loftbed

28 Buick clutch adjustment

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Greetings fellow Buickers, I recently purchased a  1928 Buick sports Roadster that has had a very recent new clutch install. I am getting significant grinding of gears in 2nd and 3rd, primarily in 2nd. What is the procedure for remedying this situation.

 

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

I do not use 2nd gear when the transmission is cold.  1st to 3rd with delay time or double clutching between and no over revving.  Once it is warmed up, it is OK and then I only use 2nd to 3rd because 1st is geared too low.  Ocassionally (especially when cold) The transmission will not want to shift into 3rd, so I have to apply the brakes, slow down to almost a stop, and then it will allow me to get into 3rd.  This is normal for non synchronized transmissions.  I rarely downshift unless I am going very slowly because the transmission does not like that.  The transmission definitely performs better once warmed up.  

The original recommendation was 600 WT steam oil.  My 25 Buick transmission did not like it at all.  I use a blend of 60% Lucas 80/90 gear oil, and 40% Lucas HD stabilizer.  The transmission does a lot better with this mixture.   

I would suggest that you start with a transmission oil change, especially if the transmission does not work well when warmed up.

 

Your car looks great.   Thanks for the photo.     Hugh  

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Wow, that is a beautiful car.  It has been my experience that if you don't over rev. the engine they shift much better.  The car has a really long stroked engine with outstanding amounts of torque.  You do not have to be going very fast when you shift.  These old cars are not at all like modern cars when it comes to gear changing.

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For proper shifting my 1929 Master demands the correct heavy transmission oil AND proper timing of shifting between gears. These non synchronized transmissions require an exact amount of engine RPM drop before shifting into the next higher gear. Don't force it, it will teach you what it likes. 

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What State are you in?

Cadillac was the first to come out with synchromesh gears in 1929 and definitely everything before that had straight-cut gears.


If you have not personally driven a non-synchromesh car before I’d recommend getting in contact with anyone near you with a non-sync car (NO Ford cars - the T’s & A’s are totally different animals) and go out on a test drive together (and I can’t stress that enough either).

 

I’ve been messing with ‘old’ cars since age 12 (30+ yrs ago) and they all had standard transmissions, but when I got my 1918 2yrs ago it was my 1st experience with straight-cut gears. Within 1/4mile of the 1st drive with it I knew I’d be relearning how to shift... But that’s not where the recommendation comes from.

My particular car had sat for 10 yrs when the prior owner became too frail to use it. It had several unrelated problems because of sitting - and to me it just handled and sounded like I thought a 100 yr old car might. I didn’t know what to expect or even what to ask. Hooking up with people on here and getting a good baseline on what these cars are like, what they feel like, and what they need was the only way I could sort it out. On my own I couldn’t sort out the car’s actual problems (and they ALL have problems) from my own ignorance.

Reading and asking questions here only took me so far — and I have a $10,000 repair bill to prove it. 🙂

Beautiful car - exquisitely done colors.

Good luck.

 

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I am familiar with that lovely roadster. So familiar, in fact that I put the clutch in it. When last I drove it the clutch performed exactly as it should. That said, these things don’t drive like cars even just a little newer than this one. There has been a lot of good advice on this thread. When upshifting your Buick you must be patient to let that huge rotating mass slow down to where it would be turning in the gear you are looking for. In essence you must match engine rpm to road speed in any given gear. On downshifting you have to double clutch and rev the engine up to what it would be turning in the gear you want. You have a fine automobile. I looked at it a lot when I was restoring my dad’s 1927 roadster.

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You asked about clutch adjustment in the title. What makes you think the clutch needs adjustment? Not releasing enough?

 

I would think that as long as you can idle the engine at a stand still with the clutch down, in any gear, that the clutch is not too tight. 

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Lots of good points here.  One of the biggest issues regarding shifting to me is idle speed.   The car shifts so much better if you can get the idle down, be patient, and pracitce double clutching.  Warmed up, with my throttle closed, my idle on full advance is 380 rpm.  If I rotate to full retard, my idle will drop to 300 rpm.   When it is cold, I need full choke and 1/4 throttle opening on the steering column to start it .  Once it starts, the choke goes all the way in and I keep the idle up around 600 rpm with the steering lever until warm.  So this becomes a problem if I only drive a few blocks and the transmission is still cold, and my idle is up.  You have to be especially patient and try to lower the idle as low as possible without loosing it to make gear shifts.  That gear box is not going to warm up very fast either.    

 

It takes a bit of tuning on the engine to get it to run this low.  People love to hear it idle because nothing sounds like these low compression engines anymore.  As a note, there is a pot metal venturi in the carburetor and it grows with time and has a big effect on the operation of the engine.  Do a search on Marvel carburetor rebuilding to understand what happens.  You will never achieve a good idle if this has not been addressed.  

