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Sterling #130 (aka American V8 ~ Chapter 2)


Sunday I decided to test my suspension compression with a floor jack, spreader plate, and rim (now that I have the proper short mag lug nuts and washers).
Since I have the car frame strapped to the custom jig I built, I simply measured from the rim to the fender, jacked up until the jig caster wheel lifted off the concrete floor, then measured from rim to fender again.
On the rear I have 3 5/8" compression on the driver's side and 1 3/8" compression on the passenger side. ?!?!? I haven't messed with the rear suspension at all.
On the front I have...no measurable compression. lol



I also got a box from Summit racing...one of the few places around that had Braille batteries in stock!
a 200 CA lawn mower battery cranked over the engine fine during testing, so hopefully this one with 641 CA will be even better!
I also bought the same-brand battery charger.


Site Owner
Staff member
With regard to the difference in compression from one side to the other I wonder if there’s just some degree of corrosion or binding in the bushings. If you could drive it down the road a little and loosen things up a bit I wonder if it would be more even. I’m trying to think of a way to simulate that but nothing elegant is coming to mind. Can you bounce the suspension up and down a bunch of times? I don’t know if that would help or just be a fool’s errand. Logically, there’s almost no way that the higher side could be measuring erroneously too compliant. Makes sense that the low side is binding somewhere. Hmmmm. My guess is that you’ll find that both sides equalize to about the measurement that you’re finding in the squishier side.

As for the front, that should feel GREAT over bumps. 😄 I forget, have you taken any torsion leaves out of the front yet?


I'm hoping it evens out as it gets driven...but for all i know, something in there is broken. Sigh...
Right now all the suspension just "hangs" from the frame since the jig directly supports the frame, so a floor jack is required to compress the suspension from the bottom up. Pushing down on the car does nothing.

Maybe the front suspension will compress a bit more one the canopy & hood are installed and the coolant is added to the system. RIght now i can literally lift the front of the car/jig off the ground with my hands. Not easily, but it's possible (and likely terrible for my back!). Oh well...
Nope, never pulled any torsion leaves out.

My steering wheel bolts just got delivered, so now I can install the steering wheel, mock up some tire sizes and test the turning clearance before buying tires!


Honorary Admin
Hard to say about the rear other than one torsion bar may be weaker than the other (perhaps having been replaced at one time, making that side stiffer). Unless the car doesn't sit square with one side higher than the other I wouldn't worry about it. The front.. yep, typical for a kit when the original 1000 pound load has been taken off the torsions :)


Not a fun evening last night...
Attempt #2 for center caps for the Jaguar rims was a failure. I've already sourced Attempt #3...still easier than sourcing the OEM Jaguar caps since I don't want a Jaguar emblem on the wheels.

I didn't realize that the screws I ordered for the steering wheel were "Chinese thread pitch"...so they were whatever is the closest Metric equivalent to actual 10-32. Ugh. Good thing I have taps & dies, but ridiculous that I have to re-thread a $1 screw. Unfortunately I can't source SS Button-head Socket screws locally.

Then one of the bolt holes was bunged up on top of the front torsion assembly (the little shelf for the battery under the hood), so I had to CAREFULLY clean that out and re-tap it. Not careful enough though - I put some good gouges into the paint next to it. Dammit. Also broke a 10x1.50 tap off in it. DAMMIT! A few more scratches in the paint getting the broken tap out with a ViseGrips.

I decided to take a brake from re-threading things and mock up a few tire diameters from chipboard next. So far all I can say is that a 175mm width tire would look SILLY on a 6.5" wide rim! lol


Site Owner
Staff member
I feel for ya. Last weekend I confirmed that a complicated fabrication I’ve been doing for three weeks (on the car prototype I’m working on) had a flaw and I just had to throw it away and start the piece over. This was one of those “one step back” sorts of weeks.

Keep fighting the fight. We only have to get these projects done before fossil fuels run out. 🙂


Huh...been awhile since I had anything to report...

