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Projects Slow and poor '37 Buick

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Stooge, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Longtime Lurker and infrequent poster, but Im starting to get a little bit underway on my '37 Buick Century so I figure I would start a thread so I can guess my way through my first HAMB friendly car, (though I have worked on a few that fit). Picked it up a few months ago while I was finishing up an off topic 5yr every-piece-of-the-puzzle changed truck, and adamant that the next project would be a complete, maybe even driver that just needed to be cleaned up a bit. Instead I bought a completely blown apart and stripped '37 Buick Century coupe that was missing the engine, transmission, wiring, plumbing, brakes, interior, etc. Just a body on a chassis, but wasn't too rusty and had a Massachusetts title and was located in upstate New York.
    I have since found a running 320 straight 8 out of a '47 Roadmaster and a Buick big series 6 bolt transmission out of another '37. Plans are 4 Stromberg 97's, a sweeping homemade header, some black paint and black wheels, black wall tires, and probably not much of an interior.
    Theres also a '58 Edsel Villager station wagon project with a buddy of mine that we picked up in Iowa back in September. that will be mostly rust repairs and shoehorning a 460 big block with a C6 for use as a family hauler and dog mover. I am also finishing up metal work on a slightly off topic '66 GTO for someone

    buick house.jpg

    Folding chair next to the rear wheel for size reference. 126" wheel base and without the weight of the engine and trans, the roof is right around 6ft

    buick 1.jpg

    320.jpg

    trans.jpg

    trailer.jpg
     
  2. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Getting started on the body,its in pretty good shape overall, but the door bottoms, some sections of the door sills on the body and a decent section of the floor are going to need to be repaired. I've been working on sanding back and removing all of the crust, surface rust and old paint from the car, and started working on the driver side door. I don't think theres much out there for patch panels for this car, but I didn't really look too hard either, but I started making an outer lower skin and inner structure with some hammers and dollies and it turned out alright I think.

    door start.jpg

    door 2.jpg

    door 3.jpg
    door 4.jpg

    door clean.jpg

    door inside start.jpg

    door paint.jpg

    door patch start.jpg



    door weld 1 .jpg

    door weld 2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  3. nunattax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2011
    Posts: 2,511

    nunattax
    Member

    THATS A GREAT PROJECT SUBSCRIBED
     
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  4. philo426
    Joined: Sep 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,035

    philo426
    Member

    Yes interesting project for sure!The car looks like they grafted a large sedan front clip to a business coupe.Probably to accomodate the long straight eight.
     

  5. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Came from the factory that way. The length of the front had nothing to do with being a sedan or coupe...had to do with whether it was the standard sized Buick Special, (and later, the Super) that used the smaller straight eight...or the Century such as Stooge has that uses a longer front end to accommodate the larger engine...or the Roadmaster that uses the LONGEST front end and also uses the larger engine.
     
  6. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    The Century was considered to be the "factory hot rod" of the three, because it had the highest power/weight ratio.
     
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  7. ol-nobull
    Joined: Oct 16, 2013
    Posts: 1,604

    ol-nobull
    Member

    Hi. WOW, that should be one fine ride. I expect when you install the big straight 8 & the tranny it will have quite a different stance from what it is now.
    Keep us updated with photo's as work progresses. Jimmie
     
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  8. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Stooge, I love love LOVE your car. I'm actually a little envious. I want it...lol. I like the early Fords as we all do, but I've got a thing for the late '30s GMs...especially '36, '37 and '38. Chevy, Olds, Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick...I like 'em. I like that GM was refining their cars with full steel turrets and an inherantly-stronger, tighter body and chassis...and even including IFS...yet retained the early styling a little longer than Ford did, with the tall narrow grill, separate headlight buckets, and visible running boards.
    I've owned a handful of Buicks...'51 Roadmaster Riviera 2dr...(hardtop) that was quite the car. My wife said that whenever we rode in the '51, she "felt like the classiest broad around". Lol. Also had a '53 Special 2dr hardtop, a '52 Roadmaster 4dr and a '46 Super 4dr. Though the Buicks have certain "qualities" that some consider "shortcomings" that can make hopping up and modifying these cars a little more difficult...such as the long crankshaft that tends to flex under higher-than-normal power levels, the Dynaflow trans, the rear suspension, etc...none of it is impossible to deal with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  9. philo426
    Joined: Sep 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,035

    philo426
    Member

    Yes that torque tube instead of a normal driveshaft can be a problem too.
     
