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My 1931 Buick project- the saga begins...

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Hello to all;  As promised in my last post, this post is all about unique for 1931, series 8-60/8-80/8-90 Tilt Ray Guiide 11" fixed focus headlamps, complete assembly part numbers 605F left, 605E right,  umm, "headlights" I think is the word I used in the last post....  A natural part of the reinstallation of the radiator, hood sills and fender attachments was installation of the headlight stands on the hood sills and a headlight bar which is an important structural support for the fenders.  At the end of the process I had routed the headlight wires from the new wire harness up through the headlight stands and the headlight bar.  Up to this point I had wired and tested every circuit on the car including the harness by means of either operating or voltage testing with a Fluke volt ohm meter and everything worked but I knew having headlights on the front of the car would make a huge difference in the appearance and compete the wiring task.  When I got the car it had an incorrect chrome light bar with a license plate bracket that was improperly welded to the bar so the bottom of the front license plate would have been angled back about 30 degrees from vertical and 2 re-chromed headlamp shells set on the bar with nuts finger tight and bezels taped on with duct tape.  There were no headlight stands, lenses or badge bar and the reflectors looked awful.  Since buying the car last April and taking some inventory of parts it became apparent that headlight parts were not nearly all present.  I tracked down an ugly but complete set of headlights on another headlight bar at French Lake Auto Parts in Minnesota and bought them.  Later I bought another set of nearly complete headlights that had been re-chromed years ago on E-Bay at a reasonable price. 


At 5:30 AM April 13 I delivered my wife and one steamer trunk to the local Amtrak station to go to Chicago to visit her daughter and son-in-law for 4 days.  The next day I hauled all the headlight parts in the house and started cherry-picking the best parts from the lot to try to come up with 2 reasonable driver quality headlights.  All the re-plated shells had been polished and copper filled to the point the Tilt Ray Headlamp- Guide trademark located on the back of the lamps was nearly obliterated.  The French Lake shells were badly dented, ripped in places and filthy.  I selected the shells I got with the car, they had best chrome, most legible trademark and least dents.  They do have cracks but most would not be visible after assembly.  The mounting pedestals on the headlights were originally riveted to the shells.  The shells were sandwiched between a pedestal socket cup assembled inside the shell and a sheet metal support ring assembled to the outside of the shell.  Apparently the folks that worked on my car before I got it must have lost the support rings as they assembled the pedestal socket cups incorrectly on the outside of the shells with rivet screws which badly distorted the bottom of the lamp shells.  I wound up grinding the brass rivets off the French Lake headlights to get a set of support rings.  The car came with a pair of re-silvered reflectors but they were for 32 or later cars with smaller reflectors.  Of the 6 correct for 31 reflectors, 3 were missing their mounting tabs that allow them to be screwed to the shells and all needed to be re-silvered.  Out of the remaining 3 reflectors that were intact I picked the cleanest 2.  I had no less than 8 lenses to choose from and picked out 2 that were not missing glass at their locating tabs or severely scratched and washed them thoroughly.  I had one badge bar socket with perfect chrome and 3 that needed plating from which I picked the best one and rounded up the spring clips that hold them in place.     I decided to use one of the bezels that came with the car, it only had one crack in the brass where it would not show and I picked another that will need plating at some point but it had presentable chrome and was crack free with some minor dents.  I also rounded up a complete set of original wire harness connecters, lamp connecters and bulb sockets and replaced the wiring that connects the lamp connecter to the bulb socket.  I rounded up the bezel clamp brackets and screws, socket springs, lens clips and had just enough rivet screws that more closely approximated the appearance of the original rivets.    I also had a set of foam reflector gaskets to replace the cork originals and a pair of badge bar socket grommets.   After cleaning up and re-painting the support rings I got from the Fox Lake headlights I finally had all the parts needed to assemble a couple of headlights.  I will again let the pictures tell the story.  I assembled the first headlight without taking any pictures but the next day I laid out all the parts and photographed each step of the assembly...


Best regards...



Picture 1:  This picture was taken by the seller in his shop before I picked the car up.  Note the red radiator shutters partially open, incorrect chrome headlight bar, no headlight stands and the lamps with bezels and reflectors held in place with duct tape. 




Picture 2:  The car after the radiator project was completed has correct black radiator front shutters, a good headlight bar I bought from thehandleman, driver quality headlight stands from Roger Fields in Ohio and the ends of the Harnesses Unlimited wire harness sticking up through the stands and headlight bar.


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Picture 3:  The French Lake headlights were taken from a 60 series car years ago and hung up in their headlight barn.  The headlights were ugly but were very complete, the seller removed the bezel in this picture to show the reflector.  I harvested a good bezel, one reflector, the bezel attachment brackets and screws and the support rings from these lamps.  I was able to trace the wire connections from the lamp connecters in the mounting pedestals to the lamp sockets to use for my rewire of the lights I assembled. 


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Picture 4:  The left and center lamps were an E-Bay buy, they were re-chromed years ago and the chrome was failing, the support rings at the bottom were incorrectly chromed, the shells had dents and the Tilt Ray Guide trademark was not legible.  The 3rd light on the right is one of the ones that came from my car which had the best shells and chrome but the pedestal mount cup is incorrectly assembled outside the shell on the bottom which put a lot of stress on the brass shell. 


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Picture 5:  This is a layout of all the parts required to build one headlight including the connector that will be soldered onto the wire harness in the car. Pictures 6-22 will take you step by step through a lamp build. 


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Pictures 6, 7:  I built the bezel and lens assembly first, having picked a crack free bezel, a good lens which was washed clean and the 3 spring clips that hold the lens to the bezel.  Lenses are marked TOP and have some locating tabs in the glass to assure proper orientation in the bezel.  The inner support ring in the bezel is rusty and will have to be removed, cleaned and repainted when the bezel is sent for re-plating.  I elected not to remove the inner ring until I'm ready to send the bezel out for plating because removing and reinstalling that steel inner ring often results in a cracked brass bezel.  The fewer times it is taken apart and reassembled the better.  The inner ring has the spring clip holes in it and holds the front bezel clamp bracket in place and stabilizes the fragile brass bezel outer.


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Picture 8,9:  The badge bar socket is inserted into the shell and the retaining spring is attached.  A rubber grommet for the badge bar is inserted into the socket on the outside of the lamp.


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Pictures 10, 11:  I pre-wired the lamp connecter to the bulb socket, green wire is high beam, black wire goes to low beam filament of the bulb.  The lamp connecters on 60/80/90 series lamps are installed in the mounting pedestals.  The final wiring connection to the car wiring of the lamps is accomplished by a plug on the end of the wire harness which bayonets onto the connecter in the base of the lamp pedestal with a 1/4 turn twist.  The wiring then all neatly hides inside the light stands.  The lamp connecter is held in place in the mounting pedestal with a brass set screw.  The wire spring in the second picture retains the lamp socket in the reflector.


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Picture 12:  Now the pedestal, pedestal cup and pedestal retainer are loosely assembled with the lamp socket wiring routed through the retainer.


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Picture 13:  The rear bezel clamp is "L" shaped in a side view.  It inserts into a slot in the bottom of the lamp shell and the leg gets trapped under a recess in the pedestal cup.


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Pictures 14, 15:  The bezel cup and pedestal retainer are assembled inside the shell, trapping the rear bezel clamp in place while the support ring is installed, narrow end to the front of the lamp shell.  The stack of parts is all secured by 6 rivet screws that pass from the bottom thru the support ring, then the brass lamp shell, then the pedestal cup and at 2 locations the pedestal retainer bracket.


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Pictures 16,-18:  The lamp socket now is inserted into the reflector aligning a slot on the lamp socket with a slot on the reflector.  The leg of the retainer spring inserts through the socket and reflector slots to lock the lamp socket to the reflector.   The last step for the spring is to hook it over the end of the socket.



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Picture 19:  The reflector has a tab on the bottom of it that inserts into a slot on the front rim of the lamp shell to correctly orient it.


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Picture 20:  The reflector is then screwed through the tabs at the left and right to the front rim of the shell and a headlight bulb is installed.. 


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Picture 21: These headlights had cork seals that sealed the reflector to the lens.  Today the seals are made of foam rubber and are probably more effective.  The foam rubber seals are installed in a channel that runs around the circumference of the reflector.  


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Picture 22:  Finally the bezel and lens assembly are installed by inserting a tab at the top of the bezel into a slot on the lamp shell, then carefully squeezing the front and rear bezel retainer brackets at the bottom of the bezel and lamp shell together, then installing the retaining screw.  Note that both front and rear bezel retainer brackets are threaded which is intended to lock the bezel onto the lamp but not allow the front and rear brackets to be compressed together by overtightening the screw which would cause catastrophic damage to the fragile brass bezel outer and or the lamp shell.


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Picture 23:  A rear view of the completed lamps.  There should be lock washers on both pedestals but I'm short one, it's coming in the mail soon.  The connectors seen at the bottom of the pedestals were soldered to the wire harness in the car after this picture was taken.


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Picture 24-27:  Pictures of the car with headlights and a yet to be restored front bumper.  There is a set of Trippe Jr. driving lights in the car's future.


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On 4/21/2019 at 2:40 PM, Str8-8-Dave said:

Thanks John, I wonder though if there isn't supposed to be covers, like furniture plugs or similar to cover the bolt heads?

No covers, but they may have used a special bolt with a serrated edge that matches the original nut style of the lamp to bracket (takes a special wrench though).  That being said, perhaps get some stainless bolts and remove the SAE head markings.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello to all, hope you all are ready for a good summer.  All the engine detail work and other projects on the car have finally culminated in a "running car", not a driving car but just getting the engine running correctly decked out in original support systems such as heat riser, exhaust, radiator thermostat and linkage, complete re-wiring, instrument panel restoration and ignition have paid off with a car that really runs pretty well.  Once the wiring was done and checked out using a 4 amp 6 volt battery charger I reported to the local NAPA store to acquire the heaviest duty 6 volt NAPA conventional lead acid battery I could find that would fit the battery carrier in the car.   I installed the battery and every electrical circuit works correctly.  The only hiccup was an anemic Klaxon horn which I disassembled and discovered a couple of dirty wiring connections and the armature clearance to the field coils was way off, 1/4" clearance on one side. nil clearance on the other.  I adjusted the air gap to 0.023" all around, put it back together and voila- a horn that works!.  A couple of days later I went thru the distributor point gaps and found the timing marks on the flywheel (11-1/2 degrees BTDC for #1 cylinder and forward points, then the Syn. # 6 mark for the rear points), carefully set the points to just break on the marks with a Fluke ohm meter.  For fuel I commandeered an outboard motor tank and hose with a primer bulb and connected it to the fuel pump inlet.  After pumping the fuel pump bowl I set the throttle to a fast idle setting, pulled the choke, turned on the ignition and hit the starter.  It sputtered and quit once, so I pushed the choke part way in and hit it again and away it went!  Oil pressure went immediately to 35 PSI, ammeter bounced around a bit at first then settled between 15 and 20 amps.  After the car ran for a few minutes it stumbled and I had fuel coming out of the carburetor bowl vent so I shut it off, took the bowl cover off and wiggled the float, set the cover back on and re-started it.  The car settled to a steady fast idle and I let it run that way.  Radiator shutters started to open right about 145 degrees and were open wide at 155 degrees.   The car is still on jack stands and the rear tires were spinning and the speedometer was reading between 5-10mph so that worked.  Not having put fuel in the car's tank I could not see if the KS Tele-gage gas gauge worked and the vacuum wipers do not work.  The car was a bit noisy between a few under-hood exhaust leaks and a non-original bus muffler of some sort the previous owner installed.  A few days later I started the car and ran it for about 45 minutes, shut it off and lashed the valves at 0.010" for now since the overhaul of the engine is pretty recent, I thought I would allow the head gasket to settle a little before going any closer on valve clearance.  I found most of the valves were around 0.012-0-015" so they weren't way off but the engine is quieter with all at 0.010".  I worked on the idle stop screw and got the car idled down and made a pass at mixture adjustment.  The engine is responsive to mixture change and after I settled on a setting it takes the throttle without complaint then returns to a nice idle reliably. 


In the days that followed I bought another Delco Remy model 660E distributor for a number of reasons, one of the cam screws that adjusts the movable point set was MIA in the distributor that came with the car.  Original hardware had been replaced with modern stuff that didn't look right.  The rotor was awful looking with a big spring under the center cap contact, points were cheapies with no post retainers, condenser on the outside of the distributor was a single screw short condenser mounted horizontally VS the long style 2 screw condenser of the day that is mounted vertically.  The breaker cam oil wick was missing. I rounded up as much NOS Delco Remy ignition parts I could find including NOS breaker arms, rotor and early style brown cap.  Point bases and condenser are Blue Streak parts. 


 I took the distributor I bought completely apart, cleaned everything, painted it lubed it up and reassembled it with my good parts.  The original mechanical advance springs looked excellent, rotor shaft and plate cleaned up like new.  The breaker plate in this distributor had all cam screws, original lock screws, original copper strip connector for the 2 point sets, perfect thru body coil/condenser connecter with original screws and terminal cover.   The oil wick was present under the rotor.


My grand daughter and her dad and his mom and dad came to Michigan from their Austin TX home to visit a couple of days ago while my daughter was on a business trip to Germany.   They had never seen a 1931 Buick so of course everybody came to the garage to see it.  I started it for them but it didn't run long before it began to flood again so I shut it off and we left it for the day in favor of grilled burgers and dogs, beer and good family chatter. 


The next day I took the float and float valve out of the carburetor.  The float was an original cork item.  The float valve really looked excellent, I believe it had been replaced recently.  I posted on the AACA technical forum and looked online to see if I could source, first choice, a brass float, second choice a new repro cork float but discovered the only floats being made are nitrophyl plastic which I'm not a big fan of, having had several get saturated and sink and one caused an under hood fire in my first new car, a 1969 Pontiac GTO Ram Air IV automatic car which really made a mess of that rare and now very valuable muscle car.  Bob's has the plastic float available ala-carte and The Carburetor Shop supplies it in a complete Marvel TD overhaul kit.  Jon, who owns The Carburetor Shop stated he could not buy virgin cork in quantities required to make floats from and warned me to make sure if I bought cork to make my own to not used the re-constituted common cork which is made of bits of cork glued back together.  Jon warned the stuff DOES NOT FLOAT!  He suggested balsa as an alternative.  I did some comparisons of the properties of balsa and properties of cork and balsa actually has a lower specific gravity than cork which relates to better buoyancy.  In raw form balsa would become saturated with fuel and lose it's buoyancy but sealed with POR or butyrate model airplane fuel proof dope it can be made impervious to fuel.  I had blocks of balsa left over from model building and finally decided to make a copy of the original cork item out of balsa.   Yesterday I sealed it with butyrate dope and let it dry overnight. 


Yesterday I also installed my overhauled distributor.  I did a partial tear down of the distributor that came with the car and got a surprise that made me happy I put an original setup distributor in the car because the one I took out was not that.  The advance springs were very heavy wire and had been stretched to reach between the distributor shaft rotor pins and the cam plate pins.  I suspect you would have had to rev the engine to 4000 rpm to see any mechanical advance from the distributor I removed from the car, it was way too heavy on advance springs. 


This morning I installed my new float, left the bowl cover off and pumped fuel to the carburetor with my outboard hose and tried to flood it and it would not flood.  I had already checked it carefully to make sure the float would not encounter any mechanical interference with the interior of the carburetor bowl and found good clearance all round.  I tried to start the car and it wouldn't hit a lick!  I immediately suspected something was wrong with my distributor installation.  I swapped condensers for the one that came with the car, tried it again, no luck.  I took the valve cover off to make sure I had the 11-1/2 degree mark in the timing window with the engine on TDC #1 (#3 exhaust valve starts to close, then watch for the mark in the window)  That checked out.  The rotor was pointed directly at the #1 terminal on the cap.  I loosened the distributor and did a really good 0.018" point gap adjustment.  Then I disconnected the condenser and coil wire from the distributor and put my Fluke meter across the stationary front point set.  I had had some difficulty getting a continuity reading with the Fluke when I first put the distributor in the car and wondered if there was a coating on the points.  I took a camel hair hobby brush and some lacquer thinner and washed the point contacts which did improve readings on the Fluke.  Once the front stationary points were set to just break for #1 cylinder I locked the distributor down and rotated the engine 90 degrees to bring the Syn #6 mark up in the timing window and carefully adjusted the movable point set to just break, locked the movable point plate in place, put the rotor and cap back on and the car started right up.  I let it run for a good half hour, removed the carburetor bowl cover a couple of times and my new float was steady as a rock. 


Work will slow a bit on the Buick as we head off for some fifth wheel camping and visits to our summer home in Michigan's UP.  I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer...




Pictures 1-4:  This is a 1931 Buick Delco Remy model 660 E used on 60/80/90 series cars that I bought on E-Bay.  While it was missing expendable parts like points, condenser, rotor and cap, it came with a treasure trove of original fasteners, breaker plate with no missing cam or lock screws,  terminal screws, metal condenser and point terminal cover and the oil wick that resides under the rotor, and most important, original advance mechanism springs in excellent condition.


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Pictures 5-8:  The distributor was completely disassembled, given a bath in fuel and all parts were brushed clean with a brass fine bristle wire brush.  The distributor body was de-rusted and painted.  I carefully removed the original copper foil connecter that connects the 2 sets of points to the external connector for the condenser and negative primary coil lead, polished it to a shine and replaced the asphalt sleeve with a new one.  Finally the distributor was lubed and re-assembled with as many Delco Remy NOS period correct expendable parts as I could find.  Breaker point arms,  rotor and period correct brown distributor cap are Delco Remy items.  Breaker point bases and condenser are correct NORS Standard Blue Streak items.