 

Basically a clutch problem is either going to be slipping (worn out and riding on the rivets) or grabbing (a friction disc has failed), or it is working properly.     Hugh 

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Great comments above and I've learned a lot. I am not a complete novice, I've a bit of experience with Model A Fords, so I know about double clutching etc. I can see where some of the other suggestions can be helpful, thanks for those.

I can't say that I know for certain that the clutch really needs adjusting? I only say that because the previous owner told me so, and that is has been my experience that when installing a new clutch it sometimes needs a readjustment after a few miles. I have no idea how many miles were added after the clutch was installed, but the previous owner seemed to think it was necessary. In the event that I am still experiencing shifting issues after following all the excellent advise above, I will still need advice on adjusting it, less I screw something up.  😢

 

Rod

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I don't believe that your car has a "clutch brake," but TRY this technique suitable for cars that do have clutch brakes:  Push pedal fully to toeboard ONLY when at rest and going to reverse or first gear.  While underway, suitably warmed up of course, push the clutch pedal only to within one inch of the toeboard.  This either will or will not help, but it's worth a try.....

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Posted (edited)

Rod, The basic adjustment on the clutch is that there is a little "free play" on the pedal when the pedal is essentially all the way up.  The best way to check this is to remove the spring on the clutch pedal and see if it has just a little play when you move the pedal at the top.  There is a big wing nut used to make the adjustment.   Hugh

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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There is no clutch brake on these cars. You should have between one and two inches of free play on the pedal before you feel the clutch. It should start to engage about two inches off the floorboards. We replaced the clutch in this car because it had been relined with friction material that was wrong for the application. The car was unmanageable as the clutch would chatter and grab, stalling the engine at inconvenient times. These machines have a multiple disc clutch that is way over engineered. It has something like fourteen discs in all. Keep practicing and you will make friends with the car.

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All great advice, and what I will add will be more of what was already said, but here goes.

 

I learned to shift my old Buick, from years as a young passenger, observing and studying my Grandfather and my Father and the way they shifted their Buicks.  My Grandfather, my Mother's father, shifted the car just like my own Father did, so it's not like my Father learned from his own Father how to do it.

 

Never once, did I observe, either one of them try to "get out into traffic" or "get up to speed".  The car gets up to speed, slowly.  There is no revving, flooring it, racing it in each gear, to get ahead of anything, in my experience.

 

My Dad, used to start in 2nd gear.  That produced more slipping and at times, he would stall the engine, but it worked.  My Grandfather always started from 1st gear, and that's what I do as well. 

 

I feel, all Buicks are different and need to be learned.  My 27 Standard is much different than the 27 Master, and I remember the 24 6 cylinder was different yet again (but I haven't driven it in over 25 years).

 

I never have to double clutch when upshifting because I wait for the rpms to drop, as I was taught.  I avoid downshifting and would double clutch from 3rd to 2nd before a turn into a grade for example, but only at a road speed of less than 5mph.  If I needed to get to 1st again, I would stop and start out again.

 

When coming to a stop, leave it in 3rd, come to a complete stop, and shift quickly through neutral to 1st again and leave it there until ready to move.  Don't put it in neutral and let out the clutch at a stop, if at all possible.  Getting back into gear, especially when warm, can be a grind fest.  There were rare occasions when my Dad would have to shut the engine off, put it in 1st, and start the engine with the clutch depressed, but looking back I think that was more of a factor of a low level of transmission oil and those gears were spinning too fast.

 

The heavy gear oil works for me.  Hugh needs a different mix for his car, all Buicks are different!  When I first start out, The Master will shift quietly, the Standard will always, always be a bear to get into 2nd, but after the first time, it's fine.  After both car transmissions are "warm"  The Master always "snicks" just a little in every gear change, the Standard will shift mostly silently.  Of course, that is if I do it right, if I don't let the rpms drop or my timing is off, all bets are off!  It's all part of the fun!  It's never a boring ride like in a modern car, I love it!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7glHBYXXf80

 

Your Roadster is beautiful!  Post more pictures of it please, and let us know how you make out and if you (hopefully) have better luck with your shifting!

 

 

 

 

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Wow!!!

I am totally impressed with this forum, in just a few hours there has been eleven responses and all with relevant information. I will certainly heed the advise given.

Another question, when watching the video posted, I noticed that the shift pattern the fellow was using was reversed from a standard "H" pattern.That would certainly explain my difficulty in getting into 2nd gear? I guess I got there simply by fishing around. I was also starting out in 3rd I guess. I've only driven it once and the PO did not mention the reversed shift pattern. I'm starting to feel really stupid!

