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The last 2 times I have parked the 32 Buick, I have come back a day later to find antifreeze under the car. This car is relatively new to us and I am unfortunately rather new to 30s engine to begin with. I did isolate an antifreeze drip coming from this connection between the generator and the oil temperature regulator (see attached picture). 

 

Can anyone tell me what may be causing this and how to address it? Also, can anyone tell me how to know the proper level of antifreeze to have in the radiator. With the cap off and the car cool, I can't see any fluid.....just a sloped area leading down into the radiator. Appreciate all the knowledge on this board. 

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Hard to tell from the photo, but that's also your water pump integral with the oil cooler. My '35 Lincoln is the same. If that's the case, I suspect the packing nut on your water pump is leaking, which is normal. You can tighten it up a bit to stem the leak if it's substantial, but a drop every few minutes shouldn't be considered excessive. In fact, if it's not leaking at all, your shaft is probably going to overheat and melt the packing. The leak is required to keep everything cool since there's quite a bit of friction with the spinning shaft inside the semi-malleable packing.

 

Put a wrench on that big nut around the shaft and snug it up, but don't over-tighten it. How tight is tight? I don't know, you just have to get a feel for it. Just remember you don't want to stop the leak entirely, just slow it down. There's a reason full-service gas stations used to top off the radiator on a regular basis!

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That is a packing nut, mine takes 1/4 X 1/4 graphite packing.  Used to be avail on a card at most gas stations back in the day.  

 

I just had had the same thing happen on my 1927 last week and the fine gentlemen on this forum assisted me so I can now pass on the info to you!

 

i purchased 10 feet of 1/4 x 1/4 graphite packing, that should last me a while, for less than $20 w free shipping on Amazon Prime!

 

would be advised to get some and keep it in your car, for the time being five that packing nut a 1/4 turn then see if stops leaking. A slow drip every few min is best as it lives the graphite and makes it last longer!

 

 

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1 hour ago, 32BuickVicky said:

Thank you as well Crazy.  Is there a good resource for me to learn more about the packing nut and coolant flow?  This will be a slow process learning all this stuff but I welcome the opportunity.

 

 

I am brand new to all this as well, but I am learning from the gentlemen here who always seem to reply with good QUALITY information in a timely fashion!!!!

 

Lord knows I appreciate it that’s for sure!!!

 

I purchased my 27 last Summer and though it’s fighting me tooth and nail I am doing everything’s possible to hear it run this week for the first time!

 

Good luck w the car, it’s a learning experience but so rewarding to say the least!

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Actually, a packed pump (graphite packed) needs to have a small / slight leak.    The leak keeps the shaft lubricated along with the graphite packing.    If it does not leak, you WILL WEAR THE SHAFT.    It will cut grooves in the shaft as it wears.   You continue tightning the nut untill the shaft breaks.   A drip pan will contain the leakage.    You can just put it back in.   Of course, no oil.      Fortunately, here in Florida we don’t have to use anti-freeze.   Actually, anti-freeze does not transfer heat as well as just water.    I use distilled water with “Barrs Leak”  which is a water based  anti-corrosion with lubricant..    No rust being generated and lubricant for the water pump seal.    So we cool our engines better  and minimize the ole  “to hot”. and need the pusher fan.    We still use our pusher fans as needed.   I have A/C on my ‘38’  coupe and I DRIVE my Buick.     BTW,  in my younger life, I sold ,  modified (cut to get the parameters needed)  and fixed pumps from 1/4” up to 6” suction size.    

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With the car running up to temps, you should see just a small dribble coming from the pump.    Ya,  I know - what is a dribble.   As long as there is “some” liquid weeping out of the shaft / packing / packing nut, you will be ok.   I always keep a gallon jug in the trunk JIC.   You need to check your water level before you go any place.    Its like checking your oil level before you go.     Our old cars needed to be tended to all the time.    Todays cars are so nice that you usually only need oil when you change and very rairly add water / antifreeze.    Our old cars were very well built considering the time and engineering available then.   Hang around some old ?  guys who drive our pre-war cars and ask questions.   I would say that all of them will have opinions on keeping their car running dependably.   Where do you live ?   North or south ?   Need antifreeze ?  That will get you going in the right direction.    The only dumb question is the one you did not ask.   These forum’s are amazing in what they know.....

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4 hours ago, Jim Nelson said:

Actually, a packed pump (graphite packed) needs to have a small / slight leak.    The leak keeps the shaft lubricated along with the graphite packing.    If it does not leak, you WILL WEAR THE SHAFT.    It will cut grooves in the shaft as it wears.   You continue tightning the nut untill the shaft breaks.   A drip pan will contain the leakage.    You can just put it back in.   Of course, no oil.      Fortunately, here in Florida we don’t have to use anti-freeze.   Actually, anti-freeze does not transfer heat as well as just water.    I use distilled water with “Barrs Leak”  which is a water based  anti-corrosion with lubricant..    No rust being generated and lubricant for the water pump seal.    So we cool our engines better  and minimize the ole  “to hot”. and need the pusher fan.    We still use our pusher fans as needed.   I have A/C on my ‘38’  coupe and I DRIVE my Buick.     BTW,  in my younger life, I sold ,  modified (cut to get the parameters needed)  and fixed pumps from 1/4” up to 6” suction size.    

And Jim, I just want to clarify: this drip is happening when the car is not running and when it had cooled down.  That is when we should expect a drop like this?

