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Barney Eaton

Convertible rear pins

26 posts in this topic

Padgett and more recently another Reatta owner posted they had problems with the rear top pins not latching or not staying latched.

We recently discovered there was a change in the pin sometime in 1990.

The picture below is from Jim Finn on vin number 906856 and he said his vin 908000 looks identical.

If you own a 1990 convertible and have an earlier vin number, lets say 905000 or before take a picture and send it to me for comparison. Be sure to at least give the last 6 digits of the vin so we can attempt to date the change.

If and when this all comes together, I will post the results with the pictures of the different pin. Please note that we do not know what is different so to you they may all look alike, just send me a good picture.

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Will check the foundling, it is around 4000. Original problem was with 8220 and was resolved by loosening the adjustment at the #4 bow. Suspect caused by the cheap vinyl replacement.

Now have cloth top and no problem. Thinking about changing the side moldings to sapphire blue also.

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Posted (edited)

It is the latch in the tonneau cover that is the problem or the top is too tight as Padgett explains. The pins are fine. Who the heck is "we"?

Edited by steveskyhawk (see edit history)

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Just miked four, two on 3895 and two on 8220. Did not get to black but is late. Only difference was almost trivial: the head diameter on the point on 3895 measured .485" and 8220, .505" or .020" difference. Without seeing the part drawing all I can say is that both are within a .015" tolerance of .500".

Since this is the binding surace for the retainer, it is probably the most important.

BTW I adjust the pins so that there is a minumal contact all the way around the seal, I see no reason to make it any tighter.

I believe the problem I had with the white car was simply a cheap replacement vinyl top that had shrunk. Once I relieved the fourth bow tension it stopped popping.

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Posted (edited)

I believed that someone, somewhere needed to collect as much Reatta information as possible before it was lost. Ask anyone with a collector car and you will find the manufacturer does nothing to help. The people that own the cars must take the action.

The post that started this discussion originated from/with a letter generated on Dec 19, 1990 from Jim Rucker, Craft Centre plant manager at the time.

I am attaching the letter, and you can see, he indicates there was a part change and the replacement service kit is part # 3635328. I have no obligation to share this but as one of those Reatta owners that believe we should be collecting this information, I am. In addition I am attempting to determine what was different, so that when someone has a latching problem with their 1990 Reatta convertible, we will be able to help.

It is easy to note that posters with negative input are the same ones that fail to contribute concrete information in the interest of Reatta history.

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Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)

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Disagree, questions like this are how we find out things and would be vital for someone planning to reproduce these.

BTW there were four interesting TSBs on 1990 convertible tops

90-10--26A July, 90 for cars prior to 7530 about screws that may puncture the top when stowed.

90-10-27 "Storage Panel Interference" (prior to 5517)

90-1--28 July 90 "Tighten Roof Pins" - "...a condittion of the roof pins popping loose..."

90-10-36 Oct.90 (#4 Bow Adjustment Procedure)

also 90-10-43 May 91 - control rod breakage and 90-1044 - front bow vaviness

When I get a round tuit I'll scan and send to Ton to post.

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Twenty or so years ago I was a very active skydiver. I spent so much time riding in aircraft I began to wonder what it would be like to be a pilot. So I took flying lessons. One of the things I was taught was that pilots use a "special time". Airplanes have the ability to cross multiple time zones in a day therefore local time vs eastern time vs central time vs daylight savings time can all get confusing. So somebody decided that all pilots and weather forecasters and flight planners etc would use a 24 hour clock system to eliminate the confusion. They called this Zulu time or is it GMT or is it UTC? Still a little confusing for somebody that is trying to learn how to land in a crosswind! In any case one by one I earned a Commercial license, all the Flight Instructor Ratings and even an ATP with an IA Jet type rating.

