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Opinions re. Condition II


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I think if you had passed on this one,  you would have been kicking yourself for quite some time as every nearly similar priced car didn't come close to what you had turned down.   The famous one that got away story comes to mind.  There are multiple threads on here about that. 

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A great buy at the price. Get the drivability fixed, then decide what else you want to do later. Good advice about the tires. They may look OK, but it's time to put on a new set of RADIALS. Not sure about Centurys, but Specials came with a rubber floormat in front, not carpet. Mats are available through Bobs and others. Takes some time to re-connect the accelerator pedal, but otherwise a relatively cheap bit of restoration.

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12 hours ago, philipj said:

Yes, this is the car for $22K- I am not too concerned about the matching engine, only that it is a good one... This has a oil filter set forward (RH) so someone told him it was a Fireball engine.. I am not getting this car to speculate later on, but to enjoy driving  for as long as I can... Why was the accelerator foot start on these cars such a bad idea? The one on the jeep as in other 30's 40's cars are slightly above and not directly under the accelerator pedal...

I don't know that the accelerator start was such a bad idea. Buick used it for another 20 years or so after 1938. One of my 38's  had it, the other didn't. Never had a problem one way or the other. I liked the coolness factor, and that it might deter a thief who couldn't  figure out how to start it. I had to school a couple of mechanics in that respect.

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Agree with you completely. Despite the fact that it does not appear to be a matching numbers car,  (not a concourse car) I am aware of the expense and effort required to just bring the frame, body and interior to the level that it is alone. Therefore, I could not pass it up. I think it will make a very nice driver, etc. So after sleeping on it, I am committed to it  and can't wait to finish the deal and get it home, so I can go through all the systems to make it 100% reliable...

 

After that I will have to get tires, (Any recommendations? Not sure I want white walls) carburetor overhaul, timing/tune up, the front rubber mat, the radio repaired (heard of new conversions using original housings but know nothing of it) a piece of chrome trim for the front, repair the speedometer, adjust the clutch pedal travel, ground the fuel sending unit (It will show a reading here and there then go to zero/unless a wire is loose) change all fluids, grease, etc. Have very long list!

 

I will think about the original starting system down the line, after everything else is done, but for the time being and practicality, I have to leave it alone for now..;( 

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Search my name and tires and you'll find my preference is for Diamondback Classic whitewall radials. Others have their own favorites, people will argue radials vs. original bias-ply, tubes vs. no tubes, etc., but I have been more than pleased with the radials on my '41 Limited and I have also put them on my '41 Cadillac 60S, as well as about 20 cars in my inventory over the past two years. They vastly improve the ride and handling and don't look much different than stock. If you're looking to drive rather than show, this would be my choice. I go through a lot of tires, and the only company with which I have had 0 hassles is Diamondback.

 

Get it running and driving first and foremost, then fix the other stuff. Little projects are easy and fun. I have about 12 things I wanted to get done over the winter on my Limited (and it's a finished, fully operational car--there's always something). Some projects are big and some small, but I enjoy spending an afternoon tinkering and making an improvement. It's immensely satisfying. If you know what to fix and how to do it, it can be fun. Don't be intimidated, these cars were designed to be serviced and they are for the most part quite simple. Get a manual and you'll be able to handle many of the issues you mention. You don't need to be an expert to get a lot done, just be careful and smart. And please don't chase perfection--let the working parts look like they work for a living. That will take a lot of worry out of it for you and you'll enjoy the car that much more. There's grease, dirt, and even some rust on the bottom of my Limited (rockers and tire well have some perforation) and I just don't care. It won't get any worse, so I just get in and drive and never think twice about rain, dirt roads, or bugs. It's incredibly liberating. Remind yourself that it's just a car and driving it is fulfilling its destiny. That's what it WANTS to do and battle scars are part of the deal.

 

You're embarking on an adventure that isn't always smooth, but I don't think anyone here would rather do anything else...