Well, after checking the spark plug wire order about 5 times and checking timing and rotor position and checking for spark, I've finally given up and ordered a new distributor for the Sterling. She just won't catch... So now while I'm waiting for that to arrive in the mail I'll re-build the alternator bracket in the meantime (I don't like how much it bends as I try to tighten the belt). Yes, I have fuel - I can see it squirting into the primaries.

Hopefully I'll also be getting some tires on the rims Saturday morning. Depends if the tires are in stock.

My original goal for the Sterling back in April when I started wet-sanding the paint was the last local car show for the 2021 season on September 11. Nope, not gonna happen. I guess I'll just have to shoot for the FIRST car show of the 2022 season instead!

BUT, on a happier note... Wheel Center Cap Attempt Number FOUR worked! They have the Jaguar face emblem on them, but they don't spell out JAGUAR at all, so I can live with them. No different than a centercap logo from some wheel manufacturer as far as I care. AND Amazon is letting me return Attempts One thru Three for free for full refund! woo-hoo! (that's like $65 refunded!)

This morning I'm also going to swing by a repair shop and have another custom AC line built. When I installed the new aluminum radiator, I had to relocate the AC dryer, so the line doesn't reach now.
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I haven't been able to get as much time on the Sterling lately due to other obligations, but what time I have been able to spend on it has been...frustrating.
I've tried starting it...almost 20 times. I thought I heard it "cough" last time, but can't be sure.
The battery/starter turns the engine over, a spark tester indicates spark, I can SEE new non-ethanol gas squirting into the primaries, I'm breathing in the same room so I know there is oxygen...so why won't it start? what am I missing?
Maybe timing? check plug wire order. OK.
take off the crankshaft cover plate and index the crank so #1 cyl is at TDC. rotate the rotor 180d. nope.
Battery, wiring, plugs, plug wires, fuel, fuel lines, carb...all BRAND NEW. only "weak link" is the used HEI distributor I bought somewhere a dozen years ago.
Ok...buy a NEW distributor. nope. rotate the rotor again. nope.

pull the plugs, check compression. meh...
#1 = 150 psi
#2 = 90 psi
#3 = 150 psi
#4 = 170 psi
#5 = 150 psi
#6 = 220 psi
#7 = 150 psi
#8 = 150 psi

reinstall spark plugs...overtighten #4. grab reading glasses to check "correct" setting on torque wrench. DAMMIT!! old man eyes just cost me $60, 3 hours and my first experience with a Heli-Coil. It worked!
But it still won't start. NO point in working on it anymore if it won't start. I hate engines; I'm a frame/wiring guy. I've done this dance before and it never ends well. I'm NOT rebuilding the engine or putting in a new one. If it won't start, it's time to cut my losses and free up the garage space.


Active member
Have you tried to start it just off of starter fluid? Does it ever even try to kick over or does the starter just turn?


Honorary Admin
That's right, I forgot you had the Buick engine. Ok.. it's a 215, correct? Are you absolutely sure you have the wires in the correct places? According to
my 1964 Motors Manual shows the 215 V8 Buick Special has the same firing order as a SBC 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2. The cylinders are 1-3-5-7 Drivers side and 2-4-6-8 Passenger side. The distributor rotates clockwise. The rotor shouldn't be at whatever mark is on the distributor at TDC; it should be slightly before that, hence BTDC, else it won't fire. You can, with help, simply have someone crank the engine while you slowly - slowly - rotate the distributor back and forth. There may be a sweet spot you're missing.

If you do, then start with the basics - take the plug wire off #1 and hold it near the engine block (or lay it so the connector is really close to the block, and have someone crank the engine. If it sparks, you know you have spark. A spark tester doesn't always tell you if you have a strong spark - it should be a nice, fat blue/white shot. So.. spark check - check!

Fuel delivery: you shouldn't have anything squirting into the primaries at startup. What kind of carburetor? Typically there is an enrichment circuit (choke) on most. Like Pog mentioned, try a little starter fluid. If you have an air leak anywhere, it won't start.