I am in Oregon and it's raining (a normal occurrence out here) so I will have to wait for better weather to give it a go again.

 Here's some other photos:

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

No such thing as a stupid question around here — the engineering advances year-to-year were so great in those times that Buick never even bothered to publish a ‘shop manual’ until 1922! A lot was being ironed out.

 

After 2 yrs of ownership, I recently discovered on here that the spark-advance lever is REVERSED from what I assumed it was (Don’t know how to link a post from another thread - so here’s a screen-shot). People simply said to ‘advance’ or ‘retard’ it. No one ever said which direction - and there are no markings on the quadrant. None.

I read that and thought, “Well, that could explain why I had to ‘advance’ the spark to start it.” Boy did I feel stupid — or humbled rather.

Two weeks ago I attended a meeting of my local BCA chapter for the first time. Told them what I owned, and a guy turned towards me with a great big grin on his face and said, “What’d you think of those straight-cut gears?” The room roared with laughter. I said, “Before this car I’d only driven a stick my entire driving life but it took me a 1/4 mile to get it into 2nd that first time....”

They’re all different. Car to car they’re different, and a clutch will ‘remember’ its past driver.

Some things haven’t changed - this week I took my 2018 LaCrosse into the dealer for 3 recalls on the transmission. When they were done the service-writer took me aside and said, “I have to warn you: This transmission has ‘adaptive learning’, with the work it has been reset - it’s going to shift weird for the next 5,000 miles.”

Again, I thought, “Well, that could explain a lot.” When the car was brand new it put itself in park one day while I was driving (not kidding - right in the middle of the road). Took the dealer 16 days to get a new valve-train cover for it because it happened to ALL of them. When I got it back it shifted hard and weird and I almost took it back but thought, “No, there are new parts mixed in there and it’s acting like any old clutch getting used to a different driver.” Sure enough, the shifts became imperceptible again after a couple thousand miles. I had NO idea it had computerized ‘adaptive learning’.

Good luck

 

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Edited by Ben P.
Typo (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

I keep the following full page in a plastic page protector on the front seat of my car.  I let people drive my Buick, and I want them to learn a little before we start out.  I use this as a reminder to myself as well, because sometimes I get in a hurry and I don't want to forget that the battery tender is still connected.   I also have a folded copy that I keep in a lanyard pouch that I hang from the ignition switch.  It is folded where it shows the main notes and the shift pattern.  The car is not driven daily and may go several weeks and even I sometimes forget certain things.  Most people don't know how to use a choke and when they read words like "retard" it is not meant to disrespect them, but we discuss how the advance mechanism works and when to use it.  The lanyard pouch is always hanging on the ignition switch until I have disconnected the battery tender.     

Here are my notes in case you want to cut and paste this and create your own notes specific to your car.  I have added a hidden turn signal switch and a hide away temperature monitor so I have to explain how they operate as well.   

 

1925 Buick Ownership manual – Starting & Driving                        Hugh Leidlein                             11-24-19 C

This manual is to help the owner properly drive and maintain this 1925 Buick. 

Before driving:             

-          Check the Engine Oil. 

-          Antifreeze is Evans Waterless Coolant.  DO NOT ADD WATER or regular antifreeze.  This is a special lifetime coolant.  The radiator should be filled until the coolant is just visible in the radiator header tank.

-          Tires – 32 PSIG

Starting and Driving

-          Transmission in neutral.  No clutch.

-          Disconnect the battery tender if driving.

-          Pull out the Choke (Only when cold)

-          Retard the spark

-          Use the hand throttle to raise the idle.

(Use it to operate the gas pedal when starting.)

-          Turn on the ignition, push the starter pedal.

-          Push the choke in after it starts.

-          Release the hand brake

Transmission shift is a reverse H      2    R

                                                                  H

                                                                3    1

 1st and Reverse are non-synchronized so you must be at a complete stop to use them.  It does not like 2nd gear when cold.  Shifting (especially down shifting) takes practice.  Shift slowly.  Double clutching is helpful.  Over revving makes shifting more difficult.

Ignition lever – Retard for starting, ½ way under 25 mph, full when cruising.

Turn signals and Flashers

-          The switch is located below the dash on the left side of the steering wheel.  They cancel 15 seconds after the brakes are released.

-          The 4 way flashers are initiated if the left turn switch is held for 5 flashes.  If your foot is on the brake they will cancel, or if you flip the turn switch to the right.    

Lights

Position 1 and up - powers the engine temperature monitor.  It flips under the dash for shows. 

