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1953 Special Project


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Hello, Kevin here. 

 

Some of you might remember me and my car from a topic I made a while ago about my first classic car and fixing it up. Last year I fixed it up just enough to drive it to the Springfield IL Route 66 car show. After the show, I drove it to my house, and there it's sat since then. Same thing with my topic, unfortunately.

 

Sorry I haven't given an update, I wasn't working on the car and sort of forgot about the forum. I missed this forum and all the knowledge everyone has to share, and how friendly everyone is.  I'll put a list of everything I've done with the car so far, if anyone's interested.

 

This last Sunday I decided to start working on it again since its finally warming up here. I figured I'd investigate a water leak I noticed last year, and found out that my water pump is leaking from its weep hole. This usually means water pump replacement, unless anyone has a cheaper or better solution. Speedway Motors sells a new cast iron water pump for 50-52 straight 8's but it looks the exact same as mine. It costs 170 big ones. 

 

Second issue of mine is my radiator core support. On the very bottom, one side looks like its been hit, while the other side looks like it was used as a tow point with a hook. Its all crooked, and it causes my radiator to warp if tightened down all the way. I'm wondering if finding a replacement is as simple as calling a few junkyards and see if they have anything to match mine, I don't think there's any bending it back.

 

Third issue, all smokers windows on all 4 doors leak water around the seals. Not a huge issue, but I would like to not see daylight through them. Is this something a professional has to repair or is it easier than I think? I appreciate any suggestions.

 

Last current issue, my radiator as a ton of pinholes, but doesn't really spray out anywhere. It looks to be an original "Harrison" radiator with the correct Dynaflow coolant return line. Local radiator shop estimates $500 to recore the radiator, but they also said to try copper seal to help the leaks since they're so small. Just wondering if there are any solutions like aftermarket radiators that fit somewhat decent.

 

I missed working on the car and I miss driving it. She rides smoother than any car I've driven, a little loud but that's okay. 

 

 

Here's a list of everything I've done so far.

 

Changed oil, spark plugs, and tires. Repacked front and rear wheel bearings. Replaced left rear brake backing plate with a Roadmaster one from a junkyard, stud holes on mine were wallered out from not being tight. Disassembled and inspected rear end gears and reassembled with fresh gear oil, everything looked great. Rebuilt original brake master cylinder, works pretty good. Ran all new nycopp brake lines, replaced all rubber lines, wheel cylinders, shoes, and hardware. Removed, disassembled and cleaned top end lifter assembly. Inspected hydraulic lifters, pushrods, rockers, rocker shaft and pedestals, lifters looked great but spent half a day cleaning every single oil hole in the rockers and rocker shaft, no more clatter! Replaced valve cover and lifter cover gasket with cutouts I made from thick gasket material roll. No more cork!

 

Everything that I know needs done. 

 

Engine needs gone through. Dead miss in #1 cylinder, no compression whatsoever. Probably needs new piston rings and cylinders honed since she smokes like a chimney. Fuel tank needs cleaned out, I made the expert decision to fill it with gas before cleaning it out so now mouse and wasp nests clog the fuel line every 5 minutes. Needs new plug wires since every one is different and none of them really fit the plugs, I'm just too lazy to take the time and actually make the wires with the kit I have. Big rust on the front floor boards needs repaired.

 

If you made it this far, Congratulations! Here's a cookie 🍪

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Too lazy? It sounds like you have made a lot of progress! I haven’t made any, with the exception of figuring out that I need to remove and clean the rocker assembly and replace a pushrod. Check out Bob’s Automobilia. I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from him, including the same water pump. He’s great to deal with and ships fast. I don’t know what plans you have for the car, but if you aren’t welding competent you could fiberglass the front pans and get inexpensive useable floors. Let us see more pics of the car. 

