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Poppy's 55

Front Brake Concerns / This Car is Baffling!

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So I'm working on this car I just bought. It's a 1955 Buick Century. When it was delivered it ran but barely. I started by getting those issues resolved and now it runs awesome but the front end is kind of a mess. The car was wandering and swaying all over the place.  The Idler arm needed replacement along with the shocks and all the bushings. So my suspension shop ordered all the parts based on a 1955 Buick Century and none of it fit!  Not the bushings, not the idler arm and not the shocks!

 

We ended up tightening up the idler arm and setting the alignment. It's better but it still sways badly at freeway speeds when I hit a transition or dip. 

 

So now I'm thinking maybe the previous owner may have made some other changes up front that I have no idea what is going on.

 

So, I will spend some time researching but next surprise was that the tech told me the front wheel studs were ready to just pull right through the wheel holes! Say what? 

 

So I get home and pop off all the wheel caps and to my surprise the rear drums have studs with lug nuts and the front drums have threaded holes and the wheels are held on with bolts. Is this normal on a 1955 Buick Century?

 

So I need to either replace the wheels with ones with smaller diameter holes (although I've never really seen a wheel advertised with different diameter holes) or maybe advance my plans and convert the front to disk brakes. That has me concerned somewhat though if I order a kit based on thinking my front end is a 1955 Century and it's something else? 

 

Any thoughts, comments or advice would be appreciated.

Edited by Poppy's 55
spelling errors (see edit history)

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

IF what they got was '56 stuff, rather than '55 stuff, some might not fit or even be the same.  '55 shocks might not be tube-style shocks, for example.  They can be rebuilt or just might need some new oil in them.  Search out Old-Tank's Buick Restorer thread and see if he doesn't have something in there.

 

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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8 hours ago, NTX5467 said:

'55 shocks are not tube-style shocks, for example.

 

 

I think he is speaking of the front shocks Willis, which after 53 were tube type.

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Paul, perhaps new tires , on the front at least, will help. Get an inexpensive pair of 225/75R  and see if they help. Believe you will be surprised.

 

  Ben

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Agree with Ben.  Sometimes, tires can LOOK just fine (by the normal "tread depth" determination), but can be having internal issues which can make then have some handling issues.

 

As an example, a car I recently purchased, upon closer inspection after the fact, had some rather deep tread on them.  It drove acceptably well for the type of tires they were.  When I noticed the date code on them, it was 10 years to the week of their production!  A new set of tires made it handle much better, even to the extent of not feeling like it needed new shocks/struts (at only 90K miles).  So, I was very pleased with that significant improvement.

 

For the record, the old tires (date coded 03 08) were Michelin Sears Weatherwise.  The replacements were Michelin Defender T + H.  One of the deciding factors in the purchase, other than what the car was and the mileage, were the "Michelin" tires with good tread on them.  Be that as it may.

 

NTX5467

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15 hours ago, Poppy's 55 said:

So I get home and pop off all the wheel caps and to my surprise the rear drums have studs with lug nuts and the front drums have threaded holes and the wheels are held on with bolts. Is this normal on a 1955 Buick Century?

Normal for 55 all models.  Post some pictures.  Maybe one of our glorious Buck suppliers sent the wrong parts (again).

It would be expected for the rear to have different lug arrangement if converted to open driveshaft...sometimes even a different bolt pattern.

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6 minutes ago, old-tank said:

Normal for 55 all models.  Post some pictures.  Maybe one of our glorious Buck suppliers sent the wrong parts (again).

It would be expected for the rear to have different lug arrangement if converted to open driveshaft...sometimes even a different bolt pattern.

 

Okay, this is making more sense. The fronts are probably correct but I'm pretty sure it has a different rear end. I have to admit (and do freely) I don't know anything about "these" cars. For instance, I have no idea what an "open driveshaft" is? 

 

So here's a picture of the rear end and driveshaft but I will try to get pictures of the front and rear drum/spindles later and post them here.

