Ben Perfitt

1918 Buick - Improve Drivability?

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Two of the tires were Miller Tire Co, which went out of business in the 1920's, and the other 2 were Cooper Tires. I still have them but they are pretty messed up.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎10‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 11:53 PM, Morgan Wright said:

 

 1918 Buicks only have rear brakes. The tire treads are only 3 inches wide. When you put the brakes on, the tires squeal. Get used to it.

.

 

Not true unless you are over driving your car for the conditions.  You should not be squealing the tires if you are driving with caution.

 

Driving an old car like yours and mine, you learn to drive a lot further out than the next 20 feet like so many other persons do in a modern car. 

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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On ‎10‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 8:00 PM, Ben Perfitt said:

Hi all,

I’m basically just bored while waiting for my poor car’s engine to be rebuilt, but I thought I’d ask:


Has anyone found a way to successfully improve the drivability (and by drivability I mean suspension) of a car of this era?

 

I bought this little  E-35 out of an estate, after I paid for it the selling family asked if I was going to ‘show’ it. I laughed and truthfully said, “I’m not exactly what you might call a ‘social butterfly’. These old cars attract people, and I find that a little unnerving. NO, I will not be ‘showing’ it! The 7 mile drive to my parents’ house on Sunday’s is probably as far as it will ever go with me.”

 

So I was horrified and appalled the first time I did take it out on the road. It kinda reminded me of something else that can’t be mention here — but I was so scared I can’t even remember any of it.

*Bang* *bang* *bang* down the road. It was like being in a steel drum bouncing down the road (though that might have been an improvement). Could hear wood squeaking, groaning, cracking... I thought the body was going blow itself apart. In fact, a chunk of filler fell off exposing a repair on a cracked fender. The carriage-type suspension simply could not handle modern hard-surface road. In my hilly backyard it scoots around no problem. Maybe too well — it wanted to go way too fast in 2nd gear. I couldn’t idle it down low enough. 

 

I mentioned this to someone and he said, “The way around that is to pretty much slow down.” I agreed, and recalled that 20-22 mph. was about as fast as I could take it.

 

Now, this car has 15 more horsepower than a Model T — shouldn’t it be able to at least match its 40 mph. top speed?

 

I know with Ford cars there was an entire parallel industry in accessories, mostly suspension, produced to improve drivability. I suspect most of this was of the snake-oil type. Has anyone found anything that works?

 

This car has undersized 30x3 1/2” high-pressure (Model T) tires on it since it has clincher rims — nobody has made the 31 x 4” clincher tires specified by Buick in the past 80 years. It’s only an inch, but aesthetically that’s a BIG inch. Those Model T tires look ridiculous under those big ol’ Buick fenders. I have considered switching to straight-side rims just to ditch the things. If I did that I could also go with oversize 32x4 1/2” tires.
 

The effect of larger tires, in theory, could improve ride slightly, but I suspect any noticeable improvement would be strictly aesthetic.

 

I would actually like to drive this car one day — not trailer it to some remote location with much smoother roads (I’m in Michigan where we’ve been stuck with ‘tax cutting’ legislatures since the ‘90s — which means basic services like road maintenance haven’t been paid for in over 25 years). Or worse, be reduced to trailering it to shows!

 

Any suggestions? There are 10 engines ahead of mine at the shop I decided to have rebuild it. I have lots of time....

 

Thanks,

Ben P.

 

 

Ben,

Call me next week and let me know when you can come over to my shop in Grand Blanc and we can go for a ride in my '13.  Your car should be easily go 35-40 miles per hour without any issues.  If you are going to Hershey, we can meet up.

 

We can also look at a chassis like on your car that has most of the parts there.  If you want to come towards my house, we can look at my '18 Buick truck that has the same chassis as your car.

 

I think you have my phone number, but if not let me know by pm and I will send it to you. 

 

I will be happy to help answer any questions you might have to make your car a pleasure to drive.

