Matt Harwood

1941 Buick Limited Limousine

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I was going through some old files today and found this document. I recall seeing it before and it is reported to be factory test track data, but I can't confirm its source. However, since things like top speed, gear ratios, and fuel consumption are frequent discussions and others have quoted this document (or something like it) I thought you guys might like to see it. Like I said, I don't know its source or veracity, but the numbers don't seem out of line to me--my Limited gets about 14 MPG at 60 MPH, for example. Not sure I'm willing to stay on the throttle until 102 MPH (!), though. Also interesting to note how much of a hit you take in acceleration just by going from, say, 3.9 to 3.6 gears, even in the large series cars.

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

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 Interesting info, thanks for posting, Matt. The numbers tend to jibe with my seat of the pants, and fuel economy is similar to what I've got with mine. That acceleration seems to me that it would be in third gear, as it says 10-60, and I think my Roadmaster would be quicker running up through all the gears.

I cannot quite read what the fourth from the left side column is.

 I agree, I don't think I'd keep my foot in it long enough to get to 110 MPH.

 Keith

Edited by Buicknutty (see edit history)

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I'm getting ready to take the Limited on a trip to Cincinnati this weekend for a tour with the AACA region down there. I changed the oil earlier in the summer, but shockingly enough that was almost 2800 miles ago. I also wasn't happy with the 20W50 Valvoline GR-1 synthetic oil I used. At the recommendation of Lawrence Helfand, I did an oil change tonight and switched to 15W40 Shell Rotella non-synthetic. About half the price of the synthetic stuff. It's raining so I didn't want to go for a test drive, but we'll see how it works on a long high-speed highway drive to Cincinnati on Friday. 

 

Although I'm generally thrilled with my new exhaust system, there's a fairly persistent drone at highway speeds. It sounds almost exactly like a bad bearing humming along--not too loud, but definitely noticeable. So one of my projects for the immediate future right after driving season ends is to take it to my buddy Tim and have him do some tweaks. One, the axle hits the exhaust on big dips with passengers in the back and it makes a pretty ugly noise, so I'll have him add some clearance there. And two, I'm going to add a second muffler. I found this neat little stainless steel muffler that's only 13 inches long and it should tuck up out of sight right before the tailpipe. It's a straight-through design so it shouldn't affect performance but it may attenuate the sound a bit more at speed. It certainly can't hurt and it was only $90. I don't like that it's polished, so I'll paint it black after Tim installs it so it disappears under the car.

 

10-16-19-1.thumb.jpg.f64740f592e710118f29829940378c67.jpg  10-16-19-2.thumb.jpg.1a253e6fd445414ae958971312644b6b.jpg
This little stainless muffler should kill the drone.

 

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And it should fit neatly under the car without any major rework
of the new exhaust system.

 

And as long as I was poking around under the car getting ready for a road trip, I decided to tackle another project that has been on my to-do list for a year: adding grease to the the steering box. My car steers beautifully with very little effort, but I bought some John Deere corn head grease for the steering box to service it. I pulled the plug and found that it's pretty dry in there. A little regular grease around the edges, but it's just as I expected--someone put the wrong stuff in there. The fact that it steers so well is a testament to the quality of the unit. Unfortunately, I don't have a spare grease gun--I didn't want to empty the one we use at the shop and fill it with the corn head grease, which won't be used very often. I put some grease in a little oil can (the same kind I used to fill the shocks) and it would squirt a little grease with each pump, so I tried that for a while. After about 20 minutes, the steering box still wasn't full and the little oil pump finally gave up the ghost. Bah. I'll try something else tomorrow before I leave, maybe a big syringe or something.

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Just as a follow-up note: if you're going to put grease in your steering box, put the tube of corn head grease in your grease gun as intended. All the halfway solutions I tried just made a mess. After failing with the oil can last night, I bought a mini grease gun this morning but since it was also designed to use a cardboard tube inside, the plunger didn't make a good seal with the walls and the grease just squeezed out around it. What a mess. I ordered a few more tubes of corn head grease and I'll buy a cheap grease gun and make that my steering box grease gun. I have three steering boxes to service, so it'll be worth it.