I became a pretty good instructor along the way and decided to make it easier for my students than I had it. I decided to always follow the KISS method. Kiss stands for keep it simple and you can probably figure out what the second "s" stands for. In any case when teaching my students about Zulu or GMT or UTC time I told them the simple truth. It is the time in England. Thats all! Some instructors delighted in showing how smart they were by using big words and as many acronyms as possible to impress people. You see they want their students to think that they are brilliant even if the student fails to learn anything. ZULU is only the time in ENGLAND.

How does this story relate to Reatta convertible tops you might ask? Way back in 1990 Buick made a few Reatta Convertibles. They had pins that locked the top to the Tonneau cover. They worked just fine and most still do. If they were defective they probably would have been replaced under warranty. They weren't replaced because they weren't defective. Fast forward to today. Some peoples' tops are popping up when they hit a bump. WHAT HAS CHANGED???? Upon close inspection of the pins they look just as they did 21 or so years ago. No signs of wear. What gives? They work just as they did 21 years ago. Take a step back from the car and ask yourself WHAT HAS CHANGED? It is obvious to most of us that the top has shrunk. Original vinyl tops just plain look too small for the car. The pin in question is exactly like it was the day it was made. (KISS) THE TOP IS TOO SMALL! An adjustment to the #4 bow might help. Replacing the top cures the problem for sure. Not real technical. Not cheap but it solves the problem.

Some of the regular posters on this forum need to learn the KISS method. They constantly over complicate the issues we have with our cars apparently in an attempt to impress others. I'm not impressed. I get calls all the time from people that are having trouble with their Reatta. I tell them it is only a Riviera with 9 inches cut out. If your mechanic doesn't realize this you need a new mechanic. On brakes: if your mechanic doesn't recognize that these anti-lock brakes were installed on many cars and he is unfamiliar then it is time for a new mechanic. I get calls from people that are thinking about buying a Reatta but from what they have read on this forum, they are concerned that they are impossible to maintain. I tell them it is only a Riviera with 9 inches cut out. A Buick no less which was made by GM.

This over complication, exaggeration, and often misinformation found on this forum actually scares people away from purchasing a Reatta. This in turn DEVALUES the brand and hurts all of us. I would hope that these people would please stop. I wish they would remember to kiss.

By the way does anybody know what the time is in England right now? ZULU sounds like it came from Africa to me.

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And Greenwich Mean Time begat Universal Coordinated Time but modern use was really military comm centers in the fifties and since many pilots come out of the military...

Once you get used to seeing 2340Z it stops being strange and does beat the heck out of not only needing to know what time zone someone is in but also if they follow DST and when.

I tell people with 3800 powered Vixens "It's just a Buick". Mine has the Bimmer engine but would rather have a Buick (won't fit).

At the same time engineering is 99% tedium and repetition. Were there two different pins ? Couldbe, "early" was never defined but there were some double digit 'verts. Somewhere, possibly at ASC, the blueprints exist. It is an interesting question. Thought the same method was used by some Corvettes. When ? YWTK.

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Posturing and bickering is the quickest way I know of clearing a room. And this is our room...put here so that we may CONSTRUCTIVELY exchange knowledge information and ideas geared towards the preservation of these cars. Knock it off or do it in private.

Forum member, BCA,RDiv Member and Pilot

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I had the same problem on my car,last 6 digit:904905,i then adjusted the pins using the tool made for that and never had the top unlatch again.You can find the tool very often on ebay.

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I had the same problem on my car,last 6 digit:904905,i then adjusted the pins using the tool made for that and never had the top unlatch again.You can find the tool very often on ebay.

I think I remember that tool, It was a flat grey tool made of plastic, and the last one I saw on ebay sold for lots of money, If you still have one post a photo please. I was told they came with all new Reattas and I have no idea if that was correct or not. I never see one for sale anymore as it has been several years

Chuck

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Posted (edited)

Think it is the J-38842. Suspect one could be made in about 10 minutes. Might even use cardboard.

