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1939 Special clutch issues


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I recently purchased a 1939 Buick Special model 41. The it had been owned by the previous owner for 55 years and always garaged. He had done all the maintenance including fairly recent engine rebuild. It drives nicely and is very enjoyable. Last weekend we decided to take it for its first shakedown cruise and drove 2 hours on nice secondary roads and it performed well. The transmission shifted nicely until 1 1/2 hours into the trip. Once things warmed up I noticed some grinding when I was shifting gears. I shifted slowly and most of the time it was OK, but as I neared home it would not shift without grinding. It acted like the clutch was not disengaging when I pressed the pedal. Even at a complete stop it would grind when I attempted to engage first or second gear. It would barely engage high gear when rolling along. By the time I got home the pedal height was quite low and it was difficult to drive.  The car had not been on very many trips before I bought it and this was a chance for a shakedown cruise before deciding to attend and shows. I am wondering whether running it and getting it warm (engine temp was fine) may have caused a problem with the throw-out bearing. The linkage was adjusted exactly as it was when I started out, but it was failing to decouple the clutch. I am not sure whether the throw-out bearing was replaced when the engine was rebuilt, but because everything was fine prior to the drive I wonder if it may be the reason for the problem.

Has anyone had this happen and does this seem like a possible cause for my problem?

By the way the car is a lot of fun to drive and gets lots of looks. I am sure it is going to be a lot of fun showing and touring after this teething problem is taken care of.

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Suggest you have a helper operate the clutch pedal in and out while you watch the "monkey motion" of the linkage looking down into the engine compartment, then up from bottom, either on a hoist or up on jack stands. Watch to see bolts between engine and bellhousing or bellhousing and trans didnt come loose with vibration. With a rebuild there is some chance bolts werent torque to spec, allowing clutch to force things apart(trans and bell for instance) instead of pushing on clutch all the way. Long shot, but possible. Visual inspection while moving components celebrates "kiss" principle easy & cheap to do! Keep it simple s~enior¡ cc! Interested to know what you find. Hope this helps.

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I had a similar experience where the clutch on mmy '38 Special just locked up. It also made a lot of noise when the pedal was depressed.

It turned out to be a piece of broken spring from the pressure plate getting wedged in the clutch plate.

The photo shows the broken spring and where it was supposed to be.

I had never heard of this type of failure before.

 

Bobs has replacement springs and fortunately, no other damage was done

DSCN1803.JPG

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On 8/10/2019 at 11:43 PM, Rich Koch said:

Thank you for your input. It was surprising to have it begin to "misbehave" after a couple of hours as the rest of the car is working great. I will giver that a try.

If you have to remove clutch I can recommend the one I installed. Available at most auto supply stores(OReillys for instance) 1995 Jeep gran Cherokee 6 cyl stick. Clutch disc and pressure plate kit just over $100.00. Nice pedal pressure and exact fit. Good luck!

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11 hours ago, 2carb40 said:

If you have to remove clutch I can recommend the one I installed. Available at most auto supply stores(OReillys for instance) 1995 Jeep gran Cherokee 6 cyl stick. Clutch disc and pressure plate kit just over $100.00. Nice pedal pressure and exact fit. Good luck!

 

 Used same in my '50 with warmed up 263.  Like a rock.

 

  Ben

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On 8/19/2019 at 7:58 PM, Buick35 said:

Interesting,do you know it it would be the same on a 35 40 series? Mine seems o.k. for now but for future reference. Thanks,Greg.

I only know application for 1939 & newer as 1939 is my oldest frustration/joy( depending on the repair encountered!). For earliar application I would contact The Clutch Doctor in North Branch MN. Trevor is an incredably knowledgable source and has rebuilt clutches for folks with pre 39 Buicks I have referred to him. Ill look up his # to post again later. 

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here is an update on my original post. Fortunately it was not a throw out bearing or clutch pate issue, but a problem with the lash adjustment. Apparently during my drive a locking nut came loose and the further I went the harder it was to get the clutch to release for shifting. The previous owner who had put in the new clutch a while ago inspected to mechanism and found the lash adjustment rod was way way too loose. He was able to get it correctly adjusted for me and now everything is working great. It is nice to have club members who can help out new owners like me. I have shop manuals now and will be sure to research problems and hopefully be able to fix them myself. Thanks to everyone who responded to my post

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