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1940 Buick Super Restoration


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Hello all,

 

I'm 6 years into a body off half restoration of a series 50 4 door sedan. When I say half restoration I mean at this present time I wont be restoring the body or interior other then the body floor and dash. As you can see from the photos paint is in good enough condition for me to leave as is for now and so is the upholstery. It was originally ment to be just an engine recondition but the state of the engine bay was so filthy I decided to clean it up and repaint and then that lead to working on the suspension, brakes, rear end to the point where I ended to taking the body off to clean, repair and repaint the entire frame. My goal for the end results is to have everything mechanical and electrical completely restored to original factory specifications(as best I can). I thought I'd share the restoration from here so that my experience may help others with their restoration project and I'm hoping there are things I can learn from you. Thanks, Matt.

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The car as i bought it in 2009

 

 

Edited by 1940Super (see edit history)
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I know the speedometer is from a later model and I know someone who has a 110 speedo but i needs a new plastic dial. They must be available because I see other restored 1940 models with them but I cant find who sell them. I bought the instrument face set from Bob's for the other instruments but the 120 face isnt any good for 110. Any suggestions?

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I have a 110 MPH face I can send you for free. Just pay me $5 shipping (maybe Australia is more????). There is more than just the 110 vs 120, there is also the "Bright Lights" lamp at the bottom in the 110, replaced by a small dot at the top in the 120. But the bulb is the same, just insert it at the bottom in the back of the speedometer instead of the top, no need to change the wire or socket or anything just stick it in the bottom instead of the top, no problem.

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Where I am up to, frame is painted and ready for reassembly of components. The engine stand, uni-strut channel and pipe were a quick way of putting together a makeshift rotisserie

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PhotoGrid_1542452765504.thumb.jpg.5e2f8fd8bede13c9c6afe0ac5dc6a860.jpg                                                                                  A couple of enclosed areas of the frame were rusted enough for a screw driver to go straight through the steel. It had a couple of inches of dirt inside. I opened it right up to clear out all the dirt and rust and found what i think was balls of wool also stuffed inside. I assume it was for sound deadening so i put it back. Also made repairs to both outer No 2 body mounts due to extensive rust

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7 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

I have a 110 MPH face I can send you for free. Just pay me $5 shipping (maybe Australia is more????). There is more than just the 110 vs 120, there is also the "Bright Lights" lamp at the bottom in the 110, replaced by a small dot at the top in the 120. But the bulb is the same, just insert it at the bottom in the back of the speedometer instead of the top, no need to change the wire or socket or anything just stick it in the bottom instead of the top, no problem.

Very kind of you, knowing US shipping rates it would me much more then $5. Are you talking about the outer face with the numbers though? Its the inner ivory plastic replacement I need

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Is this car an import from america? Those balls of wool you found might not be for sound deadening. They might be from a non-marsupial animal not related to kangaroos or koala bears that we have here (which I can't name because I hate them so much. They like to insert balls of wool in peoples cars).

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8 minutes ago, 1940Super said:

Very kind of you, knowing US shipping rates it would me much more then $5. Are you talking about the outer face with the numbers though? Its the inner ivory plastic replacement I need

 

I think the inner ivory plastic one is the same in both cars. You should buy the replacement one, you will never find an original one that is any good, they were originally made of nitrocellulose or some other early plastic which decomposes really fast, and they are all deteriorated long ago. You need a new one.

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5 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

Is this car an import from america? Those balls of wool you found might not be for sound deadening. They might be from a non-marsupial animal not related to kangaroos or koala bears that we have here (which I can't name because I hate them so much. They like to insert balls of wool in peoples cars).

Yes, last registered in Mass in 1999. Imported to Australia in 2006(not by me). Unless these animals you speak of are smaller enough to fit through 3/4 inch holes I dont know how it could have been put there

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8 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

 

I think the inner ivory plastic one is the same in both cars. You should buy the replacement one, you will never find an original one that is any good, they were originally made of nitrocellulose or some other early plastic which decomposes really fast, and they are all deteriorated long ago. You need a new one.

I'm afraid it isn't the same. I have the 120 plastic replacement from Bobs Auto and it doesn't match up correctly for the 110 speedo...

