Last week, Davin gave a quick recap of the projects that he’ll be tackling this year. This week it’s time to get down to work. Up first: returning the Buick to the Hagerty Learning Garage, which means Davin gets to play with a new toy that recently arrived—a forklift.

“It might seem like overkill, but a forklift is one of those tools you don’t think you’ll use until you have one, and suddenly you find all kinds of uses for it,” Davin says. “For example, it’s a whole lot easier to lift this whole engine run stand into the pickup than to take the time to disassemble it all carry it piecemeal.”

Once loaded, the Buick straight-eight took a short blanket-covered trip to be reunited with the 1951 Buick that it will be bolted back into. The car, covered in fresh paint and nearing the finish line of its customizations, has been waiting for the engine to arrive. It should come together quickly now, but Davin is not at the shop to lend a hand with that; instead he’s there to pick up the 365 V-8 from the ’57 Cadillac that has already been stripped down to its frame, right next to the Buick.

The 365 is next up in the Redline Rebuild series, but if you want to see it torn down you’ll have to wait until next week. Davin says there are some interesting tidbits about this engine, and he’s going to dive into all that on a future episode of Redline Update.

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The Redline Rebuild process is never easy. Taking what is typically a heap of an engine and returning it to its former glory—or better—requires patience, time, and resources. When he first saw the Buick straight-eight, Davin thought it couldn’t possibly be worse than the boat anchor of a Buick Nailhead V-8 he tackled in 2019. If only he had known.

“This straight-eight was a runner, but it was real tired,” Davin says. “The goal of producing hot-rod looks and performance gave me some leeway in planning the build, but the hurdles I came up against were going to be problems even if we went back to a stock setup.”

The long-block came out of Hagerty’s 1951 Buick convertible, which had been languishing in the corner of the garage for years. There was great debate regarding the fate of the car and, consequently, that of its engine. We decided to create a period hot-rod and thus pulled the straight-eight and sent it over to Davin and team for a refresh and restyle.

“Since it was already a running engine, the teardown was pretty quick. There were no real signs of damage, but the block was plain worn out,” Davin says.

All eight cylinders received a heavy cut followed by pressed-in sleeves to bring the block back to serviceable condition. This process is fairly standard and made sense in the Buick’s case because the worn-out cylinders had already been bored .040 inch over stock, and larger pistons were not readily available. With the block tuned up, the cylinder head received the full machine-shop treatment as well and was cut for larger valves.

Those larger valves evolved into the first hurdle during the reassembly process, since the Buick 401 V-8 valves Davin chose are produced in two varieties. One design includes a straight valve stem; the other has a small step cut into its stem. Davin originally sourced the second variety—and discovered that the small step was perfectly positioned to destroy any valve stem seals. He had to order a second, straight-stemmed set—which was a pain, but nothing compared to the trouble he encountered with pistons.

The pistons took three rounds to get right. The first custom set came out with a goofy design that didn’t spark Davin’s confidence. The second set looked great, but the casting was incorrect and the piston rings didn’t fit. Finally, the third set worked, and he could button up the rotating assembly.

Once the long-block was built, the period-correct Edmunds intake manifold and modern tubular split header were carefully bolted into place, a process that required the use of all three of Davin’s arms—and he might have used a leg when the camera wasn’t rolling.

“That intake and exhaust manifold situation was something else,” Davin says. “For sure, something I am not in any rush to do again.”

At last, in this video, the engine moves over to the run stand for a test-fire and break-in before it heads back to its home in the Buick chassis. Success! The split manifold sound is spot-on hot-rod. Between the sound and the look, this straight-eight might be one of the coolest Redline Rebuild engines so far. After all, who knows what Davin has up his sleeve for 2021?

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Anytime the engine run stand leaves its home in the corner of the garage, Davin gets excited. This week there might be even more excitement than usual, because it means our Buick straight-eight is that much closer to finding its forever home in a car. First, Davin has to figure out how to pick the darn thing up.

The name of the pick-up game is to find a sturdy tie point. With the intake and exhaust manifolds occupying the entirety of the left side of the engine, it’s more chess than checkers. Davin settles on using the transmission mounting bosses on the rear and a strap around the generator up front. The only fear with this approach is that the engine might want to roll, with the strap positioned off-center; luckily that doesn’t prove to be a problem.

With the straight-eight off the rotating stand and settled into the run stand, the next step is getting all the ancillary systems in place to get the fuel, air, spark, and cooling that are necessary to start and break in the cam.

Of course, just pushing the button and the watching the engine just take off would be way too easy. Davin initially gets hamstrung with a starter that’s not spaced properly, and thus binds on engagement with the flywheel. On top of that, he discovers that the distributor is set 180 degrees off. Both issues are easily remedied, along with a water leak.

