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Continuation of my 1938 Special thread


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it somehow found its way into the Post-War forum so im making a new thread here...

Well after monitoring the brake system for a couple days, and daily coming out and pumping the pedal a few times nice and hard to about half way down, which is where it finishes firming up and doesnt move any further, then going under the car with the line wrenches, and really cranking those fittings down, tonight I looked at the T splitter in the rear and the stoplight switch splitter, and I cannot see any new developments of fluid, and I would know if I saw them, nice shiny spots with a drip of fluid hanging off the threads or farther down on the line itself, etc. The pedal still FIRMS up right at the middle, so personally I'm convinced its sealed up. I really yanked on those things hard, I would think theyre tight enough, lol. Whew, what a relief.

I've also been playing around with the engine a little, trying to re adjust valves to get rid of some noise. Its done this since I first adjusted em: You feather the gas to a little above idle, and you get TOCK----TOCK---TOCK-TOCKTOCKTOCK and then it smoothes out, and it sounds like just a couple rockers or something. Notable is that with the valve cover on, this is very noticeable in the interior, through the firewall. So I went through them all friday afternoon and into the evening, with not much luck, and some ended up being really tight when I went to re-check them with the feeler gauge. Maybe it was just me, but I adjusted the Octane Selector, and after doing that the tapping of the ones that were loudest got louder. I adjusted this from "Low" on the right, over to "High" on the left. I finally looked up some tutorials on timing, etc, and I have determined that High is more advanced, the shop manual says it is for Higher octane fuels, so more resistnace to burn, need to start combustion sooner for complete burning by the time power stoke begins. I would rev the car up and a lot of smoke would come out the exhaust, popping would occur, stumbling, and it just sounded terrible, it couldnt "clear its throat" that kind of thing. The shop manual says "for best economy do not set it towards low any more than absloutely necessary". I had it set all the way over at low because awhile back when it was at high the engine was hard to start when warm and died off in response to throttle. Unfortunately the hard to start when warm came back when i was restarting to test my valve adjustments last night, but it sounded SO nice when i revved it up, you heard the individual cylinders loud and clear and it was just great. So I'm keeping it there, maybe ill run it again within the next few days to see if its still hard to start. I probably should replace the spark plugs, cap, rotor, wires too, but if this little thingy made that much difference it must be important, right?

So this morning, using the characteristics, easiness of the feeler gauge's fitting into the gaps I knew were right because I could tell they sounded good and quiet last night, I went through and set all of the others, yes with the engine cold and not run yet today. I backed the car out about 3 feet sticking out of the garage, and ran it for about 5 minutes. The engine obviously didnt warm up, but the valves were much quieter and no pronounced "tock"-ing occured. But then it usually has occured once the engine is warm, and the noise is less when it is first started. I can't figure this out, i'll have to warm the car up fully the next time i run it and see what happens. All I know is that I've got the gaps correct, so if theres noise it can only mean that gap is a little big, and ive gotta get myself to accept that that is what the engine is going to do, and its not killing itself by doing that.

So, all in all, the car is squared away, ready to drive when "the boss" will let me register and insure the thing. Maybe I sound a tad (or more) too worried about this valvetrain business, but man I just dont like that noise, especially because, I'm pretty sure, it sounds like 1-3 rockers are making it, and it happens less when you rev it up high and fast than when you feather it, and only to an rpm a little bit faster than idle. I worry about everything because I don't want anything to happen to this engine. It's all original, and for that reason and for $$ I don't want to rebuild anything because of rapid catastrophic wear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm surprised some of the 38 owners haven't chimed in here. Perhaps I can help with a little introduction of what's "special" about this thread.

You see, Paul here is a senior in High School. 17, right Paul? And He has inherited his fathers 38 Buick special two years ago. He is working on the car to restore it as his dad would have liked to have done, and he is somewhat new to automotive mechanics, having just about a year with this baby under his belt right now.

Paul, maybe you can list off some of the things you have done to the car, and some of your concerns about what else to do, in short descriptions, so others can get a feel for what you have tackled.