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The water pump can be rebilt. Probably cheaper than replacing. Terrill Machinery in DeLeon Tx did mine. I bet there is someone closer. Recoring the radiator will be one of the smartest things you will ever do.  She is not just leaking, she is probably partially plugged. Been there , done that. 

 

  Ben

 

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11 hours ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

If you made it this far, Congratulations! Here's a cookie

For us, getting "this far" was easy.  For you, it obviously took some time.  Congratulations to you!  This is a great job and I, for one, am glad to see you are back to working on her.  Hope you will keep it up and keep it going.  

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Thank you guys for the help.

 

I'll check out Bob's Automobilia, and on second thought, sending out the water pump might be a bit of a gamble, like for example if the impeller shaft is bent or if the impeller breaks, but I'll consider my options

 

Recoring the radiator is a good idea, it's just so expensive haha. I never had an overheating issue so we'll see. Another thing on the list is replace every rubber coolant hose, I'm surprised most of them aren't crumbling apart though.

 

I really want to get it in good running and driving condition this year, and make good use of the tires I got for it. Here's some more pictures.

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That's a sweet car! Interior looks pretty nice and the exterior has some cool patina. Its awesome that you got to drive it around some, keeps you motivated to fix it and drive it more.

 

Regarding the dead miss did you do a compression test? How are all the other cylinders? It may be possible that if the engine was sitting for some time the rings are stuck in cylinder one. What color is the smoke? Could be unburnt fuel from #1 cylinder. Would probably be worth borrowing a boroscope to look in the cylinder to see if the cylinder is scored from a broken ring or something. IMO worth diagnosing the problem before tearing the engine apart.  Just my thoughts, I'm sure others have more experience and will also be able to help.

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Thank you Edwin, I get a lot of compliments and people talking to me about it.

 

I did the old style compression test with my finger over the open spark plug hole, all other cylinders feel really good on compression until you get to #1, not even a puff of air, so it's got to be going somewhere other than down the cylinder wall through a broken ring. I'm thinking it's something like a bent valve.

 

The smoke is definitely blue from blowby, coming from the oil filler and crank vent. I've sprayed PB Blaster down all the spark plug holes, but I think I'll do it again either with PB or ATF, load it up and let it sit for a while.

 

Even if I could get all the cylinders firing even, it would probably still need some engine work judging by how much oil and grease is caked on the sides, also judging by the age.

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I would recommend getting or making a leakdown tester to pinpoint where the compression is going. It's basically an air hose that screws into the spark plug hole and blows compressed air into the cylinder. With the cylinder at TDC you turn the air on and listen to where it leaks out from. A stethoscope, long piece of hose, or screwdriver is good for listening to your engine! If you hear the air coming out from the crankcase vent/oil filler that's rings, carburetor will be intake valve and exhaust will be exhaust valve. Very possible it could be some combination, given the age of the engine.

 

Once you determine exactly what the problem is you'll have to make the call on how far into the engine you want to go, and if you want to take it to a machine shop or not. Have you dropped the oil pan yet? Worth taking a look and cleaning it out and seeing if it has any sludge in it. Might not be a bad idea to check the condition of the bearings to see if you'll want to replace those or not. These things can get expensive fast! Or maybe thats just my mind on the college student budget.

 

At least your engine runs though! My straight 8 is still sitting in the barn after using a sledge hammer on the pistons to remove them

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I'm no stranger to leakdown tests, been working on cars for a while, I just haven't got that far on this one. I know if I did it then I would get a good idea of what to repair.

 

I haven't dropped the oil pan yet, mainly because it looks like a pretty dirty job with a lot in the way, plus I would need to scrape off all the old gasket material while laying underneath it. Been there, not fun. The engine doesn't knock or do anything funny so I'd be more inclined to leave the bearings alone for now.

 

I got pretty lucky with mine actually running and driving, your situation sounds pretty unfortunate, sorry!

