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Here's the list. Advise and rants welcome.

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I found my dream car in July and drove it home from LA to Houston. I'm in the process of listing stuff I need and want to do. Any words of widsom of how you guys have dealt with these kinds of situations would be very appreciated.

A/C and Heater Diaphragm

How easy is it to replace these diaphragms? Any special tools needed?

Rewire-Everything is working but I'd like to start fresh as the fuse box terminals are looking pretty bad. I also thought that this might correct a few issues concerning the dash instruments.

The gas needle is not accurate. It buries itself.

The Speedometer bounces and the warning buzzer is off by +12 mph.

Clock and cigarette lighters don't work.

I need a little more assist in the brakes. The seller said to pull something out in the master.

Clean the gas tank

Hood Insulation Adhesive-can I use a 3M general spray adhesive under the hood?

Car Cover? Anyone have favorite brand?

DS rear window won't roll down.

Power seat motor makes sound but doesn't move the seats.

Generally, how much does it cost to rechrome small items like dash bezels, pillar covers, coat hooks etc? Is it worth it, or should I buy new?

A good match for <span style="color: #FF0000">red</span> carpet. I need to redye the door carpet.

My windows rattle-is this a 'fuzzies' or window lace issue?

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Hi, gdiwicker!

Jim Cannon here! I live up in Spring.

Kind of hard to help you because I can't figure out what year car you have!

Other than that, these diaphragms are not usually that hard to replace. The recirc door diaphragm on the first gen Riviera is the hard one.

If you have brakes issues, don't drive it till you get them fixed. We don't want to lose one of our newest members! You <span style="text-decoration: underline">have</span> joined the ROA, right?

PS - a real name would help, much more personal than referring to people by their screen login name.

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As Jim says, it helps to know the year, and we're a friendly group who enjoys helping others, if we know who they are. Jim mentioned the Riviera Owners Assn. If you're not a member I'd suggest two things. 1) Join. There's an application on their website

2) Buy their cd rom that covers the last 22 years of tech articles. Most of what we know we've learned from there or have contributed. Everything you mentioned in your post I can think of an article or two that would address the issue.

For example. If your gas gauge is buried, there's an article telling you how to test it and the rest of the circuitry.

The articles are time proven and not subject to opinion but rather fact.

Keep us posted.

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Opps, yeah that would help!! Its a 64 with ac and a 425. I uploaded my avitar. My name is Ryan-good to meet both of you guys. Yes, I know about the ROA but just haven't gotten around to doing the application. The CD-rom sounds great.

Jim, I live in the Heights area. Do you know Ron O. that lives on the west side of the Beltway? He's a memeber and I bought some items off of him. I also have a neighbor a block away that has a 63 or 64. I keep missing him to introduce myself and talk shop.

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Hi Ryan, I also have a 64 and live west of you a ways.

I found an original 64 that I pulled from a garage in Pasadena last summer and got it running. We drove it this summer to Seattle for the BCA National meet.

I am also the director of the local BCA chapter in Houston. We will start meeting again now that it is cooling off. I will send you a PM with my phone numbers and if you need help, let me know.

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Guest BJM


It's a small world. I used to date a lady from the Heights and I lived in Cypress. I was a member of the local chapter for 2 years before moving. Local contact with those guys is a great idea.

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A few thoughts . . .

Rewire . . . much better to find the problem and fix it rather than start from scratch, basically. Two options . . . one is the Painless Performance universal street rod wiring harness kit (which GM Performance Parts also catalogs). It IS universal! Otherwise, possibly a known wiring harness company might provide you with what you need in a pre-made harness to OEM specs. Generally, though, it might be something as simple as a flaky connector in the bulkhead connector (on EITHER side of the box) or a chafed wire going to ground when it should not.

In general, GM used: Forward Lamp Harness, a/c harness, engine harness, body harness, instrument panel harness, interior light harness, rear lamp harness, and just covers the basic ones. The bulkhead connector terminals are substantial enough to be replaced themselves without having to "start from scratch". It's basically the same thing as a factory-style wire connector, but with many of them in the same casting . . . all cleanable and replaceable. Yes, there should be some oily compound in there to decrease moisture intrusion and related degradation of contact surfaces. In other words, things might not be a bad as they look like they are!

