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1938 Buick Spl 2dr Sdn


Wm Steed

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Ben, What kind of brake info do you need? The Hydro-Vac booster is a very simple system as I detailed in my previous comment. The vacuum source would come from someplace in the intake manifold, generally a 3/8" steel/rubber line. The booster can be located on the firewall, fender apron or like in my case, on the frame as close to the master cylinder as possible.

I was really stumped on how to improve the brakes. It was suggested that I convert to disk with modern dual compartment master cylinder. I nixed that idea!

Many years ago a friend of mine bought a '40 Buick Century on line that was a decent looking car, however, when the car got to California it turned out to be a very bad rusted out mess with a frozen engine. Pretty well beyond repair.

My friend decided to sell the car, listing it online. Low and behold a man from South Africa bought it, rust, warts. etc. The purchaser of the car came up from (S.A.), looked the car over very closely, he told us he would come up with a plan as to how he was going to ship the car to S.A.

In a few weeks a detailed list with drawings came in the mail. The man wanted the car cut up into sections per his spec's and drawings, He did not want any mechanical parts and only the front/rear sections of the frame. Everything was to be placed in a shipping container and sent to S.A.

For my help in the project I got all of the mechanical components, eng,trans, rear end, etc., and the complete Century brake system. At the time I did not know about the importance of the Century rear end, so I gave it away.... Dumb!

I did keep the brake system, considered putting it on my '38 because I know guys that have done that to their Specials.

Rethinking the brake matter I decided to keep the stock brakes, only adding the Hydra-Vac for  improved safety.

I still have the complete '40 Buick Century brake system. Wm.

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Ben ,, Google Hydro-Vac brake booster systems.  The system appears to be more common on larger trucks. I have a lot of experience with trucks where-as most people don't. When I told my mechanic that I wanted to use a Hydro-Vac, he looked at me with the what the hell are you talking about.

I just googled Hydrovac brake booster systems again, Ebay popped up with several listings for them. It would appear that the booster I have is for a '47-62 Chevy truck. Wm.

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It looks like hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder takes the place of the pushrod on a firewall mounted booster.  It's an in-line amplifier/booster that uses a vacuum diaphragm just like 'normal' power brake systems.

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During the refreshing/rebuilding process of my 38 Special it was noted that the cooling system needed a lot of attention. The radiator was original Harrison, in need of a lot of help. The water pump was also an original that had out lived it's usable life.. The water pump was simple, Fusick had one in stock. The radiator was in pretty bad shape, therefore, a new core  was in order. The tanks, upper and lower were in excellent condition, as was the inlet/outlet, a new three row core was put into the radiator.

An inspection of the radiator revealed that due to the fact that pre 1940 vehicles did not generally have pressurized systems, I had the neck of the radiator changed to a pressurized type. I'll use a 7.5 pound cap like a '40 Buick and I'll put a coolant recovery tank on the side of the radiator.

I am a firm believer in coolant recovery tanks on vintage vehicles. I have them on every vehicle I own. I have attached a pix of the newly re-cored radiator with a closeup of the 'seat' in the neck for the pressure valve to rest on. Happy New Year to all of the BCA Forum citizens.. Wm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38 Buick Spl pres rad.1.jpg

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A delay in parts availability has brought progress on my Buick to a standstill since the first of the year.

 

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Happy to report that great progress with the project has been achieved. The new Dana 60 showed up on Wed.

A few problems with the fitment of the trans to the clutch assembly was solved when the pilot bearing in the crankshaft was changed to a  roller bearing for a HD LS engine. The 38 Buick throw out bearing did not want to fit onto the the front of the T-5 trans collar, the fit was to snug. Solution was to hone the inside of the throw-out bearing to  relieve tension between the two components.

A problem with the fitment of the C10 trailing arms was encountered, they were to long for the Buick chassis do to the fact that the X in the frame narrowed down to much, in the original C10 application the X member was more of a H member. Moving the connection to the frame back about five inches solved the problem. See attached pix.

