Lee Beery

Reatta Headlight actuator rebuild

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Well it's done. The headlights now open and close! My helper is a very smart fellow. He built his plane, an RV 7 and I am a aircraft mechanic( for many many years) and we would not like doing this task every day. If you take on this job we would suggest cutting down the 3 long attach bolts 3/8" to reduce the amount of wrenching (turning) on reinstallation. On the RH unit take a knife and cut about 3/4" off the edge ring or cut notches in the edge of the nylon ring gear to allow the worm gear to engage the ring gear. Take care when you line them up. The kit parts were great. We could not figure out where the plastic body nuts went or why there was little red dots on the new plastic paws (rollers). I would have been more at ease if a spare snap ring had been included in the kit. Do you best to keep the removed snap rings on disassemble. All this being said it sure is nice to have my "ride" back to normal.

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I bought a kit last week, just don't have any tools to start. Congrats though! Where is clear lake, by the way? Not too many reattas in California, nice to know someone is near by!

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There is enough written on this forum to write a book on Reatta headlight repair. Both www.reattaowner.com and www.reatta.net have pictures, sketches, etc.

There are 3 vendors making replacement bellcranks (arms) but no source for a replacement UPSTOP screw.

Since you live in Calif. you had no problems replacing the 3 plastic rollers, however if you were in the rustbelt, 2 of the 3 screws that hold the side plate would have twisted off making the repair less than fun.

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What you said in your reply Barney is very true about being in }no rust{ California but I didn't take any chances. I put some "mouse milk" on all screws, nuts and bolts before I started the removal. I have used this product for many years and it truly works to free up fasteners. Also, those three screws you mentioned. On my Reatta they are a hex head capscrew, not metric, not a perfect fit but a 1/4" socket worked for me. And before you ask, most aviation parts venders carry Mouse Milk. Also can I ask what you thought of my shortening the unit attach bolts and cutting notches in the nylon ring gear?? My location is in northern Calif. (Kelseyville) .

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On 3/11/2015 at 9:34 PM, Lee Beery said:

Well it's done. The headlights now open and close! My helper is a very smart fellow. He built his plane, an RV 7 and I am a aircraft mechanic( for many many years) and we would not like doing this task every day. If you take on this job we would suggest cutting down the 3 long attach bolts 3/8" to reduce the amount of wrenching (turning) on reinstallation. On the RH unit take a knife and cut about 3/4" off the edge ring or cut notches in the edge of the nylon ring gear to allow the worm gear to engage the ring gear. Take care when you line them up. The kit parts were great. We could not figure out where the plastic body nuts went or why there was little red dots on the new plastic paws (rollers). I would have been more at ease if a spare snap ring had been included in the kit. Do you best to keep the removed snap rings on disassemble. All this being said it sure is nice to have my "ride" back to normal.

I just rebuilt the passenger side today, driver's side on the next good weather day. I searched for 'red dot reatta' and this thread came up. To help future readers, I'll give some tips that would have helped me do the job faster and I'll explain the red dots as best I can. 

1. The headlight covers, the things that are the same color as the body of the car, are held on by studs with nuts towards the front. When you're undoing the nuts, first step, the stud may or may not come out instead. Doesn't matter which happens. I had three studs out and one nut off. You didn't break something if the stud comes out. I would recommend not going crazy tightening these, the part of the cover that accepts the studs looks like soft and/or cast aluminum, maybe easily stripped. 

2. The instructions I had called for an 8/32nds socket to remove the three nuts on the motor housing. Any math expert will know that this socket doesn't exist. The lowest common denominator is 1/4 so that's the size you use. I sprayed liquid wrench on the nuts, went to the tool store to look for an 8/32nds socket, had an epiphany and headed back home to get the 1/4 inch socket out. Edit: I misread the instructions. They clearly state that you need a 1.4 inch sockets.  By then, the nuts were free and easy to remove. I don't know if the spray did the trick but the job wasn't as tough as the instructions made it seem. Maybe I was just lucky.

3. Since this was the passenger side, the shaft and white plastic gear were a real bu**er to get out. Put the motor in a vice and tighten the nut on the end of the shaft, the one you have to take off to get the top housing off the motor. MAKE SURE YOU TIGHTEN THAT NUT QUITE FAR DOWN THE THREADED END. Why? Because I only tightened the nut a few turns and pulled the thing off when I was tugging it with vice grips. This stripped the first few threads. I hope this doesn't affect anything but there are threads sticking out past the nut so it should be OK. 

4. Once the shaft and white plastic gear are out, you should see the mess that the old rollers made. It's just plastic dust but clean it all out, use a toothbrush. Knock the gear against something to get the dust out of the inside depressions. 

