Matt Harwood

1941 Buick Limited Limousine

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I've mentioned it before, but holy cow, Summit Racing rocks! Ordered these parts at 11 PM last night--here it is 10:30 AM the next day and they're in my hands.

 

20190618_103733.thumb.jpg.9aeed7d1d774ddb3f16172f7cd222c05.jpg

Heim joints arrived in less than 12 hours!

 

I didn't order the threaded tubes last night since I did not know how long they needed to be until I got to the shop this morning and measured the original links . The originals are 7.5 inches long center-to-center, so combining six-inch-long tubes with the 1.5-inch diameter heim joint heads (.75-inch from the center bore) will make them exactly 7.5 inches long when assembled. Easy!

 

 

aaf-all57156_xl.jpg?rep=False

6-inch long threaded tubes will make the new links
exactly the same length as the originals.

 

I ordered the tubes from Summit first thing this morning--sometimes if I'm lucky, I get them later the same day. Otherwise I'll have them tomorrow morning. There's still one more ingredient that I'll have to show you when I'm assembling everything--it wasn't quite as straightforward as it appears...

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Posted (edited)

I believe I have fixed the shock links. I acquired all the parts needed to convert to heim joints (spherical bearing rod ends) and did a test fit, only to find that there was a little play in the linkage. When shopping for parts, I measured the studs on the original shock links at about 9/16". There are 9/16" spherical bearing rod ends available, but they're for heavy-duty off-road race trucks and cost $50 each. However, 5/8" units are only $8 at Summit Racing. To make it work, I bought hardened spacers that were designed for just this purpose (9/16" to 5/8"). However, it appears that the shock link studs Buick made in 1941 were a little undersized and not quite 9/16". Even that tiny bit of play (.002 - .003 on each end) would lead to a clunking noise while driving as the axle moves around. I made a post in the Technical section about how to fill the space, so I'm sorry if this is redundant for any of you. There was no consensus there but if I ultimately go that route, I'll try some Loctite 680 retaining compound or perhaps even braze the spacers in place to take up the slop. With that problem solved, these modern parts will work perfectly and should be indestructible.

 

ShockLink1.thumb.jpg.ee23e02cb35212532ab9555bd9a4e388.jpg ShockLink2.thumb.jpg.22356e7bd437df4e56b45ed61e127ee3.jpg  ShockLink3.thumb.jpg.f293f8f3722a31df83225fd6c4d77c13.jpg
Modern heim joints would work perfectly, but they were a little loose on the original
shock link mounting studs, which would cause noise while driving.

 

Spacer3.thumb.jpg.02cd6174070f7cc26093372abcb1bd3f.jpg Spacer5.thumb.jpg.83b0d3fe6fbe58d5f6a452f59c66278e.jpg
Even with a spacer there was about .002 - .003 play at each end.

 

However, since I couldn't get any Loctite 680 locally and I have two long-distance driving events this week, I had to get it back into shape fast. I needed a back-up plan.

 

Since the original rubber in the NOS links had disintegrated (it was almost 80 years old, after all) I had to find an alternative. While I was at the auto parts store looking for Loctite 680 (which is not carried in any stores), I stumbled on some high-durometer rubber bushings designed for shock absorber mounts. That would surely be durable enough for this application. Unfortunately, they were about 1.5" in diameter and had a 3/8" mounting hole. No problem, I can work with that.

 

NOTE: At this point, I left my phone at the auto parts store and didn't realize it wasn't in my pocket until I went to take some photos. So I'm sorry there are no photos of this part of the job. No worries, we'll use the theater of the mind!

 

I chucked the shock bushings onto my drill press and spun them at high speed. Then I used my pneumatic cut-off wheel and simply trimmed them down to approximately the same size as the shock link bushings. Lots of rubber dust, but it cut easily and by spinning it on the drill press, it gave me a uniform circumference. I used the hydraulic press and a socket that was the same diameter as the bushing and pressed the modified bushings into the shock links. Once they were secure in the links, I put a 15/32" drill bit in the drill press and enlarged the center hole just enough that it would snugly grab the 9/16" mounting studs.

 

This is where I realized I didn't have my phone, retraced my steps, and recovered it at the auto parts store. Thanks, Jim!

 

X

Imagine there are photos here of me modifying the
rubber shock bushings

 

I also had to find a way to keep the shock links from walking off the studs. I don't know how the factory secured them--it looks like they were just a press fit--but I didn't want to have them slide off again. To solve that problem, I drilled a 5/32" hole in the end of each mounting stud, tapped it for #10-24 threads, and secured the links in place with 1-inch stainless washers and some stainless screws with lock washers.

 

6-22-19a.thumb.jpg.cda33ec48e05c9944be396294fe27d4f.jpg
I drilled and tapped holes for #10-32 screws in the 
mounting studs.

 

6-22-19b.thumb.jpg.13044bc6527c26bb26e5b317b742c257.jpg
Then I pressed the shock links onto the studs using a
C-clamp and a socket that fit on the shoulder of the link
and secured it with a washer, lock washer, and screw.

 

6-22-19c.thumb.jpg.8dd6ff612d36068e4e901a7f50ca0ea8.jpg 6-22-19d.thumb.jpg.51378a136d6a79f8fdfbad1d3029345d.jpg
Et voila! I have shock links that should last indefinitely (if I'm lucky). 