Ready to see the straight-eight light off? We know, it’s more than a little cruel, but that final moment comes next week. (This engine has been more than a little cruel to Davin, so he is merely passing along the authentic Redline Rebuild experience.)

Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and be ready for next Monday’s video. We promise it’s worth the wait to hear this hot rod roar.

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Every project has its critical milestones, and the Redline Rebuild Buick straight-eight just crossed off another one. Both engine and Davin are primed for starting.

This week’s update covers a lot of assembly. Most of it is fairly simple, but nevertheless quite important. The motor mounts, spark plug wires, and oil filter are all cool, but the star of the assembly show is on the driver’s side of the engine, where the custom headers and intake manifold are mounted up.

“Getting this all in place is not going to be fun,” says Davin as he prepares to thread more than a dozen studs into the engine block. “These studs all need to be in place, and then I’ll need an extra thumb or two to hold the intake and exhaust pieces in place while getting the hardware started and tightened up.”

Luckily, all the parts slip together on the first try. (I would bet Davin bought a lottery ticket on the way home with that kind of luck.) Bolting the manifold up does not mean this engine is ready for fuel to flow, though. The car this engine is destined for requires an electric choke, which means the factory Holley three-bolt carbs are not going to work. The intake manifold could not be re-fit, so Davin gets creative and started playing with plastic.

Using the gaskets for the intake manifold and Rochester carbs, Davin creates an adapter system that allows the four-bolt carbs to be fitted to the three-bolt intake manifold. It also looks pretty good with the reproduction Edmunds air cleaners perched atop the carbs.

With fuel, air, and spark now primed and ready on this engine, there are a few ancillary items to take care of once it goes on the engine stand. That, of course, is a task for next week. If you don’t want to miss hearing this hot rod straight-eight roar to life, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and watch for the latest Redline Update videos every Monday.

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Hydraulic lifters are a gift from above when it comes to keeping an engine running reliably for years on end. However, that only stays true if said lifters are properly set up during assembly. That is precisely what what Davin intends to do today, so let’s see how it’s done in this week’s Redline Update.

There are two types of lifters that concern us here—solid and hydraulic. (There are also roller and flat-tappet lifters, but for this discussion we are concentrating on the first two.) The difference lies in the body of the lifter. A hydraulic design fills with a cushion of oil that allows for the expansion and contraction of parts that happens with heat and wear. Solid lifters are, well, solid, which means that these lifters require maintenance at regular intervals to check for proper tolerance and prevent a catastrophic meltdown.

The Buick’s 16 lifters are all hydraulic, which means assembling the valvetrain can go fairly quickly. The key is to have the camshaft rotated to the appropriate place, so that the lifters are on the base circle of the cam when adjusting the final settings. This process can be unique to each engine, and as such, Davin had to check the procedure on the Buick a few times to make sure it all went to plan.

“On this Buick the trick is to adjust the intake just as the exhaust valve starts to open, and adjust the exhaust just as the intake starts to close,” says Davin, while locking the adjusters atop the bare rocker arms. “That’s because of how the lobes on the cam are positioned and overlap.”

With the cam and roller relationship straightened out, the next step is to tighten down the adjuster until there is zero lash on the pushrod. Typically this is done by rotating the pushrod between two fingers while tightening the adjuster, when there is just a bit of drag in the rotation. That’s zero lash. Then, add one-half turn to the adjuster, lock it down, and move on to the next one. That extra half turn is to preload the hydraulic portion of the lifter so that it works properly across the temperature and oil pressure range that the engine will see during use.

Yes, this is one of the easier steps of engine assembly, but there is still room for error. Take it slow and check your work as you go. If you’re at this stage on your project car, it likely means that means the first start-up is in sight, but we won’t hear the sound of our ol’ Buick roaring to life just yet. You’ll have to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and keep an eye out for when that episode hits our channel.

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There are many milestones in the engine assembly process, but when the pile of parts becomes something that actually looks like an engine, you’ve passed one of the most formidable checkpoints. Davin and the Buick straight-eight cross that threshold in this week’s Redline Update—not, of course, without a hiccup or two.

Even with all the documentation and guidance you can gather, sometimes the assembly process comes down to simple trial and error. Bolting down the Buick’s cylinder head is straightforward, but sliding together the shaft rocker assembly proves more challenging. The rocker arms are marked with “I”s and “O”s to designate which is intake and exhaust—at least, that’s what Davin thought. Turns out those marks actually tell the direction of the slight bend in each rocker arm that accounts for the offset between the pushrod and the valve.

“Sometimes you just have to assemble it and see if you are right,” says Davin about the valvetrain. “So long as you look at it with a critical eye and make sure you’ve got it right, it’s not a bad thing to make progress, even if it requires one step back to make two steps forward.”

