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Me and my 1962 Buick Skylark


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Hello! My name is Daniel, I live in Los Angeles and recently purchased a '62 Skylark that has spent its entire life in SoCal. This is my first Buick and I am in love! Under the hood is a 215 aluminum V8 with a 4 barrel carb. My projects for the car include:

  • Investigate engine compression loss issue
  • New exhaust manifold, y pack, and muffler
  • Replace parking pawl - seems to be slipping. 

If anyone has any suggestions for me about these things or any advice, I'm all ears! I'm excited to be here.

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Welcome, Daniel. I am in Sylmar so almost neighbors, but do not have any suggestions other than be careful when threading plugs, etc into the all aluminum engine as it isn't hard to strip threads. Great looking Skylark - I've always liked them. Enjoy.

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Super looking Skylark @Daniel87 !  Hope you can cure those ills without much effort.  The loss of compression is a major issue though.  

 

One thing to be aware of is that the 215 alumimum engine is not like previous Buick V8's. The older V8's are affectionately known as "nailheads".  Your engine is the earliest of the later V8's with a distributor and oil pump up front in the timing chain cover.  And since the timing chain cover is aluminum while the manufacturer used steel bolts, in many cases you will find bolts are hopelessly stuck where they may pass through to the water passages of the coolant system.  Be careful in disassembly.  Be careful with heat if a bolt is stuck.  Aluminum will melt at a much lower temperature than steel.  And good luck with the compression loss. 

 

I would like to hear more about that compression loss diagnosis though. 

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Hi John, thank you for this advice, this is really helpful! I’m most worried about the compression loss. A mechanic brought the issue up to me after using a leak detector fluid kit. He gave me an estimate of ~$9k to take the engine apart and find out what’s wrong. I couldn’t afford that and would like to do as much of the work myself over time if I can, although I’m pretty green. To start I purchased an engine compression tester to see which cylinders have compression loss. I’m hoping maybe the test the mechanic performed represented a leak in the exhaust or intake manifold and the fix is simpler. But I won’t know until further testing I suppose! 🙂

 

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1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

Super looking Skylark @Daniel87 !  Hope you can cure those ills without much effort.  The loss of compression is a major issue though.  

 

One thing to be aware of is that the 215 alumimum engine is not like previous Buick V8's. The older V8's are affectionately known as "nailheads".  Your engine is the earliest of the later V8's with a distributor and oil pump up front in the timing chain cover.  And since the timing chain cover is aluminum while the manufacturer used steel bolts, in many cases you will find bolts are hopelessly stuck where they may pass through to the water passages of the coolant system.  Be careful in disassembly.  Be careful with heat if a bolt is stuck.  Aluminum will melt at a much lower temperature than steel.  And good luck with the compression loss. 

 

I would like to hear more about that compression loss diagnosis though. 

Hi John, thank you for this advice, this is really helpful! I’m most worried about the compression loss. A mechanic brought the issue up to me after using a leak detector fluid kit. He gave me an estimate of ~$9k to take the engine apart and find out what’s wrong. I couldn’t afford that and would like to do as much of the work myself over time if I can, although I’m pretty green. To start I purchased an engine compression tester to see which cylinders have compression loss. I’m hoping maybe the test the mechanic performed represented a leak in the exhaust or intake manifold and the fix is simpler. But I won’t know until further testing I suppose! 🙂

 

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9 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

Super looking Skylark @Daniel87 !  Hope you can cure those ills without much effort.  The loss of compression is a major issue though.  

 

One thing to be aware of is that the 215 alumimum engine is not like previous Buick V8's. The older V8's are affectionately known as "nailheads".  Your engine is the earliest of the later V8's with a distributor and oil pump up front in the timing chain cover.  And since the timing chain cover is aluminum while the manufacturer used steel bolts, in many cases you will find bolts are hopelessly stuck where they may pass through to the water passages of the coolant system.  Be careful in disassembly.  Be careful with heat if a bolt is stuck.  Aluminum will melt at a much lower temperature than steel.  And good luck with the compression loss. 

 

I would like to hear more about that compression loss diagnosis though. 

What John said about the timing chain cover. I went through that hassle with my '64 Skylark. Lots of penetrating solutions and lots of time. Despite the care I took I still sheared off two bolt heads in the cover, and even then the cover wouldn't slide off the studs. I was determined not to destroy the timing cover so I soaked the hell out of the studs over a ten day period and gently worked the cover off.

 

As to your mechanic's estimate for tearing down the engine and finding out what's wrong, I maybe living back in the '80s but for $9k I'd expect more than a diagnosis. I'd expect a complete rebuild. To paraphrase King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I'd ask your mechanic "Is there anyone else up there we can talk to?"

 

Very nice car BTW. Looking forward to eventually hearing a success story about it.

Edited by Machine Gun (see edit history)
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9 K,  I just spent less then that totally rebuilding a Buick Nailhead.  I think the mechanic sees money in your eyes.

How can he be sure of lack of compression using a leak detection kit ?  That, to me doesn't make sense.

How does the car run ?

 

I see you bought a compression checker.  Do you know how to use it and what you are looking for ?

 

How handy are you with tools ?  You do more then you think you can with suggestions and help from folks on this forum.

For example, I alway pull all the plugs out and take a look at them.  they should be a light tan color if all is running right.

Lay your plugs out so they  represent your firing order so your not guessing when you put out back in.

Disconnect your coil wire to prevent sparks.

 

After carefully threading in the compression checker turn the engine over 4 - 5 times with the throttle open.  Record the value.

Repeat for the next 7 cylinders.

 

The values should be within 10 % of each other.  But say you have one that is down.  For example most of mine were in the 140 - 160 range but I had 1 that was in the mid 80s.

I took a couple of shots of oil and shot it in the cylinder and tried again.  Compression came up to 170 or so.  That gave me a good indication that the rings were nor sealing properly.

If it hadn't jumped up, I would suspect the valves. 

 

A more scientific way is with a leak down tester but unless something is cracked, I see no way your mechanic would know you have a compression issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Daniel87  

Based on our PM's I would think the community would have a lot more to offer than just myself.  May I suggest you post a little bio information regarding your level of mechanical skill and experience with the collector car hobby, and a list of things you would like to address with your car.  As always, a picture or two can help people see what causes you any concerns, and may lead to other interesting discoveries about your Beautiful Buick.

 

John D 

 

 

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9 hours ago, sebastienbuick said:

Very beautiful Buick and the interior is magnificent! ;)
I was on vacation in Los Angeles in 2018 and I saw this Buick Electra in bad condition :( , have you ever seen it in Los Angeles? 

 

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You could fix it 🙂

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