  10. zzford
    Joined: May 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,823

    zzford
    Member

    WOW! That is one long car! Have you considered, rather than the straight eight, maybe 3 or 4 nailheads end to end?
     
  11. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    I like the '36, '37 and '38 Century and Roadmaster coupes so much and they are difficult enough to find and therefore can be quite expensive...that I've had thoughts of buying a dilapidated 4dr Century or Roadmaster and a Special coupe and combine them to make a Century or Roadmaster coupe.
    I like the idea of kind of a "resto-rod"...a "gentleman's hot rod". I imagine using a later V8, (probably a 401/425 Nailhead, 5spd and limited-slip rear axle and stock wheels/caps/bias-ply tires. And a completely original-style interior...with the original floor-shift-lever rowing the 5spd. Still, I wouldn't discount running a warmed up 320 as you plan. Those 320s are torquey...I could break the tires loose on my Riviera.
    Will be watching your progress. There are a few threads here about hopped-up straight eight Buick engines. At least one thread about a 320 with multiple carbs and header. Good luck with your Buick!
     
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  12. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Hey Stooge...when you pull the intake manifold and exhaust, don't lose the split metal rings that help to seal the intake. They're just inside the intake maifold at the head/intake mating surface. Easy enough to make if you lose them...and I've done that...but it's maybe better to use the originals.
     
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  13. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    And in my opinion, one of the best things you can do for the I8 is to install a header/headers and multiple carbs. Those doggone exhaust maifolds frequently crack and leak. And they're pretty restrictive too...as are the single carb and intake manifolds.
     
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  14. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Buick did offer a progressive dual carb setup, but even those are a little "different".
    The std trans shift linkage is a bit different and complicated too.
     
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  15. Al Consoli
    Joined: Mar 26, 2008
    Posts: 1,603

    Al Consoli
    Member

    I must say that the front end does look longer than mine, but it must be an optical illusion because I know they were all the same.

    1w_7T5A0943.jpg
     
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  16. Max Power
    Joined: Jun 13, 2006
    Posts: 15

    Max Power
    Member
    from St Paul MN

    Very cool. Love the Edsel too.
     
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  17. Clay Belt
    Joined: Jun 9, 2017
    Posts: 381

    Clay Belt
    Member

    Should put a V12 in it *only half joking*. Either way, sweet ride
     
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  18. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,885

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Agreed. Thee are only two front end lengths in that era, the shorter Special and longer Century/Roadmaster/Limited.....and they only differ by 4 to 5 inches to accommodate the 320 length. The interesting thing is, it’s only the hood that is longer...the front fenders are the same length, but mounted farther forward on the cowl. There is a slight modification of the fender flange at it’s interface with the cowl, but otherwise the same.

    I bought a ‘38 Century Coupe several years ago, later sold it to a good friend who still has it. About four years ago I missed that car so much I bought a ‘38 Special Coupe. Another close friend has two ‘38 two door sedans. I agree with Rickybop’s comments about the GM cars of that period in particular and through the ‘40s in general.

    To the OP (Stooge), I like your Buick and your plans for it. You are doing a great job on the body repairs and I will be following along as you post progress reports.