 

Do as I say and not as I do and just do it right the first time, which includes using the right tools.

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The corn head grease DOES flow, doesn't it?

 

I have put in the Penrite stuff with a funnel. It is incredibly slow. you may as well go away for a few hours, and it was a hot day!. I have also put a pointy lid on and squeezed the bottle, but that really didn't work like you would think. The funnel was far better. The main thing is you don't know how much to put in. It might get full with grease still in the funnel. I didn't make a huge mess, but the possibility was sure there. Once full, I cranked the steering back and forth, and may have even forced a little extra grease in with my thumb. There are 2 roller bearings on the worm in many of these old GM boxes, and I wanted to make absolutely sure that top bearing got wet. In retrospect, after seeing a box apart, I think the extra caution was unnecessary. On the other hand it wasn't much trouble.

 

I have heard that others heat the bottle in water. That might be a really good idea. In any event, I wouldn't sit there and watch it. It's going to take a while.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment

 

Be sure to let us know how you make out with the grease gun.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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I have to admit that I love little projects on the car. They're very rewarding. Since I've been driving all summer, I haven't been doing much tinkering, but while getting the Buick ready for a long drive tomorrow, I figured I'd attack a few little jobs. I changed the oil yesterday but there's another oil that should probably be changed: the air cleaner. I've never serviced it and didn't even know what I'd find inside so maybe it's time to take a look, eh?

 

The "oil bath" air cleaner on most old cars is about as effective an air cleaner as you'll find. They're heavy and messy, but the science behind them is sound. Inside, there's a kind of copper or bronze mesh, like a scrubbing pad from your kitchen. Underneath, there's an oil reservoir. In theory, the air is moving so fast as it is pulled along the oil at the bottom of the housing that heavier dirt particles can't make the 180-degree turn up to the outlet and get stuck in the oil. Additionally, some oil vapor is pulled along with the air and coats all the millions of fibers inside the filter element. As the air passes through the mesh, any small particles that didn't get caught in the oil at the bottom can't avoid hitting at least one fiber along the way. Since it's coated with oil, it sticks instead of going into your carburetor. Eventually, as more and more oil coats the mesh, it drains back into the reservoir, taking the dirt with it. Oil bath filters are so effective that they're still used on many heavy-duty tractors designed for dusty conditions. 

complex-oil-bath-air-filter.jpg

The fact that the oil can be changed and the element rinsed off and reused so it's very economical. So that's what I decided to do tonight.

 

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Here's the Buick dual carburetor air cleaner. Air enters through

the hose, where it is channeled down the center of the housing to
the oil reservoir at the bottom,  then it is pulled up through
the filter elements and out to the carburetors. Once it's opened
up it'll make more sense.

 

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Here's the underside of the lid where you can see how the air
comes in and is directed down through...

 

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...the center and into the oil reservoir at the bottom...

 

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...and then up through the filter element.

 

Once I had everything disassembled, I hosed it down with brake cleaner, including the reservoir and filtration element. Technically, the filter should never wear out and while I didn't know what I'd find inside, I was pleased to find both plenty of [fairly dirty] oil and a copper mesh filter element. Once it was all cleaned up, I could see that there was an oil level mark inside the reservoir so I could refill it with exactly the right amount of oil. I decided to under-fill it a bit, reassemble the two bottom pieces, then finish filling it by dumping the oil over the filter element--I figured that would give it a head-start while the oil gets pulled up into the mesh as I drive.

 

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Most filters should have a fill level indicator of some sort.

 

So I guess it's ready to go tomorrow. Let's hope for a good weekend!

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10 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

@Matt HarwoodDid you use 50 weight oil? 

 

Yikes, no. I used the same 15W40 that I put in the crankcase. Shouldn't matter, should it? Motor oil should be heavy enough not to get sucked into the intake.

