Despite a short and successful test drive there was still plenty to do. But not much time to do it.
First up was the cracked and now non-functional headlight.
Luckily my friend Rod has a stash of new old stock parts including a few that would fit the Pontiac including a few headlights. Other parts that I will toss in the trunk as spares are some fuel filters and a radiator cap.
You can tell these headlights are old. They are made in Canada.
The bezel comes off. Looks a bit iffy to get the headlight out intact.
Predictably it did shatter and I cut myself a little.
The replacement slotted in and still works.
I bought and installed a new set of spark plugs. I also purchased rap, rotor, condenser, and new points. The existing ones looked pretty decent so those moved lower on the priority list.
Totally unnecessary but a bit of fun I roughly put in a shower curtain as head liner. I certainly improve on the mounting if time allows (it did not).
I am not keen on asphyxiation from exhaust fumes so the Pontiac went in for a full exhaust system. The drive there was thankfully uneventful as it is only around 8kms but has a large hill in the middle. I was a little later than I expected with some battery trouble in the morning.
I asked for a super basic, no fills exhaust system. I suspect that shop only does top notch work as I got a beautiful exhaust. Too beautiful for the car really. Rod greased the underside of the car for me.
I had an appointment to get an alignment done the day before the challenge. Unfortunately once there the shop declined to do the alignment unless I bought all new parts. Friends to the rescue again as one has a well equipped garage including an alignment machine. We (well almost all he not me) got the Laurentian aligned. A bigger issue was discovered … the steady bearing was bad. Really bad. A know weak point on these cars so I should have checked it earlier. Amazingly a local shop had the parts required.
So on the very last afternoon we (again mostly he) got the driveshaft out and the steady bearing replaced as well as a u-joint. Not many photos here as it was a big time crunch.
On the way back the Pontiac got caught in a little bit of rain. I still need to buy some window wiper blades. Maybe tomorrow at the Great Beater Challenge judging and start line. Wish me luck.
The whole Affordable Classic series thus far:
Hard to explain, but I just love that car. Something about a 1961 Pontiac on a Chevy chassis from the factory, plus being a basic four-door sedan, six-cylinder, and three-on-the-tree, really makes for a unique ride, but still not something anyone would be afraid to drive anywhere, at any time.
What’s with the ‘steady bearing’ on the driveshaft? That’s a new one on me. Did it have something to do with driveshafts back then being poorly balanced? Seems strange since the vast majority of RWD cars simply have a driveshaft with nothing else but the u-joints holding it in place. It almost seems like a safety loop in case the front u-joint fails.
“Steady Bearing”. A new one on me too. Never heard of it. I’ve seen “center bearings”, but they (IIRC) were in the center of a two piece driveshaft.
I thought “Steady Bearing” was a marvel your aged Aunt achieved at a wedding whilst heading, yet again, for the bar.
Those are hanger bearings when Ive needed one strangely named parts appear on this site quite often.
Weird part names abound. The hinged metal bit that holds in the battery on a classic Makita 9.6 volt cordless drill is called a set plate in the parts manual
I went back and looked at the “glamour” shot of the frame in article 2 (“Landed…”). The rusty object above looks to me about half the length of the driveshaft in the frame picture. Maybe it is a two-piece affair with the steady bearing under the cross point of the “X”?
I have been following this story with great interest and I hope you make it to, and through the Great Beater Challenge. Good luck, and may the farce be with you!
It’s the intermediate bearing that supports the two halves of the driveshaft. It’s mounted right behind the center of the X Frame, where the rails all come together. You can see it clearly in the image attached.
“L-Bow Propeller Shaft” I don’t think I’ll ever tire of 1950’s automotive advertising hype.
This clearly shows how, despite Fisher Body commonality, how each GM division had its own engineering back then. The frame and rear suspension is not like Chevy, Buick, etc.