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On 2/9/2018 at 7:39 AM, cxgvd said:

Phillipe;  PM sent

 

On 2/9/2018 at 7:39 AM, cxgvd said:

Phillipe;  PM sent

Great Looking car that surely was not a money maker for the restorer but should stay very market strong for you. For me some years are more appealing then others. The 33 and 34 design is gorgeous as it was for many makers who shaped the nose and valence'd  the front fenders. I jump right to 38 as the most handsome of the the narrow set headlight designs. I think you got a bargain that you will love more and more as you scribe your driving to the car. Put it in 3rd and its almost like and automatic. Clutch should be without chatter and the hinky weld up on the drain hole makes me suspicious of really leaky seal issue that was a corner cutting move of the restorer to keep it from dripping too much and has perhaps contaminated the clutch. Also I see a tubular rear shock conversion? 

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Remember this is a 15 year old restoration, so I think he may have done Ok moneywise... Yes, I have to get it here and running smoothly... I am now  very apprehensive about the welded up drain hole on the flywheel cover but I am committed... Has anyone ever tried to replace the rope seal while the motor is in the car? Is there a 2 piece neoprene seal available today for these? I almost give it a shot myself with the two piece seal, even though I know it is a bear of a job!!

 

As for the rear shocks, I am not familiar with the original configuration, so I cannot say... How bad is it really?  Should I change that back to the original setup?...The adventure is already lumpy, starting with a rear main seal..;))

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There are tools that allow you to do the rear main seal with the engine in the car, but you do have to drop the pan. That's not necessarily a bad thing so you can check the condition of the bottom end, oil pump, and see if there's sludge in there. Dropping the pan is easy and does not require any special tools or knowledge, very obvious. New gasket involved, but no big deal. The rear seal is a bit more of a job, but again, there are tools that are designed to fish rope seals into place with the crank in the block, so you can do it with some patience. Buy two or three seals so you can afford to make a mistake--they're cheap. But no matter what you do, it WILL leak--learn to live with that reality. I have 96 cars sitting in my showroom right now, and they ALL have drip pans underneath, even the 2009 Corvette. Let it leak if it's only a little bit. I might just drill a hole in the inspection cover and see how bad the leak is before tearing it apart.

 

There is no neoprene rear seal, although you can use a later front cover with a modern seal, but that's not a critical leak point on these engines and if it's a later engine, it might already have it.

 

I'm personally very much in the camp of "leave it alone if it works," and that would include the shocks. If someone converted it and you're not showing it and it rides and handles to your liking, leave the shocks alone. The lever shocks are plentiful, but you'll spend a few hundred dollars rebuilding them and I'm not convinced that they do a better job. Up front, yes. In back? Meh. Sometimes you can take a step backwards thinking it's the right thing to do, but it ends up being a lot of money for no gain or even a step back. That's frustrating. Drive it before you start projects.


Don't start adding up your expensive, difficult projects until you've got the car and spent some time with it. Drive it as-is for a while (after tuning the carburetor) and see how it behaves. It will have little foibles, but if you can live with them, then that's one thing you don't have to tackle. I don't care if clocks and radios work, I'm indifferent on wipers working (Rain-X does a better job than any vintage wiper anyway), and if there are invisible upgrades in place that work properly, I'm OK with that. Find your comfort level and work with it rather than aiming for perfect before you've even started to enjoy the car. You'll probably find that the enjoyment of driving it makes you forget that there are a few drops of oil under it wherever you park.

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If you're OK with blackwalls, and I think it can be a great look, how about: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Yokohama&tireModel=RY215&partnum=700R5215

You can't beat the price, and they have the narrow bias-ply profile. Otherwise, Diamondback.

Get in and drive it! Don't get bogged down with little chores. If (more like, when) some of those little chores turn into big ones, the memory of the good times you've already had in the car will lighten your load.

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Hello Matt,

 

You're right, small steps... Get the car drive it and see what it does. Yes, I may be brave enough to drill the hole or just remove the cover and inspect/clean.. Buy some time... Have you ever tried to tackle the speedometer? Do the gears break inside or seize for lack of lubricant?