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If you want to do a quick freshen up of the exterior paint you could use CLR to remove most of the rust from the paint and making the white a bit whiter. It works fast, wear gloves. I used it on the sides of my ‘50 Chevrolet because I was tired of people calling it a green car when it was actually blue. It won’t help me on the roof or hood however because they are completely surface rusted. Best of luck with your car and keep posting your progress.

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7 hours ago, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

I'm no stranger to leakdown tests, been working on cars for a while, I just haven't got that far on this one. I know if I did it then I would get a good idea of what to repair.

 

I haven't dropped the oil pan yet, mainly because it looks like a pretty dirty job with a lot in the way, plus I would need to scrape off all the old gasket material while laying underneath it. Been there, not fun. The engine doesn't knock or do anything funny so I'd be more inclined to leave the bearings alone for now.

 

I got pretty lucky with mine actually running and driving, your situation sounds pretty unfortunate, sorry!

It'll be interesting to see what the problem is once you find it! 

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I had my radiator re-cored. It was less than a new radiator and in the end, I know that I have the correct radiator for my car. Unless your can get proper "repro" radiators, you'll end up with some kind of universal radiator and it won't be correct for the car. I'm not sure what the aftermarket is like for these year cars. For my 62 it's practically non-existent and when you do find reproductions, the quality is often times pretty suspect. 

 

By the way, cool car. That looks like a fun project. Starting with a runner is always a bonus. 

Edited by drhach (see edit history)
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You know the cylinder 1 issue could be just a stuck valve from sitting.  When I first started my car after 53 years of sitting, #8 cylinder was dead but, I took the valve cover off and tapped the exhaust valve with a rubber mallet and it came unstuck.  It ticked for a while but, now she runs like a champ.  

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I haven't even washed it yet, I know I should but I'm afraid of how much paint is going to flake off if I do.

 

I can't speak for the majority of aftermarket parts for this year, but I haven't had that much trouble finding basic maintenance items. O'Reilly's had an exact fit brake switch sitting on the shelf for 5 bucks, but then again it's probably a common classic car part.

 

About the valves, when I went through the oiling system for the valvetrain all the valves looked to be going up and down without a problem, that's why I thought it was a bent valve. I've had it running with the valve cover off and didn't see anything hanging up.

 

I'm not sure if I can do a leakdown test in the cars current location, I can't get compressed air back there and don't have an extension cord long enough to run the compressor, as if I would run an air compressor on an extension cord. It runs good enough on 7 cylinders that when I get it driving again I'll take it to work and do a leakdown, I'll let you guys know what's up with it. For now I'll just soak the cylinders with some PB.

 

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44 minutes ago, EmTee said:

Carbon and or rust deposits on the seat could also hold a valve open.  Running it may slowly improve the situation...

Hopefully it's something like that, I've only driven it for about 50 or 60 miles so far, so we'll see once I start driving it more. I know it's bad because when I took all the new spark plugs out to check how it was running, #1 still looked brand new, means it didn't even fire once on that cylinder. That's always good..

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5 hours ago, JohnD1956 said:

I don't know about running it without checking you have a full piston in there

Maybe try bringing that piston to TDC and then slowly pour oil into the sparkplug hole.  If it swallows a quart of oil and hasn't started backing up through the sparkplug hole, that piston may have a problem...  :P

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1 hour ago, EmTee said:

Maybe try bringing that piston to TDC and then slowly pour oil into the sparkplug hole.  If it swallows a quart of oil and hasn't started backing up through the sparkplug hole, that piston may have a problem...  :P

I'll definitely try that, and I'll also bring home the borescope camera this weekend

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Well the borescope camera doesn't even work, and I was too lazy to get a big wrench and turn the engine over by hand, so I guess it'll have to wait. Meanwhile I think I'll order a water pump and keep my old one, and also see about getting my radiator recored.

