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1955 Speedometer removal question


Guest scott mich bca # 6619
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Guest scott mich bca # 6619

Has anybody removed their speedometer on a 1955 Super or Roadmaster? This is the long speedometer, the drum type, not the round one.<P>I was told that the only way to remove it was to take the top of the dashboard off first.<P>Any suggestions?<P>Others have told me that you can take it out from below, but you have to remove the 4 gauges first.<P>Scott Mich BCA # 6619<BR>Assistant Director<BR>Chicagoland Chapter<BR>1955-Buick Roadmaster Conv. 76C<BR>1959 Olds SS-88 Holiday Sport Sedan

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Guest Shaffer

I have seen posts where the dash top removal was very simple on the 55 Buicks. I guess it is more difficult if your car was equipped with the optional padded dash. Not sure.

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Hi, I would suggest you remove the dash top<BR>as it is easier to get at the speedo. First<BR>remove all the screws under the rounded part<BR>where the map light is. Then remove all the <BR>modling along lower inside windshield and the<BR>two side pieces on the door frame. Your dash<BR>should lift right out then. (if not rusted<BR>to lower portion) Be careful not to scratch<BR>the paint. Good luck. Loren 56 Century.<BR>P.S. I just removed my padded dash top.

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Guest scott mich bca # 6619

Thanks for the info. Radionut... that is basicaly what the other fellow told me how he did his '54.<P>The only thing he said I may have probelms with is upon reinstallation (always the harder part) the clips that the screws on the lower front side of the dash go into have a tendenancy to move or fall off, before you can get them all the screws in.<P>He said there are about 10 screws, and you get 8 in, and the other two shift, and you have to start over.<P>Maybe I can put some body putty behind them to hold them in place.<P>The problem I am having is that when you slow down the speedometer needle goes up and back, bounces 0-40, and few times before it goes back to 0. It also makes noise between 50-60mph.<P>I am assuming it is the speedo., not the cable???<P>I found a speedo. rebuilding kit on E Bay, and will attempt to rebuild it. I am just hoping it is not too much like a wrist watch<BR>inside, with a lot of springs, etc.!<P>I think the first year for padded dashes on Buick was 1956???<P>I have not seen this option on a car, or in any literature.<BR>Scott Mich

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Hi Scott - been there done that too! Taking the top off is the way to go - you can get to the speedo it out in probably an hour. Once the top is off, removal is straightforward.<P>Willie probably has you covered - I'll add a tip from my experience which you may find helpful - before you pull the top of the dash off, tape up the left and right edges of the dash top with masking tape. As you lift the top of the dash, it sometimes hits and scratches the vertical windshield trim pieces and scratches the paint. This'll stop that from happening. Alternatively, you can put some masking tape on the vertical windshiled trim pieces, both left and right. Use the light tack tape so you don't pull up paint when removing tape.<P>You'll also need a right angle or "stubby" screwdriver to get the bottom edge screws out along the length of the dash - my experience anyway. <P>Also an FYI - my speedo did similar jumping at low RPMs when I first started driving the car (it sat for about 10 years). I cleaned up the pivots on the drum and cleaned up some rust and debris from the magnet/drum assy and lubircated it. Its works smooth now - hopefully this helps you out.<P>Keep in touch and good luck!<P>Ken

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Guest Skyking

Scott,<BR> Before you go through the pain of removing the speedo, check out the cable first. You may have a kink in there somewhere. My speedo never dropped below 35 mph when I was stopped. I thought it was the speedo and found out there was a kink in the cable. I removed the cable, then replaced it and everything worked fine after. Mine was a simple fix.

