60 Helpful Tips

by George Nenadovich


**For 67 Star Wars air cleaners, order A180C aka GM#6420137 for the air filter from GM dealerships.

**When installing a replacement alternator measure the clearance between the cooling fins and the front of the case. There should be about 0.085" clearance. If not, your ac belt may contact the front of the cooling fins if you use a 15 mm wide belt. Some alternator rebuild companies use a 0.080" washer in addition to the factory shim which causes this problem. Remove the pulley nut and pulley to remove this washer under the cooling fin disc. Reassemble and install in your car. Also, either buy a lifetime warranty alternator or one from Autozone since Autozone does a complete rebuild not just replace the bad parts. Your choice!

**If you are looking for a switch pitch transmission, get one from the full size BOP cars from 1965-7. Some 1967 cars have the short shaft TH400 so they will be a direct bolt in. Others use the long shaft tranny so you will need to get a short shaft and combine the two to make one. The switch pitch tranny can be identified by three dimples in the pan plus the impression/depression of a shoe heel in the pan. You will also see a switch pitch switch conected to the throttle linkage or down shift linkage.

**Not all brackets interchange among Buicks. Make sure when you install the ac brackets which consists of three pieces, that they all come from the same engine. The lower brackets appear to be the same while the upper triangular piece and alternator adjustment arm are different. You will notice a difference on the triangle piece when looking at the rear slider portion. If using the taller covers(TA, Poston's) use the bracket which has a cutout to clear the valve cover. You can see the difference when comparing the two brackets. The alternator adjustment bracket is different from 350 to 455 cars. There are two diffent 455 alt. adj. brackets which vary in length by 3/4". Check everything before assembly.

**If you are looking for a three spoke Buick sport steering wheel, check out the 1975-79 Buick Skyhawk similar to a Chevy Monza for the sport wheels. They are quite common in these models. The wheels can also be found in the late '70s LeSabre 2drs.

**If you need to repair your plastic grille, use PVC cement to replace portions of the grille that are missing or broken.

**For a good deal on radiators, call Orlando Radiator Wholesale for a quote 1-800-626-2285. They carry Modine and several other brands!

**Anyone interested in detailing the chrome highlights around the ac vents and instrument panel needs to get a paint marker made by Testors and sold at all Kmarts in the toy model section. For excellent results, clean the desired areas with RM 900 Pre-Kleano then outline the area as required. The marker is called a gloss paint marker and the color is silver. They cost about $3.

**Interested in going to an electronic iginition while still keeping the stock distributor cap, there is a product called the Ignitor. This system replaces the stock points and condensor with a magnetic pick-up somewhat like a HEI unit. The best price around for this unit is $57. It is available from Northern at 1-800-831-0884. You do not have to remove the distributor from the engine to install it and it takes about an hour to install.

**Fan shrouds- the 1970-2 Riviera and Electra use the same fan shrouds as the GS455 Skylarks.

**Buick 455s weigh 616 lbs total less a few minor pieces but including all operating components. Other engines are Chevy 454 @ 719 lbs, Pontiac 455@ 636 and Olds 455@ 655.

**If you plan on installing a Chevy 12 bolt rear axle, you will need an offset u-joint made by Neapco part #3-3130. An offset u-joint has one axis a different size than the other.

**What do Trans Ams and Skylarks have in common? You can use the front 1.25" sway bar & rear wheel disc brakes and master cylinder. The sway bar is a direct bolt-on while the rear discs are basically a bolt-on with some very minor welding required. Make sure you get the master cylinder since it is a rear disc brake-only master cylinder. New ones are not available and rebuilt ones cost a small fortune about $200. The rear disc brake set-up is found only on 1979-81 Trans Ams

**All 1970-2 Skylarks are wired for speed-alert speedometers. In the main harness directly behind the speedo you will see two pink wires which share a common plastic female connector. This plugs into the back of the speed-alert speedo.

**Many four door hardtops (no metal door frame around the glass) have factory gage packages in them. The package has individual needles for oil pressure and water temperature instead of idiot lights. Be sure to get the sending units and the short six inch wire harness connector attached to the package. If you forget the harness, you will need to rearrange the wires in the regular harness in order to get the gages to work.

**1972 and up 455s have larger carbs - 800 versus 750 cfm.

**Some Buick valve covers have a large hole for a two inch grommet which is no longer available. Part #02946079 from a 360 Dodge truck valve cover is an exact replacement.

**1970 windshield washer bottles are a different type than 1971-2. The 1970 bottle mounts directly to the fenderwell while the later versions use a holder mounted to the fender.

**1970 radiator overflow tanks had a clear (translucent top) while the 1971-2 tops are black.

**1970 Skylark/GS rear defrosts are different than 1971-2. The 1970 has a metal grill and one corner has a large radius. The 1970 version uses three studs while the later versions use four. The two defrosts are not interchangeable.