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Picture 9:  I also found and installed a period correct NOS Delco Remy brown cap. 


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Picture 10:  This is the distributor that came with the car.  The rotor is not a correct Buick part.  The cap is an after market item as are the breaker point arms.  There was no oil felt under the rotor.  The condenser is not the correct style and all the original round head screws on the exterior of the distributor were replaced with hex head screws.  The cam screw that is used to synchronize the rear set of points had been broken out of the breaker plate and was lost.  The metal cover for the external coil and condenser wire connections was missing.  It had replacement mechanical advance springs that were way too stiff for an engine that only revs 4,000 rpm wide open throttle which would have affected performance.


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Picture 11:  The 11-1/2 degree timing mark appears in the timing window which is the correct starting advance to fire #1 cylinder.


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Picture 12:  The new distributor is installed in the car with the rotor pointed exactly under the #1 terminal of the distributor cap.


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Picture 13:  After the points are gapped to achieve a clearance of 0.018" I placed a Fluke ohm meter across the points circuit with condenser and negative coil wires removed from the external distributor terminal.  The Fluke indicates the stationary front point set is closed, making a primary coil circuit to ground  which charges the coil.


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Picture 14:  The distributor shaft rotates counter clockwise.  By slowly rotating the distributor clockwise the Fluke reading will suddenly indicate "0L" when the points just break causing the coil to discharge.  High voltage is then fed to the center terminal of the distributor cap and the position of the rotor under number 1 cylinder wire terminal on the distributor cap directs high voltage thru the plug wire to the #1 spark plug.  The distributor body is locked down in this position.  You have actually set the timing for 4 of the cylinders that are fired by the stationary front point as the engine gets to 11-1/2 degrees before top dead center as the rotor passes under cylinders 1/2/8 & 7 (every other cylinder of the firing order).         


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Picture 15:  I'm a weak old geezer so to make it easier to turn the engine by hand I bought a 12" long 1" diameter hex bolt, cross drilled it thru the center about 3/4" from the threaded end and installed a 5/16" hardened pin.  Now I can use my long handles torque wrench wit a 1-1/8" socket to turn the engine.  The added length of  the torque wrench handle relates to easier turning of the crank. 


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Picture 16:  Using my nifty setup from picture 14 the engine has now been rotated 90 degrees to the Syn, #6 timing position mark which is 11-1/2 degrees before top dead center for cylinder #6.  It's not a great picture because of the rust on the flywheel but trust me, the mark is in the center of the window.  At this point the movable plate for the rear breaker point set is rotated with a cam screw built into the main breaker plate so that the Fluke ohm meter again goes to "0L" as  the rear point set just opens firing cylinder #6.  This point set also fires cylinders 5/3 & 7.  Now the point sets are synchronized.


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Pictures 17, 18:  The original old cork float and a picture of the float valve which I believe must have been replaced.  The second close up picture of the valve shows it to be in pretty good shape with minimal scoring. 


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Pictures 19-22:  I made this new float our of balsa and later sealed it with 3 coats of SIG fuel proof butyrate model airplane dope.  Good model airplane fuel is a mixture of alcohol, nitro methane and castor oil usually.  Gasoline shouldn't be a problem.


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Picture 23:  The new float, installed in the carburetor and floating in fuel.


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  • 2 months later...

This one is a quickie to capture a repair to the decorative landau iron installation on my car.  The landau irons themselves were apparently re-plated and look nice but they were floppy loose because the PO just stuck them on the car to get it out the door.  The original stainless escutcheons were present and the original mounting studs were there but could not be screwed into the body due to rust in the threaded brackets attached inside the body of the car.  Also it appeared there were some spacers missing and- what are these grainy looking tubes on the lower studs, they looked like some kind of make-do parts. 


Fortunately my friend Dave39MD's car had the original parts and attachments for the landau bars and sent pictures of his unmolested car's bar details.  Working from those pictures I discovered those make-do parts were original and that all that was missing was the conical spacers for the top bar attachment points and some hard rubber washers with a grain pattern that matched the original spacers.  I cleaned up the threads on the body brackets, repaired a chip in die-cast treaded back of one of the escutcheons and fabricated some similar appearing top spacers from some hard rubber bumpers and then made the missing washers from 1/4" thick black grained PVC plastic sheet stock.  I used my Dremel moto-tool to add some straight line graining to the washers that does not show up well in my pictures but looks pretty good on the car.  These parts are not original parts, no one is reproducing them that I know of and they are otherwise un-obtainable.   It's a case where the hobbyist is forced to improvise...




Pictures 1, 2: These are the original landau bar attachment parts on an un-molested original car.


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Pictures 3, 4:  The landau bar top spacers and the big lower attachment washers are the parts I made.  The tubular spacers are identical to those in the original car picture so they are original.


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Hello to all...

Here is a project that represents a milestone of sorts for my car as it has the effect of closing out the major body closure projects on the car.  Remaining projects are expected to be replacement of the rear window channel runs, installation of the rumble lid handle and latch mechanism and hinge adjustment and installation of cowl vent door seals and actuators.  The subject project in this writing is the golf door.  When I got the car I got one complete golf door hinge pocket, 2 cast iron door hinge arms, both with broken off hinge pins in them, what turned out to be the original door skin, the 4 sheet metal transition plates that attach the door skin to the wood door frame, a broken latch mechanism, a poorly re-chromed golf door handle with no lock and key and 3 pieces of original door frame wood.  Also missing was the top door stop striker plate that mounts in the top rear corner of the door opening.  In short there was a huge hole in the body of the car behind the passenger's door.  I will state here that figuring out how the golf door went together and fit on the car was a big adventure for me as I have never seen a car that had a golf door to examine the assembly details.


I like to get the components all squared away before diving into a project so my first move was to post a want-to-buy ad on the AACA website for the missing hinge parts.  Kevin Roner way out in the top left corner of the US contacted me and sent pictures of the parts he had.  For the princely sum of $16 I bought some hinge pockets.  The hinge pockets have 2 L-shaped brackets screwed to them that pick up the ends of the hinge pin from the door lever casting and those were still missing.  After several failed attempts to find originals I wound up making the missing L-brackets.  I drilled the broken hinge pins out of the door arm castings, made a bushing to resize one of the hinge pin holes on one of the arms and made 2 new hinge pins.  Finally I had 2 complete functioning hinge assemblies. 


Next I bought reproduction locking door handles for both the golf door and the rumble lid and one door handle ferrule for the golf door from Bob's Autombilia, Then I found a deal on a couple of latch mechanisms, one for the golf door, one for the rumble lid, at The Filling Station.  Last I bought some 3ft long 1x4 ash pieces from Baird Brothers in Ohio, stainless wood and machine screws from Bolt Depot and paint from Automotive Touchup. 


If there was a silver lining related to the poor pieces of wood I got with the car the best piece was the hinge pillar.  This gave me basic lumber dimensions for the 4 headers of the door frame, hinge locations and helped establish how much overlap there was of the sheet metal transition plates on the wood door frame.   It also bore witness to the fact the door frame headers were mortise and tenon joined at the corners.  The top door header also provided clues as to how Fisher Body sealed the door and channeled water away from the rest of the door frame and the adjacent rumble compartment.  There was just enough of this part left to again establish overlap of the transition plate to the wood door frame.  The last chunk of wood was a piece of the rear header which showed that that the dog leg at the bottom rear of the door would not be a separate piece of door frame, it was integral with the rear header.  This simplified the connecting dog leg mortise and tenon joint to the lower door header.


The start of the build of the door frame was to laminate pieces of the 1x4 ash together to make 2x4 lumber from which the basic header stock could be sawed on my 10" Craftsman table saw.  I made the hinge header first and mortised the hinge pockets and corner joints using a combination of my table saw and an old Craftsman  walking beam scroll saw which had just enough beam clearance that it allowed me to saw the contoured shape that follows the contour of the door skin.  The hinge side of the door skin crimp was mostly already closed which allowed me to attach the transition plate to the hinge header and then attach that assembly alone to the door skin.  I did that and attached the hinge arms temporarily to trial fit the hinges, header and door skin to the car.  The results of the first trial fit were encouraging.  


Next I cut the remainder of the door frame wood pieces, fit them individually to the contour of the door skin, cut in all the corner joints and glued the frame up using Gorilla Glue and corner wedges made from scraps of the contour cuts to tighten up the joints.   I took great care to assure the corners were square and clamped the glued assembly to a drill press table to assure the interior face of the frame would be flat.  Once the frame was glued up I spent a lot of time on my belt sander optimizing the contours of the wood frame to fit the contours of the door skin.  I installed the transition plates and set the door skin over the assembly, located and drilled the door handle hole.  Having the door handle hole located defined the mortise requirements for the latch assembly.   Once the latch was mortised in and attached I removed the door skin, left the transition plates on the wood door frame and trial fit the assembly less the skin to the car.  The fit looked to be close but adding a 1/8" plywood shim between the lower hinge arm casting and the hinge pillar snapped the alignment into near perfect. 


After painting the wood door frame and transition plates I assembled the plates to the wood frame, then crimped the door skin on.  I assembled the latch, hinge castings and door handle and made another trial fitting and adjusted the door latch to hold the door closed.  Eventually I removed the door for filling, priming and paint.  At the same time I had been talking to Dave39MD who sent some pictures of his golf door and we discussed how the door was originally sealed to the body and I found out I needed to make a 1/8" deep 3/8" high cut across the inside edge of the top header of the door to recess in a rubber lip seal and by comparing the top header of his door frame to the scrap of top door header wood I inherited with the car I discovered there was a gutter trench across top of the header.  Cutting the recess for the lip seal was easy on my table saw because I had taken great care to square the door frame.  Therefore getting a nice parallel cut across the length of the top door header while assembled to the door only required careful blade depth setting and use of the T-square to push the door past the running saw blade 3 or 4 times.  Cutting the gutter channel in the top header was done by hand using some 2" x 9" 60 grit sanding drums and that was a project to get a visible trench in the hard ash header but I managed.  I filled the irregularities in the door skin with body filler, primed and painted it, but did not clear coat it yet because the paint I have is not a good color match to the rest of the body.  I will sort that out soon.  For now, here are pictures of what I did...






Picture 1:  I got one rusty hinge pocket with the 2 pivot pin brackets mounted under the 2 screws and 2 of the orange painted door hinge arms.  Some repair has already been done in this picture as this hinge is complete, the broken hinge pin was removed from the door bracket casting and fitted with a functioning hinge pin I made. 


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Picture 2:  These are the missing hinge pin brackets. 


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Picture 3:  I made the 2 inboard hinge pin brackets shown in this picture of the completed functional hinges.


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Picture 4:  here are some of the other parts I got with the car including the door skin, the orange painted door skin to wood frame transition plates and 3 pieces of the original wood door frame.


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Picture 5:  I bought 3ft long pieces of 1in x 4in ash lumber from Baird's Lumber in Ohio to build the door frame.  I had to start by laminating 2 pcs of 1x4 to make 2x4's from which the frame was made.


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Picture 6:  Using the old door hinge header I fabricated a new one, contoured it to fit the door skin, attached it to the door skin and trial fit it to the car. 


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Picture 7:  The door could not be completely closed at this stage because the crimp rails were still open on 3 sides of the door but it appeared gaps between the edges of the door skin and the 4 sides of the opening were fairly even indicating the alignment was pretty good.


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Picture 8:  I made up the rest of the headers and glued them with Gorilla Glue taking care to square the corners and clamping to the flat table of my drill press to assure the frame was flat on the inside.  Note the wedges driven into the corners to tighten up the crude mortise and tenon joints made with a regular blade in my table saw.


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Picture 9:  This is the bare wood frame after contouring on the belt sander.


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Picture 10:  Note the contour of the wood frame fits the contour of the door skin.


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Picture 11:  This is a view of the top of the door skin along the hinge post.  I temporarily installed the transition plates to see how the door skin would fit over the wood frame and transition plates.


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Picture 12:  With the transition plates attached on all 4 sides and installation of the latch and handle I test fit the door without the skin to the car to evaluate how the gaps might look after the skin is crimped on all 4 sides and see if the latch would work.  The gaps looked good but I had to grind the latch plunger to get it to engage the striker.


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Pictures 13, 14:  I painted the door frame and transition plates, then assembled the skin, latch, ferrule and handle.  Note I later realized the handle I installed was the rumble lid handle which oriented vertically instead of horizontally which is correct. 


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Picture 15:  This is a picture of the rubber sweep seal. 


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Picture 16:  If you look closely there is a trench cut into the top edge of the door header to direct water away from the rumble compartment.


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Picture 17:  The completed golf door for now until I get some paint that more closely matches the body color.  It appears dull without the clear coat.  Note the gaps between the edges of the door and the recess in the body are pretty evenly spaced.


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Picture 18:  This is a shot from inside the car.  Note the metal plates in the rear corners of the door opening which are stop plates for some corner bumpers I added later.  The bumpers were used on the original car.  The upper corner stop plate was missing so I fabricated one.


GD 113.jpg

Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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On 5/6/2018 at 11:16 AM, Buicknutty said:

 Looks like a good project, with a nice head start on it for you.


Nice work. My father would have loved to do the same to his 1931 Buick 87. The car he has was used in the movie "The Cotton Club". It was known as "The Machine Gun Car". He used to take it to local shows on Long Island. He is no longer able to work on it, or drive it.

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@Str8-8-Dave  The golf door project is great!  You are very gifted with handling your woodworking tools.  Recreating the wood framing and assembling it on the the cars looks very challenging.  It must be very gratifying to finish a project like this.  Thanks for the pictures to show the details of your work description.  Helps one to understand the name for the parts one may encounter. 

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At first glance I thought this was a pretty nice car needing very little when you got it.  Unbelievable how many things you've had to fix.  This is a very lucky car to have gotten into your care!  I hope it brings you a ton of joy to finally drive as fully operational!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello to all;  The next project I decided to work on was the rumble lid.  I brought the car home from Cary, IL in April  of  2018 with a warning from the seller that the hinge adjustment on the lid was unknown and he strongly recommended I place a piece of card board or other protective material between the lid and the lower panel before attempting to open the rumble lid lest I damage the paint.  Because of that warning and because there were many other more pressing projects to work on I never tried opening the rumble lid until a couple of weeks ago.  As it turned out the bottom of the lid did hit the top lip of the lower panel on the car but with a little careful coaxing I got the lid opened without any paint damage so the assessment and fit corrections could begin.  


The lid really had a couple of fit  problems, one being the interference to the lower panel, the other being differences in lid to body gaps and when the lid was closed  the top left corner of the lid was floating about 1/2" high over the gutter on the left side of the car when the right side of the lid was closed against the gutter.  The lid was also missing the latch and handle and the corner bumpers which are screwed into a couple of iron straps that attach diagonally to the wood under the rain gutter in the body opening and the striker was poorly attached.  I had 2 finish painted iron straps that came with the car and I never understood what they were.  They turned out to be the diagonal straps the lid corner bumpers screw into.  I didn't have the bumpers and was preparing to make them when I got a tip that Gary Wallace Early Chevy Parts in Missouri reproduces the bumpers for early Chevy cars so I ordered a set from him.  I also learned from my friend Dave39MD's pictures of his original Buick 8-66S rumble lid bumpers that my car was missing some upholstered triangular trims designed to hide the iron bumper brackets.  I was able to make those after understanding their size, shape and how they attached to the bumper brackets.


I tried numerous adjustments to just correct the lid interference to the lower panel with no luck. There are 2 oval holes in the hinge castings that the 1/4-20 lid attaching studs pass thru which allow 1/4" of movement of the lid fore and aft.  Once that adjustment is made there are 4 other countersunk round screw holes in the hinge casting that are used to lock the adjustment in place. The adjustment range of the oval holes was inadequate to correct the  lid to lower panel interference so I tried elongating the oval holes which also proved to be unsuccessful.   Someone from Buick pre-war technical thread I started to gather ideas about how to fix the fit of my rumble lid stated he was able to correct the fit of his rumble lid on an Oldsmobile body by loosening a nut that held the hinge pivot to the side strap and adjusting the pivot location.  Unlike other GM car lines of the times there is no adjustment arrangement for the hinge pivot location on 31 Buick cars as the pivot was welded to the steel side strap.


I read in a Buick Historic Alliance reproduction of a cross carline Fisher Body manual that if the lid drags on the lower panel a series of wood wedges could be installed between the lower wood bar and the lower panel to force top of the lower panel out.  I tried inserting a wood wedge between the lower wood and what I thought was the lower panel but I found out the lower panel was not directly attached to the lower wood bar, it is crimped over a knife edge panel which was screwed to the wood bar in many places before the finish painted lower panel was installed.  I thought of several methods of moving the top lip of the lower panel out including installing a pressure beam over the lower wood bar to bend it out, fabricating a cam hinge pivot screw to replace the concentric shoulder screw used originally to move the lid forward away from the lower panel.  I finally thought of force fitting some taller wood uprights between the lower cross member and the lower wood bar to tip the wood bar out and the knife edge and lower panel with it.  I made up a couple of ash uprights to install next to the original uprights that were about 1/4" taller than the original uprights and that seemed to work.  I was able to tip the top lip of the lower panel out just enough to get the lid to clear. 