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The front suspension was ready to bolt on a year ago but I'm holding off as I now suspect the shock damper and the brake backing plate arn't the right paint finish. I will order a couple of engineering books from BHA and hopefully they will confirm. I had the shocks rebuilt but I'm not happy about the welds over the arms on spline that they did. Would that be a deduction if it were to be judged? The other thing not authentic to a series 50 is the lower control arm A frame. It has the threaded bushes instead of the fabric ones. I drilled out the rivets and replaced with them with bolts because I couldn't see any way of getting the new rubber bumper and the inner shaft seals in place without pulling it apart. According to master parts list the whole frame would just be replaced. Unless I found NORS control arms i guess I will just have to leave it be. 

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Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. Mice are very efficient at pulling wool and other cloth seat padding out of the seats and other places and building nests in all sorts of places that you would never think that they could fit into. I had a flywheel housing on myh 1938 Buick project that was just about totally full of mice nesting materials. You might want to remove any more wool you find in the chassis that you can get to. It is also amazing how caustic mouse urine is to metal. That is probably why you had to make those repairs to the frame. 

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2 hours ago, 1940Super said:

Yes, last registered in Mass in 1999. Imported to Australia in 2006(not by me). Unless these animals you speak of are smaller enough to fit through 3/4 inch holes I dont know how it could have been put there

 

Mice require an 18 mm hole according to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGXYZwZEZa0&t=244s

 

 

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I have gone to a lot of trouble to exclude mice from the house. Our advice is that they will get through a 12 mm hole. I think it is less than that. They run up brick walls too, esp. those with a little texture.

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Decided while it's out I'll look at the steering box. If I remember correctly there was 1 or 1 inches of play in the steering, that may be corrected by making adjustments? 

There wasn't any lubricant except some grease in the steering box. The seal has failed and the lubricant has leaked out??

The manual doesn't actually specify what to fill it with but I have been told Penrite oils have a steering box oil for vintage car. Any other recommendations? 

Is it a differecult job to replace the seal?20181122_201842.thumb.jpg.8c721d820f6a7eb515f6c508fc8df2e3.jpg20181122_185949.thumb.jpg.9c9d25b02435b39b77990025890f6549.jpg20181122_190006.thumb.jpg.55e50002b3cc42b0e863d2a2076b48a0.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

For a while things were busy at work so I hadn't made any progress on the car for about 4 weeks. I have some time off until after new years so I'm making the most of the car project despite the hot weather. I have reassembled the rear axle. Somebody in the club had a rebuilt 4.1 ratio center with NORS ND and Hyatt bearings. I'm hoping i'll notice some difference in RPM for highway driving with the lower ratio. I wasn't able to find any NORS wheel bearings so i bought some China made ones from BOBs. 20181222_203504.thumb.jpg.00617f58d2c55c234731a3861a25b3a4.jpg20181223_115708.thumb.jpg.4859e7b839a1820fae85c7cf4250de80.jpg20181223_170401.thumb.jpg.0ea65ed41ab2d689dc87ed8c1e083aa2.jpg20181224_103607.thumb.jpg.39c326fbaff4f9914eec66366d7d8b1a.jpg

The propeller shaft came off quite easily on the old pinion shaft spline with some light tapping with a hammer. It was very tight on the new centers spline so I clamped some steel up against the pinion gear and then used a jack between the doorway of the shed to press on the propeller shaft. I went very slowly making sure I wasn't bending the shaft in the process. 

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8 hours ago, MCHinson said:

That photo looks like the original brake line clips on my 1937 and 1938 Centurys, so I suspect they would be correct for your car as well.

Thank you, it's what were on my car too but most of them broken. I wondered if they were a later replacement as all the ones I see online say there are for 1960s mopar car

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20181227_111012.thumb.jpg.9dd8acf4dc92992ac8b154dcac9641e3.jpg20181227_111003.thumb.jpg.79f0953f6cbc3e87fd7f0a9026908809.jpgold book, but still in business. Trunk lid spring (1759)not listed in newer catalog. Not open till after New year, but I'm gonna call to ask if they can still get 1759 which is approx $22 from Chevs of 40s. Many gm clips with photo ID included. Recommended.

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All the rear and front suspension have been re bolted to the chassis. Because there is no weight on the front without the engine using a jack was not enough to compress the front coil so I used to long threaded rod to slowly raise the lower control arm. 

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Brake lines finished, just waiting for the authentic style clips to arrive to install. The 2 lines to the front brakes were fine, just needed a clean. The 3 lines to the back brakes were very corroded and the pipes broke when try to release some of the nuts.