 

I'll keep all the heim joints and other parts, just in case the new bushings don't survive. They're not very thick, maybe a little more than 1/16", but it's tough rubber, maybe polyurethane, so I'm hopeful that it'll last a while. If not, I'll figure out how to fill the space under the spacer and install the modern links. But for now, I should have fully operational shocks that will simultaneously damp the rear end a little better and not clunk around.

 

And speaking of clunking, there's another noise that I've been chasing now that I know it's not the exhaust. A kind of hollow booming over large bumps that is fairly pronounced now that the exhaust isn't also banging around under there. I poked around and gave everything I could find a good shake. Nothing. Everything felt solid and it wouldn't rattle or bang or boom no matter how hard I bounced it. Then I wiggled the fender skirt, thinking perhaps it was loose, and discovered that the right rear splash shield bin the fender area was loose at the bottom. Not totally flapping around, but loose enough that a big bump might make it rattle and bang. Echoing against the thin sheetmetal fender and bodywork, well, that could probably make a hollow booming sound, no? I installed a new bolt securing it to the fender and that locked it down tight. Just for grins, I tightened the mounting bolts on the other side, too, as well as the front splash shields. Most were pretty tight, but if I'm lucky, another noise under the car has hopefully been cured. 

 

Tomorrow I'm going to install the Redi-Rad in preparation for our road trips this week.

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Well the Redi-Rad was a great little upgrade that doesn't cost much in time or money that can make a big difference in cruising fun. The rub is you need a functioning radio, which, fortunately, I have. I think it cost about $100 and essentially allows you to run an iPod/phone/whatever through your original AM radio. It works with 6V cars, and now that mine is hooked up and working, I'll vouch for the fact that it works as advertised. It comes complete and ready to install--all you need is power and ground and something that plays music.

 

Complete_RediRad_1_2000x.JPG?v=1548872673
Comes complete and ready to install.

 

The control box doesn't weigh much and is housed in what I have to assume is a fairly weather-tight box. There are wires for power and ground, antenna in and out, and the jack for your iPod/phone. Mount the box, unplug your antenna lead from the back of the radio, plug the Redi-Rad into the radio and connect the antenna to the female Redi-Rad lead. It works by broadcasting to AM station 1000, but it senses when a device is connected so if you have a local station that you like to listen to when the iPod/phone is not connected, it'll still do that, too.

 

1117628146_2019-06-2316_46_40.thumb.jpg.26dc4570e281a8e167e3ff5db442d49c.jpg
Box mounts just about anywhere. I simply zip-tied it to
a metal wiring clip on the firewall. It's not going anywhere.

 

For ground, I simply added a little eyelet and grounded it under one of the screws holding the radio case together. For power, I tapped into the ignition switch, but that's only temporary (more on that in a moment). 

 

122870243_2019-06-2317_00_54.thumb.jpg.e6400c80eb8a839d0e2877a39bbe9ee7.jpg 1394322900_2019-06-2316_46_45.thumb.jpg.246a1a88c550e72c1e08f114b82a6b9e.jpg
Connect power (red wire) and ground.

 

219744821_2019-06-2317_01_38.thumb.jpg.75c2c7758f6791f4db6234e53fe94fce.jpg
Then I ran it through the glove box so it's easy for a passenger
to reach but can be tucked away. the actual cord is quite
a bit longer than this so a person sitting normally can use it.

 

It definitely works as advertised. Fired it up and played Glenn Miller's "String of Pearls" loud and clear from my phone. When Melanie called, I could talk to her hands-free with her voice coming through the radio speaker. Nice! My radio has a bit of a buzz/hum in it that I might try to eradicate, but overall I'm very pleased with the clarity of the sound--there's almost no interference, although tweaking the tuning a bit can change things depending on the song you're playing. I honestly don't use the radio very often, usually just to listen to Tribe games in the evening, but on a long road trip with the kids this might be something that will help keep them occupied--remember, my Limited has a rear-seat speaker that works! Very pleased with this relatively quick, easy, and inexpensive upgrade that will make touring this summer a bit more fun. 

 

One note: I will admit that I do not like pulling power for anything from the ignition switch. You can see that there's already one extra wire on the hot terminal--currently powering the spotlight--and while neither the spotlight (which I never use) nor the Redi-Rad draw much power, I prefer the ignition always having a clean 6V supply. To solve the power problem, I'm going to install a bus bar somewhere behind the dash to supply +6V to all the accessories so power doesn't get pulled from the ignition or even routed through the headlight switch, which is how the factory did it for most of the interior functions (yes, even the radio gets power from the headlight switch). I bought a heavy-duty bus bar that I will connect directly to the battery with some 8-gauge wire. Then, whenever I need power for lights or radios or fuel pumps, I can simply pull it from the bus bar, preferably with a fuse, and have a circuit that doesn't affect any other system in the car. I'll move all those wires on the ignition switch to the bus bar--spotlight, fuel pump, Redi-Rad, back-up light--plus I'll relocate power for the radio to the bus bar to take some heat out of the headlight switch. That's probably a project for next winter, but it'll make the car safer and more reliable without changing how anything looks to a casual observer. 

 

1312406316_2019-06-2317_18_57.thumb.jpg.59fdb60886905282480580199afe0703.jpg
Bus bar will provide clean +6V power for accessories without
affecting any other systems. It includes 4 large and 3 small
terminals for any size wire.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Drove it home to be able to leave first thing in the morning for a day of touring with the '36-38 Buick Club down in Canton. Took the long way home and I have to say it has never run better. The rear shocks are back online so it rides great and I was pleased to find that the last big, loud undercarriage rattle is gone so tightening the bolts on that splash shield must have done the trick. It's quiet, smooth, and strong, just as it should be. Gave it a quick bath to wash off last weekend's rain and mud.

