My 1931 Buick project- the saga begins...

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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.


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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. 


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Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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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.


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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!


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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.


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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. 


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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.


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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.


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


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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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Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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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.









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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. 


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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. 


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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.


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


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


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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.


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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.


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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.

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


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


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And the driver's side board...


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Edited by Str8-8-Dave
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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. 




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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.


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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.


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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.    


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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. 


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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.


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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.


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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.    


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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


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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. 


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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. 


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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.


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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.


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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. 


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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.


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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. 


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Here is a closeup of the actuator.


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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


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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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I liked that you repaired he sill plates - my guess is the large dents came from someone trying to align a door using such a s a 2 x 2 and closing door on it 

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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.  

















Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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I am sure you are already ahead of the curve on this, but you will need a center clamp on the bumpers - otherwise all hell will break loose from road vibration. 

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