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Gabriel Snubbers rebuilding & installation mid 20's Buick


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I wanted to provide some guidance regarding adding snubbers to my 1925 Buick Standard.  It has taken a while to rebuild these as they get a little abused sitting in the fender area, but with new webbing they clean up well.   Hugh


It’s not the bump in the road, but rather the rebound of the springs which launches the car.  Adding Snubbers to dampen the rebound.  Standard equipment on the early 20’s Buick 6 cylinder and later Master series.  All Buick frames were drilled for Snubbers.       

Data below is from #2 Gabriel Snubbers – Regular and Balloon for comparison

With the introduction of Balloon tires (Buick introduced them in 1925), snubbers changed.  Below is a comparison of #2 Gabriel Snubbers.  One #2 snubber set came from a 1922 Buick 6 cylinder, the other #2 set being designed for Balloon tires as the sheet metal can cover says “Balloon”.  Internal parts also have several changes.  See this comparison chart.


#2 Gabriel Snubber

#2 Gabriel Balloon snubber

# stamped in Cover bolt head



Spring length (inch)



spring ID



Spring OD



wire size



Other Changes for Balloons :


   1) Heavier Sleeve Casting used (photo below left)



   2) Addition short metal outer band added (in steel, not brass) (photo below right)



















Of the 4 snubbers I bought on Ebay, only 1 had the webbing intact.  There was also dried graphite grease all inside the spring area and on the bands which made a huge mess to work with the old belt.   I opted to replace the brass for a couple reasons.  One piece was work hardened and had the end broken off.   So my decision was to just copy all the webbing and strapping and make anew. 

Snubber Webbing - There are 2 pieces of webbing in the snubber.         

-          Short webbing strap is ~8” to protect the brass.

-          Long webbing Strap is 65”*

-          * More length is necessary if going around the rear axle.  Normal is just over 6’ per snubber.

The webbing strap is 1 ¼” x 3/16”.  Understanding is that for the 1 ¼” width, the only strap available is made from sewing 2 pieces of webbing together. 

a)      Sold by www.restorationstuff.com  @$15/ft  (2 pieces of hood cowl webbing sewn together)

b)      Andy's Garage, Ellendale, Delaware. 302-245-7276.  www.wiseandysgarage.com  @$15/ft

c)       Etsy – Synthetic cotton canvas webbing.  Sewing Supplies, Lake Dalton WI https://www.etsy.com/listing/87132606/25-yards-1-14-synthetic-cotton-canvas  25 yards is $30, but needs to be sewn together. 

Each strap uses 7 feet of webbing, so $105 for each pre sewn strap or $420 total.  $30 in webbing and using my walking foot sewing machine and this covered almost ½ of the cost of the sewing machine.

The following drawing provides dimensions for replacement webbing and where the brass straps are riveted. 




This drawing is brackets and pieces that I made for installation to improve the looks and keep the snubbers square with the frame.




Brass semi tubular rivets 1/8” x ¼” long.  Need ~20 per snubber 

Order a “smooth rivet flare tool punch” for 1/8” rivets.  Hanson Rivets

To attach the rivets, I used a 1/8” centering punch to start the holes.  I also cut off a nail head and turned a small section on a lathe to fit the rivet.  You can see the special nail in the photo below.  This helped with getting the rivets thru the webbing.  I also used a few nails temporarily to keep the holes open until I was able to put rivets in.  I used a piece of steel as backing for flaring the rivet and the hand held punch did a beautiful job of flaring the rivets.   just like original.     




Restoration note: 

The “sleeve casting” must be very smooth on the belt surface face.  Many times this surface has become rusty and it must be restored.  As the spring is compressed, the belting must slide over the top of the sleeve casting.  The sleeve casting and the spring must be lubricated with grease.  No grease should be on the belts, except where the inner belt touches the sleeve casting.  The “balloon” snubbers have a heavier spring than the normal #2 snubber.  This made the inner webbing buckle when the spring was compressed heavily.  A small piece of brass sewn between the 2 pieces of webbing would have solved the bunching problem.   The regular snubber did not bunch.    






My chassis is factory drilled for snubbers.  I am using the Gabriel #2 balloon snubbers on the front due to the engine weight.  The front mounting hole is a little close to the front fender support.  The hole could use to be forward by 1/4", but it works.  I also had to add a small shim that is the thickness of the front fender sheetmetal to keep the snubber perpendicular.  