 

I'm looking forward to putting some miles on it tomorrow!

 

Yard1.thumb.jpg.27afe66c4e0ce6254010e23f21bf2a94.jpg

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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It just oozes CLASS Matt!

 

Glad she is performing like it should.

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Drive it like you stole it! 👍

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Drove the Buick and Melanie's '56 Chrysler station wagon to Columbus for the big Arthritis Foundation car show this afternoon. It's about 120 miles, so a nice stretch of the legs for the cars. We started on the highway but it got kind of tiring (holy crap truck tires are LOUD), so we dumped I-71 and got onto some quiet country roads which were a VAST improvement. It added about an hour to our travel time, but it was 100% worth it. Quiet roads, 45-55 MPH speed limits, interesting terrain, just the way you want it to be.

 

Arrived without incident and both cars performed flawlessly. The Chrysler was 100% effortless and Melanie reports that it runs cool and stays very comfortable inside. The Buick stayed below 175 degrees all the way despite 85-degree ambient temperatures, although it did creep up a bit when we got stuck in traffic due to construction. I was curious to see what would happen with the carbs and vapor lock, so I didn't turn on the electric pump even when the temperature gauge was edging towards 190--that's when I would ordinarily turn it on to avoid problems. Nevertheless, after 10 minutes of idling, we pulled away without incident--disconnecting the intake from the exhaust manifolds has apparently made the car immune to vapor lock. Nice!

 

1573648671_2019-06-2813_25_21a.thumb.jpg.e3452a1fa71cb301b5883e64b45af458.jpg 53192432_2019-06-2813_25_17a.thumb.jpg.2adad54fcec07802d5a9a873138b6b83.jpg 1370980748_2019-06-2813_27_21a.thumb.jpg.e0c8a430485ae71005b5511510e1c04a.jpg
Side roads were considerably more enjoyable. Passed through a few cute little towns, including this
one with a giant obelisk right in the middle of the intersection.

 

9036a.thumb.jpg.ea3cbb963bfca9291375fdce7a2e7282.jpg
13-year-old Cody snapped a few photos of the Buick

from the back seat of Melanie's Chrysler wagon.

 

276733211_2019-06-2813_45_06a.thumb.jpg.76f109cbf5d50f4d216e3a8e492d03fc.jpg

10-year-old Riley started the drive navigating up front, but

eventually ended up in the back seat where he spent most of the

drive reading a book. He noted that it was considerably cooler

and more comfortable back there. Duh.

 

2043125974_2019-06-28a.thumb.jpg.16377900947dd89f5f47656227cc0bd8.jpg
Arrived at the hotel without incident. Thanks old cars!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Had a great time at the show and an even better drive home. Perfect weather, smooth, freshly paved roads, light traffic, and both cars purred along without incident. Melanie reports that she never had a moment when she thought the Chrysler would act up and that it was cool and comfortable throughout. The Buick held steady at 170 degrees and 40-50 pounds of oil pressure underway and just hummed along effortlessly. You guys probably don't understand why this seems so miraculous to me--my father would never have dared take a trip like this in one of his cars, never mind on the highway at 60+ MPH. I'm always expecting the worst, but it never comes. I told Riley, seated alongside me for most of the drive home, that this was about as good as old cars can get. I couldn't ask for more from any old car. Once again Gretzky earns the name!

 

780057287_2019-06-2813_25_22.thumb.jpg.3fbf0f67cbdb19b0bb7b420cd5cb35cc.jpg

 

1016795558_2019-06-0910_37_22.thumb.jpg.b4fa0aba7d7ebe26e490584a4bebc483.jpg

 

Remarkably, we drove 361 miles this weekend and the Limited used about 21 gallons of gas (we filled up before we left home, in Dublin this morning where I pumped 11+ gallons, and another 10 or so gallons just now when we got home because our fuel perks were about to expire). Can that be right? 16-17 miles per gallon? In this gigantic car?!? I'm going to start keeping better track of mileage to find out for sure--that's about 40% better than I would have expected. I certainly didn't take it easy, although 50-55 MPH cruising is probably the car's sweet spot and that was a bulk of our trip. Nevertheless, I'm suspicious--that's just too good to be true. We'll have to find out...

 

Other notes:

  • Car is very quiet until about 52 MPH and then there's a bit of a hum, which I believe to be the exhaust note. It's not that loud; it's probably not even noticeable to other people in the car. The fact that I can control it with my right foot means it's not something like a bearing or a U-joint, but that's exactly what it sounds like. Just a faint, distant hum. It vanishes below 50 MPH. I can certainly live with it, I'm certainly not complaining! 
     
  • I changed the oil before we left and used 20W50 Valvoline VR1 synthetic, which was recommended by a mechanic friend. Cold idle is near 50 PSI, hot idle is 25-30 PSI, and it holds 40-50 PSI at cruising speed. However, there's a bit of a valve tick at start up and it stays until the oil is thoroughly warmed up--that wasn't there before. Once it's warm, it vanishes. I suspect that 20W50 is just a little too thick, even for hot weather driving. I think it prefers something like 10W40, which I'l try next time I change the oil. It does, however, leak somewhat less from the rear main with the 20W50 in it.
     
