1996 Buick Roadmaster Wagon Roof Rack Issue

Discussion in 'General Station Wagon Discussions' started by UrbanPhil, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    Hi everyone. I recently acquired a '96 RMW and could use some advice re: the roof rack. Mine is broken in 3 different spots, and is conspicuous for a leak in the rear driver's side corner. I already took out the headliner so this is probably my best chance to swap out the rack. I'm hoping I can draw on the expertise of someone who's been there before. My biggest concern is installing the new rack correctly so as to not create any new leaks (I just had the headliner re-done) I have not taken the rack apart yet. Here's a few questions:

    1. Can (should) I reuse the mounting bolts?

    2. If not, is it possible to get new (OEM) mounting bolts? Where can I find these?

    3. Is it advisable to use sealant on the bolts?

    4. Is there any kind of gasket between the rack and the roof?

    5. Does anyone have a rack assembly they want to sell? (including the flat rectangular plastic piece behind the Vista glass. see photo)

    Also, one of my rubber roof strips is leaking through one of its mounts. What's the best approach to dealing with these? Remount them all? Or address the obvious leak and leave the rest alone? I'm not having a lot of luck finding the "rivnuts" for affixing the strips? Anyone know where these can be found?

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Phil
     

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  2. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    UPDATE:

    I disassembled the rack today. As you can see from the photos, the roof is a mess. The rivnuts look like hell from the topside, but the threads look decent on the inside. My plan is to clean up the mounting bolts and re-use them with some thread sealant. As for the rubber strips, I'm leaning towards removing them, cleaning up the roof, and remounting them (assuming I can find new well nuts). Once that's done, I'll paint the rack parts flat black and re-install.

    One question--does anyone know how to remove the rear wiper arm from the wiper motor without destroying it? (picture attached) Thanks,

    Phil

    P.S. I'm still looking for replacement cross bars for the rack, so holler at me if you have some to sell. Also, if anyone knows where I can find some compatible well nuts for the rubber strips, please let me know.
     

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  3. roketrex

    roketrex Member

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    Phil
    If you are near me in Wisconsin, you could take the rack off the 95 Roadmaster that I'm stripping down this summer. I would recommend using a product that 3M makes to seal the roof holes, Part number is 3M 8578 strip caulk. I used it on my roof rack and never leaked( also great for fixing annoying rattles and squeaks). I don't know if you can get the factory well nuts, but AuVeCo usually has a listing for most applications but the screw heads may not be identical to the GM ones.

    The little metal tab on the side locks the wiper arm onto the post. Pry it outward from the post, then carefully work the arm off the splined shaft and try to pull as straight up as possible.

    Good luck
    Joel
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  4. BlueVista

    BlueVista Well-Known Member Charter Member

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    Harbor freight has a cheap rivet nut tool with inserts.
    It may do enough inserts for a roof rack before it breaks.:rolleyes:
    Clips and Fasteners has the correct GM roof rack well nuts and nutserts/rivnuts/rivet nuts.


    http://www.clipsandfasteners.com/default.asp
     
  5. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    Thanks Joel and BlueVista...very helpful info. I got the wiper arm off and the motor out. The well nuts seem to be available through various fastener companies.

    The strip caulk seems like a good bet. Did you just put that over the roof holes and poke the rack mounting bolts through it?

    I'm in Buffalo and I don't see a Wisconsin road trip in my near future but I'll let you know.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    Phil
     
  6. Cyber-Wizard

    Cyber-Wizard Well-Known Member

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  7. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    Thanks for the links Cyber-Wizard. This roof project just keeps going and going. Apparently, someone used house paint (or something similar) to paint the roof area between the rubber strips. I thought I might clean it up a little and put things back together, but I'm afraid it needs to be repainted. So that's where I'm at. In the meantime, I ordered what I believe to be the correct well-nuts for the rubber strips (I'll post a link should they prove to be serviceable) I really want to avoid replacing the rivets for the rack (I see that you did that) Mine are a little rusty up top, but the threads look good, and none of them spun loose during removal. Anyway, onward and upward! Looking forward to getting this roof back together so I can move on to the fun stuff.
     
  8. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    Hi Joel...so after some delay (attributable to having to deal with some coolant system issues) my wagon is finally at the body shop to get the roof and rack cleaned up and painted. I think I have everything I need to put the roof back together when I get the car back (including the strip caulk). Can you tell me how and where you applied that strip caulk to get a good seal? Around the bolt holes? and/or underneath the roof rack gasket. Any guidance is appreciated. Thanks!
     
