Stooge

'37 Century Modest Restoration

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Hi Buick Group, my name is Dan/ (Stooge on a few forums, Jalopyjournal, Garagejournal and a few others), I'm 30yrs old, this is my first Buick, though I've only ever owned GM brand cars, I  work in a force laboratory and have a hobby shop on the side to putter around with some cars , both my own personal projects and for other people. I have a few off topic cars that I've been working on and recently started on my 1937 Century coupe, (series 60, although I believe it might be denoted as a series 66 ?) that I bought last year and saved from being turned into a rat rod as the previous owner was planning on swapping over onto a late model chevy Colorado chassis. I've worked on a few prewar cars for other people, but have mostly been front clipped hot rods, most notably a 1937 chevy panel truck and a 1937 Plymouth coupe.  My current projects are finishing up a longer term 1966 GTO project for someone, a 1958 Edsel Villager station wagon that I am working on with a good buddy of mine who I flew out to Iowa with last year and trailered it back here to Massachusetts with, and of course my Century.

 

The '37 had been pretty well stripped off a lot of the vital parts, (no engine, trans, steering column, seats/ interior) but did include a lot of parts, trim, brake cylinders, hardware, a lot of the interior/ window garnishings, door mechanisms, etc. all pretty well meticulously bagged and tagged as I think someone blew the car apart at one point in time, to either start a restoration or part it out. It will be a modest restoration, as I am planning on using the stock running gear, I have acquired a lowish mile 320 straight 8, I have the correct 1937 Big series 6 bolt 3 speed on its way to me being shipped from Texas from someone on a 1937-1938 Facebook group, and I will be using the stock century rear end and torque tube, along with the stock steering , (still need a column, steering gear box and pitman arm), stock brakes, and I am keeping it 6volt with using either a Rhode Island Wiring or YNZ stock harness with turn signals added. the only planned areas for deviation are a multi-carb intake and a fabricated exhaust. The interior will probably be fairly bare bones for a bit and I will be happy when I even have a correct looking split bench seat, ( upholstery is something I don't have the skills for yet and I can see budget being an issue with some of the costs of stock interiors I have seen). After reading stories on here (49 Buick Supers excellent RT 66 thread here and countless threads over on the HAMB forums), part of the end goal for the last couple of years and what I had in mind buying this car, is I would really like to take it on some nice extended driving excursions when its finished.

 

Some pictures to get started!

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Edited by Stooge (see edit history)
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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Just getting started on the body work on the Buick. its in great shape overall, but the door bottoms, some sections of the door sills on the body and a decent section of the floor are going to need to be repaired. I've been working on sanding back and removing all of the crust, surface rust and old paint from the car, and started working on the driver side door over the weekend. I don't have a lot for tooling and equipment, but sheet metal work is somewhat of a hobby and improvising and making do is something i enjoy. Just a piece of 18ga that i shaped with some hammers, dollies and little bits and bobs I've collected. Just the lower curve and door crown held in with some magnets and am pretty happy with its fitment and following the rest of the door shape so far, and will be starting to recreate the inner structure in the next few days

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Nice work! I'm about 12 months ahead of you, getting towards the end of a 1937 Century 4-dr. sedan restoration. Glad to be of any help that I can. This one is a Canadian-made McLaughlin-Buick, with a few small differences in the interior, from what I've been able to gather. This one was in similar condition to yours when we started, although it was running and has the original 320 drive train.

All Centurys are 60-series cars, the coupe being a model 66-S and the four-door sedan being a model 61. You have a very desirable model there.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

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thanks Pete! I may have some names mixed up, but I believe the transmission is actually coming out from your way, if you work with someone named Dean?

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I may be able to help you out with some of the missing pieces for this.  I have a guy with a bunch of 37 pieces I have been buying parts from.  He had atlas 3 steering boxes and columns with wheels, though the plastic on the wheels was rough,  these have been stored inside for decades and are in good shape.  I know there is a recored radiator in the box and lots of other stuff.  I even have some parts left over I have been looking to find a steward for.   As you can see I don't think you are too far from me to make a trip. If you get a laundry list together I'll see what I can turn up. 

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12 hours ago, auburnseeker said:

I may be able to help you out with some of the missing pieces for this.  I have a guy with a bunch of 37 pieces I have been buying parts from.  He had atlas 3 steering boxes and columns with wheels, though the plastic on the wheels was rough,  these have been stored inside for decades and are in good shape.  I know there is a recored radiator in the box and lots of other stuff.  I even have some parts left over I have been looking to find a steward for.   As you can see I don't think you are too far from me to make a trip. If you get a laundry list together I'll see what I can turn up. 

