Author Topic: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System  (Read 3532 times)

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« on: December 31, 2007, 03:12:59 PM »
I just purchased a 1960 Eldorado Biarritz with 60,000 miles on it, from the original owner.  The car has been stored since 1977, with the frame supported by jack stands, so the weight was kept off of the suspension.  The car is amazingly original, original paint, extremely nice red leather bucket seats, and original top.  I would like to do an article for the self starter about the man and the two cars I just bought from him.

The air ride on the 60...I need to know some do's and don'ts on working on the system.  It will take and hold pressure and lift the car if you put air into it from the valve on the air tank under the hood, but it bleeds out over night.  I don't know if the compressor will work, because I have not tried to start the car yet, although it turns over very freely.

I have a frame contact lift (not a drive-on), so I can get the car on the lift to start looking for the leak, if there is one.

If anyone reading this has some tips or suggestions, let me know.

This car was purchased new in 1960, driven only as a pleasure car on nice weekends, and stored every winter.  In 1977, the owner purchased a new 1977 Biarritz, and also drove that sparingly, as it only has 45,000 miles on it, and is basically like new.  He is older now, and no longer driving, and I bought both cars and brought them home to my garage.  The 77 was driven home, the 60 on a flatbed.  I have to drain everything, drop the tank, pull the wheels, and go over everything before I try to start the car.

The paint and chrome are both oxidized, but the spots I compounded so far are looking very nice.  The interior will be mint with a nice cleaning and treatment of the leather.

I will update with some photos and info as time permits, and will start reading the shop manual tonight, but as far as the air ride, please let me know what to look for, how the controls work, etc.

Thanks,

Brian

This photo shows the car as I found it...
« Last Edit: December 31, 2007, 11:04:38 PM by 76eldo »
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline Peter Nieuwlandt

  • Posts: 83
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2007, 04:28:58 PM »
Hi Brian

Nice cars !!!! what a find !!!
On the 60 air suspension from what I heard and seen on a 58 with air suspension it's very difficult to maintain these suspensions nowadays certainly due to the rubber parts and valves involved wich have gone bad due to age.
And back when these cars were just a few years old almost all of them were converted to normal suspensions because of the difficulties the owners had with them.

Peter
Peter Nieuwlandt
CLC 17863

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2007, 05:35:31 PM »
The former owner tells me that the car always sat at a proper level.  If I convert it to regular springs, has anyone ever written up a procedure on that, or come up with some part number for springs and other needed parts?

Thanks,

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline Peter Nieuwlandt

  • Posts: 83
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2007, 06:06:02 PM »
Brian

The best way would be with a 60 donor car,I don't know that anyone has written a procedure for it,if You want I can take pictures of my 1960 Series 62 conv's suspension so You could compare it to Your Eldo;
maybe a partsbook would be a good indication too.

Peter
Peter Nieuwlandt
CLC 17863

vicbrincat

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 06:06:53 PM »
Hi Brian,

as tempting as it is to convert it to conventional springs, I would urge you to consider that as a last alternative. The 1960 air ride system was not as complex as the older systems found in the 1958 models and there are many vendors around that sell the parts needed to retore the original.

I wish I could offer you some advice on this . I restored the air ride in a '58 but as I mentioned they are very different than the ones in your car.

I do know that converted cars do not fetch the same resale value as ones with working original systems. Either way congratulations with your new purchase and good luck which ever way you decide to proceed.

Best regards,
Vic Brincat







Offline harvey b

  • Posts: 894
  • The truth is often a bitter pill to swallow
  • Name: Harvey Bowness
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2007, 06:31:55 PM »
Hello Brian, i know absolutely nothing about the air ride suspensions,however i think you can spot some obvious leaks the same way i check A/C systems,i take a spray bottle with some water in it i add about a couple of teaspoons of cheap dish washing soap,fill the system with air,and spray a little of the soapy stuff on any connections or questionable areas,any air hissing out will make it bubble like crazy,this would be real easy up on a hoist.you should be able to spot any trouble spots easy.not sure if this will even work but its worth a try.  thanks Harvey Bowness
Harvey Bowness