  • There's still some gear whine from the rear end between about 35 and 50 MPH. Again, I can control it with my foot and how I load the gears. Not awful, but kind of like a truck. I thought it might be the tires, which are, after all, truck tires, but the fact that it responds to engine load says otherwise. I think I'm going to have to go into the pumpkin next winter and reset the gear lash. Maybe it's the tires, but I don't think so. Not awful, but I'd like to correct it before doing any real damage to the gears themselves. On the other hand, Riley reports that it is more audible from the front seat than in back, even right on top of the axle. Hmmm. Maybe it is tire noise after all...
     
  • Rear shocks definitely need a little bit more damping. I'll take Ben's suggestion and use some slightly thicker oil and see what happens. 
     
  • Redi-Rad works just fine, but it's just too damned loud in the car at speed to use the radio at all. It doesn't have the power to overcome wind noise and tire noise from other vehicles around us. No matter, I can live without radio and it's OK at low speeds around town.

Other than those truly minuscule items, the car is delightful (actually, it's delightful regardless). I'd confidently drive it cross-country at this point and while I'm arbitrarily holding myself to about 60 MPH cruising speeds, it consistently wants to inch past that. It's fantastic on the roll, easy to handle in traffic, and makes enough torque that I don't need to downshift for anything but a full stop. It'll pull high gear cleanly from about 5 MPH.

 

I spent some time with the Buick guys at the club tent at the show last night, including the owner of this lovely 1941 Super sedan (which won the Buick class). He's having trouble getting it to idle properly and it's always hard to start. He wanted to see my header and how I have my carbs configured, so I confidently reached in, turned the key, and pressed the button. The Big Guy started in about 2 seconds and settled into a near-perfect idle even after sitting all day. A great moment. I was very proud of that.

 

584907948_2019-06-2913_45_47.thumb.jpg.aa20a586b9298023c1214155352f77fa.jpg  1228164223_2019-06-2913_45_55.thumb.jpg.c23938c040768531c680c92f85a9213e.jpg

 

Next projects will be improving the weather seals, especially around the windows, re-plumbing the fuel system, and getting the gas gauge to work properly.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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That Super looks just like my car, except with skirts.  (And except that mine always starts right up and idles perfectly! 😁😉)

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6 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Had a great time at the show and an even better drive home. Perfect weather, smooth, freshly paved roads, light traffic, and both cars purred along without incident. Melanie reports that she never had a moment when she thought the Chrysler would act up and that it was cool and comfortable throughout. The Buick held steady at 170 degrees and 40-50 pounds of oil pressure underway and just hummed along effortlessly. You guys probably don't understand why this seems so miraculous to me--my father would never have dared take a trip like this in one of his cars, never mind on the highway at 60+ MPH. I'm always expecting the worst, but it never comes. I told Riley, seated alongside me for most of the drive home, that this was about as good as old cars can get. I couldn't ask for more from any old car. Once again Gretzky earns the name!

 

780057287_2019-06-2813_25_22.thumb.jpg.3fbf0f67cbdb19b0bb7b420cd5cb35cc.jpg

 

1016795558_2019-06-0910_37_22.thumb.jpg.b4fa0aba7d7ebe26e490584a4bebc483.jpg

 

Remarkably, we drove 361 miles this weekend and the Limited used about 21 gallons of gas (we filled up before we left home, in Dublin this morning where I pumped 11+ gallons, and another 10 or so gallons just now when we got home because our fuel perks were about to expire). Can that be right? 16-17 miles per gallon? In this gigantic car?!? I'm going to start keeping better track of mileage to find out for sure--that's about 40% better than I would have expected. I certainly didn't take it easy, although 50-55 MPH cruising is probably the car's sweet spot and that was a bulk of our trip. Nevertheless, I'm suspicious--that's just too good to be true. We'll have to find out...

 

Other notes:

  • Car is very quiet until about 52 MPH and then there's a bit of a hum, which I believe to be the exhaust note. It's not that loud; it's probably not even noticeable to other people in the car. The fact that I can control it with my right foot means it's not something like a bearing or a U-joint, but that's exactly what it sounds like. Just a faint, distant hum. It vanishes below 50 MPH. I can certainly live with it, I'm certainly not complaining! 
     
  • I changed the oil before we left and used 20W50 Valvoline VR1 synthetic, which was recommended by a mechanic friend. Cold idle is near 50 PSI, hot idle is 25-30 PSI, and it holds 40-50 PSI at cruising speed. However, there's a bit of a valve tick at start up and it stays until the oil is thoroughly warmed up--that wasn't there before. Once it's warm, it vanishes. I suspect that 20W50 is just a little too thick, even for hot weather driving. I think it prefers something like 10W40, which I'l try next time I change the oil. It does, however, leak somewhat less from the rear main with the 20W50 in it.
     
  • There's still some gear whine from the rear end between about 35 and 50 MPH. Again, I can control it with my foot and how I load the gears. Not awful, but kind of like a truck. I thought it might be the tires, which are, after all, truck tires, but the fact that it responds to engine load says otherwise. I think I'm going to have to go into the pumpkin next winter and reset the gear lash. Maybe it's the tires, but I don't think so. Not awful, but I'd like to correct it before doing any real damage to the gears themselves. On the other hand, Riley reports that it is more audible from the front seat than in back, even right on top of the axle. Hmmm. Maybe it is tire noise after all...
     
  • Rear shocks definitely need a little bit more damping. I'll take Ben's suggestion and use some slightly thicker oil and see what happens. 
     
