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Projects 1949 Buick Sedanette Mild Custom Build

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by rockable, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    When I bought this car, I bought it sigh unseen about 5 or 6 years ago. I named it Big Bertha as soon as I saw it. It had been "hot rodded" with a 74 LeSabre as the donor car back in the 80's. I guess they felt obliged to use every piece they could from the donor car, so here is what I've encountered as I started peeling the onion.

    First, when I first drove it, it was scary. The rear axle was a "triangulated 4 link" that was robbed from the LeSabre, I presume. But since the suspension wouldn't fit under the 49, they shortened the arms and welded an angle iron cross member in to provide a forward attachment point for the upper links. The axle moved around a lot and when you hit a dip in the road, the driveshaft hit the angle iron. I installed a 4 link rear with coilovers to cure that problem right after I got it.

    It still didn't drive particularly well as they had put a GM power steering gear in it, again I presume it came from the LeSabre. The steering was really SLOW. Going aroud a mild bend in the road required major steering wheel input and it took some getting used to, especially after getting out of a quick steering car. Also, they used the 455/TH400 transmission and the crossflow radiator on the "build".

    This past week I decided it was time to strip the old girl down and give her a proper rebuild and make her into a car I can drive on long trips. So this build will include some non traditional elements and will be a mild custom.

    Here is what I encountered as I removed the front end. The original core support which holds the entire front end up had been cut off below the bumper filler panel and the all of the weight was being held up by the bumper mounts and that sawed off core support. The cross flow radiator had become a stressed member and was holding the front end together, side to side. So, I'm going to have to reconstruct mounting points for the front end as I do this build.

    Next, once I got the sheet metal off, I could see that they had notched the DS frame rail in half to accommodate the GM steering gear. Not only that, they also torched out the diagonal brace from the frame rail to the crossmember. Jesus, I'm glad I hadn't really studied this beforehand!

    Given the state of the front end and the lousy way it drove, I felt that a total front end replacement was the best solution. So, I ordered an OT stub from FatMan and will be installing it. Before I could do that, I had to cut the "reinforcement out of the notched portion of the frame and rebuild it so that I could attach the stub. That is where I am at this point.

    Overall, this old car is in really good shape. This biggest body work will be replacing the inner and outer rockers, I think.........but you really never know.

    0311191708.jpg 0312191119.jpg 0312191119a.jpg 0312191119c.jpg 0313191208.jpg 0315191126a.jpg 0315191426.jpg 0315191426a.jpg 0315191709.jpg
     
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  2. dirt t
    Joined: Mar 20, 2007
    Posts: 4,571

    dirt t
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Kingman,AZ
    1. HAMB Old Farts' Club

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  3. Sporty45
    Joined: Jun 1, 2015
    Posts: 763

    Sporty45
    Member
    from NH Boonies

    Scary looking "mods" they did! Got any pics of the car itself? :cool:
     
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  4. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,248

    BJR
    Member

    I put a 78 Trans Am front clip in my 49 Super. Fit in there perfect, and steers and rides great. 1949 Buick first ride.jpg 49 frame with clip 2.jpg
     
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  5. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Before pictures.

    BJR, I looked for a subframe but had trouble finding one with rear steer. I have one under my 48 Buick Convertible. I just decided it was cleaner and easier to go this way.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,248

    BJR
    Member

    Mine is not rear steer, and it fits together just fine with a little trimming.
     
    rockable likes this.
  7. 0NE BAD 51 MERC
    Joined: Nov 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,151

    0NE BAD 51 MERC
    Member

    Beautiful car. Fatman has a great product, you will be happy with it. Just don't show to many pictures of it on here. :oops: They really hate when you do that!:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: lol But rules are rules. Larry
     
  8. Sporty45
    Joined: Jun 1, 2015
    Posts: 763

    Sporty45
    Member
    from NH Boonies

    Great looking car! :cool:
     
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  9. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,248

    BJR
    Member

    Wish I would have started with a car as nice as yours.
     
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  10. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    They are hard to find!
     
  11. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I'm just about finished with the stub install. (This fabrication part would apply to any front clip/stub install.) Then, I have to do the engine and transmission mounts. Since I had to repair the frame right where the stub is welded in, I decided to put external gussets on it and follow Buster's first law. "When in doubt, make it stout!"

    After that, I have to figure out how to mount all the sheet metal that has been hacked up. Fat47 has been helping me understand how it all is supposed to go together.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  12. gsnort
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 205

    gsnort
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    40's-50's Buicks are so cool.
     
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  13. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I sure like them and so do people attending car shows!
     
  14. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,248

    BJR
    Member

    40's and 50's Buicks get everybody excited.:p:D
     
  15. Martino Bavaro
    Joined: Nov 2, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Martino Bavaro
    Member
    from Toronto

  16. jonnyonedrip
    Joined: Sep 23, 2010
    Posts: 121

    jonnyonedrip
    Member
    from canada

    Looks awesome to me... great car
     
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  17. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    So, today I worked on the radiator and core support. Like Walt ( Fat47) I elected to use the Walker radiator condensor combo. (Darn, that copper and brass is heavy!) In order to clear the condensor, I had to modify the core support. I had an extra hacked up core support, so I used the cross member off of it to accomplish my mods. I made some 1 3/4" spacers and just welded them on.

