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Neil's '41 Super Model 51


neil morse
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After posting various photos in the "Favorite Pictures of My Pre War Buick" thread, I decided it was time to start my own thread.  I got this car in March of 2017, and I know very little about its history.  It appears to be an older restoration of a solid original car.  I will start out with some photos (some of which have already been posted in the other thread).

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A little bit about myself (since the name of this forum is "Me and My Buick).  I am returning to the old car hobby after a 25 year hiatus.  In the late '80's and early '90's I owned several cars, including a '48 Chrysler Windsor Highlander that I did quite a bit of work on.  I am not a mechanic by any means, but I like taking things apart and enjoy doing cosmetic work.  I ended up putting a new, correct interior in the Chrysler, which included removing the dash and the garnish moldings, cutting new door panels, rebuilding and repainting the heater, etc.  I had a trim shop do the seats and headliner, but I did pretty much all the rest myself.  I also took the front clip off and detailed the engine compartment, including new wiring from the firewall forward which I made up myself using the correct cloth-insulated wire and connectors.  Unfortunately, I don't have many photos of the Chrysler from that pre-digital age, but I'm posting two that I scanned from battered snapshots.

 

I always figured I would get another car when I retired, so I started looking around early this year.  The Buick fit my budget and seemed like just what I was looking for: a nice, solid driver that needed a little cosmetic tweaking and I could have fun with without spending too much money.  So far, it seems to be exactly that.

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12 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

Gorgeous car.  Did it come with the home made PVC system?  Has that caused any problems, like excessive oil burning?

 

Hi John:

 

Thank you.  I have to confess that I don't understand what you're asking me about.  I even Googled "PVC" to try and find out, but to no avail.  I'm sure I'm missing something obvious. 

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6 minutes ago, neil morse said:

 

Hi John:

 

Thank you.  I have to confess that I don't understand what you're asking me about.  I even Googled "PVC" to try and find out, but to no avail.  I'm sure I'm missing something obvious. 

I am talking about this hose, from the valve cover to the air cleaner.  I don't see where there is any baffle or valve and it would seem to me that just vacuum from running might suck engine oil up that tube and down the carbs. 

 

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Ah .. I see.  You will have to get the answer to that question from someone more knowledgeable than I am.  You are correct that it's just a rubber hose with no check valves or baffles of any kind.  But it was standard equipment on the '41's (and likely other years -- I don't know), and at least I know that my car doesn't suffer from any undue oil consumption.

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As I mentioned, I don't know a lot about the history of this car, but I've had fun doing a bit of detective work since I got it in March.  I got it from a dealer named Donn Dabney in Sonoma, CA who runs an outfit called Left Coast Classics.  I actually had gone up to see Donn about another car he had -- also a '41 Super sedan.  The car was okay, but had a number of things wrong with it that concerned me.  Donn told me that, coincidentally, he had just looked at another Super that a dealer had for sale down south that was in better shape, and he thought he could get for me if I was interested.  Long story short, Donn eventually went down and picked up my car from the guy in Santa Barbara, and brought it up to Sonoma on a flatbed, and I bought it.  The only thing that Donn did to the car before I got it from him was a brake job, which I clearly wanted done before I drove the car down to my  home in San Francisco.  The photo above of me standing with the car is from the day I picked it up from Donn.  (By the way, Donn is a stand up guy and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone who's thinking of buying a car from him.)

 

When I picked up the car, I found a box from Bob's Automobilia in the trunk with a few parts, and there was an invoice from 2001 with a name, address, and phone number in Ventura.  Off to consult Google, and sure enough, I located the same person still living at the same address!  The phone number was no longer good, but I mailed him a letter via the United States Postal Service (old school), and he got back to me within a week or so.

 

This guy (Brian) was a fireman in Ventura, and he had bought the car in 2000 from a man in Thousand Oaks who had "restored" it (which, of course, could mean a lot of different things).  Brian told me that he had done nothing to the car but drive it and enjoy it for about five years.  Around that time, he bought a new set of tires (correct 6.50-16 BF Goodrich Silvertowns that are still on the car), but then the car stopped running.  He parked it outside his house under one of those "pop-up" portable garage/tents, and figured he would find out what was wrong with it and get it running again.  Well ... that never happened.  Fast forward to 2015 -- the car is still outside under what was left of the tent (which apparently wasn't a whole lot), and Brian decides he's never going to do anything with it so he sells it to the guy in Santa Barbara.

