dagibsonsg

1954 Buick Super 56R Frame-off restoration

89 posts in this topic

I just bought a 54' Buick Super a few weeks ago and am in the process of doing a frame off restoration. I'll post pics along the way and I'll definitely run into some issues I'll need help with. My goal is to have it completed in 5 years hopefully sooner but you never know what might come up. I've never done a frame off restoration so I'll be taking it slow to make sure its done right. I've seen some plans for rotisseries online and I was thinking of building one so that way it would be easer to work on the floor pans and any other areas that need to be replaced. For now just focused on getting her stripped down to the point I can get the body removed. So far I have the front end and fenders removed, seats, and all hardware from doors. Rockers and floor pans definitely need replacing. Is it easier to replace the rockers and floor pans with body off of the frame or while on the frame? I was planning on bracing it the way dgifford did in his pics.

Drake in Washington Twp, MI

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You have a very good car to restore.  I see your helper is pointing out some metal work in the rockers.   The seat plastic surround there by your worker, look in good shape.  These are the parts that are had to find if lost or destroyed.   

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I am working on a 54 more door super as well, I wish I was at your level when I started. take lots of photo's and save them on a disc (not a phone in case it takes a shit) bag and label all the little parts so you know what they are in 4 years. I am replacing lots of nuts and bolts due to corrosion, but mostly due to poor labeling of my bags. its going to be -10 here this weekend and another snow storm so I may be in the garage too...

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Hey Chris, yeah the little guy is great at finding trouble... hehe..  the plastic isn't in too bad shape for the seats just was kind of hanging on there though so might have some plastic broken on the inside. The seats on the other hand have the foam falling apart and need repair. The previous owner must have left it outside to rot as there is quite a bit of rust inside.

Old-tank,  So keep it on body and work on the rockers and pans. Thanks for the advice. so one rocker at a time then the floor pans?

Jerry, I'll be doing the same thing as it seems every screw and bold I remove is rusted out on this thing. I barely removed the screws on some of the door hardware and upper trim around the doors is really hard to remove as the screws are so rusted out. I'tll be a long process for sure. Looks like you have yours stripped down to bare metal already and frame is looking good with the engine on it. Are those all new parts on the front end?

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If raise your car to work on the rockers and floors don't put your stands on frame to support it as it will flex . Put the stands on the rear axel and the front suspension so its like its on its wheels. Check the door gaps before and after you raise the car making sure the gaps  don't change. I  would keep the doors on while I fit the rockers making sure all the gaps look good before welding the rockers on. You don't want any surprises later on.

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old-tank and MrEarl like this

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save and label them bolts and screws anyways. You can always toss them when its done.

Body is stripped but waiting to go to get blasted this spring. (Nooks and crannies).

The garage is climate controlled.

All original parts cleaned/blasted and painted, all new bolts, where available...

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Hi Jerry, Yeah I've been saving the bolts and screws for everything I take off and placing them in snack ziplock bags labeled with a tag what they belong to. Having problems taking some of the rusted screws off of from the stainless trim. They are rusted on tight! Most I removed by hammering a phillips bit that is perfect fit onto the screw just to loosen up the rust a bit and then ratchet it off. There are several I may need to drill out as they will not move. I soaked them in PB Blaster for days now and that did not help. Any other ideas or should I get an extractor set? The trim screws are pretty small I just don't want to screw up the threads but might not have a choice.

Are you taking the car somewhere to get blasted or doing it at home? I see so much rust top to bottom and am wondering if I should get it acid dipped. THere is a place in Michigan that does it, if they are still open, and they will then e-coat it from what I read. I heard good things and bad things about it so still debating what I should do there but have plenty of time before I get to that point.

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Hey Jim, I'll get it up on the stands like you recommended once I finish stripping off all the trim, removing the glass, take out the dash and have it completely stripped down. The entire floor panel looks rusted but once I get in there hopefully its just the pans. I didn't see any place that provides an entire floor like they do for chevy's.

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2 hours ago, dagibsonsg said:

Hey Jim, I'll get it up on the stands like you recommended once I finish stripping off all the trim, removing the glass, take out the dash and have it completely stripped down. The entire floor panel looks rusted but once I get in there hopefully its just the pans. I didn't see any place that provides an entire floor like they do for chevy's.

I can not either.  Plenty of piece meal pans.   

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23 hours ago, dagibsonsg said:

Hi Jerry, Yeah I've been saving the bolts and screws for everything I take off and placing them in snack ziplock bags labeled with a tag what they belong to. Having problems taking some of the rusted screws off of from the stainless trim. They are rusted on tight! Most I removed by hammering a phillips bit that is perfect fit onto the screw just to loosen up the rust a bit and then ratchet it off. There are several I may need to drill out as they will not move. I soaked them in PB Blaster for days now and that did not help. Any other ideas or should I get an extractor set? The trim screws are pretty small I just don't want to screw up the threads but might not have a choice.

Are you taking the car somewhere to get blasted or doing it at home? I see so much rust top to bottom and am wondering if I should get it acid dipped. THere is a place in Michigan that does it, if they are still open, and they will then e-coat it from what I read. I heard good things and bad things about it so still debating what I should do there but have plenty of time before I get to that point.

some of those little, tiny trim screw are made from unobtainium. save what you can... heat will ruin the trim, so let it soak in some penetrating oil for as long as you can stand it.

I did most of the paint removal by hand with razors, sanding and chemicals. I need to have the underside of it and nooks and crannies media blasted. I may or may not be doing it myself this spring/summer depending if I get a loaner a rotisserie.

I have heard bad things about acid and soda if they are not properly/completely neutralized.