 

 

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Pretty normal if the packing is loose or has failed. The packing in my Lincoln's water pump was totally gone and it was leaking pretty badly even when it was parked. It should not leak much when it's sitting, but again, a drip now and then is OK, running or not. Here's a little more detail:

 

 

 

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The leaking needs to be occurring while its in operation.    When the engine stops,  the leaking will stop.   With no pressure in the system when stopped,  it should stop.    When operating,  pressure in the system needs to be enough to cause the water to come out  around the packet shaft.    The most important thing is it must leak when operating.    This is where tighting the packing gland is important.    Just enough to do the job but not to much.    This is why they designed the mechanical seal.     Note the changes  in the water pump bearings during the thirties.   From brass bushing to ball bearings.    Progress !    

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I was wanting to address a few items and hopefully not overlap the good advise you have already received.

The water pump shaft is steel.  Some people do run straight water, but water is very aggressive and I strongly advise that you use 50/50 green antifreeze for both the anti corrosion and lubricating properties.  I have personally installed Evans lifetime coolant in my car and I hope to be able to report good things after the car is running.  If the car has been sitting, rust forms on the shaft and that makes the surface rough and then that shortens the life of the packing.   Everyone today rebuilds the pumps using a stainless steel shaft.  The option is staying with packing or converting to a lip seal for the pump.  My preference is a lip seal, as they do not require the maintenance of packing.  The seal has a circular spring that maintains constant pressure and compensates for wear.  The lip seal should also be a high dollar graphite teflon lip seal and not just buna like you find for an oil seal.  both will work, but the more expensive one will last longer.  As stated, the packing should be tightened just enough to make the leak have an occasional drip.   I prefer to tighten them when the engine is running and avoid overtightening.   You may have enough old packing, or you may need to add more packing.  The amount of rust on the shaft will determine the life of the packing.  As the car is run, the leaking should reduce. 

 

You should always be able to see just a little of the antifreeze in the radiator.  You can stop adding as soon as it comes into view while you are looking down into the fill neck.  You will always want to have some head space.  You want to make sure the overflow tube is never plugged.   We have dirt dobber wasps that like to find that tubing.

 

In theory, you have more pressure on the packing or seal while the pump is spinning as the impeller is creating pressure.  The amount of leaking when the engine is off all depends on how bad the wear is on your shaft .  1925 and earlier Buicks have packing on each side of the pump since our shafts drive the starter/generator.   Consider yourself lucky that we have twice the fun.  This is a photo of my shaft.  I have a bushing on each side of the impeller and the packing is outboard of the bushings.  I only labeled one side.   The bushing surface is at least close in diameter to the impeller section of shaft.  You can see how rough the packing area is, and the difficulty you face getting it to seal when they have gotten overly rusty.  

        Hugh

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Yes, going to a SS shaft is a good thing.   BUT,  SS is softer than regular 1018 steel.   Considering the time in service,  I would go the SS route.    Barrs Leak is a anti-corrosion / lubricant that provides the protection needed.     Your machinist (you have one don’t you ?). uses a coolant / lubricant when he is turning parts on his lathe.   Its a water solvent lubricant /  corrosion inhibiter.    I believe Barrs Leak just uses the same stuff.    Going to a mechanical seal is good but the housing needs to be modified to accept one.    Considering the cost of the mod’s and the hours you would need to do it,   IMHO,  I would go the SS shaft route.    When you make the new shaft,   make two.   Use a 400 series SS as its stronger.   .316 SS is ok but softer I think .  (Memory starts fading after 30 - -     :-)).    ).    Barrs Leak is available at Walmart.   It goes for $2.05 lately.    Use the  Walmart web and buy at least 3 bottles.   Spares you know.   Maybe 4.    Their  stock  number is  #555989010.   “Barrs Leak - p/n 1311 “.     That should keep you out of trouble for many years.    If weather - freezing type - is an issue,  you need to use anti-freeze.     Isn't this fun,   Us old folks have forgotten how much we needed to do to keep our cars running in good shape.   But you are paying for that.   

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Mr. Nelson,

I am going to respectfully disagree with your statement that a running engine should have a leaking water pump.  That defies common sense.  Using that logic, one would be constantly having to add coolant if the vehicle was driven on a regular basis.  Also, stainless steel is available in a whole host of grades for different purposes.  When I had the new water pump/starter/generator shaft made for my '16, I was asked if I wanted material that had corrosion resistant properties or if I wanted high wear resistant properties.  I opted for the high wear resistant material.  I always run anti-freeze in my cars year 'round.  Modern anti-freeze solutions have corrosion inhibitors, anti-foamant additives, water pump lubricating qualities, and you will generally run a few degrees cooler over just plain water.  This issue has been discussed on here before and I stated my same opinion then.  I just do not believe that the Buick Motor Company designed their engines with the idea in mind that the water pumps should continually leak.  I am not from Missouri, but someone is going to have to show me that in written form from Buick Motor Company before I will buy into that idea.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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It doesn't need to leak much. My Pontiac doesn't ever even get any on the ground, but if you put your finger under there there is always a drop. I estimate it leaks a drop every 20 minutes or so, and probably evaporates before it ever hits the ground.

 

It is normal for a packing style pump to leak. It is apple farming country where I live, and big irrigation pumps that use packing nuts are still very common here. When someone tightens a packing nut enough that the leak completely stops, the shaft burns up almost immediately, and the repair is very expensive.

 

For the lubricant in your coolant to lubricate the packing, it needs to get between the packing and the shaft. There really isn't any way around this. It is a separate issue from lubricating the bushings. Those usually either use water pump grease through a zerk, or oil through an oil cup, depending on the design.

 

If you insist on no leakage at all, you might be better served to modify the pump for modern bearings and ceramic seals, as used on modern cars that do not normally leak anything from the water pump. The only trouble with that idea is that when it starts leaking, you need another rebuilt pump immediately. The guy with a packing pump just tightens the nut a little.

 

 

 

 

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