I know Paul needs the help of some 38 owners to guide him in the charistics of this car since his dad can't do that and since these fine cars are so different from modern plastic press and stick cars.

Won't some of you give him the benefit of your experience while he takes this journey?

Thanks

John De Fiore

Director Upstate NY Chapter.

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Paul, the next time you get the engine warm, you might take a piece of broom handle , or a long screw driver, and put one end against your ear, and the other against different areas on the block. This makes a primitive stethescope, and may help you localize the noise you are hearing. The first place to check is the fuel pump. They have a spring that holds the arm to the cam, and if this spring is missing, you may find that the arm is hitting the cam and causing you knock.

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oh wow, just noticed this thread at the top again!

thanks for the help mr. defiore! youre absolutely right about everything.

someone mentioned to me to try that broomstick thing. i dont believe i havent tried it yet! will do.

good idea about the fuel pump, but i did rebuild that recently, and it always had the spring (saw it when i removed it from the engine).

EDIT: i skimmed my first post again, and i dont know if i mentioned it, so i will now: the sound seems to change with adjustment of the octane selector, and again, the ease of starting the engine and the way it revs up, in addition the amount of smoke is greatly affected by it.

i feel another video is in order. (dont worry ill keep it small so you wont spend a year downloading it smirk.gif)

i think that will express the condition much better. i had a midterm exam yesterday and one today, at noon, till two. after that im free, and thurs and fri i have no school, this is "regents week" so now classes. kind of a double edged sword huh? you get at least one, maybe two days off, but exams too mad.gif.

if the weather warms up just a little, ill certainly run the car and make the video.

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well it just so happened that the stoplight switch and the tune up kit (cap, rotor, points, condenser) came in the mail today, so even though it was bitter cold outside today, i had to run the car after putting in the new stuff. the switch i actually did this evening, so now the tail lights come on nice and bright (as opposed to not at all) when you push the pedal not even an inch. and YES i did bleed the brakes again.

but what i feel is even more important is the engine as it is now. i think ive said this before about something else that i had to fix: isn't is amazing how things seem to work properly when they are set up correctly and have parts in good, working condition? tongue.gif

WOW. this car went from sounding like the school bus was taking off at wide-open, while someone dumped oil down the intake, to sounding like a v8 muscle car taking off. the smoke is almost gone. yes you heard right. i really cant believe it. youll hear it in the video. the only difference between this thing and a high-performance v8 is it just doesnt have the rpms to get the full sound. pretty close though. im ecstatic. later today i went to NAPA and got new spark plugs. if anyone recalls i had found two "original" plugs, "AC 44s", they looked real old, the newest they could be must be 50's or 60's, at the latest the last date that AC was its own company. they sold me a pack of AC-Delco R45's, closest they had, and the guy said they'd be alright. theyre one heat range higher, but this model is what corresponds to the one i showed him. they even look a lot like the old one! i put them in but it was well into the evening. so tomorrow or saturday ill run the car again, see what happens.

seems to me like most of the smoke i saw was a lot of incompletely burned stuff. the old plugs were still nice and oily and sooty, so there IS definitely oil coming in, but at least its being burned off now, instead of accumulating and gumming up the engine. im guessing that the engine will run even better with the new plugs. this year im gonna see about replacing those valve stem seals, if its not too hard a job. i just need to have at least one other person to help with lifting the head off.

ill also play around with the octane selector again, just to see what happens, and set it where it runs best. really everything has changed now, so i might as well test it, right? By the way, i had better mention that i quickly figured out how to replace points, set the gap, etc. right on the money, otherwise it would be running like crap im sure.

i have that video made, its again a .wmv file, if you have at least windows media player 9 (i dont know if version 8 would work) you should be able to see it. <span style="font-weight: bold">it is 6 megabytes</span>. so if this is too big, please let me know! its only like 2 minutes long, i kept the sound quality high because i feel thats important to my goal with this video. oh and i had to keep that first segment, was totally unintentional and the first time its happened to me.

http://rapidshare.de/files/11921483/Buick1-26-06.wmv.html

IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS: be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page that comes up, click the "Free" button, then on the next page that comes up, scroll to the bottom and this time you will see a timer counting down until the download link appears.

