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58 Limited Questions


JimJordan
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Air-Poise suspension was an option . . . and a quite troublesome option, too. Many of the cars which had it from the factory were later converted to normal springs as the airbags became unavailable from GM, later on. Like many other "advanced technology" things of that general era, it took a mechanic at a dealership who really knew and understood the system just to know if it was operating correctly or not. Once that mechanic left that dealership, that "knowledge base" went with him. Perhaps the "Air-Poise" manual, too?

Other than the various components ageing and such, I suspect those items were slowly discontinued from GM as the basic installation rate was rather low, so when the projected need of parts was sold out of, there were none built later on to replace them. No parts . . . no mechanics . . . no more air suspension on the car. I do suspect that an original Air-Poise car might be updated with some of the newer AirRide Technlogies parts and such, but that original look might not be duplicatable.

Just some thoughts . . .

NTX5467

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that original look might not be duplicatable.

I wonder - what was the original look? Did an Air-Poise car sit low, while at rest, like a Citroen DS? It's fun to watch a Citroen rise up on its hydraulic-pneumatic suspension as the engine is started. The owner can then demonstrate how any of the four wheels can be lifted automatically, for tire changes. Technically, it wasn't a bad system. I've seen an otherwise pretty shabby DS, whose suspension system still worked fine.

They were expensive cars - over $4000 in 1958, when that kind of money could buy a Buick Roadmaster 75 or two Chevy Bel Airs. Yet Citroen continued with its advanced chassis design right up until the DS line was replaced in 1975.

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Here is where I read that Air Poise was standard on the Limited:

http://www.kingoftheroad.net/buick/source/buick_194.html

Kris states that it was a "mandatory option" ...although I don't know where that information came from.

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The Citroen Hydro-Pneumatic system was far more advanced technologically than GM's Air-Ride/Air-Poise. It was in use since the 1955 model-year, and for the great many ID/DS/SM Series Citroens I've owned and maintained, the system was relatively trouble-free, and with minimal maintenance, so was the rest of the car. The central hydraulic system not only managed the self-regulating height adjustment, but also served the power steering, power brake, clutch engagement/disengagement, movement of shifting forks, raising off the ground of wheel/tire(s) for changing, and even eliminated "front-end-dive" in a panic stop!

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The December 2, 2013 issue of "No Limits" magazine on www.wildaboutcarsonline.com has some information on the '58 Chevys. There is a link to an article in Hot Rod Magazine, by Tech Editor Ray Brock, on the '58 Impala. In that in-depth article is some very good information on the factory air suspension optionally-available on the '58 Chevrolets. I highly suspect it's very similar (what's in the article) to what was on other GM cars with that same suspension set-up. Pictures of the air bags, diagrams of the air lines and circuits, general operation, etc. I got the email with the new magazine in it today.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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The Citroen Hydro-Pneumatic system was far more advanced technologically than GM's Air-Ride/Air-Poise. It was in use since the 1955 model-year, and for the great many ID/DS/SM Series Citroens I've owned and maintained, the system was relatively trouble-free, and with minimal maintenance, so was the rest of the car. The central hydraulic system not only managed the self-regulating height adjustment, but also served the power steering, power brake, clutch engagement/disengagement, movement of shifting forks, raising off the ground of wheel/tire(s) for changing, and even eliminated "front-end-dive" in a panic stop!

Those Citroens were AMAZINGLY-engineered cars, from what I've seen. It was not until the earlier 1970s that I actually saw a Citroen in real life, much less "touched one". I read of the suspension system in (seems like) "Popular Science" magazine in the later 1960s. It was amazing how much suspension travel those suspensions had and how compliant they were. Later, I became aware that EACH nationality of European car had a character which tended to match that of the respective country's populace. French cars had soft rides with compliant suspensions, Italian cars had small, high-revving engines which needed lots of "gear-stirring" to extract the best performance . . . or so the story went.

In the earlier 1980s, Peugot was expanding their USA sales network, into the DFW area. A friend went down and test drove one of their sedans. He raved about how smooth the ride was. About how he could drive through dips with no problems, too, rather than "bouncing off of the bump stops" as a similarly-soft USA brand would. He was impressed. But, alas, that sales push was over and done within about 6 years.

Seems like Citroen also had headlights which would follow the steering wheel's actions, in their home market models. Plus some really swoopy and modernistic styling of their higher-end coupe. Rather than a brake pedal, it was a "brake spot" on the floorboard, on that higher-end coupe. The central hyd system powered the suspension, brakes, steering, etc., from one central system. Seemed quite neat and innovative, but no USA brand seemed to see the merit in it . . . OR wanted to pay for a license to produce it or reverse-engineer it to get around patents and such.

Neat cars,

NTX5467

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What options were available on a Limited besides airconditioning? I thought everything was standard. this car does not have wonderbar radio, auto dimming or air suspension. Mine appears to have never had air suspension but does have a/c, wonderbar, dimming and power antenna.

http://ps.getauto.com/dealer/details/158503/000000008E1052188/

Air Poise was not standard on Limiteds. None of my 58 literature mentions anything about a mandatory option. I have dealer order sheets from both Sept of 57 and one from Feb. 58. Both list Air Poise as optional on all Series. None of my 58 Service Bulletins or Buick Parts Product Information sheets say anything about A MANDATORY option. Limiteds did notcome standard with all the options as well. PS, PB and Flight Pitch Dynaflow were standard as were they on the Roadmasters. Limiteds were already pushing into Cadillac territory with prices around $5,000. Of course many were ordered with options as this is where the dealer could do some haggling. You are correct that your car does not appear to have had the Air Poise option as there is no compressor attached to the power steering pump (unless the pump was replaced at some point). The only time Air poise cars sat low was when the air bags or valves leaked or deflated over night. An older Buick dealer told me of the time they heard a loud bang in the show room. On inspection there was a 58 Air Poise car leaning to one side so you can guess what had happened. Service Bulletins have many entires on servicing and fixing the system. Too bad GM did not engineer in some of the features of the Citroen system. The conversion kits to coil springs are listed in some early 60's Parts Books.