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I have $5 that says the speedometer problem is the cable. Unless it's chattering or bouncing, it's typically the cable. Either it's old and it seized or the corners are rounded off or the drive gear in the transmission is chewed up. The head unit itself can be rebuilt which isn't terribly expensive, and if the faces are in good shape, have them leave that part alone so it looks consistent with the rest of the gauges. But I bet it's the cable, which is readily available from Bob's or other sources. If that's not it, at least you have a new cable to go with the rebuilt speedometer so you'll never have a problem again. You might also check on eBay and buy a used speedo and see if it works.

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There is nothing wrong with the rear shocks and springs. 1937 Buicks used knee action shocks both front and rear with rear leaf springs. 1938 Buicks used knee action shocks on the front and tube style shocks and coil springs on the rear. 

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Well, the cable was replaced without curing the problem... Now, if it is the drive gear in the transmission, that would mean a teardown...:(((  Is that a common failure?

If that is the case, I would hope it is the speedometer head...

Now going to the question about shocks, particularly the front, since I have never serviced (Or seen in my life) how do I check is there is enough oil in them... As I said before, I thought the car rolled a bit too easily, unless I was driving it too hard... 

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I just went over the article regarding radials vs. bias ply tires... Very Interesting! I will probably go with bias ply, unless the new diamondback radials come tall, thin and with a pie crust! Now the next question is, what is the better size 700-15, 750-15, 8.20-15 or 215/75/15? Confucius says @#$!%!

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Philipj,

 

Please order a 1938 Shop Manual. The directions and diagrams you will find there will save you asking hundreds if not thousands of questions. As a new owner, simply reading through the service manual will help you know much more about the car in a short time than any amount of asking questions here will. 

 

Here is one at a good price on ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1938-Buick-Service-Shop-Repair-Manual-Engine-Drivetrain-Electrical-Factory-OEM/130741204746?fits=Year%3A1938|Make%3ABuick&epid=2128315586&hash=item1e70c8770a:g:uj4AAOSwWTRWvB8T&vxp=mtr


You can also get it from Bob's but the ebay one is a bit cheaper.

http://bobsautomobilia.com/literature-and-decals/1938-shop-manual-also-needed-for-1939-.-sm-38/ 

 

As for shocks, the front shock fill plug is on the top of the shock. If you read through either my resoration thread or Gary W's 1937 Special restoration thread, you should find photos that will help. Simply unscrew the fill plugs to remove them, and add jack oil while working the shock arms up and down (you can simply press up and down on the bumper to do this). 

 

The shop manual will show you that 15x7.00 is the original tire size. You can get away with slightly oversize tires on the ground but they won't fit in the sidemount covers.

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Thank you, next on my list... I appreciate the advice, did not mean to annoy with 1000 questions-everyone has different suggestions related to their own work experience-much different than can be found in any book sometimes... Was looking for actual experience answers and I got a tip from you. Appreciate the reply regarding the front shocks. I will not go with oversize tires unless there was a real benefit...

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On 2/9/2018 at 7:39 AM, cxgvd said:

Phillipe;  PM sent

 

On 2/9/2018 at 7:39 AM, cxgvd said:

Phillipe;  PM sent

If you want this to be an all weather road car If you want it to be a drivers car and handling is important then get over the look of the tire because fast wearing flat vulnerable hot running poor turning and braking characteristic bias ply tube tires suck compared to radials in every way and I can think of no good reason to use them unless its going to be judged or sitting in a museum. Bias is crap! Tires will make or break your cars performance and your enjoyment driving it. 