**1970 GS hood front trim is slightly different than Skylarks. The lip is 1.5" wide on the bottom while the Skylarks are 1".

**1970 license plate holders have narrower screw holes than 1971-2. You can not interchange the two. The 1970 holes are 3.5" apart and the 1971-2 versions are 4.5" apart.

**1970 has a chrome rear view mirror back with grey trim around the edges. The later ones have a black vinyl texture back. 1971 was the last year for the chrome rear view mirror. In 1972 Buick changed to a black mirror with black trim. Chrome mirrors are not available as reproductions. A nice touch is to add a mirror with a map light which is most common on full size Buicks.

**1970 is a one year only gas tank. In 1971, GM switched to a closed fuel ventillation system. The 1971-2 tanks have several extra tubes when compared to a 1970 which are vent lines connected to the carb.

**1970 hood latch mechanisms and supports are different than 1971-2. Since the 1970 front bumper has a lower center section, the assembly is located lower. The 1971-2 version will only work with some modifications.

**The 1968-72 convertible front windshield top stainless trim is a convertible-only piece.

**The 1968-72 rear convertible rear seats and armrests are convertible only parts.

**A power bucket seat uses different floor brackets than manual bucket seat. The studs for a power seat are 11.5" apart while manual studs are 15" apart. The manual brackets are available from Year One and the power brackets are available from Precision Pontiac (614)258-3500 Columbus, OH.

**Late model consoles (1973-77) will work in Skylarks (1970-2) by trimming the lower section (below the stainless belt line.) The upper portion of the shifter is the same on late models as early ones. The lower portion is not and neither is the shift cable. If you need dimensions for trimming, call George at 813-596-3729. Make sure you use a 6 teeth per inch jigsaw blade for a smooth and clean cut. The handle is black for 1973 and up versus simulated wood for 1970-2.

**1970 front turn signal housings in the front bumper are slightly smaller than 1971-2 housings.

**The turn signal and tilt actuating arm for a 1970 are one year only pieces. Full size cars(Electra, LeSabre)use the same parts.

**The heater/ac controls on a Skylark are the same as the ones found in full size Buicks.

**The cruise control set-up found in full size Buicks use the same parts as a Skylark/GS except for the indicator light. So, if you need cruise control parts check out the full size cars.

**The 1970 Skylark grilles use the same stainless trim as GS grilles.

**The 1972 Skylark plastic grille is the same as the GS grille.

**Use a B&M tranny plug kit part #8250 available for $6. It makes changing tranny fluid very simple and relatively a clean task.

**If you are using aftermarket gages (the original idiot lights are useless and the factory gage package is not very accurate) use an Autometer copper oil line kit part #3224 available for $8. DO NOT use the plastic oil line supplied in most gage kits since the plastic becomes brittle and is an accident waiting to happen.

**Looking for painted sport mirrors for your 1970-2 Skylark/GS? They are hard to find and usually in poor shape. Sport mirrors from F-bodies (Camaro/Firebird) are very close except the pedestal has a different angle than a Skylark pedestal. If you mount the F-body version with no modification the mirrors will be tilted inwards towards the glass instead of sitting parallel with the ground. Use a file to trim the pedestal and take your time with it and eventually you will be able get the mirror close to parallel.

**DO NOT use mirrors with the words "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." If you are wondering what those letters on the mirror glass are such as 8-DMI-1 they are date codes for car. Eight means August and one means 1971.

**For cars with a hot cam on pre-1972 models with air, install a 1972 and later idle speed solenoid from an ac equipped Buick. The solenoid increases rpm when the compressor runs. Sometimes the additional load of the compressor will make the idle rough. The solenoid can be spliced into the green wire running to the compressor with a wire tap-in part #64-3052 available at Radio Shack for $1.70/10. After splicing it in, set you non-air idle by using the idle screw on the carb and the air idle speed by unscrewing the plunger in the solenoid.

**If your car sits for 4-5 days between fire-ups, especially in summer, the gas will evaporate from the float bowl. You will spend some time cranking the engine in order for the fuel pump to fill the float bowl. Use a small funnel with an inner diameter of 3/8 and place it over the float bowl vent tube and pour some gas into the bowl. You will save wear and tear on the starter and engine and your Buick will fire up on the first attempt.

**Convertible owners take time to put your top down and position the pads over the convertible mechanism. The pads have a tendency to move and the mechanism usually pinches the top just above the side rear windows. Also, check to make sure you have a cable on each side of the top which prevents the top from moving towards the center. If you need to refill your top motor reservoir, use Type A fluid which can be found at Winn Dixie supermarkets for $1.25/qt. If no Type A is available use Dexron transmission fluid as a substitute.