Next I tackled the problem with the high upper left corner of the lid in the closed position.  A more careful look at the lid height revealed that while the upper left corner of the lid  was 1/2" high the entire left side of the lid from the hinge pin forward was actually high, it was worst at the upper left corner then tapered down to about 1/8" high at the hinge pivot.  I was able to lower the lid a bit at the hinge pin by removing a little wood from the  hinge area of the lid frame but that did very little to correct the high top corner issue.  Correcting that all fell into place with installation of the latch, adjustment of the striker height and installation and adjustment of the corner bumper assemblies.  Once these items were addressed the lid closed tight at the latch which pulls the lid down onto the right corner bumper and puts just enough preload on the right side of the lid to force the left side of the lid down against it's corner bumper.  It does all this without slamming the lid, the lid can simply be moved toward closing until it's balance shifts and it closes with a nice ka-plunk under it's own weight.   The left corner of the lid at that point is closed with slight pre-load on the bumper, the corner of the lid cannot be pushed further closed. 





The initial problems with the rumble lid fit were interference or drag of the rumble lid on the lower or valance panel lip and....


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the top left corner of the lid would not close down flush with the upper panel on the outside or against the gutter below the lid.


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Here is a picture of Dave39MD's right side lid bumper in his original 31 Buick 8-66S.


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This view under Dave39MD's corner trim shows the end of the iron strap the bumpers screw into. 


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A pair of these bumper straps came with the car in a box and I didn't recognize what they were until I Saw Dave's pictures.  The corner bumper assemblies came from Gary Wallace Old Chevy Parts and are reproductions he sells.


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This is a picture of one of the hinges.  They offer limited lid adjustment at the slotted holes and are then locked into position by installing wood screws in the round countersunk holes. 


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The hinge pivot locations are not adjustable because the pivots are welded to the side straps.


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I thought of a couple of schemes to get clearance between the rumble lid and the top lip of the lower panel out after figuring out the method of inserting wood shims to correct the drag issue described in a 1931 Fisher Body cross carline manual could not be used.  The first idea was to install a pressure beam over the lower wood bar per the sketch below.


RS 032.jpg


Another idea was to fabricate a cam screw to adjust the position of the hinges to move the lid forward away from the lower panel but that could be an expensive machine shop job.


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I finally settled on the 2 uprights pictured below which are force fit between the lower crossmember on the floor of the compartment and the lower wood bar just above the new uprights and bow the top of the lower panel out to clear the lid.


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To correct the high top left corner I tried removing a bit of wood from under the hinge on the left side of the lid wood frame.  This had very little effect on the high corner but did correct the height at the hinge where the lid was about 1/8" high.


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The real fix for the high corner was installation of the latch assembly shown below along with....


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proper height adjustment of the striker plate the latch works with to pull the lid down onto the corner bumpers.  I made a couple of steel shims to get the striker mounted low enough in the car to pull the lid down into a range where the corner bumpers could level the lid.


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Here is a bottom view of the corner bumper mounting strap installation.


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After installing the latch and striker with the shims the lid would not latch.  However once I adjusted the bumpers a bit the lid closes with just enough preload so there is no clearance between the lid and the bumpers and it closes by just letting it go and having it close under it's own weight.


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Now the lid closes level on both sides.


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The last piece of this project was making the upholstered corner trims.  Chevy cars of this era used metal triangles to trim the corner bumper brackets.  I asked Dave39MD to measure his triangles which is nearly impossible installed.  He gave me the dimension of one of the sides and I used a piece of cardboard and some trial and error to come up with the likely final shape.   Dave39MD also stated he did not believe his car's original triangles were metal and we discussed and figured out the substrate for the Buick's triangles was likely trim panel board.  That's what I went with and I contact cemented the vinyl upholstery over the trim board.  The last pictures are of the final product. 


RS 067.jpg


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Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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  • 1 month later...

Hello to all;  We just got back from Michigan's UP after closing our summer home for the winter.  This past summer the Buick sat for awhile as we vacationed in the UP and camped around the state in our 5th wheel camper.  It was a little too hectic and we decided to sell the 5th wheel in favor of more comfortable accommodations at the cottage so I'm hoping next summer will allow for a little more Buick time.  That said I did get a few things done.  First I spotted and bought a set of much nicer re-chromed rear bumpers for the car and got them installed.  Second, I decided even though Buick did not offer turn signals until 1932 our car was going to get turn signals of some sort for the safety they offer.  Last, I bought a set of Trippe Jr. driving lights from Steve Moskowitz a while ago and installed a period correct switch and the required wiring to power the lights but never installed them.  I got them on the car and after swapping top mounting brackets out and figuring out how to reliably ground them I got them working. 


So the bumpers were pretty much just a parts swap but I elected to change the badly rusted and some incorrect or missing mounting hardware out for new stainless items.  I spent some time removing the modern markings from the bolt heads and polished them to look like chrome.  I had a couple of driver quality end bolts that are correct rounded head items. The bigger sub-project to this was restoring and temporarily installing a set of bumper bar trim caps that were missing.  These are chromed sheet metal parts that are hard to find.  Roger Fields in Ohio had a rusty set of the trims that had numerous dents, unscheduled holes drilled in them and the attaching bolts and their retaining brackets were pretty useless.  I started by grinding off the spot welds and removing the bolts and retaining brackets just so I could work the finish surfaces of the trims and bump out dents and fill the holes drilled in them.  After bumping the finished surfaces of the trims I made new retaining brackets and installed new stainless carriage bolt attachments, then temporarily installed the bolts and retaining brackets by screw riveting them in place.  Finally I took the assemblies to my local fabricating shop and had the retaining brackets spot welded.  Considering what I started with they turned out pretty nice.  the chrome shop will have to run them through the copper step and polish these a bit but they should look nice after plating.


The turn signals project started with trying to find some period correct lamps and turn signal switch gear.  I looked at all kinds of old turn signal switches on E-Bay which ranged from junk to jewelry and priced accordingly.  The thousand dollar new old stock chrome Yankee turn signal switch was too rich for my blood so I bought a pretty good looking Signal Stat 700 "Burnout Proof" switch that clamp mounts to the steering column and features pilot lights to indicate whether or not the lamps are working correctly.  I completely disassembled the switch unit, replaced the broken bake-lite knob, rounded up the missing lamps for the pilot lights, re-glued one of the cardboard pilot light hood tubes, cleaned the switch contacts up with De-Oxit contact cleaner, painted the housings and reassembled it.  I soldered new bullet connectors on the ends of the lamp and flasher wires and installed it on my steering column.  As luck would have it this car probably had turn signals in it's old life because in one of the boxes of parts that came with the car was a clip on wire routing tunnel for the steering column that gave the switch installation a nice finishing touch.  I also bought a couple of NOS Tung Sol 6 volt flasher units and mounted a flasher mounting bracket under one of the instrument panel support screws on the inner left side of the instrument panel.  The switch also came with a metal in line fuse holder to protect the circuit which is wired, per the Signal Stat directions, to the ignition switch.  All wiring for this project is period correct cloth covered wire in asphalt loom held to the frame with correct style harness clips.  The last piece of the pie was what to do about the actual lamps.  I refused to drill holes in fenders to mount original lamps from a later model or after market lamps.  Instead I found some reproduction chrome Guide 49 bullet style lamps that were used on early Harley Davidson motorcycles for turn signals.  They look like they belong on the car.  I had to make some snazzy adapter brackets but rather than drilling holes to mount these they all mount under the top bumper bar clamp bolts which locate the lamps in a good spot for visibility and have the advantage of a good reliable ground since the bumper bar bolts screw directly into the end of the frame.    


The Trippe  Jr. driving lights were first installed with the upper brackets that I got with the lights and they actually angle down from the lower brackets.  This posed a couple of issues, the lamps had to be mounted too far forward to avoid fouling the lamp shell on the bracket arm and interfering with aim adjustment.  With that arrangement they were only an inch or two behind the bumper bars which meant in a minor collision they would be smashed.  The second problem had to do with how I planned to route the wiring, it would have had the stainless spiral conduit hanging on the front frame bar.  I did some study of other cars to see how wiring was routed and the one I really liked was a LaSalle that had spiral conduit hanging behind the front frame bar then disappearing into holes drilled in the lower radiator gravel pan.  I bought some reproduction upper bracket arms that raise the  lamps allowing the upper bracket arms to be arranged straight to the rear placing the lamps in an aesthetically pleasing position viewed from the front or side.  This arrangement gives them much better collision protection and lets the wire harness conduit hang straight down to the holes I drilled in the gravel pan without laying on the painted surface of the front frame tube.  The ends of the conduit are secured to the gravel pan sheet metal with the same fittings used on the cowl lamp conduit where the wiring enters through the cowl sheet metal.  The last problem after getting the lights temporarily mounted was establishing a good ground circuit.  The first time I switched them on the right one lit dimly and the left didn't light at all.  At first I was going to make the ground circuit through the bracketry by putting everything together with external tooth star washers to dig into the metal under the paint.  There would be one under the aim adjusting nut, another at the bolt that attaches the upper bracket arms to the bumper brackets and 2 at the bumper bracket clamp bolt locations.  Trouble was even if all that worked the bumper support bar is painted along with the clamps that attach the support bar to the front of the frame which by the way is covered with some more painted parts, the sill covers.  I toyed with the idea of getting my ground circuit from the  all the lamp bracketry to the frame ends by installing short pieces of copper sheet metal behind the bumper support bar.  I finally realized I was creating an electrical nightmare and made a couple of jumper leads that connect the lamp adjustment bolt at the upper bracket arm right straight to the turn signal mounting bolt which is an excellent ground because it is bolted directly to the frame.  They don't look bad if you can actually find them hidden in 1/4" black asphalt loom but eventually a more elegant solution would be to add a ground wire connected inside the lamp shells and routed down the flexible conduit and attached to a convenient ground on the frame behind the radiator gravel shield.  the front bumpers and support bar all have to come off eventually for plating of the front bumper bars and proper painting of the support bar.  That will be the opportunity to apply the more elegant ground solution.







In the beginning there were no rear bumpers or spare tire mount, these parts were MIA when I got the car.  The spare tire and rim (second photo) did come with the car.


Before 009.jpg


The first bumpers came from The Handleman.  He had these bumpers and the correct spare tire mount loaded into the front of his trailer as he was headed off to the 2018 Hershey swap meet.  I rigged up a way to pay him for the parts which he then handed off to Larry Schramm who brought them back to his shop in Rochester Michigan...  Thanks Larry!


Old rr bmpr 004.JPG


Later I spotted these nice re-chromed bumper bars on E-Bay and bought them for what I believe is less than it would have cost to get mine plated.  The bumper bars also came with some missing clamps for the inboard bumper support bars.  The rectangular clamps with the single center bolt hole were missing from my car, they clamp the inboard bumper support bars to the main bumper support bar.


Rr bmpr 002.jpg


In this closeup note the rectangular clamp on the right over the inboard support bar and that I saved the correct style end bolts to attach the left and right ends of the bumpers to the main support bar. 


Rr bmpr 007.jpg


The last missing pieces of the rear bumpers were the trim caps.  The first pictures show them as received from Roger Fields.  I ground the spot welds off the attaching hardware brackets on the back, bumped the dents, filled the holes, made new attaching hardware brackets and installed new stainless attaching bolts.


Rr bmpr cap 006.jpg



Rr bmpr cap 007.jpg


These are the bumper trims after bumping the big dents out, filling holes used to screw hardware brackets back on the inside and with 3 new attaching hardware brackets and all new stainless attaching bolts.


Rr bmpr cap 011.jpg



Rr bmpr cap 012.jpg


This picture shows my temporary installation on the bumpers.  They still need to be filled an plated. 


Rr bmpr cap 018.jpg


This is a Signal Stat 700 "Burnout Proof" turn signal switch.  This one was listed for $400+ but I bought one for $75 on E-bay and restored it.


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A picture of my switch in the car.  If you look closely you can see the clip on wiring tunnel that routes the wiring neatly down the column. 


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These signal lamps are reproduction Guide 49 parts that appeared on early Harley Davidson motorcycles equipped with turn signals.  I used examples with red lenses in the rear and amber lenses up front. 

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In order to mount the lamps I had to make up some right angle brackets that feature a welded spacer to allow them to bolt at the upper bumper support bar clamp locations both front and rear.


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This is the left rear lamp on my adapter bracket which then bolts thru the bumper support bar clamp to the end of the frame which locates the lamps where they can be seen and offers a good solid ground circuit.



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These are the Trippe Jr. lights I bought from Steve Moskowitz.


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A picture of the Trippe light switch in the car.


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The new front view of the car with the Trippes in place and the turn signal lamps.


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I drilled 2 holes in the gravel shield to allow the flexible conduit termination fittings to be mounted and allowing the wiring for the driving lights to disappear into the dark recesses of the frame behind.


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These last pictures are a walk-around of the lighting system, it all works!  


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello to all;  We got 10 inches of snow and 5 degree weather in southeast Michigan this second week of November so I found a job to work on partly in our attached but unheated garage, partly in the house.  When I bought the car it had 2 nice planks with rounded outboard edges for running boards.  I removed the 3 bolts holding each, then the boards, mostly because the 3 bolts were nice sharp 1/4-20 x 3 inch bolts hanging down like knives in my work zone.  I could easily imagine forgetting about that and rolling und the car on a creeper and that didn't seem like a good idea.  The boards themselves were pretty nice, only needing shortening by about 1/4" to make room for end moldings, marking, drilling, countersinking for carriage bolts and being treated with some kind of wood preservative.  Additionally I found the 4 brackets that attach the ends of the boards to the fender sheet metal and I discovered a set of new reproduction and correct for '31 running board mats.  I bought 1/4-20 x 1-1/2 inch stainless carriage bolts with nuts/flats/locks for all thru-the board fastener locations and 1/4-20 x 3/4 inch slotted flat head stainless screws with nuts/flats/locks for the running board to fender bracket attachments.  L&L Trim in Missouri reproduces correct for "31 Buick running board moldings so I bought a set of those last summer and had them on hand.  I had no idea what kind of preservative they might have used when the car was built so bought a 1 gallon bucket of black waterproof fence post paint which I wound up not using.  Dave39MD who has the original "31 8-66S told me the boards were originally green-washed with copper/arsenic preservative.  The arsenic is no longer used for safety reasons but the near cousin preservative has copper/napthanate as it's main ingredient.  I discovered an Armor-All product on line that had the right brew but that stuff is only sold in Canada and not legal to ship to the US.  Rustoleum has another product that also has the desired active ingredient so I bought a quart of that on Amazon under the name "Wood Life Coppercoat".  So once having all the parts and the preservative I went to work on these.  The pictures below will tell the rest of the story...




 This is an early picture of the car at the seller's shop in Cary Illinois.  The running boards were simply planks with rounded outboard edges held on by three 3 inch carriage bolts on each side.









Before 003.jpg


I removed the boards to avoid being impaled on the long bolts.  Here I measured 52 inches roughly from fender to fender to give to L&L Trim for molding length. 


RB 002.jpg


Here is the L&L Trim catalog page listing the "31 Buick moldings.  The set consists of the outboard finish molding, nail flanges that interlock to the outboard moldings, then lay flat on top the board planks for nailing, end caps and inboard moldings.  The long moldings and the nailers have to be trimmed to length and nail holes must be drilled or punched to install. 


RB 005.jpg



RB 012.jpg


RB 013.jpg


I cut the boards to length allowing for fitment of end moldings, then did the drilling and countersinking before giving the board wood 2 coats of Rustoleum Wood Life Coppercoat.


RB 016.jpg


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I used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel to cut the long moldings and nailers to length.


RB 021.jpg


The first assembly step is to interlock the nailers to the outboard moldings and nail them to the wood planks. 


RB 023.jpg


Next the rubber mats have to be cut to length and width, all the bolts get installed and the rubber mats are contact cemented to the wood planks.  There is a groove in the top of the outboard moldings that the outboard edge of the rubber mat inserts into. Once the mats are glued the inboard long molding goes on.


RB 025.jpg


RB 026.jpg


End caps require cutting a semi-circular recess on the lip where it will pass over top of the rounded inboard molding then cutting to length to fit the end-width of the running board.


RB 029.jpg


Once the molding are all on the boards are turned over and on the left side edge of the picture the inboard molding is folded over the wood on the on the board which clamps it securely to the mats and allows the inboard edge of the running board to lay flat on the running board brackets and a nail shelf on the running board aprons.  There are 15 carriage bolts on each board and another 6 machine screws to attach the running boards to the fenders via the running board to fender brackets.

RB 034.jpg


Here's what the boards look like under the car.


RB 038.jpg


These 2 pictures are the running board installation on the passenger's side of the car.


RB 039.jpg


RB 040.jpg


And the driver's side board...


RB 043.jpg


RB 044.jpg

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Hello to all. 

I keep a “to do” list for the Buick.  Some items on the list are minor like checking the oil level in the differential housing, some are major like overhauling the ignition distributor.  The most recent task I tackled was really a group of 4 tasks, initial clutch adjustment, correcting what I was concerned was a low brake pedal travelling to about 2 inches from the toe board and never having a good solid feel, and verifying the brake light switch adjustment.   Somewhere along the line I also decided to change out some old Alemite grease fittings with the straight tube head and grease the entire suspension.  The work-intensive surprise was setting up and adjusting the brake system.  This, by the way, was a re-learn-by-doing project, I haven't done a complete brake adjustment on one of these cars since the late 1960's when I was restoring a Buick 8-86 coupe.

I started this group of tasks by reading relevant sections of the 1931 Specifications and Adjustments manual and as I went along I found a few mistakes in the assembly of the brake cross shaft, missing parts and parts the previous restorer jury-rigged to get around some of these issues.  Subsequent brake adjustments and maintenance should go much easier because once set up correctly some of the adjustment steps can be skipped or simply verified.  The clutch pedal setup was easy, just set the toe-board pedal clearance and adjust the throw-out bearing half nut to give 3/4-1 inch pedal free play.   Greasing and other chassis lube is straight forward but time consuming due to the number of fittings in play.  The worst item to lube was the front brake cables because I don’t have the lube tool shown in the Buick manual.  Following are pictures as I progressed and notes on what I fixed.