The project did indeed take a step forward. While it’s not quite a long-block, the straight-eight is shaping up and will start to progress quickly. Items like the custom timing pointer Davin assembled will make that first startup much easier. If you don’t want to miss the next big step for this engine, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and tune in for each new update.

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It’s no secret that the Buick straight-eight has been a bit of a thorn in Davin’s side. Each step in the rebuild process has involved some annoyance or mechanical complication. That pain might be easing, though, because this week, work progresses smoothly and the short block goes together.

“Short block” is a term used to described a milestone in engine assembly. With the rotating assembly (crankshaft, camshaft, and pistons) all fitted—and with the timing cover, oil pan, and balancer installed—Davin has created a short block. Of course, these pieces don’t just fall into place. It takes a bit of fitting and squeezing—at calibrated amounts—to get all the components to play nice with each other and perform their tasks at first startup.

“These pistons have been a real holdup on this project, so I am happy to finally have a version that works like I want it to,” says Davin. “It’s the third design I’ve tried, and the first that accomplishes the compression ratio I am after while also fitting with the valve geometry so they won’t kiss the intake or exhaust.”

Problems like this arise even when doing mild custom work, like Davin’s done on the Buick. Davin won’t let assembly frustrations slow him down, though, and his persistence is beginning to pay off. Could it be only be a few weeks before this engine fires to life? If you want to be the first to find out, you’ll have to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and wait for the video. We promise it’ll be worth it.

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Period-correct custom parts were part of Davin’s plan for the Buick straight-eight, and he has enough experience to know that, given that decision, some components won’t bolt together perfectly right out of the shipping box. The first example was the valves. Then, the pistons presented the same problem. Now Davin’s wrangling with the fitment of the period-correct Edmunds intake manifold and tubular header. It’s nothing a little time with the press can’t fix, though. (more…)

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The 1937 Ford race car has been on the back burner for a minute, but now it is blasting to the top of Davin’s to-do list. That’s because the body and chassis are headed to the sandblaster to be cleaned up. The process could potentially reveal some structural problems, but Davin is hoping the car’s bones are solid. He’s also crossing his fingers that rebuilding the restarting assembly on the Buick straight-eight will be trouble-free—and, sometimes, Davin gets what he wants.

The axle-less coupe is levered onto Davin’s flat-deck trailer and dropped off for sand blasting. The car looks pretty solid through the thin, mismatched paint. There are a few rust holes, but is that really any surprise when you’re dealing with an 80-year-old race car? It shouldn’t be.

Expecting that the Ford could be picked up later in the day, the team heads back to the shop’s engine assembly room and makes some progress on the Buick straight-eight. New pistons have arrived and are ready for their rings. This requires properly filing the rings and assembling the pistons onto the connecting rods. However, right when Davin is about to put the pistons into the block and torque down the rotating assembly, he gets a phone call that the Ford is ready to be picked up—and he had better hurry, because rain is on the way.

So off to the blaster goes the team, loading the trailer quickly and bringing the Ford back to the climate-controlled safety of the Redline Rebuild garage. There the vintage racer is safe from flash-rusting, and Davin can inspect it to see just how much welding wire he’ll be burning in the coming months. Judging from the first look, he’ll need more than a little … If you want to see the whole process, you’ll have to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and wait for next week’s Redline Update.

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The nature of project cars is one of overcoming setbacks just to ram straight into other obstacles. This week’s Redline Update offers up one way to deal with such inconveniences, and the method is rather on-brand for our friend Davin.

The first issue at hand is the Buick straight-eight’s cylinder head. When first assembling the head, Davin learned in the last episode that there are two designs for the Buick 400 V-8 valves he was planning to source for the straight-eight. The first set that arrived did not work for his attempted retrofit due, to a step machined just below the notch for the keeper which in a prime location to tear up a valve seal. A second set of valves arrived, this time confirmed to not have the offending step, and assembly could then begin.

Unfortunately, just as fast that process got going it ground to a halt yet again. The new piston design Davin tried out out at the end of the last episode is off to JE Pistons, which will ship back aluminum pistons ready for installation. For now, the Buick project is a bit stalled out.

Davin isn’t one to sit on his hands and wait, though. How about using the lull in this build to dive into yet another project? In this case, Davin turns his attention to Hagerty’s Swap to Street 1946 Ford pickup. This pickup has logged a lot of miles in the five years since it was built, and the plan is to tack on a lot more in the coming years. To log those miles more smoothly, Davin is going to swap in a T5 five-speed transmission to replace the three-speed currently linked up to the flathead V-8.

Of course, there’s also Snowball’s Ford race car with the Chrysler 440 and a few other projects hanging around the shop—never a dull time in the Redline Rebuild garage. To keep track of it all, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel where new videos come out weekly.

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