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On 2-wheel brake cars, it's often necessary to slow the car with the service (foot) brake, and to complete the stop using the hand brake.  (on some cars, those connections are reversed, i.e., foot brake operates external brakes, hand brake operates internal brakes.)  On my 1918 Pierce, the hand brake operates the external contracting bands and is about 3 times as powerful as the internal expanding foot brakes.  Avoid locking up the wheels (it's too easy to do so), because then you've lost almost all control.

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On 10/7/2019 at 4:50 PM, Grimy said:

On 2-wheel brake cars, it's often necessary to slow the car with the service (foot) brake, and to complete the stop using the hand brake.  (on some cars, those connections are reversed, i.e., foot brake operates external brakes, hand brake operates internal brakes.)  On my 1918 Pierce, the hand brake operates the external contracting bands and is about 3 times as powerful as the internal expanding foot brakes.  Avoid locking up the wheels (it's too easy to do so), because then you've lost almost all control.

 

It's amazing the difference the four wheel brakes actually make, my 22 cad only has rears (still needs some minor adjustments) but it's worlds apart from the 26 buick with front and rears. You seem to get a bit more feel with the 4 wheel brakes and a bit more room for error - I suspect it's because they start doing something noticable sooner. 

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5 hours ago, hidden_hunter said:

It's amazing the difference the four wheel brakes actually make, my 22 cad only has rears (still needs some minor adjustments) but it's worlds apart from the 26 buick with front and rears. You seem to get a bit more feel with the 4 wheel brakes and a bit more room for error - I suspect it's because they start doing something noticable sooner. 

I agree.  Our actual stopping power comes from the gross area of the patches of rubber on the road which are actually attempting to stop--vs. roll.  Four-wheel brakes immediately double the stopping power.  Additionally, the move to 4-wheel brakes came almost simultaneously with balloon tires replacing high pressure tires, with the additional footprint of each wheel on the road.

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On a 4 wheel brake car, about 70% of the braking is from the front wheels.

There is usually more weight up there and the braking force causes a pitch to the front increasing axle load and braking too.

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2 hours ago, DonMicheletti said:

On a 4 wheel brake car, about 70% of the braking is from the front wheels.

There is usually more weight up there and the braking force causes a pitch to the front increasing axle load and braking too.

 

Yeah, the extra weight and axle load in the front increases friction on the tires, and prevents the tires from skidding, so the front brakes do more work.

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The delay in going to 4-wheel braking was the wait for development of a system whereby, during braking on a curve, the outside wheel could continue to turn while the inside wheel turned less, but with both front wheels still braking.  Pierce licensed the Hispano-Suiza system and implemented it mid-1924.  Of course this was for mechanical brakes.

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There was resistance to 4 wheel brakes where the "common knowledge" felt it was dangerous to put brakes on the wheels that steer

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I owned a 1928 Willys-Knight Standard Six which had 4-wheel brakes.  I was told that the brakes on this car equalized from side to side and front to rear.  I was also told that this was a very forward engineering feature for that time.  It was a very nice original automobile and I owned it for 32 years.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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The stars lined up - a pause in weeks of rain turned into a beautiful fall day. Got to meet up with Larry Schramm and a nice ride in his ‘13 provided a good reference point. No banging, bouncing, or rattling. Rode beautifully and comfortably at 35-40mph — though he took the turns a little faster than I’m used to even in a modern car (LOL sorry Larry). Even then there was no noise from the springs or chassis. All I could hear were the tires, engine, and wind. Turns out the windshield is actually a handy thing and not just for looks. I found myself leaning into it seeking relief from the wind.

Received an invaluable and unexpected lesson in seeing the 1908 chassis in his shop though. Saw zerk fittings in place of grease cups, and moly-graph grease applied between the leaves of the springs (exactly where mine shows traces of dry red rust). Larry demonstrated it by giving it a few good shoves down - not so much as a squeak. Completely silent. I could have fallen over.