My 41 Century has fat black wall Hankook tubeless radials set at 25 lbs and the advanced suspension design of the Buick takes to them very well. Understand that although it may not look it the Century is the performance car of the model line and among all cars in general at the time. The bankers hot rod! Many guys say they would mount whitewalls on my car but honestly the black wall Hankook's look charmingly sinister and whitewall radials are available if thats important to you. These are heavy cars and you will be surprised how fast the front tires wear out under an engine approaching a half ton. Regarding shocks..First bounce  one side and then the other. If it bobs more the 3 strokes your in need but the comparison will be telling as one side might seem to work a little better. To check oil put a thin stick into the reservoir hole on top and basicly top off if low. The good thing about using motorcycle fork oil is that you can fine tune the damping response with  viscosity options offered. I think factory oil is about the same as jack oil or atf a 10 wt.  Too heavy and you will overcome the spring and it will chatter over bad roads or railroad tracks with a too slow a rebound return. I think anything over 30 wt would invite chatter on bad pavement due to not enough spring to open the shock quick  enough after full compression so it basically locks out. 

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Do not by any stretch of imagination expect this car to handle like a modern car in any respect whatsoever. 80 years of automotive engineering has advanced the state of the art , as you will come to apreciate. Having a foot planted firmly in each epoc will give you a marvelous perspective. Now tires have advanced also. There is nothing wrong with the enhanced handling and safety benefits from radials. On the other hand , there are only three things wrong with the old bias tires : (if I may be permitted to paraphrase and misquote an old demagogue of a politician - you may P.M. me for the sordid details , unfit for public discourse). He said : "Ain't but three things wrong with ............(he continued on with an increasing crescendo of rising volume)............. " , and I misquote :  "Ain't but three things wrong with them old bias tires : Bias Ply ! BIAS Ply  !! BIAS PLY !!! ". Black walls always have a "getting down to business" look. Cruiser. I really enjoy driving my cars. There are modern radial light truck tires that will do more for your car than a complete rebuild of every steering and suspension component. Happy , safe cruising with that right car for you ! Matt , Lawrence and I have spoken , but are not yet silenced !   - Carl 

Edited by C Carl
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3 hours ago, MCHinson said:

There is nothing wrong with the rear shocks and springs. 1937 Buicks used knee action shocks both front and rear with rear leaf springs. 1938 Buicks used knee action shocks on the front and tube style shocks and coil springs on the rear. 

 

Matt is correct - 1938 was a one year only ( until later in the 50's ) change to telescopic rear shock absorbers and back to lever shocks in 1939.

 

Accelerator starters are fun but a pain during hot summers as they tend to flood the motor. On my 1950 I use the accelerator start system but have "piggy backed" an under dash button into the system for use during summer when restarting a hot engine is a little hard on the 6 volt battery. 

 

Looks like you have taken on board a lot of what has been suggested on this thread and you really have purchased the best car at the right price - well done.

 

   

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19 minutes ago, Lawrence Helfand said:

Picture time! At 68 years I never use the hot rod TV car show slang  .... Badass!     but if I did.........white walls always remind me of cookie filling or cake frosting

 IMG_20160903_111821.thumb.jpg.3891f0740fefa9e8aedd14daacf3ca46.jpg

IMG_20160903_111847.thumb.jpg.ad83cd7f6f4ad3f1e11dacfedcaf57a0.jpg

Great look! If I ever get a black car again....

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Well thank you! despite being somewhat set in my ways sometimes, I do try to listen... Even with all the issues previously mentioned, I am glad to hear that I made a sound choice. My favorite part of the car which I could stare for hours on end are the headlamps, hood grille and fender curve...

 

Now Lawrence, thank you for posting the photos of your car with blackies... The car looks mean!  but also reminds me (again) of the Looney Toons cartoons where all the cars have balloon tires...:) Actually like the look. Are those 16" rims? I think it gives the car a sinister look, but I don't know what it will do to the 38... I will run what I have for a little while until I can fund the new tires... Then decide, white walls or not??

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My (worth nothing!) 2 cents:

 

1. On my 1940 56S, I replaced the 4.44 rear pumpkin with a 3.6 and it goes just fine. Revs aren't as low as overdrive, but still cruises quite nicely at about 55.