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Scott,<BR>I've had the padded dash off my '56 Special, which is nearly identical to the '55, about four or five times to repair the speedo and guages.<BR>The drum speedo is a DELICATE bear, at best, and not easy to calibrate. Mine was bouncing up and down around 35 or 40, and not going down below 10mph while at a stop.<BR>I sent mine off to a fellow in Oklahoma who advertised in Hemmings. He had it back to me in about 2 weeks and charged me about $50.<BR>It has worked like a charm since.<BR>There is also a guy who advertises nearly every month in The Bugle. His name is Alan Krill, from Union, NJ. He is an expert at rebuilding those drum speedos.<BR>Hope you have good luck!<BR>Bob Leets

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Scott,<P>To minimize any paint scratch damage to the painted dash and the related trim when you R&R the top of your dash, use two people to do so, one guy on each end. The dash top is wobbly once loose, and it slides on or off in quick "spurts" which can scratch paint if not careful. Also cover the parts as described in an earlier posting here <BR>AK Buickman, BCA #1955

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Guest scott mich bca # 6619

Thanks to everybody that has responded so far. Especialy Willie for factory the instructions for removal.<P>I would rather the problem be the cable rather than the head.<P>The cable does not appear to have any kinks in it.<P>I would like to lubricate it, but don't you have to remove the cable from the sheath in order to do it right?<P>I would be afraid that I would not be able to get the inner cable back in to the sheath again, without taking the entire cable out of the car.<P>Any further advise?<P>Scott

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Scott,<BR>The nice part of the problem is that time is on YOUR side. It's not "cruise season" yet, so you can work on this without panic.<BR>If I were you, I would GENTLY apply some liquid graphite down the tube, a few drips at a time, over a period of several days, until it was saturated. Then, let it rest for several days to "soak in".<BR>I'm an impulsive dude myself, but have always had better luck when patient.<BR>Good luck!<BR>Bob Leets

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Scott<P>When I have removed my cable to lube it, I find that twisting it while pushing it back into the housing keeps it moving freely up the sheath. I've only had to do this a very few times (like twice) and only if my cable gets noisy inside the dash.<P>Bobs idea is worth a try if you pull the dash and can drip some juice or blow some graphite down the cable.<P>I pull the cable from the trans end - the manual states pulling it from the speedo end. I have a new replacement sheath that is made of vinyl or plastic and I can extract and install the inside of the cable freely from the trans end. If you have an original metal wrapped sheath, it may fit tighter or have a rough spot/buildup in it so I think it'd be easier to reinstall this type from the speedo end. You have a sharp curve inside the dash and coming in from the speedo side you will have less cable length to bunch up into that curve and less friction from your "push point" to the curve. (That makes sense if I said it right). You can also disconnect the cable at the trans so the sheath is as straight as possible on the reinstall. <P>Not knowing the condition of the cable, I'd reccommend extracting a little at a time and twist/push it to make sure it will go back into the sheath.<P>If the cable operates stiffly by feel when you reinstall it, I'd reccommend dumping it and getting a new one. My original cable was busted and the sheath full of junk - I upgraded.<P>Hope this helps. Have fun!<p>[ 03-01-2002: Message edited by: KAD36 ]

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In 54,when I was working at the Flint Buick Retail store,the first year of the new speedo,nearly all of them were noisy.it was flat rate pay so after the first few dozen i learned to pull out the cable from the top & put lubriplate in my hands & put it on the cable as I slid it back into the housing.This took care of all the noise & jerky speedo.This took only 20 to 30 min.Somehow I took the speedo head out without taking the dash top off.After almost half a century I cant remember how.Our crew did hundreds of them.These were new cars from the factory.We delivered over 100 cars a day from the factory branch.Eventually a design change was made to eliminate the problem.

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What you folks must realize is that Norb is a virtual magician.<BR>If you don't believe it, just visit his booth at any swap meet and watch the money disappear from your wallet!!<BR>Seriously..........I've gained a lot of knowledge from listening to guys like Norb and several other former engineers who we are blessed to have as members in our Buicktown Chapter. These guys have REALLY "been there, done that!". If you need any info on the aluminum 215 V-8, Norb is your man.<BR>Cheers,<BR>Bob Leets

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Bob,the only thing I can remember about the 215 eng is I could carry it over my head with one hand,the cast iron eng required both hands

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After using a commercial "speedometer cable lubricant" sold in a little tube, and finding what I describe as a dry speedo cable on the same car a few years later, I do not use this speedo lube any longer. I started using Lubriplate, which I learned about in the Buick Dealer service department where I worked in the 1970's. No problems have been encountered using Lubriplate, which should still be available for purchase in a G.M parts department or the local parts store. <BR>Just pull the inner cable out of the speedo cable casing, put a blob of Lubriplate in one hand, and slowly feed the cable back into the cable casing while applying the lube. To seat the cable into the transmission speedo gear at the other end, just slowly turn the cable while pushing in. Wipe the excess Lubriplate off of the cable end, and reattach it to the speedo head. Before the top of the dash is re-attached and fingerprints are cleaned off, drive the car to check the speedometer operation (or disconnect the other end of the speedo cable at the transmission and spin the inner cable while a helper watches the speedo move). <P>AK Buickman, BCA #1955........

