Al Hagovsky - ‘55 Buick Century:
Well after 6 months at Iron Mike’s Garage (with engine rebuilt by Rockville Ring & Bearing, and Dynaflow tranny rebuilt by County Transmission in Vienna, VA), the old Buick came home about 6 weeks ago. Upgrades included a 4 psi electric fuel pump installed near gas tank to help the fuel get to the rebuilt manual pump, and an electric cooling fan installed on the front of the radiator. Aux fan will kick on automatically at a certain temp, and I also have a manual switch on the dash that can allows me to turn it on at will.
First few days of test runs revealed an overheating issue with driver’s side head heating up fast, and thermostat appearing not to open. Seemed like a flow issue. I decided to tackle these issues myself with Iron Mike making a few house calls during the trouble-shooting for support and guidance.
I cannot praise Iron Mike enough. Professional, personable, accountable, accommodating, all-around great guy who cared about my vehicle as much as I do. Restored my faith in mechanics!!!
Decided to replace the water pump, thermostat, and investigate heat riser valve in driver’s side exhaust manifold. The water pump was around 8 years old, so we did not replace during the rebuild. Wanted to eliminate that as a potential issue. Thermostat was replaced, but turns out after removing and testing, it was barely opening. New 180 thermostat will be installed. Issue one resolved.
While thermostat and water pump were out, I decided to prep the area for installation of new parts. During this process I noticed something. I peered down into the thermostat housing and noticed a blocked cooling passageway. The bypass passageway from the bottom of the thermostat housing to the front of the timing chain cover (where water pump mounts) was completely blocked with RTV. Turns out during the installation of the cross-over pipes (which contain the thermostat housing) the guys in the garage had one heck of a time getting that housing to seal to the top of the timing chain cover. They used a little too much RTV. Luckily, I was able to use a long medical forceps and removed the blockage. “Surprise” issue two resolved.
Next, removed the driver’s side exhaust manifold, and found the heat riser valve was stuck almost in the fully closed position. Rather than mess with it, just decided to cut off the valve wings from the shaft, so it would always be open, no matter what position valve was in. Issue three resolved.
Then came the water pump. Sent it out to be rebuilt. Came back, installed it and it was leaking. Coolant getting past internal seal. Thought it might seal up after running it for a bit, but it actually got worse. So had to remove it and send it back for a refund. Luckily I had two original water pumps in my attic and sent those to a different shop to have them both rebuilt. They came back and installed one. No leaks. Potential issue four resolved.
Turns out that several small issues can lead to a large issue. In this case, a significant over-heating problem.
Happy to report that the old Buick is running happy. Had put 50 miles on it this past weekend and running at normal temp. Was fantastic to drive it around after so much time had passed. I was ecstatic!!! Then came the MD stay at home order. FIGURES!!!
I will continue to drive it around the neighborhood for testing but will not tempt driving it further. Do not want jail time or a $5,000 fine. HA HA!
Over the past few weeks I also tackled some under the dash work. Installed brand new defroster/heater control cables. Also, all new defroster/heater duct hosing, and fixed my stock windshield wipers. Two of the cables had become detached during remounting of the wiper motor. So got all that buttoned up and working.
Hope everyone is staying home and is healthy! Hope to see you all soon at car shows and cruise-ins.