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1941 Buick Limited Limousine


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6 hours ago, valk said:

While we’re on the subject, I know both you (Matt) and Neil have converted to LED lights. Could you direct me to your write ups? Sounds like something I should consider. 
thanks,

Peter

 

Peter, give me a few days to gather information from scattered sources (plus try to activate my aging memory), and I will send you a PM about the LED conversion.  It's all there somewhere, I just have to find it!  I don't know about you, but I tend to forget the specifics of how I did things once they're working.

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8 hours ago, neil morse said:

 

Okay, you have disabused me of any idea I had that I could help you with the flicker problem.  As you say, something very odd is going on with your set up, and it has certainly exceeded my rudimentary understanding of electricity!  I will just say that I am using LED's in my tail/brake lights, rear turn signals, turn signal indicators, and instrument lights, and I have no problem with flickering, but I understand that it's no help for you to hear that my system is working when yours isn't.  Again, as you say, there must be a "stray current" somewhere, and I hope you find it eventually.

 

None of the major bulbs flicker, which is good. Just my turn left signal indicator and the little red LED for the fuel pump. Dash lights and taillights work properly. I'm not too worried about it, the improvement overall with LEDs is worth a little weirdness. Perhaps the capacitors will help, particularly on the generator. It seems to flicker in time with the engine, so it may indeed be ignition and/or generator-related. Checking my manual, there is supposed to be a capacitor on the generator, but my car doesn't have one, so I'm going to start there.

 

You can see it flickering here:

 

 

 

 

Here's my information on LEDs for Peter (@valk)

 

Here's dash lighting LED information from earlier in this thread:

 

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We were out shooting some footage for our Packard vs. Buick video and the Limited started making a weird noise. It sounds like my brand new water pump is failing.

 

Because that's a job I want to do again.

 

 

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Damn it does sound like the pump. I would try using a stethoscope to isolate the sound to confirm. Maybe squirt some WD40 on the belt to see if the noise  changes. You know better than me what to do...

Peter

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I have converted my '41 to LED's as well, and the difference is significant, however, I still don't have the dash indicator lights working. They give one flash when I turn it on first, then none, but the signals work fine on the outside. Also, I only put LEDs in the rear, as they are low and quite small, but the fronts are much more visible, so they are stock.

 My son and I monkeyed around with some resistors to try to load up the line a bit, but nothing seemed to help. The '56 Roadmaster has those high tail fins and big lenses, and gives good visibility in stock form.

 Keith

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Matt,

There are only 3 things up front that turn when she's running.

1. Crank

2. Generator

3. Water pump

So shoot some WD-40 on the inside of the belt while it's turning, to rule out the belt.

Re-oil the generator cups and get a length of heater hose in there and listen.

 

Mike in Colorado

 

PS; Sounds like the pump to me, as the generator would be a higher pitch squeal.

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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Murphy’s Law coming into effect.........at least you don’t have to make a shaft and gear from scratch like I’m doing this week........always look on the bright side. I have a thought on the flickering turn signal indicator.....but it involves some work, but not too much. PM me if you want to talk about it. Overall you Buick looks great, and with just a little bit of additional effort, you will have it sorted perfectly. 

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Matt,

Try this really dumb idea on your flickering bulbs.

Take an old condenser, like from a distributor, touch the pig tail to the power wire and ground the case.

I've done this on radio hot leads to knock down the static on the AM band from the engine.

 

Mike in Colorado

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19 hours ago, FLYER15015 said:

Matt,

There are only 3 things up front that turn when she's running.

1. Crank

2. Generator

3. Water pump

So shoot some WD-40 on the inside of the belt while it's turning, to rule out the belt.

Re-oil the generator cups and get a length of heater hose in there and listen.

 

Mike in Colorado

 

PS; Sounds like the pump to me, as the generator would be a higher pitch squeal.

4 - (well, sort of 4) - the fuel pump is right up front too on the passengers side of block. 