 

I next talked to the guy in Santa Barbara (Richard).  It turns out he was not really a dealer.  He's a real estate broker who is an enthusiast and is part owner of a restoration shop.  He is also the owner of a beautiful '41 Super convertible that I posted some pictures of in the "Favorite Pictures of My Pre War Buick" thread.  He was very friendly, but I had a hard time getting much information about what he did with the car.  He told me he bought a new battery and had Pertronix electronic ignition installed, but it seemed he really didn't know what else was done to the car when it was in his possession (or wasn't telling me).  But he did say he was sorry to let it go because it ran so much better than his convertible!  So I never have found out what was wrong with the car and why it stopped running in 2005.  However, he has proved to be right about how well it's running now (more on that later).

 

So … next step was to try and locate the guy from Thousand Oaks who presumably did a bunch of work on my car and then sold it to Brian in Ventura.  This was very frustrating because I was able to determine through the internet that he was still listed at the same address I had been given by Brian and even had the same phone number.  I also found out that he was an active member of the BCA, and even found articles by him the “Torque Tube” Newsletter.  But he has not responded to phone messages and letters.  So I haven’t been able to figure out what he did to the car.

It appears that the car has been repainted in the original color.  It looks like “royal maroon,” but I can’t be sure since the data plate is missing from the car.  The door jambs, interior of the trunk, etc. all appear to be the same color, so I think it’s the original color.  The paint is in excellent shape.  It also appears that the seats and door panels were redone in the correct materials.  The headliner is clearly original.  The engine appears to be the original, but I have no idea what has been done to it.

That’s it for now – next installment coming soon.

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24 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

I am talking about this hose, from the valve cover to the air cleaner.  I don't see where there is any baffle or valve and it would seem to me that just vacuum from running might suck engine oil up that tube and down the carbs. 

 

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TYPO John,  PCV  not PVC    Positive Crankcase Ventilation

 

Beautiful car Neil

Edited by wndsofchng06 (see edit history)
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I found this on the Buick Heritage Alliance website:

 

1941 - Compound carburetion introduced on all Super, Century, and Roadmaster models as standard equipment and available as an option on all Specials.  This year 10 mm spark plugs were also used and the forerunner of a PVC (positive crankcase ventilation) system was pioneered which vented the oil vapors to the carburetor through a small tube from the top of the valve cover to the air cleaner.  Compound carburetion continued through the limited 1942 production, but was discontinued after World War II.

 

 

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There were numerous complaints in 1941 about plugs fouling. Some attributed it to the small 10mm spark plugs Buick used and some said it was this PCV system. Service bulletins were issued for both. In the case of the plugs, dealers were instructed to drill out the plug holes and tap them for larger plugs (yow!) while for the PCV system, they had rubber plugs that they would install in the two openings and remove the tube. They were supposed to install a more familiar road-draft tube on the side of the engine, but I suspect few dealers did that and instead installed one of those breather-type oil filler caps on the valve cover.

 

It appears that Buick eliminated this PCV system at some point in production--I have an original dual carb air cleaner without a hole in it for the PCV pipe. Not welded up, just not there.

 

Also note that the pipe used between the two was a special tube that was insulated. There was an inner tube and an outer tube and there are flanges on the ends to fit snugly into the grommets. My '41 Century has a correct one and I'll try to find a photo of it. Most cars just have a bent piece of pipe or even a rubber hose there, but neither is correct. It's actually pretty heavy!

 

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I'm learning some things here, which I'm always thankful for.  When I had my car down at Don Micheletti's house the other day (and there will be more on that later in this saga), Don noted that the engine did not have a road draft tube like earlier Buick 8's, but instead had the "PCV" tube going from the valve cover to the air cleaner, and also had a breather cap for the oil filler (which you can see in the picture of my engine) instead of a fixed cap.  So this primitive precursor of the modern PCV system was apparently something that the Buick engineers thought was a good idea for the compound carburetion engines for some reason.  

 

Here's more from the Buick Heritage Alliance website:

 

PVC System Modifications

The simple PVC system introduced in 1941 was blamed for coking of the carburetor jets.  As a result, Buick offered a kit to eliminate the valve cover to air cleaner connection and install a valve cover breather and crankcase breather tube discharging to the atmosphere.  The 1946 and later models used a valve cover and crankcase breather as Buick abandoned the PVC system until it was required by the federal government in the 1960s.

 

So there you have it.  I haven't examined the jets on my carbs, so I don't know if there's a problem, but maybe someone else with more knowledge about the '41 engines can provide more information about this.