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Guest scott mich bca # 6619

After speaking to a fellow who said he pulled<BR>his cable out of the sheath, he told me that there is a ring at the top of the cable, making it impossible to pull it down from the transmission. He said it must be pulled up, from the speedometer side.<P>So.... my plan of attach will be:<BR>Pull the dash top off, (2 people, with the edges taped) and try to lubricate the inner cable with Lubriplate, put it back in. Drive it around with the dash top off for a bit, and hope that if the noise goes away, forever.<P>I do have a speedometer rebuilding kit I got on E Bay, but I was told that even after you r&r the speedometer, you have to have it calibrated? <P>The kit consists of the back housing, the gears and what looks like a "c" shaped magnet and the stub that the drum connects to.<P>It looks like I would have to use the old drum and odometer.<P>Thanks for ALL the info...<P>Scott

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I have seen all the responses except the one that worked for me. I did have to pull the top of the dashboard off to get to the end of the speedometer cable. After two new cables I decided I really needed to replace the speedometer. I also had to remove the two screws that hold the fuse block in place and move it out of the way to get the speedometer itself out through the bottom. I never could get it out through the top.<P>Good Luck if you haven't already tried this

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The ring at the top of the cable was a good detail to mention for the board, Scott. I guess I never noticed and I certainly don't remember any more if my busted one had that C ring on it or not when I ripped out the OEM cable and sheath and replaced with the aftermarket one. After all these years, I never could figure out why the heck the service manual said to pull the cable from the speedo side.<P>Gee - I wonder if I put mine together backwards? shocked.gif" border="0 <P>I know - I'll run out in the garage and rip the dash out to check.....NOT!!!<P>Sounds like you are in good hands and on your way - good luck!<p>[ 03-03-2002: Message edited by: KAD36 ]

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Scott,<BR>It may have taken you more time to read and digest all these posts than to just go ahead and fix the #$!^&*#$%!!@ thing!!<BR>By now you could have been well on the way toward a complete frame-off resto!<BR>See you this summer in Kokomo!!<BR>Bob Leets

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Guest scott mich bca # 6619

Hey Bob!<P>One thing I have learned working with antique cars is that you have to do research and be patient.<P>Over the last couple of weeks I have repalced my defroster, which requires you to remove the right front fender. Of coarse I cleaned degreased the parts of th firewall I could not reach when I did the engine compartment a few years ago. The splash aprons, and the underside of the fender as well. I then primed and painted the surfaces. Even though you can't see them unless you lay on the floor and look up from underneath the car.<P>Last week I totaly stripped out my trunk, undercoated, primed and painted that as well.<P>Then I put all new fabric and replaced the cardboards.<P>So I have been busy with the car.<P>Next is to finish detailing the chassis.<P>So I'm comtemplating the speedometer, hmmmm... The speedo or the chassis.<P>Neither one is going to be easy.<P>Choose your poison.<P>Scott<p>[ 03-04-2002: Message edited by: scott mich bca # 6619 ]

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Scott,<BR>Amen for being PATIENT when working on our joys of life, aka Buicks.<BR>As living proof, we've owned our '56 Special for 16 years and I'm STILL "engineering" the proper fix for my faulty gas guage. All my expert mechanic buddies in the Buicktown Chapter have, of course, told me what is wrong with it and how to cure the problem, but no sense rushing into anything, right?<BR>Heck, I know how many miles I can drive her before I need to stop for petro, so I'll just keep on being patient until I finally retire for good and have nothing better to do than drop the gas tank, etc., etc.<BR>I've got a cool dictionary in my garage and every time I look up the word "patient" it goes to the page listing "LAZY". <BR>Oh well..........I'm pretty good at polishing chrome!<BR>Bob smile.gif" border="0

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