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1961 98 hubcap installation


Matt Harwood
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So I acquired this pretty 1961 Olds 98 convertible last week. Took it for a drive this morning and it threw a hubcap. Fortunately, the hubcap survived intact with some scuffing on the back, but I can't figure out how to put it back on. There are four clips (obviously there should be five, but I bet they're unobtainium) around the perimeter of the wheel and somehow they affix to the hubcap. There's a small lip around the hubcap that seems like that's where they would connect, but the hooks on the clips seem to be facing the wrong way to grab it in this area. So it's not a friction fit and these hooks have to grab something. Should I pry up the little lip with a screwdriver and give the clips something to grab? It looks like it's pretty well flattened, but that might have happened when it flew off, hard to say.

 

Also, so the clips come off and go on the hubcap, then it's installed as an assembly or do the clips go on the wheel then the hubcap attaches to them? They are VERY strongly affixed to the rim. The tires are new, so someone had them off recently, but short of pulling another one off, I'm puzzled about how to proceed.

 

Can anyone shed any light? Thank you!

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Aren't these great? You're on the right track.

 

For starters, those clips are available from Fusick Automotive at a reasonable cost. There should be 5 per wheel.

 

Looking at the wheel cover that you included photos of, it looks like the retaining ring may have weakened from rust. That happens sometimes.

 

The installation process starts with one clip, preferably the closest to the road surface. Pull the clip towards you, away from the wheel. These are spring steel and there should be some resistance. Hook it to the retaining ring on the wheel cover. This will be kind of difficult because you have to do it by feel. Release your grip on the clip. Do not release your grip on the wheel cover. Attach the remaining clips in a star pattern as you would tighten lug nuts. After the second clip is attached you can release your grip on the wheel cover. As you install the remaining three clips, it will become more difficult with each one because the spring tension will increase. The spring steel will want to return to its natural position, but the retaining ring on the wheel cover won't allow it, which is what holds the wheel covers tight. Once you have the third clip attached, you'll be able to "snap" the wheel cover in and out. When you have all the clips installed, the wheel cover will snap firmly. You wouldn't want to have your fingers in there. And watch the valve stem. '61 is the only year the valve stem protrudes through the wheel cover. You might want to start installation at the valve stem instead of close to the ground, but if that last clip is at ground level, it's a bear to get attached. All the other years ('57 through '63) hid the valve stem behind the wheel cover. That was the whole point of the clips - to be able to snap the wheel cover out to get at the valve stem. I don't know why they used them in '61. And, '61 uses a shorter clip than all the other years.

 

Grab a hold of the "crown" of one of your other wheel covers. Give it a little bit of a tug on the one side and snap it out (preferably not near the valve stem). Give it a tug, but gingerly because if you've got rusty retaining rings you're liable to destroy them. Snapping one of your other caps out will give you an idea of what's going on. If you haven't ripped the retaining ring apart, exert some pressure and snap it back into place. Removal is the reverse of installation.

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Excellent description, thank you! We were able to get the hubcap back on using your instructions. I was thinking the clips should grab the lip from the inside, but bending them back worked perfectly. It seems pretty secure now, although I think I'll order up a few spare clips now that I know how they work and that they're available.

 

Thanks for the advice, it was very helpful!

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