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Howdy to all from Western Colorado.  This is my second post on this site; I had originally post this info on the meet and greet section and was advised to repost this info here.  I am a new member and just recently a 1st time Buick owner.  My check will be in the mail Monday for a one year membership; I have licked and stamped the envelope.  I have own a number of cars and trucks in the past but this is my first Buick.  My first newbie request is:  "Help".  At this point I think that I have  1920 Buick, although the aged owner's title says it is a 1915.  First off, my "new" Buick is an official basket case.  The Certificate of Title has two dates, one being January 19, 1954, and the second 24 December, 1954.  The typewritten data shows the vehicle is a Buick, Roadster, year made 1915, motor number 59558, Model K45, green color body, 6 cylinder, seating capacity 2, and the weight being 2760.  There is no VIN number shown.

 

I have noted the following data from the car:  1)  Engine number is 559558.  Note, this is similar to the motor number on the Title, except there is actually and additional "5", at the very beginning of the numbers.  I could see that the engine number "59558" after using a putty knife and brass wire brush to clean off a 1/4 inch of hard, caked dirt.  But I could see that the number appeared to be a little too short for the size of the data block, so more scraping and wire brushing brought out the slightly faintly stamped number "5".  Thus the true engine number is 559558.  A small oval data plate is riveted to the left-rear frame member, on the top of the frame, very near the gasoline tank.  2)  The VIN number is 566791.  3)  On the toe board, right side is a data plate that says the car is Model K45.  The "K45" is faint in the photo, but it is there.  4)  Firing order of the engine.  While this is not a basic identifier of the vehicle I find this very strange.  The firing order on the intake manifold is 1-4-2-6-3-5.  According to a web site that lists "Buick Pre 1930 General Specs, all Buick 6 cylinder engines have a firing order 1-5-3-6-2-4.  Therefore I note the firing order of my 6 cylinder, versus the published firing order, and I do not know if that is significant.

 

According to other reading I have done about Buick years and models, any paying close attention to years 1915 and 1920,  I believe that the 1915 year used letter "C" in the model designation, whereas in 1920 the letter K was used.  If that is true, then the old Title erroneously calls the car a 1915 Model K -- which should not be the case.  ?

 

This basket case Buick came with two front doors, a portion of metal with an opening for a rear door, and a touring car rear sheet metal panel with pressed-in curvatures for the rear fenders.  (metal pieces and scraps having matching old green paint.)  I does appear that this vehicle was originally a touring car, even though the Title dated 1954 shows it being a roadster with a seating capacity of 2. There is much evidence that the vehicle apparently had its rear touring section removed, and that it had been used as a truck, and a towing vehicle, perhaps as a tractor.  Those observations do explain how a touring car became a "roadster".

 

That's about it for a start with my new Buick.  I hope someone can help me to understand the numbers and model designations.  Cars I have owned in the past include 1926 Ford Model T, 1928 Dodge Victory 6, 1932 Chevrolet, and a 1935 Terraplane.  None of those cars was anywhere close to being in the condition of this Buick.

15 Buick C55 01-18.JPG

15 Buick C55 02-18.JPG

15 Buick C55 19-20.JPG

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Welcome to the forum.  Buick is not my specialty but this is the place where you will get your questions answered. I love your "roadster".  Please add photos as your project progresses.

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Posted (edited)

Welcome, 

     I would like to help you with your engine and serial number, but my book regarding numbers starts with 1916.  The engine numbers start with 144729 in 1916 so your engine number should be lower than this if it were 1915.  Here is what I think since you have a K45 plate.  

The motor is a 1920 motor.  The K stands for 1920.  Perhaps the entire car is a 1920 and it was titled as a 1915.  

1920 motor numbers start with 540365 and end in 713400.  Even my 1925 car uses the engine number on the title.  Many cars did not use the Vin number on titles.  A K45 is a 1920 5 passenger touring car with a 118" wheelbase.  A 1916 Buick shows 2 wheelbase sizes - 115" and 130".  Measure your wheelbase and this will be a clue to the chassis.  Given that the VIN is 566791, I bet the chassis is 1920.