All in all, an invaluable reference point. I’ll have a lot to do over the winter while the engine is being rebuilt.

 

 

Edited by Ben Perfitt
Typo (see edit history)
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On 10/5/2019 at 3:45 PM, Brian_Heil said:

Not sure what your issue is but it should actually ride quite well so keep investigating.

 

My 1923 rides very well and even better when I upgraded to balloons as most people did back in the day.  Balloons give a better ride, last longer and most importantly have a larger contact patch area on the ground for better stopping.  Important for rear wheel only brakes.

 

You can have too well a lubed leaf spring too, so don't go crazy with the lube.  The friction between the leafs give the leaf spring stack dampening.  This dampening is as important as a good shock on a modern coil spring car.

 

Run the pressure stated on the sidewall.  Too low and I get death wobble.  Too high and it rides not as well.

 

 

 

My (former) 1914 B-37 Touring had an amazingly smooth ride - not quite as smooth as our 123" wheelbase 1915 Hudson, but definately NOT bone-jarring. I agree with the above recommendations. Lube everything and assure that all joints flex - (including yours). You'll really enjoy it at 45+ mph - a thrill-a-minute performance!

Edited by Marty Roth
typo (see edit history)
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The "sweet spot" for touring with the '13 is usually about 37 MPH +- 2 mph depending on the grade of the road.

 

The "sweet spot" for touring with the '15 truck is usually about 30 MPH +- 2 mph depending on the grade of the road.
 

Every car has it's own happy speed.  You just need to drive it where it sounds and runs easily.   Nothing so far I have will run at 40 MPH without complaining, plus trying to run faster than it's sweet spot just causes things to break.

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On 10/5/2019 at 11:37 AM, Ben Perfitt said:

This little E-35 was restored by a purist, so I only have grease cups which I did fill with new grease and turn every use. I did not remove all the old grease or check for clogs.

I read a lot on this forum about switching to zerks or Alemites and dismissed it out of hand — the car was ‘correct’, why mess with that now? 

 

 

This past week I finally gave my E-49 a lube job. Took me all of 3 days to remove all the grease cups, clean them out, and fill with Vaseline, turn them until the joint was filled and grease was coming out the joint, some joints were so dry I had to empty 3 or 4 grease cups full of Vaseline into them before they were full.

 

There are 30 grease cups on my car, apart from the many other places to grease and oil. Of the 30 grease cups, 8 were broken or missing, but I was able to take 7 good grease cups off my spare car, leaving me short one cup, that I had to screw a zerk into.

 

2 of the grease cups were broken off in the seat and had to be drilled out with 21/64 drill and tapped with 1/8 inch pipe thread tap, 27 to the inch. That was a pain. But I got all 30 grease cups working again, though one of them is now a zerk.

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14 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

 

This past week I finally gave my E-49 a lube job. Took me all of 3 days to remove all the grease cups, clean them out, and fill with Vaseline, turn them until the joint was filled and grease was coming out the joint, some joints were so dry I had to empty 3 or 4 grease cups full of Vaseline into them before they were full.

 

There are 30 grease cups on my car, apart from the many other places to grease and oil. Of the 30 grease cups, 8 were broken or missing, but I was able to take 7 good grease cups off my spare car, leaving me short one cup, that I had to screw a zerk into.

 

2 of the grease cups were broken off in the seat and had to be drilled out with 21/64 drill and tapped with 1/8 inch pipe thread tap, 27 to the inch. That was a pain. But I got all 30 grease cups working again, though one of them is now a zerk.

 

Vaseline is a poor lubricant for chassis applications.  I laughed when I read your post. 

 

I talked to my one daughter who works for an international oil company.  Her work is to validate vehicle lubricants for use on cars, trucks, farm implements including tractors, etc.  She is a lab specialist who tests the oils and greases to performance standards.  She tests before and after used lubricants all the way to the elemental  level.  They have an electron microscope to confirm see what is going on at the atomic level.