 

Thank you for the offer! The main things I know I am missing right now, other any soft interior parts and seat, are the steering column, (surprisingly it came with a steering wheel, horn ring and button, although the handle is nonexistent and is just the inner metal ring that someone had wrapped in electrical tape) and box, pitman arm, pedal assembly and clutch fork, and radiator. Had a few unexpected expenses recently and then the correct transmission popped up last week and I figured I should jump on it, so collecting the rest of the parts will be a slow process, but I have enough to keep me busy for a bit. I'm sure there are a lot of other things i'll need along the way, but I need to do a good inventory of everything that came with the car. Someone REALLY went through a lot of trouble blowing the car apart but also labeling a lot of it, and I quite literally have atleast a hundred of these envelopes,  several plastic crates along with some larger pieces that  wouldn't fit in crate or envelope

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A quicky little job a bit ago since I wanted something shiny and pretty to look at, was cleaning up the gauge cluster. I want to leave the original painted glass and use whatever gently aged original gauges still work, but also get rid of the crust. Researched a bit and found a similar color paint, although it looks a little washed out in the pictures. i'll give the outer bezel a polish when im closer to that stage, not much sense in doing it now when its just going to sit for awhile

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Edited by Stooge (see edit history)
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Hi Stooge;

 

I'm getting close to finishing up restoring my '37 Special.  It's been about 14 months, and I have documented almost every step.  Maybe some of my photos can help you as you sort out all the bags of parts.

 

Good luck with it!  Beautiful car.

 

Gary Wheeler

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Gary, thank you, and I actually have a whole folder on my desktop of pictures and notes i've grabbed from your build thread, to reference back with my car and trying to make sense of some of the non-labeled, not so obvious parts. Thank you for taking the time to document and share your restoration project, its helped me out immensely already, and the car is coming along absolutely beautifully!  

Edited by Stooge (see edit history)
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I'm pretty sure a lot of Century stuff crosses with Specials.  Would the radiator or any other parts you are looking for be different?  I believe most all the stuff I have got so far has all been special with a lot crossing so far when I identified the NOS stuff as Century applications. 

I have a few boxes of free to a good home already set aside.  In one is a decent looking Buick heater and an NOS rubber front floor mat that's pretty good,  but has a couple dry rot cracks.  Still quite soft.  I wish it would fit my Hudson.  I would be happy to put it in. 

Other aid bits and odds and ends.  I bought the stuff to sell off the NOS parts,  which I did for the most part,  though there are a few nothing special NOS parts left. 

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The 1937 Special radiator and 1937 Century radiators have different part numbers. I'm not sure but I think the Century radiator might be thicker to allow for better cooling of the larger engine.

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^ Beat me to it, that's what I was wondering, I think it would fit in the space, but may be cored differently from the smaller straight 8's versus the 320. Unfortunately, I don't a stock one to compare it to so I could not say for sure, but having different part numbers is some indicator I would imagine.

 

Auburn, that is an amazing gesture, I and would be thankful for whatever spares, unused bits, junk, etc  you would be willing to part with.

I am very interested in a steering column and gear box if you are still communicating with your source, although, again, I cant seem to track down if different models have different length columns, but I believe Specials, Centuries and Roadmasters have different part numbers for the gearbox themselves, although I do not know what the physical differences are between them, or if they are interchangeable.

According to google, Lake George is only about a 3hr drive from my neck of the woods, so it would be an easy drive up sometime.

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 Stooge I think you are in luck. I just looked in my Master Parts List  and it shows under group 6.803 Part number 263417  Housing, Steering Gear;

1937-1938 -40-60, 1939-60 (LHD) Up to frame 1-3429791 Flint; 2-3398993 Cal, 3-3445917 Linden.

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Stooge, seeing what you are starting with reminds me of when I got my `36 Buick coupe, completely disassembled, labeled, and all piled inside.. It had been stored in a barn in Texas for 30yr. and was a huge rats nest with a lot of rotted wood. Be glad you don`t have wood in the `37..  Tom

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I'll see if I can get back to the place I got the parts haul from.  There is more,  the guy was just done selling at that point,  with more left to go.  He is actually the nephew of a widow and it's his uncle's stuff he is selling for her.  I gave them a tidy little pile of cash last time, so I think getting back is not the problem,  just hooking up with the nephew,  who isn't overly excited about a day of digging through piles of stuff and loading the truck again.  He had double knee replacement surgery as well right after the last haul she he's been out of the game for a while.

  I'll see what I can come up with on those other parts,  but will earmark that pile of stuff I have left over,  for you. I'm glad I could find someone near enough to pass the stuff on.  I couldn't see throwing it out,  but it does start to get in the way after a while. 