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Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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I have one of those tools. It was cheap on ebay. They show up all the time. Never used it. I don't have any trouble with my tops. I believe there are 10 CRT testers on eBay currently. All these tools are showing up regularly. Dealership have been closed and inventories are being liquidated. Get 'em while you can.

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If I may comment on your search for what changed on the pins. I can think of three dimensions that are important to it's function and might steer you toward your data gathering excercise.

I agree with Padgett that the base diameter of the cone is important for retention. Changing it would increase or decrease retention and also affect insertion efforts and wear and tear on the latch portion. I don't recall us messing with that but, it's a good measurement to get in the search.

A second dimension is the total length of the threaded portion of the pin. Increasing the thread length would add adjustment range. If increased enough you could adjust a gap between the seal and the tonneau or tighten it down so much that you can't latch anything or poke the top of the thread through the top cover. This is more of a package issue and you'd think it was right from the beginning.

The third item is the collar above the cone that fits into the tonneau bezel and ties the 5-bow to the tonneau, keeping the pin aligned with the latch. A larger collar would reduce the play in the system which would improve the retention. I kinda' recall something happening there (as in increasing it's diameter).

Gather the above three on a sample of cars and you may find your answer short of getting a hold of the drawing and it's revision column.

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I think it is safe to assume that the convertible top pins in question worked fine for the first ten years. If the tops had a tendency to release at the tonneau when going over a bump in the early life of the car this problem would have been addressed by warranty.

An inspection of the pins indicates that they are exactly as they were the day they were new. Once again I ask the question; "What has changed?" It is obvious to most of us that the tops shrink over time. The pins are not the problem.

There is an old saying that "a chain is as strong as its weakest link." In this case the pins in question are the strongest link in this chain and the problem is elsewhere. Solving the real problem correctly isn't cheap unfortunately.

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Posted (edited)

I have restored a number of cars and am very interested in the changes made over time. I also majored in history and am very interested in all sorts of things and how they changed over time. I especially like researching cars and differences. Recently at the Buick Nationals in Danvers i took a number of pics of cars with changes. here are two on the plastic clips that hold the plastic panel in front of the radiator. I noticed the 88s are different than the later cars. Big deal, right? not in the scheme of things I guess, but to me it was and I wonder why they changed-vendor, ease of use, or what? On the same part I was told by some there was a "factory marking" or a "G" shape on the panel. Some research years ago showed it was not a marking, but a mark left by the hood spring-and a small cloth on it will eliminate the mark. If you are not interested in the minutia of details, then move on. Most people could care less. For those of us who do, why belittle it? Historians recreate history by paying attention to this detail. car restorers are no different.

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Edited by tbenvie (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Errr which is the 88 ? The first has a later dipstick and a few other oddities (91 ?) and the second looks more like Maui than Sapphire Firemist.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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The oddball fasteners were probably installed by a low budget body shop after a front end collision repair. The historians might want to check Car Fax.

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The oddball fasteners were probably installed by a low budget body shop after a front end collision repair. The historians might want to check Car Fax.

I doubt that.. it's more likely that the owner removed the cover to rebuilt his headlight motors, and broke some of the original fasteners. So he went to Advance Auto and bought some that would fit.

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let me try again (you all didn't really think I didn't know what i was talking about, did you?)

Blue Reatta-aftermarket push on clips-not stock

Red Reatta-round push pins in the clips-88 model

White Reatta-rectangle push pins in clip-at least 90 and 91

Then 3 different pics of the indentation left by the hood spring.

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or just leave them off entirely, makes it a lot easier to remove and is not going anywhere.

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let me try again (you all didn't really think I didn't know what i was talking about, did you?)

Blue Reatta-aftermarket push on clips-not stock

Red Reatta-round push pins in the clips-88 model

White Reatta-rectangle push pins in clip-at least 90 and 91

Then 3 different pics of the indentation left by the hood spring.

What does any of this have to do with the topic of this thread "Convertible rear pins"?... NOTHING!

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