Quentin Hall Australia

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2007, 06:39:17 PM »
G'day Brian,
               Beautiful 60 you have there. Is it all right to feel envy ??? I have a 60 series 62 conv (same color combo) and whilst I wasn't originally a big 60 fan (prefering 53 57 59s) I have grown to fully appreciate this car for it's unrivalled elegance. Like Dave Holl's famously once said "In 1960, we got it right".
                As for the air susp. Leave it on. Having restored a 59 Biarritz on air, I suggest that you get the car running first. If the pump is working well it should pump up in 3 minutes. Idle warm up time.
                Mine was always slightly temperamental ranging from going down overnight to staying up for 2 weeks. But if the pump is working then it will pump the car up despite a minor annoying leak. DISCONNECT AND DRAIN THE TANK FIRST . There will probably be 45 years of rust and sludge in the tank and it would be nice not to clagg up your valves with this gunk. That done I'd check that the pump is pumping when the engine is idling. Do this while the tank is still off. 
                The dash handle fully extended will raise the car to full susp travel for going over bad driveways and the like. This also locks out the levelling valves . So if you are to work under the car or jack it you MUST have this handle out. That said NEVER get under a air susp car without saftey chocks . When the pressure falls (even with the handle out) they come down mighty quick. SQUASH ! DEAD !
                To find an air leak/s I would put the car on a 4 post hoist and get a squirt bottle of sudsy water and methodically go along each fitting. You will quickly find the culperits. Sometimes a good clean with an air hose is all they need but if the seals are perished then you will need to pull them apart and rekit them. I found brand new levelling valves (very similar to original) are available on the net for about $30. for the rear.     
                 The 4 bellows are available repro from a guy in NY for about a grand.
                  It is a bit of extra work but there is nothing nicer than floating on air.
                 Get her running first, tank cleaned out (mine took 2 weeks of soaking in degreaser), check pump is working (with engine off you should not be able to blow into the pump from tank (one way valves in pump). check bellows for perishing or splits and we should talk again.
                  Now that is a Happy New Year .
                  Regards. Quentin.   

Offline veesixteen

  • Posts: 1174
  • The moment is NOW!
  • CLC Number: 12588
  • Name: Yann Saunders
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2007, 08:00:12 PM »
The 60 Eldo is a dream ! I had both the Seville and Biarritz for that year. The Seville was on air-ride; I found that air leaked through a rust pinhole in the base of the air pressure storage tank (up front, LH side, ahead of the radiator shroud).  After a simple, $10 welding job, it worked great.  I'm talking about a car I owned ...30 years ago!

Listen to Quentin. He has the mechanical aptitudes which I (unfortunately) lack.
____________________________________________________

I just purchased a 1960 Eldorado Biarritz with 60,000 miles on it, from the original owner.  The car has been stored since 1977, with the frame supported by jack stands, so the weight was kept off of the suspension.  The car is amazingly original, original paint, extremely nice red leather bucket seats, and original top.  I would like to do an article for the self starter about the man and the two cars I just bought from him.

The air ride on the 60...I need to know some do's and don'ts on working on the system.  It will take and hold pressure and lift the car if you put air into it from the valve on the air tank under the hood, but it bleeds out over night.  I don't know if the compressor will work, because I have not tried to start the car yet, although it turns over very freely.

I have a frame contact lift (not a drive-on), so I can get the car on the lift to start looking for the leak, if there is one.

If anyone reading this has some tips or suggestions, let me know.

This car was purchased new in 1960, driven only as a pleasure car on nice weekends, and stored every winter.  In 1977, the owner purchased a new 1977 Biarritz, and also drove that sparingly, as it only has 45,000 miles on it, and is basically like new.  He is older now, and no longer driving, and I bought both cars and brought them home to my garage.  The 77 was driven home, the 60 on a flatbed.  I have to drain everything, drop the tank, pull the wheels, and go over everything before I try to start the car.

The paint and chrome are both oxidized, but the spots I compounded so far are looking very nice.  The interior will be mint with a nice cleaning and treatment of the leather.

I will update with some photos and info as time permits, and will start reading the shop manual tonight, but as far as the air ride, please let me know what to look for, how the controls work, etc.

Thanks,

Brian
Yann Saunders, CLC #12588
Compiler and former keeper of "The Cadillac Database"
aka "MrCadillac", aka "Veesixteen"

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2007, 08:58:12 PM »
Thanks for the info and input.

I will be starting to wake the car up from it's long sleep pretty soon.  I already thought of the soapy water, but not taking the tank off and cleaning it out.

I am a stickler for originality on all of my cars, and plan on keeping the air ride functional.  There were 2 NOS bellows in the trunk, and also some new lines.

The car also has a perfect trunk lining, and the 3 pc. parade boot in the original bag.

I will be taking extensive photos as I go.  I really want to get it running so that I can take the former owner for a ride in it.  He is older and has some health issues, and was very attached to the car after owning it all these years.

