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Looking to take the leap to a pre 1920's Buick


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Never owned a car older then 1931, presently a 1931 Franklin and a 1931 Plymouth, and have caught the bug to own a car that is at least 100 years old. Looking at Buicks from the 1916-1919 time frame.  I find the motors in these cars most interesting. The exposed valve train in particular. In peoples opinion (That I hope doesn't start a war), can a couple much more experienced and educated owners of these years Buicks give a guy some helpful advice on what to look for and what to avoid in these years? What has my keen interest is a 1918 Buick 45.

 

Thanks in advance. Not new to Buicks as I have a 49 Roadmaster, just new to anything pre 1930

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5 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

Can't go wrong with a 1918 model 45. Great model!

The exposed valve train I find interesting and curious to the maintenance needed. I know on my 31 Franklin you have to manually oil the felt pads in the valve cages around every 300 miles to be safe. Is there something like this that needs done here ? 

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The best Buick engine back then was the 242. Parts are easy to find and it's a reliable work horse of 60 HP, the highest Buick ever produced at the time, and they used the engine for many years. But it went to covered valve train in 1919 so for exposed valve train you pretty much have no choice but the 1918 or the mysterious and controversial, uh, .......not going to say it.

 

Year (hyzercreek.com)

 

There

 

 

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I bought a 1917 D45 several years ago.  I love driving the car and people like seeing the valvetrain in action.  Some issues that seem to be common with the teens Buicks; I had to replace the differential gears as I found metal chips when I changed fluids;  The band brakes can be problematic.  Getting the outer bands to fit properly takes some real patience.  The cone clutch may need attention if it hasn't been well cared for.  I had to rebuild the carb, nytrile float, and a good cleaning and it works well.  Lots of grease cup lubrication points all over the car.  I dropped the pan and reshimmed the bearings and cleaned the oil pump and oil distribution tube.  this is not a difficult job.  Take a good look at the wiring.  I replaced most but it is a simple system.  

There are a fair number of these teens Buicks and a lot of very helpful people to answer questions.  Parts are moderately available for the consumables.  Other than that, they are about the same challenges that you would find with the 30's Buicks.

 

Bob Engle 

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I have had my E-45 since 1967 and it has been a great car. Very reliable.

As far as the exposed valve gear goes, it really is no issue. You just have to oil it every 100 miles and the "lube system" is stored right on the firewall. I havnt worn it out yet.

With everything in the open like that and the valves in easily removed cages, re-lapping the valves is a piece of cake.

The E-45 has a 5 plate multidisc clutch that is as smooth as glass and a soft touch.

Also, folks seeing the engine run are fascinated by it. No mystery about what is going on.

One killer is the wrist pin retaining bolts can come out, that resulting in scored cylinders (mine had 3 whan I got it).

 

Don

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As Don said, you will be under the hood about every 100 miles with the oil can.  Make it a point to stay off the dirt roads with one of these engines because they slobber, ooze, drip, and leak oil from various points.  They will become a dust and dirt magnet in time.  Don is right, folks are intrigued by the open valve action.  If you are lucky enough to get hold of one, take care of it and you will have more fun than you can ever imagine.  Those engines were a design marvel.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

AACA Life Member #947918

Edited by Terry Wiegand
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Buick’s are always good cars. I would also look into chassis length, tire size, body style...........people are larger today and a bigger chassis always provides more comfort. There are a lot of interesting cars to consider. Some are more challenging than others. Buy the biggest displacement you can afford.........there is no substitute for displacement and horse power. With prices being soft, if you take your time a premium brand can be bought for similar money to a Buick. Cadillac comes to mind.....as does Studebaker, and a bunch of others. Also, buy the best condition car you can find......take your time, today everything gets expensive quickly. Tire tubes and tires can be very expensive if you get a car with oddball size tires. Buy a car you can take for a fifty mile drive in the summer heat uphill..........overheating issues can be simple or difficult......you never know till you dig into it. Also, join the clubs of cars that interest you.......and ATTEND a meet. You can get lots of rides and often times get to drive a car. At the Pierce meet last month a first time attendee and new member came because he wanted to buy a Pierce, his grandfather worked at the factory. He was interested in 20’s cars due to price considerations...........he ended up buying our car we had with us after touring with us for three days. It was a 1934. The quickly realized that it was a better fit for him. There are a bunch of off brand stuff like Chandler, Stearns, Oakland, Olds......the list is endless. 1916-1918 cars in the mid range price field are not particularly sought after and you can usually find something interesting. Read the thread on my 1917 White.........it’s 72 horsepower and a four speed........and HUGE. More challenging than others, but also more rewarding. It comfortably cruises at 50 mph.  And has more to spare. Advertise in HCCA as many members have cars they don’t use and want to get into good hands. CCCA as well. I’m on my second White in 9 months, and looking at number three. Think out of the box.......and take a leap. Kevin got into Cole V-8’s and now has a handful. Fantastic cars and unusual. Look around and expand your horizons...........Ed