 

 

20180620_174109.jpg

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Just for the heck of it. Here's a picture of the front from below. Anything out of the ordinary visible here?

20180620_173635.jpg

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Definitely not original rear, and your driveshaft is open (not inside a tube).  Front end looks stock from that angle.

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So it looks like this is a new brake booster and double master cylinder. Wouldn't that work for a front disk upgrade? I would want to add a proportioning valve though in the brake line to the fronts though, right?

 

 

20180707_120316.jpg

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Well, The oil pan is not a 55 Buick, the rocker cover is not a 55 Buick, the trans is not a 55 Buick, nor is the rear and rear suspension, the brake unit is not a 55 Buick, Buick replacement parts will not fit your car. Exactly what is it about your car that makes you think it's a 55 Buick?.................Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Bhigdog said:

Well, The oil pan is not a 55 Buick, the rocker cover is not a 55 Buick, the trans is not a 55 Buick, nor is the rear and rear suspension, the brake unit is not a 55 Buick, Buick replacement parts will not fit your car. Exactly what is it about your car that makes you think it's a 55 Buick?.................Bob

Jee  Bob.   It's got a 55 body on it.  ?

 

6 hours ago, Poppy's 55 said:

So it looks like this is a new brake booster and double master cylinder. Wouldn't that work for a front disk upgrade? I would want to add a proportioning valve though in the brake line to the fronts though, right?

 

 

20180707_120316.jpg

Yes if you buy the front disc conversion and the correct proportioning valve, you'd be on your way.

 

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2 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

Well, The oil pan is not a 55 Buick, the rocker cover is not a 55 Buick, the trans is not a 55 Buick, nor is the rear and rear suspension, the brake unit is not a 55 Buick, Buick replacement parts will not fit your car. Exactly what is it about your car that makes you think it's a 55 Buick?.................Bob

 

Sorry, I explained all this a few weeks ago. I will add it to my signature.

 

The car has a 401 nailhead and dynaflow from a '64 Wildcat. From what I gathered most guys can pick that motor out from a line-up. Sorry for the confusion.

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Problem is your car is a combination of disparate parts that were never designed to work together. While the newer components were likely an improvement over the older ones mating them together likely makes for a worse total package.

No boubt the differing weights and distibution has altered the steering geometry and suspension. The altered drive train is asking the frame to deal with forces it was not designed for. While your modified 55 may be able to muddle through it,s doubtful it will be an overall improvement over the car as it was orginally designed and built.

If you enjoy the challenge of dealing with the likely ongoing problems and procurement of suitable parts that's one thing. If you wish to have a well designed and dependable piece of equipment that's another. Been there done that...................Bob

 

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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They did not have Dynaflows in 64, its most likely a ST400.

 

A proportioning valve will do you no good if you don't understand what is going on. The original proportioning block has a 10lb residual valve built into it that keeps pressure in the wheel cylinders. Discs require 2lbs but no more otherwise they drag heavily. You also have to consider the sizes of the hydraulic tubing coming out of the front and rear ports of the master cylinder. If they are different sizes, then the matter cylinder itself is a proportioning valve. Without knowing who made the master cylinder or what it's out of, then you don't know how much its proportioning and what the residual pressure on the valve is.

 

It cascades pretty quickly. 

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I might be wrong, but I seem to recall that ST400/;THM400SP was a mid-year change?  The '64 ST400/THM400SP shirt quadrant was still "D-L" rather than the '65 "PRND21" quadrant.  I'll have to make sure about that, though.  Seems like the '65 Wildcat 401 was the first 401 with a THM400SP?  I'll have to check my HP Books book on the THM400s to verify.  Notice I said "401" and not "425".

 

NTX5467

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I tell you, if I were new to old Buicks this I'd be selling this one after some of this interaction. Why don't we focus on helping the owner with what he can do to make the car better instead of just picking apart the faults? Sure it's a rough situation, but he's already got the car,  let's be constructive.