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The main failure mode of an oil bath air cleaner is a reservoir that wont hold oil due to rust pinholes. The filters take on water from the air, and it settles down and causes rust down at the bottom of the reservoir, underneath the oil. The main reason we service these is to get the water out and prevent damage. Removing the trapped dirt is important, but secondary. I doubt they ever clog or even stop filtering, until all the oil runs out the hole.

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1 minute ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Yikes, no. I used the same 15W40 that I put in the crankcase. Shouldn't matter, should it? Motor oil should be heavy enough not to get sucked into the intake.

 

Does Buick specify SAE50? Pontiac does. It caught me by surprise.

 

I believe other makes I have owned just called for the same oil as the crankcase. Oh well, I bought a quart of SAE50. I need to service it again. Thanks for reminding me.

 

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3 minutes ago, Bloo said:

 

Does Buick specify SAE50? Pontiac does. It caught me by surprise.

 

I believe other makes I have owned just called for the same oil as the crankcase. Oh well, I bought a quart of SAE50. I need to service it again. Thanks for reminding me.

 

 

Dang, I just looked it up in the manual and it does indeed specify SAE50. Guess I'll pull it out tomorrow morning and put the correct stuff in there.

 

Thanks for the heads-up, guys!

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All good. Took 5 minutes to change to some 50 weight oil this morning. Wish us luck on the trip!

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Matt, what a great car! A member of our local BCA chapter regularly took his restored 1941 Limited on regional CCCA CARavans. Three comments: 1) I was under the impression that Buick straight eights had a characteristic drone or moan at highway speeds. My 1949 Super finally achieved it when I installed the correct long muffler. 2) Did you consider using a pastry bag for the corn head grease?  3) The oil bath air cleaners are great! The only drawback is if your car backfires through the carburetor. It is like blowing through a straw into a milkshake; the oil blurps out through the air cleaner at the bottom and sprays the engine compartment.

Short of owning a Limited like yours, I enjoy driving my 1939 Roadmaster whenever I can.  It is well appointed and cruises effortlessly at 60 mph.  What a fun "near luxury" car to drive, and it fits in my in-tandem garage!

Bob

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)
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Arrived safely in Cincinnati without incident. I'm thrilled with how effortless this car is. Just about 250 miles, averaging about 13 MPG--I can't complain about that. It was such an easy drive that I almost forgot I was driving an old car. The nice cool weather makes it easy and even a brief traffic jam didn't stress the car--it stayed at 160 the whole way. The Rotella held 40-50 PSI at 60 MPH and about 15 PSI at hot idle, which is slightly better than the synthetic, but I didn't feel much difference otherwise. It might be quieter when it's cold, though, so that's good. We'll be touring tomorrow and if the parking lot here at the hotel is any indication, we seem to have the oldest car. We'll see...

 

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Well, f*ck it. Car is no-start this morning. Ground the battery dead with it almost firing. Has gas, has spark, no go. Battery dead in hotel parking lot. 

 

Looks like we'll flatbed it home and rent a car to go home. That's $1000 I'm obviously thrilled to spend.

 

Why do I do this crap again?

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Man, that is so disappointing I'm sure.

 

Probably not going to help with this but wouldn't it be cheaper to grab a new 6 volt battery and drive her home vs the transport?

How ironic would it be that your battery is the cuplrit here?

 

I feel your pain with the bad luck Matt. Hopefully the stars will align and things will be good again.

Hang in there. 

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

Well, f*ck it. Car is no-start this morning. Ground the battery dead with it almost firing. Has gas, has spark, no go. Battery dead in hotel parking lot. 

 

Looks like we'll flatbed it home and rent a car to go home. That's $1000 I'm obviously thrilled to spend.

 

Why do I do this crap again?

 

You will forgot soon enough and do it all over again.   But we have all been there so I feel for you.   At least you are in a parking lot.