Some good reading here: https://www.teambuick.com/community/index.php?threads/ignition-timing-help.28608/ and read through some posts at v8buick.com


So...progress on Saturday! I checked all the wires again (correct order) and then tried Rick's advice (thanks Rick!) about having someone (my wife) turn the key while I slowly advanced the distributor from 0TDC back to 10BTDC. Nothing. So I pulled the distributor and indexed the rotor 180d and tried it again. Nope. I was pretty sure the rotor had been correct before, so I rotated it back 180d and tried again. VROOM! Whoa! Ok, lock it down around 5BTDC. Of course, as soon as it starts it revs north of 3000rpm, so I obviously have some carb tuning to do...once I find a mechanic who can tune a carb and do house calls!

Now, WHAT was the secret? Not spark. Fuel. As in carb tuning. I could always smell gas in the carb after starting attempts and I could SEE fuel squirting into the carb if I pulled the air cleaner, opened the primaries , and pumped the throttle linkage manually. But was it ENOUGH fuel? Probably not. WHY do I think this? Because between each attempt at starting I would give the throttle 3-4 pumps. After about 5-6 starting attempts, that fuel adds up. Remember, this engine has been dry for 15+ YEARS. (yeah, it may sound like I'm lecturing YOU guys, but this is just the lecture MY brain gave ME afterwards...LOL).

It would start "reliably" after the first time it fired. I don't have video of the FIRST time since my wife/videographer was turning the key up front. I'm also not sharing the video of the second time when she was running the camera while standing at the back end and getting pelted by rust from the glass packs - it just ends with video of the shop floor and audio of her yelling at me for not warning her how LOUD the engine would be (an engine I have NEVER heard run)...silly me. LOL The third time it started has no video since she was inside getting ear protection. But here is the fourth time it started:



Honorary Admin
Cool! At least you got it to turn over and fire. Carb tuning is simple - do your reading. If I can do it, anyone can do it. What may have happened is that the float bowls hadn't filled up yet. You were getting gas, just not a full flow from the idle circuits. For the fast idle - take the throttle cable off and fire it over and see where it sits. It may race or it may not idle at all. Chances are the throttle return isn't "returning" enough.


Hello April! I took 6 months off to hibernate and now that Spring is around the corner, it's time to work on the car again!

After firing up the engine last fall and almost going deaf, I decided that new mufflers were in order. Unfortunately for me, a previous owner had welded my entire Franken-Exhaust system into one piece, so that means I have to remove the whole thing to work on it. In preperation of removing the exhaust flange to manifold bolts, I spent last week spraying penetrating oil on the bolts every evening. I'm sure they'll back out after 20+ years. (Yeah, some of you know where I'm going with this...don't spoil the surprise!) Today was the day and after fitting the wrench to the bolt heads, I gave them a quick twist and the exhaust fell right off! Hint...those are NOT nuts in the pic...


Raise your hand if you're shocked...no one? me neither. Sigh...
SO, I spent the next 2 hours drilling out the bolts. The manifold flanges now have 7/16" dia holes for some SS bolts in the future. After I weld up a new exhaust system.

Anybody have any recommendations for SHORT NARROW mufflers? The old exhaust system used straight thru glass packs and I'd like to replace them with something QUIETER.
I'm not sure though if I can fit Oval mufflers in there...



I made some mockups of the smallest "turbo-style" muffler I could find and also a traditional "glasspack". I don't like the way the turbo style looks from the side, so I guess I'll be going with glasspacks!

The turbo has either Center-Offset or Offset-Offset options.


The glasspack just had to be adjustable for length.


the jig on the wheel represents the rear tire diameter and width. easier to remove that than a whole tire!



Active member
Forgot to account for the suspension drop once the car is down on the tire and the typical angle of where one would be viewing from. I think the turbo muffler in black would practically disappear.