  • Redi-Rad works just fine, but it's just too damned loud in the car at speed to use the radio at all. It doesn't have the power to overcome wind noise and tire noise from other vehicles around us. No matter, I can live without radio and it's OK at low speeds around town.

Other than those truly minuscule items, the car is delightful (actually, it's delightful regardless). I'd confidently drive it cross-country at this point and while I'm arbitrarily holding myself to about 60 MPH cruising speeds, it consistently wants to inch past that. It's fantastic on the roll, easy to handle in traffic, and makes enough torque that I don't need to downshift for anything but a full stop. It'll pull high gear cleanly from about 5 MPH.

 

I spent some time with the Buick guys at the club tent at the show last night, including the owner of this lovely 1941 Super sedan (which won the Buick class). He's having trouble getting it to idle properly and it's always hard to start. He wanted to see my header and how I have my carbs configured, so I confidently reached in, turned the key, and pressed the button. The Big Guy started in about 2 seconds and settled into a near-perfect idle even after sitting all day. A great moment. I was very proud of that.

 

584907948_2019-06-2913_45_47.thumb.jpg.aa20a586b9298023c1214155352f77fa.jpg  1228164223_2019-06-2913_45_55.thumb.jpg.c23938c040768531c680c92f85a9213e.jpg

 

Next projects will be improving the weather seals, especially around the windows, re-plumbing the fuel system, and getting the gas gauge to work properly.

Hi Matt, Great to hear how well the limited is running. I have been enjoying my 320 as often as I can which is usually an evening drive I take a loop the includes local roads and high speed driving on the Hwy 40 super slab. These cars are such a pleasure to drive its hard to convey the experience. The power and speed of this 78 year old car is amazing.  Regarding the oil you are using I have been a Mobil 1 fan since the 1970's and have been a believer in synthetics. I have been using various non synthetic and blended synthetic oils but I recently switched to Shell Rotella for my Century at the suggestion of some of the AACA members and am very impressed. The difference is readily apparent from cold start to high heat conditions. It has never run so smooth and cool or felt stronger. It also drips less from the rear seal then it ever has. My motor in 3000 miles of driving has never required me to add a drop so I cant say if it is any better in that regard but I wouldn't be surprised as its made for diesel engines that are running 13/1 compression. If your gas mileage is what you think it is that is kinda mind blowing!!!  Cheers Mate!   

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Thanks, Matt, for the terrific report.  Could you please give your impressions for dealing with traffic.  I am new to this type of car and I feel I need more space because of the way in which my '39 Century handles and I do not feel as though modern drivers respect my plight?  Loving the 320 engine, leaving a traffic light or two lane black top I do not impede anyone.

 

Thanks, Gary

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4 hours ago, cxgvd said:

Thanks, Matt, for the terrific report.  Could you please give your impressions for dealing with traffic.  I am new to this type of car and I feel I need more space because of the way in which my '39 Century handles and I do not feel as though modern drivers respect my plight?  Loving the 320 engine, leaving a traffic light or two lane black top I do not impede anyone.

 

Thanks, Gary

Hi Gary, I drive a 41 Century and when I started driving it I tried to anticipate the light changing to be ready given the amount of time it can take before you can slip into first gear without a crunch. I came to realize that when behind a tractor trailer drivers realize it takes a moment longer before it pulls away and slowly as well and that it is to be expected. Thats also what drivers expect when a vintage vehicle is in front of them and like a truck expect a leisurely departure. You should not feel any need to be apologetic for your pace. I have never been honked at for a slow start. I always keep my distance from the car in front for braking room which is a definite necessity in a world of four wheel disc brakes and phone distracted drivers. Enjoy your time machine and dont worry about the frenetic drivers around you. Your 39 is royalty in a world of nameless appliances and enriches other drivers otherwise boring travels. They will likely tell someone about the cool old car they saw!    

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8 hours ago, cxgvd said:

Thanks, Matt, for the terrific report.  Could you please give your impressions for dealing with traffic.  I am new to this type of car and I feel I need more space because of the way in which my '39 Century handles and I do not feel as though modern drivers respect my plight?  Loving the 320 engine, leaving a traffic light or two lane black top I do not impede anyone.

 

Thanks, Gary

 

I don't really find even the giant Limited difficult in traffic. No, the Buick isn't quite as fast as a modern car off the line, but it isn't slow enough to make people frustrated, either. My '29 Cadillac is probably slow enough to make people frustrated, but by the time the Buick is in 2nd gear, it's keeping up with everything around it and can accelerate away from almost anyone who is just driving normally. I don't worry about being a rolling roadblock on surface streets. Any big series Buick is competitive with a modern car under reasonable circumstances.

 

On the highway it's a little different. I don't like to push the Limited faster than about 60 MPH. It has 4.20 gears and 60 MPH is about as fast as I'm comfortable spinning the engine for an extended period. It'll easily go faster, but I don't know that I'd hold it at more than 60-65 for an extended period. And on highways where the speed limit is 70, yes, even in the big car I do feel a little bit like a sitting duck. Even the semi tractors roar past. I just stay in the right lane and do my best to not inconvenience anyone. At 60 MPH, I'm certainly not a roadblock, but occasionally people do get annoyed. Tough luck for them. A few extra seconds to get where they're going won't hurt anyone but an ambulance.

