Hot Rod Forum banner

'35 Buick - Getting started again

1304 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  hotrod389
Hi all! Several years ago, I bought a '35 Buick Four-Door shell and frame. They're in pretty good shape, but rusty. I took the body and everything else off the frame -- and then I ran out of time/money and let them sit (covered) for several years.

I'm wanting to get back into it, and figured I'd start by sandblasting the frame, and using electrolysis on the shell. (I was originally planning on sandblasting both, but after reading posts here, it would appear that chances are good I'd be getting in over my head with the body.) So I have several questions before getting started:

I took pictures here to help show what I'm dealing with:

1) Has anyone had any experience with electrolysis? (On a large or small parts?) I plan on making a temporary tub large enough to hold the body, and I'm wondering what problems people have run into in general, as well as what problems I might have with something that size. Also, there are several areas on the body where there's still paint -- but I don't know if there is rust under the paint? Should I sand (with a sander) the paint off before dunking it?

2) Should I take the doors off/glass out, etc before dunking the body?

2.1) I noticed recently that the rear doors don't meet the body. I don't remember how much the doors were off when I bought it several years back, but I wonder if it's due to the body warping slightly while it's been on blocks. I assume that once I put it back on the frame it will straighten out? Beyond that, can anyone offer any advice on how to get the doors to meet the body?

3) I trust I shouldn't have any trouble sandblasting the frame as far as stressing the metal is concerned?

Thanks for your help and pointers!
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
I had a 35 Buick in the late 60s. Those bodies are FULL of wood. You can't soak the whole body! Besides, I don't see that as having enough surface rust to even want to try it.

Your biggest problem is dealing with the old wood. It is 100% structural in that car, and if the doors don't close right, you have problems with the wood framing.

I'd work on the body shell and wood problems before putting ANY time in the frame of chassis parts. If you can't fix the structure, there is no sense in doing anything else.
re: wood

It's true that there isn't much rust, but I'm not sure what else to do, given that the rust is in enough nooks/crannies that I won't be able to sand it all out... I could try POR-15, I suppose - I just figured that I'd be ahead of the game if I got rid of all of the rust in the first place. Wood aside, is this not the case?

As for the wood, I was planning on taking detailed pictures, labeling the pieces, and taking it all out before soaking the body. I figured that I'd replace the wood anyway, since it's old and rotting.

Since I haven't taken the wood out yet, I don't actually know how the wood is attached, or how it holds the door structure in place. From what you're saying, I assume I should be able to duplicate the pieces and adjust them until the doors fit? I would think that I'd still want the body to be on the frame before working on the doors, though, since I might otherwise be "fixing" the doors to a warped body!

I'm not being argumentative -- I'm just still a little unclear as to what the best method is to proceed. Again, any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
See less See more
I'm not exactly sure how your Buick's wooden body frame work is built. Typically at the bottom of the body there is a wooden piece that goes from the cowl to the rear kick up behind the rear door. This is usually covered with steel that has no structural value. Between the front and rear doors there is a wooden piece, again sometimes covered by metal, that has a metal brace that attaches it to the bottom wooden piece and another metal brace that attaches the upright to a horizontal wooden piece that goes from the front windshield to above the rear side window. What probably has happened is that the bottom piece has rotted out or warped as it was not supported all these years and that has allowed the doors to sag. You can remove the wood and use it for patterns but take into account that it may have warped over all these years. You can also use it as patterns to replace it with steel tubing. Search through the project journals as several members have done that. Perhaps they will let you know were to look as you can't search the journals yet. You will have to place your body back on the frame and then see how much your doors are out. Get back to us when you have done that with some pics and we will be able to see the real problems and hopefully help you more then.

As for the rust - not much there. You will be able to grind and sand most of that off the body. As for the rust in the nooks and crannies - Por 15 will probably work and check out the Wiki article for other solutions. If that is all the rust you have on your car after 70 years most of those solutions will work.

Best Car Insurance | Auto Protection Today | FREE Trade-In Quote
See less See more

I am inclined to agree with homebrew on his answer, I myself would not do the electrolysis as it would take a long time to do the complete body. It all depends on what kind of upgrades you will be doing on the frame whether or not to do it first. I would put the body back on the frame and start there by shimming the body to get your doors level and closing properly, then I would start removing the wood one piece at a time and replace with metal as it will make the body a heck of a lot more rigid, once you have the wood replaced and the frame marked where the body and shims will be then I would cross brace the body on the inside with square tubing steel, tack welded in, remove the body and then start on the frame, this will keep your frame from warping anymore and you will know where it sits and that everything on the body is lined up. Then you can start on the upgrades on the frame whether it be front clip or MII or just redoing what you got and different rearend trany, engine and or what not.

I believe the body on your car is in real good shape compared with what I started with, and you should be able to sand and glass bead (lightly) to get all the rust that you have, and if it has any small places of bad cancer you can cut it out and replace where needed. If I can do what I have done I know that you are more than capable of doing this, there are amazing people with a vast amount of knowledge here to help.
Good luck and enjoy yourself, you have alot to look forward to.

See less See more
body work

Well the general consensus is to get the doors working first, so I'll focus on that. That said, I'd like to replace the wood with metal if I can -- it seems like the body would be more rigid, and would also be stronger/last longer.