The length of the trailing arms will be shortened to correctly attach the rear spring and position the axle to the original position. The relocation will require re-drilling the attachment bolts through the trailing arms and inserting sleeves through the holes, which will be welded in place to simulate the original bolt placement. The excess metal on the end of the TA will be trimmed off and the original end welded back on.

If you look closely at the TA's you can note the they are actually made of two ][. beams spot welded back to back.

I have attached a pix of my friends 38 Buick Century that was one of the originators of using C10 rear suspension under the early Buick's. This pix was taken in 2009. The axle is a 63-64 Riviera utilizing the 38 spring perches and a series of custom brackets/bars. My friend progressed into using the C10 trailing arms on several cars he built. I have had the C10 TA's in stock since 2009, was going to use them on a '40 Buick I have, just never got around to it. Wm.

 

38 Buick r-susp.Dut.jpg

38 Buick Spl C10 trl arm cnt @ x mnbr tunl.jpg

38 Buick Spl Dana 60 dif w-trl arm cnt @x memb.jpg

Edited by Wm Steed (see edit history)
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Footnote to my earlier contribution... Reviewing the pix of the attachment of the trailing arms to the frame at the frame X it can be noted how clean the floor pan and general undercarriage of the car is.

I have not done any cleanup work on the under-body, chassis, etc. It would appear that the car is actually a 37K mile car that was very seldom operated in wet months and/or rural unpaved roads.

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     Your work looks good.  My compliments to the chef.  I prefer original but it's your car and the conversion will no doubt be better suited to CA driving.

On 1/1/2024 at 12:34 PM, Wm Steed said:

I had the neck of the radiator changed to a pressurized type. I'll use a 7.5 pound cap like a '40 Buick and I'll put a coolant recovery tank on the side of the radiator.

I am a firm believer in coolant recovery tanks on vintage vehicles.

      A pressurized/closed system is has it's advantages but it's not necessary for coolant recovery as long as the radiator cap makes a seal above the overflow tube.

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Moving along on the new diff installation. The installation of the diff has been a little slow, building the necessary brackets. Installing the original/track bar only required a special homemade bracket for the diff end of the bar to utilize the factory frame end. Looks like we will have to reposition the shocks to a 'coil-over type of an installation.

Reviewing the original Buick 3/4" radius bars, it looks like the C10 setup is going to be much more robust/stable.

I know that in theory the original expansion tank system like the older vehicles have works, however, when the coolant overheats and expands exiting the system via the overflow tube, the coolant is lost and when the coolant cools down, the system is filled with air which lowers the efficiency of the cooling system. With a coolant recovery tank the expelled coolant is held in the recovery tank, as the system cools down the coolant is drawn back into the radiator.

Just about all vehicles made since 1970, or earlier have coolant recovery tanks adjacent to the radiator. 38BuickSplorigtrkbartofrmmnt.1.jpg.6e8446b061ec383817b897f16f31f2cb.jpg

Edited by Wm Steed
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In all probability the automotive cooling system is one of the most misunderstood items in the vehicles we drive. The second most misunderstood item is detergent multi-grade engine oil.

I can clearly recall one class of auto technology that I took in high school during the early 1950's. I took auto shop for three  years in high school.

The session that impressed me the most dealt with cooling systems. The purpose of using a thermostat to control the engine heat at a constant 180 degrees, that being the ideal temp for an internal combustion engine in the early 1950's.

The importance of using modern ant-freeze in lieu of the older alcohol based anti-freeze that boiled at 180 degrees.

I can clearly recall the semi-annual, spring/fall draining of the radiators and removing the thermostats because they were not needed in the summer months. In the fall vehicles were winterized which involved reinstalling the thermostats, "so the heater would work" and installing modern permanent type anti-freeze, and winter weight engine oil.

I am constantly amazed how many men I know that still use water in their vehicles because they don't need anti-freeze in the warmer climates like California.

