) then bent up a fuel line to match the original:

 

8-3-19d.thumb.jpg.7ca93cf76a95e7f0b4c452f767948f40.jpg 8-3-19c.thumb.jpg.0bbb8fd9e2257f1757bd2ef65e43d8d4.jpg

Tubing straightener is worth every penny!

 

5-31-20-5.thumb.jpg.9fda3181ca70969ec3af7ea4f5e4fcc5.jpg

Using the original fuel line as a pattern, I was able to make an

exact duplicate, leaving a few extra inches on both

ends, just in case...

 

5-31-20-6.thumb.jpg.f2d481844b56e61577433f0508aaa70b.jpg 5-31-20-7.thumb.jpg.717198eaa8cd9f614acd1542f2ec8738.jpg

 

5-31-20-8.thumb.jpg.4cef8298c3f5252183acfdaead4aac1b.jpg 5-31-20-9.thumb.jpg.ce11e1fcdbe3896bd0bcd9dcd83e9267.jpg

New fuel line fits like the original, although it was a bit of a challenge to

feed it through the frame. I was even able to secure it using the original

clips on the body and frame (red arrows). 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

I use this one for about 80% of my bends. I got a set of 3 of them (1/4, 5/16, and 3/8) from a friend who worked at Swage-Lok years ago, but they're ridiculously expensive if you have to buy them. I would not have them if a friend didn't get them for free and I don't think I would miss them if I didn't have them.

 

02113TubingandTubeAccessories700x350.ashx?h=350&la=en&w=700&hash=C911A29EFBFAE18442F5157A1D10690F8E154750

 

Other than the rollers in the moving part, I honestly don't think it's significantly better than the one you're using. I also have one just like yours and it works just fine. I actually prefer it in some circumstances, especially when there's lots of room to work. The Swage-Lok one works better in really tight quarters, but it's only a little better. I think the key to getting good results with the type of bender you're using is to bend slowly and gently. I often add a few drops of oil to allow it to slide easily so it doesn't crush or kink the tubing. I can usually feel when that's about to happen and spray a little WD40 on there.

 

I also have a set of little bending pliers that sometimes give me really tight angles, as well as a set of the external spring type benders that allow me to do larger radius bends without kinking the material. Together I'm able to get pretty consistent results.


Using cunifer tubing probably helps--it bends easily and seems resistant to kinking and flattening in a way that stainless and mild steel aren't. Stainless is REALLY hard to bend cleanly.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Matt, glad to see you back at it! I have had days where nothing goes right, and I'm (slowly) learning that if I walk away and come back another day, things will usually go right together. Had it happen with tail light rings (after I broke a beautiful NOS one), king pins, etc.

Tried to adjust my valves the other day, car still sounds like a tractor, hoping the same strategy will work again!

 

Good luck, and we'll be watching and learning along with you.

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