2. I also put in a starter button under my dash that is wired in parallel with the accel vac switch. I also serviced the vac switch and tested it thoroughly so I am confident in its operation. But, it is nice to have the button in summer for hot starts, and certainly if you stall on a hill (otherwise you need 3 feet or you use the hand throttle if you have one).

3. philipj, you made a helluva deal, even if it takes some work for you to get comfortable with it. I am getting in the market for a '38 coupe, and I know I won't even approach what you did.

 

Cheers, Dave

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1 hour ago, philipj said:

Well thank you! despite being somewhat set in my ways sometimes, I do try to listen... Even with all the issues previously mentioned, I am glad to hear that I made a sound choice. My favorite part of the car which I could stare for hours on end are the headlamps, hood grille and fender curve...

 

Now Lawrence, thank you for posting the photos of your car with blackies... The car looks mean!  but also reminds me (again) of the Looney Toons cartoons where all the cars have balloon tires...:) Actually like the look. Are those 16" rims? I think it gives the car a sinister look, but I don't know what it will do to the 38... I will run what I have for a little while until I can fund the new tires... Then decide, white walls or not??

All the 41 Century model cars ran 15 inch rims which were eventually standard on all models

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Again, thank you.. You can second guess yourself when you're entering something completely new. I am anticipating that the work won't be easy, but it is going to be all right in the end... Guess I will keep the push button on the dash, it is not too bad at all. Boy all black tires do change the look of the car! 

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  • 10 months later...

I pulled up this old thread to let people know that there is a very nice feature about this car by Phillip in the latest Bugle (January 2019).  Phillip, the photos look great --you have really done a nice job of cleaning this car up as well as getting it sorted out mechanically.   (And the piece is very well-written, despite your disclaimer at the beginning.)  

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Hello Neil, thank you! I am looking forward to the article and photos next month... In the meantime, I am taking my mother in law to a Glenn Miller concert this Wednesday in the car. She loves the music and the ride. No wonder, she is 93 and her father had a 36 Buick also!..:)

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Such a nice son!  That sounds like a great outing for your mom-in-law.  You shouldn't have to wait until next month -- my copy of the January Bugle arrived last Thursday.  It's also available on the BCA website in the "members only" area.

 

https://issuu.com/buickclub/docs/bugle_january2019_web?e=4749389/66470608

Edited by neil morse (see edit history)
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Phillip:

Love the article.  If you are still planning on restoring the radio, please consider "Bill the Radio Guy".  He made my original radio bluetooth compatible and it has a hidden pigtail to keep your phone charged.  

I have since made playlists on my phone (or iPod....) with all the big bands...  Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and some old radio shows....  It makes the ride so much fun!

 

Great job!

Gary

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I also heartily endorse the idea of giving your radio an "invisible" upgrade so you can listen to your own music.  I also used "Bill the radio guy," but opted for the slightly less expensive choice of having him just add a hidden AUX jack instead of going the bluetooth route.  I ran a wire into the glovebox, and just hook my phone up and keep it in the glovebox.  As Gary says, it really enhances the ride to have your favorite period tunes booming out that big speaker in the center of the dash!

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Hello Gary,

Thank you! I just received the magazine, the article looks great except for a minor typo... As for the radio, I really like the idea of having the right music... I have the radio installed, yet I have no idea of its condition. If your radio guy can make it  rain, it surely be nice! What is the approximate cost? I know shipping will be pricey because of the weight. As for the proper brackets, I just found a long piece approx. 8- 3/4 with another small 90 degree section, yet I feel there is something missing...I managed to install it with a home-made bracket for now but would like to have the right hardware in there...

 

radio bracket 1.JPG3.JPG

radio bracket 1.JPG2.JPG

 

 

radio bracket 1.JPG

Edited by philipj (see edit history)
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That is the correct  bracket.  The 90 degree top part attaches to the bolt that comes down from your rear hood hold-down bolt.  The serrated end allows you to adjust the rear up and down to get the face nice and flush before tightening it down.  

 

I think it was around $400 to completely restore the radio to blue tooth compatibility.

 

Great Article!!

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