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Technical Buick ribbon speedometer

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by justinsr, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. justinsr
    Joined: May 16, 2009
    Posts: 88

    from Salem MI

    Thank you in advance for all of the advice and help everyone on her has given me!

    I was driving my Buick last night heading home from dinner with the wife and baby when the speedo on my '57 Buick stopped working.

    It made no noise or any erratic movements just stayed at 30mph give or take about five mph.

    Last year it made a squealing noise for a few miles and then it went away, no issues since.

    The ribbon seems to move a bit but not go back to 0 or move past 40mph.

    Does anyone have any experience repairing one of these? I do not want to damage it further but don't have the $400 that Bob's speedometer wants to rebuild it to spare right now.

    It has been rebuilt once before as when I first got the car a tag from a speedomeret rebuild shop fell out from under the dash.

    Thanks again!
  2. skipperman
    Joined: Dec 24, 2002
    Posts: 1,837


    I'm interested too ... 57 pontiac .. same problem .....

    ..... jersey Skip
  3. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,498


    No help, but I love those things.
  4. Could this be a basic maintenance issue. Take it out of the dash and lube it? They do have moving parts so it makes sense it could be and sounds to be "dry". Just wondering. Tim

  5. It's just a regular speedometer turned sideways to spin a drum instead of a needle. No black magic voodoo or anything.

    I have a '57 Pontiac cluster and lo and behold it no longer works either. Probably needs to be lubed, worst case send it to a rebuilder.
  6. maybe the cable took a dump. taking that cluster out is a pain in the butt.
  7. billsat
    Joined: Aug 18, 2008
    Posts: 417


    If you do decide to have it rebuilt I would recommend Bob's Speedometer in Howell, Michigan. They did the cluster in my '40 Ford and I couldn't be happier. Nice people to deal with too.
  8. justinsr
    Joined: May 16, 2009
    Posts: 88

    from Salem MI

    Wouldn't a broken cable result in the speedo reading 0?
  9. Fuel to burn
    Joined: Jul 17, 2009
    Posts: 273

    Fuel to burn

    My 59 Mercury has a ribbon speedo, it's kind of like an old typewriter ribbon where there are two spools, one to supply and the other to take in the slack. Something must have got stuck or a return spring is no longer working. I was lucky, mine was easy to access, not sure about your Buick. Good luck.
  10. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,535

    Alliance Vendor

    20140722_074040.jpg The 57 Buick uses a drum instead of a ribbon. We have a NOS drum in stock for your car, pictured.
    These speedometers are a bear to work on. When we get one in I call on our retired speedometer man Tommy
    He started working for my dad when he was in high school in 1959 at 17 years old, so he was working on them when they were almost new cars. Tommy worked with us for 45 years and retired in 2004, this was the only job he ever had. He has been schooling me on these drum speedos when ever we get one in, since I am just a youngster (50 years old) and only have 32 years experience to his over 45 years now. Tommy was trained by my dad and between the two of them they have forgotten more than I will ever know about speedos. Cost for repair is between $150.00 and $300.00 20140722_074040.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014

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