Edited by wndsofchng06 (see edit history)
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37 minutes ago, wndsofchng06 said:

I tell you, if I were new to old Buicks this I'd be selling this one after some of this interaction.

 

I have done that a lot of times. Usually after a direct impulse purchase. At this moment I am just checking the Forum as I head out for the Cadillac Club Show in Buffalo. I am driving up there in a 7 Series BMW V12 that, from research online, can be a real nightmare without someone's "improvements. Knowing that I made the purchase secure in the idea that I was risking $3500 on a failure of good judgement. If "I am not happy can I keep my loss under $3500?" was a conscious thought in the decision. Experience has shown me that there are always buyers when you first purchase a car, keep it a while and they all crawl into the woodwork. And that is a fact.

 

The car is resale red. That will get you a buyer. Then join your local Buick Club Chapter and use all the resources of the club to buy the best car you can.

Bernie

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18 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

Problem is your car is a combination of disparate parts that were never designed to work together. While the newer components were likely an improvement over the older ones mating them together likely makes for a worse total package.

No boubt the differing weights and distibution has altered the steering geometry and suspension. The altered drive train is asking the frame to deal with forces it was not designed for. While your modified 55 may be able to muddle through it,s doubtful it will be an overall improvement over the car as it was orginally designed and built.

If you enjoy the challenge of dealing with the likely ongoing problems and procurement of suitable parts that's one thing. If you wish to have a well designed and dependable piece of equipment that's another. Been there done that...................Bob

 

What a load of purist bullsh*t

I believe that the best coarse for the OP is to seek PROFESIONAL help in sorting out the handling woes with respect to the fact that its not a modern car and not to expect modern car handling.

To basically tell a bloke his new pride and joy is no good because its not factory standard is not helping him out at all

 

My advice, go to a front end/suspension specialist and talk to them and get it checked out and have a look at some of the facebook buick pages. Late model and engine upgrades are not uncommon on this era buick and despite what some think, they are also worthy cars

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Ttotired said:

What a load of purist bullsh*t

 

Not purest at all. "Pure" has nothing to do with it.

If the car was stock and in good condition he would not have to be seeking the high priced help of a PROFE$$IONAL to get it to operate in a satisfactory manner . It would operate, drive and stop just fine if it was left as designed and manufactured.

But if you are convinced that highly modifying a perfectly good automobile so that now you need the help of a PROFE$$IONAL to get it to perform as it was intended to that's OK with me....................Bob

 

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)

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15 hours ago, NTX5467 said:

I might be wrong, but I seem to recall that ST400/;THM400SP was a mid-year change?  The '64 ST400/THM400SP shirt quadrant was still "D-L" rather than the '65 "PRND21" quadrant.  I'll have to make sure about that, though.  Seems like the '65 Wildcat 401 was the first 401 with a THM400SP?  I'll have to check my HP Books book on the THM400s to verify.  Notice I said "401" and not "425".

 

NTX5467

That's definitely a ST400 /THM400 tranny. You can tell by the pan shape and vacuum modulator.

 

"Don't let the Bastards get you down". The car can be made into a great cruiser. I would make sure the front end kit was correct, they could have sent the wrong parts. Rear setup doesn't look bad from the picture. I would make sure its tracking straight though just to make sure. That same type of setup has been used on many modified Buicks.

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3 hours ago, s_hilmoe said:

That's definitely a ST400 /THM400 tranny. You can tell by the pan shape and vacuum modulator.

 

"Don't let the Bastards get you down". The car can be made into a great cruiser. I would make sure the front end kit was correct, they could have sent the wrong parts. Rear setup doesn't look bad from the picture. I would make sure its tracking straight though just to make sure. That same type of setup has been used on many modified Buicks.

 

 Yeah, what he said! Hang in there.

 

  Ben

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On 7/8/2018 at 5:26 AM, wndsofchng06 said:

I tell you, if I were new to old Buicks this I'd be selling this one after some of this interaction. Why don't we focus on helping the owner with what he can do to make the car better instead of just picking apart the faults? Sure it's a rough situation, but he's already got the car,  let's be constructive.

