1951 Buick Special Deluxe - 08

Early November - figure out the dashboard controls

Since I'm not getting anywhere on the compressor/blasting situation, decided to work on the interior a little bit. Tip from the forum on the vent cable - apply WD40 along its length and work it in. The only cable that goes through the firewall is for the driver's side vent, so this one was rusted to being pretty sticky. I was turning the vent knob, and no action. So I worked the vent door out on the vent tube. Then I noticed inside the knob PULLS, not turn. From there, I got both the left and right vent knobs working pretty well. Upper right knob is defroster. Makes sense that this one turns to switch the defroster fan on/off (and maybe 2 speeds). Did NOT occur to me that this also has a pull function. Since I had pulled the defroster core off the firewall, I could see the air doors in the plenum. I could see the vent one move when I cycled the vent knob, and I could see a second door in there hidden by the vent door depending on where the vent was positioned. So I pulled that door open - and voila - the defroster knob also has a push-pull function. Sure, all this is probably in the "owners guide" that I don't have, so the info is certainly out there (for a price). The middle 2 knobs are headlight and lighter. The upper 2 knobs are heater fan switch and defroster multi-function switch. The headlight one has the typical 3 pull positions - off, parking, headlights. It also turns, and feels like 6 or 7 notches that it goes through. Someone on the forum said it's a dimmer with a click for turning on maybe the dome or dashboard map lights - so I don't know about the multiple clicks this one feels it has.

Get date ~10/26 or so (same day as Copperstate) - went to DVAP in Casa Grande

Stopped by there because I needed to be at C-State aircraft show to help Bob w/ a presentation. I had his slides on my laptop, and I was the designated slide-flipper. DVAP let me into the yard, and I walked down the Buick row. Several '50-'52, maybe a '53 in there, a couple of '55's, maybe a '56 and '57 - but no radiators. There was one '50 with the EXACT radiator, and the guy in the office actually talked me out of it. Reason - when I described it, he said that's one that had attempts at previous repairs. His experience is that would be nothing but more trouble. I said, what about re-use the tanks and get a new core? He said if the core is bad, the tanks are likely to be pretty poor as well. Can end up being an expensive expedition to nowhere. So I'm still looking - there's a NOS one for the standard trans that's been 4 sale on the forum for a long time, but the core area is ~20% less - so can't use that. Griffin makes a "hotrod" radiator in several sizes for fairly low cost ($220). 11/22 - found a company in NY (Wizard) who is offering a drop-in Al radiator. Sent them an email. They don't have the in/out/cap in exactly the right position, but I'm sure it's close enough to work. I sent them an email to see if they would be interested in working on the port locations - their website doesn't have a photo of the radiator, it has a screen shot of the CAD model - so they're probably building these to order. (More than twice as costly as the Griffin - so I may just go w/ the Griffin & adapt it to fit.)

11/16/13 brakes

Date is approximate. Somewhere in here, jacked up the rear a little higher (I had the rear wheels with a little bit of weight on them, but the suspension is mostly just hanging). Pulled off the rear wheels and brake drums. They look pretty good, but still want to replace the wheel cylinders due to 19+ years or so of just sitting. The shoes look like plenty of life left inside, and nothing really ugly like axle leakage. A day or 2 later, jacked the front left, pulled the ramp from under the tire (had the car's weight on the wheels in front). Pulled off the drum, which also is the bearing carrier. Front looked pretty good as well. Hose even looked ok, but plan to replace that as well.

11/23/13 - ideas

Found an article in the Dec 2012 Rod N Custom where they replace a '50 Olds front suspension. It appears to be essentially identical to the Buick. They replaced the upper arms w/ later-model tubular arms & made an adapter bracket to the frame points. They modified the lower arms to accept ball joints. This allowed use of later model spindles, for which there is a wide selection of bolt-on disk brakes. The main point of the article / doing the switch, aside from getting MUCH easier access to lower-cost disk brakes was to update the steering geometry from manual little/no caster to power w/ much more caster. They accomplish this, and then need to replace the rack and links between the rack and steering arms on the casters. Then they also need to connect the rack to the steering column and add a power steering pump, pulley, belt, hoses... I found Jamco Suspension is offering all this as a kit for '49-'50 "Shoebox" Fords - so I sent them an email a couple of weeks back asking if there was any interest in doing this for Buick/Olds of similar vintage. No response. Aside from getting the alignment, camber, caster, and toe-in right (which seems all pretty straightforward with the adjustments built into the various brackets) - a KEY dimension is height of the steering rack. I don't know exactly why, but a little off here gets multiplied by the length of the links to the steering arms, so maybe that's why this isn't a common thing to do (yet). In the RnC article, they also fabbed a tubular mount for the steering rack that bolted between the frame rails. The thing I liked about this whole idea is it's bolt-on. Other than some new holes for mounting a modern tubular shock behind? the new A-arms, and some additional holes for the steering rack support, it just bolts on using the stock suspension attach points. This avoids cutting/welding the frame entirely. For the article, they avoided the cost in time/labor to pull off the front sheet metal. Not sure that's such a big deal, but it all adds up, especially if you had no other compelling need to pull that sheetmetal off.

Other ideas - at the rear, in my dream, I would get a Bergensen's trans adapter and put a 700R4 (or some other late-model 4-speed overdrive) trans in there. Of course, this leads to dumping the torque tube & original rear end. There are several examples in the AACA.org Buick / Modified forum of other later-model rear ends that will fit (seems hub-to-hub is the key dimension). A couple of these are running variations on triangulated 4-link with coil-over shocks. That would take care of it. Of course, those examples have the body off. So maybe front suspension & disk brake conversion first, then clear up the trans/rear suspension later with the body off.