The rear snubbers did not fit as easily on the back, so I made additional brackets to do a better job of lining up the snubber belts.  


I have never seen an application chart for snubbers which indicated what cars got what number snubber.   


Snubbers are left or right.  There are a couple of different mounting backings.  They are marked on the reaction pin (The pin next to the center bolt) with a 104 or 105 stamping depending on the side.  There are other numbers in the series.  Mine are #2.  The bolt that holds on the cover also has a number stamped in the bolt head signifying the spring used.     


Snubber mounts and sizes

 There are a couple different mounting styles for snubbers.  The ones I used have the bolt and pin.  I don’t know how you would bolt the style with the large amount of steel on the back side to the front of the car.  Maybe that is a rear mount or for another vehicle?  (Photo below left)


I also have a #3 Snubber.  It is very similar to the #2 Balloon Snubber.  Same housing diameter, but the belting is 1 ½” wide instead of 1 ¼”.  The sleeve casting is beefier than the #2, but similar to the #2 balloon. (photo below right)

Even the large 1926 Buick model 51 Brougham used a #2 Balloon snubber for the front. 


Still a 95 year old suspension, but the car does not oscillate and the snubbers do improve the ride.  When I drove the car with just the front snubbers installed, I could really feel the rear of the car bounce.  Adding snubbers does improve the ride.       


An interesting note on how these operate. For a 1/8” compression of the spring, and the number of coil wraps, equals 1” length of pull on the strap.  The snubber also operates on the friction between the brass bands and the cotton webbing.   







Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Great job as usual Hugh:

 I am sure you are riding smoother as you mentioned. I had considered getting snubbers for the 1925 Master as there was evidence that it was once so equipped. In with the spare parts that came with the car there are some remains of the snubber units. Not enough to bother with a restoration as I still would have to source better units which still would have to be restored. Then sourcing the materials as you have outlined. I admit I have none of your focus capacity.

 You did not mention the cost of all the Ebay snubbers you purchased. Considering cost of procuring the rebuildable snubbers, making or sourcing the correct mounting hardware, clean up and redoing the original cases, plus materials for the webbing, adapting other materials then installation. Of course the all important skill sets you have acquired and being able to apply them to these projects. The prices you quote are a fraction of the actual cost compared to the value of time spent. We do-it-yourselfers are guilty of this. This week I have probably spent 30 hours on reworking the trunk taillight on my 1937 to make it a 3rd brake light. (mission creep)

 Needless to say I would like to have these accessories for my cars but I have other priorities as to the MONEY PITS I have just keeping them on the road. Someday....


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Another excellent tutorial Hugh.  I do have some snubbers from my car that are in need of restoration but have never got around to it.  Going to have to dig them out and see exactly what I have. It's been a lot of years.  I didn't think that they would have been very effective but after reading your description as to how they work I just may rethink doing something with them.  Leon

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    You are absolutely correct that it is not cheap to restore snubbers.   

Let me try to give a quick run down.  some of these are estimates and shipping may or may not be included. 

$25   HT-174 rivet tool "hand clincher"

$10   1/8" diameter x 1/4" brass rivets

$30 Cotton Webbing 

$100 Assumption of what a shop would charge to double up and sew the webbing.  Cheapest if you gave them the webbing pre cut.  

$50 four brass strips 1 1/8" x 48"

$20 shipping brass (Tell them they can roll it into a 10" circle will save shipping).

Assuming you would cut the brass, round the corners and drill all the holes - Then you have to put all the rivets in - like a brake set.  

$20 1/8" steel - 3" wide x 36" (this is the steel I used to make the brackets)

~$250 for 4 decent decent rebuildable snubbers.  Sometimes they are $65 each.  

 $30 powder coating for the snubber cans- includes sand blasting.


This comes to around $535.  In my opinion this falls in line with restored original shock absorbers.  This still requires some time on the drill press and using a rivet tool, but that is the therapy portion of this hobby. 

Let me give you 2 other comparisons.

Original Ford model A shock absorbers-rebuilt.  $600 alone for the set, plus I had to buy the rubber and other linkage parts from another supplier, so I think I was around $700 when I did a friends car.  Huge improvement in ride.  They also sold a modern shock kit with all the brackets for around $300.


Rock Auto.  I recently bought 4 Gabriel shock absorbers for a 1997 Dodge Dakota.  $9 per shock absorber.  But then I would need to make brackets.  Not a bad option for the rear as no one sees those shocks.  It would take a little effort to mount them without drilling any extra holes.   



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