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Category: 1937 Buick

’37 Buick: Chasing Leaks, Chasing Dreams

183A car with a steady fuel leak isn’t going to run for very long and it isn’t going to be pretty when it burns to the ground. With that realization, I was more than happy to send my leaking fuel pump to Arthur Gould for a professional rebuild. I was happy that I did this for a few reasons. Gould’s work is fast, efficient and relatively economical and I can rest easy knowing that a critical component on my car was rebuilt by someone who does fuel pump rebuilding as a living. Turnaround time was under three days and the $90 I spent was a wise investment considering a rebuild kit is over $45. As a bonus, the returned pump is absolutely gorgeous! It’s amazing what a little bead blasting, new hardware and clear coating can do for looks.

Gould reported back that my pump had two major flaws. First, the diaphragm was stretched out allowing fuel to pass from the top chamber, through screw holes and into the body of the pump that is not supposed to see any fuel. Second, a portion of my pumps actuating foot was broken off. The broken piece held the return spring in place. While the foot would have probably worked ok, the return spring could have fallen out at some point rendering the pump inoperable. The solution was to find a new pump core and Gould had plenty to sell.

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’37 Buick: Getting Started

img_6964It’s been too long since I’ve given you an update.  Seriously.  I know I’ve used the same line before but there’s a big payoff at the end of this journal entry.  Stick with me, we’re making progress.

When I left you last, I had just finished the installation of my ’37 Buick’s fuel tank and rear leaf springs.  To finish off the rear suspension I added the rear stabilizer bar and shock links. As soon as the rear suspension was complete, I installed my car’s wheels and pushed it out into the direct sunshine for the first time in 4 years.  I grinned, took a few photos and pushed the old girl back into the garage.

At this point, trout season opened in Pennsylvania and I hit the water during all of my spare time.  Since I’m trying my best to be both a good father and a good husband, I only have a limited amount of spare time for hobbies.  If I’m spending time fishing, I’m not spending time on the Buick.  Days turned to weeks and weeks turned into a month.  Then one day, a couple of interns came to my library. 

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’37 Buick: Prime Time

Here is a video showing how I oil primed my engine. I am getting closer to starting my rebuilt engine for the first time so a fully primed engine is essential.  This method is quick, effective and a cheap alternative to commercial priming systems.

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’37 Buick: Wrestling with a Tank

IMG_6398As I mentioned before, I had originally planned on installing my car’s fuel tank before installing the rear end.  With no rear springs to deal with I would have had plenty of room to move and rotate the tank.  Without extra room it is possible to do the job but you have to work a whole lot harder.

The tank is held into the frame with steel straps. These straps run on the left and right side of the tank and are insulated with rubber that is approximately 1/8” thick.  This insulation keeps the tank in place and prevents and squeaking during driving.  The straps slide into the rear part of the frame and extend forward, where a T-bolt is placed in the lower strap, goes through the upper strap and through the frame where a nut secures the entire assembly.

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The hardest part about this tank install is the fact that part of the filler neck is permanently attached to the tank itself.  This filler neck has to pass through a small hole above the frame and below the body.  If you torque too much on the neck it will cause a leak right at the neck/tank juncture.

With the leaf springs installed it is almost impossible to snake the neck through the frame hole and twist it in to position.  You can snake and twist it in to position but you’ll have to jack the car up so nearly 30” of clearance exists between the frame and the floor.

Even with my hiccup, the tank install only took about 35 minutes.  When I went back inside after completing the wrestling match my wife said “Oh, that was quick.”  Yeah honey, I’m a pro.

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’37 Buick: Gritty

IMG_6359It seems whenever I get intimidated by a particular project on my ’37 Buick I am far too willing to push it to the back-burner.  My glass sat uninstalled for months….as did my transmission…you get the idea.  It also seems that when I finally get around to doing the intimidating project, I finish it up and think “That wasn’t so bad after all.”

The latest project I’ve been avoiding was the installation of my rear suspension, rear end and fuel tank.  I’d need to get all of this installed if I wanted to get my car back on its wheels, so I started with my leaf springs.

After making the decision to replace my leaf springs in a few years, I’ve decided to forego the tin gaiters that were originally found on ’37 Buicks.  However, I would still need a set of rebound clips and a center bolt to keep the springs packed together and straight.  I asked around for recommendations and was told to head to downtown Harrisburg to “the best spring shop in central Pennsylvania.”

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’37 Buick: Getting Torqued

Torque ball0001To complete the driveline assembly and make my car look more like a car instead of a frame on stands, it would be time to install the torque tube and rear end.  My U-joint allows the torque tube to move in any direction.  The joint isn’t exposed to the elements and it is contained inside something called a torque ball.

The torque ball is comprised of an inner and outer retainer which are two bowl-shaped retainers that are sealed with gaskets and a rubber seal.  The torque ball is a very common oil leaker on those Buicks equipped with such a device.  While the parts to fix the leak are dirt cheap, accessing them requires you to completely disconnect the rear suspension and slide everything rearward to gain access.  The only perfect time to do this job is during assembly.  Lucky me.

The torque ball gasket kit contains four gaskets, ranging in thickness from .0025” to .0150”, and a tapered rubber packing ring that seals the rear of the ball.  The shim gaskets are set in place in various thicknesses that will “allow the torque ball to move with some drag.” 

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’37 Buick: Finding Wire Circle Clips

594Before I could mount my transmission into the frame I had to reattach the U-joint that I disassembled when I opened up the transmission.  The U-joint is mounted on the output shaft of the transmission and allows the drive shaft to move in any direction during the course of vehicle operation.  My drive shaft has two U-joints; one in front and one at the rear near the differential.

When I disassembled my U-joint I simply removed the wire circle clips holding the joint bushings in place and then drove out the bushings.  Now, however, during reassembly I was having an incredibly tough time finding new wire circle clips.  The usual parts suppliers were of no use and neither were the specialty suppliers.

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’37 Buick: Transmission Wrap Up

593My frustrations with my transmission cover were solved in an almost unbelievable way.  The transmission cover has to line up perfectly with the main case while it depresses a pair of detent springs and allows free movement of a metal slider that holds the bottom of the shift lever.  I had tried dozens of times to get things lined up and, for one reason or another, failed each time.

One day, after the transmission had sat on the side in my garage for weeks, I went in to the building to assemble a part on an airplane that my dad and I had purchased years ago.  When the airplane job was done I looked across the building at the transmission and thought, “what the heck, let me give it another try right now.”

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’37 Buick: Progress!!!

IMG_6150Oh wow, it’s been how long since I’ve made a Buick update?!  Way too long, but, rest assured that I’ve been hard at work.  When I left you last, I was having some major frustrations with my car’s windshield glass and transmission reassembly.

My windshield is comprised of two separate panes of glass that are separated by a rubber divider.  The gap between the two panes needs to be about ½” but while my gap was almost adequate at the bottom of the panes, the top portions were touching.  When my dad and I tried prying the panes to increase the gap we cracked one of the panes.

My fix for this problem was to mark the top of the good windshield about 3/16” from the edge.  From this line I stretched some masking tape down to the bottom corner creating a taper.  I took this to the glass cutter and had him grind off the protruding portion and then use that as the pattern for the new piece of glass I would need. 

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