Happy Thanksgiving




If you don't know the condition of your brake linings you should remove the drums front and rear and inspect the linings to make sure the attaching rivets are below the surface of the lining, 3/32" to prevent scoring drums.  Refer to the 1931 Buick Specifications and Adjustments manual for maximum allowable drum wear diameter. 

NOTE:  My car is a model 8-66S so the adjustments outlined here are for series 60/80/90 cars.  Series 50 cars are handled in a separate section of the Specifications and Adjustments manual.

The first step for adjusting the brakes is setting the clearance from the brake pedal stems to the toe-board.  I had the toe board but it hasn't been in the car since a few days after I brought it home in April of 2018. 




Brakes 001.jpg


Brakes 002.jpg


The set screws on the pedals adjust the toe board clearance and I set both clutch and brake pedals about 1/4" from the back side of the toe-board.


Brakes 003.jpg


Brakes 005.jpg


The pedal return springs and the bell housing bracket that attaches one end of the springs were all missing when I got the car.  I made a bracket and found some appropriate aftermarket springs and installed them.  Later I discovered the original springs in a box of parts that came with the car so I swapped the aftermarket springs out in favor of the originals.


Brakes 002a.jpg


Next step in the manual is to verify that the right side brake cross shaft lever bell crank rests against a stop pin which doubles as the lower of 2 bolts that attach the right side cross shaft support bearing to the frame, then adjust clevises at the brake pedal and hand brake to remove any slack in their fully released positions.  I discovered there was no stop pin, only a hardened fine thread 5/16" mounting bolt, same as used in the other bearing block attachments to the frame.  The white pointer in the photo below points to where the pin should be.    


Brakes 008.jpg


I made a stop from 3 inch long grade 5 fine thread bolt.  This picture is before I removed the head from the bolt.  Once I cut the head off the bolt the stop looks pretty much like an original part.  The view thru the service door shows the unfinished stop pin and the bell crank at rest against the pin. 


Brakes 018.jpg


Now with the pin in place and the bell crank at rest against the pin the brake pedal clevis in this picture can be adjusted to remove any slack.


Brakes 003.jpg


Then the hand brake clevis can also be adjusted to remove any slack.  At each adjustment the test is verifying any brake pedal or hand brake movement moves the brake cross shaft bell crank off the newly installed stop pin and then when both the service brake pedal and the hand brake lever are released the bell crank returns to rest on the pin.


Brakes 006.jpg


Once the brake pedal to toe board clearance has been set and brake pedal and hand brake lever have been adjusted to remove slack the brake light switch should be adjusted so the switch lever just rests against the switch cover.  In this position the brake light should be off when the brakes are all off but activate the brake light in the slack travel before the pedal begins to apply the brakes.    


Brakes 006a.jpg


Brakes 06c.jpg


The next step in the process is to disconnect the chassis brake actuating rods, the fronts at the left and right brake cross shaft bell cranks, the rears at the backing plate mounted bell cranks


Brakes 018_LI.jpg




Then before performing the brake shoe adjustments I elected to take care of some other items.  The first was to disconnect the front brake rods at the flex cables, then remove the cables from the frame brackets and lube the cables.  The Buick Specifications and Adjustment manual shows a special tool for this purpose which of course I don' have so I improvised.  I found a funnel that just snugly fit the cable jacket ends and attached it to the cable, then suspended it from a wire hooked to a garage door track above.  The lubrication chart says use 90 weight gear oil  I poured about 6 oz. of gear oil in the funnel and let gravity take car of the rest.  This was messy and while the left cable lubed to the point oil was dripping out of the other end of the cable the right brake was less than conclusive.  I will make a tool to force oil under pressure through the cables for future lubrication. 


Brakes 023.jpg


Brakes 021.jpg


There is supposed to be a return spring on the right side brake cross shaft bell crank, one end of which attaches to a hole in the frame, the other end hooks into the cotter pin hole of the front brake rod clevis pin.  The previous restorer/owner jury rigged a piece of rod hooked over the end of the front brake rod clevis then to a small spring, then to a bolt sticking out of the frame. 


Brakes 007_LI.jpg


I bought a  brake cross shaft return spring for Chevrolet cars and trucks from The Filling Station and modified it to look like the Buick spring.


Brakes 019a.jpg


Brakes 019d.jpg


The Buick Specifications and Adjustments manual states that between the left side brake cross shaft bearing and bell crank there is an anti-rattle spring, a wavy washer, that should be compressed a maximum of 1/8" to take the left to right play out of the cross shaft and prevent rattles.  The washer was installed instead on the right side of the car and was totally collapsed.  I re-formed the washer and installed it on the left side of the car and compressed it just a bit, probably not 1/8", but enough to take the cross play out of the shaft.  Additionally on the left side the grease fitting for the shaft support bearing could not be accessed thru the service door because the base of the bearing assembly had been rotated 180 degrees and the grease fitting then had a pinch bolt for the bell crank in front of it.  I rotated the housing 180 degrees and reinstalled the bolts to correct this.


Brakes 019_LI.jpg


The last item I actually didn't discover until I had already adjusted the brake shoes and hooked everything back up.  The right side brake cross shaft support bearing grease fitting would not take any grease.  I removed the bearing assembly and found the bronze bearing insert had rotated in the swivel ball so that the grease hole in the bronze bearing no longer lined up with the grease fitting hole in the swivel ball.   














Finally it was time to do the actual brake shoe adjustment.  All 4 wheels of the car should be off the ground for these steps.  First the manual states you should verify each brake unit releases properly by operating each front brake by hand pulling and releasing the cables and assuring the shoe return springs return the cables to the pulled in position in the die cast slider housings in the backing plates.  Similarly each rear brake is to be operated by hand and verifying when released the adjuster housing returns to the stop pin noted on the rear brake photo markups.  Once release capability is verified the brake shoe centering nuts are slacked off until the lock washers are loose.  Then the adjusters are tightened until the wheel can just be rotated forward a full turn by hand.  Then the centering nuts are re-tightened which sets the centering cams correctly for the brakes released condition.  Then the adjusters are loosened 12 flats for broken in linings and 14 flats for new linings.  Then the clevis rods are readjusted so the clevis pins can be inserted freely by hand at which time the cotter pins go on and clevis lock nuts get tightened.  The Buick Specifications and Adjustments manual states after the adjustment steps are completed the brakes should be applied hard once to center everything, then  partially applied and checked for equal drag at each wheel. 


20191118_165752_LI (4).jpg


20191118_164513_LI (2).jpg



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Hello to all and happy new year.  As I stated at the end of my opening writeup in the previous post, if you don't know the condition of your brake shoes you should inspect them before you adjust the brakes.  There's not much point in adjusting the brakes if the linings are worn down to the rivets, they should be replaced first.  So I was told by the previous owner that the brakes had been rebuilt on my car but there is nothing like seeing for yourself.  The other item I knew I would be able to evaluate was the condition of the wheel bearings.  I started by rounding up a good hub puller for the rear wheels and got a dandy from JPS, an AACA contributor who used it on his 1930 Buick.  I pulled the right rear wheel off the car and was delighted to find brand new woven cloth brake lining, clean backing plate with all parts present, clean brake drum and the rear wheel bearings looked like they had fresh grease.   The items I found that needed attention were the axle nuts which are supposed to be 1-7/16" but at some point in the car's life someone removed the rear wheels using a hammer so the nuts were both distorted, they fit my socket on the inboard end but could not be fully inserted into a socket because the outboard ends were swollen from hammer blows.  The other item that needed attention on the rear was the axle nut keeper washers which had been reused many times and some of the fingers were fatigued off.  I carefully re-sized the nuts on my belt sander, then laid out and cut new keeper washers out of 16 gauge steel sheet metal.  Making the keeper washers was a project but once completed I installed my new washers and re-sized nuts and torqued the rear axle nuts to 100 lbs./ft. 


Then I took the front wheels off the car.  The brake linings again looked great and the backing plates were clean with all parts present and drums looked good.     That said I learned the front wheel bearings had not been packed in a long time and were out of adjustment.   It took the better part of a day to completely degrease the front wheel bearings and hubs, I spent hours scraping hard deposits off the inside of the ball retainers to get them completely clean.  There was no sign of rust, just grease that was more like dried tree sap than soft grease.  Once the parts were all clean I carefully inspected cups, cones and bearing balls and all looked perfect except the right inner ball and retainer had 2 balls with significant pits.  I was able to identify the New Departure Hyatt part numbers on the cups and cones.  Using those numbers to search I was able to find a set of complete NOS front wheel bearings and a NOS inner wheel bearing ball and retainer at Obsolete Oldsmobile and bought one complete inner and outer front wheel bearing and the inner ball and cup assembly only so now I have a set of spare bearings for the front wheels.   I talked to Dave39MD and he suggested I use Valvoline wheel bearing grease for drum brakes which I did track down and buy.  Before reassembling the front wheels to the car I removed the brake adjuster that was missing the adjustment nut keeper spring from the right front brake.  I had no luck trying to find another healthy part so I bought a piece of 0.030" spring steel sheet metal and made a finger only section new spring for the adjuster.  I intended to remove the rivet that held the spring to the adjuster housing and decided that was too risky so rather than making a complete new spring I cut and shaped a piece of spring stock to replicate the missing finger and left a long straight piece of spring stock behind the finger.  I drove the new spring piece under the original spring on the adjuster and got that to work perfectly.  If you didn't know what I did you would have a hard time telling it was ever broken. 


Finally I packed the wheel bearings with fresh grease, reinstalled bearings and seals in the hubs and reinstalled the wheels and adjusted the front wheel bearings as outlined in the 31 Specifications and Adjustments manual.  I used 5/32" cotter pins to finish the job which is the largest pin that will fit the holes in the spindles. 




I bought this puller from AACA contributor JPS who used it once to pull the rear wheels on his 1930 Buick. 


Brakes 078.jpg


Turned out his hubs were the same size as mine, 3.00" 16 thread per inch so I didn't even have to adjust the puller to use it on my car. 

It fit perfectly and pulled my right rear drum with ease.  It's built like a tank!


Brakes 079.jpg


This is what I found inside the right rear brake, new correct woven brake lining on a clean backing plate with all parts present.  The grease on that axle

is soft and fresh.


Brakes 086.jpg


Drums, oil slingers and wheel bearings looked good.


Brakes 083.jpg


These are the original axle nut keeper tab washers and they are tired, obviously reused many times.


Brakes 089.jpg


I made new keeper washers from 16 gauge hot rolled sheet metal.  I don't have a drop shear or other exotic equipment to make parts

like these on, these were about 1 per day with a Roper Whitney hand punch and my Dremel Moto Tool. 


Brakes 091.jpg


Brakes 094.jpg


Here are my roughed out the keepers and they are pictured here with one of the axle nuts I re-sized on my belt sander.


Brakes 096.jpg


There are nine fingers on the keeper washers spaced 40 degrees apart and typically you will find 3 that will line up well enough with the flats on the

axle nut to be effective at holding the nut.  Note there is a tenth finger pointed inward which is bent 90 degrees and inserted into the axle keyway to

fix the position of the washer to the hub.


Brakes 103.jpg


I torqued my axle nuts to 100 lbs./ft. using a 250 lbs./ft. capacity clicker torque wrench and 1-7/16" half inch drive socket.


Brakes 105.jpg


This is what I found inside the left front drum. 


Brakes 053.jpg


Here is a closeup of the actuator.


Brakes 055.jpg


The shoe rivets are about 3/16" below the surface of the lining.


Brakes 056.jpg


The drums were clean and free of any scoring.


Brakes 058.jpg


The front wheel bearings were really gooed up with old grease.


Brakes 060.jpg


I found 2 balls with cratering in this right front inner wheel ball and retainer assembly and I replaced it.


Brakes 061.jpg


This brake adjuster was missing the keeper spring that bears on the adjustment nut.  Instead of removing the attaching rivet and replacing the

entire spring I cut a new finger and left it long enough to allow it to be driven under the original spring.  In this picture I haven't trimmed it to hide

under the original spring completely, you can see the bright blue spring stock sticking out of the tail of the original spring. 


Brakes 071.jpg


I trimmed the finger and repainted the adjuster.


Brakes 069.jpg


This is Valvoline wheel bearing grease for drum brake cars.


Brakes 063.jpg


This grease is long fiber and very dark brown.  Direction on the can warn not to use this grease on disc brakes because it can't withstand the temperatures.


Brakes 067.jpg


Adjustment instructions in the Buick Specifications and Adjustments manual state the nuts should be taken up to remove all slack from the bearings,

then loosen until slack is just perceptible, then retighten the nuts to the first cotter pin opening tighter than the no-slack adjustment up to 1 full flat. 

The manual goes on to state the life expectancy of the bearings is better on the tight side versus having any perceptible slack.  I finished the adjustment

with new 5/32" by 2" cotter pins. 


Brakes 106.jpg

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Hello to all;  I got into an interesting project to complete my car's locks, specifically the spare tire lock which was missing when I got the car.  In fact while I got a spare rim for the car I did not get a spare tire carrier either, so that was an earlier project, rounding up the correct spare tire carrier, mounting it temporarily because it will need to be blasted and painted and getting the spare tire mounted on the carrier.  I am so fortunate to have Dave39MD's help, advice, and in this case direct parts contribution to come up with an authentic lock.  Dave has the same year and model car as mine but his is an unrestored original car. 


Oakes was the vendor Buick appears to have bought spare tire locks from for rear mounted spare tire arrangements.  Oakes also made the ignition and column locks for Buick and other GM lines for several years.  Dave39MD had to replace the lock insert on his car as someone destroyed the original trying to get the spare tire off his car at some point in it's history.  In an effort to replace the lock insert Dave had to buy another complete spare tire lock to get an original lock insert but the iron housing been modified, someone sawed a 1-1/4" piece off the tail of the housing.  Dave39MD generously sent me the modified housing and his broken and unrepairable original lock insert and also numerous pictures and measurements of his complete original lock housing.  To fix the housing I determined that the missing piece could be fabricated from a piece of 3/16" thick by 1-1/4" wide by 10 inch long piece of hot rolled bar stock.  I made a drawing of what I wanted and gave the iron housing and bar stock to my local fabricating shop.  They were able to bend the bar stock to shape on their PEXTO bender, then welded the piece onto the housing and gave it back to me to finish.


The lock insert was the other half of the project.  I had been watching Oakes listings on E-Bay for some time and finally stumbled onto a listing for an insert that while not quite the original design was close enough that I was convinced it could be modified to work.  The lock insert consists of an aluminum housing with a couple of latch fingers into which a standard 5 or 6 pin key lock tumbler is inserted.  A key feature of the original lock was a metal weather flip cover that was pinned to the face of the aluminum housing and the aluminum housing had the Oakes loge cast in.  The NOS replacement insert I bought carried the Oakes logo on it's face but was slightly larger than the original, used a Yale lock tumbler and the flip cover was hinged to the lock tumbler rather than the aluminum housing.  The OD of the housing was about 0.060" larger in diameter than the hole in the steel housing so I made a drawing of the insert with current dimensions and new target dimensions and gave the aluminum housing to the local machine shop to get the diameter turned down to the correct size in a lathe.  I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story...




The picture below shows the original bare lock insert housing from Dave39MD's car on the left and the NOS bare insert housing I bought on E-Bay

on the right.  You can see in the picture the outside diameter of the NOS piece on the right is larger than the original insert on the left.  Note also that

the weather cover on the original was hinged on the aluminum insert housing.  Both carry the Oakes trade mark cast in. 


STL 001.jpg


This is the new insert housing after I had the local machine shop turn the face flange down to the diameter of the original insert housing I got from Dave39MD.


STL 004.jpg


This is what the new insert housing looks like with the Yale lock tumbler installed.  Note the weather cover is hinged to the tumbler. 


STL 007.jpg


Here is a picture of the back of the insert.  Because of the camera angle only one of the latch hooks is visible on the left.  There is another latch

hook diametrically across the insert on the right.


STL 008.jpg


Here is a shot of the sawed off iron housing with the new lock inserted in the hole.  The purpose of the insert is to cover the access hole in

the rear of the iron housing where the hole tire lock assembly, along with a tab that overhangs the tire rim is held to the spare tire carrier with

a 3/4" hex nut.


STL 011.jpg


Below is a shot of the stud and the tab that overhangs the bottom of the rim.  It is actually the tab that prevents unauthorized removal of

the rim and spare tire from the carrier.  The Oakes lock simply prevents access to the attaching nut.  The square nut was replaced with a 3/4"

hex nut which is the same size as the lug nuts and can be removed by inserting the tire iron through the iron lock housing after the insert is removed

with the key. 


ST 004.JPG


This is a shot of the lock assembly during a trial fitting.  Note that the iron housing HAS NOT been restored to it's original length in this picture.


STL 015.jpg


The following are pictures of the iron lock housing after having the missing 1-1/4" of the tail replaced. 


STL 016.jpg


STL 019.jpg


STL 020.jpg


This is the complete lock assembly after finishing and painting. 


STL 024.jpg


Here are pictures of the completed spare tire lock installed on the car.


STL 026.jpg


STL 028.jpg


STL 030.jpg

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Hello to all;  I needed an indoor project since we have all been sick with various respiratory gremlins since before Christmas.  Keeping in mind I am an old geezer and a bona-fide amateur restorer on a limited budget I decided rather than spend a bunch of money on having the door sill moldings restored I would attempt to do a credible repair myself. 


