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Neil's '41 Super Model 51

neil morse

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14 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

Neil, perhaps they changed by 1950. They are the same on mine. I t was a one owner car. It is a Special with a 248. I suppose it is possible they were changed some time before it was retired in '71.   Is it the thread that is different or the external size?




Ben, you are 100% correct.  I was not paying attention, and was going by the external dimension of the acorn nut.  Since the nuts for the spark plug cover took a 1/2 inch socket and the acorn nuts for the valve cover took a 5/8 inch socket, I mistakenly assumed that the studs for the spark plug cover were smaller.  Not so.  The studs are identical, 5/16-24 as Don mentions.  Thank you for setting me straight.  I will get a set of the acorns from Bob's.

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NOS Ammeter Gauge


One of the things that really needs attention in my car is the ammeter/temp. gauge.




I found this NOS Ammeter on Ebay, and it arrived today.  It's a little dusty from being on the shelf for so long, but it's going to clean up nice.



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NOS Temperature gauge -- DOA


I got a new temp. gauge off of Ebay.  It looks good and appears never to have been installed in a car, but unfortunately sticking the bulb in a cup of boiling water produces no movement of the needle.  The bulb and capillary tube appear to be completely intact, so I don't know where the problem is.  The needle also moves freely when I tweak the mechanism from the back, so that's not the problem.  However, the "magic gas" appears to have leaked out somewhere along the way.




I have been trying to decide how to proceed with this aspect of my gauge repair project.  The temperature gauge currently in the car works fine -- it's just a cosmetic issue from the fried plastic, as you can see from the photo I posted earlier.  In Dave Stovall's excellent thread about how he restored his gauges, he describes how he left his temperature gauge in place and hanging out of the dash and essentially rebuilt the gauge face around it.  There is certainly a lot to be said for this approach since it is very risky to try to remove the bulb from the block without breaking the tube, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  On the other hand, I figured if I could get a new unit that functioned it might be more convenient to remove the old unit and rebuild the gauge cluster on the bench.


I have read that there are places that will fix these units and put new ether in the bulb (certainly not something I would want to attempt).  If it's not too costly, I'm thinking it might be worth having this new unit repaired.  Ideas? 

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2 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

I would have the "new" one repaired.    An observation:   the bolt in the last rocker arm pedestal is sometimes [  all the time?  ]too long and is screwed into the bulb. Removing said bolt will eliminate this possibility.  Allows for injection of penentrant as well.




Yes, Don had already mentioned to me about the access to the bulb through the hole for the rear stud.  I might have to go that route if I end up opting to remove the present bulb because I have checked it and it doesn't budge with gentle pulling.  Of course, if I'm not planning to re-use it, I can be more aggressive about trying to get it out.


 But I'm still on the fence about which way to go on this.  I have done some checking around and found a contact for someone called "The Temperature Gauge Guy" in Vermont who rebuilds these units, so I'm going to contact him and see if he's still in business and get an estimate.

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I have opted to get the "new" unit repaired, as Ben suggested.  I spoke to Roy Martin in South Burlington, VT, "The Temperature Gauge Guy," who told me he was very sure he could fix it and quoted me a reasonable price.  I decided that I would be more comfortable having the whole gauge assembly out of the car for rebuilding, and that way I will also have the assurance of a "new" gauge in place so I don't have to worry about the old one failing on me.  Also, this will eliminate the problem of removing the old one since I will be able to just yank it out and not worry about busting anything.  So that's my plan, and I sent the "new" unit off to Vermont.  I will keep everyone posted on my experience with Mr. Martin in case anyone else is looking for this service.

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New Tail Light Lenses


The tail light lenses on my car were so badly faded and milky that it was really a safety hazard as well as a cosmetic issue, so I decided to get some new lenses from Bob's.




This is what the old ones looked like.




Nice package from Bob's




Here's a side-by-side comparison (the reflection off the shiny new lens makes it look odd in the photo).




Here's what the old light looked like once I took it apart.  The inner lenses are yellowed, but not badly.

