It quickly became obvious to me that just because a car has low original mileage, doesn’t mean most of its systems don’t need refreshing. The following narrative bears this out.
In keeping with my goal of ending up with a dependable driver while retaining originality, I now began to inspect, disassemble, and repair all engine components. The straight 8, 263 cu.in engine so far has been fairly easy to work on, thanks to its large engine bay. No stripped bolts, no broken off studs, no lacerated fingers. So far anyway.
Firstly, a nearly severed fuel line was replaced before anything bad happened. A local auto parts store provided the needed hose and connectors. The introductory photo shows the new flexible portion of the fuel line as seen from the floor looking up.
Second was the reinstallation of the engine crankcase breather components previously removed, cleaned, and painted. Both the Buick and I can now breathe easier.
Next I decided to drain all coolant preparatory to inspect the cooling system. The coolant came out fairly clean but belied what I later found, moderate to severe corrosion and blockage in various areas. Here’s a picture of the thermostat as it came out, stuck fast in the open position. A once pretty brass baffle affair, it was probably original. A new ugly but functioning 160 degree thermostat is now in place.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of one of our venerable club members (he’ll remain nameless but I think he has a ’48 Plymouth or something) I disregarded his advice to “leave the darn thing alone and just drive the car”.
However, since it had a a frozen heat riser and failing, leaking gaskets I decided to pull it off.
Providence was with me. I gingerly loosened each bolt a little at a time until she gently broke loose. Because I work alone I rigged up in advance my shop crane in a manner that evenly supported the manifold.
Before it left, a friend and I managed to break free the frozen heat riser valve that was unmovable even after a month of squirting daily with penetrant.
I tried one last time heating the valve body with a propane torch while the shaft was beaten on by my Bosch hammer drill while being doused with penetrant.
Next came the job of replacing a leaking engine block freeze plug. Technically it’s a casting plug, a term used when engine blocks are forged and workers need a way to remove the sand when the process is over. The plug apparently has no role in freeze protection contrary to popular belief.
Good luck was with me as my retired master mechanic neighbor happened to wander over as he often likes to “supervise” my work. Seeing that I was having no luck banging on the plug with hammers, screwdrivers, chisels to remove the plug he suggested I stop before I destroy the block while he thought about a solution.
By the way, the fire extinguisher, he later explained, was in case his hair caught fire, not the barn.
Drunk with success, we went on to remove all large plugs on that side. A good thing too. Two were rusted paper thin and ready to fail sooner than later.
distortion. A little Aviation sealant was applied to the mating surfaces first.
Nothing like a magnet to extract those loose pieces of scale…
The above projects took me most of January. It was not all fun especially in a partially heated barn. The monthly highlight was in the engine cylinder compression test numbers. The shop manual calls for 118 psi per cylinder with a 10-15% acceptable variation between cylinders.
Here’s my readings. They exceed OEM. A head modification in the ’51 production year or gauge discrepancies, methodology, I don’t know, but I’m leaving this one alone !!