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tim63riv

63 Riviera Tilt Column Repair

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Hi Guys,

I bought a couple of used columns for parts to keep some other Riviera's functioning correctly. Finally got after them today and figured out how they are supposed to work. It seems that there is a cable used to keep the relationship of the turn signal switch the same throughout the tilt travel range. The outer plastic cable keeps everything in alignment while the metal inner wire is what actually moves the turn signal actuator to activate the signals.

It seems that both of my parts columns have the outer plastic housing that is broken. Does anyone have a cable that they would be willing to sell? Does anyone know of a replacement that is being produced? I think I could fix/retrofit something to make it work, but don't want to do that if someone already has the cable available!

Thanks,

Tim

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Tim,

If you can come up with a retrofit, replacement, or repair I think you would make many many 1st gen. Riv owners very happy.

Ed

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This is a common problem with this column. Replacement turn signal actuating cables are quite rare. Used columns for parts usually have their cable broken, too. And if it is not yet broken, it will be after you put it in your car and tilt the wheel a few times.

I have been working on this problem and am in the middle of writing up an article for The Riview. I have been able to figure out a way to repair the broken cable and I have figured out a way for everyone to reduce the probability of their cable breaking. I am still in the middle of field testing my solutions, to see how durable they are.

BTW, it is the full tilt UP direction that seems to break them off, but the full DOWN tilt also puts a lot of strain on the plastic sheath right at the metal end of the cable, up in the steering column head. Try to avoid both extreme positions on your 1st gen. Riviera wheel to keep from breaking your cable.

Late in '63, Buick went to a thicker wall on the plastic cable sheath. This makes them more durable but not immune from breaking. That's why it seems to us to be mainly a '63 Riv problem. But it's not. If you keep moving any 1st gen Riv wheel to the extremes a lot, you, too, will have a broken actuator cable.

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Jim,

Thanks for the reply! I know how hard it is for you "engineer types" to quit designing and testing and go to production! I was going to check into some small diameter plastic tubing like they use for aftermarket oil pressure gauges and then piece of pano wire for the activation rod. The car I need this for is going into storage for the winter is about 4 weeks, so I would like to see if I can get it fixed before then!

Tim

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Hi Tim,

If you dont manage a fix before you put the car into storage try this....place the tilt wheel in the position you would use while driving. Then adjust the turn signal switch position so all signals and brake lights function properly. With most collector cars there is really only one driver and that individual will always use the tilt in the same position. I have several `60`s cars which I have done this as a temporary repair meaning to one day get to a permanent repair. I havn`t done so because I am the only driver and it has not been an issue. I know this is not the answer you are looking for but it works.

Tom Mooney

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I used bulk heat set electrical cable insulation and melted it right over the old plastic sleeve. 3 layers. Steve

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Jim, Tom and Steve,

Thanks for your ideas! I am torn between repairing the old ones and fabricating something new (and hopefully improved!) I hope to have time to look into it again this weekend.

Take Care,

Tim

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If you make something new, try to make it out of something durable like bicycle brake cable wire and housing. Or motorcycle throttle. The plastic housing can't put up with the bending and tension when tilted up.

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Guys,

Did a little more research and measurements of the cable. OE 63 Buick plastic tubing outside diameter is .119 of an inch. The wire diameter is .031 of an inch. Searching through my stash of parts and specialized, highly important things (s.h.i.t.) in the garage, I found a left over air line kit for my 85 T Type. The diameter on the nylon tubing is .127 of an inch, only .008 larger than the OE tubing. I think that there is wire feed welding wire available in .030 of an inch.

My plan is to source some wire, cut the plastic tubing to length, make a 4 wrap coil on one end of the wire, install it into the plastic tube. Then make another 4 wrap coil on the other end to the proper length. Once I have that done, I'll crimp the original brackets onto the "new" cable and install it into one of my test columns.

I hope this works!

Tim

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Steve,

Where did you get the shrinkable cable wrap? Also, do you have a manufacturer or better yet, a part number?

Thanks,

Tim

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Tim,

You can buy heat shrink tubing at any Radio Shack and most hardware stores. Shrink it with a hair dryer or other heat gun, or a propane torch if you have a gentle touch.

John

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John,

The stuff that Steve is talking about isn't shrink tubing, it's a shrinkable wrap. The problem with the shrink tubing is that there are brackets on both ends of the cable that prohibit the installation of the proper size shrink tubing. The only shrink tubing that I can fit over the brackets won't shrink down far enough to hold the cable together. I think I may have to go to an electrical supplier for the wrap.

Thanks,

Tim

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Steve,

Where did you get the shrinkable cable wrap? Also, do you have a manufacturer or better yet, a part number?

Thanks,

Tim

Tim it comes in a roll, like tape, it has an adhesive so it stays where you put it, then heat it up.. grainger carries it ( the wrapper is lng gone, no p# etc), but i believe I've seen it at home depot, too.S

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Steve,

Thanks, I'll check out some home improvement stores. I really like 3M products for electrical repair and automotive chemicals, usually more expensive but a very high quality product.