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On 8/25/2020 at 5:19 PM, FLYER15015 said:

Matt has a rotary fuel pump ? :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Yes, but also has a mechanical unless he bypassed or took the arm out of it and made a flat plate below the diaphragm and made the mechanical a pass through.  

 

We had a 1936 Packard 120 that had a noise in the engine that everyone thought was a wrist pin on # 1 - nope, just  a really odd sound out of the fuel pump that would have been about the last sound I would have ever thought a fuel pump would make. 

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I haven't been able to determine the source of the sound yet, simply because I haven't driven the car in a week or so. I have had a fuel pump noise recently, but it's more of a thump-thump-thump-thump so I know the pump is on its way out. It also dumps a TON of oil out the bottom of the oil pump, so I know something internal has given up. I ordered a rebuilt pump and decided to swap that out today to eliminate at least one sound and finish the fuel system upgrade I started a few months ago with the fuel gauge fiasco. Sadly, I was stymied before I could get it running again, but I should be able to fire it tomorrow once I replace a compression fitting.

 

8-29-20-6.thumb.jpg.b5f5803208b4da6cf54cd690e2332dea.jpg
Old fuel pump. You can see what a mess it is making with

the oil leaking out the bottom somehow.

 

8-29-20-2.thumb.jpg.3f3848fa58dd52b91b07750937e88364.jpg
Yeah, pretty messy. I scraped and cleaned the gasket surface

with a razor and a Scotch-brite pad.

 

8-29-20-12.thumb.jpg.044711ee2c4237ef62791bb68c354c3a.jpg
Cleaned everything up with brake cleaner and some rags.
I used the Scotch-brite bad to clean up the fuel lines

as well. The paint has failed on the oil pan rail, probably

from constant exposure, but I'm not going to worry about

it. Fresh paint would not stick to it anyway.

 

8-29-20-3.thumb.jpg.20bcd6f3025d747ff166e14d157ec9fe.jpg  8-29-20-4.thumb.jpg.095d92dfe6100d7474f7897344aa1b29.jpg

Old vs. new pump. I removed the fittings from the old fuel pump

to re-use on the new pump. Nothing special, just some standard

1/8" NPT brass compression fittings.  There's more gas in there than

you expect, so it leaked a bit even after I drained it.

 

8-29-20-1.thumb.jpg.107753623224c2f630b47b695da373ad.jpg  8-29-20-11.thumb.jpg.02e395eaca90f7517f8b93f8160ef343.jpg
I cleaned the mounting bolts and brass fittings on the wire wheel
and added fresh lock washers (never re-use old washers). 

Use a small amount of thread sealer only on the threads

going into the pump. Line fittings should not need sealant.

 

8-29-20-10.thumb.jpg.a4bc30b43fabba19f3e6fc49ca77b3f9.jpg
New pump with fittings installed. I also checked  all

the screws around the diaphragms, just in case. I've

had rebuilt pumps where these were just finger-tight.

 

8-29-20-9.thumb.jpg.42a5aded96694a25828485cb9fa891d3.jpg
A smear of grease on the pump arm and it's ready to be installed.

 

8-29-20-8.thumb.jpg.f46501dcf77a54a62872199ef60f8929.jpg  8-29-20-7.thumb.jpg.abd0de4fb3e743dc9c957f5fe8c3f693.jpg

The new pump comes with a fresh gasket. I used a little aircraft

sealer on the pump side to make installation easier. Access

is TERRIBLE and it's hard to get your fingers in there.

The arrow points to the vacuum line and failed  compression

fitting. It slid off easily but would not slide back on, so I'll have to

find  a replacement tomorrow. So close, yet so far...

 

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Yea it’s tight in there. I’ve always wondered about the sharp right angle of the “out” gas line that snakes up the side of the engine.

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Picked up some standard compression fittings at Home Depot, and while I usually find such solutions distasteful this one actually looks fairly close to the original, so I'm OK with it. 

 

8-30-20-1.thumb.jpg.1e3cdc19975b5e4b6c13c8c235a87546.jpg

Original fitting on the left, new fitting on the right.

