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The Dreaded Horn Wire/Contact Job


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I have now owned my 1955 Century Model 66R for about 2 years. I have been putting off the repair of the horn wire in the steering column to the point where I can no longer put it off. In the interim, I installed a foot switch so that I would at least be legal. More than just the wire it looks like the brass horn contact is no longer there.

My intent is to pull the steering column out of the car and make the repair to the horn wire/contact on the bench. Recently I purchased a pair of horn contacts from eBay. As you can see in the photo below, I received two types of contacts even though they were delivered in two boxes that had the same part number written on them. In looking at the steering column diagram from the Buick Master Chassis Parts Book (which is for a 1956), it looks like the contact on the left in the picture might be for that year Buick? Or is the one on the left for a non-power steering 1955 Buick?

Also, can anyone provide me with any tips for removing the steering column. I have read most of the old Threads dealing with this subject, and in one of them I read that you should remove the fuse box. Any other tips? Are there any special tools needed?

Any and all help would be appreciated.

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My 1954 Special does not have power steering. The original contact on mine was like the one on the right. The one on the left looks like it would be an improved later version to me. I used a copper plumbing fitting that looks a lot like the contact on the left side of your photo.

I did not remove the fuse box. The job is simple but removing the steering column is a bit of a pain.

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Joe, the picture on the right is one that has already failed and split. If you paid for that one, get your money back!

Pulling the fuse panel is not necessary. Get a schematic of the fuse panel. Unplug and mark each wire for location. Color coded wires helps alot.

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)
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Hi Joe, here's mine:

5477226231_c1805a3b11.jpg

and the description from my Flicker:

"On the left is the old shattered collar for the horn wire on my 1956 Buick, it goes on the steering column shaft. On the right is the new one I fabricated from a piece of .015 sheet stock brass; the dent you see is where the wire gets soldered on. WOW, I had no idea where I'd even find this part if I couldn't make it. It'll be nice to have a horn after, mmm, 20 years! I formed it on an 18mm socket."

Take lots of pictures as you go: if you know of someone with an SLR-camera, borrow it, you might find you need that extra bit of resolution; I know I did. I used my tripod, as my hands just naturally shake, and have always done so. It's not a very hard job, just tedious: oh, you may want to do some stretches before you begin--no kidding, especially your neck and upper body. You may begin to feel like a Mercury-astronaut: tight cramped spaces that you just-fit into...

Good luck!

Jaybird

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Joe, I've been working on my '56 as of late; I pulled out the entire dash:

10193742186_467dcd72b6.jpg

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Putting it back has taken me a very long time as I have ruptured-discs in my neck and back, I'm only 47... today I pulled the car out, turned it around in my neighbor's driveway, and just as I pulled up, back at my house, it died at my garage-door...no gas! I really had no idea as to just how much gas was in it because my gauge isn't working--I think, it has a a new wire and sending unit, and a new electronic fuel-pump, very quiet, very efficient... I think I was technically out of gas while I was doing my three-point-turn--snort!:P

I've been contorting my body quite a bit getting it all zipped back together. This is my first car and I've done all the work by my self, except the tranny rebuild: paint, upholstery, engine, electrical...

2635530688_502054c29e.jpg

I used a super-wide-angle-lens for this shot, trying to make it look way longer that it actually is...

Jaybird

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The deed is done. Today we pulled out the steering column and put in the new brass horn contact. Not too bad of a job but we did have a little extra work making the final adjustments, especially to the Neutral Safety Switch. But that is because the switch itself was all crudded inside with old grease; we cleaned that up. But now I have a working horn on the column.

The only difference we noticed is that the shift lever is a bit more stiff. Is there any kind of lubricant we can use to loosed it up a bit? And why would be a little stiffer after pulling the column?

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Joe, It is probably some crud that got dislodged during R&R, Just be sure it is not binding. Loosen the steering gear at the frame and at the bottom of dash; verify free up and down movement, then tighten at bottom of dash and then at the frame.

Willie

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I had the same problem, even with the whole thing in the garage floor. The shifter tube is supported by felt/fiber bushings to keep it centered. One in the upper end and one, if I remember correctly, is in the steering box. Lube helped some, but it will improve with usage.

Joe, did you remove the steering box or were you able to slide the column off after loosening and tilting? If you did it that quick, I'm guessing the latter....................John

And how did you get the shifter arm through the rubber collar at the firewall?

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)
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TexasJohn and Willie:

Thanks for your replies. We did not remove the steering box. As you suspected, we removed the steering tube by twisting and tilting. We had to remove the heater box and the rubber collar. For reinsertion, we had to remove the Neutral Safety Switch so we could rotate and lift the tube into place.

Here are a couple of pictures. The first shows the steering tube out; the second shows the new horn contact in place.

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Hi-Been reading your horn wire posts with interest. I'm reassembling a 53 Roadmaster after having the p/s box out for a rebuild while the engine was also out for a rebuild. I noted when I reassembled the box and slid the painted tube tube down on the shaft there was a new soldered on horn wire soldered to a brass sleeve midway down the shaft.

I now have things all together and have a problem-when i rotate the steering wheel ---the horn blows at a certain part of the wheel rotation. Any ideas on the cause and way to repair this problem. On the theory the new wire had a bare spot I managed to slide heat shrink tape down the length of the wire to the solder point but the horn still blows at a certain point in the wheel rotation.

Thanks for your hep.

Marty Lum

marty@oldercar.com

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Marty:

About the only thing I can think of is how tight the steering wheel bolt is. I read in some of the literature I have that what you do is tighten the bolt down until the horn starts blowing, then back off 1/2 turn for the correct setting. If you have already done that, then we may have to look to the advice of the other experts on this forum for help.

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I would be very weary of loosening the steering wheel nut. Too critical for controlling the direction of two tons of Buick.

The short is either at the horn ring or at the contact ring in the steering column.

At the horn ring: Pull it off your steering wheel and see if the horn is still sounding at odd times. If not, problem is in the horn ring or how the wire is contacting it.

If it is still sounding even with the horn ring removed, you have a short in the area of the horn contact farther down the column. Is the wire shorting to the side of the exit hole on the steering shaft, where it is soldered to the contact ring? Is the contact ring shorting to the steering shaft? You should be able to get a look with a flashlight and mechanic's mirror. Has the contact wring come apart, a common problem with Buicks of this era?

Good luck...

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Horn blowing when steering shaft turns---thanks for the responses. The horns blows at certain points in the shaft rotation even with the steering wheel off so it's not in the wheel or horn ring. Has anyone found a shorting situation between the steering shaft and the gear shift tube in a Dynaflow?

I managed to slide a piece of shrink tubing down the horn contact wire all the way to the solder joint midway down the shaft so I don't think it's the wire.

Marty Lum

53 Buick Model 76

marty@oldercar.com

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53 Buick 76 horn problem

Some feedback to those who offered help on my problem child. Felt around in the oval slot on the steering tube with my pinkie and found a small metal part which had dropped in the slot while the horn wire pickup plate was off. At a certain rotation of the wheel this part made contact tween the brass sleeve and the outer jacket.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Marty Lum 53 Buick 76

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  • 7 years later...

Ran across this while looking for something else, I just like to bring good posts like this bttt

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