Tim

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Sounds like these adjustable steering columns can be a pain in the ass when cables break, or when something else goes wrong with them! But in fact, I was actually looking for a tilt column for my '65 Riv...

...Ive got the Deluxe interior in mine, but with a fixed steering column. Anyway, do people really benefit that much with a tilt column? Or are they just more trouble than they're worth?? I'd like to find this out, so that I can determine whether it would be worth my while installing one. Thanks.

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Happy New Year Everyone!:D

Finally got some time to quit pondering the problem and got after making up the new cable. I made two of them, now I just have to carefully remove the old mounting brackets from the broken original cable and install them on the new. My son is an unemployed sheet metal worker, so if I plead with him maybe I can get him to make some new brackets as well.

I hope to be testing the new cables this weekend, with some time off to watch the Vikings! Hopefully they good Vikes will show up!:eek:

Take Care,

Tim

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Great! Post some pictures maybe. Let us know how it goes. It takes many cycles to break an original.

My advice to everyone with a tilt column is to take that spring off of the turn signal switch assembly. It is not needed. Buick engineers thought you would need it to pull the switch back down after tilting the column up. You don't. The plastic cable housing does it just fine (if the switch slides freely on the mounting bracket). Pulling the cable against that spring when you tilt up breaks the cable eventually.

Happy New Year, you all!

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Jim,

I think you are spot on about the spring on the turn signal switch, just another example of "over-engineering" in the early Riviera's. I checked the material thickness of the upper and lower brackets, the top is .040" and the lower is .031". My son felt certain that if I can get the correct thickness metal, he can make new brackets.

As far as pictures go, my daughter lost our digital camera last fall. We bought her one for last Christmas, she lost that after only a couple months. Her best friend gave her one of her old digital cameras this past summer which she just recently lost! In between times she lost an Ipod and a cell phone, too! She is a wonderful kid, just kind of "spacey" when it comes to high buck small electronics! If we happen to find a camera, I'll shoot some pictures!:o

Thanks,

Tim

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Jim,

Is this spring you're talking about easy to find/see/identify? Would it be possible for you to take a picture of it - where it's located and the easiest way to remove it?

Thanks, Ed

PS - sending a PM to you on an entirely different subject.

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The spring on the turn signal switch is fairly large, easy to spot.

dscn0568.th.jpg

Lifts right off when the switch is off the column. In the photo above, you can see one of the two pins that the switch body slides on. Make sure they are clean and lightly lubricated and you do not need the spring.

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Jim,

Thanks for the picture. I would have been digging around under the wheel in the column somewhere looking for it. DUH.

Ed

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Hey all, 

 

I uncovered that my turn signal actuating cable housing was broken in two places not allowing for proper operation. I could manually move the switch and it would operate correctly. I pulled off the switch off the column and took it apart and cleaned all the years of grime off of it as well as cleaned the contacts inside. 

 

I came up with a fix that cost around $10. 

 

Went to my local hardware store and bought some 1mm (.039) wire. ($1.75)

IMG_1844.thumb.JPG.400c39951301e7aec48290073ebd8894.JPGIMG_1843.thumb.JPG.59923a44ea9af20830a7d2d09b103580.JPG

 

Went to a bike shop and bought some cable housing. (3' - $8.5)

 

I built a very basic jig using a couple screws and a 3/16th drill bit. The screws were used to hold the excess wire while I wrapped the 3/16th drill bit a couple times to create the loop. You can see the factory one with the column bracket still on it. The image below

both the factory and the new housing/cable are taped together and then I screwed them slightly to ensure that the other end column side was the exact same length. 

IMG_1848.thumb.JPG.4dd6560eff1ca2365e0663ba01067808.JPG

IMG_1845.thumb.JPG.ff7201cb9560d1ffdd30519c92018c18.JPGFor reference..

 

 

Once I had both ends looped I carefully separated the factory crimps and place them on the new and reinstalled. I just got back from a shake down run and signals were operating as they were designed. Let me know if you have any questions..I'll do my best to assist via the internet if someone runs into this issue again.. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by neatname (see edit history)
  • Thanks 1

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Excellent!!!

One thing I'd like to know. What is the exact distance between the holes on the two hold down brackets. Or is that a critical length?

 

Thanks, Ed

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42 minutes ago, RivNut said:

Excellent!!!

One thing I'd like to know. What is the exact distance between the holes on the two hold down brackets. Or is that a critical length?

 

Thanks, Ed

Are you speaking center of the mounting bracket on column actuator side to center of the bolt on the switch (bottom) of the column? 

 

If you're looking for the distance between the 2 loops on the wire it's 18.5", the switch has to be "tuned' of sorts per the manual.

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28 minutes ago, neatname said:

If you're looking for the distance between the 2 loops on the wire it's 18.5", the switch has to be "tuned' of sorts per the manual.

Thanks, this is the one I'm looking for.  I'll check the manual other info.  Just off hand, did you by chance look for a wound wire sheath? 

 

Ed

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