 

Edit: See Matt's post, above

 

 

Edited by neil morse
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As I wrote earlier, I have been out of the hobby for a long time, and I have neither the tools or the skills to do any serious mechanical work so I needed some help as far as checking out what kind of shape the car was in mechanically.  Fortunately, I had discovered this forum, and after I posted a bit asking some questions about various things, Don Micheletti very kindly sent me a message noting that he lived nearby and suggesting that we get together.  I drove down and met Don in April, had a nice visit and saw his two ‘38’s, but we didn’t get around to checking out my car until a few days ago.  (Photo below.)

 

Dr. Micheletti gave the car a thorough going over and I was very pleased with the results.  Compression was between 115 and 120 lbs. on all cylinders. The plugs looked very clean. We changed the oil and filter, and there was no grit in the oil and nothing ominous was stuck to the magnet on the oil pan plug.  I had previously checked the oil level in the transmission, and it was fine.  We checked the rear end, and it was down by about half a pint so some 90 weight gear oil went in there to top it up.  The tires (even though they are about 12 years old) looked sound with no cracking. Don was very satisfied overall with how the engine ran and sounded.  I am very happy to now have the peace of mind to continue driving it, and venture out for some longer trips.

 

One of the things I was interested in finding out was what, if anything, had been done to the engine of my car.  When Don and I looked it over the other day, we didn’t find any clear evidence that it had been rebuilt or modified.  Today, however, after the postings above about the ’41 engines using 10 mm spark plugs, Don emailed me to tell me that my car had 14 mm plugs.  As he put it, “I was surprised to see that they were 14mm. I had thought that Buick used the 10mm plugs then, but I am no expert. I had suspected that your engine has been rebuilt - too clean and quiet. Plus having the 14mm plugs says that the head was modified for them. You are lucky for that mod.”  So more good news!

 

My car needs a few things.  The ammeter/temperature gauge is in very sad shape, and I plan to repair or replace it.  And that will probably lead to restoring the wiring under the dash and possibly putting in a new forward wiring harness.  This is fine with me since I bought it partly to have something to tinker with.  But for the time being, I’m just planning on driving and enjoying it. 

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On 11/2/2017 at 8:15 PM, JohnD1956 said:

Gorgeous car.  Did it come with the home made PVC system?  Has that caused any problems, like excessive oil burning?

I`m putting a `41 Buick 248 dual carb engine in my `36 coupe.  My 248 has a metal tube(original equipment) that runs from the valve cover to the air cleaner, both air cleaner and valve cover have rubber grommets the metal tube slides in to. All other small inline eights are vented thru the lifter cover. I plan to run two front carbs with parallel linkage.

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  • 1 month later...

Shift Linkage Repair Kit

 

My '41 has a tendency to pop out of third gear, particularly when decelerating on a long downhill.  Before we got any farther in trying to fix this problem, my friend and automotive mentor, Don Micheletti, pointed out to me that the shift linkage had a whole lot of play in it due to totally decayed rubber bushings and other failing parts. 

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I haven't yet figured out how to post photos with captions underneath them, so bear with me.  

 

I purchased a “repair kit” from Bob’s:

 

http://bobsautomobilia.com/transmission/1941-48-shift-linkage-kit-.-slr-418/
 

 and made an appointment with Dr. Don to install it.

 

Here’s the kit as it comes from Bob – everything is labeled and there’s a reproduction from the shop manual exploded drawing that shows where each part goes.

 

 

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Getting Rid of Some Oil Where it Should Not Be

 

The last time I was down at Don's, he commented on the smell of burned oil in the engine compartment of my car, and noticed that there was oil around the spark plugs on cylinders 2 through 7.  He told me that this is a common problem in these engines because the holes for the bolts for the rocker arm shaft supports are drilled all the way through into the spark plug cavities, and oil tends to seep down through the holes and get burned by the hot plugs.  He suggested sealing the bolts with RTV, which is something he has done on his engines.  Sounded like a great idea to me!

 

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The valve cover came off very easily.  You can see the bolts that line up with the plugs.

 

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After removing the bolts, we cleaned out the holes with a brush on a power drill using gasoline as a solvent.  The holes have to be as clean as possible so the RTV can bond making a complete seal.  We gave the bolts a gasoline bath at the same time.

 

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A glop of Permatex black silicone on each bolt, and back they go. 

 

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All cleaned off and the valve cover buttoned back up with a new gasket.

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On 11/2/2017 at 6:39 PM, JohnD1956 said:

I don't see where there is any baffle or valve and it would seem to me that just vacuum from running might suck engine oil up that tube and down the carbs. 

 

John commented earlier about the primitive PCV system that Buick used in 1941 with a tube running from the valve cover into the air cleaner.  I neglected to take a photo of the inside of the valve cover when it was off, but there was, in fact, a baffle on the inside to prevent the problem that John was wondering about.