 

Braking is more than adequate on any of these cars as long as you're paying attention and giving plenty of space for the car in front of you to do something stupid. Quite honestly, how you drive is the single biggest factor regarding safety in an old car. Everyone worries about the other guy being stupid, but if you're paying attention and leaving yourself plenty of safety space in front of you, it'll be that much harder for the stupid guy to get you. I've found most folks don't really get too aggressive around an old car, they mostly understand that it's old and treat it accordingly. The one area they absolutely DO NOT understand, however, is braking, and that's where you simply need to be smart. Leave yourself lots of space, expect every red light to be red, and if that guy is looking like he's going to cut you off, just assume that he will.

 

Drive smart and you'll be fine. It will take some time to get comfortable behind the wheel, but be vigilant and let the other guy worry about the other guy--you don't owe him anything. You are allowed to use the road just as much as he is, so don't feel obligated to give him everything he wants just because you're in an old car and he isn't. Pulling off to let idiots pass is often less safe than simply being a little slower--merging back into fast-moving traffic is a lot more hazardous than simply going 5 MPH slower than everyone else. Let them wait, they'll get over it. If they don't respect you, why should you respect them? Watch your butt, that's my motto.

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Thanks Matt, I drive defensively, my concern is tailgaters.  I agree with your points but they still bother me.  Funny, driving my 100 year old Buick, 7 feet tall and at 35 mph, other drivers never seem to trouble me. 

 

Please remember to wish your wife Happy Canada Day for me.

 

Regards, Gary

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, cxgvd said:

Thanks Matt, I drive defensively, my concern is tailgaters.  I agree with your points but they still bother me.  Funny, driving my 100 year old Buick, 7 feet tall and at 35 mph, other drivers never seem to trouble me. 

 

Please remember to wish your wife Happy Canada Day for me.

 

Regards, Gary

 

Tailgaters are going to tailgate no matter what you're driving--not much you can do about that regardless of conditions or speed. Fortunately, their brakes are probably better than yours so oddly enough, that's a point in your favor. If they bug you too much, put your foot on the floor and give them a face full of black, sooty smoke...

 

Happy Canada Day to you, too! This evening, Melanie is making us a traditional Canada Day feast of poutine, beaver tails, and peameal bacon, and she'll surely make herself a caesar or two to go with it...

 

 

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

Matt, great story about your recent trip! The transmission in my 1939 Roadmaster whines from 50 mph and up. My mechanic, who is 80+ and has worked on these old Buicks since he was 16, tells me that it is a typical sound associated with gear pitch. This is after he installed NOS gears a few years ago. The car has a sweet spot at about 60 mph. (See the cover story in the March 2019 issue of the "Buick Bugle" for more info on the Roadmaster.)

When I start out from a stop in that car, it has a noticable transmission whine, not unlike what you hear in the movie 'The Sting," when Robert Shaw's mid-1930s Pierce Arrow starts out from a stop.

My 1949 Super is somewhat different. You hear a much less pronounced gear whine from the transmission at start out, and it is noiseless at higher speeds. (Different transmission.)  I finally installed the correct long muffler on that car a few years ago and now I hear what some describe as a characteristic Buick exhaust "moan" at 60-65 mph. (It had a much shorter muffler on it for two decades, and I never heard that sound, then.)

Happy Motoring!  Bob

 

 

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)

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Matt

Thank you for the report! Very good to read of what oils you use, and the psi etc . The 320 engine is a wonder to behold. I love driving my 1940 Roadmaster conv sedan that Doug Seybold checked and sorted out mechanically at his shop  when it was on its way east to me  from California where it had been its entire existence. This was several years ago. As of today my car has only traveled a total of 49,000 miles since new. The paint job done in 1972 is still acceptable driver quality and will stay that way. Once again, this was great to read.

Walt

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Posted (edited)

Dumb stuff annoys me. For example, the Limited's passenger-side hood latch never really fit very well. That bugs me every time I see it. So I was just walking past it this morning, saw that crooked handle, and thought I'd try to adjust it. How hard can it be? I opened the hood and adjusted the rod that holds it in place hoping that it would pull the latch into the housing a little tighter. But as soon as I latched the hood, the little hinge pin in the latch handle fell out. It just fell out like it wasn't even attached to anything. *CLINK* and then it was on the floor. Dang.

 

1941-Buick-Hood-Release-Handles-Super-Pa
That little pin like the one hanging down from this SUPER

hood latch just fell out without any warning

 

Now I'm trying to figure out how to get it back in there and there doesn't seem to be any way to slide the pin back into place while the latch is in the fender--it must have gone in as an assembly with the rest of the side "gill" trim. The angle is just wrong. I hesitated to pull the side gills off simply because I know they're held in place with tiny little studs that are merely brazed onto the stainless trim, and that the nuts holding them in place are probably rusty. Too much torque and--oooops!--I'd have a broken stud. So I fought with the pin for about a half-hour, then called Melanie to try with her smaller fingers. We both failed together, which is surely what keeps a marriage strong. Guess the trim is coming off anyway.

 

1358975761_20190713_1423391.thumb.jpg.f72afd4acebf62d6036a45ca7fcb2ef0.jpg 1015001597_20190713_1423581.thumb.jpg.a7d6014780d95f639a974ec6f02f97c2.jpg1871908814_20190713_1423471.thumb.jpg.5f4af96df7adcac2fed4679125131a09.jpg

I still have no idea what holds that hinge pin in there, but I reinstalled it and then reinstalled
the rest of the side trim. It stayed in place for years, so hopefully that'll be the end of it.