 

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Probably flooded. Gets worse each time you step on the pedal to activate the starter. Likely will fire right up when you get it off the flatbed at home. May help to leave the ignition switch off, put foot to the floor and do not let the pedal up. Then activate starter by toggling the key to the on position for a few 30 second cranking sessions.  That should open the choke and prevent addtl spurts of gas from constantly pumping the gas pedal for the starteraa

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36 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

Probably flooded. Gets worse each time you step on the pedal to activate the starter. Likely will fire right up when you get it off the flatbed at home. May help to leave the ignition switch off, put foot to the floor and do not let the pedal up. Then activate starter by toggling the key to the on position for a few 30 second cranking sessions.  That should open the choke and prevent addtl spurts of gas from constantly pumping the gas pedal for the starteraa

new battery and a shot of starter fluid too...

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Finally got the car going again. It was probably flooded. I don't know why it was so unhappy this morning, but this is the second time this has happened and both times it has happened the morning after a long, fast drive. I don't know what the mechanism is that causes it.

 

After a certain point, the chokes were working against me (remember, I have two of them) but I was out of battery power to make it crank any longer. I quickly grew weary of well-intentioned advice and a gathering crowd all telling me things I already knew or explaining that I didn't know what I was doing, but fortunately everyone left at about the same time and I was finally alone. Melanie went and rented a Tahoe then bought another battery and some jumper cables (because nobody stocks the long battery the Buick needs, we had to use the spare as a jump). Unfortunately, the crappy parts store jumper cables were not up to the task of conveying six volts, so they melted instead of turning the starter. I drove to two other auto parts stores until I found some heavy-duty ones. I gave the melted ones back to the guy at Autozone who told me I connected them wrong and that's why they melted. I didn't argue because I was homicidal at that point and someone surely would have gotten hurt. Note that you can punch through the metal side of an Autozone trash can if you're angry enough. The edges are razor sharp, so expect to bleed on the way out. I like bleeding.

 

Of course, in their infinite wisdom, the Buick engineers made the hood open from the side so I could not simultaneously connect the batteries and operate the chokes on the carbs. We removed the hood instead. With Melanie cranking with her foot on the floor and me holding the chokes open, it finally fired. Ran like crap for a minute or two, then smoothed out and acted like nothing happened.

 

Oil pressure was WAY down, like 5 PSI at idle and less than 20 PSI at speed so I figure a LOT of gas got washed down there and thinned it out. We made it to lunch and back again, but then I went back to the auto parts store and bought $100 worth of oil, a drain pan, and a crescent wrench (what, carry tools? In this car? Why would this car need tools?) and changed the oil in the parking lot. The Rotella was OK I guess but I went with 20W50 Castrol this time.

 

It drove fine after that, even on the highway and even with hot starts. Any time we were driving, the ammeter was pegged and probably will be most of the way home tomorrow as it recharges the dead battery. At least it is back to starting and running correctly now and oil pressure is back to normal (45 PSI at speed and 20 PSI at hot idle). 

 

This pushes me ever closer to giving up on old cars. I can't handle this kind of heartbreak over and over. I can't invest this much time, money, and effort only to get kicked in the nuts every time. My father was probably right, as he usually is. Don't go far from home, don't spend more than you can afford to throw away, and get out when they start to make you miserable. I'm pretty miserable. Being bi-polar means I'm miserable a lot, but these cars are like anchors that pull me so deep that I sometimes feel like I won't be able to get back up.

 

I'm starting to think that ALL old cars are crap. I can't have spent the last 10 years finding the only 1500 shitty ones. This is too hard on me and when I'm upset about a car, I'm a terrible husband and father. I love my family more than I love old cars, so I think they may have to go. I can't do this much longer.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Don't forget to lean out the chokes now that it is getting colder. 

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And just a few posts back this thread was so great......

 

1668271668_2019-10-1819_15_47.thumb.jpg.

 

This right here is what it's about, at least for some of us. Here's one of mine...

 

Hm7RflI.jpg

 

And one I stole from C Carl, I hope he wont mind too much...