**To keep your exhaust manifolds looking like new use Calyx Manifold Dressing 1-800-313-5671. This IS the ONLY product I have found that lasts. I know because I used it once ten years ago on my Corvette and the manifolds still look like new.

**If you are installing an aftermarket fiberglass hood, change the tension springs to 1979 Jeep Wagoneer springs. The Jeep springs are a lower tension rating and are slightly smaller in diameter. The original springs work with the metal hood only. DO NOT try them with the fiberglass hood!!!!

**If you are changing brake hoses and need to stop the brake fluid from running out, use a sharpened golf tee to plug the line while you are changing hoses.

**If you are tuning your car, use a vacuum gage to set timing and idle mixture screws. Maximum vacuum indicates optimum engine performance.

**Place all underhood decals/labels/stickers on a magnetic sheet, like refrigerator magnets, to keep them looking like new. This way they are never exposed to heat or dirt. After the show is over simply remove them and place in your glove box. Great Idea!

**When removing door panels use two 2 putty knives on the panels to pop the plug-ins from their retainers. Place one putty knife on each side of the plug-in and gently rotate the knives to lift the panel away from the door frame.

**When removing the stainless trim around the windshield and rear glass, use the trim removal tool and a towel. Lay the towel on the glass to prevent the tool from scratching the glass.

**Use a towel and can opener to remove the drip rail stainless trim. Place a towel over the trim and gently apply a bottle opener to the trim and lift it up. Slowly work your way to the back.

**When installing rear drum brakes check the self adjuster to see if it rotates freely. If not, clean the threads and apply some Permatex Anti-Seize to the threads and reassemble.

**When removing plastic grills, use a pair of Vise-Grips on the studs on the grille side of the core support to hold stud from rotating while you break the nuts loose. If you do not hold the stud still, the turning action will rotate the stud in the grille and break the grille.

**When installing the front bumper bracket bolts (connects main bumper bracket to the car frame), use a small parts grabber to line up the bolt and pull it through the bracket and frame for the second bolt (closest to the firewall.) If you do not, you will end up dropping the bolt inside the frame and you will have to go get the grabber anyways. You will also probably find more than one bolt in their since the factory workers seemed to have the same problem. I have found several bolts in many cars I disassembled.

**Trunk Lids for 1970-2 Skylark/GS --- 1968-72 Chevelles and 1970-2 Monte Carlos are the same trunk lids.

**Power Trunk Set-up --- Many full size Buick, Olds, Pontiac have power trunks. Use the set-up that has the solenoid attached to the back of the latch. Modify the mounting holes in the trunk lid on the driver's side and the latch will mount up. You will also need to cut a 3/4" hole in the mounting surface for the solenoid to activate the latch. Run a power wire to the fuse box marked BAT and place the switch in a desirable location. The switch was originally located in the glove box.

**Wheel well opening stainless trim is a pain to remove if you do not have a special tool especially made for this difficult task. The Phillips head screws are easily stripped and sometimes the heads break off. The tool looks like a ratchet and comes with both standard and Phillips screw tips. The tool costs about $17 and once you use it you will not use anything else. It is made by Lisle and is called a right angle ratcheting screwdriver. Stripping one screw will make you go out and buy one.

**Door wobbles? Have you checked your doors lately? Most old Buicks still have their original door hinges and over twenty years of use takes its toll on the hinge bushings and shafts. If you grab the driver's side door handle with the door open and lift up, you will notice play in the hinges. If you do not repair the hinges the door becomes difficult to close and wears out the catch post in the door jamb. A rebuild kit for all four hinges costs about $20 and takes about an hour to install not including aligning the doors.

**Changing headlights --- The three trim ring screws have a tendency to rust in place and if you try unscrewing them with a screwdriver you may end up stripping them. The trick is to remove the headlight assembly (headlight, trim ring and socket) as a unit. Use a small pair of Vise Grips to grab the fluted end of the screw and break the screw loose. After twenty years of not being removed, they can sometimes be difficult especially on the high beams. This trick comes in handy when trying to get those old T-3 headlights in the salvage yard.

**Ever encounter locking lug nuts in the salvage yard with no key socket? No problem if time is not a concern but if it is there are two ways to get them off. The first way is to try banging on a socket and hope it just fits without splitting the socket. Then try to bust the nut loose with a ratchet. If successful, then use a screwdriver placed through the socket wrench hole and drive the nut out with a hammer. The second way is to use a small cold chisel and lightly go around the nut and hit at an angle so the nut rotates upon impact. The process is tedious but will take a little extra effort to remove the nut.

**When installing your lug nuts, make sure the threads are clean on the stud as well as the nut. If not, run a die and tap 7/16-20-UNF on them. Torque to 75-80 ft lbs. If the threads are not clean, you will get improper torque readings resulting in loose lug nuts, broken studs or stripped nuts.