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Paul,

I love hearing the v(n)oic(s)e of your -38. Reminds me of the first start up I did on my -36 in the mid 70´s. I was about your age, have had a driving licence for some years but no car so far. The first car I bought was this, to say the least, old car and my friends and family directly classed me as mad! Nowadays there is more acceptance for a hobby like this, we are doing a cultural deed by restoring these old cars.

All your efforts with the brakes and now the engine is real good work and by using the knowledge from all these guys you will most certainly reach your goal, first thing I guess will be a ride down the road. After this ride you will be in heaven for a while and feel really proud, it is something special to have done a thing like this all by yourself, especially if you are a beginner not that far back in time.

Keep up the good work!

Mats

Roadmaster 81-36

Roadmaster 80C-38

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thanks! i have heard a lot that back then the old car hobby really wasnt there so much. they were just "old" and obsolete. thank goodness for the people that liked the cars, like you, and my dad, and others who hung onto them anyway!

today's UPDATE: i ran 'er again, now with the new plugs, and WOW again! even better in every way! later i pulled the plugs. they were certainly oily like the old ones, but on all of them both electrodes were a nice tan-grey color! sometimes the small insulator around the center electrode wasnt oily! that means that these things are burnin' the stuff outta there good!

also notable is that the first couple of plugs (starting at the front of the car) were dry, and as you got towards the middle plugs they were oily, then the last plug was pretty dry. i remembered that the last valve and the two valves for the first cyl. do not have much oil on them, specifically on the valve spring caps (the big round flat rings on top of the spring right? LOL) which would indicate how much oil gets to the stems, and the valves corresponding to the oily ones have lots of oil. i need to clean out the ports in the rocker shaft or whatever it is and get oil flowing to everything. it can't be too good. but she's running great, and thats great news.

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ok. just go to www.rapidshare.de and on the main page is a blank to fill in. next to it is a button "Browse". you browse for the file on your computer and select it. then click "Upload". it may take a little while, upload is always slower than a download. its worth it though, the site is free, not full of scam ads or offensive material, etc, there are a few of those kinds of sites on the 'net. pretty cool.

i would be more than happy to help you with getting the video onto your computer, if you need help.

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ok great. cant wait to see/hear it, ive never heard the 56 run. i heard that grey 56 that was sitting near yours at the saratoga meeting, sounded pretty nice. a subdued low burble from the exhaust, and i remember the the engine bay was dead QUIET. i really couldnt believe it. that guy must have his car in tip-top shape. i guess thats why you are worried about the sound of your engine, is the sound of his car what it is supposed to sound like? i mean his car sounded downright unusual. even modern cars are way louder.

i really like the sound of my wide-open exhaust, and ill keep it like that... until the first chapter meeting. before i go ill buy a muffler and bolt it on, somehow i dont think it would be well-received as it is now. tongue.gif

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Paul, one of the things Buick prided itself in was how quiet their engines were. My '51 was like yours a couple of months ago, lifters clattering like heck. The last Cruise in I went to with my local car club everybody asked me if I coasted in with the engine off cause they didn't hear her running so I stepped on the clutch and revved her up, they were all impressed!!! Carl

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yes, when i first started learning about the old buicks, that was one of the first things i was told. i just gotta get her out on thr road and break everything in again, and i gotta get those ports in the rocker shaft cleaned, get the oil flowing everywhere it isnt now.