Yes Center Bearing is the correct name for the part. https://spicerparts.com/parts/driveshaft/commercial-off-highway/xc-center-bearing-assemblies It goes at the rear of the front shaft in a two piece drive shaft, or in the case of really long shafts in big trucks at the rear of the front sections.
We used to call it a “pillow block.”
When I was a kid, we called it a Hanger Bearing ..Somewhere earlier I believe it was “assessment and planning” in this series I mentioned the problem to David..I guess I should of looked up the proper name.
For some bizarre reason the Pontiacs had more hanger bearing issues than the Chev .
I’m glad you got it fixed David, and best of luck to you
I’d call the driveshaft center bearing a specialized version of the pillow block.
Center bearing on a 65 F100 long bed.
Hit the wrong button
I’ve only ever heard them called steady bearings, maybe it’s a Canadian term? They are also common in pick-up trucks, at least the old school ones. I’ve always assumed it was to give more smoothness and flexibility than a straight shaft running from the trans output shaft to the rear diff.
Here’s to good luck and a good time on the challenge!
You asked for a wish of luck, and so, consider it done.
As the initial photo here shows, damn it’s handsome old beast, and handsomer for the wear it shows. Why, a greying stubble and Stetson and it’d be John Wayne himself.
(Well, perhaps his somewhat weaker-chested cousin, but hell, it’s the one who outlived him).
To victory, and beyond.
I had the exhaust system in my 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity replaced at an independent muffler shop in Plano, Texas. What marvelled me the most was how the technician could measure and bend the tubes by eye in ten minutes without tape measure or template.
No need to order the system specific to my car from the catalogue or look through the part bins for one.
Same exact marvel witnessed on an ancient, obscure Peugeot 505 I had. I must admit, the car did stop gassing me (the reason for the replacement) but it was never as quiet, or quite as lively, again.
Good luck David, this project has been wonderful, the amazing part is you finding the time to document it all before the start.
I would proudly drive that car anywhere. Good luck, I am rooting for you.
Happy trails! Hoping it all holds together.
Good job with all the prep work, I’ll bet the old girl holds together fine.
I’ve replaced quite a few driveshaft center support bearings and u joints on the old C10, they are indeed a somewhat frequent wear item, especially when you show no mercy overloading the machine for long trips.
Is “steady bearing” a Canadian term for this part?
When I first moved to the PNW ( in 1989) I was informed the item mounted to the bed of my truck was a “Canopy”. They looked at me as if I were nuts referring to it as a “Camper Shell”.
It depends on what the item mounted to the bed of your truck looked like whether it was a Canopy or a Camper Shell.
Looked like this.
From what I can tell, you’ve only driven it a few dozen KM’s so far? Sounds like the challenge will be a real trial by fire. Hope it holds up for you, she looks pretty solid from here!
Also, couldn’t help but notice that the front and rear license plates don’t match. I assume that’s not going to be a problem?
Alberta requires only a rear licence plate, so the front plate can be an oldie or a movie prop or one from wherever you or the car used to live or whatever.
Never even drove it on the highway before leaving!
Need to start a lottery on how long before David tears out the shower curtain headliner because it’s driving him crazy flapping in the breeze.
It would be a good idea to duct tape all the loose edges down. Good luck on the Challenge. Can’t wait to read your report.
The fingers are crossed for your ‘61 Laurentian, and I’m thinking it’ll get the job done. I’ve been following your story from the start, and while there may be a few surprises along the way, I still think it’ll get you there and back in style and with more interesting tales to tell. Good luck!
Lurking on these Laurentian posts – but I have been enjoying them a lot and I commend your taste in beaters. And dedication to the task!
Looking forward to the adventure. The French say “Merde!” for these occasions, if you’ll pardon me.
Good luck in the challenge, David!
This is really cool; the car’s really come together nicely by your devoted work in a remarkable hurry.
