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'49 Oldsmobile 88 restoration


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Hey everyone! Figure I might as well start up a "restoration" thread and also introduce myself while I'm at it! So.... Long story short me and the Mrs. were going through a very dark time and were looking for an outlet so to speak. We both have been talking about wanting a classic car to restore and make a car that will "stay in the family" so to speak. I did run up into GA to look at a '38 buick roadmaster and was disappointed in the condition and on the way back into Fla I happened to stumble into what is now our 1949 Oldsmobile 88!

 

A little back story on this vehicle is that we're the third owner since brand new. It was built at the kansas city plant and sold in kansas and stayed there it's whole life until it moved to Florida where it sat for a number of years before we got it.

 

I wish I was able to get the original sales invoice (good luck anyways right?!) However...I did find an old piece of paper with "3569D" scribbled on it with a wax pencil and stuffed between the coils under the front seat! Here's are some pictures of the car. I'll add some more photos of the soon to be long journey back to it's former glory! And don't worry...all the chrome pieces came with the car and though these are somewhat old photos I have the major chrome back on it.

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Thank you everyone for the welcome! So far the car has been rather interesting to work on! I have messed around with the timing somewhat and that whole thread can be found Here

 

Today I've been wanting to tackle a problem that will definitely give grief down the road if I don't try to tackle it now...and that's overheating!!! I know something was amiss when you open the radiator cap and you see what appears to be chocolate milk colored coolant! (Uh oh!!) I remember reading around here that the early olds motors were prone to having a buttload of sediment in the lower block...well I took off the engine block drains aaaaand? NOTHING! Not a single drop of coolant comes out! So...that little 5 watt filament of a brain I have lights up and says...hey...blast some air in there and see what happens...I'm sure you can guess what happens next...a shower of brown muck comes flying out and I get drenched!!

 

I must have flushed the whole block with at least 100 gallons and intermittently blast air into the drains to get more much out....it wasn't pretty, large flakes of rust and who knowa what came out! I did try to back flush the radiator but it's not looking good....worse case is a recore but I might just buy an aluminum radiator as a quick fix before I can scrounge up enough pennies for a radiator recore...

 

I'll leave you folks with some pictures of the flushing aftermath! The picture really doesn't do any justice of how much really came out the block!

 

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Edited by Seedee (see edit history)
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I know all about the rusty block issues but thought that was on the early engines. Didn’t realize the problem ran into the 50’s. At least in your case you can get an affordable OEM style recore. For my 32’ it would cost $6000 up! I luckily found another radiator out of a hot rod build to replace my blocked core.

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4 hours ago, chistech said:

Didn’t realize the problem ran into the 50’s

 

I think it's because alcohol/water mix was still being widely used for engine coolant and thats probably what contributed to the heavy rust problems. I want to assume that ethylene glycol was just emerging on the market and from my service manual even says though it has superior properties it is prohibitly expensive

 

5 hours ago, chistech said:

For my 32’ it would cost $6000 up!

 Ouch!! I'm glad you were able to find one, I have to double check with my radiator shop to see if they can save it which I'm sure they can for a small fee! When I have time next I'm going to fill the cooling system with thermocure and distilled water. Should be something to see what comes out

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  • 4 months later...

Hey everyone!!! Definitely has been awhile, just a little update on what's been going on with the Oldsmobile! Not much but it's something. 

 

So long story short. It seem that the coolant flush I tried doing had little to no effect on getting the crud out the block...But that's fine since I'm pulling the motor and transmission out anyway. I did find a little nasty surprise hiding under the valve covers and what this motor has been through and I'm genuinely surprised that the valves has not been cooked!PXL_20210314_171702961.thumb.jpg.9f71a1c61758b837fe475ecba6dc388a.jpg

 This is the passenger side and it's literally bone dry!!! What you see is just baked on crud. I know for a fact I'll have to pull the steel plugs out of the rocker shafts to clean them out!PXL_20210314_171952556.thumb.jpg.9220cd2ff4a8c1646c73968b4ac8c1e8.jpg

and that's an unholy amount of junk just sitting there!!

 

 

The driver side is no better but even though that side seems to be getting oil (to some degree) the drain back holes are completely clogged! PXL_20210314_185724061.thumb.jpg.16c07f539f2024983021fba30d0f3b7a.jpg

 

This is how the motor looka as off right now. I'm going with an aluminum radiator since the cost of a recore is way beyond my budget so I'm just going to sit the original to the side and maybe sell it as a core to someone one day or maybe recore it and reinstall.

 

I'll eventually update you guys and gals on how the lifter valley looks once I take the manifold and the valley pan out...it's probably going to look worse down there!

 

 

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It’s amazing what a block looks like after coming back from a good machine shop. Most can be brought back to almost new. I had to send a 30’ chevy 194ci six to the machine shop because the owner had rebuilt it about 12-15years ago and he would start it occasionally thinking he was doing it good. All it did was pull tons of moisture into the interior of the motor and rusted everything right down to the lifters. There was an inch and a half of sludge in the pan and this was actually a fresh motor! The motor is currently at the machine shop and they have managed to save most of the prior machine work including the bores. Don’t lose faith on yours.

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23 hours ago, Seedee said:

The driver side is no better but even though that side seems to be getting oil (to some degree) the drain back holes are completely clogged!