I bought two new ones—I'll replace the left one so

they match. I had another project to do, so I just wanted 

the car running again. 

 

Drove it for a while to work on a video with my son, Riley, and it's still making the chattering noise up front at idle. And sadly, the faint thump-thump-thump is still there, you know, the sound I assumed was the fuel pump going bad. So as with the original water pump, it looks like I misdiagnosed a sound and ended up replacing a functioning part. Maybe at least the oil leak will be cured.

 

I'm pretty sure the chatter AND the thumping are the water pump. It only happens at very low engine speeds and seems to be at roughly the same frequency as the fan belt's markings. I seem to have misplaced my automotive stethoscope,so I'll find/buy something else and verify that it's the water pump and go from there. Replacing it again is gonna suck and I'm not doing the heat-shrink hose clamps again. That's just too much work--I already did it twice.

 

On the plus side, the car runs better than ever. I think that defective fitting was leaking slightly, creating a vacuum leak. Enough to affect the idle? No idea. Maybe the placebo effect again. But at least it's tight now.

 

I'll figure out the noises in the next few days.

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Matt......been there and done that. Your so close, don’t let the SOB beat you. I would willingly trade my water pump issue for yours ten times over.........👍

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4 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

And sadly, the faint thump-thump-thump is still there,

 

Are you sure that isn't your favorite fan belt?  Does the sound go away with the fan belt removed?

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Did some simple diagnostics after work and confirmed that the chattering is definitely the water pump. Removed the fan belt and it stopped and held a length of heater hose against the water pump and it was unquestionably there. So I'll need another one of those and a weekend to change it. Ugh.

 

The thoop-thoop-thoop remains and I have no idea what it is. It's not the water pump because it continued even after I removed the belt and started the engine. I could have sworn it was the fuel pump--it is a soft thoop-thoop-thoop noise that sounds exactly like what a failing piece of rubber being bounced up and down in a metal housing should sound like. But it isn't, since there's a new fuel pump in there and nothing changed. Holding the heater hose on the fuel pump produced no evidence of its origin there. Maybe the new fuel pump is bad like the old one (like the new water pump is bad, they came from the same place) but I would think that I'd hear it with the hose. If anything it might be a little louder. 


I also tried spraying some WD-40 on the belt to eliminate it as a culprit and no change. 

 

On a whim, I pulled the valve cover off, which came off without a fight thankfully, and checked a few valves. One was still noisy so I adjusted it and the valvetrain is pretty quiet now. That's good.  While I was listening to the thoop-thoop-thoop sounds I noticed that it sounds like it's exactly in time with one of the valves. Hmmm...

 

I used the hose on all the valves and there was nothing conclusive, although the front bearing support for the rocker arm shaft echoed a little bit in the hose. It's definitely closer to the front of the engine, but otherwise I don't know the origin. I'm a little troubled by it. 

 

I walk to and from work almost every day, a distance of about 3.5 miles each way, so it gives me about an hour to myself. On my walk home tonight, I came up with three theories:

 

One, worst case, a wrist pin. But I don't think that's it. It isn't a knock, it isn't a sharp sound, it's soft and blunt. I'll try to record it, but the valves and fan are louder. Also remember that it was thumping in time with one of the valves, which means it was not thumping on every revolution of the crank, but every other revolution. A wrist pin or rod knock or piston slap would be twice as fast as the valves, correct?

 

Two, maybe it's related to the eccentric on the cam that drives the fuel pump. Could that be worn out? Flattened somehow? But the fuel pump works, so I'm not sure that's a possibility.

 

And three, which is a bit of a reach but it's the only theory that I can come up with that might explain anything, is that one of the intake valves I adjusted months ago is a little too tight and isn't quite sealing properly and a very slight amount of compression is leaking past and burping through the carburetor and into the air cleaner--hence the kind of hollow thoop-thoop-thoop sound. Imagine that big air cleaner and gently rapping your knuckles against it--that's pretty close to the sound.