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1 hour ago, neil morse said:

 

John commented earlier about the primitive PCV system that Buick used in 1941 with a tube running from the valve cover into the air cleaner.  I neglected to take a photo of the inside of the valve cover when it was off, but there was, in fact, a baffle on the inside to prevent the problem that John was wondering about.

 

I found it very interesting that the 41 had this system.  Engines prior to, and thereafter, used the road draft tube for ventilation of the fumes.  I do not know if it was all engines but I know my 56 still employs the road draft tube.  I wonder mostly about why the engineers went this way in 41 and dropped back to the road draft tube later? 

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18 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

I found it very interesting that the 41 had this system.  Engines prior to, and thereafter, used the road draft tube for ventilation of the fumes.  I do not know if it was all engines but I know my 56 still employs the road draft tube.  I wonder mostly about why the engineers went this way in 41 and dropped back to the road draft tube later? 

 

I don't know any more about it than what was posted earlier in this thread (post #'s 12 and 13).  I have noticed, however, that some engines have the "breather" oil cap and no draft tube, even without the pipe going to the air cleaner.

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If you notice the condition of Neils valve train, the crud isnt what I usually see - it is more "cooked' and flaky. Not sludgy. To me that suggests that the ventilation of the crankcase isnt great. I expect that Buick found the  same thing and went back to the more conventional road draft tube.

We made no attempt to clean the valve train up. I felt that there would be to great a chance of getting a bunch of particles down into the crankase. Let sleepping dogs lay.

 

It was fun for me to have helped Neil.

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Spark Plug Cover

 

I got a spark plug cover off Ebay to spiff up my engine compartment a bit.  After spraying with a rattle can of Dante Red from Cars, Inc., it looks pretty good.  I'm going to wait a while to install it because I want to see if we took care of the problem of oil seeping down onto the plugs.  Also, I need to score a pair of the correct acorn nuts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

New Tailpipe

 

When I got my car, I saw that the last 8" or so of the tailpipe had rusted through and broken off, and what remained had a "filigree" look to it.  A local muffler shop gave me a bid of $75 to replace the pipe and also patch a small hole in the muffler.  Seemed like a good price, so I took the car down today and waited while the work was done.

 

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I forgot to take a proper "before" photo, but you can get the idea from this one.

 

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Old pipe cut off just behind the rear axle.

 

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New pipe welded on.

 

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Looks much better, and will make for more pleasant conditions in the passenger compartment.

 

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I took some photos of the undercarriage since this is the first time I've had the car on a lift since I got it.  I was pretty happy with how clean it looked.

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 I agree with John that the underside of your car looks great!

 I also have an issue with mine popping out of third on a coast, at times, but not always. I was able to get some bushings back when I restored the car a few years ago, and actually remanufactured part of the steel shaft the you have a picture of above, but there is still one quite loose bushing near the transmission. I have been thinking that maybe the culprit.

 Also, I was very interested in the comments about the origin of the oil in the spark plug pockets. I too have that issue, and wondered where its' coming from. Thanks, I'll give that fix a try.

 Keith

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3 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

Did the repair kit for the clutch linkage solve the popping out of gear when decelerating?    

 

Just a tiny correction -- the repair kit was for the shift linkage, not the clutch.  I don't yet know the answer to your question.  I haven't experienced the "pop out" since we installed the new bushings in the linkage, but it's only something that happened occasionally, so I can't say for sure.

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2 hours ago, Buicknutty said:

 I agree with John that the underside of your car looks great!

 I also have an issue with mine popping out of third on a coast, at times, but not always. I was able to get some bushings back when I restored the car a few years ago, and actually remanufactured part of the steel shaft the you have a picture of above, but there is still one quite loose bushing near the transmission. I have been thinking that maybe the culprit.

 Also, I was very interested in the comments about the origin of the oil in the spark plug pockets. I too have that issue, and wondered where its' coming from. Thanks, I'll give that fix a try.

 Keith

 

In the repair kit from Bob's, the replacement for the bushing down near the transmission is actually nylon, which I'm sure is superior to what was there originally.  On my car, there was nothing left of what had been there before, so I don't know what it was made of.  It's the white part in the group that I have circled in this photo.

 

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Since the kit from Bob's is only $29.95, you might want to try it.  As I mentioned above, I haven't yet determined whether the linkage repair took care of the "pop out" problem, but it sure made the shifting feel smoother and more positive

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It seems like we successfully took care of the problem with oil seeping down into the spark plug cavities, so I went ahead and installed the spark plug cover.  Cleans things up nicely, but I still need to find the correct acorn nuts.

 

 

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