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66 Skylark convertible, worn rims


Guest stefank1

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Guest stefank1

Dear Buick Enthusiasts,

I own a 1966 Buick Skylark convertible in original conditon. This includes the standard 14" rims with hubcaps, tire size is 185 R 14.

My car is still equipped with the original power assisted single master cylinder and drum brakes all round.

Now to my problem; the steel rims show serious signs of distortions where the lugnuts screw in. It is so bad that I fear that the lugnuts may pull though the rim and that wheel loss might occur. I also experienced loose lugnuts on one wheel although they have been tightend by myself with the correct torque beforehand.

As I live in Germany, it is somewhat difficult (and expensive) to get spare parts, so I want to get it right first time!

These are my alternatives:

- Try to obtain new original 14" steel rims and be done with it

- Buy readily available 14" reproduction rallye steel rims which were optional equipment back in 1966

- ...or change over to 15" rims (either w/hubcaps or rallye wheels) so that I can convert to a dual master cylinder and front disc brakes

Questions:

Are the standard steel rims available somewhere?

Where would be the best place to buy the rallye wheels? I have seen them for sale by OPGI.

Is it a good idea to convert the brake system to front discs and dual master?

Thanks in advance for your assistance

Stefan

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So many people are converting to disc brakes it's most fashionable to do so. But you should ask yourself if that's really necessary. My 69 GS stops fairly well with non power drum brakes. Of course it does have the dual master cylinder, but my 56 stops very nice with it's original power brakes too, so the disc brakes are something you should decide after you get some serious driving experience with your car.

As for the rims, I'd recommend shopping around and looking for the 15 rallye wheels. 14 in tires are getting harder to find in the states, and I imagine in Europe as well. And this will allow you to make one purchase and still convert to disc brakes later oon if need be. Look at E bay, as these used to come up often, but also know they are getting to be in demand much more because of the aforementioned 14 inch tire situation.

And welcome to the Board. How about some pics of that 66. They are sweet cars.

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From what I've seen of 14" wheels in the replacement aftermarket, they might not look like your old ones. The ones on your car are probably 14x5.5" wheels. There might have been some 14x6s, but that would be unusual for back then.

One option would be the Chevy-style Rally wheel (as "Corvette" rallys). The Buick version used the "small" disc brake Chevy center cap, but with a Buick Tri-Shield emblem in the place of the Bow-Tie. Probably more correct for your vintage of vehicle than the factory chrome wheels (which came later on the intermediate-size Buicks). For Chevies, they came in 15x6 sizes, with 15x7 a few years later (like 1969?).

Your stated 185Rx14 size would equate to the old, USA 7.35x14/E78-14 size tire, which probably is one notch smaller than what the vehicle originally came with 7.75x14 (F78-14), if I recall correctly (also referencing my '70 Skylark).

Sources for wheels? There are many. OPGI is a re-seller, as would be YearONE and similar entities. Wheel Vintiques, I believe, is a manufacturer. So you can shop for the best price or a monthly special situation.

Back when the car was built, there could be a disc brake wheel and a drum brake wheel at the OEM level, but at this time, I suspect they are all "clearanced" (on the inner rim contours) for disc brakes. Still, it would be good to mention this to where ever you end up getting them from.

There are several kits to do a power disc brake upgrade for the front . . . even the rear too, I suspect. Seems like they are in the neighborhood of about $800.00USD? Again, shop for the best total package and best price.

I concur that the OEM production drum brakes were better than many seem to admit to in more recent times (after disc brakes got to be on "everything"). In my Skylark, each time I'd even move it in the driveway, I had to be careful or I'd almost "eat steering wheel" the first time I touched the brakes.

Back then, "braking power" was determined by how long the car would slide with locked-up brakes in a panic stop--tire/road friction was important, but now the determiner is more like how many panic stops can be made from 70mph with no wheel lockup or fade. The sound of screeching tires in a panic stop always added a bit of drama to things, as evidence that the driver was trying to stop as quickly as possible, leaving evidence of such on the pavement. Then the notion of the driver trying to NOT lock-up the tires, but modulating brake pedal pressure during a panic stop surfaced.

I think I'd do the wheels and tires first, with 15x6 wheels (either the Rally or Chrome wheels) and P215/75x15 size tires--whitewalls, even. GM used the 9.5" brakes for many years, so parts to repair the drum brakes are plentiful. Finding a higher-metallic lining brake shoe might take some doing, though, for better fade resistance. As a reference, the center cap emblem has some model-year-specific variations, if that might matter.

Something you might also consider is a set of KONIs and front/rear sway bars.

Just some thougths,

NTX5467

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Guest stefank1

John; NTX5467;

thanks for your replies. We own this car for quite a while, my father-in-law bought it new in 1966, it is a German-spec car built in Antwerp/Belgium.

He sold it in 1990, but my wife was always sorry that the car's gone. So I bought it back from the second owner in 1999, since then it is in my ownership.

My main concern right now are the rims, which, in my opinion, are dangerous to drive with. Regarding the brakes, I am a bit nervous regarding the single master, I can do with the drums. I have looked around for dual master conversions, but afaik (which may be wrong) these are only available together with disc brakes.

Changing the rim size over here (Germany) is not so easy as in the US. Tyre and rim size is written down in the vehicle documents, a change in size will invalidate the documents and you will have to pass a technical inspection to get the documents up-to-date.