 

One last thought.......1917 or earlier is pre war.........WWI, which is a different feel and era than a 1920-1922 car.


 

 

 

 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Don is correct on this point. My 1925 Buick Standard touring is a bit tight for my 200lbs in the front seat. The leg to braking action is a bit awkward. But my 1925 Master touring to me is a perfect comfortable fit.

 On the open cars the seats do not move.

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3 hours ago, DonMicheletti said:

Pay attention to the "size issue". The distance betweein the steering wheel and seat could be a big issue if you are a "big" person. This can be true even with big cars.

I should send a pic of getting into a 31 Plymouth PA.  I know what your saying. The much bigger 31 Franklin is even a little bit or torture climbing around the emergency brake lever. What was the biggest 1918 Buick?  Have seen seen a few nice Maxwells and Hudsons as well. Open car preferred.  Still kick myself for not jumping on the 26 open Franklin a few years back

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20’s open Franklins are not hard to source. They trade hands in a tight group. Join the club, go to the Trec, you will find a car.

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I have two of them...........Here is a link to what's involved with getting a barn find ready to drive....if you're lucky. It's a long read, but worth while. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1917 white factory photo 1.jpeg

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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One of the more robust makes of cars I considered before the Buick was a Hudson. I had to pass on a 1915 Hudson 6-40 7 passenger touring for sale at the Hershey show about 15 years ago as it was a bit out of my budget at the time. It looked to be an older well done restoration and a well sorted driver from an estate @ $10,500. It sold to a broker on the last day who then had it for sale at 2X the previous price.

 Before I got my 1925-25 Buick(driver Buick) we had looked at a number of other Buicks. Our requirement was that it was a driveable car. It turned out all except the 1923-49 needed much sorting to be driveable. Including my 1925-25.

Our gallery below. So it looks like we checked out 10 cars before we pulled the trigger.

A 1914 B-37 touring (a fairly roomy and comfortable driving car). But was much in need. Upholstery, wheels and then after our test drive the bottom of the radiator opened up like a waterfall!

BuickRighFrontCorner.JPG.2cdec679170363c40e10f16d94020643.JPG  Upholstery.JPG.b641264acfc1bb0dc91205a001dbd551.JPG

A 1920 K-45. The owner insisted it was a 1919. The ID plate said K-45. It ran out great but had 50 year old Wards Riverside tires. Again very roomy but went to Germany.

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A pair of 1917 4 cylinder cars from Tom Black a touring and a cut down pick up.

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1922 Sport roadster from VOLO museum/dealership.

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1923 Sport roadster. It was to be able to be driven. After a trip to Vermont to trailer home it would not even start. No drive .. no deal.

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 1923 Model 49 7 passenger also from Tom Black. The one I should have bought.1438547217_TB23-49-1.jpg.9e9ea3556c2e7f7d129de4b5d116f2c3.jpg

1924-45 at 2010 auction.    Locked up engine.   Later resold for at another auction 1/2 the 2010 auction price.                        

DSCF0647.JPG.880b7e0f107ca6fae02ad72fe5e5d651.JPG  1469774761_fi141.jpg.30c4b3a36992b84e7d6fdf1d5427511d.jpg

1913-31 at the same auction.

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1927-54 Sport Roadster.  Also a 1927-24 Roadster from The Owls Head Museum.

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Edited by dibarlaw
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I think a teens Buick would be a good choice for an earlier car. They are very good cars for the money, for what some people pay for a Ford of the same vintage you can get a Buick with three times the power and a far more substantial road presence. I looked very hard at a 1919 H45 near me for several years. It was noticeably bigger than my '13 model 31, and was much more modern in many aspects. The larger six cylinder engine would also keep up with traffic a little better whenever I would venture into town. Unfortunately the owner's widow could not be convinced that a "fair" condition original car that had not been run in 50 years was not worth exactly as much (or more) than fully restored and running cars were. 

