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1938 Buick Special 2 dr sdn (gray car)


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After a wait of over three weeks my incredible 38 Buick showed up on Thursday. Buying this car was a very big leap or faith in human nature. I found the car in an ad in Hemmings, it was located in the Denver area. I called the man that listed the car, had a very nice conversation with him about the car. The seller answered all of my questions with straight forward answers, then followed up with pictures of any areas of the car that I asked about.

Common sense told me to go to Denver and look at the car, however, with the Covid thing getting out of hand, I decided to jump on the car. A deal was made, I sent a cashiers check for payment and contacted Intercity Lines to have the car transported to Ventura, CA.

Rather than writing up a lengthy description of the car, I'll attach some pix of several area of the car, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

38 Buick spl 11-11-20. 1. jpg.jpg

38 Buick Spl ext L. 3.jpg

38 Buick Spl ext R. 5. jpg.jpg

38 Buick Spl dash. 12. jpg.jpg

38 Buick Spl frnt. 11. jpg.jpg

38 Buick Spl Rr set. 9. jpg.jpg

38 Buick Spl ext fshr. 13.jpg

38 Buick Spl glv bx. 15. pg.jpg

38 Buick Spl Lt trnk. 14. jpg.jpg

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What a beauty!

Congratulations.

Buying a car sight unseen is always a nail biter, but it worked out well for you.

Please keep us up to date with pics from your many adventures with the car. 

 

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Congratulations on your purchase. Thanks so much for posting these photos of your car! It looks to be about the same color that is to be on my 1937. (Hampton Gray) As noted in another post the trunk lining appears to be the same as what is in my 37. A burlap textured material with the bound edges.

 Many happy miles!

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I have spent the past four days since the car arrived doing an extensive survey of the car. This car is not my first rodeo, been messing with cars since I was fourteen, most Chevy's and Fords with a '39 Plym and a '40 Buick Super thrown into the mix for because they became available.
As I have stated earlier, it has been claimed that the car was owned by the first owner for forty years, the second for forty years and the last for a little over two. I can find nothing to dispute the claim (s) that the paint, upholstery, chrome, etc., is original. All of the glass has the Guide bug in the lower corners as it should be if it's original glass, a couple of pieces, both vent windows and the two rear windows are showing signs of clouding from age. Except for the door window sills which show signs of a lot of arm resting there-on, the rest of the wood-graining is in excellent condition. The tab for the rear window blind is over the rear window, however the rollup blind is gone.

Checking the under-carriage of the car I noted a couple of wheels with signs of brake fluid leaking, running down the tire. The former owner mentioned this condition to me. I also noted that the motor mounts are in the process of failing from age, the rubber has separated from the mount. I saw no signs of rust-out, some road grime, but all in all nothing of any importance that a good cleaning would take care of. I did note, the the rear shocks have been changed to a pair of Monroe's.
Having had experience with low mileage old cars, I am going to pull all of the wheels/drums to do a complete brake job and service all of the wheel bearing/seals. I am not to sure if I should try to buy new wheel cylinders, or should I attempt to rebuild the ones on the car... Any suggestions ?

Bill

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If your current wheel cylinders look ok when you disassemble them, then I would just rebuild them.  If they don’t (like if the bores are pitted or if the cups are chipped) then new ones would be wise.

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I have found new wheel cylinders available locally and sleeved master cylinders on an exchange basis. The vendor even has rebuilt motor mounts on the shelf on an exchange basis... The availability of parts locally will speed up the repair process.
In the back of my mind I still recall the principle of doing things right the first time, that was preached to us by the instructors,  when I went through mechanics school in the early '50's.

Through the course of reviewing the the '38 I noted that some of the wiring in the engine compartment, mainly on the voltage regulator, has some problems with the insulation near the connectors to the terminals. One of them has old friction tape wrapped around the wire. The wiring loom looks very good with no apparent problems with the cloth covering. So far I have thought that if I could get the terminal off of the wire, I could put heat shrink over the exposed wire, extending over the cloth insulation, re-install the terminal to the wire and slide the heat shrink over the terminal/wire collar.
Another thought was to cut the wire an inch or so from the terminal, slide heat shrink tube over the wire, reconnect the wire with a small butt connector, then slide the heat shrink over the wire, butt connector and terminal. 

Now that I think about the solution to the problem, I kinda like the butt connector/heat shrink, in lieu of disturbing the original terminal connection to the wire... Appears to be crimped and soldiered.

Bill

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23 hours ago, Wmsteed said:

Another thought was to cut the wire an inch or so from the terminal, slide heat shrink tube over the wire, reconnect the wire with a small butt connector, then slide the heat shrink over the wire, butt connector and terminal. 

Now that I think about the solution to the problem, I kinda like the butt connector/heat shrink, in lieu of disturbing the original terminal connection to the wire... Appears to be crimped and soldiered.