  9. 81X11

    81X11 Well-Known Member

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    I've never had to remove mine, but I would recommend joining the GM Longroof Forum. Not that there are not wonderful folks here, but I KNOW folks have done this over there: http://gmlongroof.4umer.com/

    Good luck with your project. 96 is the best year!
     
  10. roketrex

    roketrex Member

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    Hi Phil
    Sorry I wasn't able to get back to you sooner. If you have access to inside and outside, I would put it on both sides. Packing it around the holes before you put the screws back should work fine but more on the inside just offers a little protection. The last thing you want to have is water gettting to the headliner.

    Joel
     
  11. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    No problem Joel. I just picked up the car from paint today. Roof and rack both newly painted. I like your strip caulk idea; gonna give it a shot. Also going to apply thread sealant to the threads. For the "roof strips" I got new rubber well nuts, which are a perfect fit and supposed to be self sealing. I'm hoping to get the re-installation underway this weekend. Looking forward to getting the reupholstered headliner (and all the interior trim) back in this car. Thanks to everyone for your helpful advice. I'll post pics when I'm finished.
     
  12. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    UPDATE:

    Hi again everyone. After many months of weekend work, I finally finished my roof and roof rack restoration. I wanted to thank all of you for the advice, and post the results in the hopes that it might help someone else out. I've attached some before and after photos to show the progression. At the outset, I don't recommend taking apart your roof unless you absolutely have to (mine had a ripped up headliner, multiple leaks, a broken rack, and flat, white house paint smeared on the roof, etc.). The job was maddening at times, but I'm very happy with the results. Here's what I did:

    1. Removed all the interior trim pieces necessary to gain access to the headliner (basically everything except the C-pillar trim piece, which you can wedge out of the way with a tennis ball or empty water bottle). Removed the headliner and dropped it off at the upholstery shop.

    2. Had a new windshield installed (old one was missing exterior molding, chipped, and leaking above the steering wheel)

    3. Removed the busted roof rack and all the exterior roof trim, including the black plastic rectangle adjacent to the Vista Roof, the rear wiper assembly, and the black plastic strip along the rear edge of the roof, and the roof strips. (also replaced the rear wiper motor, which was inoperable) I also removed the well nuts for the roof strips (I did a water test, which proved that several of the well nuts were leaking. All of them were hard and brittle from age.)

    4. Having learned my lesson about doing my own paint work, I had a paint guy blast the roof clean, and repaint the roof and the rear window sill. He also painted the replacement rack, which I got from ebay.

    5. With a nice clean surface, I reinstalled the rack. (this is the tricky part) For the rack: I was able to reuse the original torx bolts, and most of the rivnuts (which amazingly stayed intact during the removal process). At the suggestion of Roketrex, I generously applied 3M strip caulk (part number is 3M 8578) to the bottom of the rack pieces, encircling every mounting hole (basically sandwiching the caulk between the roof and the rack) The strip caulk is moldable and pretty easy to work with. Note--one of the rivnuts refused to re-accept the torx bolt (believe me I tried!) I had to remove it and replace with some washers and a locking nut (again, generous caulk).

    6. For the roof strips: I got new well nuts (M5, for a 10mm hole...I got them from ebay also) They proved to be slightly deeper than the original well nuts, so I had to get slightly longer stainless bolts to reach the threads (I got these from Fastenal...coarse threaded, hex-head machine screws. A picture of the fastenal label is attached. The well nuts fit perfectly and they are self sealing.

    7. Finally, I re-installed the headliner, and the interior trim.

    Several days after I finished this, the car got hit with one of the worst rainstorms I've ever seen (about 3 hours of heavy downpour that caused havoc in Buffalo) There were no appreciable leaks, so I'm pretty confident the roof is sealed properly.

    I hope this helps someone. Frankly, the job was a pain in the ass, but I'm real happy with the outcome. Please let me know if you have any questions. I'm moving on to the fun stuff. i.e., rebuilding the LT1!

    Best,

    Phil
     

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  13. OrthmannJ

    OrthmannJ Well-Known Member

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    Finished product looks great. Thanks for sharing.
     
  14. Thirsty islander

    Thirsty islander Well-Known Member

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    Looks fantastic Phil. I just had mine off to polish the roof. I just got new screws for the strips as the old ones were a bit tarnished. I got lucky with everything else. Be proud of your work.
     
  15. UrbanPhil

    UrbanPhil New Member

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    Thanks for the compliments! It's a drastic improvement in the car's appearance; should last for years to come; and allows me to move ahead with the other fun upgrades I've got planned. Can't be mad at that!
     

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