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On 7/13/2021 at 5:25 PM, dibarlaw said:

Don is correct on this point. My 1925 Buick Standard touring is a bit tight for my 200lbs in the front seat. The leg to braking action is a bit awkward. But my 1925 Master touring to me is a perfect comfortable fit.

 On the open cars the seats do not move.

Larry, the front seat on my 25-45 Mclaughlin Buick is adjustable as well as the steering column.  Leon

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Well Leon... You have a McLaughlin not a regular run of the Flint Mill BUICK. Everything on the Mclaughlins were a cut above regular production Buicks. I am suprised that yours does have these features though. It would be interesting for our edification how these opreations are accomplished.

 I guess I stlill have to lose 20 lbs.

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Hi Larry, The seat has a mechanism that can be released by a lever under  the passenger side.  There are sliding mechanisms in both pass and driver side to release the upper seat portion.  The steering column has an adjustable bracket. Clear as mud?? 

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If I can still fit behind the wheel of the 31 Plymouth PA I am pretty sure I can fit in an early Buick.  My first 30's car was the 31 Franklin and I was driving the 49 Buick Roadmaster a lot prior and I thought the Franklin was a little smaller.  Then I got behind the wheel of the Plymouth and it was like going to a smart car.

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Thank you Leon.

 Interesting set up. I know with the Flint 1925 Buick Group # 6.518  just the steering column jacket has 7 different lengths depending on application. Which entailed the same compliment of internals special for each one. Could have been that the adjustible column could have eliminated all those special lengths with one design. Those Buick engineers needed job security.

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On 7/13/2021 at 5:53 PM, edinmass said:

\ Kevin got into Cole V-8’s and now has a handful. Fantastic cars and unusual. Look around and expand your horizons...........Ed

Ed is spot on with his advice.  Quality, displacement, stopping power, and size are what you should look at.  Cole checked all of these for me and only the Cunningham has a bigger displacement V8 engine.  Even though Cole is very rare, their engineering and who they used for components was forward thinking so they are easier to work on than you might expect.  I also used to be over 300 pounds and had no problem fitting behind the steering wheel and driving one.  Of course, finding one for sale and at a decent price is not an easy job as they rarely go up for public sale.  Here is my 1920 Cole Aero 8 7 Person Touring.  

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Was looking at a 1922 Maxwell on Hemmings. The seller gave a good history of the company and even said that post 1921 cars were of not good quality and that when Chrysler bought the company and sold the remaining cars with a full warranty to fix any quality issues.  Didn't you have some Maxwell's as well Kevin ?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/13/2021 at 9:57 PM, Brooklyn Beer said:

I should send a pic of getting into a 31 Plymouth PA.  I know what your saying. The much bigger 31 Franklin is even a little bit or torture climbing around the emergency brake lever. What was the biggest 1918 Buick?  Have seen seen a few nice Maxwells and Hudsons as well. Open car preferred.  Still kick myself for not jumping on the 26 open Franklin a few years back

Just got back from the Trek. There was a 1926 touring car for sale in Pa. on the board . I can post more info if you want . 

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On 7/21/2021 at 6:47 PM, kfle said:

Ed is spot on with his advice.  Quality, displacement, stopping power, and size are what you should look at.  Cole checked all of these for me and only the Cunningham has a bigger displacement V8 engine.  Even though Cole is very rare, their engineering and who they used for components was forward thinking so they are easier to work on than you might expect.  I also used to be over 300 pounds and had no problem fitting behind the steering wheel and driving one.  Of course, finding one for sale and at a decent price is not an easy job as they rarely go up for public sale.  Here is my 1920 Cole Aero 8 7 Person Touring.  

cole2.jpg

A friend has a Cole in North New Jersey . Rare cars . 

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31 minutes ago, Laura S said:

Just got back from the Trek. There was a 1926 touring car for sale in Pa. on the board . I can post more info if you want . 

Thank you Laura but I am looking for pre 1920's.   Cole looks like a very interesting car. Definitely looks and sit higher. A more robust look to it. I was surprised how big those early Locomobiles, etc are when compared too a model T. The size of the average person back then looked dwarfed in these larger cars

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