Shipping will be a huge cost factor, and a deal on ebay may not work due to the fact that many private sellers do not want to hazzle with overseas shipment.

To see some pictures, and read about our car, go to 1966 Buick Skylark

Best regards

Stefan

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Well Stefan, That is one sweet 66 Skylark. Nice job! I love the color combination.

Good luck on the rims. If it's such a hassle to change the tire size I'd be inclined to buy a set of tires and rims from someplace like Coker Tire. They can mount and balance the rims and I imagine they'd be willing to ship overseas. As NTX says, the new ones will be wider but that will make your car look good too.

As for a double master cylinder, I think a lot of guys convert to 69 Buick Master cylinders, with a matching portioning valve, and then just run new lines as needed. Of course at that point your car is modified so the tires and wheels are less of an issue. Still, the Buick Rallyes are great looking rims on these cars.

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Guest stefank1

John,

thanks for the kind words. For me the dual circuit brakes are an important safety factor. There's always a possibility that a hose, a wheel cylinder or a brake line fails and then you are left without brakes. I also have a very minor leak somewhere which makes me nervous. I have to add brake fluid once a year, but I can't find a leak anywhere.

I'll shop around for the stuff.

Thanks again and best regards

Stefan

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That low fluid could be a failed booster seal or cap seal. Either it's sucked into the manifold during use, or it could be splashing out of the cap everytime you step on the brakes. It can also evaporate.

I was able to buy a mechanics syringe at my parts store. I use this once every two years or so to suck all the fluid I can out of the reservoir. When I first started doing this I was surprised at the junk that came out of my master cylinders. The nice thing is this does not require opening the brakes lines to get the fluid out of the reservoir.

Then I put in new fluid. I wipe the cap seal and the surface on the MC with a clean cloth and reseal it up. I always disassemble the syringe and clean it with non chlorine based brake cleaner and let it air dry right after use.

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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Parts realities ARE different if you're not in the USA with a USA-brand vehicle.

Seems like all USA brands changed to the dual master cylinder in 1967? Best place to get the brake lines would be from a salvage yard, which will probablly want to sell you the master cylinder to go with them. Or you can source them from some place line Fine Lines (which does repro brake and fuel lines). The "proportioning valve" referenced above is really just a switch to detect the loss of fluid in one of the brake line circuits--no more, no less--with drum brake vehicles. It turned on a "BRAKE" light in the instrument cluster. On disc brake vehicles, they were "Combination Valves" as they had the fluid loss alert function PLUS a proportioning valve in them. You could probably wire it to turn on the same "BRAKE" light as the parking brake light in your existing instrument cluster--if desired.

On drum brake vehicles, "proportioning, front/rear" is done by design--the relationship of the master cylinder bore sizes and their interaction with the bore sizes of the wheel cylinders.

If you suspect you might be losing brake fluid, a somewhat common place is out of the rear of the master cylinder. With power brake cars, it'll end up in the brake booster, plus leaving a "trail" of brake fluid where the master cylinder mounts to the booster or firewall.

With respect to the wheels, if the steel or Buick chrome wheels do have a rim width that's a little wider than what you now have, it'll just make the sidewalls more verticle, taking some of the flex potential out of them, plus make them more vertical. This might increase the impact h harshness on rough roads, but it'll also sharpen steering response and should make them run a little cooler. Might need a little more air pressure to keep the tread flat against the road.

Nice car!

NTX5467

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Guest stefank1

John,

I had removed the brake master cylinder from the servo a while ago, seemed to be dry, but will recheck. Usually I replace the brake fluid on my cars every third year. The front bleeders are a PITA to operate! Good idea to replace the fluid on your cars.

NTX5467,

maybe I'll just obtain a '67 master cylinder and fabricate new brake lines, I've got all necessary tools. My car doesn't have the "brake" light in the dashboard, so I could do without the brake-fail-switch.

Will the '67 dual master fit on the '66 servo without mods?

I will check with our state inspection center whether they will allow the change to 15" wheels, and which tire size they will permit without any modifications to the car itself. I'll have to take the car to the inspection station to do this, hope I will find time to do it next week.

I have included a picture showing the hubcaps I have for my car.

wheeloptions.jpg

#1 is the setup I have installed right now, the so called "poverty"-hub caps usually found on the '66 Special base version. They have the advantage to be clipped onto the rim notches and stay there! I added outer trim rings from a 1975 Opel Commodore (local car) which fit perfectly.

#2 are the Special wheel trims which were available as an option. They do not hold very well and get lost sometimes. Don't like them too much.

#3 are the original hubcaps, my favourites. But they fall off quite often, I had to search fields beside the road several times for them! I'm also afraid to use them cause some pedestrian may be hurt when they fly around.

I thought about fixing them with cable ties but that didn't look good.

#4 are the rallye wheels I might get now. I do like the classic look of the hubcaps better with my car, but they look nice too. No hubcaps to loose also.

Anyway, If I change to 15" I will not be able to reuse the hubcaps anyway, maybe #1 will fit on the 15ers as well, don't know.

So long

Stefan

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Till you decide on a wheel there's not much point of doing this BUT you can always rebend the tabs on the hubcap so they grip the rims better. At least till you bend them so many times they break off. I had to do this to my 56 just a few weeks ago. That cap is on there really tight now.

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