Edited by auburnseeker (see edit history)

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33 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

I'll see if I can get back to the place I got the parts haul from.  There is more,  the guy was just done selling at that point,  with more left to go.  He is actually the nephew of a widow and it's his uncle's stuff he is selling for her.  I gave them a tidy little pile of cash last time, so I think getting back is not the problem,  just hooking up with the nephew,  who isn't overly excited about a day of digging through piles of stuff and loading the truck again.  He had double knee replacement surgery as well right after the last haul she he's been out of the game for a while.

  I'll see what I can come up with on those other parts,  but will earmark that pile of stuff I have left over,  for you. I'm glad I could find someone near enough to pass the stuff on.  I couldn't see throwing it out,  but it does start to get in the way after a while. 

 

Don't worry too much about the steering column, I would hate to inconvenience you and someone else,  its just one of the parts I've been keeping an eye open for so I can have atleast have a "complete" steering system along with the "complete" driveline to get a good start on it. Thanks again!

 

41 minutes ago, pont35cpe said:

Stooge, seeing what you are starting with reminds me of when I got my `36 Buick coupe, completely disassembled, labeled, and all piled inside.. It had been stored in a barn in Texas for 30yr. and was a huge rats nest with a lot of rotted wood. Be glad you don`t have wood in the `37..  Tom

 

Whats sort of funny about the Century, is I was just finishing up, ( I actually hadn't finished it yet, but was close) a several year- frame off- every piece of the puzzle changed -off topic truck project, and was adamant that the next project was "going to be complete and maybe even a runner that just needed to be cleaned up a bit". But then I found this and it was one of those love at first site finds, so I threw trying to find a runner out the window.

 

I wont post pictures of the truck itself, as its a squarebody c10 off topic truck, but I had a little fun with the interior of it, and i'll post a few of that. Handmade sheet metal dash and center console, using stock  '49/'50 Ford shoebox gauges and clock, sort of styled in a 50s custom aesthetic. this truck was sort of a back burner project without a timeline so I got a little distracted a few times with it, but a fun project and good learning experience as I am not a painter by any stretch

 

 

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Edited by Stooge (see edit history)
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I know there were atleast 3 with boxes standing up along the wall.  I would like to see the stuff get used instead of tossed.  I have been buying the parts in lots,  not really so much piece by piece,  so hopefully when. Get back there I'll just put it in the pile of parts,  so I won't have much in it.  One I remember was very clean.  If you come across any other major components you are missing,  let me know,  so I can keep an eye out when I hopefully get invited back.  I know they had atleast  2 complete engines,  but. would guess they were only special engines.  Trannies as well but again I'm sure Special trannies. They may have that clutch pedal assembly if you can find out what might interchange from a special. 

Edited by auburnseeker (see edit history)

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Sounds great, Auburn, thank you, and for being a new member here, it is extremely generous and greatly appreciated. let me know when and I can make the trip over to you some weekend!

After a week of back and fourth working with someone associated with Pete, the correct 1937  6 bolt top transmission, shifter, bellhousing, torque tube flange, (all parts I was missing) are shipping out from Texas today. it has been partially disassembled and there is a chipped gear that I will need to find a replacement for, but it is a nice feeling to atleast have all of the major componentry of a correct 'complete' pulley to axle driveline.

 

 

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Edited by Stooge (see edit history)

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Stooge,

 

Sorry for taking so long to respond, but I have been out of town for a few days and busy with other stuff after my return. I am about to get back to my 1938 Century project. If I can help you in any way let me know. I have a 1937 Century Model 61 and I am currently restoring a 1938 Century Model 61. You may want to check out my restoration discussion although it is not as amazing as Gary's. It might help you with a few of the differences between a Century and a Special. You will find it here: http://forums.aaca.org/topic/297623-1938-buick-century-model-61-four-door-touring-sedan-trunk-back/

 

The best source for any used 1936-1941 Buick parts is Dave Tacheny. He can best be reached between 4 and 7 pm Central at 763-427-3460.

 

I would also suggest you consider joining the 36-38 Buick club. If you would like to know a bit more about the club, you can check it out here: http://www.3638buickclub.org/

I would be happy to send you a pdf copy of a recent 36-38 Buick Club newsletter if you are interested. 

 

For my restoration, I purchased a 1937 Special Model 41 as a body donor. From that car, I have a nice extra complete 1937 Special chassis (including the steering column). I could make you a heck of a deal on the complete chassis (and a rusty body) that would give you a steering column and a number of other parts that would fit your Century.

 

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Stooge, Lucky You.. having the large series 320 engine. If it was a 248 you`d have to pull the oil pan and rear main cap to remove/install bellhousing and flywheel..  Tom

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I'll check on the radiator regardless.  It has been recored,  so it may be bigger than stock anyways as a lot of guys liked to add more cooling when they were going to the trouble of getting it recored.  If it's reasonable enough,  I may pick it upon anyways.  He had a decent pair of grilles as well along with lots of chrome tid bits,  door handles,  etc.  I'll see what I can turn up.  