 

The firing order is reversed - the rotor runs in the opposite direction?  Write the firing order in a circle like it would be on a distributor cap and go in reverse and you understand why the firing order is not conventional, but you always start with 1.  

 

Thanks for the photos.  Have you thought about what you are going to do with the car?   

These are photos of a 1922 and a 1925 Buick speedster, so lots of options.  You do not need a lot of sheetmetal to have a cool looking old Buick.  

Hugh

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Thank you for the reply.  I do think the 1915 date on the old title document is an error.  The engine number, VIN number, the K45 model plate, and wheelbase measurement all agree, except that the title erroneously says it is a 1915.  Not a huge deal.  I have the title document in hand.  Nonetheless, I have called the Colorado State Patrol and an officer was supposed to come to the house this afternoon to take a look at what is sitting in my man-cave garage space.  But he didn't show up; he must have been detained for more important work than looking at a pile of rust with a little green paint on it.  Ha.

 

The Buick as a touring car is very far gone.  The wood is gone, some of the sheet metal is missing, all instruments are destroyed, and the brakes at the rear are solidly rusted in place.  The front wheels revolve but the rear wheels are frozen rust solid, pretty much like the battleship Bismark, currently at the bottom of the ocean.  The wood spoke wheels are not Buick wheels.  I have no idea what they are from, but apparently from some heavy duty vehicle.  There are two different and much defunct tire sizes, none of which are close to being prescribed Buick tire sizes.  Apparently this Buick had been used as a tractor or a towing vehicle because there are two odd ball looking probable towing adapters bolted to the rear spring shackles.  One of the un-Buick towing adapters seems to have been partially destroyed by a great force, and that also apparently cracked the left rear axle housing near the brakes.  The crack was welded, possibly two times, but is still remains cracked.  The cracked axle housing may be the reason this Buick was finally retired from service.

 

The car is to far gone as an economically restored as a touring car.  I intend to salvage what I need and create a speedster.  The Buick has a good beginning design for such a project: the radiator shell and hood are ideal for a speedster.  I shall need to remake a cowl that is long and conforms to the rounded speedster shape, and carry that design back to create the rest of the body.  The attached photos of a white 1922 Buick speedster is generally what I have in mind.  Also attached food-for-thought photos of a Kissel, a Daniels, and a 1918 Buick called a "Green Hornet".

 

One stumbling block may be the wire wheels.  I'll need wire wheels for the project and I don't know where to find them at this point.  I have various options on the automotives, and I think that all of the running gear equipment will have to be replaced with something modern.  The rust on my Buick is epic and I just don't see that it will ever be a reliable car to drive.

 

LeRoy

22 Buick Speedster 01-02.jpg

22 Buick Speedster 02-02.jpg

18 Buick Green Hornet Speedster.jpg

23 Kissel 6-45 Gold Bug Speedster 03-11.jpg

21 Daniels D-19 Submarine Speedster 02-16.jpg

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From your picture I would say that the car started life as a touring car K45 is a touring car if it were a roadster it would be a K44......the car looks like a great candidate for a speedster as depicted by Hubert.  I converted a pretty far gone 1917 d35 4 cylinder touring far into to fun little truck.  Also reassembled a 21 Roadster you can see for what a roadster looks like...The body style changed a bit from 1920 to 1921

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Hubert, I really like what you are doing with the speedster.  Good show, good imagination.  I will be using the same type of metal bucket seats.  I believe that I won't rebuild with metal.  I am seriously considering going with fiberglass as a finished body, over a basic frame work of either metal or wood.  I'll probably need to build a buck and then fabricate the fiberglass and carbon fiber body over it.  I do not have an English wheel nor planishing equipment to properly work metal, and I have no room for such equipment.  Plus, and maybe more importantly, I am a married man and would like to keep it that way.