Just some critical info on the somewhat unusual rocker oiling system on these early Olds Rockets...

 

When you remove the rocker shaft assembly from each head, you will see that the oil comes through one small hole under just one rocker stand.  The oil comes up through that small hole in the head, then lines up with another small hole in the engine block.  The hole through the head gasket is an offset passage and sometimes sludge blocks completly right at the head gasket area.

 

Now the odd thing:  The oil that gets to the rockers starts at one cam journal per side.  The cam journal has a cross-drilled hole that only lines up when the cam gets in that position.  It acts like a "timed" oil control, only getting oil when the holes line up as the cam turns to the right spot.  >>>SO, if you were to spin the oil pump with the cam not turning, oil will never come up to the rockers like it would with most other brands of engines. 

 

Many people get fooled by this system when trying to "pre-oil" a motor that is not turning over, and they can't get oil showing at the rockers by just spinning the oil pump.  That's because the holes through the cam are not aligned with the hole in the block.

 

If you had the cam removed, you will see that just 2 of the cam bearing journals have a cross drilled oil hole.  One is for the right head and other is for the left head oiling.

 

From 49 through the later 50s, Olds kept changing the oil passages in the actual rocker itself, and also the oil groove on the rocker shaft under each rocker.  The engineers were trying to cure poor rocker oiling in those years.  Everything needs to be checked and cleaned to have the system work.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

As promised! I return with some more photos! And boy, these do not disappoint! 

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First up, intake manifold is off! Unfortunately the copper pipe that runs from the intake manifold to the water pump broke...my usual sources to get hard to find parts turned up nothing but fabricating a new one should be nice and easy. I opened up the blank off plates up top and what was hiding under kinda gives me a big indicator on how bad the water jackets are...PXL_20210329_164455348.thumb.jpg.f807a3d8ea0607d6ddc9d86056e96d9a.jpgPXL_20210329_164417345.thumb.jpg.19b8fdd9aac49950408b0f9e3598ed1b.jpg mmmm....lovely!

 

The intake manifold gaskets are very interesting to me, I've never seen this but perhaps someone can chime inPXL_20210329_164918519.thumb.jpg.66bef6ee92bea8d6b19d02fb4ebc26c1.jpgPXL_20210329_164937469.thumb.jpg.ad68d48358a65e8b0ac7956d4ada0c2e.jpg

So what it looks like to me is two copper plates with what I'm assuming an asbestos core? At least the part number is plainly visible perhaps someone can find out if this is original or not, so far it looks like no one has opened up the engine...PXL_20210329_165145106.thumb.jpg.66403fb7853e77b8354987960aaefd1a.jpg

 

Next up....the valley cover!PXL_20210329_170203997.thumb.jpg.4878fb44e4c5642c9211d9ba4011aa49.jpg

 

Seems like 70 years of grime to me though some odd stuff hiding up in the far corner of the distributor shaftPXL_20210329_170217936.thumb.jpg.6b02acaf32fe5e1a0106d8fc2dd5f7b5.jpg

The valley cover gasket has basically disintegrated so I'll safely assume that pile is what's left of it...PXL_20210329_170305990.thumb.jpg.fef836dd1ead6302a82d85d0694b4a2a.jpgPXL_20210329_170258591.thumb.jpg.dfc901568adcf49a37bd6e5ecfe65bf0.jpg

 

the lifters look like their pretty much toast and I'm also worries about the camshaft lobes...to me it looks like the lifters have ate through the material. Or is it just rust/varnish?? I know a definitive answer won't be known under it's pulled out but what do you think.

 

 

That's about it for now and probably will be on another small hiatus.

 

Next up on the list will be disconnecting the driveshaft from the transmission and drain/fill the rear axle with some fresh fluids.

Edited by Seedee (see edit history)
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On 3/29/2021 at 7:19 PM, Seedee said:

At least the part number is plainly visible perhaps someone can find out if this is original or not

 

So I may have figured out at least who made the gaskets! The manufacturer was "Victor Mfg & Gasket company" I've seen some catalogs on ebay and looks like they been around from at least 1910? And was absorbed by Dana which is now Victor Reinz... I have no clue if they were the original supplier for GM though... 

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Just a photo I pulled from eBay for reference...

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Just a very quick update! Although the engine and transmission still sit inside the car. (And probably will for the foreseeable future until I gain some more floorspace to work on the engine!) I've just began to collect a mixture of NORS parts and new parts while at the same time trying not to go overboard since an engine teardown and rebuild may pull up some unexpected things! 

 

I must say however I did find a supplier that seems to have a main store on eBay and have the same parts that egge has but far better prices. Their name is falcon global and out of TN if you want to check them out I just bought a new camshaft and I'm very pleased with how it looks! I'll snag some pictures later when I have the chance to!

 

 

Edited by Seedee (see edit history)
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On 5/8/2021 at 9:20 AM, Seedee said:

Their name is falcon global and out of TN if you want to check them out I just bought a new camshaft and I'm very pleased with how it looks! I'll snag some pictures later when I have the chance to!

Interesting! I got most of the insides for my '36 Dodge D2 engine rebuild from Falcon. Very reasonable prices and prompt delivery. They seem to have a really broad base of engine parts in their inventory. They're worth a look. They saved me a bundle!

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