We have a small bedroom that I commandeered for my computer that has become a 1931 Buick parts department and small job workshop and one way for me to keep tabs on how I'm progressing is to look around the room and see what has disappeared from inventory.  When I got the car the sill moldings were temporarily installed with the signature universal drywall screw hardware of the previous restorer and they were ugly.  They were dull and featured what appeared to be hammer dents all along the raised feature that runs the length of the molding.  I mean someone spent a lot of time denting these in a manner that made the raised ridge look like it had been bent out of line.   I had no idea how I might be able to remove the dents and restore the original line of the raised ridge.  I considered making male and female hardwood forms to squeeze the dents out but that seemed like an impossible task given my limited woodworking machine tools. 


Then I got another idea.  I have a watchmakers bench in the same room as the computer resides in leftover from my watch and clock hobby and it has a half inch wide channel cut into the top near the front edge to prevent small watch or clock falling off the top of the bench.  I decided to try laying the moldings upside down with the ridge face down in that channel and placing a piece of 1/2" OD thick wall steel tubing in the ridge and hammering out the dents.  That helped get most of the dents out.  I also made a steel plate die that I mounted in the jaws of a heavy adjustable angle drill press vise.  I formed the edge of the die to fit the curved transition between the flat section of the molding and the side wall of the ridge feature and laid the molding over the die and was able to hammer out many of the deformities at the transition.  This produced pretty good results getting the basic shape of the moldings restored, what was left to deal with was a bunch of small scratches and craters along the ridge feature that no amount of hammering would fix. 


The rest of the repair was all about sanding.  I sanded most of the surface defects out of the ridge feature with 150 grit emery cloth.  Once I knocked out most of the defects I began stepping through sanding steps with waterproof papers, first 220 grit, then 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500 and finally 2000 grit steps, all done by hand, I don't even own a bench buffer.  Staring with the 400 paper step I included sanding the flat portion of the moldings which became brighter at each step.  The final step was a hand polishing with Happich Simi-Chrome polish and soft cloths. 


The result of about 10 hours of work is a pair of what I consider very presentable, not perfect moldings.  This was accomplished with on-hand supplies and lots of elbow grease.  If you get down and view the moldings at eye level you will certainly see the minor pits and scratches that I gave up on but once these moldings are installed in the car with correct #6 oval head slotted screws I think they will look really nice for an amateur restoration job.





The first 3 pictures are of the sill moldings that came with my car.  Someone must have worked hard to put all those dents in the ridge feature...


SM 001.jpg


SM 002.jpg


SM 003.jpg


The following 6 pictures are of my watchmaker's work bench with it's groove across the front edge and pictures of how I laid the

moldings face down with the ridge line in the groove on the bench and last shot with the 1/2" tubing on the backside of the ridge.


SM 003A.jpg


SM 004.jpg


SM 004A.jpg


SM 005.jpg


SM 007.jpg


The next 2 pictures are of the plate die I made and how I laid molding on the die to reshape the flat to ridge feature transition.


SM 008.jpg


SM 009.jpg


Now the grunt work starts, first pass sanding is done with emery cloth to get as many of the pits and scratches off the ridge feature

as possible.  I waited until I got to the 400 grit step before doing any sanding on the embossed pattern flat portion of the molding to

avoid sanding off the embossed pattern. 


SM 010.jpg


After the big defects are removed, the sanding continues with 220/320/400/600/1000/1500 and 2000 grit steps.


SM 011.jpg


SM 012.jpg


The last step after the sanding was completed was to hand polish the moldings with GHE Happich Simi-Chrome polish from the tube

in the picture above and soft cotton cloth.  The results are shown in the pictures below.


SM 013.jpg


SM 014.jpg


SM 015.jpg


SM 018.jpg


The last 4 pictures are of the moldings temporarily installed in the car with correct oval head slotted screws.  


SM 021.jpg


SM 024.jpg


SM 025.jpg


SM 026.jpg

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Hi John;  I just added pictures of the finished sill plates in the car temporarily.  they will come out when it's time to install the front floormat which I won't do yet because the gear shift lever and hand brake all have to come out for plating.  Once the plating is done I can start final assembly.  I'm starting a new adventure now, I made a pair of new kick panels using originals as patterns and I bought a commercial sewing machine to do the stitching.  


I at least temporarily moved away from the low brackets because I couldn't find a position that didn't either cause interference with the lamp buckets or the frame cross bar.  I couldn't even adjust the lamps to stand vertically because they hit the brackets.  I'm not happy with the re-pop brackets I bought either because the diameter of the arm mount base is too small for the bumper clamp mounting base.  Stay tuned, I may try to go back to the low mounts.

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On 1/30/2020 at 9:43 AM, Str8-8-Dave said:

Hi John;  I just added pictures of the finished sill plates in the car temporarily.  they will come out when it's time to install the front floormat which I won't do yet because the gear shift lever and hand brake all have to come out for plating.  Once the plating is done I can start final assembly.  I'm starting a new adventure now, I made a pair of new kick panels using originals as patterns and I bought a commercial sewing machine to do the stitching.  


I at least temporarily moved away from the low brackets because I couldn't find a position that didn't either cause interference with the lamp buckets or the frame cross bar.  I couldn't even adjust the lamps to stand vertically because they hit the brackets.  I'm not happy with the re-pop brackets I bought either because the diameter of the arm mount base is too small for the bumper clamp mounting base.  Stay tuned, I may try to go back to the low mounts.


On 11/3/2019 at 12:55 PM, Str8-8-Dave said:



BW 070.jpg


I drilled 2 holes in the gravel shield to allow the flexible conduit termination fittings to be mounted and allowing the wiring for the driving lights to disappear into the dark recesses of the frame behind.


BW 073.jpg


These last pictures are a walk-around of the lighting system, it all works!  


BW 069.jpg


I see the issue per your photos - I guess you could go with a set of Senior Trippe brackets in the traditional form (my impression is the lights always sit up too high with them though), but personally I have always been on the quest for the low slung brackets that you originally intended on using.    I would almost lean toward bandsawing off the top of the mount and then have someone weld in a spacer so the lower bracket sits up higher - then re-wrinkle paint.  Other options: What if you made an aluminum spacer to slightly raise up the bracket - the only problem is kind of a devil to do the teeth work. Or what if you ground off the teeth, made a spacer and then pinned them.  

















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Hello to all.  Over the past couple of months I struggled with what to do with some of the interior trim in my car, specifically the golf door trim and the cowl vent kick panels.  I bought some panel board some time ago along with some smooth black vinyl yard goods.  I tried once to just use measurements inside the car to create the kick panels.  I also knew that whatever I did both the golf door trim and the kick panels would have to be stitched on an industrial sewing machine of some sort which is an expensive proposition if you can find someone to do the work.   I worried that the panel board I bought would not allow edge stitching.  Finally I started to look on line for some answers.  I learned the panel board I had would not be a problem on some industrial sewing machines.  Then I was looking on E-Bay one day and saw an ad for a Juki DDL-8700H sewing machine, brand new, with a nice sewing table to mount it on and powered by a modern servo drive motor.  The Juki is a straight line lock stitch machine, not a walking food machine so it is pretty basic.  After looking at numerous used Singer, Pfaff, Consew and other used machines for $750 and up the Juki was listed for less than that and included free delivery.  I contacted the seller to confirm this model would be capable of sewing through vinyl and cardboard panel board and the seller assured me it would so I ordered one with the theory that I might be able to do enough of the interior sewing to make purchasing a machine cost effective.  The machine showed up in Michigan from California in 3 heavy boxes and I spent a couple of days assembling it and checking it out.   I had absolutely no experience with any kind of a sewing machine so learning rudimentary sewing techniques was a challenge for an old guy.  I'm glad I bought it, I think it opens the way to learning a new and fascinating skill.


Happy reading-



I spent a couple of days assembling and checking the new Juki sewing machine before attempting to sew anything. Having never sewed with a machine I had to learn how to pick needle and matching thread sizes, how to wind a bobbin and install it, how the thread the machine, how to set thread tension, how to balance thread tension from the bobbin to the top feed thread tension to produce a uniform stitch and how to make turns at the corner of a panel by lifting the foot.  Early tests were made with scrap panel board, first with a round-tip needle and 3 strand polyester thread that was not heavy enough.  The polyester thread was 3 strand and it was hard to thread the needle with and was prone to fraying and breakage.  Eventually I got to some heavier nylon thread and a titanium pierce point needle that produced much better stitches. 


I had never heard of Juki before I started looking for a sewing machine.  It turns out they are a Japanese company that has become an Industry

leader in both home and industrial sewing equipment.  It arrived in 3 heavy boxes with some assembly required...

GD 147.jpg


That gray thing visible in the opening under the table is the servo motor.  It is much lighter than the old clutch motors and only runs when you step on the pedal. 

the digital controller built into the motor gives good predictable speed control and great starting torque.  It has a maximum speed limit that is

dial-set on the front of the motor unit.

GD 0148.jpg


You know you have moved into commercial sewing when the sewing machine has an oil pump and an oil pan...

GD 149.jpg


For the little money I spent on this machine it reeks of quality.  It even features a reverse control allowing a few back stitches to prevent

stitches from being pulled out.

GD 151.jpg


The first panels I built were actually the cowl vent kick panels. I had already glued the smooth black vinyl material to the kick panels when I realized the original material used in these cars was a long grain material.  I reached out to try to locate some material that was a closer match to the original stuff and the one response I got was to use vinyl top material which I had already stumbled onto.  I ordered a running yard of Haartz Landau Tuxedo Black vinyl top material.  It has a pronounced grain, which while not the same, is much closer to the original material pattern than the smooth black vinyl I used on the vent kick panels.  I used this material on the golf door trim.  The golf door trim was the simplest first test of my sewing prowess having all straight sections of edge stitching around it’s perimeter.  I made 2 mistakes with this panel, the first was glopping too much contact cement on the back of the vinyl which has a woven cotton backing.  The glue soaked through the backing and caused low spots on the finished side when I installed it on the panel board.  The second error was I was still using the polyester thread which wasn’t as visible as I hoped for.  The last error was I didn’t control the machine speed well and the machine steered me too close to the edge in spots.  I scrapped the first golf door trim, made a new panel board substrate, was careful with the contact cement, switched to a thicker nylon thread and finally learned good enough control of the machine to  sew acceptably uniform stitches around the panel.  I installed the panel on the golf door with brass upholsterer’s tacks similar to the originals and added small corner bumpers, again, similar to original construction.  I think that panel turned out pretty well. 

Here is a picture of the original golf door panel with long grain pattern material next to a piece of the Haartz Landau vinyl top

material, clearly not the same but better than smooth vinyl for originality. 

GD 129.jpg


This is a picture of the golf door trim panel installed on the car.  It was my first successful sewing job.

GD 145.jpg


I decided I could live with the smooth black vinyl material already glued to the panel board on the vent kick panels.  The alternative would have been to cut new panel board, then glue the Haartz vinyl top material on.  The sewing requirements were a lot more involved on the vent kick panels than the simple golf door panel.  The kick panels are edge stitched across the entire top and bottom edges, then vertically along a hinge line that allows the front edge of the kick panels to tuck behind the firewall insulator.  There is also a 6 inch long ellipse cut into the front edge of the panels that is edge sewn.  Those 2 little elliptical passes were not the straight line sewing the machine was intended for and to get the machine to follow the ellipse without breaking the thread required modulating the foot pedal on the sewing machine to  get the servo motor on the verge of running and turning the hand wheel on the machine by hand to sew one stitch at a time.  The last challenge was perimeter stitching the vent screens which also had to be done one stitch at a time due to the fact the needle hit the steel screen wire in several spots.  By sewing very slowly one stitch at a time I was able to sew around the screens without breaking the thread.  The last item to ready the vent kick panels for installation was adding 7 hidden edge nails on the rear vertical edge of the panel board, then cementing the vinyl over the back edge of the boards.


  After my first attempt to make new kick panels using measurements I developed myself I wised up and decided to look at the 2 sets of original kick panels I had, 1 from my car, one I bought on E-bay, to see if I could get basic measurements.  That turned out to be a success resulting in a much better understanding of the original design features of the panels.  After copying the basic dimensions from original panels I was rewarded with good test fits and I was able to cannibalize the vent panel screens from the spare set of panels I bought on e-bay, thus preserving the panels that came with my car, I carefully marked up some panel board from the old parts, cut the panel board with a saber saw and bonded the black vinyl yard goods to the panel with Weldwood contact cement.  I got the screens installed as well, all before my new sewing machine showed up.   


One of the key benefits of copying new panels from originals was correct positioning of the vent screen which has to be right

so the vend door pedal lines up with the pedal lever slot in the screen.  there is no adjustment, it's either right or it isn't.

KP 002.jpg


KP 003.jpg


This is the smooth vinyl I glued to the kick panels.  Later I realized all the black trim in the car had a grained pattern not present on this vinyl

but in view of how much work it would be to switch to the Haartz grained material I decided I could live with the smooth vinyl.

KP 007.jpg


All of the backside panel features were copied from an original kick panel.

KP 008.jpg


Here the screens have been added.  The slot location on the screen was copied carefully from an original pane to assure alignment with the

vent pedal arm.

KP 015.jpg


This is a closeup of one of the ellipses on an original panel I had a hard time sewing with my new sewing machine .

KP 006.jpg


Front and back shots of the panels after sewing...

KP 021.jpg


KP 022.jpg


The last step in making the panels was adding the nailing brackets.

KP 023.jpg 


Completed panels ready to go in the car.

KP 025.jpg


KP 026.jpg


Installing the vent kick panels was a bit complicated.  The vent door pedals have to be installed in coordination with the kick panels because the pedals cannot be passed through the slots in the vent screens from the installed orientation of the pedals.  The pedals must be rotated 90 degrees from the installed position, passed through the screen slots, then turned 90 degrees back to their installed position and fastened to the inside of the vent door hinges.  So with that in mind the installation steps went like this:

1: Remove 2 outboard firewall insulator screws from far left and far right edges of the firewall insulator allowing the hinged front edges of the vent kick panels to tuck in behind the firewall insulator.

2. Make masking tape templates of exact nail locations on the vent kick panels.  Install the tape on the door hinge pillar of the car and drill pilot holes for the vent kick panel attaching nails.

3.  Install panels except for setting the attaching nails and verify position of the vent door pedal slots in the screens agree with installed positions of the vent door pedals.

4.  Assuming good screen positioning in step 3 finish nailing the rear edges of the vent kick panels to the door hinge pillar. 

5. Insert vent door pedals through the vent screen slots and attach pedals to vent doors.  (This is where I discovered the value of having an original set of vent door pedals.  The pretty chrome pedal on the left side of the car fractured and broke at the attachment holes as I tightened the nuts.  The original pedals were black with oxidation when I started cleaning them up.  They really cleaned up amazingly well with very minor pitting coming through the original nickel plating.  I installed these original pedals with no problems with breakage.)

6.  Install over center spring inner plungers to the perimeter brackets of the vent door openings with common 8-32 round head machine screws, nuts and lock washers. 

7.  Install springs and outer over center spring barrels on the inner plungers, compress over center spring unit and align attachment hole of the barrel below attachment hole on foot pedal and install special pivot screws from top down and secure with 8-32 nuts and lock washers.

8. Reinstall firewall insulator screws.



Here are the over center spring units for the vent doors.  These have heavy springs to positively hold the vent doors open or close them tightly

against the body seals. Notice the large head pivot screws. The pretty chrome pedals I believe are reproductions and the first one I installed broke when I tightened the attaching nuts that held them to the vent doors.

KP 027.jpg


Here is one of the pretty chrome foot pedals I tried to install but when I tightened the nut in the upper mounting hole the casting broke.

KP 049.jpg


These are the vent doors ready to back on the car after installing my home made door seals in the second picture below.

KP 028.jpg


I made better seals for the vent doors from 3/16" closed cell sheet stock.

KP 030.jpg


This is the driver's side vent door installed on the car.  The vent door  hinge pin pivot locations are adjustable  inside the body of the car. 

The hinge pivot adjustments are only accessible before the vent kick panels are installed.

KP 031.jpg


Here is a shot of the installed over center spring mechanism.

KP 032.jpg


Here is what the panels look like in the car with the vent doors connected.  The vent door pedals in these pictures are

original parts from a 1930 Buick.  Note the remaining section of exposed door hinge pillar above the vent kick panel.

KP 043.jpg


KP 042.jpg


KP 044.jpg


Once the vent kick panels are installed there is still an 8 inch section of the door hinge pillar below the windshield moldings and above the vent kick panel trims that must be covered by small trim panels.  I made the filler trims up and they are attached to the wood of the door hinge pillars with nails hidden under the vinyl. 

KP 051.jpg


KP 052.jpg


KP 054.jpg



Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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On 2/24/2020 at 12:10 PM, Str8-8-Dave said:

 The pretty chrome pedals I believe are reproductions and the first one I installed broke when I tightened the attaching nuts that held them to the vent doors.

KP 027.jpg


Here is one of the pretty chrome foot pedals I tried to install but when I tightened the nut in the upper mounting hole the casting broke.

KP 049.jpg





My guess is replated originals - die cast that is replated tends to not work too well as to anything functional (aka why always best to replace it with what reproductions become available)




Looks like the Bob's reproductions are stainless steel - they pretty much should never be an issue.


If for some reason your broken one would be stainless steel, you can have it welded or silver soldered, but my guess is someone upgraded and you inherited the old replated die cast..  

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So John-  the part that broke is definitely die cast.  It does not have any of the casting marks of an original part so someone went to the trouble of  sanding off all the casting lines. What does give them away as original re-plated parts is the fact the un-broken part has fracture lines at the screw holes.  Even a cheap reproduction would likely not be sold with fractures.   Those stainless parts are really snazzy and like you said are probably bulletproof.  That said they are awfully smooth and shiny compared to original nickel plated die castings and at $114 each + $25 shipping I think I'll stick with my originals which do have the casting lines, mold numbers and original plating with very minor pits. 