 

image.thumb.jpeg.32f5c15aff5e93c16c311f3

 

Matt, at the risk of telling you a bunch of stuff you already know, and I suspect that is what I am doing because I have seen you explain to people in these forums time and time again the right way to sort out a car. You do a much better job of it than I could.

 

So, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, it was FLOODED! That is something you just had to deal with now and then when nearly all cars were carbureted. Yeah, nobody has odd sized 6 volt batteries. Yeah, most jumper cables are speaker wire with a half inch of insulation on them. Yeah they don't work on 6 volts, or cars with completely dead batteries. I'll bet you have seen all this before.....

 

Patience is what it takes, and patience is in my opinion the toughest thing to get. Tougher than money or repair skill by far. When I was young I was on a mission to be a real life Gus Wilson. Like a lot of young guys, I got pissed off pretty easily. Even when I understood what a stumbling block that was, and what needed to happen, it seemed damn near impossible to do anything about it. That had to change if I was going to be successful, and eventually it did.

 

How you react when adversity strikes makes all the difference in how much fun you have. So many people think it is gonna be like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when the reality is something more like a mashup of Groundhog Day and The Perils Of Pauline, where you wake up every morning and get run over by a train. I often tell new people to read Beemon's "Me and My Beautiful 56 Buick" thread. That is EXACTLY how I, and I suspect most of us in here, learned the ropes.

 

When things go wrong, and they will, you just have to step back and look at it like a puzzle, or maybe a game of chess. It's not easy to do, I know! Any emotional reaction just slows you down and ruins the day. Imagine you are Hercule Poirot or Jane Marple trying to figure out how the murderer locked the study from the inside, and how you will prove it.

 

Sleep on it. It will be fine. The Buick is sorted and proven. You have posted about it many times, and had many trouble-free trips. In the morning you will be looking at your choke unloader settings... and whether the new headers are closer to the fuel pump body than the old manifold was, and so on.

 

 

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Matt, a suggestion:  Get yourself a 6V Optima to carry in the trunk as a backup.  They're small and light. a one-hand carry and install--don't use a lift strap!--and they hold a charge for 6 months without a tender.  And they're sealed so they can't spill.  I;m pretty sure you're a Pierce-Arrow Society member and we get a once-a-year 30-day window (usually in the March-May timeframe) for purchasing one to three at a very favorable, delivered-to-your-door, price,

 

At your leisure 🙂 , determine what else you'll need:  remove your long battery and set the Optima in place and buy one additional (longer) cable to make this short battery work, probably the ground cable.  Don't forget zip ties to hold it in place. Stash the Optima in its shipping box with the longer cable in your trunk or as part of your Go Kit.

 

At some time when all things are rosier and this kind of occurrence is not fresh in your mind, think of Plans B, C, and D for your various old car peregrinations.  For example, in 1997 I auditioned retirement by driving my 1936 Pierce solo from Oakland CA to Cleveland to (1) participate in a friend's daughter's wedding, (2) stash car in Detroit for 2 months, (3) fly back and drive to Pierce Meet at Superior, Wisconsin, and (4) drive home via US 2 thru Montana and Glacier Park.  Should I have thrown a rod or suffered another disabling calamity, I had a PAS roster, would have found a self-storage unit wherever it happened, and would have ridden The Dirty Dog (Greyhound) to the nearest commercial airport.  I was MENTALLY prepared to do this.  Fortunately, I suffered only a speedo head failure, one flat tire, and had to dismantle and clean the carb in Bismarck to remove a piece of grit that inexplicably got thru the filter.  Yes, I cussed at each one, but each was "not so bad" compared to a catastrophic failure.

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Arrived home without incident. Car started as usual this morning and battery was fully charged by the time we pulled out of the hotel parking lot. 4 hours on the highway at 65 MPH with one gas stop and zero issues. Still feel like I can't trust it but I guess I can't ask more of an 80 year old machine than it gave us today. 

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