 

When I look at my Buick's gasoline tank located outside the body, immediately at the very end of the frame rails, I think about the Pinto exploding gas tank automotive history.  I guess that Buick had no other place to put the gas tank but, whew, that sure looks like a dangerous event waiting to happen.  I have been rear ended two times and I have been glad that I drive good American vehicles.  First time I was ram in the rear of my '68 Mustang by a Greek guy driving a Simca.  The collision didn't do much to the Mustang but the middle of the Simca's was on the pavement, and the the fan had poked through and was in front of the radiator.  Second time a, just a couple years ago, a Toyota car rear ended my 2002 Dodge pickup.  That was a seriously destroyed Toyota.  I need a new tailgate.  Consequently I look at the '20 Buick's gasoline tank location and contemplate moving it to a safer location in the build out.

 

LeRoy

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tblack, I really like your pickup and the roadster.  You did nice work with both.

 

I am pretty much a purist with antique cars.  But, when an old car is so far gone that it's condition is beyond the realm of economical restoration, then all bets are off.  Would I rather have a beautifully restored 1920 Buick touring?  Sure.  But solidly rusted, frozen iron, with a broken rear axle housing, totally incorrect wheels, no body, only two of the four doors -- well, it's pretty far gone.  Looking at the engine, it has dirt and gunk hardened on it that a good putty knife, wire brushes, and lots of elbow grease is need to clean it.  Which is not a major deal except for the fact this car was run without an air cleaner, and whatever dirt is on the outside of the engine was certainly ingested into the cylinders.  We have lots of very, very fine dust out here in western Colorado.  Indications are it is very problematic what condition the cylinder walls and pistons are in.  For the much deteriorated condition overall, I have to question the economics of having the engine rebuilt.

 

The Buick is built heavy, virtually like a heavy duty pickup or truck.  I am considering various options for totally replacing the automotives with something that will be reliable that can be trusted to go somewhere and return home without problems.

 

LeRoy

 

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Posted (edited)

LeRoy

You have the running gear of a 1920 tourer ( engine and chassis/frame)  but the body ( hood cowl ) is off an earlier car.   1918 or earlier. It looks like the windshield pillars are tilting back which would make it a 1918 as 1917 had vertical pilllars.

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Edited by ROD W (see edit history)

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ROD W -- thank you for the information.  I took another look at the "beauty queen" and the windshield does indeed slant back.  Rather racy and exciting.  The speedometer is about as sorry a mess as one could hope to find.  It looks like a mouse ate the digits off of the face.  The rotary material of the digits looks like a some sort of rubber or old plastic.  After checking the digits that were not eaten, for what it is worth, the mileage is 13122, with 944 miles on the trip meter.  This Buick is a prime candidate for a modern Timewise speedometer.  Anything I do to this fine automobile will be an improvement.  Ha.

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One of my "parts" cars was a 1919 Buick (mine is an '18".  I ended up giving it to a friend and this is what he built with it.

He built it in a year in his garage.

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Don, that is fine looking racer.  I am happy to see the fuel tank was relocated from the dangerous Pinto location.  The racer cut of the cowl and passenger area is very well done.  Is there even a windshield on the cowl, or is just very scant?

 

The photo you posted is interesting and educational.  I see how relatively high it sits.  I have been studying the American Underslung design, and have been mulling over the possibility of turning the Buick frame upside down to create a Buick Underslung Speedster.  I need to strip off the car and take it down to the frame to make a better assessment of the possibilities.  I am constrained from doing anything with the hulk because I am waiting to have it inspected by the Colorado Highway Patrol.  I need a "Rebuilder's Title" giving me official possession of the car and allowing me to work on it.  The Patrol Officer and I will agree on what I need in the finished product, such as two tail lights, turn signal lights, backup lights, headlights, proper brakes, windshield glass, and a windshield wiper.  The final product needs to pass inspection to be operated on the roads, and of course that would satisfy the automobile insurance folks.  While I have plans and ideas I need to be patient with the slow progress of getting legal.  The Patrol Officer called and was to come to my house on Sunday, but he was detained by something more important than my rust bucket.  Now I need to wait until next week sometime before he can visit.

 

Attached are several photos of American Underslung vehicles, both 1914 years.  Inverting the frame really lowers a car, one of the points in making a racer / speedster.  At this point I am not sure if inverting the frame will work with this '20 Buick, but it is something to consider.