Edited by Str8-8-Dave (see edit history)
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On 3/1/2020 at 12:04 PM, Str8-8-Dave said:

So John-  the part that broke is definitely die cast.  It does not have any of the casting marks of an original part so someone went to the trouble of  sanding off all the casting lines. What does give them away as original re-plated parts is the fact the un-broken part has fracture lines at the screw holes.  Even a cheap reproduction would likely not be sold with fractures.   Those stainless parts are really snazzy and like you said are probably bulletproof.  That said they are awfully smooth and shiny compared to original nickel plated die castings and at $114 each + $25 shipping I think I'll stick with my originals which do have the casting lines, mold numbers and original plating with very minor pits. 

Yes, a lot of money and yes you have other projects in front of this, but they are reproduced for a reason, as it is only a matter of time with any pot metal/die cast that has a function to it other than looking pretty.  


Out 1st 1931 Cadillac required like 12K of die cast and zinc interior and exterior parts replacement in 1975 = using a 1975 to 2018 dollar converter that is 56K in today's money. 


I bet someone has made brass ones for not that much money and may be worth some asking around to get a back up set that you can deal with issue of fitting and plating at another time. 


This company may even be more expensive if price if for a single piece or for a pair may be more inexpensive - they make nice stuff and I have been most pleased.


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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Hello to all;  Hope everyone is healthy and safe in these trying times.  One thing the pandemic has done for me is to filter out many distractions to working on my car.  At my age I don't dare go anywhere (look to the left and up right under my name, see where it says "Senior Member"?  Whoever runs this website ain't kidding, the car I'm restoring was just a teenager when I was born), the Governor of Michigan didn't want me to open the cottage in the UP so here I am, stuck at home with the perfect project to keep my mind off my newly acquired hermitage. 


I decided to start working to figure out how the driver's compartment and rumble compartments are supposed to be divided.  I never had a rumble seat coupe before and as the first picture in this post will show the 2 compartments were not divided when I got the car and there was scant evidence of how it was supposed to be divided.  I had particular difficulty trying to visualize how the golf door compartment was laid out.  I drove Dave39MD nuts with requests for pictures of the darkest recesses of his original 1931 8-66S and questions about materials used and as usual his help was priceless. 


The starting point- just one wide open body structure...

RS 013.jpg


I found 3 sticks of wood laying around in the back of the car that helped me get started.  2 of the pieces were simple and identical and turned out to be the two center uprights for the partition wall that separates the compartment.  The third was a lamination of 3 pieces of wood and turned out to be the left end upright, there was no right upright and no floor header to attach the bottoms of the 4 uprights.  I fabricated a mirror image copy of the left end upright after finding attaching screw holes on the right end of the partition that were identical to fastener holes that attached the left end upright. 


A picture of the original uprights I found in the back of the car...

RS 082.jpg


This is my mirror image copy replacement for the right end upright next to the original left end item.

RS 081.jpg


Pictured below is floor header I fabricated.  It ties the bottom ends of the 4 uprights together and I put a

channel in it to secure the bottom edge of the partition wall material which turned out to be black panel board.

RS 093.jpg


Here is a picture of the newly fabricated right end upright which partially bisects the golf door opening.

RS 089.jpg


Once the right end upright and floor header were installed if you look into the golf door opening you start to see how installing panel

board pieces would result in the typical view inside the golf door of a finished car. 

RS 090.jpg


Now it was time to start walling off the 2 compartments.  Talking to Dave39MD I learned the front wall of the compartment was just black panel board.  Only the side trims of the rumble compartment had grained material on them in his original car and they will be fabricated and installed later.  The inside of the golf door has the same grained material as the rumble compartment side panels will get when I get to that part of the trim process.  The treated panel board used in my car is available from several online trim material outlets in 36" by 48" panels that UPS will accept or 36" x 72" panels that require shipment by a freight company.   To prevent damage most outlets require purchase of a minimum of 4 sheets.  I'm doing the whole car and sheets run 12-15 bucks each so they are not terribly expensive and I will use every bit of the 8 sheets I have purchased so far.  The problem is a 48" sheet is not wide enough to reach all the way across the car so I wound up with various schemes to join 2 pieces of panel board in the middle neatly so the panels are strong and the center joint isn't too much of an eyesore.  For the panel that is actually in the rumble compartment I laminated 2 thicknesses of panel board to facilitate joining 2 pieces to make up the required width in the car and adding strength so the first kid to ride in the rumble seat doesn't kick a hole in the partition panel.  The pictures below have descriptions of the rest of the panel installations prior to adding some of the upholstered trim.





I contact cemented the black panel board to some brown board to facilitate joining of wide enough panels to

cover the width of the rumble compartment partition.  The joints in the 2 layers were staggered for strength.

RS 094.jpg


This is how the rumble compartment side of the partition looks today.  I contact cemented a line of friction tape over the center joint.

RS 097.jpg


The driver compartment side of the partition wall reveals the inside lamination of panel board.  A second layer of black panel board

was added later inside the driver's compartment covering the upright lumber. 

RS 099.jpg


Here is a view of the rumble compartment partition wall thru the golf door before the right end wall was added.

RS 103.jpg


Now the right end is walled off and the 2 compartments are truly separated for the first time.

RS 107.jpg


This is how the right end panel looked inside the car.  Note there is quite a hole above the panel.  Also note I replaced the panel strainers

on the doors, those are the pretty white strips you see nailed to the passenger side door.

RS 108.jpg


Here is another little transition panel that finishes the left side of the golf door opening.

RS 112.jpg


The left lower quarter is shown with an under panel over which the upholstered quarter trim will be attached.  Note the new driver

door panel strainers.

Lwr B 002.jpg


This picture shows the under panel to which the right upholstered quarter trim will attach and the interior black panel covering for the

partition wall.

Int partition 001.jpg





Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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Hello again.  In this installment of the winter that was I decided to start picking away at some upholstered trim items.  Two sources of information were used to try to keep some authenticity in the adventures that follow, a Fisher Body closed car manual for cars in the 1928-1931 era and my go to expert with the original unmolested 1931 Buick 8-66S, Dave39MD.  I really picked on Dave to figure out what Buick did to trim the interior of the car to the right and left ends of the seat and behind the seat.  I assumed originally that the front of the partition wall and the lower lock pillar rearward would have to be covered in mohair.  I got the lower lock pillar part of the quiz right but Dave explained you couldn't even see behind the seat in any position because the gap between the top edge of the package shelf and the top edge of the seat are covered with a cleverly constructed expandable bellows which is covered in mohair but prevents prying eyes from any view down between the back of the seat and the partition wall.  That really simplified my task and saved a ton of expensive upholstery material. 


The first items I tackled were some over-the door weather boards.  These items were constructed right from written description and pictures from the Fisher Body manual.  The weather boards cover the bottom attachment of the headliner along the side of the car above the doors.  The boards are made up by gluing mohair to 2 long narrow strips of brown panel board with a small clearance between the adjoining long edges of the boards to allow the 2 strips to be folded together like a sandwich.  The unfinished upper strip is nailed to the woodwork above the doors with the mohair facing out the door, then the lower strip is folded up over the upper which covers the unfinished panel board with a mohair covered strip that is tacked in place with small brads that disappear in the mohair. 


Before I installed the weather boards I corrected a couple of headliner issues, to remove some wrinkles toward the front of the car over the passenger door, a hiccup with dome light wiring that left an open hole and there was always this unknown sharp object about 6 inches rear of the windshield regulator trim board and about the same distance to the right of the door header.  Whatever it was you would hate to hit your head on it and it actually pushed the headliner down locally looking like a pimple was trying to erupt on the surface of the headliner!  I loosened the left end of the windshield trim board and removed some staples the previous restorer used to attach the headliner to the woodwork over the doors (I hate staples, they don't belong in cars from this era).  I was then able to pull the headliner back just far enough to expose a round head screw that was falling out of the woodwork above the headliner...


Happy reading...



This little screw was the hard object causing a bump in the headliner on the forward driver side of the car.

Hdlnr 001.jpg


This composite picture shows all the boarded panels and the rear window molding that was re-covered.

Inside the rear window molding are left and right package shelf corner trims.  Far left and right below the

window moldings are the weather boards in their open pre-installation deployment.  Inner left and right

below the window trim are the lower lock pillar trims.

Trim 001.jpg


This is the view over the doors before the weather boards were installed.  Note the staples that attach

the headliner. 

WB 001.jpg


The next pictures show the weather board installation.  

WB 002.jpg


The picture of the door opening below still shows surplus top covering material which I did trim off during the weather board install.

WB 003.jpg


WB 005.jpg


Note the surplus top material was trimmed when this picture was taken of the passenger door opening and weather board.

WB 008.jpg


Next the lower lock pillar trims were installed.  Here is the driver trim.

QT 001.jpg


The passenger side lower lock pillar trim is shown in this picture.  Note the wrinkles in the upper quarter trim.   

QT 002.jpg


I felt really fortunate to find the rear window moldings stuck away in a box that came with the car.   I recovered the moldings with new

faux mohair and replaced the nails.  They were a very tight fit in the window opening but they went in and there were no disasters setting

the new nails.

Rr wdo mldg 001.jpg


Rr wdo mldg 005.jpg


Rr wdo mldg 002.jpg


This is the top of the package shelf as the car was received.  Note all of the quarter trim and lower window regulator board trim

fabric is stapled and tacked to the top of the package shelf cover board.

Pkgs 002.jpg


Pkgs 004.jpg


There are 2 pie shaped filler trims that go on the package shelf to the left and right of the cover package shelf opening.  They not only

clean up the top of the package shelf appearance, the rear edges can be used to tension the mohair fabric in the curved quarter trim

locations left and right of the rear window.  To further facilitate removing the wrinkles I removed some staples from the passenger side

attachment of the quarter trim fabric to the package shelf woodwork, moved the attachment points a bit forward in car and tacked the

fabric back down onto the package shelf woodwork.  This increased the amount of tension the passer side filler trim could exert on the

quarter trim fabric resolving the problem. 

Pkgs 006.jpg


I also made a trim strip to cover the unsightly staples and tacks attaching the bottom of the quarter trim and window regulator board

fabric to the top of the package shelf cover board.  I invested in a Bostich 18 gauge brad nail gun that made installing the strip a snap.

Pkgs 008.jpg


Driver side pie shaped trim is shown here.  The mohair on the cover is the original 89yr old fabric and is in such good shape I'm inclined

to leave it to show what was in the car originally. 

Pkgs 009.jpg


The last part of the package shelf trim I'm able to do for now is rough installation of the seat bellows.  The seat bellows is constructed from 2 strips of mohair sewn and folded over a piece of buckram which was some thick stiff burlap.  I didn't want to cannibalize the original buckram and the strip burlap stock I bought was too flexible so I wound up laminating 3 layers of the flimsy burlap together with contact cement which finally got it stiff enough to use. 


The first picture below is from Dave39MD's car showing the seat all the way

back so the hard edge of the bellows which is attached to the top header of

the package shelf folds over the edge of the seat.  The fancy molding on the

edge closest to the seat piping is a "Randall Molding" which consists of a nail

strip foundation topped with a wood half round molding, then covered with

the nifty fancy fabric shown here.  The Randall Molding attaches the soft

fabric side of the bellows to the woodwork on the top of the seat frame.  I

was able to salvage the Randall Molding from my car but it is a stretch to

think it will ever look as good as the one in Dav39MD's car.

Dave39md bellows.jpg


Shown here are the original bellows from my car (top) which besides being ripped, discolored and was plastered with milkweed seeds is

still saturated with sand and dust to the point I have to wipe off the surface it sits on when I move it.  Below is the new one I made on my

new sewing machine.

Bellows 001.jpg


Here is a picture of the buckram panel that resides under the mohair covering.  The edge of this panel and it's mohair covering gets

tacked to the top of the package shelf header.

Bellows 005.jpg


I tacked the bellows to the package shelf header.  I can't finish the package shelf or the bellows attachment to it until some 3/16"

radius half round molding shows up in the mail that is the foundation for a mohair covered decorative molding that gets nailed to

top of the package shelf.  the material wrapped over the top of the molding extends down the backside of the package shelf header

to finish it.  

Bellows 009.jpg


The last items in this post are of the final installation of the metal floor pans and re-covering of the lower front seat header.  Here

the floor pans are removed and the old seat header material is still installed on the header board at the left side of the opening.

FP 001.jpg


I sealed the edges of the floor pans with 3m mastic rope sealer.

FP 003.jpg


In the picture below the floor pans have been nailed in place and the seat header is now covered in new faux mohair.

Seat header.jpg

Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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On 2/24/2020 at 12:10 PM, Str8-8-Dave said:



KP 054.jpg



Sorry, I should have been paying closer attention - I believe you are missing (you may need to research) a piece of round 1/2 diameter windlace up the door jam on the cowl to seal out water and wind.  And the door may have a 1/4" round diameter windlace too. 

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Beside the big ticket items I have worked on recently there are a couple of small projects of note. I've always been fascinated by mechanical things, I chose to get involved in early Buick cars because of the innovation they brought.  Besides cars I've been interested in clocks and watches since I was a kid growing up in Wayne, Michigan.  I think every good classic American car should have a good classic clock, either as original equipment as Cadillac and many other cars had or as an accessory.  The car I'm restoring did not come with a clock but it has one now.  I found a nice looking Waltham 8-day clock which is made in America to put in the  car.  Waltham was a large producer of automotive and aircraft clocks.  They also made pocket watches, Abraham Lincoln carried one.  The car clocks are 7 or 15 jewel 37 size affairs, all with very heavy plates and dual main springs.  Some had so called up-down indicators on their dials to indicate the state of main spring wind up.  Some, like the one I acquired, are designed with an integral mounting bracket for surface mounting without cutting a dial size hole in the instrument panel.  Others were made for installation in the panel.  The clock I picked is simple and bright and was made sometime between 1929 and 1933 so it is age appropriate for the car.  When I bought it the movement was filthy dirty and the hair spring was  rusted.  I tried to repair it and even sent it off to a clock maker in New York who quoted an outrageously high price to repair it so I declined his repair estimate and had it shipped back to me.  A few days later I found a clock on E-Bay that had just been serviced, ran perfectly and had the same size movement that could be interchanged with the original movement in my clock so I bought it and swapped the movements.  The rest as they say is history...



CC 001.jpg


CC 002.jpg


CC 003.jpg


The other small project was to come up with a correct rear window shade for the car.  I found a set of end brackets on E-Bay and cleaned them up and freed the stub shaft in the idler end of the shade.  It had bee re-chromed without taking it apart which always results in freezing up the stub shaft in it's bearing.  Digging around the boxes that came with the car I found 2 rusty shade rollers, one was rusted beyond repair, the other had rust but with a lot of elbow grease I salvaged it.  This was another item I tag-teamed with Dave39MD on for pictures and information.  There are some sections in my Fisher Body manuals that discuss servicing and construction of shades.  I ordered some likely material and went to work on the sewing machine.  The pictures below show the results...




The shade in Dave39MD's original car

Shade 001.jpg


This is the roller tube I saved with the end brackets and the original bottom rod.

Shade 005.jpg


The coil spring shaft in the roller plugs into and acts against the D-hole of this end bracket.

Shade 008.jpg


The other end bracket is  a free wheeling idler that just allows the end of the shade roller to, well, roll...

Shade 009.jpg


After I sewed the fabric up, installed the bottom rod along with a tassel and guide strings and put it together with the roller it looked

like this...

Shade 010.jpg


Here are a couple of shots of the shade installation in the car. The first shot is before I trimmed the guide strings.

Shade 018.jpg


Shade 019.jpg

Shade 016.jpg

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45 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Sorry, I should have been paying closer attention - I believe you are missing (you may need to research) a piece of round 1/2 diameter windlace up the door jam on the cowl to seal out water and wind.  And the door may have a 1/4" round diameter windlace too. 

Hi John;  I looked carefully at Dave39MD's original car and there is no wind lace on the hinge pillar, only on the leading edge of the door.   If you enlarge this picture of Dave39MD's car you can see bare edge of the cowl trims just like mine.  I did get fooled on a similar topic though, I thought there wasn't supposed to be any wind lace on the lock pillar at the rear of the door opening and went as far as to carefully tear out the wind lace on the passenger side lock pillar, then discovered that there was wind lace there as I found on Dave's original car. 

IDT 005.jpg


All that said the previous restorer installed wind lace around the junction of the headliner to the quarter trims and over the rear window and THAT is not correct.  I decided to live with it though because I believe I would wreck either the headliner or the quarter and rear window trims or both trying to remove the errant wind lace. 

Rr wdo mldg 005_LI.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Hello to all;  So it's been a month since I updated progress on my 31 model 8-66S and I have gotten some things done.  In the interior of the car I finally gave up trying to buy the 3/8" diameter half-round molding that would allow me to finish the package shelf trim so donning my COVID-19 approved face mask I ventured out to Menards and bought some 3/8" diameter dowel rod.  I made a crude cutting guide to mount to the table of my scroll saw and after a few tries got enough half-round molding by center cutting the length of the dowel rod.  The piece of cloth the  molding goes into covers the nails that attach the seat bellows to the top of the front package shelf header .  That cloth then gets wrapped over the molding covering the nails in the molding and extends across the entire width of the front package shelf header and down the back of the header and into the package shelf cover opening.   Once that was done I could permanently fasten the pie shaped end trims to the top of the package shelf which very effectively removed all the wrinkles from the upper quarter trim at the sides of the rear window.   The only mohair trim work that remains to be done in the interior is door panels and the seat.  I may attempt the door panels but I will seek a professional upholsterer for the interior and rumble compartment seats.