The "new" rubber from Steel is more confirmation that someone did some restoration work on my car in the past.




Here's how everything looked with the new lens after clean up.  I removed the inner lenses and washed them in soap and water, and went over the housing

with an SOS pad.  It was in pretty good shape.  I polished the chrome piece and treated the rubber pad with some Armor All.




The light sockets were in good shape and didn't need much clean up.



New lens back in place. 



Here's a little video with the tail light illuminated and the directional signal in action.  Much, much better!


Next up: Halogen bulbs on their way from Bill Hirsch.  They are supposed to be almost twice as bright, which I think is prudent given how small

the lights are compared to the modern cars on the road.



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Trunk Details


Doing the tail light job gave me a chance to further explore the trunk area of my car.




Here's the spare tire well.  The black cardboard pieces from the factory are still there.  Even the wedge-shaped wooden block to hold

the spare in the right position.  Is that a standard item?  Looks like it.  Also, the plaid trunk liner is clearly original and doesn't look like

it's ever been touched.  The only rust is at the bottom of the well (typical, I assume), not bad, just surface. 

I will treat that and repaint it when I get around to it.




And here's the spare -- obviously never been on the road and mounted on a pristine wheel.

Whoever did the repaint on my car (and whenever he did it), he seems to have done an excellent job!

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Temperature Gauge Repaired


Good News!  As noted previously, I sent my NOS temp gauge off to Vermont to be examined by Roy Martin,

"The Temperature Gauge Guy."  Roy called me to say that the problem was only a matter of calibration.

All he needed to do was tweak the Bourdon tube at the gauge head, and all was well.  He charged me $35.00 plus $10.00

for return shipping.  As shown by the photos below, it now registers at the bottom at room temperature, and the top

(220 degrees) when the bulb is immersed in boiling water.  I'm very happy with his work!



At room temperature



with the bulb in a pan of boiling water


I heartily recommend Roy to anyone who is looking for help in repairing a temp. gauge.

Roy Martin

172 Laurel Hill Drive

South Burlington, VT 05403


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Halogen Bulbs


As I mentioned earlier, I ordered halogen bulbs for my tail/brake lamps, rear turn signal lamps, and front parking/turn signal lamps.

I installed them today.  I was very impressed with the quality of the lamps supplied by Hirsch.



Here's a comparison of the old incandescent bulb with the halogen bulb for the twin filament applications.

Just a plug-in substitute -- couldn't be easier.



It's difficult to get a good photo that really shows the difference.  The difference seemed to show up better in a photo

with the parking lights because of the clear lens.  Here's the halogen on the passenger side and the old incandescent lamp on the driver side.

Hirsch claims the halogens are "almost" twice as bright, and I would say that's accurate.



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10 hours ago, 1956322 said:

My experience with halogens is that they burn much much hotter I'd be worried about the plastic lens... Just a thought


Thanks for pointing that out.  I asked Eric Hirsh about current draw (apparently not an issue), but I did not ask him about heat.  I will talk to him and see what he says.  However, I'm not too concerned with regard to my car since I rarely drive it at night.  So the lights are only going to be illuminated when I'm turning or braking.  And turn signals and brake lights were the principal reason that I decided to switch to halogen in the first place -- I want to make sure other drivers can see what I'm doing.

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Gas Tank Drop


Today I started my most ambitious project to date -- dropping the gas tank to deal with a non-functioning fuel gauge.  I know that's

just another day at the office for many of you, but I was a little intimidated.  It turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.



Following the suggestion of my mentor, Don, I used a floor jack and plank to support the tank while I loosened the straps.




I dropped right out easily.  I'm so glad that I have a '41 where the fill pipe is a straight shot under the fender, so no bizarre twists

and turns like I saw on Gary W.'s thread.


