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Thread: 1939 Buick Model 41 straight 8 engine wiring??

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    1939 Buick Model 41 straight 8 engine wiring??

    Hi this is my first post here, i was given a 1939 buick from my grandfather who was going to restore it. I recently removed the front nose and fenders and started cleaning things up a bit, Im looking for any info on the wiring for the engine, I know its pretty basic everything seems to be original, There is no battery and at first was thinking about converting to 12v but for the time being i want to do whatever the simplest route is just to get it running and so i can move it around if need be. Not worried about lights or any of that right now i just want to run it and get that figured out for now. Any help would be appreciated thanks in advance.

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    If you just want to see the engine run, the only wiring you need is from the battery to the coil and from the coil to the distributor. The coil feed can be taken from the starter solenoid. However, if you are using a 12V battery, you should connect a resistor in series with the coil to avoid burning the points. Don't make the final connection at the coil or battery until you are actually ready to start the engine (same reason - you don't want to burn the points). If the carb switch and relay aren't connected or operational, you can jump the solenoid with a screwdriver to crank the engine, but don't try this just yet.

    That takes care of the wiring, but if you are attempting to start an engine which has been sitting for a long while, you need to do a few other things first. If you can get any history on the car specifically relating to why it was put into storage, please tell us about it before going any farther. In other words, you want to know what problems the engine had the last time it ran (or wouldn't run) before you attempt to start it.

    If you don't hear about anything bad, take off the valve cover and turn the engine two full revolutions by hand. This is mainly to check for stuck valves so you don't bend any pushrods. Of course if you can't turn the engine at all, you have more serious problems and shouldn't attempt to use the starter until you can get the engine free.

    If the engine turns freely, loosen the oil drain plug just enough to see what runs out. If you get water or anything else other than reasonably clean oil, drain it all and replace with new oil.

    You won't need to worry about the cooling system for the first starting try. If you want to run the engine for longer than a minute or two, then fill up the radiator and check for leaks.

    Don't attempt to start the engine on the gasoline that is in the tank. Disconnect the inlet line from the fuel pump and temporarily run a hose from the pump to a can with fresh gas in it. Disconnect the fuel line at the carb end and crank the engine a few revolutions to make sure you are getting gas to the carb. Then reconnect the fuel line.

    Next, check for spark. You may need a helper for this. Connect battery power to the coil and pull the wire out of the distributor cap center terminal. Hold the end of the wire about 1/4" away from any metal part of the engine and crank the engine or have your helper crank it. If no spark, you will need to troubleshoot the ignition system before going any further.

    Once you know you have spark, remove the air filter and open the choke so you can look down inside the carb. Operate the throttle lever and see if you are getting a squirt from the accelerator pump. The float bowl should be pretty much full from the spark test, so if no squirt, the accelerator pump probably needs attention, but you don't need to worry about this right now. Instead, just pour about a tablespoon of gas down the carb for an initial prime.

    Connect power to the ignition and crank the engine. It should fire almost immediately on the prime, but if it won't keep running you may have other problems inside the carb that will need attending to.

    As soon as the engine starts, check the oil pressure gauge before you do anything else. If no pressure, shut it down immediately. Otherwise, keep the engine running and check for fuel leaks at the carb to avoid any fire hazard.

    If you need additional info, feel free to ask.

    Ray
    Last edited by raycow; 11-15-2012 at 08:42 PM.

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    Thank you for the reply, I have already gone through the engine as far as changing the oil and new hoses and coolant,for the time being im going to be running a brand new jeep gas tank i had laying around in the box, Im just starting to replace electrical things and i guess my other question would be if i use the original 6volt stuff and just get a new battery, what else should i get or need to get? Distributor cap,rotor,plugs,wires,coil,dist. condensor? anything else im forgetting? im just not sure if everything is there in the car. It was running a long time ago but sat then was picked here and there of parts so im not sure if its all there or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sm1311 View Post
    Im just starting to replace electrical things and i guess my other question would be if i use the original 6volt stuff and just get a new battery, what else should i get or need to get? Distributor cap,rotor,plugs,wires,coil,dist. condensor? anything else im forgetting? im just not sure if everything is there in the car. It was running a long time ago but sat then was picked here and there of parts so im not sure if its all there or not.
    Ignition parts normally don't deteriorate from just sitting, except maybe for wire insulation. Try flexing one of the plug wires to see if it is stiff or brittle. As long as the wire bends easily and doesn't open up any deep cracks, it should be fine. If the engine was in running condition when the car was parked, you won't need to replace any other parts unless they are missing.

    If the car was stored in an unheated area, you might want to take off the distributor cap to see if any significant amount of rust has developed inside. While you are inside the distributor, clean any dried grease off the cam and rubbing block, and smear a TINY amount of fresh grease on the cam. All you want on there is just the thinnest possible film of grease. Excess grease can get thrown off the cam and end up on the points where it will cause trouble.

    Ray

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    So for now if i just put in a universal 12v coil and wire it up, would that take care of not needing a resistor? and if i did that would i need to change out any other parts to handle the 12v? condenser?? and if so what would i use for it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sm1311 View Post
    So for now if i just put in a universal 12v coil and wire it up, would that take care of not needing a resistor? and if i did that would i need to change out any other parts to handle the 12v? condenser?? and if so what would i use for it?
    Yes, you can do that, but you have to make certain that your parts person understands that you need a 12V "no resistor" coil. A good parts store should have this part, but they were not very common on cars. You are more likely to find them on farm and industrial engines and other off-road applications. Absolutely DO NOT get a stock Buick 12V coil. Those were all intended to be used with an external resistor.

    All of the other ignition parts will be fine exactly as they are. Naturally, you shouldn't operate any of your other electrical equipment on 12V (lights, turn signals, heater, horn, cigarette lighter, etc.). Remove the brake light (tail light) bulbs or disconnect the brake light switch if you intend to use the brakes.

    Disconnect the wire from the BAT terminal of the voltage regulator. Disconnect the gas gauge. It gets power whenever the ignition is turned on and it won't last very long on 12V. If you don't know which wire on the gauge is power, disconnect both of them. You can leave the ammeter hooked up.

    Ray
    Last edited by raycow; 11-18-2012 at 10:43 PM.

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    If your parts person gives you that "deer-in-the-headlights" look, tell him Delco U515 for the coil. He should have an interchange listing for whatever brand of ignition parts he stocks.

    Ray
    Last edited by raycow; 11-19-2012 at 06:06 PM.

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    Need Help

    I have a 1939 Buick Special with a straight 8 and am trying to decide if it wouls be worth while to rebuild the engine in it or put a v-8 in it. I would like to make the engine in it a little better than stock if possible. I don't know what high performance or aftermarket parts are available. Any advice would be appreciated.

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