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well, i did it. yesterday i decided i would try and swap the fenders. i spent all afternoon and into the evening unbolting the driver's side front fender. a lot of the time was spent trying, unsucessfully, to get the bracket that supports the fenderwell off. the two bolts on the rear-of-the-car side of the bracket would not come off. they just spun. this is one of the things i CANT STAND. i tried once to tighten it back up and it did!!! but unscrew it, it would come out maybe 1/8" and just spin. same with the lower one. so i did the bad thing: i cut up the bracket. i got out my dremel and some cut off discs and cut slits from the right into the elongated holes, then grabbed the corners with pliers and eventually yanked them off. i have left the bolts in, i have no idea whats holding them. the two big holes you see? i tried to reach inside there, but my fingers ran into a "wall". the other side of this rail cannot be seen, at least with the body on, etc.

as youll see in the second picture i attach, its now hanging from the brake line. OOPS!!! ill disconnect the line at the hose, no big deal. gotta do the same, other side too, so i gotta bleed em again...thats what little brothers are for right? "Nicholas!...."

i only cut the thing up because as you can see the plate thats on the side is the same on both sides, im sure that could be fabricated or something. if i for some reason wanted it done now the metal shop my uncle works at would have no problem. so i know youll all probably badger me for my poor judgement but man those bolts wont come out! i checked the other side of the car's bolts, yep SAME thing. maybe ill just leave that one, though, this bracket was in my way because i couldnt lower the fender so the inner fender's lip wouldnt go below the side hood panel and the fender could acutally come off. later i tried removing the side panel, took all of 2 minutes to do!!! idiot....

so the first thing i do when i tackle the right side is pull the side panel, then the rest will be a piece of cake, instead of a PITA. ill just leave the friggin bracket.

but the end result is so beautiful, no? no more rusty fender! woohoo!

post-39688-143137883233_thumb.jpg

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Since I don't recognize that bracket, I have to ask, does your car have sidemounts?

As for the bolts, they will likely be "carriage bolts" like a bumper bolt. Once loosened about 1/8' the square will lift out of the hole and spin. Need to keep it seated, I know easier said than done.

Myself I would have cut or ground the bolts off rather than cut the bracket.

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the deal is that my dad bought this car, and decided he felt it would look sharper with the sidemnounts. so he bought fenders with sidemounts, and swapped them. he shoved the original ones in my grandparents' attic. when i went over there yesterday to get them she mentioned to me he used to interchange them frequently when he first bought them, interestingly enough. thats why the brackets are there. its a no brainer why im swapping in the originals. theyre just spotless.

the bolts just wouldnt come out far enough for me to cut em off, and i really am scared of Dremel discs breaking off and flying into my face (i do wear saftey goggles) at 20,000 rpms.

i see how the bolt works, ill check on that, thanks!

Paul

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well i got it off, very successfully too. once again, just the two bolts on the left side of the bracket would only spin in place, and either way too (used my impact wrench, full speed, both directions for like 30 seconds, they didnt tighten up at all or loosen up or anything, just spun in place). the bolts on the right side came out no problem, they were just threaded into threaded holes in the frame, and fit 1/2" sockets not 9/16" like the other two. this was the same situation on the driver's side, excpet there was only one bolt on the front-of-the-car side of the bracket, right halfway up the bracket's "wing" plate, instead of one at the top and one at the bottom like on the pass. side one. same exact type of bolt though. i mention this in case it is of any significance...

i stopped once i got to the point of the bolts not coming out. it was dinner time, and i had homework tonight, like usual, still have some more to do, so i called it quits. tomorrow i will cut off the BOLTS, no matter how long it takes me. im not supid, i wont ruin another bracket grin.gif.

this is really bothering me though. very stupid. if its a carriage bolt why wont it "lock in" at all? can a fellow '38 owner who knows about this enlighten me?

my second concern, though i guess its not as important, is the lack of inner fenders on the fenders im putting on. it seems, from looking at the old fenders, that the inner fender is spot-welded on, maybe? there are not bolts, screws, rivets, only indents and marks and stuff. i need to post some picutres, but perhaps someone who knows this era will know what im talking about. if i get to it tonight ill post pics.