 

Since I was walking home and not in front of the car, well, I couldn't test that theory. I'll try tomorrow and just remove the air cleaner to see if the sound changes.

 

Any other theories? I'm really reaching here.

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Can you use your "Chassis Ears" tool to isolate the timing chain cover front and back?  Might put one or two on the lifter galley cover front and rear too.

Also are you certain your pulleys are not bent or deteriorating?  Does that engine employ a balancer?  

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12 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

Can you use your "Chassis Ears" tool to isolate the timing chain cover front and back?  Might put one or two on the lifter galley cover front and rear too.

Also are you certain your pulleys are not bent or deteriorating?  Does that engine employ a balancer?  

 

That was the first thing I tried, actually. Unfortunately, since the Chassis Ear is a microphone, it picks up all the ambient noise, so you hear the valves and the water pump and the belt and the exhaust, but pinpointing sounds with so much ambient noise doesn't seem to be the Chassis Ear's forte.

 

I am going to recheck the pulleys--the water pump pulley doesn't spin true, which is because the water pump probably has a bad shaft or bearing. The harmonic balancer appears to just be a stack of rubber discs, and I've never heard of them going bad, but I suppose it's possible. And I'm still not ruling out this new fuel pump--maybe that's just how they sound? I seem to recall that when I was shooting video of the engine for this Packard vs. Buick video a couple of weeks ago, I turned on the electric fuel pump and it killed the sound. My theory was that the added pressure took out the slack in the fuel pump diaphragm. I don't know. I'm just grasping at straws now.

 

You can really hear the sound at about 11 seconds into this video when I kick up the idle a bit. Definitely towards the front of the engine:

 

 

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After a good conversation with my friend Edinmass, I had a few ideas about the weird sound. Ed thought it might be a wrist pin bushing, which was a demoralizing diagnosis, but I trust his opinion. It took a few days to screw my head on well enough to go out and do some testing to determine whether that was the case and if I would have to tear the motor apart, and I was finally ready to do that today.

 

First thing was a simple engine balance test. In this test, you ground each spark plug in sequence and as that cylinder goes dead, the sound should be reduced because there's no load on it. The thoop-thoop-thoop sound was definitely coming from the front of the engine, so I pulled the spark plug cover, fired it up, and started yanking spark plug wires. 


And no change. Of course it ran poorly each time on 7 cylinders, but the sound was unchanged. Was that good news or bad news? It was inconclusive, but I took it as good news--it wasn't definitely a wrist pin.

 

I still suspected the fuel pump. My reasons were several: one, the frequency of the sound was in time with a valve, which is half crank speed. If it was a wrist pin, it should have been 2x valve speed and maybe 4x if it was like most wrist pins that make a noise on the way up AND on the way down. And two, with the old fuel pump, I could reduce the sound considerably by turning on the electric fuel pump. Odd, that.

 

My only choice was to remove the mechanical fuel pump and start the car and see what happens. Which I did. I just unbolted it and used some foam to brace it far enough away from the opening that the lever wouldn't touch any moving parts inside, but the car could still run on the electric fuel pump. I fired it up. Compare this new video to the one from last week:

 

 

 

The sound appears to be gone. That very strongly suggests that it IS the fuel pump. I'm going with that.

 

So that was a relief, I guess. Of course, in removing the pump I damaged the gasket so I had to pull the pump off entirely and make a new one. I've never had success using gasket shellac, which everyone keeps suggesting and I keep trying. It made a mess of the old gasket, so I put the new gasket on dry instead. I also took the opportunity to replace that other compression fitting so they match. Firing it back up, the noise returned but there were no leaks. 

 

Is it possible that the fuel pump is incorrectly rebuilt? Will it break in? Is it possible that the diaphragm is made from some different material that tends to be noisy in this application? Should I buy a kit from someone else and rebuild it myself so I know it's right? Both this pump and the water pump that is failing came from the same supplier. Hmmmm...