Unfortunately, I don't have any welding experience, but want to learn -- I figure I'll pick up some scrap metal and practice for a while before I get started on the doors.

But first things first: I need to get a welder. Does anyone recommend a particular welder? I don't have a whole lot of money to throw around, but I'll spend what I need if I think it will be worth the extra cash. I don't need anything capable of welding on frames -- I'll leave that kind of work up to the pros, since I don't want my frame falling apart on me on the highway! So aside from just needing a basic welder for the body, what should my "welder requirements" be? (What specs should I be looking for?) Also, can welders go "bad"? (If I find one on ebay, what are the chances it'll be reliable?)

Thanks again!
See less See more
This can't be stressed enough, the wood is structural, the metal just trim. The wood has to be handled properly, then the skin can be re-attached. The metal can be treated with POR-15, or ospho, your preference, but the main thing is get the wood structure right before you worry about the metal's appearance. (I went through the same thing with a 36 a long time ago) Don't be tempted to cut corners or band-aid it. Use marine fasteners for the wood, then you won't have a corrosion issue with them either. (cad plated steel screws are the WORST) The Buick bodies of that era are a thing af beauty when restored properly, if you want to chop or alter it, it won't ever look as proportionately perfect nor fit and function as well as the original, use a glass body instead.
MILLER-MATIC 135, great little machine, works with flux or gas and runs on 115v. it's a little weak for heavy stuff such as frame work but should do everything you want for a while and is very affordable for what you get.
The doors on my 36 2dr have adjusting rods that run diagnoly on the inside of the door to adjust the space as in the first photo. if there still there try adjusting them. If there not there, there should be an empty screw hole on the door jam just below the window hight. if there is just make your own rod. the bottom wood will have to be in good shape. replace as needed. There are plenty of repoduction 33-36 body manuals on ebay and there a good investment.
Body by Fisher in the old days was Buggy/Carriage technology. A wooden frame was built and covered with sheet metal, using tacks and screws to hold it in place. The answer today for a street rod you want to drive and enjoy is to replace all the wood with thin wall metal tubing. Use the old wood as a pattern to rough shape the metal tubing and then start tack welding and aligning body parts and panels as you go in the replacement process. I would put the body back on the frame (you may want to tack in some bracing before doing so) and start the wood replacement. You will be able to move the door pillars in or out, up or down or tilt as necessary to get ever thing to align perfectly. This is time consuming and requires a lot of tacking, removing, retacking and tweaking to get it right, but you will be proud of the results. The present alignment problems as I see them are minor and easily fixed. I see a great body with some surface rust that will turn into a unique and beautiful rod. With that heavy metal, I would not hesitate to sand blast, but would prefer stripping if you have it available. Back in the mid 70s, I had my pickup truck stripped in Oklahoma City at a business called Redi Strip. Have no ideal if it still is in business with EPA being what it is. I would never attempt the electrolysis at home unless I had a great lifting device that would allow the dipping of the big mass. Like others, I would do all the wood replacement before tackling the rust issue.

See less See more
that body is in EXCELLENT condition!
people say that it would take a long time to electrolsis the body, i disagree!
with the panels all taken apart, it would take a week to do if you had your mind set on it.
electrolsis for your car? i think not. it seems to me that your car does not havve rust... but what i like to call patina!
the previous post are very informitive, but like anything else theres a million and one ways to skin a kat!

if that was my car, i would use a combo of DA sanding and Stripper wheels.
it takes a hell of a long time, but electrolsis takes care of rust and does not do well with painted would have to strip all the paint first.
another thing is that electrolsis tends to make the metal brittle, and with a body of that calibur i would bet it would kick your ***** when it comes time to do body work.

inner structure...
contrary to popular belief.. i would never again use box tubing as a form of a inner structure. its heavy and overkill. i have been working on a 30 oldsmobile 5 window coupe ( 31 chevy and 36 chevy body parts were used also)
i did 1" box tubing throuout the whole project. and now that i have enough motor to get the thing to really fly down the road.... pushing it by myself is a problem.
i havnt scaled the car yet, but its damn heavy! ( mabe i got other issues, but caster, wheel base, bearings, and brakes seem alright.. and a posi rearend dont help much either for 1 HP movement!)

im getting ready to gear up to build a 1930 model A with minimal wood.i am going to use 16-14 gauge sheet metal.
with a brake, shrinker, and streacher( make a brake, shrinker streacher are pretty cheap) im going to replicate the patterns of the wood. it will look alot better than the box tubing design.
as for a welder on a budjet.
i started with no welding skills with a century buz box. `150 dollar no gas previsions. 110 fluxcore. it does great for sheet metal and thin wall box tubing. DO NOT STRUCTURAL WELD WITH A 110 MIG. WITH OR WITH OUT GAS!.

when you replace the wood, MAKE SURE THE BODY IS ALL LEVEL AND SQUARE! i usually build a dolley or other to hold it in a fixed position.
brace the body by welding in conduit or other metals at main intersecting points. dont be afraid to weld where you need to, you can grind it off later, and keep grinding in mind when you weld.. (how are you going to get to the weld?)
its alot of work. its alot of beating your head, knuckles, and your pocket book.







See less See more
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.