This picture is a markup of Dave39MD's front seat showing the seat bellows and package shelf trim.  The seat is shown in the full

forward position with the bellows fully extended.  Figure A is a Randall Molding that attaches the front edge of the bellows to the

top of the seat header.  Figure B is a fold or hinge that allows the bellows to fold over when the seat is moved back.  Figure C is the

front package shelf trim ,  the bump on the top of the trim is the 3/8" molding under the cloth.  which covers the nails that attach

the rear edge of the bellows to the top of the front package shelf header.  The package shelf trim is trapped under the 3/8" molding

extending forward, then  stretched back over the 3/8" molding covering the molding and continues down the back of the package

shelf header. 

Dave39md bellows_LI.jpg


This picture shows the top front header of the package shelf before the bellows is attached.

Pkgs 013.jpg


This picture shows the rear edge of the bellows nailed to the top of the package shelf header.  The front edge will be nailed to the top

of the seat header and covered with a Randall molding when the seat is installed.

Bellows 008.jpg


This group of pictures shows the front package shelf trim installed, wrapped over the 3/8" diameter half round molding I made.  The back

of this piece of trim continues down the back side of the package shelf header. 

Pkgs 019.jpg


Pkgs 020.jpg


Pkgs 021.jpg

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Hi again...

Having completed the interior for now I moved on to the rumble compartment.  The first project at hand seemed to be the side trims which were to be covered with Haartz Landau black vinyl roof material that has a long grain pattern somewhat like the original material.  After consulting with Dave39MD about the rumble compartment trim in his original car  I learned it is only the golf door trim panel and the 2 main side trims in the compartment that are covered in the grained material, the rest is just black cardboard.  In the absence of any drawings or old side trim panels to use for patterns I spent hours with an adjustable protractor and a tape measure trying to get an accurate layout of the side panels.  I decided to do the left panel first because it is the longest panel because I incorrectly thought the left panel extended all the way forward to the front wall of the compartment and the right panel was a truncated version of the left panel due to the placement of the golf door opening.  Actually both panels were probably identical because later careful study of pictures of Dave39MD's car showed the left panel ended at a support pillar right behind the rear window drain pan hose.  The left panel I fabricated goes all the way to the front wall of the compartment and the drain hose passes through a hole in the panel and most of it is hidden from view as a result.  Even so the left panel then became a template for the right panel.   


This is my adjustable protractor used to find the angles on level of the floor were to their adjacent level and other tools used to lay out

the left trim panel.  Those little pieces of black cardboard are what I trimmed from the final iteration of the left panel to get it to fit just right

along with the plug from the relocated hose hole which was glued back into the panel before it was covered with Haartz vinyl.

RS 129.jpg


Then I got into trouble largely because I didn't understand the left panel in Dave39MD's car ended just behind the rear window drain hose.  Because I assumed the hose had to pass thru the left trim I tried to remove the hose temporarily while I fit the panel and the 89 year old fossilized rubber hose snapped off and broke into numerous pieces.  At first I thought little of it thinking it would be easy to replace.  I began to realize how big a problem I caused when I crawled under the car and discovered the hose comes through the floor right over top of the left frame rail and there is not even enough space between the floor of the rumble compartment and the frame to see the bottom end of the hose much less to break the old hose out of the hole and replace it with new hose.   I decided to defer that battle and went to work on the trim panels.  


A piece of the broken rear window drain pan hose.  This was a rubber hose that became hard and brittle over nearly 90 years in the car.

RS 122.jpg


My first attempt  with the left panel was cut from plain corrugated cardboard as I expected it would not fit correctly on the first try, there are just too many angles and measurements in the absence of drawings or old parts to pattern from.  I was right about that,  after making numerous corrections I cut the second panel from black trim board and it was too far off to use but later I was able to re-use that panel to make the right panel from so it wasn't a total loss, just a step in development of a good fit for the left panel.  The third attempt  yielded a panel that fit pretty well, eliminating the main problem from the second try which was poor fit to the angle of the front wall of the compartment.   I also missed with the location of the pass-thru hole for the rear window drain hose but that was easily repaired.  After one more trim job and test fit I traced the outline of the left panel onto the piece of trim board salvaged from try number 2 on the left, then covered the left panel with the Haartz vinyl and it looked good. 


This second try panel was the first cut from black trim board and did not follow the contour of the front compartment wall correctly.  It

was set aside and used later for the right panel.

RS 114.jpg



This is the third and final panel after trimming and relocation of the hose hole.  Note how much better it follows the front compartment 

wall angle and the sheet metal floor pan.

RS 127.jpg


The final panel with Harrtz Landau vinyl top material applied.

RS 159.jpg


Before I could permanently install the left panel I had to deal with my broken hose disaster.  I bought a length of Goodyear 5/8" heater hose which conveniently was the correct ID to fit the nipple on the window catch tray.  I cut a piece of 5/8" OD brass tube and inserted it into the end of the hose thinking I could just put a bead of my Metalset A4 industrial epoxy around it and slide it into the stub of the old tube that was still stuck in the floor.  The next problem was accessing the hole in the floor from the top.  There was no way I could crawl into the compartment to access it, I needed a double jointed 8yr old trunk monkey for a job like that, I nearly got stuck in the rumble compartment trying to reach it.  Finally I came up with the idea of lashing the hose to the end of my 4ft contractor's level and fishing it into position from the golf door.  I did that and let the epoxy set up over night.  The new connection survived my cutting the tape off it to release it from the level but the next morning when I went out to install the panel I found the hose laying in a heap on the floor of the compartment and when I pulled it out of the car it had more broken fragments of the original hose stuck in the epoxy.  At least it broke before i started nailing the panel in permanently.

First try fixing the broken hose installation looked like this for about a day, then broke again under it's own weight. 

RS 123.jpg


The brass tube did not insert into the stub in the floor so just broke another piece of old hose off.  

RS 130.jpg


After noodling the hose attachment predicament over night I came up with the idea of epoxying a piece of brass tubing into a wood glue block.  The K&S brass tube is a hobby item, thin wall, and K&S sell it in telescoping sizes, so I made up a tube that telescoped from 5/8" OD above the block to attach the new hose to down to 1/2" OD that could be successfully slid an inch into the broken tube stuck in the floor of the car.  The next morning I attached the hose and glue block with the 1/2" stub sticking out of the bottom to my carpenter's level come fishing rod, put a generous bead of epoxy around the stub tube on the bottom of the block and fished it into place.  This time it went down soundly into the old tube and after pushing it down a bit the epoxy squeezed out forming a bead around the block on the wood floor of the compartment.  Now I had a sound fix.   


This is the glue block I came up with.  The brass tube coming out of the top is 5/8" OD.  The stub tube coming out the bottom is reduced to 

1/2" to assure it would slide into the remains of the old 5/8" ID hose still stuck in the floor.

RS 131.jpg


RS 132.jpg


Fishing anyone?  I attached the glue block with hose attached to the end of my carpenter's level and fished it through the golf door

across the compartment into the old hose  still stuck in the floor with a good dollop of epoxy around the brass tube on the bottom

of the block. 

RS 141.jpg


There was no doubt this time that it slid into the old hose as the block settled to the floor.   The little gray line at the juncture of the 

block and floor is epoxy that squeezed out from the bottom of the block.    

RS 142.jpg


One last project I decided to tackle before installing the side trims was to install a reproduction floor mat from Bob's Automobilia.  This floor mat is correct in that it carries the Fisher Body logo but it is not car specific and has to be cut to size.  It does not have the smooth border around the perimeter and is way too large for the compartment.  I consulted with Dave39MD because his car has it's original mat.  Dave39MD gave me the exact location for the logo measured from the golf door opening edge for left to right and from the base of the front wall of the compartment for correct fore and aft location.   My wife volunteered to get into the compartment and paint the transition on the floor pan just in front of the seat platform and the sides of the frame kick-up ramps.   


A first trial fit for the floor mat.  

RS 155.jpg


This picture was taken before my wife helped out by painting the floor pan transition, seat platform header and frame ramps. 

RS 153.jpg


Finally it was time to install the side trims.   The floor mat was removed and right trim went in first.  

RS 125.jpg


I installed the left trim and connected the rear window drain hose.  Then my wife painted the seat header, floor transition  on the  front of

the seat platform and the sides of the frame kick-up ramps.

RS 163.jpg


RS 164.jpg


Looks pretty nice thru the golf door...

RS 165.jpg

RS 169.jpg


The last project that almost stumped me was installation of workable rumble lid seals.  I started with solid 1/2" tall by 3/4" wide foam seal from Bob's Automobilia, installed them on the lid and the led could not be latched no matter how hard you slammed it.  I played with removing the shim under the latch striker to raise it, added shims between the latch mechanism and the lid woodwork to space it lower and it just wouldn't close.  I began experimenting with half round 2 chamber hollow seal from Steele and I could get it to close with shims per above but then the lid was very high on the left, high on on the right and the corner bumpers didn't have long enough studs to reach the lid so they wouldn't help level the lid.  I isolated the clearance issue to the cross car seal at the top of the lid.  I tried cutting the bottom chamber off the seal over it's full length and removed the spacers from the latch and the lid would not close and latch.  Without that seal but with the side seals I could get a levelling adjustment with the corner bumpers and close the lid.  I finally ordered some more different profile  seals from Steele.  I found one thin wall profile that was not as tall as the side seals, had only one hollow chamber and had a rib that filled a gap across the lid where the seal recess is wider than the sides.  That was the charm.  I installed that seal across the top of the lid leaving the taller 2 chamber seals on the sides and got the lid to latch. 


Here is a picture of the final rumble lid seal arrangement.  Note that a  piece of jute mat was installed on the floor that goes under the seat,

another detail picked up from Dave39MD's pictures and guidance.   The tools will have to find another home.

RS 176.jpg


The last part of the rumble compartment for me was installation of bare seat springs.  I will farm out the upholstery.  The car came with no rumble seat springs and no seat back spring or cushion for the interior of the car.  I found seat springs made by Snyder's thru The Filling Station catalog that were intended for 1931 Chevy rumble seat coupes.  Fisher made bodies for both Chevy and Buick along with Olds, Pontiac and some Cadillac models in 1931.  I looked at a lot of online pictures and came to the conclusion dimensions for the Chevy and Buick seats in the rumble coupes were likely identical.  The seat back spring in the following picture went right on with no problem.  The seat cushion spring is probably a couple of inches too long but I can fix that.    I haven't tried the interior seat springs yet but if they are as close as the rumble seat springs they will work  just fine.


Chevy seat springs for 1931 rumble seat coupe.  I will shorten the seat spring 2 inches to get clearance to the side trims and both seat

and back springs will need to be painted before they go for upholstery.

RS 184.jpg


After all that the lid still closes.  

RS 177.jpg


RS 179.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello to all;  This post is more about the rumble seat cushion springs.  The seat springs I'm using were actually intended for 31 Chevrolet sports coupe and the reason I am using these is because I was able to obtain both rumble seat springs and interior seat springs at a much more attractive price than having them custom made.  They were made by Snyder's and purchased from The Filling Station.  Both the Chevrolet and Buick bodies were built by Fisher and the similarities in the seat design is striking.  I have yet to unbox the interior spring units but the rumble seat units were very close on size.  I did have to take 2 inches out of the width of the rumble seat cushion springs because they were hard against the rumble compartment side trims, I had a very hard time getting the cushion spring temporarily installed and was afraid if I didn't narrow them the side trims would be badly damaged sooner or later by the lack of clearance.  After careful consideration I wound up cutting four 1 inch sections out of the bottom rail of the frame 2 each on opposite sides of the frame,  then shortening  the roll off perimeter wire at top of the frame 2 inches on one end and re-bending the ends of the wire back together.  Scraps of glass run were riveted over the saw cuts on the lower rail to put it back together.  some spring coil spacer clips were also shortened. 


Pictures of the 1 inch sections removed from the lower frame of the seat cushion spring assembly.

RS 186.jpg


Upholstery tacks were driven into the wood you see in the frame to attach the cover skirt.

RS 187.jpg


The roll off perimeter wire was uncoupled, 2 inches of wire were removed from each end at the coupling point, then re-bent at points A

to allow the wire to be coupled back together at C.  The cross frame coil spacer wire B was shortened at each end, re-bent and re-

fastened to the perimeter wire (not pictured).   Coil spacer clips D were shortened after springs were moved closer together. 

I re-joined the lower frame by riveting short pieces of window channel over the cuts in the frame at E. 

RS 188 (4)_LI.jpg





I'm hoping some folks who took the trouble to reply to my technical questions about some mystery metal studs attached to and slots in the wooden front header that the front of the rumble seat cushion butts up to  will see this post.  The metal studs and the slots, it turns out, are part of an arrangement to anchor the front of the seat cushion in the compartment.  What was missing that I have since fabricated are straps that attach to the seat frame, are fed thru the slots in the header and buttoned down over the metal studs. 


I made up the black leather straps in these pictures and riveted them to the lower seat frame to secure the front of the seat.  Just below

the strap in the first picture is one of two wire loops sticking out of the back of the seat frame that slide into slots in the rear seat header

to hold the rear of the seat frame down on the compartment floor. 

RS 199.jpg


RS 201.jpg


The straps are fed thru the slots in the front seat header, then forced over the studs in the front of the header.

RS 206.jpg


In this picture you can see the clearance from the seat frame to the side trim on the far left.  Those scratches in the side trim are

from forcing the cushion spring in place before I shortened the width of the seat spring. 

RS 210.jpg


One last detail in the rumble compartment was a protective cover over the striker stud.  This picture is how Buick covered the stud

in Dave39MD's original car.  The cover prevents passengers in the rumble compartment from coming into contact with the sharp stud.

RS 193.jpg


I fabricated and installed a similar cover, as Buick did it, fashioned from a scrap of covering for the rumble compartment side trims.

RS 196.jpg



The other project I'm working on is rounding up typical tools and organizing the under seat tool box in my car.  I didn't know if the metal tray under the seat was intended for tool storage until I discussed it with Dave39MD.  He confirmed the use of the tray as for tool storage, told me his was completely lined with jute to prevent rattles and sent a picture of the original small hand tool bag that came with his car.  I'm still working with Dave to discover what tools went into the small tool bag.  I think I'm pretty safe on the big stuff.  I have a Drednaught Twin Lift screw jack and handle patented 1928, a hubcap wrench, a combination lug nut wrench/rim tool and an original hand starting crank.  I will fabricate a similar small tools bag after I acquire it's contents and can be sure I make it big enough to accommodate the small tools. 





This is Dave39MD's original small tools bag.

Tools 001.jpg


These are the large tools before I painted them.  The socket and valve lash tools will go in the small

tools bag.

Tools 02.jpg


This is a picture of the jute lining I installed in the tool tray.  I wound up adding more around the

perimeter after a trial placement of the jack handle, crank and lug wrench in which the ends of the

tools came in contact with the exposed metal which would have resulted in rattles.

Tools 04.jpg


Here I have completed the lining of the tool tray and set the now painted large tools in place.  The base

of the Drednaught jack just fits the width of the recess in the tray.

Tools 07.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Hi to all;   Summer has been busy with trips to our summer home in  Michigan's UP,  a huge array of home improvement projects and selling off our 5th wheel camper.  When we are at home in Port Huron I've been hiding from the bars and other social events due to the pandemic but haven't totally wasted my time.  When other things are not safe to participate in there's always something to do with the Buick. 


In my last post I had started to figure out some logical tools for the car and discovered Buick had provided a better home for tools than the floor of the rumble compartment.  There is quite a generous metal pan under the interior seat which is accessible by removing the seat cushion.   I had some of the big tools I wanted for the car, this is more about small hand tools to deal with roadside emergencies and some items that might have been seen in these cars or in owners' garages.  Dave39MD shared pictures of his tool kit and I put my sewing machine to work and sewed up a copy of the tool bag that came with his original car.  The tool bag is just large enough to hold wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers for the common stuff and I added a Zim valve adjusting tool, some feeler gauges, an Alemite grease gun, a spark plug wrench and a Buick script  Schrader tire pressure gauge to complete the kit.  The big black wrench came with the car and fits the grease caps on the wheels and the wheel bearing nuts. Here are some pictures of the hand tools...


This is an "under construction" shot of the tool bag I made.  Dave39MD's bag pictured in the previous post was constructed of

scraps of leatherette material that probably came from the Fisher Body shops.

Tools 08.jpg


The bag is just big enough to swallow up the longest of 3 screwdrivers and tall enough to absorb a lot of tools.  This bag was made

from surplus Haartz vinyl top material used to cover the rumble compartment and golf door trim panels.

Tools 009.jpg


Here are the hand tools I wound up with.  I wanted a ball pein hammer but my wife wouldn't let me have it...

Tools 012.jpg


This tire pressure gauge has the Buick script logo and has a range of 10-50PSI.

Tools 013.jpg


The printing engraved on the gauge states it is especially for balloon tires and advises inflating tires to the pressure recommended

by the car manufacturer.

Tools 014.jpg


This Stewart Warner Alemite hydraulic grease gun is part of my tools but not stored in the tool bag.

Tools 016.jpg


Pictured is a period Zim valve adjusting tool that lets you loosen or tighten the rocker ball jam nut and adjust the clearance screw

with one hand freeing the other had to hold a feeler gauge.  This lets you set lash while the engine is idling.  Pictured below the valve

lash tool is a sheet metal tube plug socket and mandrel.  The side walls of the socket are thin enough to not foul on the spark plug

tubes in the cylinder head. 