 

 

14 American Underslung Model 644 02.jpg

14 American Underslung Model 644 01.jpg

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18 hours ago, LCK81403 said:

The Buick is built heavy, virtually like a heavy duty pickup or truck.  I am considering various options for totally replacing the automotives with something that will be reliable that can be trusted to go somewhere and return home without problems.

 

LeRoy

 

 

The early Buick trucks were built on car chassis.

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LCK,

The owner tours the car a lot, going on many speedster runs and others

The guy has high speed gears in it and it goes over 80 MPH - very fast enough

In spite of its apparent height, the center of gravity is just above the front axle and it corners like a marble in a pipe.

 

I, too, like the inderslung look - it is cool. However, I dont think with those skinny tires and 2 wheel brakes I'd want to go much faster than 80 - that is scary enough.

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Larry, I can certainly believe that the Buick chassis was used for trucks.  It is way overbuilt for a passenger car.  As the beauty queen sits on jack stands in my garage, it has two different wheels that are not Buick.  I do not know what the wheels are from.  The front wheels have thinner spokes, but are not as long a real Buick spokes.  The rear wheels are from something but clearly not Buick.  The remains of tires on the front wheels are 32 X 6, and the remains of tires on the rear are 6.50 X 20.  Attached are photos of the front and rear wheels.  The rear spokes look like heavy duty make, possibly from a heavy truck.  The third photo shows an unrestored '20 Buick K-45 touring.  Obviously the wheels on my resident Buick are not correct.  The clinchers on the steel rims are embossed with the word Firestone.

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20 Buick K -45 Touring 01-10.JPG

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Good morning, Don:  Wow, over 80 in it?  Even with a seat belt and goggles that would be scary.  My buddy had a "hot" Model T in which we could easily do 45.  When we were young and bullet proof that was fun.  Looking back over the years my need for speed now is not what it was 60 years ago.  I guess I never really had the need for speed anyway, because the '64 Corvette I bought after Vietnam never went over 80.  I am hoping to produce a Buick that looks pretty much like a real deal Buick speedster from the factory, with updated automotives under the hood, frame, and skin.  One of my deceased uncles was a superior mechanic and craftsman who transformed a two-door '49 Chevy Fleetline into a '49 Chevy "El Camino", complete with pickup cab and box with oak and metal strip floor.  That '49 El Camino looked like it came directly out of a Chevy factory; maybe a "concept car" for a future El Camino model.

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By the way, there is no windshield, but that small deflector in front of the driver does a very good job of keeping the wind out of the drivers face. However, goggles are a must for both driver and passenger.

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Don, it has to be a great site to see that speedster coming down the road, the driver wearing goggles, maybe even an old airplane type fliers skull cap.  Maybe even a long red or white scarf flowing in the wind like the Red Baron in World War One.  Ha.  I would love to see it.

red-baron-scarf-10.jpg

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Posted (edited)

LeRoy, 

 

The wheels might still be Buick on both the front and back. 

 

They could be from different years.  The front wheels look pre '22 or '23 and the rear look after that time.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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Rather than toss out the Buick running gear willy nilly, why not check out what you have first. Lots of people have big ideas but few are able to bring their ideas to fruition. It is much easier to rebuild than it is to re-engineer. Without checking, you don't know what kind of condition your parts are. I would attempt to get the motor running, check the compression ratio, open up the trans and rear to see what the gears look like, etc, before junking everything. My two cents.

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Let me just say that your bakelite distributor cap, if not broken, it worth a fortune because nobody makes replacement ones. It's good for 6 cylinder cars in the E, H, and K series (1918, 1919, 1920). I will give you $300 for it.

 

 

Just kidding. I already have one.