 

Fortunately, it came off without a fight. Of the twelve fasteners that are supposed to hold the side trim in place, my car was using only three, and they were only finger tight. So, that's good news I guess? I removed the side trim and reassembled the latch hinge with the original pin. I still don't know what holds it in there, but it's in there and before this day, it seemed to stay put. So I figure it'll stay put once I have it reassembled properly. I grabbed some washers and fresh nuts, three 10-24 screws for the front pointy part of the side trim that wasn't secured at all, and put it all back together. Some of those studs were pretty hard to reach with the fender on the car, but eventually I got them all and torqued them snug. I can't tell a difference in how it looks or fits, but it's certainly not going anywhere now. Maybe it rattled and I didn't know it. It certainly won't rattle now. Meh, whatever, it's on there and isn't coming off. Whether the hood pin will stay put is another story, but we'll have to find out how that goes in another installment.

 

6486360_20190713_1626091.thumb.jpg.6577bd9b187b627e535ce24cf5173a0b.jpg

And right back where I started...

 

So back to adjusting the hood latch. Nothing I tried worked. I think the handle itself is bent. I'm not going to try to un-bend it given that it's pot metal and LIMITED hood handles are 100% pure unobtainium. A whole bunch of time and sweat just to get right back where I started, crooked handle and all.


Dang.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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BuickShow4.jpg.6ae83baf0d436ea7e12a178e287d8fe1.jpg

 

Remember that Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac show we attended a few weeks ago? Turns out the Limited won the People's Choice award! One of the fellows from the Buick Club was here on Saturday for our open house and handed me this awesome trophy and let me know that we'd won. I don't do judging and I don't really care much about awards in most cases, but when the other attendees at a big event like this pick your car it really means a lot. I'm extremely honored and wish we could have stayed for the awards but we had a sick kid who was just ready to get out of the heat (who knew we would win?).

 

BuickTrophy.thumb.jpg.e00b4175fa0e48788beb7f872c6db167.jpg

 

Thanks, B-O-P!

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Congratulations Matt! It looks like you were up against a lot of other cars and eras of cars.

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Posted (edited)

My friend Ben suggested heavier oil in the rear shocks to increase damping so that's what I did today. I called Lazar at Apple Hydraulics who rebuilt the shocks and asked him what oil he'd recommend. After rebuilding, they fill these Delco shocks with AW-46 hydraulic fluid (AW=anti wear, 46 is ISO viscosity, roughly the same as SAE 15 weight). To make them stiffer, he recommended heavier fluid, AW-58 or AW-100 (20 or 30 weight). Given how mushy they feel, I went right for the ISO 100. It took some searching to find the right stuff and unfortunately the smallest quantity available is a gallon, so I bought a gallon. Meh.

 

8-3-19c.thumb.jpg.57787dbe52564a03e6282dbb28f1201b.jpg

 

I put the car on the lift and pulled the shocks, which came out easily. The plug is on the side of the housing and uses a unique screw with a crush washer, so use care when you're pulling it out. I dumped out the oil that was in it and moved the lever back and forth to make sure it was as empty as possible. It doesn't matter if the oils mix, but more ISO 100 would be more consistent. Then I used a small oil can with a trigger to refill the shocks, again moving the arm back and forth to get the air bubbles out.

 

8-3-19b.thumb.jpg.c6476c1b6d7a0544f31369c79fc2d6dc.jpg 8-3-19d.thumb.jpg.d3a027c6c77fca1c06f002828171ed6e.jpg 8-3-19e.thumb.jpg.a24892baa72d42eaaf4f88c58d63a5a7.jpg
Pull the plug and drained the shocks. Don't lose the crush washer.

 

I don't remember the shocks being so difficult to reinstall in the frame, but my left hand is still pretty sore and weak (my late-model Cadillac's power hatch slammed closed on it a few days ago). I eventually got them snugged in place and hooked up to the rebuilt shock links. Unfortunately, I think the left side shock is blown--even with the thicker oil in it, it moved pretty easily by hand and didn't do much damping once it was in the car. I confirmed it when I refilled the right shock, which was notably stiffer and significantly damped the rear end. That might explain why the right side shock link broke--it was doing all the work. For now, I'm just going to run it as-is but when driving season is over, I'll send the shock back to Apple Hydraulics and they'll fix it. Nevertheless, with the thicker oil in the shocks, the rear end was notably more controlled without any real increase in ride harshness, so I'm pretty happy. We'll see how it feels with two working shocks and the ISO 100 oil inside, but it's definitely better now.

 

Since that only took about an hour, I had another project that was Buick-related. This 1931 Buick Model 87 sedan came in last week and it's a pretty nice car. Very strong runner that was restored to run the Great Race so it's dialed in. High-speed gears, the intake has been flipped and it has a downdraft carb, and an alternator (in addition to the generator, which runs the water pump) all make it a pretty darned good performer on the road. I had a '32 Model 97 sedan a few years ago and this slightly smaller Model 87 has the same punch in a lighter package, and I'm impressed.

 

31Buick1.thumb.jpg.6780d84f74f153015823b17bcebe4a17.jpg
This is a pretty darned nice 1931 Model 87 sedan.

 

But the moment I opened the hood, I saw a big no-no. Do you see it?

 

8-3-19a.thumb.jpg.b16e62793ec7049b469f4608da7446e1.jpg
Hanging rubber fuel line has to go!