Engine Temperature

Water boils at 212 F.  Check the radiator fluid if above 225 degrees.  Stop if at 250 degrees.

This is a large car.  Take wide turns.  Use additional stopping space.  Enjoy.

 

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Well it stopped raining and I went for a drive!

The transmission is a normal H pattern after-all, and I learned that I could shift direct from 1st into 3rd while the trans was still cold, then after it warmed up it would go into 2nd (after a suitable time lapse) without grinding (too much). It definitely prefers going 1-2-3 at a much lower rate of speed than i'm used to in a Model A but I'll get used to it (the traffic behind me -- not so much, but isn't that what that middle finger was created for)😉

 

I'm of the opinion now that the clutch is just fine and needs no adjustment, but al least now I have the info necessary to do so when needed, thanks Hugh!

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The video link I posted was my 27, reverse H pattern.  Your 28 was the first year of the traditional H pattern! 

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The pictures do not do justice to this car. It was a privilege to work on and drive it. The 1928 models were unique in many ways. First year of conventional shift pattern. When the SAE was thinking about this they went to Henry Ford who was designing the new model A at that time. Ford told them if they wanted every car to shift the same they would have to go with what the model A was going to be and that was that.

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Posted (edited)

The previous owner told you that he redid the clutch and that you will probably have to adjust it soon. That makes perfect sense. All those drive discs and driven discs need to seat themselves into their own particular shapes, it's just like breaking in a new pair of shoes, they have to break themselves in to the shape of your feet.

 

I redid my clutch last year and adjusted it until it was perfect, but after only a few times of driving the car around, it was loose and started slipping. So I adjusted the nut on the linkage again to tighten it back up, and it has been fine ever since. I'm sure every clutch rebuild needs one small re-adjustment in the beginning. Of course, as the clutch discs wear out over time, it will need adjustments, but that's a different story. That's not breaking in a new pair of shoes, that's repairing old shoes.

Edited by Morgan Wright (see edit history)

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Listen to Roger Barrett.  He is more knowledgeable than than most of the guys combined. Probably forgot more than what many of the individuals talk like they are experts.  If he set it up it would be right and should not need a bunch of adjustments.  As said, go slow and learn the car.  The old cars drive differently than a modern car. 

 

You really do not know the vehicle until you have a couple of thousand miles on your car.  Drive on!!

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Loftbed...

Is Don Pettee's former car...?

I believe a school teacher bought it new, and drove it for many years.

It was restored cosmetically very nicely, but the mechanics were ignored.

I believe Tony Bult went through the car mechanically and got things up to par.

If I remember correctly, it steers very hard, and shouldn't.

 

I believe what the problem is, is not the car, or clutch, but your skill.

 

I always tell new 20's car owners....SLOW Down....!! Not just car speed, but.....You.  We are in a fast paced, "instant" world now.  We jump out of a modern car, and into our antique, and its our frame of mind that is still going too fast.

 

FIRST:  you MUST have true 600W oil in the transmission if you want to experience what Buick intended with its engineering.

without true 600W oil, the gears are spinning too fast.

 

SECOND: check your idle speed.  I can not count how many cars I see on yoututbe or in person, and their idle is waaaaaay  too high.  Buick says that on level ground in high gear at idle the car should travel 5-8 mph for proper idle speed. The idle speed makes a great deal of difference when puching in the clutch to shift.

 

THIRD: Style of driving. 1st gear is NOT to be driven in under normal driving situations....it is to get the car moving...ONLY.  You are in first gear for an honest 1 to 2 seconds....it is ONLY to get the car moving. Shift to 2nd right away, and barely stay in 2nd. Do not wind it up in 2nd gear. Shift to 3rd.

 

Remember...in this era, it wasnt horsepower but torque that was king. Buicks can throttle down to 5mph in 3rd gear all the way to top speed.

 

FOURTH.  Now days we accelerate right up to a stop sign then slam the brakes....In the 20's, when approaching a stop sign....leave the car in gear.....DONT put the clutch in hundreds of feet before the stop....leave the clutch out and let the engine and weight of the rotational mass slow the car just to the stall point, THEN put the clutch in and brake.

 

I have found most people I have helped were just revving the engine waaaaaaay to high....had improper oil in the transmission case, were staying in 1st and 2nd waaaaay too long, and didnt let the gears slow the car down, before disengaging the clutch.

 

Hope this helps...!!

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The only adjustment on these clutches is the pedal free travel. 

They are a multiple disc clutch so dragging is their nature. If its really bad you may have some warped plates or notches worn in the hub or flywheel. If it was rebuilt properly these shouldn't be issues.

Pausing to let the motor slow down is the normal method on these cars. 

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