 

A brief test drive reveals that the car continues to have a completely random personality. Friday I started it to move it around the shop and it was only running on only 7 cylinders. It just wouldn't smooth out, even after it warmed up. Today it fired right up and ran on all 8 but started bucking under light throttle applications, which I thought I had finally tuned out. I'm never sure what idle I might get--sometimes it's smooth at about 800 RPM and sometimes it's limping at about 500 RPM. Tipping into the throttle at low speeds, it stuttered today and even backfired through the air cleaner a few times. A soft, muted pop-pop-pop. There's also a bit of black smoke at idle that was never there before, so it's probably running a bit rich.

 

Bear in mind I did not touch the carburetors or ignition beyond removing and reinstalling the spark plug wires on the plug end. 

 

Is it possible that this new fuel pump is pushing too much pressure? I can't see how that would change the amount of gas flowing through the carb, but is it possible? That's all that has changed. So odd. I guess I'll go back to some baseline tuning. 

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Too much fuel pressure can push gas bast the seat and cause a rich condition.........old cars never end. Glad you did the power balance test.......one of the best and simple tests you can perform on a car to find noise, valve, ignition, and fuel delivery problems. 

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Dealt with Packard after Packard with too much wear on the rod/arm for the fuel pump and picking up extra noise there - best I can tell is rebuilders have time gave resurfaced the rod/arm.  And, could be a part within pump. 

 

Perhaps try to find a NOS Buick fuel pump and then rebuilt that.  And not sure who is the best pump rebuild person these days. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Filmed some footage this morning with my shop manager, Michael Johnson, at the wheel of the 1942 Packard 160 limousine and me in our '41 Limited. This is footage from inside the Packard. Roll-on start in high gear at about 10 MPH, full throttle to where Melanie is waiting at the finish line 1/4 mile away(you will just barely see her dressed in black on the right side of the road as we flash past).

 

Watch Michael's eyes in the rear-view mirror.

 

Wait for the end, it's worth it...

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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23 hours ago, valk said:

So the Packard is quicker off the line, up to about 50mph, then gets smoked by the Buick?

Driving styles of whoever was behind the wheel - the Buick should be able to do circles around most late 30's and early 40's stuff, but perhaps carries a little more weight compared to a Super or a Century that can far outrun the Packard. 

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23 hours ago, valk said:

So the Packard is quicker off the line, up to about 50mph, then gets smoked by the Buick?

 

Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but essentially, yes. Since we were rolling from about 10 MPH in high gear, the car with superior low-end torque is going to pull ahead immediately. That was obviously the Packard and you definitely can feel it when you're driving. The Packard simply works better at very low speeds and requires fewer downshifts around corners and in slow traffic. It's just got more grunt.

 

The Buick nevertheless accelerates notably better at higher speeds, which is how the compound carburetors were designed. It's a little softer on low-end torque than the Packard and doesn't pull as well from low speeds. Fewer cubic inches, less torque, more weight, all that.

 

BUT--and this is important--if we started from a dead start and I was able to run the Buick up through the gears, I think the Buick would have been notably faster right from the get-go. The Packard might get off the line a little better in 1st, but since I can wind the Buick up in each gear and put it into the fat part of its power curve faster and keep it there longer, it should easily accelerate away from the Packard. So the results of this particular race were partially due to the high-gear-only nature of the run, which works to the Packard's strength--low-end torque. I'm OK with that since that's how these cars are used anyway. Banging through the gears for max acceleration isn't really the point of a 4800-pound, 18-foot-long limousine.

 

This is also why my car just walked away from a smaller, lighter, equally powerful Packard 160 convertible a few years ago on the open road--by starting that run at 40 MPH, the Buick is in its sweet spot but the Packard is just starting to run out of breath and its superior torque isn't an advantage anymore. That "race" wasn't even close.

 

And yes, as John points out, my Century (or your Roadmaster, Peter) should be able to stomp an equivalent Packard. Same engine, 800 fewer pounds than my Limited, that's a winning recipe. I have a 1940 Century here in the shop now and it really is quick.

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