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Well, I have been slowly disassembling this 99 year-old Buick.  It sat outside for many years.  Anything that could rust is most definitely rusted.  I can not crank the engine to learn if it is free or stuck, because I do not have a crank.  I have tried to push in on spring-loaded shaft and turn the engine a little with a wrench but I simply could not do it.  I do not know if the engine is free or stuck.  The car originally was a touring car but all of the wood was gone, only some of the sheet metal exists, some of the metal was so bad that I tossed it.  The poor car apparently had been used as a tractor or heavy towing vehicle.  The left rear axle housing was broken at least two time, possibly three times.  There is a lot of welding evidence there.  In addition, the last weld that was done to it is broken.  One of the hubs was also broken and welded back together at some time.  The radiator appears to have been repaired probably three or maybe four times.  I can see old wasp nests inside of the radiator.  All four fenders had rough lives; all are dented, torn, amateur welding, and rust.  Buick assembled these fenders from two parts, much like a tin can is put together with a rolled crimp.  The joins of the rolled crimp are coming apart and quite rusted.  All of the rods that connect foot pedals and the floor mounted lever are severely rusted and penetrating oils absolutely will not penetrate.  The rust has basically fused the metal into solids, probably by growth of ferrous crystals.

 

The two attached photos show a towing "hitch" ? bolted onto a braket where the left-rear spring pack attached.  The close-up photo shows that the axle housing was broken, welded, and subsequently broken again.  Apparently the engine had enough power to not only split the piece of pipe welded onto the bracket, and also break the axle housing several times.  The towing device on the right side appears to be fine, and the axle housing is not broken.  I have no clue what in the world this car was used for to cause this damage.

 

Engine wise, there is between a 1/4 and a 1/2 inch of baked on crud on the engine.  Scrapping with a putty knife gets some of it off, and a chisel and a little tapping with a hammer also helps break off hunks and chunks.  In my opinion, because these old cars ran without any kind of air filtration, the inside of the engine more than likely is not in good condition.  I do not see any economic sense in having this engine remanufactured.  I am sure it could be done at a substantial cost, a cost that would not make my spouse happy.

 

My intention is to make a speedster out of the hulk.  Basically I intend to keep the frame, and spring packs.  I may or may not keep the radiator shell, depending on if I can do something with the poor welding that was done on one mounting bracket.  The firewall of the cowl will be a beginning point to build a body, and the rest of the cowl will be junked.  I have been studying how to reengineer the windshield stanchions from its touring configuration into a speedster configuration, more along the lines of a Kissel or Daniels.

 

I have been seriously studying the dimensions of various modern replacement engines.  The interior of the '20 Buick's hood appears to be a little too narrow for a Chevy 327 / 350 small block.  Consequently the speedster probably will have to be built with a straight 6 cylinder such as a Chevy 235 or Ford 300 cu. in.  I kind of favor the Chevy, being a G.M. engine in a Buick.  It's a 130 H.P.  I think I would like to use a Ford 9 inch rear end with a 3:55 gear ratio, and a manual transmission.  That would be an adequate package.  It wouldn't have the sound of a 327 V-8, but the straight 6 would still work out pretty good.

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OK, Morgan, it so happens I do have a 1920 Buick distributor cap.  It appears to be in the best condition of anything on this derelict car.  Sure, if someone needs it, wants it, let me know.  Please do not ask about my speedometer.  Apparently a field mouse ate the digits off of the display.  Of course, if you realllllly need a vintage, seasoned speedometer then I have just the item you need.  The price will be right.  I deal in only the finest mouse eaten speedometers.

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If you want to salvage this motor, do not try to turn it over.  You will only break parts.  Pull the motor and disassemble what comes off without any force.  Soak and flush and clean. repeat process until parts come free.  In the process look for cracks in the block.  Even if the motor is not salvageable, there are parts that others will want for their restorations. 

 

Bob Engle

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The failure of the rear brake reaction arm shown in the pic is a common failure.  Cast steel and still fails.  Both of mine L & R have been repaired.  The repair is now over 20 years and 40,000 miles so I think we solved it. 

 

You mentioned reliability above.  I took my 1923 for a 217 mile outing last weekend.  In 2017 we went on a 1485 mile 10 day vacation and only had to lift the hood to check the oil.  Where do you want to go?

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9 hours ago, LCK81403 said:

OK, Morgan, it so happens I do have a 1920 Buick distributor cap.  It appears to be in the best condition of anything on this derelict car.  Sure, if someone needs it, wants it, let me know. 

 

 

How much for the cap/rotor? I can always use a spare. And the screw-on plug wire ends.

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