Assist in the brakes . . . this is a power booster problem more than anything else, not specifically a master cylinder issue. It can also be a brake lining issue--check the recent BCA post-war forum on with comments by "Old Tank" on his '55 Buick brakes needing more assist until he changed to a different brand of brake lining material. As far as I know, the only thing to pull out of the master cylinder would be the residual pressure valve, which drum brakes need to have in the master cylinder. Other than that, there is the check valve which plugs into the brake booster reservoir where the vacuum hose connects or plugs-in to it.

Clean the gas tank . . . might uncover any residual perforations with the cleaning, which would then require the tank to be replaced (as it now leaks). Might be better to just remove it and gently flush it out and such. Or just keep things as they are and order up a new replacement tank for later on. If it's not leaking now, probably best to leave it alone until you're ready to deal with the possible alternatives.

Clock . . . probably just need to remove it, take the back off of it, and clean the contact points, and gently and lightly relube the mechanism. It has a set of contact points, similar to ignition points, that can become corroded or contaminated over time. As I understand it, the clean and relube will get it working again. It also should be "self-regulating" so getting it to keep accurate time (it runs on 12V DC, rather than 110V AC at 60 cycles/second) might take a few resets to make it happen. As I recall, there's also a procedure to correctly "restart" it when you hook it back up.

Cigarette Lighter . . . many don't work with advanced age. Might need a new receptacle (the inner part the outer part snaps into) or just need the terminals in it cleaned (from accumulated residue transferred from the heating element from it's contact with cigarette or cigars, over time. Might need a new heating element, too . . . but you'll need to look for "Rochester" or "Casco" stamped into the side of the element's body . . . two different vendors that had different set-ups for a cigarette lighter back then--everything has to match suppliers as they usually don't interchange. Probably will need to scrounge the salvage yards or swap meets. The heating element will unscrew from the knob, so if you find a heating element of the correct vendor with a different knob, a knob change should be all that's needed.

Gas gauge . . . if it pegs, the supply wire is probably "at ground" rather than going through the resistor in the sending unit. Look for a chafed wire somewhere outside of the main harness going to the rear of the car. Usually, only ONE wire attaches to the sending unit itself. Might need to check to see that the tank is sufficiently grounded. For example, Chryslers had an aluminum bride clamp that touched both the fuel line (body side) and the supply line from the sending unit (tank side) to "complete the circuit". I'm not sure if your Riv is that way, but it's something to consider.

Speed Minder . . . works off a set of contact points, too. Probably just need a little cleaning action to refresh them. If the speedo is also that far off in speed reading, that is a "magnetism" issue with the rotating magnet inside of the speed cup of the speedometer head. But . . . before you go to the trouble to get the speedo head out of the instrument cluster, first take it out on the Interstate and clock (at least) 5 miles on the mile markers at indicated 60 mph. At 60mph, it takes 60 seconds to cover one mile (Remember . . . "A mile a minute"). With the odometer mileage, then you can figure if the speedometer is very far off in the speed it's indication.

For example, when you're reasonably close to the 60 second range, one second either way is usually about 1mph difference, up to about 5 seconds total tolerance for that correction factor. If the odometer is 5% slow, the speedometer reading should be similar. Get the odometer reading addressed FIRST as it's run by the same cable that runs the rotating magnet inside of the speed cup on the speedo head. When the odometer is pretty much right, then you can use a mental correction factor for the speed readings or try to find a speedometer shop that knows how to magnetically "zap" the magnets for a better speed reading across the driving speed range.

Speedometer bounce . . . usually caused by the speedometer cable (inside the cable housing) needing lubricant. Powdered graphite was the lube of choice for ages, but ACDelco has a petroleum lube, too. You'll need to get the cable loose from the speedometer head and then carefully pull the cable from the housing. It'll be messy, so have some clean rags handy! As you get it laid out on a shop work bench, first look for kinks or wear by slowly rolling it over on the flat surface. Also look for "splinters" sticking out of the wire itself. ACDelco sells universal kits to replace the inner cable, but if you can find a NOS cable&housing assembly, that would be the best way to do it as the existing ones probably have wear in them . . . cable itself and the innards of the cable housing. Might need to relube the replacement NOS item, or at least check it, for good measure.

Power seat motor . . . if the motor runs, look for a drive cable (or cable transmission) that is not connected for some reason. Probably frayed or something due to a stuck or restricted-travel seat track. Something had to cause it to fail. Probably will have to remove the seat assembly and seat tracks to get to it and figure it out.