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Thanks for the confirmation, Dave. But you can't assume a car never had air poise by looking in the engine compartment alone. Take a look at the rear end above the axle tubes. Most of the time, I have seen the rear leveling valves still attached to the frame, and nothing else. Sometimes, you can still see where the air tank was attached to the frame under the radiator, too.

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Thanks for the confirmation, Dave. But you can't assume a car never had air poise by looking in the engine compartment alone. Take a look at the rear end above the axle tubes. Most of the time, I have seen the rear leveling valves still attached to the frame, and nothing else. Sometimes, you can still see where the air tank was attached to the frame under the radiator, too.

I agree,Adam. That's why I noted in parentheses "unless the pump was replaced at some point". Usually you'll find air lines still resting in the frame rails, as well as the leveling valves and air tank still in place as you mentioned. Also the override valve under the instrument panel usually is still in place. Somewhere I may have the instruction sheet that came with the conversion kit detailing other changes.

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Those Citroens were AMAZINGLY-engineered cars

Okay, it's off-topic but these are just such wonderfully styled cars, not nearly as radical now, compared with how they must have appeared in 1955. The SM coupe appeared in 1970 and I remember that they were the same price as an Eldorado convertible. Definitely ahead of their time, although they did go down some technical paths that no one else followed.

post-59990-143142301474_thumb.jpg

post-59990-143142301479_thumb.jpg

Edited by Rob McDonald
glitch fixed (see edit history)
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I agree,Adam. That's why I noted in parentheses "unless the pump was replaced at some point". Usually you'll find air lines still resting in the frame rails, as well as the leveling valves and air tank still in place as you mentioned. Also the override valve under the instrument panel usually is still in place. Somewhere I may have the instruction sheet that came with the conversion kit detailing other changes.

Just to confirm what Dave is saying, My two Limited's have all the air ride parts on them BUT the air bags. Sadly, the lines and rear leveling mechanisms are rusted badly which means the system was converted a long time ago.

The inside over ride cable is located under the dash (glove box at the trany hump).

Sorry for the poor picture but it is where the bit of silver (bracket) shows through the steering wheel.

post-36036-143142302014_thumb.jpg

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Okay, it's off-topic but these are just such wonderfully styled cars, not nearly as radical now, compared with how they must have appeared in 1955. The SM coupe appeared in 1970 and I remember that they were the same price as an Eldorado convertible. Definitely ahead of their time, although they did go down some technical paths that no one else followed.

Hmm... don't know why these photos aren't popping up but the one of the DS19 is especially worth clicking on.

having owned at least one of every Citroen (post-war) series, I can agree with the technical excellence, especially the 4-overhead-cam Maserati-powered SM, and the ultimate simplicity of the 2-CV and the Ami-6.

Attached is a poor photo of the DS-19 Chapron convertible I wasn't able to buy.

post-54863-143142302083_thumb.jpg

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I am guessing that factory original parts for the Buick Air - Poise system is hard to come by. But with some many people putting air bag systems in cars today that a system could be devised to make it appear as if the factory system was working. Or at least a modern system controlled by the factory controls. I know it would not pass in the 400 point BCA judging. But for a car that is a driver, it would be really cool to have it working again.

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What was the purpose of the override?

It's my understanding (since mine never were working) that by pulling on the cable that it allowed more air to the rear bags and would therefore raise the car to compensate for varying loads.

It is actually called the Height Control Valve. A good idea in theory but the technology just wasn't there yet.

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Although I haven't looked at an air ride car in quite a while, The control may be service related. If you raise an air lift car on a lift the axles drop in relation the the frame. That would make the ride height sensor think the car was sitting too high and release all the air from the bags to lower it.

If any part of the inflation system is not working when the car comes back to the floor she lies on her belly, not pretty. I bet you have seen some 1990's Lincolns in that position.

The dealer service shops knew about this precaution. The corner garage may not.

I would figure that to be an over ride.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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The manual override valve was used for jacking up the car for tire changing or for negotiating a high curb or steep driveway.

When the valve was pulled, the air exhausting out of all 4 airbags was cut off thus inflating the bags and causing the car to rise. The bumper jack could be used normally then to continue to raise the side of the car needed to change the wheel and tire assembly. When the tire change was completed, the valve was pushed back in to cause the air to be slowly exhausted to bring the car back to normal height. The car was never to be driven with the valve pulled and the bags inflated to their full height. Compensation for a load was controlled mechanically by the leveling/height control valves.

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The manual override valve was used for jacking up the car for tire changing or for negotiating a high curb or steep driveway.

When the valve was pulled, the air exhausting out of all 4 airbags was cut off thus inflating the bags and causing the car to rise. The bumper jack could be used normally then to continue to raise the side of the car needed to change the wheel and tire assembly. When the tire change was completed, the valve was pushed back in to cause the air to be slowly exhausted to bring the car back to normal height. The car was never to be driven with the valve pulled and the bags inflated to their full height. Compensation for a load was controlled mechanically by the leveling/height control valves.

THANKS DAVE for that clarification!

With a life time of ownership I know I still don't know everything about '58 Buicks but with the help of this Forums someday, who knows, I just might be able to say that.

The saying 'Your never too old to learn' applies here.

In the mean time, I sent you a PM.

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