    Here are some pictures. You will notice the core support is asymmetrical. It does fit the radiator, however, so I guess it is correct. Fitting the sheet metal is going to be fun! Not!

    0326191317.jpg 0326191550.jpg 0326191550a_HDR.jpg 0326191550_HDR.jpg 0326191506.jpg
     
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  18. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,248

    BJR
    Member

    Yea, I found out the radiator is off to one side of car for the straight 8 to center the fan. I moved my aluminum radiator to the side to help center it so the 472 fan would pull air through the core.
     
  19. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I may use an electric fan, so it won't matter.
     
  20. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Today was finish installing the drivetrain day. My buddy Frank gave me a 700R4 in exchange for helping him out with his Square body truck. Pretty good deal for about 2 hours work. It may not be rebuildable because it was full of water when he got it but it served the purpose of helping me fit my mounts.

    First, installed a TransDapt adapter to mate the 455 Buick up with the 700R4. It's a well engineered adapter with everything you need.

    0327191311.jpg

    Next, I fixed the OE crossmember. It had lots of holes in it. The pictures are self explanatory but not in order.

    0329190915a.jpg 0329191012.jpg 0329190915.jpg

    Next, I made my brackets to connect the frame to the OE engine mounts. They are 12 bucks each and easy to adapt to, so I used them. I simply drilled a hole in the 1 1/2" X 3" tubing, then sawed off half of the hole. A small pie cut on each side allowed me to taper the tubing to the pipe. After welding it up, I fitted it to the frame and welded them on. Everything is hunky, dory.

    Next up will be assembling the from suspension and then fitting the sheet m metal. Fortunately, another buddy, Richard, is an expert at this and volunteered to help me out.

    0329191455.jpg 0329191538.jpg 0329191237.jpg
     
  21. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Yesterday, my buddy Richard came over and helped me piece the front end back together and help reconstruct the mounting. After getting it set up on blocks, getting the gaps right and checking for squareness, I came up with a design that is stronger than the factory and will allow me to get rid of the OE inner fenders and replace them with some that allow me more room for the A.C. compressor. It hangs off the passenger side of the the engine, outboard of the alternator. It's not like a SBC, so I need the room more than I need the fresh air vents! I will cover both sides of the mount with 18 gauge sheet metal to box it and make it very strong.

    I had to move the core support cross member a couple of times and I changed the design to allow me more flexibility. I will post a picture of it later.

    0402190954.jpg 0402191318a.jpg 0402191705.jpg 0402191705a.jpg
     
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  22. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    After convincing myself I had everything figured out and located correctly, I blew it apart again today for final welding on the core support crossmember, fixed the bumper holes, reinforced the core support to handle side loads and boxed the new side supports. I ran out of welding gas, so I should finish up tomorrow and then reassemble again. This should be much stronger than the original. 0403191627.jpg 0403191624a.jpg 0403191624.jpg
     
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  23. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Finished the support panels and re installed the fenders today without inner fenders. I cut the ends out of the inner fenders and mounted them so that I can incorporate them with my new inner fenders. You can see from one picture how much space I'm going to need for the compressor.

    Everything is super solid and gaps are good. So far, I'm happy with how this is going.

    0404191633a.jpg 0404191633b.jpg 0404191633.jpg
     
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  24. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 7,902

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    Looks can be deceptive, that's a good looking car and they cut corners like that. Anyway it's in good hands now and is a lot safer. It will drive, steer, stop and handle a LOT better. I've installed OT suspension in my 46 Olds and will modify the OEM inner fender baffles to hide the upgrade and keep the engine bay clean and tidy. Love that original look.

    Talk about an agricultural and unsafe adaption of a PS box and relying on that thin section of frame behind the box just defies belief. Even the upper shock absorber mounts leave a lot be be desired! Yikes :eek::eek:

    upload_2019-4-5_13-1-9.png

    Have you considered some additional gussets to tie the engine mounts to the frame top face as Buicks like Cadillac's are know for their weight and torque. It would spread the load better IMO and fulcrum affect with current single supports either side.
    upload_2019-4-5_13-8-1.png
     
  25. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Yes, I plan to gusset the engine mounts before I'm done. Thanks.

    That is a scary way to add power steering, isn't it?
     
  26. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here is a sneak peek at my new inner fenders. I made some wire forms and then made a pattern of poster paper. The pattern is ugly because it got cut and taped up a lot but it did it's job. The inner fender still needs a little trimming and some mounts added but it's close. 0405191117.jpg 0405191118.jpg 0405191654_HDR.jpg 0405191652_HDR.jpg 0405191652a_HDR.jpg
     
  27. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Both sides are done, except for a few little brackets. Making the pattern was the hard part. Since the car is basically symmetric, it worked for both sides. It ain't pretty but it works. 0406191052.jpg 0406191423_HDR.jpg 0406190947a_HDR.jpg
     
  28. brokedownbiker
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 471

    brokedownbiker
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Just found this thread; it is looking great. You're taking your time and thinking it through, would have been nice if the previous owner had done that, huh? How about some pics of the whole car?
     
    rockable likes this.
  29. L. Eckart
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 386

    L. Eckart
    Member

    Man, I like your Buick and your ideas and work!
     
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  30. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,811

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Post #5 has a couple of shots.
     
    flynbrian48 and chryslerfan55 like this.

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