Power window . . . could be contaminated contacts in the switch itself or it could be motor issues. Some power window motors are weaker than others. Might need to disassemble things to figure out what it needs, not to mention getting the rear seat out of the car (some can be "tough"!) and the interior trim removed (another adventure, sometimes). One of those projects which might be delayed and deprioritized somewhat, all things considered. Make sure the switches are all working first. Power comes through the main switch on the driver's door, typically. It's a simple ground reversal situation to get the motor to run both directions.

Rechrome . . . you might want things to look really spiffy, but you FIRST need to get the existing items cleaned and polished to their best rather than head off to spend major $$$$$ to the plastic and metal rechrome people. Plus, the rechrome NEVER seems to match the factory chrome gloss on those items . . . by observation--it all comes back WAY too shiney for what it should be (more satiny chromer). Again, chasing the salvage yard items might be better and more cost effective. Some of those items were used on most GM cars of that era, so it's not a specifically "Riv" or "Buick" thing. The car-specific items would be, though.

EPA regulations of chrome shops have put many out of business over the past few decades. Rather than charging "by the item" they charge "by the lot"--for metal items. So, if you take them one item or a whole basket full (the basket that they use to dunk the parts in the various tanks for the rechrome process), it's all the same price. You see where that's going?

If you HAVE to get the plastic items rechromed, make sure that you will be dealing with the end entity of that chain rather than a more local entity that will send the parts to someone else to do. It's better if YOU deal with UPS (or similar) if something is lost in transit (or takes longer than normal to return) rather than looking at a helpless clerk on the other side of the counter as you demand to know where your parts are or when they'll be back. End result, much better to use and refurb what you have than arbitrarily getting it rechromed . . . plus it'll be more accurate for what it is supposed to be (finish and gloss wise).

Several years ago, I was at Mopar Nationals in OH and there were two late 1950s Chryslers side by side. In those cars, the A-pillar and windshield and back glass interior trim was chrome plated. The wife of the owner of one car said she was (seemingly) constantly being asked who did the chrome on those items. She replied that it was factory, rather than being rechormed. She continued . . . the original owner was an older man that was a chain smoker. When they got the car, that trim was all dingy and grimey, so they figured it would need to be rechromed.

Her husband got industrious one day and started polishing the chrome from the A-pillar to see what would happen. His work was rewarded by the revelation of a pristine chrome finish under the grunge. As they determined, "the grunge" was nicotine from the cigarettes and it has coated everything inside the interior of that car . . . and sealed it against deterioration in the process. So, he spent that winter gladly polishing ALL of those interior chrome pieces to reveal the "factory chrome" that everybody was taking on over and wanted to find out who had rechromed it like it should be rather than "show chrome" like everybody wanted to do. Unfortunately, nicotine will not preserve a person's lungs in the same manner.

Carpet items . . . try Auto Custom Carpet in Alabama. You can send them a swatch from under the seat for a color and style match. Once you start replacing one carpet item, you'll end up replacing ALL of them due to varying stages of sun fade over the years. They usually hit the major events like Super Chevy Sunday and such, so you might wait until they come around to see what they have available for your car. They also do MOULDED carpet (as factory original), too.

3M Trim Adhesive . . . You might need to first get some replacement hood insulation to deal with as the existing insulation will have embedded dirt and oils which might keep it from sticking well to the underside of the hood (also dirty and oily, which will need to be cleaned with something like a good brake cleaner to degrease it). You might get the existing insulation to restick, but don't count onit being a long-term fix just yet.

Car cover . . . in the interim, you can probably find a Budge brand car cover at WalMart at a decent price. It'll be a universal-fit item, by length, but it will do until you can locate a fitted one. You might contact Barney Eaton (contact information on the BCA web page under "Board of Directors") as he is a dealer in quality car covers at reasonable prices. But, they are not going to be in the $40.00 range either. I think he might do California Car Covers? He can tell you more about that than I can.

Window rattle . . . when fully "up", fully "down", or in-between? When the window is "up", the mechanism is governed by the "up stop" on the door, which is usually where the fuzzy guide is (about 1" wide and free-standing). When fully "down", there should be a rubber bumper in the inside door structure where the regulator's "down stop" is. If the rubber's gone, the window will travel too far down. When the window is "in-between" that would probably be the result of wear on the regulator mechanism itself AND the spaces between the door seal strips and up-stop guides. A "sedan" will have window channels and such but a hardtop's glass "floats" on the regulator assembly itself. A "rattle" when the door shuts (in varying degrees) is normal for a hardtop door . . . still, sometimes it can be minimized and "tightened up" by a competent and knowledgeable trim technician that knows about THOSE CARS. That's how GM's hardtop doors typically were back then and all the way up into the 1980s. Addressing "the rattle" will determine when and how it happens.