but im going with spot welds, and on the "new" ones, along the lip (along the whole length of the inner edge of the fender, a "lip" exists that is bent straight down, a "face" i guess youd actually call it, where the inner fender mounts too. there are lots of 3/8" diameter circular "studs" that are about 1/8" long or flush because they appear to have been sawed off. i wish i could ask my dad what he friggin did! or if they came like that or something. as i said before my dad used to "swap them frequently" according to my grandma, i would think that would be bad, all kinds of stuff flying up from the road, the wires that attached to clips on the driver's side inner fender dangling exposed, the engine block exposed (though that isnt worn one bit...hmm) and especially, the battery sitting on its tray with no backing plate to the right (the inner fender serves as this). i tied a loop of strong string around the height of the battery, over the top and under the tray, so its not going anywhere, but this still seems like a bad idea, the fuel pump is also right there. i think i will cut out some card board, punch holes near the edge, and use zip-ties and secure it in, doing this on both sides. i just think it should have an inner fender. am i right or should i not worry? they are put there for a reason...right?

i am going to bring the old fenders up to the garage the car was sitting in, first chance i get within the next week. i am saving them, they can be repaired someday. perhaps <span style="font-weight: bold">I</span> could saw off the inner fenders of these in the not to distant future and maybe bring it all someplace to have them spot-welded onto the new fenders? we have an air-riveter and some hand-riveters and lots of rivets, should i rivet it on? i would really like that, to have the correct inner-fenders on these fenders.

oh and BTW, i forget if i mentioned it already or not, but since the side panels are so easy to remove, soon ill wire-brush those rusty vents and theyll be spotless. cool.gif its amazing how their rusty appearance detracts from the overall appearance of the front of the car, and how much they add when looking nice. i definitely want to do that before i take the car to school or to shows or show it off to people. its easy enough...

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yesterday i finished bolting on the passenger side fender. boy does this car look great now!

i also pulled the car out and ran it again. the lack of smoke out of the exhaust is amazing. once it warms up and comes to low idle there is almost NO smoke. it also rarely skips a beat, just a steady purr. has no quibbles about being suddenly revved up a bit, and the smoke output increases only a little when this is done.

attached to this post is the obligatory artsy shot grin.gif

post-39688-143137883238_thumb.jpg

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Paul!!! That is looking so beautiful!!! I remember the pics you posted when you first saw it. Really, it is easy to see the car is loved and you have done a nice job with it. I really hope you can get it registered and insured for this driving season. It will be fun to tour to shows with you.

JD

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thanks for the compliments!

if it maybe wasnt clear before: <span style="font-weight: bold">it is getting registered this spring.</span> no one better try and stop me. m'kay? and its not like the car isnt ready, either. i just need to change the fluid in the trans and rear end, and its completely ready for road use. id about die if i couldnt drive it this year for whatever reason. gonna be a fun summer cruisin around in an old hunk o' american iron

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yes i seem to recall reading about that, with the bronze bushings etc.

im glad you reminded me though, because a couple months ago i bought a bottle of 80w90 valvoline gear oil at NAPA thinking thats what i was to put in. shocked.gif

http://www.penrite.com.au/nextpage.php?navlink=db/product_pre1980.php so out of that list which one should i use for the rearend and trans? this one guy in the local BCA chapter who has a 38 special told me he uses 140 in his trans, not 90. should i do the same?

also, do you know what distributors carry that stuff? i noticed the company is from australia ( .com.au )

i love the name for the stuff on the front page. "SIN oil", "for people who giev their engines hell". grin.gif i laughed out loud as soon as i read it

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">id about die if i couldnt drive it this year for whatever reason. gonna be a fun summer cruisin around in an old hunk o' american iron </div></div>

Just make sure you don't go the suicide route if something goes wrong smirk.gif I was very disappointed when my '62 Special wasn't ready to drive to Flint...I got over it. It is better to be realistic about safety and reliability than to hurry too much and have problems. Oh yeah, make sure you get a fire extinguisher and keep it in the car.

Keep in mind the above is just meant as advice. I've really enjoyed reading about your progress and can pretty much feel the enthusiasm in your posts. I wish I was able to get in and tackle my projects like you have (competing time interests and unsuitable garage space have limited that). I'm looking forward to seeing your '38 pictured at a gathering with other cars.

