Ben P.

1918 Buick 4 cylinder oil pan

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Yesterday I took all the pistons out of my spare engine, I tried pulling them down through the lower crank case. Pistons 3 and 4 were easy, 2 and 5 just barely fit, but 1 and 6 are impossible to remove that way, they need to come out the top. All 6 of the cotter pins were good.

 

Then I dropped the oil pan on the car, and looked up, all 6 of those pins are good too.

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Posted (edited)

6 months and 10k - is the estimated cost of having missed this.

Edited by Ben Perfitt
Typo (see edit history)
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Originally, I forgot to include the results of a compression test made in January (50-55-50-55). Based on the fact the engine was smoking heavily, spark plugs (exactly which or how many - I already can’t remember) were fouling up after 1 run, and black oil was beginning to appear by then - I’m going to go ahead and say that at least 2 cotter pins were already missing and wrist pins were roaming free at that time. I suspect the 2 cotter pins I never found went out with the oil change I did immediately after this test.

 

50-55-50-55 — do these numbers make sense to anyone? Cyl. #3 is the only one with a wrist pin that did not come free. 3 cylinders with deep gouges mean it is NOT up to debate that the numbers are ‘bad’. They are very bad. These are bad numbers.

But would they have caused you to drop the pan and go looking for a problem?

Thanks,

Ben P.

(Ended up taking the car to a professional when I couldn’t find a timing mark [and neither could he]. Below is a photo of part of that receipt - including it just because his notation of SMOKE makes me laugh every time I see it. Though his story about it was funnier and I actually have a couple of stories about that smoke...but not going into that here.)

E42F23A9-EBA9-4F56-8060-374C708E2406.jpeg

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Sorry about the piston pin gouging the cylinder walls. I personally know of three instances over the last 20 years of this happening. All three were engines that had sat for 15+ years. Some were pressed pins and some were bolted. I don't know if its the lack of lubricant film on startup or oil coagulating or what. Don't fret to bad because there is a chance that the engine needed a rebuild anyhow.

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Plugs fouling and black oil???...…..carb mixture may be too rich. Turn the fuel needle screw to the right (clockwise) until it slows a little but still gives steady idle, then turn the air screw to the left until it slows and then turn a little right again. Then hit the gas pedal to make sure you get good acceleration. If not, turn the fuel screw a little left again.

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Yep, that’s probably a pretty good chance (like 90%) the engine was due for a rebuild anyway. Just expected a compression test to tell us that. 

 

Yeah Morgan, there was a LOT of interplay going on here. I saw where Terry W. remarked about you being able to fire that engine up for the 1st time without making carb. or timing adjustments. That was pretty incredible.

When I 1st tried to run this engine the timing was SO far off instinct made me duck or otherwise get the Heck out of there. I really couldn’t get anywhere near the carb. while it was ‘running’.

The only reason I ran this engine between the compression test and the point I finally found the broken pin was to adjust the carb. But with those gouges....

Then there was a thing with the wiring - there was some arc. I didn’t see it but I saw the smoke and there was a pretty sharp ‘pop’. That was the point I disconnected the battery and thought, “Well, this is a good time to replace those leaking oil pan gaskets”.

 

At least with the engine all I have to do now is write some pretty large checks. But that Marvel - it’ll still be waiting for me.

 

 

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As per Terry's comment....I didn't make carb and timing adjustments after the first start because I made them before it. Put piston 1 at TDC according to the valves on piston 6, forget about the timing mark on the flywheel, you don't need it, forget about a timing light, you know the engine is at TDC for 1 when 6 is between exhaust valve closing and intake valve opening, just stop it there, and then back the distributor cam (with the distributor screw loose and the points open) until the points just close. That's the timing adjustment. Tighten the distributor cam screw there. Really. Forget the flywheel completely. If you bought a timing light just throw it in the garbage. Timing on these engines is so arbitrary you can adjust the timing on the steering wheel and it barely does anything.

 

As for carb adjustment, in my "first start" video, the plugs were new and not fouled yet. There was a ton of carb adjustment after the first start, to stop the plugs from fouling. Dang, I never saw so much carbon in my life since I went to Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and asked a woman named Blacky Black, who was listening to Johnny Cash, what her favorite color was. 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

 If you bought a timing light just throw it in the garbage. Timing on these engines is so arbitrary you can adjust the timing on the steering wheel and it barely does anything.

 

Not true.  If done correctly, when you advance the timing on the column from the correct slight retard for starting to full advance you should / will notice a difference in the sound and performance of the engine.

 

I use my timing light to confirm correct timing on all of my cars.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Ben, after being in exactly the same position you describe (I wanted to install a new Olson's gasket after the home made one leaked), and reading your post about the cotter pins, I put the project on top of my list.  I dropped the pan and looked up.  Huh?  No cotter pin -- no place to put a cotter pin!  See photos here: 

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0ihLsy49KAY85Mc5R35TfhO3g

I have to conclude that when my father-in-law (master machinist) restored the car in the mid '50s, he recognized the problem you outline and replaced the pistons (and wrist pins and connecting rods) and perhaps bored the block to accept (1956 version) modern pistons.