 

Rubber fuel lines in the engine bay are a BIG mistake and have no place on my cars. Add in the way it's just hanging from the barbed fitting and weighed down with a fuel filter, and that's a fire waiting to happen when that line cracks and sprays fuel on the hot exhaust. I wanted to replace it with hard lines, so that's what I did. I thought I'd show you here since my last fuel line tutorial was related to The Car Which Shall Not Be Named and has been removed from existence so maybe this will be helpful to someone else.

 

In this Buick's case, I noted that the mechanical pump is fed from the tank, but looking around under the car, the line splits in the back and feeds an electric pump over on the passenger's side, then crosses back over and connects to the output side of the mechanical pump with a T-fitting. Again, 100% rubber lines, barb fittings, and gear hose clamps. Looks bad and is a recipe for disaster. The only thing I think I liked was the way they put it on the output side of the mechanical pump, which has a check valve built in. Pretty smart.

 

8-3-19g.thumb.jpg.107816f0e4ef0502df61ef6f92e5d108.jpg
That's just some half-assed workmanship. Don't do it that way. Please!

 

So all that nonsense came out and I installed some new flare fittings, one on the output side of the fuel pump and a 90-degree fitting on the carburetor inlet to make the bending easier. I also bought a T fitting to replace the one in the middle of the line, and made a short section of tubing to connect it to the fuel pump. With a slight bend, it fits right up against the steering box without touching anything.

 

8-3-19f.thumb.jpg.2eec6b2d3638aedf5733eeccc9d4303f.jpg 8-3-19e.thumb.jpg.7a797ed8fa823704334f0c5ff940f836.jpg
New fittings with teflon sealant (not tape!) and a section of tubing to include the T fitting for
the electric fuel pump feed. I also made a new hard line for the electric pump. No rubber
in the engine bay!

 

Then I made a template for the fuel line going up to the carburetor. When you need to make more than one or two simple bends, this is an invaluable tool for getting it right the first time. I like to use solder--yes, the stuff you use to sweat pipes. It holds a shape but bends easily with your hands and it can be reused repeatedly. Try it!

 

8-3-19h.thumb.jpg.f4f37281ad31e5e09f692a6277278127.jpg
Make a template to map out your fuel line route.

 

And I think I should mention that this tubing straightener tool is one of the best things I've ever bought. I've been doing a lot of fuel system work recently and being able to uncoil the tubing and get it laser-straight is invaluable. Yes, yes, I know there are guys who think straight lines and clean bends are not correct, but it appeals to my perfectionist tendencies and I like how it looks--on a car like this that isn't correct anyway, it is always nice to see the work was done by someone who cared about doing it right. 

 

8-3-19d.thumb.jpg.20cfacbf66602aad4f1c712722a63130.jpg 8-3-19c.thumb.jpg.c3ff8c2d794904f111651a771ae53e7c.jpg
Tubing straightener is an AWESOME tool. Expensive but worth every penny!

 

Once I had my template, I just bent up the hard line to match, flared the ends, and installed it. Voila! Clean, neat, safe fuel lines that should last forever.

 

8-3-19b.thumb.jpg.792c4f313945d5ad62a1906d0f8f72b9.jpg

Tidy, neat fuel lines can only help your engine bay!

 

You'll see more of this handsome '31 Buick in the next week or two. Someone's going to get a great tour car!

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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We took the Limited on a long tour in southern Ontario, Canada last week and it performed flawlessly. About 750 miles, much of which was the 300 mile drive each way to the north side of Lake Erie. The big guy hammered along at 60 MPH without incident and seemed to pull down about 14 MPG. I can't complain about anything, it was as close to a flawless trip as you can get. I fussed with the tuning a bit simply because it was surging at low speeds (trundling along behind a Model T) but I think my vacuum advance is borked, so I've put that on the To Do list, along with a valve adjustment, which I've never done on this car. But aside from one morning when it was fairly hard to start (which might have been operator error--I pumped when I shouldn't have) the car drove beautifully and blasted home in the dark in absolute comfort. What a great car!

 

1850643853_2019-08-2520_45_25.thumb.jpg.

 

 

The one thing that did go wrong is that I lost my left front turn signal bulb (or thought I did) on the way home. I initially thought all my signals were buggered, but no, just the left front. Just a bulb, no big deal. I took it apart today and found some pretty hacky wiring with parts store butt connectors, one of which had come apart, which is why the signal wasn't working. Bah. So I fixed that with a new butt connector, soldered the joint, and sealed it with some shrink wrap. Then I installed a fresh 1154 bulb (I damaged the original because it was pretty well stuck in the socket) using some dielectric grease and put it back together.I also cleaned things up a bit in there just because that's what I do.

 

Signal1.thumb.jpg.d51835f8bc11cc0a200c33814219e5da.jpg Signal2.thumb.jpg.6f6b4fbff237a855b198b686077cc1fd.jpg

 

I think I'll add new wiring for the headlights and signals to my To Do list this winter. I saw the great work my friend Neil is doing on his Super and these are easy circuits to fix properly since they connect under the hood. At least everything's working correctly for now.

 

I also put some rubber seals on the fender skirts, which, until now, had just been bare metal rubbing on the fenders. I pulled the skirts to clean the wheels after the tour and saw that the bare skirts were really doing a hell of a number on the fender paint. Ugh. So I touched up the fenders then installed some generic weather stripping from Home Depot just to keep it from rubbing. I have the correct stuff on order, so I'll show you how that goes next week rather than waste time with this temporary solution.

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As fate would have it, I just did the new wiring for one of my front turn signal/parking lights today.  I'm going to post some pics tomorrow.  Thanks for your kind comment.

 

Neil

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