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MCHinson, ive been slowly working through your thread, and so far two things, absolutely phenomenal picture documentation and thorough explanations!  and two, i am very glad the body and chassis of my car are in such good shape! With the exception of some surface rust on the frame and steering/suspension and a few of the expected rust areas in the door bottoms and an area on the floor behind where the front seats would be. As tempting as a parts car would be to steal stuff off of, my garage is full, my shop is full and my driveway is full, and fortunately,the handful of vital.parts i am missing shouldnt be too bad to source.

 

Pont35cpe, i didnt know there would have been that much of difference between the 320 and the 248. I was aware that the bellhousings were sized differently and had a different transmission bolt pattern, but it is nice to know i have the easier one to deal with. 

 

Auburn, thank you again for being willing to check out your resources, but please dont inconvenience yourself. I dont have a timeline for the car, and theres enough work to be done to keep myself busy for a good while at my snail's pace!

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Since i was pretty happy with the state of the replacement outer skin, i started to cobble together the inner structure/sill section. It didnt look too great but there was quite alot of good metal still left and i would like to replace/disrupt as little of the door as possible to lessen the chance of some aspect of the door losing its shape as more and more metal gets cut out. 

Started with a cardboard template to get a general idea of shape that i needed to cut out from the new 18ga sheet metal. Made a slightly rounded edge down the length of the new piece to match the inner sill area where the outer folds over, and started hammering out the curves on either side where the inner meets the outer, roughed in and approximated fist before i cut out the inner strucure, and slightly refined a bit afterwards. Still have some massaging, trimming and final fitment before it gets welded in, but its pretty close. I chose to leave the large support brace in the original place to the original sheetmetal and made a cutout to accomodate for it in the new piece. The metal in that area is still good and i was hesitant of cutting it out and risk having some aspect of the door fall out of shape.

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A little more progress on the door project, all pretty much going to plan so far I think

 

Wire wheel on a die grinder to clean up the inside of the door that would be forever blocked off and treated with Rust Prep, a pretty volatile smelling spray that was suggested to me by a long time body guy. Leaves a grey residue on everything after about 20minutes and really seems to do the trick. then a quick primer followed by a few coats of black spray bomb. when I make the folds around the edges, i have already marked off where the plug welds, ( i don't have a spot welder, so i drill holes and fill to mimic this) kissed them with a carbide bit to remove the paint and primer and then they can be welded. i have never had much luck with any of the weld through primers I've tried. they seem to have poor adhesion and conductivity, but this has seemed to be working and still covers the hidden areas. 1.thumb.jpg.c43ce048ac754b0f5d4e86735376070e.jpgrustprep.thumb.jpg.224d5d7b8905af04d2f934f0fc739a27.jpg

 

i cheated a little bit, and just gave the beads a quick once over with a flap disc and sanding disc. i know i probably should've have spent some more time prettying it up a bit, but I will clean up the under side, exposed seam which faces towards the interior, where as this side of the seam, will never be seen again.

 

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A mixture of strong industrial magnets, clecos, side grip cleco, butt joint clamps and some locking pliers all got the chance to hold something and get in the way. having done a few sets of late '30s doors with their compound curves, i am fairly paranoid about the seem shrinking down and making a little 'valley', but i took alot of time and moved slow and am pretty happy with it. i had plans on tig welding this, but although the metal is pretty rust free, its a little contaminated and i could have been more optimistic about it, so it was all mig welded. i use .030 wire for everything. 3.thumb.jpg.3980e77a00585378985bed4b7ed8bd96.jpg4.thumb.jpg.68a4074618600e11cf73aa4f86281acf.jpg

 

Still have a little work to do on it before I fold the edges around the backside and everything gets final welded but, its getting there. Hard to document, but the outer patch seam is pretty nonexistent

 

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Also, I am looking at picking up some literature, and was looking at the 37-38 Fisher body service manual http://bobsautomobilia.com/literature-and-decals/fisher-body-manual-for-1937-38-.-fm-378/

 

and also the All 1937 Shop Manual

http://bobsautomobilia.com/literature-and-decals/shop-manual-all-1937-.-sm-37/

 

Are there any other suggestions?  A master parts manual? Can anyone who happens to have the 1937 shop manual clue me in as to if there is any extensive section specifically for the transmissions, and more specifically, the bigger 6 bolt transmission? My transmission should be arriving any day now, and has been partially disassembled as well as needing a few replacement parts, and the older manual transmissions are something that  I am admittedly ignorant on.

Edited by Stooge (see edit history)

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