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I'd like the get the engine re installed on the chassis but I want to set it up for another test run first. When I first removed the motor I had it sent to a re conditioner to rebuild the engine internally with just about everything being replaced with new or NORS parts. Originally the plan was to reinstall the motor after the rebuild but then I got carried away external details of the engine. I wanted to made it look as period correct as possible so I did a lot of research. Some of the little things likes pipe clips, flywheel inspection cover and distributor clamps I made myself because I couldn't find replacements. When it was finished a borrowed a friends camera and edited out the background on some shots.

If you can spot something that doesn't look right please me know and i'll try to rectify it.1475608737_finaledit.thumb.jpg.bc565887e55d9e1a3a260960cc40a786.jpgIMG_20170702_011812_854.thumb.jpg.6ca054eb52df807e37c9927a2028f74c.jpgleft.thumb.jpg.2cac188253debb93f31b9e820e140085.jpgright.thumb.jpg.bfa5673a69d2d79217c1bd21bb82fbb0.jpg20170702002645.thumb.JPG.6e66079263a0ee303a1c3180a62c645c.JPG

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On ‎1‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 3:52 AM, 1940Super said:

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I assume the body weight will correct the centering of the rear axle to the chassis?

 

If I understand geometry correctly, the only thing that body weight would change would be the "level" of the frame to the ground, not if the frame to axle is centered to the frame.

 

The two measurements that you would need to check would be to find the center of the frame and the center of the axle which I would guess would be the top bolt of the  center of the axle.  Put a regular carpenters level on the top of the frame and see if it is level.  If it is not then add weight to the side of the frame that makes the frame level. Once the frame is level, then put your plumb bob on the center mark of the frame and see if the weight aligns with the center of the axle.

 

The only dimension that the body would change would be the levelness of the frame to the ground.  If when everything is together and the trim height is different from side to side measuring at the top of each wheel well opening, then you would look to change springs to bring the car into level.

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1 hour ago, Larry Schramm said:

 

If I understand geometry correctly, the only thing that body weight would change would be the "level" of the frame to the ground, not if the frame to axle is centered to the frame.

 

The two measurements that you would need to check would be to find the center of the frame and the center of the axle which I would guess would be the top bolt of the  center of the axle.  Put a regular carpenters level on the top of the frame and see if it is level.  If it is not then add weight to the side of the frame that makes the frame level. Once the frame is level, then put your plumb bob on the center mark of the frame and see if the weight aligns with the center of the axle.

 

The only dimension that the body would change would be the levelness of the frame to the ground.  If when everything is together and the trim height is different from side to side measuring at the top of each wheel well opening, then you would look to change springs to bring the car into level.

 

Larry, I believe his concern is with the effects of the Panhard Rod on the rear suspension geometry and alignment at curb weight trim height.

 

Lots of good basic articles on 3 and 4 link rear suspensions with Panhard Rods on the internet.  They are still used today and common with hotrod chassis builders.

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45 minutes ago, Larry Schramm said:

 

If I understand geometry correctly, the only thing that body weight would change would be the "level" of the frame to the ground, not if the frame to axle is centered to the frame.

 

The two measurements that you would need to check would be to find the center of the frame and the center of the axle which I would guess would be the top bolt of the  center of the axle.  Put a regular carpenters level on the top of the frame and see if it is level.  If it is not then add weight to the side of the frame that makes the frame level. Once the frame is level, then put your plumb bob on the center mark of the frame and see if the weight aligns with the center of the axle.

 

The only dimension that the body would change would be the levelness of the frame to the ground.  If when everything is together and the trim height is different from side to side measuring at the top of each wheel well opening, then you would look to change springs to bring the car into level.

 

Thanks for the response Larry. 

 

I had checked the frame with a level and it was pretty level. The reason I assume it would center itself under wight is because of the radius rod. The rod is a fixed specified length and anchored at an angle to the left side of frame and to the right side of axle housing. My understanding is if the springs compress the angle of the rod becomes smaller causing the frame and axle to move in opposite directions. I believe Buick would have determined the length of the radius rod to center the axle to frame under normal curb weight.

Matt

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My 1939 looked the same without weight on it.  The front springs didn't compress until the body and rest of the metal went on.  The engine wasn't even enough.  I could stand on it with the engine and they would move.

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8 hours ago, 39BuickEight said:

My 1939 looked the same without weight on it.  The front springs didn't compress until the body and rest of the metal went on.  The engine wasn't even enough.  I could stand on it with the engine and they would move.

 

I thought the engine weight alone would have done it but then I did use a formwork prop to push down on the frame against the shed roof and the roof started to move first so I doesn't surprise me. I was going to ask you how you fitted your bumper stops and seals on the lower control arms because I saw you still have the rivets in place?

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