Champion J10Y spark plugs amuse me by differing only in heat range—and not much, at that—to the J8s that went in the old mower engines I used to putter around with. These what you removed look to be very old: they lack a “C” suffix (J10YC) indicating a copper core, and Champion discontinued non-C plugs in North America multiple decades ago. Also, Champion plugs have been “silvery plated” (their marketeering term for zinc plating) for even longer than that—see the attached ad from the 20 October 1961 issue of Life. If your takeouts were originally
silveryzinc plated, all traces of it appear to have gone by now.
The new old stock CGE sealed beam is nifty, but keep an eye on it; it may not last long. Some sealed beams don’t age well on the shelf; they can tend to lose their seal and very slowly take on air through an imperfect seal where the wires go through the glass. Then the filament burns up with minutes’ worth of use. If you wind up needing another on the road, a № H5006 (halogen, 35/35w high/low) is today’s service replacement for the original № 4002 (tungsten, 37.5/50w high/low) that will also reduce stress and strain on the headlamp circuit. If you lose an inboard high beam lamp, that’s tougher; the original № 4001s are 37.5 watts each. The only generally-available replacement is an H5001 which is 50w—your lights will blink off repeatedly on high beam due to the added current draw bouncing off the thermal cutout built into the headlamp switch.
That surely is fine craftsmanship on the exhaust system. How’s it sound now? And where’s the tailspout? I don’t see it at the back of the car.
And, you can always gap a J8 with a credit card!
Come to think of it, yeah, a standard credit card is 0.030″ thick (I just looked this up), which is the specified gap on a whackload of old Tecumseh, Briggs-Stratton, and Clinton engines. That’s not a trick that would have occurred to me, though; the spark plug makers all beg and plead and beseech and preach always only ever to use a round-wire gap gauge, never a flat one, and I took that directive to heart. Champion said it, I believe it, that settles it! »thump« ;^)
Brother-in-law, who is a beloved middle school band director and hunt-and-peck mechanic learned this working in the local hardware store repair shop one Summer. One of the reasons I love my bro-in-law, his career as a successful sidebar lawn mower mechanic is based on hacks like this.
Loving the revival of this car, Ive memories of a friends 61 Cheviac he had many years ago when we were teens it was a six with tree shift ratty interior and pink with a white top, a bit of a wallowing pig round town driven too fast and flat out at 75 mph on the motorway it was a great old cruiser that could carry quite a crowd, I’m hoping you get a better run out of yours than my mate did, happy journeys.
Wow! Taking it down to the wire.
Good luck and safe travels!
“Wow! Taking it down to the wire.”
Kinda how it goes for car shows and road tours- Every year I drive my ’74 Mustang to a car show in Steamboat Springs Colorado, and it’s a rare year indeed when the car is fully prepped 10 days before departure…
We have full faith in you and your efforts, David. One reason is that this car is so old and simple that diagnosing any problems on the road should be relatively easy-your ear, eye and backside will tell you much of what you need to know. Finding the right part to solve a problem may be somewhat harder, but you also have the common wisdom of your fellow yahoos here at CC to help you. And who could fail to come to the assistance of such a stately lady as the Laurentian? Safe travels!
Hey if you’re wondering how David is doing, the Great Beater Challenge Facebook page is here:
I see a photo of the Pontiac there, so we know he at least made the start. Go David!!!
I would bet if you got some stock looking hubcaps, or just clean up those wheels a little, the insurance people would change their tune.
Its amazing what difference the wheels make to non car people, as most insurance agents are.
Great job on the car though, keeping it budget, but actually safe and working. And Godspeed.
Thanks for the posts, David!
A minor point for the next headlamp replacement:
GM headlamp retaining rings of the era are fragile, they can’t stand much stretch or flex; particularly the spot-welded “legs” used by the retaining screws.
So… to reduce loading of the ring during lamp replacement, the retaining spring should be released with a hook-type tool (or a good quality needle-nose plier) before removing the ring’s screws.
Hope all goes well for you in the run. You are a lot braver than me; it took me most of this summer to get my old car (1964 Mercury Comet) to the stage in which it mechanically good enough to take longer trips but I’d never trust it to do would you guys would expect those cars to do during the run…