Thanks,

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Jonathan Riley

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2008, 08:46:44 PM »
Hi Brian:

Great Car.  I have a 1960 coupe de ville on air ride.  (yes, it was a option on the non-eldo cars).  Frankly, it gave me pause when I purchased the car as I did not want to deal with it; however, like you, I like to leave cars original.  So I kept the system on the car.  It has been 10+ years and the car rides great.  In the ride position (lever pushed in) it will last around 5-7 hrs before a leak down (without the engine running).  With the lever pulled out, it lasts 1-2 months.  The leak is in the blow-off valve (in the rear) and I never replaced it. 

There is a guy in California who deals with the air ride parts.  His company is mastermind.  I have purchased items from him and although they are expensive, they are top quality.

On my air-ride system, I replaced the air bags, the air-tank, the front leveling valve(there is only one front leveling valve), and the lift valve. 

I left the rear leveling valves (there are two) and the air lines original.

It is a pretty easy system to deal with once you have the leaks cured.  For that I used soapy water to find the leaks by following the air lines. 

The ends of the lines are unique and are a special type fitting.  Sometimes the "seal" needs to be replaced. 

Someone also mentioned this, but I would clean out the air-tank.   I did this the simple way, and purchased one from master mind.  They cut them apart and clear it out, then weld it back together. 

There is a one way valve that is located between the air compressor and air tank.  Mine leaked.  I could not find an original one, so I used a one way valve from a plumbing supply store with some threaded fittings. 

I hope the above helps, It as been 10 plus years since i did this and all of the above information is from memory.  As for all of these cars, I would purchase the shop manual.  I find them invaluable.

(by the way, the shocks are different for air-ride cars)




Jonathan Riley

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2008, 08:48:21 PM »
Brian:

I just re-read your post.  If you let the suspension sag (by lifting the car from by the frame) the air will leak out of the system.

Hope this helps.

Jon

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2008, 10:18:56 PM »
Thanks for the info guys.

I have the 59 manual with the 60 supplement, and am reading them both for info.

I will be getting it up in the air this weekend, and will assess what I have and what I will need and go from there.

Thanks,

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2008, 08:58:51 AM »
The Air Ride system seems to be working quite well.  I filled the air tank yesterday, and moved the car out of the garage to clean it up, and see what works.  The Air Ride lever on the dash was pulled out, which allows the maximum lift.  Later in the day, I pushed the lever in, and the car leveled out to the proper height. The engine cranks over, but I have not tried to start it yet.  The is 1/2 tank of old gas, and I need to drop the tank, and clean it out before i try to start the car.  I pulled the plugs, squirted trans fluid into the cylinders, and will probably try to start it this weekend, using a temporary fuel tank.

Everything electrical works on the car.  The radio sounds great, power antenna works, all windows, vents, seat, trunk, and the top motor.  The top has not been down in 30 years, and is reportedly the original top.

I took advantage of the 68 degree weather here yesterday, and spent the whole day cleaning it up, and cleaning the leather and side panels with Lexol.

More to come...

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Online 35-709

  • Posts: 5363
  • The most valuable antique is an old friend.
  • CLC Number: 4719
  • Name: G. Newcombe
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2008, 09:14:24 AM »
Looks like you made a terrific find, Brian!
 8)
1935 Cadillac Sedan resto-mod "Big Red"
1973 Cadillac Caribou - Sold - but still in the family
1950 Jaguar Mark V Saloon resto-mod - Sold
1942 Cadillac 6269 - Sold
1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1935 Glenn Pray - Auburn Boattail Speedster, Gen. 2

Brian Rachlin

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2008, 12:02:05 PM »
Well,

The system bled down overnight.  I am going to pump it up again, and then pull the ride control lever out, and see if that makes a difference.  I have another car on my lift right now, but will get this up in the air by the weekend to see what is going on.

A great find, yes.  However, not a cheap find, but a very rare car, in this condition is hard to fix a value to.