Pressurized cooling systems is an interesting misunderstood subject. For every pound of pressure the system has, the boiling point is raised 3 degrees, generally speaking a 50/50 mixture of coolant/water has a boiling point of 230 degrees, add 7.5 pounds x 3 = 22.5  raise's the boiling point to 252. degrees. A 15 Pound cap raises the boiling point to approximately 270 degrees..

Modern vehicles have an average operating temp of 200 degrees.

I have several friends that remove the 195 degree thermostat from their modern engine, then wonder why they run poorly. Wm.

Edited by Wm Steed (see edit history)
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22 minutes ago, Wm Steed said:

I am constantly amazed how many men I know that still use water in their vehicles because they don't need anti-freeze in the warmer climates like California.

I am one of those men.  I *do* use an anti-corrosion and water pump lube additive, Pencool 2000, with great success.  Moreover, in UNpressurized systems, EG antifreeze has a tendency to foam at speed, although low-silicate EG is said to have a reduced tendency--I haven't tried it.  If you have a cellular radiator core, it will not tolerate more than 3-4 psi.  And please show us the calculations for heat absorption (shedding) characteristics of water vs. 50% EG.

 

27 minutes ago, Wm Steed said:

Pressurized cooling systems is an interesting misunderstood subject. For every pound of pressure the system has, the boiling point is raised 3 degrees, generally speaking a 50/50 mixture of coolant/water has a boiling point of 230 degrees, add 7.5 pounds x 3 = 30  raise's the boiling point to 255 degrees. A 15 Pound cap raises the boiling point to approximately 270 degrees..

You are assuming that our cores will take substantial pressure.  I have questions about your math, as 7.5 x 3 = 22.5 (not 30) where I went to school.

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I made a typo error in my math.. 3 x 7 = 22.5. I corrected the mistake in my earlier comment.

The radiator man that re-cored my radiator with a four row modern radiator and a pressure type 

fill neck, suggested that I use a 15 pound cap. I opted for a 7.5 pound cap because i was concerned about the heater and water pump being able to handle the added pressure.

The type of vehicles I deal with, semi modern, are in a completely different world than the vehicles George deals with.

I like cars that can be used for daily transportation, in the city or open road. I also like creature comforts, roll up windows, warm air and sweet music. Wm.

Edited by Wm Steed (see edit history)
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29 minutes ago, Wm Steed said:

The type of vehicles I deal with, semi modern, are in a completely different world than the vehicles George deals with.

Well, Wm, my 1934 and 1936 Pierces are closed cars with roll up windows and UNpressurized cooling systems.  I auditioned retirement 25 years ago by driving the 1936 (first year of factory overdrive) solo from Oakland CA to Cleveland OH in three days' driving time, cruising at 68-70 mph.  And returned via US 2 across Montana and thru Glacier Park--a superb trip.  Despite the return being in August, I encountered no overheating but did watch the temp gauge under adverse conditions.  And I didn't mind doing the latter.  The OD-equipped 1936 might well be considered as "semi-modern" as your Buick.

 

If I'm not mistaken, you hadn't previously shared in this thread that (1) you want modern daily-driver performance and (2) you had a modern-style radiator core.  On my two cars above I would have trouble installing a suitable pressure cap neck because of the location of the filler near the top of the opened hood.  This is not an insuperable problem:  one can install a surge tank with pressure cap on the firewall or other underhood location a bit higher than the filler IF one does not mind departing from authenticity.  Those 1930s radiators can handle a 4-lb cap and perhaps a 7-lb.

 

For *my* usage, I run distilled/deionized water plus Pencool 2000 (big rig additive with anti-corrosion and anti-cavitation properties) and have found my cooling systems sparkling clean when preemptively changing radiator hoses 8 or more years later.  I choose this because straight water affords better heat transfer than 50% EG coolant, AND I don't need to change coolant every 3 years to refresh the additive package (I preload topoff jugs with the small makeup amount of Pencool), AND my experience with the 1934 when it was new-to-me pushing out the overflow one gallon of foaming 50% EG every 100 miles at highway speeds.