    Ray
     
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  19. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Hey thanks guys! I have worked on a few later 30's chevy and Plymouth cars before, but were all either Camaro or mustang clipped with SBC's and I wanted to do something a little different with this one. Part of the massive size and the classy, art deco style that the Buick really was enthusiastic about was what really sold me on the car, and was one of those 'love at first sight' type deals as I had actually been looking for a 49-52 chevy coupe for the last couple of years, but also had always really liked late 30's GM so it was an easy sale. Being cheap and having a Massachusetts title was all the convincing I needed and I drove 13hrs in 1 day to Upstate New York to get it, 2 days after driving 29hrs straight from Iowa to get the Edsel back here, it was a weird week!

    From what I've read, there were only about 2600 Century coupes made in 1937, so rare enough, although I didn't know that when I bought it. Previous owner was planning on putting it on a minitruck chassis with an LS. before I found the 320, I was going to let whatever I found dictate where I was headed with it and was playing with the idea of a Nailhead and the Muncie from the GTO as the owner of that car wants to put a 5speed in it. Using the stock 3 speed lets me keep the torque tube rear, as well as not having to redesign some sort of motor mounts as the bellhousing has ears on either side that act as half of the 4 motor mounts, outside of the transmission mount.

    I haven't weighed any of it yet, but supposedly a fully dressed engine and trans is right around 1000-1100lbs so it should bring the stance of it down quite a bit. its a coil spring front IFS and rear leafsprings, but im going to get the engine and trans in before I decide on lowering it, but it will probably be fairly mild.

    I bought the engine for $500, and have since sold off the intake, carb, choke stove and the unbroken parts of the exhaust manifold for right around $400. I believe the rings inside the intake ports were used for aligning them at the factory as well as some sort of seal as there was no gasket in place, although I will be using something for them when I make up my intake runners. im thinking 1 runner for each of the 4 intake ports on a 90* round elbow with a Stromberg 97. im not sure if I will need to add some sort of equalizer/ plenum between them, that's something i'll have to look into a bit more. A company called Hells Gate Hot Rods sells the intake and exhaust flanges so i'll be using them when I get to that point.

    I believe the century also had a 'highway' geared rear end of a 3.70, and was SUPPOSEDLY given the name century since it could hit 100mph, but that could just be a coincidence.
     
  20. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Over the weekend, and before I start breaking the body down for some more body repairs, I wanted to get the running boards started. the car didn't come with either side, nevermind a junky pair I could just repair. Temporarily hung the door, broke out the cardboard and went from there. 5 1/2ft of running boards meant I had to tape my stupid pieces of cardboard together :cool:

    cardboard.jpg 1.jpg

    2.jpg

    5.jpg

    And over onto some scrap sheet metal I had been hanging onto. a few modifications and I had a nice rounded edge and a folded square edge underneath to add a little rigidity. I need to find or make some brackets to mount and align them, as well as add a little more structure underneath to make them stronger.

    3.jpg 4.jpg

    6.jpg 7.jpg

    Funny how they can make a big car look even bigger!
    8.jpg
     
  21. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Hi Hnstray...Ray...good to see you.
    I know for sure (I think...lol) that the Roadmasters had a longer wheelbase than the Century. And you seem to know your Buicks, so it sounds like the longer wheelbase of the Roadmaster was due not to a longer hood, but the further forward position of the fenders and front axle. Ok...sounds right. Makes sense that there was no need for a difference in hood length between the Century and Roadmaster since they both used the same engine.
    It doesn't really serve Stooge much, but since we're on the subject...I'm guessing that the Limited (limo) used the Roadmaster front end, and the additional wheelbase was simply due to the additional length of the body.
    I agree that Stooge's car looks longer in the front than yours. Gee...I wonder if he accidentally got himself a Roadmaster coupe.
    Hey Stooge...measure your wheelbase.
    I looked up the wheelbases for 1937.
    Special 122
    Century 26
    Roadmaster 31
    Limited 38
     
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  22. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,885

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    I thought, perhaps incorrectly, the Century ratio was 3.90......but either way, a significant improvement over the 4.40 ratio used in the 248 powered models! Buick rear axle housings have the same third member bolt pattern thru ‘55 models. I don’t know about the ring and pinion interchange compatibility, but some combination of parts likely will allow use of the mid ‘50s Dynaflow 3.36 gears.