Tools 015.jpg


One of the projects I started on late last year was servicing the Delco Lovejoy knee action shocks on the car starting with replacement of the rubber bushings at the knee and foot of each shock.  This was an opportunity to carefully inspect the shocks for oil level, seal leakage and lever input resistance to movement while the lower legs of the shocks were disassembled for the bushing replacement.  The right front shock was almost full of oil, showed no seal leakage and had smooth strong hydraulic resistance over the entire travel of the shock.  All I had to do is add maybe an ounce of oil, replace the bushings and reassemble the lower leg.  I found the left rear in the same shape but it might have taken 2 ounces of oil to fill it to the oil filler plug threads.  The left front and right rear shocks were covered in old oil residue and had little or no resistance to movement and the right rear had mechanical noise.  I took those two shocks off the car for service.  The left front was a challenge because the front mounting bolt location was up past an engine mount where it was very difficult to get a wrench on the nut.  I only had access to the attaching nuts from the top of the lower frame rail thru the engine compartment as with the engine splash shields bolted into place there is no access from under the car. 


This is the front left shock before repair, note the goo around the seal.  It was leaking and had very little resistance to movement

Shocks 010.jpg


The rear shock was also leaking, had little resistance to movement and made mechanical noise.

Shocks 011.jpg


I contacted Apple Hydraulics in New York to see if they were working during the pandemic and to get pricing for the overhaul of the shocks.  Indeed they were there and I sent the shocks off to Apple second week of May.  Apple tears the shocks apart, hot-tanks the parts, replaces worn or broken internal parts and the lever shaft seal and cover gasket, replaces both the rubber bushing and the bronze oil-lite inner bushing, paints the shocks iron grey and fills them with oil.  The shocks came back looking and working great. 


These are the shocks as received from Apple.  They were painted with iron paint, had new seals, oil, gaskets and inner bronze and

outer rubber bushings.  I painted them black to match the frame and other shocks.

Shocks 023.jpg


The front mounting nut for the front shock is nearly inaccessible, tucked inside the frame and forward of an engine mount

where human hands won't go.  As an assembly aid I epoxied the nuts and lock washers to a reinforcing backing plate that

protects the frame from metal fatigue failure from flexing at the shock mount.

Shocks 024.jpg


I set about the business of getting the shocks mounted back on the car.  The front shock was my biggest worry, how to get the nuts back on the bolts.  It turned out Buick installed a 1/4" thick steel backing plate inside the frame to prevent frame fatigue from road input to the shocks.  I decided to try epoxying the nuts and lock washers to the backing plate as an assembly aid.  That approach actually worked but started off on the scary side.  I maneuvered the backing plate into position along the frame and behind the left front engine mount and managed to get just the front mounting bolt without the shock started in the threads of the nut.  The plan was to then attempt to hold the shock up with one hand and use my other hand to turn the rear mounting bolt in hope of getting it started, then remove the front bolt, swing the shock up and insert the front bolt thru the shock and frame to get it started in the nut again.  20 minutes of struggling with the rear bolt failed to get it to start and resulted in breaking the epoxied front nut off the backing plate.


After a short break to strategize I tried another approach.  I fished the loose nut and washer out of their hiding spot in the frame, then stuck the end of the rear mounting bolt with the shock absorber hanging from it just far enough thru the rear mounting hole to let the shock hang there on the bolt while I went under the hood and fished the backing plate into position and hooked the rear hole in the plate over the end of the shock bolt.  I crawled under the car and carefully pushed the rear bolt in farther, just enough to get the nut and lock washer started from above.  That worked because there is enough room to get your hand to the rear bolt and start the hardware.  I tightened the rear bolt just enough to take all the slack out of the hardware, then swung the shock up and pushed the front bolt thru the shock and frame until it hit the backing plate which was low at the front.  I carefully rotated the front end of the backing plate up until it clicked over the front bolt, crawled under the car and to my amazement I got the front bolt started in the threads of the epoxied nut and tightened the bolts up.  Wow- that was easy- all I had to do now was install the lower leg and attach the foot of the lower leg to the spring bracket on the axle- 2 fasteners out in the open- what could go wrong?


It took twice as long to get the lower leg back on the shock and connect the foot to the axle bracket.  First the special bolt at the knee would not enter the hole in the lower leg stamping.  Then I got the bolt thru the stamping, thru the bushing with a little bit of thread sticking thru the hole in the lower leg stamping, enough to start the nut without the lock washer, not enough to include the lock washer.  I tightened the nut up tight to collapse the leg stamping and force the knurled end of the pivot bolt to set, took the nut off, put the lock washer on, the nut wouldn't start, not enough threads exposed on the pivot bolt.  I tried different nuts and lock washers, it was dark under the car, I couldn't see, the language was becoming entertaining for the neighbors on a Sunday night, I stripped a nut trying to start it.  Finally I took the lower leg back off and collapsed the forked end together as tight as I could make it and still force it over the rubber shock bushing, got the pivot bolt in and got a nut to start with a lock washer under it.  I got the foot installed on the axle plate and tightened the nut and thought I was done with the front.  Little did I know.


This special pivot bolt gave me fits trying to install the lower leg to the shock at the knee joint.  There is just enough thread to allow

the nut and a lock washer to be assembled and the knurl just below the threads has to seat in the sheet metal of the lower leg or the

the threads are not long enough to get the nut safely started with a lock washer under it.

Shocks 006.jpg


Later Sunday night I was looking in the Buick Specifications and Adjustments manual at shock illustrations to see how the rear shock mounted.  I happened to look at the illustration for the front and realized my installation wasn't so good.  The lower legs for the front shocks are made with an offset to let the end of the steering drag link pass without fouling on the shock leg.  I had carefully oriented the left side link with the offset facing out away from the car just like the right front shock leg installation.  Well, that was a good idea except the right shock leg was installed with the offset facing away which probably makes no difference on the right side but it's a safety hazard on the left side because of the drag link clearance issue.  Both were backwards, both had to come off and be turned 180 degrees to move the offset toward the center of the car.  Monday morning I was in a better frame of mind and only spent about half an hour turning both legs around to move the offset inboard.  That completed a correct installation of the front shocks.


This is a front leg with it's offset.  The offset must be facing center of the car to prevent interference

with the drag link.  The foot and stud at the bottom of the leg install in a hole in the axle plate that clamps

the leaf spring to the axle.

Shocks 015.jpg


Then I moved to the rear of the car to install the right rear shock.  Bolts for the rear shock are installed hanging down from the lower leg of the frame.  The rear bolt threads directly into a threaded pad made integral with the shock.  The front  mounting bolt passes thru an unthreaded mounting pad on the shock and is fastened with a nut and lock washer on the bottom.  The bolts are 9/16" and the lock washer that was supposed to go under the head of the rear bolt was laying on top of the frame leg in 2 pieces.  I didn't have another 9/16" lock washer so I took the one for the front bolt which is easy to replace and put it under the head of the rear mounting bolt.  The nut on the bottom of the front bolt is oversized and I did have a 5/8" lock washer to put under the nut at that location.  Unless you knew you wouldn't be able to tell it was not the right size by looking at it after the nut was installed.  But I did order a dozen 9/16" grade 8 split lock washers from bolt Depot because I know.  The lower legs on the rear shocks are idiot proof because they are concentric, not offset.  Once the rear shock was installed on the frame it only took a few minutes to get the leg installed at the knee and install the foot on the axle plate. 


This is a rear leg which is idiot proof for guys like me, it has no top or bottom and no offset.  You

just can't install it incorrectly...

Shocks 008.jpg


Here is a shot of the completed front shock installation with the lower leg offset correctly oriented

toward the center of the car so the drag link has ample clearance to prevent a steering problem.

Shocks 025.jpg


Here are a couple of shots of the completed rear shock installation.  You can see the lever in the first picture just peeking out over

the leaf spring and the foot attached to the axle plate in the last picture.

Shocks 028.jpg


Shocks 029.jpg


The last mechanical item I had to deal with was a reluctant grease fitting on the front perch of the right front spring.  I worked on trying to get that fitting to take grease off and on all last winter.  I bought one of those nifty hydraulic cylinders you fill with light oil and install on the grease fitting and hit with a hammer to produce tremendous bursts of high pressure sure to dislodge anything short of your mother-in-law from the telephone at dinner time!  Didn't work.  Today I was going to back the pivot bolt out as far as I dared hoping to expose the grease hole in the side of the bolt which I assumed was plugged.  It turned out the pivot bolt installation was just too tight and the grease had nowhere to go.  The fitting end of the bolt has a hex head on it and the other end of the bolt, which is closed, is threaded and screws into the spring perch and is locked in place with a keeper nut and lock washer which is accessible thru a hole in the radiator gravel pan.  If the spring bushing is new and tight and the pivot bolt is too tight the grease just can't escape.  I loosened the pivot bolt about 1/4 turn and now the grease fitting takes grease and it oozes out at the fitting end.


This front spring fitting would not take grease until I loosened it about 1/4 turn today.

Zerk 001.jpg


The keeper nut and lock washer for the errant spring pivot bolt is accessible thru a hole in the radiator gravel pan.

As you can see the grease is getting where it needs to go now...

Zerk 002.jpg


Eventually before the car comes off the jack stands I will do some under-car detailing to fix some of the paint I knocked off it working on brakes, shocks, chassis lube and attending to wheel bearings.  Mechanically at least, I think the chassis is road worthy.  I will remove all 5 rim and tire assemblies, then all tires from the rims and send those along with the spare tire carrier and brackets wheel lugs and bumper support bars out for satin black powder coat.  I ordered one more 5.50 x 19 BF Goodrich Silvertown black wall spare tire from Coker Tire to match the tires on the wheels and I will replace all the tubes while I have the tires off the rims because all have leaked down to nothing since the car came home 2 years ago.  No telling how old the tubes are.


Best regards-


Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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Hello to all;  The other item I have been working on in the background is a rich mixture at idle issue.  This has run pretty well since I built up the ignition and fuel systems with a few exceptions.  Those of you who follow this thread may be aware that I am a maverick when it comes to the Marvel Heat Control system.  Where most have blocked off their heat riser systems and written it off as unnecessary complication with today's fuels I spent a lot of time learning how the system is supposed to work and begged/borrowed/stole or made parts to make my Marvel Heat Control system as authentic as possible and since the heat riser casting is healthy and leak free the system has caused no trouble so far.  Most all carbureted cars had some kind of carburetor heat system until everybody went to fuel injection to prevent carburetor icing and keep the fuel air mixture from condensing out in the intake manifold.  Small piston engine aircraft still use carburetor heat.  A particular problem for my old Marvel system was use of 10% ethanol unleaded fuel and the gross amount of condensate the ethanol produces.  The first time I ran my car after getting the engine finished I had water droplets spewing out of the exhaust pipe connections at the heat riser and the exhaust manifold diverter valve.  At that point I was very concerned about rusting out the vertical fuel handling tubes in the heat riser.  That all ended when I switched to ethanol free fuel so that was my first move toward getting the car to run better and probably slowed rusting of the heat riser tubes.  


Even with the ethanol free fuel I could not get anything but an overly rich idle.  The car was spewing black soot out of the tail pipe.  I posted questions in the technical sections of the AACA website and got advice back that steered me to look at fuel level in the float bowl.  The Marvel TD2 carburetor has a float bowl cast integral with a floor plate that screws to the bottom of the carburetor body.  Being a 2 barrel design there are 3 pairs of metering jets, a low speed set, a mid-range set and a high speed set.  They are all simple stand pipes with calibrated holes in the top of the pipe that come into play as air velocity rises with engine speed.  The low speed nozzles are short enough that if the float level is set too high fuel will dribble out of the low speed jets under the force of gravity rather than being controlled by air velocity.  The advice I got was to take the carburetor/metering rod assembly off the carburetor and measure the height of the low speed nozzles, then adjust the float level to maintain a fuel level about 1/16" below the low speed nozzle height. 


So after a long period of procrastination I took the carburetor off the car and got the nozzle height measurement, put the carburetor back on the car and filled the float bowl until the float and float valve shut the fuel off then measured the fuel height and indeed it was too high.  I modified the shape of my balsa float to lower the fuel level to the desired height.  It made a huge difference in the engine idle, I had to back the throttle stop screw off just to get the engine to slow down to the desired idle speed because with the leaner mixture the engine idle speed increased.  I know this had a huge effect because my garage exhaust hose, which I connect to the exhaust pipe and deploy out the service door of the garage used to leave black soot deposits on the sidewalk outside the door.  Not anymore. 


This was the sooty tailpipe.  I use a rubber exhaust hose to route the exhaust out of the garage and I was initially getting black

soot on the sidewalk.  After lowering the fuel level in the float bowl the sidewalk soot is gone.

Carburetor 013.jpg


This is the bowl casting and floor plate of the carburetor with the 3 pairs of metering jets.  The little short ones are the idle jets,

next pair out or medium height are the midrange nozzles and the tall ones are high speed.  If the fuel level is too high in the bowl

fuel will dribble out of the top of the low speed nozzles from gravity with no air flowing over them.  They are essentially flooding

the engine at low speed.  The other possibility is leakage between the nozzle and the floor plate they thread into.  All had good

viable gaskets so that was not the problem.

Carburetor 014.jpg


So I measured 9/16" from the lip of the fuel bowl casting to the top of the low speed nozzles.  To get the fuel 1/16" below the low

speed nozzle the correct maximum fuel level in the bowl then is 5/8" below the lip of the bowl casting.

Carburetor 016.jpg


Before I modified my float I measured maximum fuel level at just less than 1/2" below the bowl lip.

Carburetor 011.jpg


I added a pretty hefty piece of balsa to get the fuel level down in the bowl.  This actually is not a picture of the final shape of the

float as I found after installing the float that I had eliminated all the travel and the float valve would not open.  I ground the heel

of the float off on an angle to get adequate travel back to allow the float valve to cycle open, hopefully far enough, to prevent

fuel starvation at high speed.  Guess i will find out when the car goes on the road.  I did a thorough job of sealing the added balsa

with fuel proof butyrate model airplane dope.

Carburetor 020.jpg


All back together now and running much better.

Carburetor 012.jpg


Other considerations I looked at were advancing the spark beyond factory specification and trying to find some lower octane ethanol free fuel.  Advancing the spark was one of the suggestions I've heard from a couple of people.  The specified initial timing for the 60 series engine in my car according to the Buick spec's and adjustments manual is 11-1/2 degrees before top dead center.  The specs also state the spark advance should not exceed 34 degrees total at 3,000 rpm.  I've spent enough time looking in old Motor's Manuals for timing specifications and  a majority of mechanical distributors before the advent of computer controlled spark systems that incorporate a knock sensor was on the order of 34-38 degrees.  I don't have a Sun distributor machine at my disposal so I developed a method of my own to see  how much total advance is in a distributor on the engine.  Total advance is the initial timing advance plus the centrifugal mechanical advance built into the distributor.  My early car doesn't have a vacuum advance system so it just the initial plus the centrifugal advance.  Ideally I would attach a degree wheel to the front of the crankshaft and use it to read out crank angle in degrees.  There's no way to do that on the Buick so to get timing marks beyond the initial timing marks I calculated how many degrees each flywheel tooth occurs and simply put a volt ohm meter across the points with the distributor cap off and rotate the engine with the starter to bump it up close to the point where the engine would fire #1 cylinder,  You can then grasp the rotor and hold turning pressure on it in the direction of distributor rotation which forces the weights and springs to full advance.  Maintaining that pressure with one hand I use a big screwdriver inserted into the timing hole in the bell housing and advancing the flywheel one tooth at a time until the ohmmeter indicates point break.  Then I can let go of the rotor and just use the screwdriver to rotate the engine one tooth at a time until the 11-1/2 degree initial timing mark lines up in the timing hole.   It turned out with full mechanical advance the #1 cylinder would have fired 9 teeth before the initial timing position.   The 60 series flywheel has 123 teeth around it's 360 degree circumference.  That means each tooth advances the flywheel 2.93 degrees.  So if I had to rotate the flywheel 9 teeth from the full advance position to the initial advance position  there is roughly 26.4 degrees  mechanical advance in the distributor.  Add the 11-1/2 degrees initial and the distributor could be capable of almost 38 degrees total advance, 4 more than Buick recommends.  That's pretty rough and dirty, it would be better to put a timing light and a tach on the engine and run it up and observe where the advance maxes out because you don't really know what effect the advance springs and weights might have.  My distributor has original advance springs which are pretty weak so it's likely the distributor would achieve full advance by 3,000 rpm.  Bottom line is I decided for now at least I won't advance the timing any more out of an abundance of caution. 


The other consideration is the octane of the fuel I had been using.  Until recently the only non-ethanol fuel I could find locally was Shell 94 octane which is quite high for the Buick's 4.5-1 compression ratio.  It would probably run just fine on 74 octane ethanol free stuff which is lower octane than any fuel in the US since the 30's probably.  The problem with running too high octane is the fuel burns too slowly in a low compression engine.  What happens then is the exhaust valve opens on the exhaust stroke before the fuel finishes burning.  The risk is burnt exhaust valves because the valve loses most of their heat dissipation capability when it lifts off the valve seat.  The ideal fuel for any gasoline spark engine is a fuel with just high enough octane to prevent pre-ignition knock under any load condition.  Pre-ignition means the fuel ignites due to the heat of compression BEFORE it is touched off by the spark plug.  Pre-ignition hits a pistonwith the force of a sledgehammer and audible.  It is a death knell for pistons and rod bearings.  If the octane is too high the combustion cycle does not complete before the exhaust valve opens and that wastes fuel, loses power and burns exhaust valves.  I'm sure just by listening to the exhaust on my car that the octane is too high, I can hear rumbling due to combustion in the exhaust note and I think the muffler is getting pretty hot.  More recently I have found some 86 octane ethanol free stuff that should be a move in the right direction but I won't know if that is enough until I try it.





Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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