 

I do believe in thermostats and the two cars mentioned have 160* shutters.  Even on the 1918 (no shutters), I adapted the neck to use a modern pellet-style Mack truck 160* high-flow t'stat to replace the no-longer-available (and unreliable) ether-filled unit.

 

 

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If you have foaming in your cooling system, I would look closely at the water pump seal that it is not allowing air to be sucked into the system.

 

I use regular antifreeze because of the corrosion protection and antifoaming additives in all of my vehicles and I have not had any foaming issues.

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3 minutes ago, Larry Schramm said:

If you have foaming in your cooling system, I would look closely at the water pump seal that it is not allowing air to be sucked into the system.

 

I use regular antifreeze because of the corrosion protection and antifoaming additives in all of my vehicles and I have not had any foaming issues.

Thanks, Larry.  That was a freshly rebuilt (<200 miles) water pump with modern seals.  There was a correct inlet hose-and-pipe system from bottom of radiator to pump inlet with no more than 4 inches of unsupported hose in each section on either side of the pipe.  For the next 16,000 miles without anti-freeze but using Pencool 2000, I have only topped off every 700 miles or so with less than a quart each time in a 28-quart cooling system.  Peak brand EG antifreeze was in the car when I purchased it from a friend's estate.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The trans/differential project is getting close to being done. Everything on the trans is done, the marriage of the original gearshift stick to the T-5 worked out very well, the ivory '38 knob is pretty close to it's original position. I'm thinking about having the new shift pattern engraved into the top of the ivory knob.

The C10 trailing arms turned out to be a project, had to shorten and modify the arms to make them fit. The only thing left to do is the shocks and drive-line. We have not yet made a final decision if we are going to use a one piece or two piece drive-line. It appears that a jack-shaft going through the X member to a support trunion might be more stable. wm

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In response to Omarine' question.. A lot of planning was put into the use of the T5 trans in my '38 Buick.. Reviewing the chatter on the various forums pertaining to the use of T5 tranny's,, the majority of which seem to be in 'Belly button vehicles'.. ie: Chevy's/Fords in lieu of Buick's. A common application is to use the S10 version due to the fact that the S10 is a pickup with a bench seat, the draw back is that the common S10 engines were either a 4 cylinder or a V6, pretty whimpy engines at their best.

The Buick str8's are very robust, 225 # torque, therefore, a more robust trans had to be used, keeping in mind that the input spline had to fit the Buick throw-out bearing and clutch. The placement of the gear shift was also a big concern. A S10 tail shaft and housing was used which placed the gearshift lever forward of the Buick bench seat. The lever was modified using the upper part of the original '38 lever attached to the S10 lever and machined for shape. The end result was the lever is five inches from the seat in 4th gear, and five inches from the dash in fifth gear.

I should point out, I made mention of this anomaly in an earlier addition to this topic, it would appear that I lucked out with the '38 Spl., because it was built to have a "Shift-less" Hydramatic, therefore the X member in the frame was made big enough to  accommodate a longer/larger transmission.

If things work out, I will have pix of the completed assembly later today. Wm

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Attached you will find three pix showing the placement of the completed T5 shift lever.... Pretty clever if I do say so.

At this point in time I think I will have a custom leather boot on the shift lever.

My car had a brown rubber floor mat that was in excellent condition. I would assume that after 86 years it was most likely a replacement.

I bought a new brown rubber boots for the original shifter, which won't fit the T5 trans. If anyone has a need for a excellent used brown rubber floor mat, speak up, the cost will be very reasonable. Wm.

38 Buick Spl T5 trans sftr, 1.jpg

38 Buick Spl T5 trans sftr, 2.jpg

38 Buick Spl T5 trans sftr. 3.jpg

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Thank you WM, that looks slick. Is it bolted right in the trans? Or does it have the rod running back under the floorboard? 
 

id be pleasantly surprised if the T5 lines up with the existing acces panel in the floor (?)