 

There's a lot of water lines and they all look the same, does anyone know a good way to label them all for the time being? I just have them labeled as "water pump upper hose", "trans return", etc., I'd just like to know where all of them actually go.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On the 1953 Specials the Dynaflow cooler hoses run off two nipples on the water pump.  They do not "T" into any of the heater hoses as the previous models did.   I will scan a copy of the hose routing from my 53-shop manual and try to post it here.  These use tens of feet of heater hose and a special formed elbow hose for the defroster to Ranco valve connection.

Joe, BCA 33493

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Joe, I think I figured out where all the hoses go today.

 

I spent most of the day working on it today. Replaced water pump with a new (rebuilt?) water pump from speedwaymotors.com, after ordering it I saw Bob's Automobilia had the exact same one for the same price, replaced some gaskets with homemade ones, Teflon sealed the bolts that go into the water jackets, flushed out the motor and hoses with water, and put it all back together. I don't want any chance of a water leak, one less thing to worry about.

 

I also gave the cylinders another heavy dose of penetrating oil to help the rings, and saw the #1 piston in good shape, just a little dirty. Still not sure where the air is going since I can't get compressed air out there for a leakdown test, but as long as the piston and cylinder are fine then I'm good with 7 cylinders.

 

I still have my old water pump, so if anyone has any ideas on what to do with it then be my guest. I'll probably keep it forever unless someone else wants it to rebuild it.

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Also another thing, does anyone have a good option for an air filter? Right now I'm just running a carb only with no filter, which I know isn't good for it, but I can't find a rubber coupling big enough for the carb and a matching air filter for it. Just wondering if anyone has been through this before.

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Ha ha ha, not made of gold but, difficult to find.  There is a guy on FB named Glen Mott who owns a junkyard in the high desert of Montana.  You might try looking him up.  I'm betting he has one.  If you want, I can try to contact him for you.

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7 hours ago, usnavystgc said:

Ha ha ha, not made of gold but, difficult to find.  There is a guy on FB named Glen Mott who owns a junkyard in the high desert of Montana.  You might try looking him up.  I'm betting he has one.  If you want, I can try to contact him for you.

I know they're not really made of gold, more likely made of unobtainium. I'm not sure if I would really want to go original when I can make a custom filter for much cheaper, like I'm making with my gaskets and such. Didn't they do something similar to this in these car's time? Hot rodders making custom parts, garage machine work, using tree branches to hang engines, just making things work. It makes you feel like you've accomplished something instead of going out to buy it... just my take on this project, even though I bought a new water pump 😕

 

Thank you anyway though, I appreciate it, and I'll let you know if I change my mind.

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I still have the original air cleaner assembly from my 51 if you want it. Not sure if the 53 air cleaner would be any different. However it's back at home and I wouldn't be able to get it to you until late may. Custom air filter would also be cool and easy to make!

 

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Thanks Joe, the 53 40 Series with Dynaflow is mine, all 27 ft. of hose. Luckily I got bulk heater hose in 5/8 in. but I think I got a 25 ft. roll, oh well. The hoses in there now are actually not too bad, but I want to replace them all eventually.

 

And thanks Edwin, I'll consider it if I have trouble making an air cleaner.

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Edited by Just_Some_Young_Kid (see edit history)
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Well today was a very nice day, and the Buick was pretty much ready to go, so I put some water and gas in it and took it for a drive. It drove really well, didn't have any heat issues at all, and got lots of looks.

 

I will say the transmission did slip once while pulling away from a stoplight that I was sitting at forever, I'm not sure if the oil was getting hot or something but it was only for a split second and it never happened again, it probably needs changed.

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  • 3 months later...
On 5/1/2022 at 9:43 PM, Just_Some_Young_Kid said:

Also another thing, does anyone have a good option for an air filter? Right now I'm just running a carb only with no filter, which I know isn't good for it, but I can't find a rubber coupling big enough for the carb and a matching air filter for it. Just wondering if anyone has been through this before.

Hi have you find air filter option i am also looking for 52 special

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