A KEY THING is to take your list and priortize things on it. Taking care to NOT totally disable the vehicle in the process--period! Now, if you have the interior out to replace the carpet (and under-carpet insulation), that would be a good time to look at the power window issue and possibly the speedometer cable and speedometer head issues (much easier to get to those areas with the seats out!) at the same time.

You mentioned NOTHING about chassis or powertrain issues. You might have driven it back from LA, but that does NOT mean that everything under there is as it should be--I know about that from the 1970 Skylark I did that with for a Great Aunt several years ago. It ran great on the way back, getting about 17mpg at 70mph coming acorss the dessert with the a/c blowing cold, never used any oil, always started first time in the morning and all of that . . . with original spark plug wires that were so brittle it was good it didn't rain on us . . . and some other things that I later found in going over it. So, get those mechanicals attended to FIRST and then worry about the things you've mentioned here! If the tires are over 6 years old, even with "good tread", get them replaced with the correct sizing in modern tires before one of them chunks a tread on the freeway with you . . . it WILL happen, sooner or later, so "advance damage control" is the best option.

Also consider replacing ALL of the rubber hoses on the car, too. Unless the rubber fuel line sections have already been replaced, they might not be fully compatible with modern fuels. They're cheap and a little labor intensive, but a definite reliability issue. Including brake hoses, too.

You might have your "dream car", which is great, don't get me wrong, and I know you want to get it all spiffed and show it off, BUT you don't want it to do something inappropriate as you do show it off at a weekend cruise or to somebody that matters to you. That "advance damage control" issue, again.

DO head over to the Lone Star BCA's meetings. There are several Rivs such as yours in that group. It would be a great place to start networking! Plus, as Bill related, he resurrected his Riv and drove it to Seattle and back this past July.



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Wow! Thanks so much for the quick and detailed suggestions. The seller suggsted that I get a little more assist from the booster by pulling something out a bit more. I figured I'd just email him to get the name before I set out to do it. What would I flush the tank with? I don't think the speedo is off the same amount as the warning buzzer but I'll definetly test it. Actually I should have clarified that the windows are manual. I do have new uninstalled insulation just needed to know if the general purpose 3M stuff at the hardware store will work. I do have things prioritzed. Here is my list thus far:

The Riv List

I. Mechanical

A. Electric Carter Choke-completed July 25th 2007 162.00$

B. Horn completed 7-31-07 by cleaning male relay contacts with sandpaper 0$

C. A/C and Heater Diaphragm

D. Rewire

F. Hood Bumpers completed august 24th 5$

E. Pull out in master cylinder

F. New Suspension (AirBags)

G. Boil Gas tank

H. Engine Mounts-completed July 25th 2007 192.00$

I. Washer Bottle

J. Hood Insulation

II. Exterior

A. Touch up paint

B. Wheels and Whitewalls

C. Hubcap and spinners-completed 7-31-07 bought two wire wheels from Ron 713-789-7854 100$

D. Car Cover

E. Black Plates-July 26th 2007 93.00$, Installed and registered August, 6 2007

F. Paint Runs

G. Re Chrome Grill and Antennae

H. Fix Rear Window

III. Trunk

A. New Carpet Lining corvair

B. Remove Surface rust and prep area,

C. Jack parts (how to use)

IV. Interior

A. Fuel Gauge

B. Warning Buzzer

C. Horn-completed 7-31-07

D. Clock,

E. Cigarette Lighters

F. Repaint interior pieces

G. Middle A/C Vent loose

H. Brake and Gas Pedal Covers

I. Chrome Kickplate N/A

J. Vent Panels, corvair

K. Fix Chrome, corvair

L. Antennae Aftermarket Hideaway Radio, Speakers,

M. Steering Wheel

N. Seats and extra vinyl, corvair

O. Fix power seats

P. redye door carpet

Q. dash name plate- ‘Baby Ryan’ plate delivered 8-22-2007

V. Steering- alignment

The Tool Wish List

Torque Wrench

Shop Light-7/20/07

Floor Jack


Air Compressor-5 horse 20 cfm

Air Wrench

Safety Glasses

Simple Green 7/29/07

Carb Cleaner

Duct Tape

Steel Wool

Razor Blades

Old Style Oil can


Upholstery Adhesive

Mechanic Stuff

Front Wheeling bearings need cleaning and regreaseing

New Seal in Front?