 

cheers

oscar

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Oscar, The T5 fit within the original space that the original cover. We filled in the original shifter floor pan opening, painted it black with under coating on the bottom.

The T5 is a "true top loader" trans in lieu of being a side shifter.

Article I have read about the T5 have said that Borg Warner developed the T5 over forty years ago, like in the '80's for use in high performance cars and compact mini trucks like the GM S10.

There are a couple of guys on the Ford Barn Forum that sell kits for the T5 in EFV8's.

When I was trying to find a way to upgrade the power-train in my Buick to something more modern and user friendly, the common suggestion was to use a Gear Vendor or Volvo inline OD. I did not like the idea of having to cut the floor pan and frame to clear the aux OD trans.

The average person will never know that my power-train/car is altered from stock because we used nothing but stock GM parts, with a few alterations/tweaks.

Monday we are going to start the installation of the '41-42 Buick Compound carb's on the Special. The installation will be stock like Buick made it with the very rare '41 "Bat Wing" air cleaner. Wm.

 

 

 

 

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On 1/15/2024 at 10:52 AM, Wm Steed said:

 

Pressurized cooling systems is an interesting misunderstood subject.

     One advantage to a pressurized cooling system is that the water that leaves the engine forces water through the radiator.  Suction and pressure work in unison. 

     An open/unpressurized system is more prone to collapsing a suction hose if that, (radiator), passage is restricted.

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Thanks again , WM..so from what i gather, even if the T5 shifter might create the need for another hole in the floor panel, it wont interfere with the the bench seat itself. That ‘s great news in terms of altering things as minimally as possible. 
 

cheers

oscar

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17 hours ago, nat said:

     One advantage to a pressurized cooling system is that the water that leaves the engine forces water through the radiator.  Suction and pressure work in unison. 

     An open/unpressurized system is more prone to collapsing a suction hose if that, (radiator), passage is restricted.

Actually there are many advantages to a pressurized cooling system over and above raising the boiling point of the coolant and the coolant not being expelled onto the ground: A pressurized system eliminates air entrainment in the coolant which causes expansion and cavititation (air pockets) of the coolant, neither of which adds to the efficiency of the coolant. Air in the system contributes to the formation of rust  within the system. 

And lastly EG coolant is poisonous to humans, animals, etc., and the environment,  therefore it should not be spilled on the ground. Wm.

Edited by Wm Steed (see edit history)
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m

On 2/5/2024 at 12:00 PM, drhach said:

I'm anxious to hear your driving impressions once you have this beast back together. 

Me Too

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not much progress on my 38 Spl for during the past several weeks, work has came to a stand still as a result of the current shop the Buick is in has to be relocated to a new location by the 15th of March.

Reputedly the Buick will be driven out of the old shop and driven to the new facility ten miles away before the 15th of March.

I have attached a couple of pix of the '41-42 Buick compound carb's that will be installed on the car next week..

I have had the dual carb setup for many years, I was going to use it on a 40 Super that I have, decided not to do that. I found a pair of brand new Stromberg AAV-16 carbs for the manifold several months ago, my carb shop went through the cabs, varifing that the carbs were in fact '40-41 front and rear for a Buick and that they had never had fuel in them.

We are going to modify the "bat wing air cleaner', changing it to a paper modern filter in lieu of a oil bath type. Wm

 

38 Buick Spl 41-42 Dual Crbs.1.jpg

38 Buick Spl 41-42 Dual Carbs. W-air cln.2.jpg

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2 hours ago, Wm Steed said:

I found a pair of brand new Stromberg AAV-16 carbs for the manifold several months ago, my carb shop went through the cabs, varifing that the carbs were in fact '40-41 front and rear for a Buick and that they had never had fuel in them.

What you have there is two front carbs, not a front and rear.

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