5. The red dots. Feel that end of the roller right at the red dot for the slight bevel. Hold the gear with the bottom up, reverse of the way it came out of the motor housing. Place the three rollers in the three spaces with the red dot facing up and precisely towards the small hole in the center. Make sure the rollers are tight to the outside of the gear. You're going to put the shaft through the hole, right? The bevels are there to provide a slope for the wider end of the shaft to push out against. If the rollers had a 90 degree edge, you'd push forever and not get the shaft in. The bevels work perfectly and it's a snap to get the shaft back through the white plastic gear. 

6. Once you've greased the worm gear cavity, turn the black knob to spread the grease completely over the face of the metal gear. By doing that, you're insuring that the white plastic gear will get past the metal gear more easily. Remember the passenger side has the rim behind the teeth. Mine snapped in very easily so again, I'm lucky I guess. 

 

If I find anything different or crazy on the driver's side, I'll post about that in an edit here. My repair kit had two plastic grommets for each side but I can't see where these go. There is a similar grommet on the headlight assembly but it is just hanging in the breeze, nothing near it. Oh, the kit I bought came with a new snap ring and a new shaft nut plus the usual other parts. I don't know if I should put the name of the vendor here or not but they're in Texas, if that helps anyone track them down. 

 

Last few tips: If your headlight doors slam shut when you turn off the headlights, I'd bet that the rollers are on their way out. My '88's doors slammed shut then suddenly just stopped opening. If the motor isn't whining as it tries to do its work, your problem is electrical. If you open the hood then turn the manual opening knob while lifting up on the headlight cover, the lights will open and your job will be a breeze, more or less. If the doors don't open, I have no idea how you'd fix them. 

 

Good luck! 

 

Second Edit: Everything in the rebuild so far has been measured in metric, almost always 10 mm or the 30 mm Torx. The only Imperial measure is the 8/3nd inch socket mentioned above. It goes without saying, I hope, that you'll need a set of metric sockets and tools to do the job. Don't use an Imperial tool on a metric nut, even if it seems to fit. You'll only strip the head and be stuck with an even bigger problem. (Might sound like Captain Obvious but it's been done many times before, I'm sure.)

 

Third Edit: Added photos showing the placement of the red dotted rollers. This is the driver's side motor. The white plastic gear has to be separated from the shaft assembly. Hold the gear in one hand and lightly tap the end of the shaft with a piece of wood. Don't use a hammer or anything metal. Third photo shows the rounded out holes, part of the headlight door problem. Fourth photo is the rollers that were in the driver's side motor. They look OK but the door wouldn't open. Someone had put a square washer over the rounded hole in some previous fix. Worked for a while, I guess. 

 

Finally, end of saga, the headlights work perfectly now. Thanks to all for the tips and information. By the way, the doors now sit flush with the hood of the car. The left one sat up a bit before so something wasn't closing right. If your doors are a bit cockeyed, maybe the motors need to be rebuilt. 

 

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old rollers.jpg

Edited by Waddy2001
Added photos and information. (see edit history)

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I just check the instructions that come with my kits and no mention of 8/32 hex, mine says 1/4 hex.

Since my rollers are chanfered on both ends, there are no red dots so the rollers can be installed without worry

Reattas living in the rust belt can experience the problems you found...the nuts and studs on the painted cover are never a problem on southern cars.

If I am where i have the tools, I break the nuts loose on the studs, clean and lube the threads on the stud and reinstall the stud into the painted with some adhesive.

The 1/4 hex screw that hold the side plate are another story.....early 1988 seem to have the holes tapped and regular screws used, then they switched to "thread forming screws" they did not tap the holes.  This leaves "0" clearance between the hole and screw and any amount of salt water freezes the screw.  I have had several that 2 of the 3 screws break...since the screws form their own threads, they are case hardened, which means a normal drill will not drill the screws...I use carbide drills.

Removing the broken screws can take longer then the rest of the rebuild.

After the Reatta went out of production, replacement motors from GM were powder coated and the side plate holes were tapped so the screws on these are no longer a problem but if salt water gets under the powder coating....you can peel most of the paint off the headlight motor housing which has a white powder that needs to be removed before you can repaint.

You are close on the tools needed... 15 & 30 Torx is needed.  All the nuts and bolts (except the 1/4 in the side of the motor) need a 10mm...ideally a standard 10mm and deep 10mm and an open/box 10mm cover all the different locations and clearance you have to turn the tool 

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8/32?? Sounds like some way over-complicated instructions if you ask me. 

 

Also, anyone who tells you to remove the motor worm drive  is setting you up for failure. I just received a core motor through our rebuilt headlamp motor program from a shop in California. I was suprised to see that it had been previously rebuilt using the kit people have outlined above. it was bound up, and upon removing the (non OEM) screws holding the electric motor onto the housing, I found the inside of the motor around the brushes was burned. 