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i know...i was half-joking. if, i dont know, a wheel for instance was severely out of balance or rusted so much that i knew it would crack in half or something, i wouldnt drive the thing. i wouldnt compromise safety to get it on the road just because i want to.

and the bit about the fire extinguisher, yeah that might actually be a good idea. who knows, really? but i think theres a good chance im going to get a water-proof cover and keep that in the trunk. as silly as it seems, the doorseals, and side window seals, and some other seals are old and some rotten away, so i really CANT have this car get rained on. if its parked somewhere for a long time and theres a chance it might rain (how can you ever trust the weathermen?) like at school or something, i am running out there and putting the cover on! its kinda funny but ill do it! there are those days that theyre 100% sure its gonna be clear and in a matter of minutes the sky goes dark and soon youve got a downpour. im sure many classic car guys have driven into a rainstorm or one comes to a show or meet, ill bet its nearly impossible to keep your car out of rain 100%, that is if you drive it grin.gif

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Regarding the tapping noise, I too had a similar noise in my 31 Buick that smoothed out at higher speed. It did sound like the tappets, but it turned out to be a rod bearing.

It seems that because the pistons are so small in the streight eight engines, a loose rod bearing sounds very much like a loud tappet. I suggest that you drop the pan and check your rod bearings. It may be as simple as removing a shim to stop the noise and save an expensive repair.

I have enjoyed reading about your progress. This would make a good article in the Bugle.

Mark Shaw

Vancouver, WA

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well thats interesting. i certainly hope thats not whats happening in my case. im 99% sure its coming from the valvetrain. with the valve cover on and the hood open, as i stand there, the sound comes from that area. i think ill get one of those "mechanic's stethoscope" things (or just a wooden rod lol) and use that to pinpoint the sound. but i guess i could pull the pan again sometime and check that out, or at least have a shop look at it. they could probably tell better than me anyway.

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i have not done that yet, but that was the <span style="font-style: italic">first</span> thing i thought of when i mentioned what i did. i can easily do that, and that would get oil flowing where i want it most--at those ball stud joints. that might get some of the rods turning, and i'd like that. i would feel much more comfortable driving the car, even just running the engine in my driveway, if at least a few more of them started turning.

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Have been following your progress for quite some time. Glad you are sticking with it. I have a 37 Roadmaster. In reference to your valve stem seals, they can be replaced without removing the head. You can use air pressure through the spark plug hole to hold the valve up while replacing the seals. Bet theres someone who could help you with this. If you haven't already done so you might remove the oil supply line which feeds the rocker and clean it. Its approx. an eighth inch line that runs from the block near the fuel pump to the top of the head. The brass fittings, one or both of them, I cant really remember, are orficed (have a very small hole in them) to regulate the oil flow and thus can plug very easily. Mine was completely plugged when I got my car and of course the tappets were not oiling at all. Hope this helps a little. Good luck, and I hope you'll be cruzin by summer.

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thanks, ill have a look at the line also.

interestingly enough, in the "Ask the Advisor" section of the latest Buick Bugle, someone wrote in with advice about this, for my exact engine (the car was a 49 special). the person said he was told to use air pressure to hold the valves closed, and "a special tool that had a hook on it went in the pushrod hole, and hooked onto the bottom of the hole. an arm of the tool came across the valve and compressed the spring so the keepers could be removed."

he also said the "tool and die maker" who is an expert on straight 8s he talked to told him to buy 1963 chevy six cylinder valve springs and get chevy big block 3/8" inner diameter valve stem seals.

is this a good idea, at least in my case? bob's or kanter or wherever it was did carry valve guides for the 248, should i just get those?

he said "the seal was installed over the valve stem and down over the guide" "the new spring is installed, and now one valve is done". the entire thing took him 9 hours. it was his first time, as was mine, so im guessing it would be the same or more for me. but could someone better describe how the seal is installed? what does a valve guide and a valve seal look like? a small metal sleeve? how is it all put together? also is this "special tool" a valve spring compressor? i have heard the term used before, is it a different tool? i didnt think it would have something going down into the pushrod holes.

this sounds like something i could pull off, and i would feel very good knowing im not burning oil.

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