Brakes Shoes

Upper Coolant Shoes

Wiper Blades

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If the prior owner was talking about adjusting the pushrod for the master cylinder, I don't think that will get the desired results. The master cylinder pushrod is a basic length, with a LITTLE adjustment to fine tune things. NOT a major amount of adjustment, even considering the leverage of the brake pedal. This is something that you don't mess with once the factory setting is made. It will NOT affect brake vacuum assist, either. It might raise the pedal a little, but it can ALSO put preload into the system that will cause the brakes to drag, which is NOT good, just like you had the brake pedal slightly depressed all of the time.

As for the air bag system, I know that's a really neat thing to do, but I've seen the cable television shows where the air bag vendor sponsors a driving event on a closed road course for the vehicles with their systems on them. That lowered ride height might look really neat, but it majorly seems to mess with the vehicle's transient handling capabilities, even if the alignment (which will be completely needed!) is "to specs". With the amount and type of rubber these same cars had on the ground, they should have done much better, I would think, but they did not. One '63 Impala even "swapped ends" in a panic stop! From what I've seen in here, those early Rivs already have some tire/body interference issues so putting some wider tires might be an issue (i.e., 50 series 17"+ tires).

There might be some variations of 3M Spray Adhesive, so getting the correct one (probably from an auto supply) might be important. You can probably shop the 3M website or probably check on Eastwood's website.

The "gas tank flush" would be with some new gas and some fuel system cleaner, not the "boil out" you'd get at a radiator shop. Main thing would be to just get the accumulated sludge and gunk and dirt than to get it spotlessly clean. Then, as a friend did on a older car several years ago, they put some new gas in the tank, plus about two quart cans of Berryman's B-12 in the mixture, then they got an electric fuel pump and pulled the new mixture through the fuel lines to the front and then pumped them back to the tank filler neck. Then more fresh and clean gas to finish the rinse procedure (which will take probably 10 gallons of gas, many feet of rubber fuel line, and then legally disposing of it all).

For your tool list . . . getting a quality torque wrench can be a big plus. For something good and reasonably priced, Sears Craftsman is probably one of the best for the money, in a "clicker" wrench. Just be sure to torque the bolts "in torque sequence", which not only means using the accepted pattern to tighten the bolts/nuts, but also starting with a lower torque wrench setting and working up to the final torque setting "in steps", rather than "all at once".

For a floor jack, you can watch the sales as many are pretty much the same. You can get buy with an inexpensive one that is on the order of about 2tons or so, but using something more like what you'd see at a repair garage can be better in the long run. The smaller and less expensive ones are somewhat "expendable" after a few years of use. Just need to shop around, including WalMart and Harbor Freight and Northern Tool, for example. The lightweight NASCAR-type aluminum jack is neat and weighs about 30lbs or less, but at about $100.00, it's a little pricey (on sale!). Still, it will slide into a 3" gap whereas a normal jack needs about 5.5"-6" clearance between the ground and what you want to jack up.

Depending upon how the center a/c vent is "loose", if it's just that it will not hold an adjustment, you might be able to disassemble it and reassemble it with some thicker rubber o-rings on the shaft between the vent deflector and vent body it slides into. I think the original "washers" might have been thick felt, but the rubber o-rings can be easily found and not very expensive and should work well.



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A few comments to supplement NTX's thoughts.

-I would not recommend any type of gas tank sealer that you do yourself.

-Watch out for the aluminum jacks, I bought one that should have been great (light weight 4000 lb. capacity) but it didn't budge the 60 Buick I was working on. Sears took it back for 15% restocking fee (what a bargain).

-Spray adhesive... the expensive stuff you will find at the "Depot" will work but you have to mask EVERYTHING anywhere near where you are using it, remember you have to glue the hood too. You might try more of a brush on product if you can find one. I think I didn't even use glue on my Wildcat. The insulation is a pretty tight fit on my car.

-I think airbags are pretty neat looking, but I have no knowledge of pros/ cons. If you decide to go that route please let us know what you think.


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