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Jerry, I let some of the screws holding the trim around the windows soak for almost a week and a few will not budge so I'll have to drill them out. Definitely definitely will not be using torch on them so no worries there. I removed all the enterior just have the dash and steering wheel that i need to remove. That has been a bit of a slow process as I only have the shop manual which doesn't show how to disassemble the dash completely.  Just taking it piece at a time and figuring it out as I go. Once the dash and steering wheel are out I'll put the car on stands and start sanding the floor to see how much needs to be replaced. Its looking pretty rough and someone already did some bad patchwork on it. :moil:

 

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This is why I don't believe half of the velocity channel shows that turn those car around in 7 days! They never show that rusty bolt that cripple your knuckles. It took me 4 years to build my car and mine was an in-frame resto. Obviously, I did not have much time to work on it since I, like  most of us here, have to provide to our families.

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Take a lot of pictures like Jerry said! you won't be sorry you did. When you are  putting it back together years from now you will be asking yourself  where did that wire go and how did they run that wire, and what went in this hole and where did this thing go. Then you look at all your pictures and hope you have the one you need. when you take a part off take a picture of the of the part and fasteners and where it came from. If you do this you still won't have the picture you wished you had taken.But when you find the picture  you need to a big smile will come to your face.

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Pictures have helped me quite a bit.  A part gets sent out for work and arrives back in 3 months.  Completely forget how it is bolted back on.

 

Doug helped me remember where on studded head bolt goes for the generator bracket.  When he handed me the head bolts in Allentown that came with the heads I purchased for him he said, "I even have the studded head bolt for the generator bracket in there."    If he did not say that to me I would have completely been befuddled on that single head bolt and generator bracket set up.   With that said, if you can't identify a part and where it goes send a pic to us here.   Everyone here has seen every pit and piece that makes up a 54 Buick.  If we can't identify it....it don't belong on the 54. :)

 

Looking forward to seeing this one come together!       

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I hear ya. I'm trying to take pictures every time I take something apart but you know how that goes. Sometimes you get going and forget to take a shot so its good to know I can always check back with you guys here on the forum. I'm slowly disconnecting all the wireless and cables from the dash now and have loosened  the six bolts holding it in place. I'm thinking I should probably remove the steering wheel completely out of the way first to give me room to work on the dash. a bit tight back there trying to get your hand on the little connections to remove them.

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I disconnected mostly everything from the dash but looks like the temperature guage is still attached and holding the dash in place. is there a special way it needs to be disconnected or does it just pull off? It looks like a connection that pushes on but I couldn't remove it and wanted to make sure before I yank the connection off and screw it up. I removed the radio and man that thing is a brick! It's like a mini amp/radio/speaker built into one! pretty cool. Here's a pic.

 

 

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TEMP GAUGE...be careful of the tube that is attached to the back. It is one piece that runs to a bulb that is mounted on the driver side cylinder head.  It is full of gas and a sealed system(hopefully yours still is).     

 

I swiped this pic from a post Lamar put up.  The hard line with the coiled metal sleeve around it is a sealed item.   The nut looking piece on the right were the hard line runs through is screwed into the head on the driver side.   Remove the gauge as one piece with this line attached.  Hopefully your is still sealed and full of the gas that makes the gauge function. 

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Appreciate the quick response! I was worried it was something like that luckily I didn't try to pry the connection off. I'll go ahead and unbolt the gauge like you recommended. Once removed I should be able to get the dash out and then be able to remove all the duct work and wipers after that. THANKS CHRIS!

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1 hour ago, dagibsonsg said:

Appreciate the quick response! I was worried it was something like that luckily I didn't try to pry the connection off. I'll go ahead and unbolt the gauge like you recommended. Once removed I should be able to get the dash out and then be able to remove all the duct work and wipers after that. THANKS CHRIS!

It is the oddest system I have seen but the again I cut my teeth on cars that utilize resistance, voltage and Ohms to make things work.   This gauge uses a gas and is sealed.   My only involvement with the probe from the gauge to the head was removing the bulb that is secured to the head so as to remove the head.  Fortunately the bulb was not encrusted with years of unchanged antifreeze and came loose without issue.  I know enough about this gauge to be careful with it and the hard line is part of the entire system.  

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I finally have the complete dash out! Now moving on to strip the entire firewall and remove all the wiring. Is the main distributor duct that is shown in the picture, that runs across the entire back of the firewall bolted from outside the firewall? Also, I removed six bolts that were on the defroster inner housing that connects to the main distributor duct but it will not budge. Is that because of the gasket is holding it tight so it needs to be pried off or are there bolts on the outside that are holding it tight? I didn't see any and I can't remove the outer housing until I get the inner out of the way to reach the bolts holding the outer.

 

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Do I need both Fisher 1954 Body Service Manual and 1954 Buick Factory Manual or do they contain both completely different information? I bot the shop manual but that doesn't have everything needed. I also saw someone post about 1954-Body -by-Fisher -Service-News-50-70-Series-Sedans. is that one needed as well?

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I'd recommend the Factory Shop Manual, the Fisher Body Manual, and the Chasis and Body Parts book as well. They all have different info that is useful. I've personally found that the manuals while incredibly helpful, are not always very specific. This forum is a great source of guidance to fill in those gaps. 

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Looking at how bad the top of the outer rocker is on the door sill, would you guys replace the entire outer rocker or just cut out the sill and cut the sill from from a new outer rocker and replace it? I can't tell how bad the outer rocker lower part was as it has been repaired, probably with bondo but for some reason they didn't fix the top of it. I'm thinking if the entire rocker was replaced it would look much smoother but alot more work involved. 

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