 

16 hours ago, Ttotired said:

What a load of purist bullsh*t

 

14 hours ago, s_hilmoe said:

"Don't let the Bastards get you down". The car can be made into a great cruiser. I would make sure the front end kit was correct, they could have sent the wrong parts. Rear setup doesn't look bad from the picture. I would make sure its tracking straight though just to make sure. That same type of setup has been used on many modified Buicks.

 

11 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

 Yeah, what he said! Hang in there.

 

Thanks for this support guys. Hey, I expected some of this as soon as I found this site. I've been working on cars for over 50 years and have "built" some really awesome ones but never worked on anything like this yet but it doesn't phase me (nor do the naysayers), it just challenges me. I was just hoping for some straightforward answers and not so many opinions. Having said that, there are clearly some very smart and informed folks here.

 

Not to be disrespectful but while I can look at pictures and go to car shows and appreciate fully restored original cars, they are not for me in any way. I'm not very interested in driving around in my grandfathers old Buick. I was looking for a resto-mod and I found one. Now I need to find ways to get it right. This just doesn't seem to be the place to help.

 

I have found some other more helpful forums so I'm good.

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On 7/6/2018 at 8:05 PM, Poppy's 55 said:

So I'm working on this car I just bought. It's a 1955 Buick Century. When it was delivered it ran but barely. I started by getting those issues resolved and now it runs awesome but the front end is kind of a mess. The car was wandering and swaying all over the place.  The Idler arm needed replacement along with the shocks and all the bushings. So my suspension shop ordered all the parts based on a 1955 Buick Century and none of it fit!  Not the bushings, not the idler arm and not the shocks!

 

We ended up tightening up the idler arm and setting the alignment. It's better but it still sways badly at freeway speeds when I hit a transition or dip. 

 

So now I'm thinking maybe the previous owner may have made some other changes up front that I have no idea what is going on.

 

So, I will spend some time researching but next surprise was that the tech told me the front wheel studs were ready to just pull right through the wheel holes! Say what? 

 

So I get home and pop off all the wheel caps and to my surprise the rear drums have studs with lug nuts and the front drums have threaded holes and the wheels are held on with bolts. Is this normal on a 1955 Buick Century?

 

So I need to either replace the wheels with ones with smaller diameter holes (although I've never really seen a wheel advertised with different diameter holes) or maybe advance my plans and convert the front to disk brakes. That has me concerned somewhat though if I order a kit based on thinking my front end is a 1955 Century and it's something else? 

 

Any thoughts, comments or advice would be appreciated.

 

1. The rear wheel/drum set up probably is lug nut and stud because the rear axle has been replaced to a open drive shaft.

2. The front drum/wheel set up will probably be the threaded lug nut(bolt type) to secure the wheel

3.  Concerning the front end.  Looks to be stock.  Shocks/link kits/bushing are available. Can always pull a shock and check manufacture/part# for new replacements. 

4.  Alignment, assure ball joints and control arms are in good shape. No play.   Assure the wheel bearings are repacked with new grease/seals.  Assure the castle nut is torqued to what the manual  states.  Loose bearings will create a wander while driving(per some reading of an old Hemmings article)

5.  When the alignment is done, was it a thrust angle or simply set the toe and let it go?  From my dealings with my 60, the toe was out.  Created all kinds of nonsense with pull and wander.  I used the old four point string trick to correct the toe.  Problem solved. 

6. Check your tires as others have stated. 

7.  As a side note, check the angle of the drive shaft for rear end.  Assure who ever set it up did not create some odd ball angle that will prove to vibrate at speed. 

 

Keep at it.  You will get all the bugs out.  Lord knows my 54 was loaded with bugs created by "a rebuilder" in VA.   Unfortunately the "rebuilder"  believed nailheads receive rebuilds like a Chevy block.                   

 

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