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
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  23. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I could very well be wrong on the gear ratio, I thought that's what I had heard, but like you said, it could be worse and should be fine for me! swapping out the rear ends TO '37 century rears seemed to be 'a thing' as it was the more desirable gear ratio.

    I haven't got out and measured yet, but from my research, what I was told, and what was written on the hood in paint pen, was it is 126" wheel base and the title and the trim are both pointing to Century. Maybe its just the angle of the picture? from cowl to grille is 6ft and for some perspective, the headlights are 19" long. the long wheelbase made for an interesting drive home in the pouring rain in the poorly lit highway through the mountains

    hoodmeasure.jpg
    trim.jpg

    headlight.jpg

    Not much breathing room on the fullsize uhaul trailer!

    trailer.jpg
     
  24. philo426
    Joined: Sep 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,035

    philo426
    Member

    What gauge steel is strong enough for the running boards,and now many supports that attach to the frame are required?
     
  25. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The running board sheet metal I am using is 16gauge, and were new take offs of industrial shelving, and already had the rounded edge. they were getting tossed at work and im always open to inherit whatever scrap sheet metal is getting scrapped. they were too short by about 8 inches so I had to get a little creative and section part of one of them to add on to another. Stock there would be 2 supports and 2 runners going down the length of the board underneath so i'll do the same. they will be mostly for aesthetics but should be more than stout enough when done. I am also adding a lip around the front and rear fender facing edges to stiffen them up a bit, this was just roughly done as I still need to trim them back a bit to fit properly.
     
  26. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,885

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Thanks for the post. I will have to do a bit more research to figure out if I have it wrong on some of this......and I well may. I do know that the longer hood/same fender length between Special and Century is correct. The chassis wheelbase of a Century is definitely longer, all ahead of the firewall. Special and Century use the same body shells, firewall back.

    I guess the question is, do Roadmasters have a longer body than Special/Century that would account for the even longer wheelbase, presumably after the firewall. If that were not the case, there would be little substantive reason to have bought a Roadmaster over a Century. I do know Limiteds have noticeably longer body lengths than Roadmasters.

    I’ll have to ‘hit the books’.....I really do not want to be disseminating incorrect information.

    Ray
     
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  27. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I believe you are correct Hnstray, there was someone over on the AACA/ Buick Club forum who had a century with a rotted out body, and kept the fenders and hood, but swapped over a donor body from a special. I think I remember some pictures of the fenders being the same'ish size, but the mountings and some other aspect were different.
     
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  28. coilover
    Joined: Apr 19, 2007
    Posts: 634

    coilover
    Member
    from Texas

    On my 37 Special I used the 263 straight eight, 2004R OD trans, open 70 El Camino rear end with 4.11 gears (gives a 2.88 final in OD), tube shocks all 4 corners, 12v, p/s, p/b, and of course a/c. Looks completely factory stock and has been all over the U.S. trouble free. A fun car that drives great, rides super, and stops just decently so always allow a little extra room. You'll not regret this project.

    Deep snow 011.jpg
     
  29. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 446

    Stooge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I think ive seem that car somewhere on the internet before, doesnt it have a gm tilt column as well? Really like what you did with it and it looks great! I've had a few ideas of upgrading atleast the manual master cylinder while keeping in the stock under floor position, but thats awhile away yet
     
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  30. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,957

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    I also think everything you stated is true, Ray. Always good for us to toss it around though. I was wrong once...lol. I don't wanna accidentally steer anybody wrong either.
    And this info...the differences...are what I'm gonna need BEFORE I might someday get halfway through a sedan-to-coupe conversion, only to realize..."Uh-oh...it won't work." Lol.
     
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