 

If I were you, I would forget about adding the butt connector.  I think it just introduces another possible failure point.  I would either cut the wire as you propose and directly solder it back together after sliding some heat shrink into the wire farther upstream that you can then slide into place.  Or just cut the terminal off and solder on a new one, again using heat shrink.  You can buy all the old school style terminals and wire you need from a place like Rhode Island Wire Services.

 

https://www.riwire.com/

 

 

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Thank you Mark & Niel for the suggestions and product info.
I am a little reluctant to cut the terminals off of the wire, might cause a problem loosing a half inch of wire. At this point I think I will try to salvage the original terminals, put heat shrink on the wire and re-attach the terminal. I'll make sure I have a hand full of replacement offset terminals just in case the original ones are not re-useble. I like the heat shrink better than liquid because it would impart an original look to the wire. The one previous repair using friction tape is pretty lame looking.
I had the previous owner send me pictures of the cloth covered wiring and looms. All of the pictures showed the wiring covering's/looms to be in very good shape, of course a picture was not taken of the wiring to the voltage regulator.. An oversight, Hmmmm
I recently looked at a '40 Buick Super that is for sale locally, nice new two tone green paint, chrome in pretty good condition. Asking price $20.K... The interior was pretty bad, car could not be started because the wiring through out the car was a mess, needing a complete new harness. Of course the seller claimed that a little tape here and there would solve the problem..
Definately a case of putting a little lip stick on the old girl and putting her out on the curb.

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You're welcome, Bill.  My Royal Maroon '41 Super 4-door came from Ventura -- I wonder if you ever saw it around?  It was owned by a fireman from about 2000 to 2015; I don't know what part of town he lived in.

 

I agree about the '40 you describe.  It seems odd to go to the expense of a paint job -- a very high ticket item if it's done right -- and leave everything else in such bad shape.

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Hi Bill, congratulations on your new ‘38. Looks a nice original vehicle, love the glove box sticker, never new they had them. Was lucky with my ‘38 that a new wiring harness was in the boot when I got it. As much as it was a bit of enjoyable work, I’m very happy it is now installed. That 80 year old wiring was falling apart everywhere under the bonnet. And six volts can be a real hazard when it shorts out. Ask me how I know 🤔🤔🤔

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On 11/18/2020 at 12:57 PM, neil morse said:

You're welcome, Bill.  My Royal Maroon '41 Super 4-door came from Ventura -- I wonder if you ever saw it around?  It was owned by a fireman from about 2000 to 2015; I don't know what part of town he lived in.

 

I agree about the '40 you describe.  It seems odd to go to the expense of a paint job -- a very high ticket item if it's done right -- and leave everything else in such bad shape.

Niel, Can't say I ever saw your '41 Super around town. Several years ago there was a maroon '41 Sedanet that an owner of a body shop had. I came close to buying a Maroon 41 Century Sedanet in Idaho several years ago. Two things stopped me, it did not have the compound carbs and the twin spotlights were dummies.. At the time I had a complete compound carb setup for the Special, Super 248 engine. I wish I had kept the carp setup, it would have looked pretty neat on my '38.. I came close to buying a '38 Century coupe in Idaho over ten years ago that had the compound carbs on the 320 engine.

Bill41_Buick_front3qtr-1.thumb.JPG.fe7469d3eebade4f8285158b3a5edf32.JPG

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The survey of my '38 is complete. The car needs a complete brake job and it needs new engine/trans mounts.. I have found a source for all of the parts, however, there is a core charge/or exchange required for most of the brake parts. I have been a little reluctant to take the car apart, then wait for the new parts to arrive so that the re-assembly can move forward. My problem was solved on Thursday:

I am in the process of relocating my Hobby Shop into a larger location, in the process I came upon a large crate of '40 Buick parts that I forgot I had. The parts came from a '40 Buick coupe that I acquired several years ago. We sold the car to a man in New Zealand, He only wanted the body, no mechanicle's.
We sectioned the body into four pieces, palletized the body and sent it to New Zealand. I cut up the chassis, putting all of the pieces into a large packing crate. Low and behold I have all of the brake cores on hand, drums, shoes, etc.
I know that there can be some difference between the '38/40 brake parts. if the coupe was a Century in lieu of being a Special, maybe I'll be lucky. 

Bill

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Before you send the 1940 parts in, you may want to be sure they are the same. I don't think they are. Not sure where you are getting your brake parts from but you may want to try Cars, Inc. https://www.oldbuickparts.com/index.php?cPath=35_64_180. I don't recall a core charge on any of my 1938 Century brake parts, but maybe I missed it. In any case, you don't need to send them your parts up front. You can order them and then if there are core charges, you can send in the old parts after you complete the job for a core charge refund. 

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