 

So it looks like my sleepless nights worrying about the issue are at an end.

 

Please nobody tell me I'm just blind!

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Are the pistons shown aluminum? I couldn't tell for sure. If so they are non original.

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Yes, your father-in-law knew exactly what he was doing and why. Your photo (top photo below, above the one of mine w/the offending cotter pin) will be sent along with the engine when it is rebuilt this winter.

The rebuilder I’m sending it to said in the past that he likes to get rid of ‘nasty’ cotter pins because he’s seen too many end up where they don’t belong. I balked at this at first, but keep coming back to the fact that the engineers who designed these engines never dreamed the cars would ever see as many as 20,000 miles — let alone still exist in 100 years.

The rest of this car is correct, but these cotter pins are GONE.

 

Thanks,

Ben P.

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8779D769-D542-451C-8906-04377B54E9E7.jpeg

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20 hours ago, raydurr said:

Are the pistons shown aluminum? I couldn't tell for sure. If so they are non original.

I can't tell either.  I'm 99% sure they're not original.

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My 1917 D45 has a wrist (piston) pins secured in rods by machined bolts, same way 1928 Master has it..... I have no way to tell if the rods are aftermarket or not, they still have small "noses" (or dippers) to push oil into lower ends. I can check partnumbers once my partbook arrives.

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Preparing to have this engine pulled and shipped to the rebuilder, but I have to sheepishly ask: 

Does anyone know which direction the pistons orientate into the cylinders?

The picture below was taken from under the car. The wrist pin is perpendicular to the radiator. The brassy looking spot on the left end of the wrist pin is a cotter pin — my memory has this cotter pin facing the radiator and away from the firewall.

Is this correct?

There are no arrows cast into the pistons or rods.

(Pictures are worthless memory aids if you can’t remember which way you were facing when you took them. I have no memory of which direction I slid under the car that day.)

 

Mild anxiety - probably more related to the potential cost of all this....

 

Thanks,

Ben P.

 

 

 

0F598299-5E5A-4269-B99F-88CC66788E06.jpeg

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They face the nearest crankshaft bearing, like so:

 

B = bearing  (x)>  is the  piston and the direction they face

 

B <(1)    (2)>  B  <(3)   (4)>  B <(5)   (6)>  B

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You’re right Morgan,  they don’t do that opposing thing like the 6. Did find the answer though buried in the 1922 service manual (Buick didn’t bother making a service manual prior to that).

Referencing the 4 cyl. model it indicated the con-rods should face the radiator on the casting-numbered side — which would have the cotter pin towards the radiator like my memory had it.

 

*leaving this here in case I forget again*
Good grief.

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For my own future reference:

 

This past June I removed the pistons from the bottom, inspected the damage, and decided to ship the entire engine to a rebuilder in CT.

For a number of reasons I decided to have a local shop pull and ship the engine rather than do that myself.


Dropped the car off to them Dec. 2nd. Fully expected to return in a few days to retrieve the engineless car and take it home assuming they’d need the space. Nope. What I was told but didn’t understand was - they had made space for the car in its own area at the back of the shop.

 

All the work will be done in one room quarantined from the rest of the shop by one person who has not done any other kind of work in his entire life. Anything that needs to be farmed out - they deliver personally to shops they know and have dealt with in the past. No part will be taken to any of the Model T+A Ford shops infesting the mid-west. No part will undergo any modern cleaning process.

 

This has worked out far better than I could have dreamed. I owned a 1952 Studebaker for just over 30 years. what I learned from that car is: This situation, for me, is by far the cheapest and safest way out. I know exactly where my skills are and what I can afford to get away with. Though I do feel a little ‘out of the action’....

The list of stuff I planned on attending to while the engine was being rebuilt will just have to wait.

That’s just all there is to it.

 

 

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492EDD63-2629-4C83-B5EA-83701653E017.jpeg

Edited by Ben P.
Reference (see edit history)

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P.S.
If anyone spots this ugly old thing bombing around Ionia MI — I want that car BACK.

The nitwit I gave it to turned around and sold it for, “about what you paid for that NOS fender” (the very last one) to some guy, “I think his name was PETE”.

Didn’t even bother to get his name....

 

Still looks pretty much like this. Body not worth restoring. Exposed to MI weather. Built during Korean War (everything was THIN). Brush your hand along the chrome it’ll cut your skin like a cheese-grater. Was told it was pitting on the dealer’s lots in ‘52.

 

Finder’s fee gladly paid (not as much as that NOS fender)....

39A37255-C602-4C35-8FFC-62227A7A57DA.jpeg

Edited by Ben P.
Typo (see edit history)

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