 

I've chucked that motor in the parts bin with the 4 other motors I've had come in completely locked up. Ironically, those were also previously rebuilt using sub-par kits. 

 

We've sold over 250 of our rebuilt headlight motors have have never had a single one come back with issues. When you use a kit that fits without spacers or need for fine tuning with a hammer, your motors will last a lifetime. Which is why we also give our motors a lifetime limited warranty. Not for just how long you own the car, but until the car is no longer in service.

 

Hell, I even pulled a set of our motors off a customer's car we bought back as a parts car  (it was rear ended). I removed those motors and reinstalled them in one of my own cars because they still worked flawlessly.

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12 minutes ago, Waddy2001 said:

Now I have no idea why the headlight door doesn't open. Any suggestions? 

 

Is the hole in the crankarm rounded out? Is the motor running when the doors are trying to open? Look at the manual knob and you can tell if the motor is running?

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My installation instructions specifically refer  to "8-32 1/4" Hex Head Machine Screws" with, of course, the 8-32 referring to the machine screw thread.  The screws that secure the brush holder to the lower housing are 6-40.

 

Also, referring to an earlier thread, from my experience I  find it nececessary to remove the rim between only four of the white nylon gear teeth to give ample clearance when re-installing the motor shaft/flange/white gear in the passenger side motor.

 

Kingsley Baker

www.reattaspecialtyparts.com - Headlight motor repair kits and sun visor clips for the '90 and '91 convertibles.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Waddy2001 said:

The instructions I had called for an 8/32nds socket to remove the three nuts on the motor housing. Any math expert will know that this socket doesn't exist. The lowest common denominator is 1/4 so that's the size you use.

 

16 minutes ago, Kingsley said:

My installation instructions specifically refer  to "8-32 1/4" Hex Head Machine Screws" with, of course, the 8-32 referring to the machine screw thread. 

 

It appears that math experts and machinists are not always one in the same. Although, in my 25 years as a machinist I did use a lot of math. :D

 

 

 

Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)

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38 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

 

Is the hole in the crankarm rounded out? Is the motor running when the doors are trying to open? Look at the manual knob and you can tell if the motor is running?

Yes, that was the problem. I tried to delete that earlier post (out of embarrassment) but you caught it! When I took the driver's side apart, it looked to me like the plastic gear was solid but a phone call to Kingsley sorted that out. Once I got the plastic gear off, I could see where the rollers were. Strange thing is that a previous owner, there have been 15 or so, must have tried to fix this. There was grease everywhere and some of it had kind of jellied, hard little beads in places. I cleaned that up, put the rollers in and it went back smoothly. Tapping the shaft with a piece of firewood did the trick. I'll post pics of the red dots and the round hole in the crankarm later. Back to installing this now while the weather is good. Thanks for the tip, Ronnie. 

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40 minutes ago, Kingsley said:

My installation instructions specifically refer  to "8-32 1/4" Hex Head Machine Screws" with, of course, the 8-32 referring to the machine screw thread.  The screws that secure the brush holder to the lower housing are 6-40.

 

Also, referring to an earlier thread, from my experience I  find it nececessary to remove the rim between only four of the white nylon gear teeth to give ample clearance when re-installing the motor shaft/flange/white gear in the passenger side motor.

 

Kingsley Baker

www.reattaspecialtyparts.com - Headlight motor repair kits and sun visor clips for the '90 and '91 convertibles.

 

 

Absolutely correct, Kingsley. It was my fault all along because I didn't read the '1/4' socket part. Looking back, I think I was too stressed about screwing up those bolts and didn't read the directions clearly. Since I wanted the socket to be exactly the right one, my eyes say 8/32nds not 8-32. Apology from me. 

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Waddy - thanks, appreciate your comments.

 

For folks who work with these motors and parts every day the process is fairly easy.  However, for folks who do it probably once in a Reatta lifetime I can well understand how this repair work can be a bit perplexing and frustrating.  Now that you have "graduated" you are now ready to undertake, with confidence, some new repair and maintenance items that will inevitably show up! 

 

Fortunately, there is a good bit of repair and maintenance info that is available.  In addition to the Packing List I always include two pages over and above the usual instructions.  One page is an interesting, timely, article by Jim Finn relating to the TEVES Mark II ABS and the other includes references to three websites that offer some very good maintenance and repair information.  They are www.reattaowner.com (Ronnies website), www.reatta.net, www.reatta.org and certainly this AACA Forum.  I believe Barney has referenced several of these earlier in this thread.

 

Kingsley

 

 


 

 

 

 

Edited by Kingsley
Typo (see edit history)

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