 

She says that modern lubricants including grease has more than base lubricant and thickeners.  Additives include but not limited to anti corrosion, rust prevention, nano particles like a Teflon material to control/minimize wear, temperature modifiers to ensure stability over a wide range of operating temperatures, etc....

 

There is no "one grease" that fits all applications, but automotive grease has a lot of testing and application specific to vehicles.  This also applies to oils.

 

I  only get my lubrication advice from a lubrication expert, and fortunately my daughter is one.  

 

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Sorry, but I'm forced to block Larry Schramm from my feed.  I don't want to read it anymore.

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Say things that make sense Morgan and is helpful to the rest of the car community based on facts. 

 

It will help your credibility and standing among us that are trying to help others.

 

PS: Vaseline is also called petroleum jelly which is mainly a petroleum based product.

 

"Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum, soft paraffin, or multi-hydrocarbon, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons (with carbon numbers mainly higher than 25), originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties."

 

The reason that I keep a jar of Vaseline in the garage is to hold check balls in valve bodies when assembling automatic transmissions. 

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Okay,

Well, Morgan, we all just love these cars, and keeping them around is ongoing experiment and quite a lot of work. The people who built them NEVER thought they’d ever see as many as 20,000 miles - let alone still be around in 100 years. We all freely trade and share ideas and get feedback. My own first thoughts haven’t ended up on the side of general consensus yet — and it’ll be a scary day when they do.


Heck, when these ‘18s were built there was no such thing as an auto mechanic. When it broke you took it to a blacksmith who very recently hung a new sign on his shop: “Auto Repairing”. It was all experiment. 

I know I like to do everything ‘by the book’, but the problem is, if I did everything the way the factory recommended in 1918 (who again, were learning and experimenting at the time) I wouldn’t have a car! I’ve got 6 deep gouges in 3 cylinders to prove it.


AFTER I discovered 3 missing cotter-pins from the piston pins I found an ad (which I now can’t find again) from 1919 advertising a 1918 Buick with newly re-sleeved cylinders!

That said, I’ve never read a post on this forum I’ve considered direct criticism. Now, getting to consensus, yes, that can be an ugly process.

Fortunately for me, I don’t mind ugly. If I did I would’ve bled to death or died from an infection a long time ago (I really do have to use a mirror to shave in the morning).

 

Ben P.

 

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Edited by Ben Perfitt (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

Vaseline never deteriorates over time.

 

Time has nothing to do with it if the car is exercised and lubricated on schedule. Using a proper synthetic grease by the book will reduce wear to an insignificant level. I recommend flushing all the Vaseline you can out with synthetic grease before driving again. And then lube a bit earlier than called for the next time you are due.    -    Carl 

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Right. Time has nothing to do with hundred year old cars that sit for decades at a time. Oh wait, I just said time!

 

My grease cups were full of a substance that was somewhere between tar, soap, and dog poop, that smelled like horseradish, and under the back seat was a bag which contained yellowed baseball cards from the 1919 Cincinnati Reds, and a jar of Vaseline. I put the 100 year old Vaseline in the cups, it looked brand new, and it will look new in another 100 years.

 

At least you didn't talk about temperature modifiers and nano particles, and using an electron microscope to look at individual atoms. Ha ha, that's funny. And adding anti-corrosion agents to grease! Ha ha hysterical. My grandfather worked in one of the ponds in cheeseboro, in fact he dug out the jelly ponds. It must be jelly because jam don't shake like that. Lot of people think cheeseboro was named after the cheese that axle grease turns into when it sits for a few decades. But that's not really cheese, it's tar, and some of the residents of cheeseboro petitioned to rename the town tar nation, but the nation voted against it. What in tarnation were they thinking? Oh by the way, all the Vaseline in the cheeseboro ponds are millions of years old. Millions. The stuff is good forever. 

 

 

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