Not knowing quite what to expect, I had originally thought I would just drop the tank enough to run a separate ground from the sending unit

to see if that took care of my problem with the gauge.  (I have already confirmed that the dash unit is fine -- if I ground the wire to the sending

unit, the gauge goes to empty).  But it turned out to be so easy to get the tank completely out, that now I will be replacing the sending unit as a

proactive measure.  However, the first problem I have encountered is that I can't move any of the screws holding the sending unit to the tank.

I gave them a good soaking with PB Blaster, and will try again in a few days.  However, I'm a bit dubious if I will be able to get them out.  I do not

have an impact wrench, but I thinking there may be one in my future.



I bought new hardware from Bob's to reinstall the tank.  But as long as I have it out of the car, I'm thinking I should go ahead and have

it cleaned out and reconditioned.  I found an outfit called "Gas Tank Renu" online, but there are no dealers near me.  Any thoughts? 

Is it worth paying to ship my tank to Stockton (not too far from the Bay Area) to get the "Renu" treatment?

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POR15 sells a gas tank sealer that works pretty good. No floaters in my tank yet, after two years and using ethanol. If it doesn't look rusty inside, and doesn't leak, it could be fine. Otherwise, I suggest sealing it yourself. You'll be surprised the workout you give yourself!

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23 hours ago, neil morse said:

I found an outfit called "Gas Tank Renu" online


I endorse this process.  My 56's tank was crushed and they got the unit back to shape.  I know I had at least one leak but it may have been the sending unit which I replaced at the time.. At any rate, the new sending unit had a loose rivet holding it together and it was the source of a leak when I reinstalled the tank.  Thinking they had failed, I brought the tank back and they fixed the sending unit too. 


They had two finishes, silky silver, looks just like a stainless steel tank, and then black textured.  I got the black textured.  It wasn't cheap.  But I have been using it since 2003 and have not had any issues.  Most of those years were with ethanol gas, but that changed six years ago and now it's been on a steady diet of real gas.

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8 minutes ago, Den41Buick said:

Hello Neil,


I replaced both tanks on my 41's. The previous owner of the Special spent a lot of time and money trying to seal the tank. For $250.00 you can buy a new tank...




Now that's an interesting alternative that I had not considered.  Is this what you're talking about?



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Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses.  Here are a few photos of the inside of my tank.  Unfortunately, it looks like I need to do something.  I am loath to try to coat it myself.  I am exploring the cost of getting it rebuilt, but as I noted above, I am intrigued by Dennis's suggestion.






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I found a local shop that quoted me a decent price to sand blast the inside of the tank down to the bare metal and coat it, so that's what I'm going to do.  It's not cheap, but it's worth it to me for peace of mind.  In the meantime, I did some work on the outside of the tank with a product called "Prep & Etch."




This stuff requires very little effort and does a great job.  I think it chemically converts the rust to something else.  You paint it on generously, 

leave it for a few hours, and then just wipe it off with a wet rag.  If you keep at it, you will eventually get down to the bare metal.  With

smaller parts, you can just soak them for a few days.



This is what the tank looked like when it came out of the car



And this is after just one application, which I only left on for an hour or so.  (Note lovely assistant, Stella.)





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22 hours ago, neil morse said:


Now that's an interesting alternative that I had not considered.  Is this what you're talking about?




 That is what I did after mucking around for years.



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New Sending Unit -- It Works!


I got my new sending unit from Bob's this morning, and hurried down to the garage to try it out.  I connected the positive wire from the gauge, and used

an alligator clip to run a ground to the body in the trunk.  I turned on the ignition, and was very happy with the result.



Here's what I got with the float all the way up.



Here it is at about halfway



And here it is with the float all the way down.


Before I button everything back up, I will rig up a longer wire so I can see the gauge and the float at the same time without running back and forth, and make sure it is properly calibrated.  It seems about right, but you can bend the wire holding the float to adjust it.



Here's the old sender I took out of the tank.  It wasn't properly grounded, but just out of curiosity, I tested it and found it was not working anyway.

I got a kick out of the corks used for the float.  Imagine how much wine those guys at the Buick plant had to drink to get all those corks! ;)

Edited by neil morse (see edit history)
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