Brian

Richard Goulden

  • Guest
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2008, 03:56:45 PM »
Hi Brian
That sure is a GREAT car, my favourite colour combination too.
I have a 59 Biarritz with air ride.
Most of the comments so far, have been very sensible, and should cover everything you need to know.
The only thing I would like to point out is, try not to let the car bleed right down, without the car being supported, either by blocks above the diff and front A arms, or supports under the chassis.
When the car drops right down, the driveshaft support can be strained ( rubber part), leading to premature failing of this part.
I have had no problems with my cars air ride, with the lever pulled out, and car fully raised, it will drop to about halfway down, in a day and half.
With the air lift lever in and car at normal height, car has stayed up happily for a week, without the engine running.
I must point out I always drain the air tank and let the car drop on blocks when I am not using it.
I modified a gas ( not gasoline, but gas), tap to scew into the original thread on the bottom, of the air ride tank, and on the end of the tap I threaded a compresser line fitting.
This means I just have to reach under the tank and open the tap and tank is emty in about 15 seconds. Before I start the car ( it is not a daily driver), I just hook up a compresser line and pump the car up, saves  running the engine for about a quarter hour to pump up system.
I would advise you to keep with the air ride, anyone with any practical car knowledge can easily keep the system going.
Air ride cars sit GREAT, lower at the back .
Air ride cars FLOAT down the road.
And the great thing is, you can LIFT the car up, when you come to steep drives, etc, you will be amazed how easy it is to drive the car places that a spring car will be scaping on the ground.
Hope this helps, for more technical questions, you can e mail me direct.
Love your car, great find.
Richard

Offline eldo59

  • Mauro Bonfitto
  • Posts: 126
Re: 1960 Biarritz Air Ride System
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2008, 09:59:57 PM »
Hi Brian
That sure is a GREAT car, my favourite colour combination too.
I have a 59 Biarritz with air ride.
Most of the comments so far, have been very sensible, and should cover everything you need to know.
The only thing I would like to point out is, try not to let the car bleed right down, without the car being supported, either by blocks above the diff and front A arms, or supports under the chassis.
When the car drops right down, the driveshaft support can be strained ( rubber part), leading to premature failing of this part.
I have had no problems with my cars air ride, with the lever pulled out, and car fully raised, it will drop to about halfway down, in a day and half.
With the air lift lever in and car at normal height, car has stayed up happily for a week, without the engine running.
I must point out I always drain the air tank and let the car drop on blocks when I am not using it.
I modified a gas ( not gasoline, but gas), tap to scew into the original thread on the bottom, of the air ride tank, and on the end of the tap I threaded a compresser line fitting.
This means I just have to reach under the tank and open the tap and tank is emty in about 15 seconds. Before I start the car ( it is not a daily driver), I just hook up a compresser line and pump the car up, saves  running the engine for about a quarter hour to pump up system.
I would advise you to keep with the air ride, anyone with any practical car knowledge can easily keep the system going.
Air ride cars sit GREAT, lower at the back .
Air ride cars FLOAT down the road.
And the great thing is, you can LIFT the car up, when you come to steep drives, etc, you will be amazed how easy it is to drive the car places that a spring car will be scaping on the ground.
Hope this helps, for more technical questions, you can e mail me direct.
Love your car, great find.
Richard
Hi Brian
That sure is a GREAT car, my favourite colour combination too.
I have a 59 Biarritz with air ride.
Most of the comments so far, have been very sensible, and should cover everything you need to know.
The only thing I would like to point out is, try not to let the car bleed right down, without the car being supported, either by blocks above the diff and front A arms, or supports under the chassis.
When the car drops right down, the driveshaft support can be strained ( rubber part), leading to premature failing of this part.
I have had no problems with my cars air ride, with the lever pulled out, and car fully raised, it will drop to about halfway down, in a day and half.
With the air lift lever in and car at normal height, car has stayed up happily for a week, without the engine running.
I must point out I always drain the air tank and let the car drop on blocks when I am not using it.
I modified a gas ( not gasoline, but gas), tap to scew into the original thread on the bottom, of the air ride tank, and on the end of the tap I threaded a compresser line fitting.
This means I just have to reach under the tank and open the tap and tank is emty in about 15 seconds. Before I start the car ( it is not a daily driver), I just hook up a compresser line and pump the car up, saves  running the engine for about a quarter hour to pump up system.
I would advise you to keep with the air ride, anyone with any practical car knowledge can easily keep the system going.
Air ride cars sit GREAT, lower at the back .
Air ride cars FLOAT down the road.
And the great thing is, you can LIFT the car up, when you come to steep drives, etc, you will be amazed how easy it is to drive the car places that a spring car will be scaping on the ground.
Hope this helps, for more technical questions, you can e mail me direct.
Love your car, great find.
Richard
The gas line tap with a compressor fitting is a great idea.It's one of the first things I did when I got my eldo.I highly recommend doing it to any air suspension car.
Mauro Bonfitto

 

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