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Old 02-25-2014, 05:45 PM   #1
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Default '86 Century retractable seat belts

Iíve got a 1986 Buick Century Estate Ltd.

No oneí* ridden in the passengerí* seat for some time, because I couldnít get the seat belt to work correctly.

Recently, the driverí* side seat belt quit working too.

For this vintage of car, the seat belt retractors were discontinued a long time ago. Ití* likely that if I were to get replacements, they would be from a junkyard and would have the same problems as those that are installed in my car.

So I opened up the trim on the driverí* side, dismounted the upper slide for the belt, and got the inertial reel disconnected from the door frame. Undoing the upper slide allowed me to have slack in the webbing.

In order to get the belt to unroll off the spool, I used a homemade tool. I cut a piece of plastic from a bottle I was going to recycle, made it about as wide as the belt and about six inches long. I stuffed the plastic into the reel and around the outside of the coiled webbing until it overrode the ratchet. I was then able to pull the belt out (clickety-clickety-clickety) until it was fully extended. I wish Iíd been able to clamp it at full extension, but I didnít think of it at the time (Visegrips might have worked, but I just wrestled with it).

With the belt at full extension, I was able to blow compressed air (I used the aerosol cans, like those I use for cleaning out the laptopí* keyboard) into the protected parts of the reel. I was also able to pull clumps of dust/lint out with needle nosed pliers. Without the accumulation of dust and lint, the inertial control began working correctly again. The only trick to checking it for correct operation was that I had to hold the take-up reel in the correct orientation (as though it was mounted on the door frame). Once I checked it while holding it in the correct orientation, it started acting just fine.

As I reinstalled the trim, I kept checking for correct operation. I didnít want to bind the webbing, etc.

Emboldened by my apparent success, I did the same thing for the passenger'* side. The push button that mounts in the passengerí* side door frame was sticking a little, so I gave it a drop of 3-in-1 oil. Otherwise, it was the same problem, the same fix and the same success.

Iíve been told that these mechanisms arenít repairable. Iím not so sure I repaired them Ė technically, I think all I did was clean them. Once I evicted the dust bunnies, they seem to be working fine.

I'm glad I don't have to worry any more about tickets for not wearing seatbealts.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:52 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing that idea.

Worst case scenario...install racing seat buckets, and a 5 point harness.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1995 View Post
Thanks for sharing that idea.

Worst case scenario...install racing seat buckets, and a 5 point harness.
Somehow, I don't think my wife would stand for that!
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:08 PM   #4
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Probably safer than the factory setup.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:04 AM   #5
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Probably safer than the factory setup.
Not if it makes his wife unhappy.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:25 AM   #6
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Default

Wow great outcome! That'* much better than locking the seatbelts at a fixed extension too. Retractable belts are "smarter" and have more function than just preventing ejection, probably even on an '86 model. The lock as needed at the correct extension, and slow down the body in a crash situation (rather than causing it to come to a abrupt stop, which can still cause internal injuries). Lots of crash force factors involved.

In any event, good job!
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