1966 Pontiac Convertible with top stuck in down position

mikey33mikey33 Member Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
HELP> I have an absolutely gorgeous 1966 pontiac catalina convertible covered in plastic in my snow bound garage. This summer the hydraulic mechanism that raises and lowers the convertible top developed a leak. My regular mechanic sent me to a specialist who replaced the left cylinder so the top would function. He gave the car back to me with top up. I lowered the top a short while after and noted the left side of the top, the side with the new cylinder, went down slower than the right side, the left side didn't go down quite all the way and then the top wouldn't go up at all. The switch under the dash seems to send power to the pump when you push it to the right to make top go down but there is only silence when you push it to the left. The car is lovely with the top down but i would like to make it whole again. Can anyone direct me to someone who can help? I have made calls and spoken to dozens of people without help. The car has only 53,000 miles on it and runs like new. Thanks.


  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    First of all, it's not a smart thing to replace one ram and not the other at the same time.

    You need to find a professional on this one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah, this isn't rocket science, and as Isell says, you really needed to replace both rams. Perhaps the guy who did it screwed up....but given that it is a nice car, I'd start right from scratch and replace both rams with warrantied rebuilts. The electrical issues are easy, no more complicated than a doorbell...but the hydraulics are also dependent on a non-binding top mechanism.

    It sounds like your car is suffering from lack of use, which is typical...and get rid of that plastic....what you want is a breathable cover, not something that traps moisture like plastic.

    For hydraulic parts, go to www.hemmings.com and order a copy of their current issue of the Motor News. You'll find everything you'll need right there. Good luck and be patient.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,455
    in my '67 Catalina convertible. Maybe that's why I got such a good price on it ;-) Anyway, I've just been putting the top up and down by hand. I've had problems finding somebody to look at it, too. My top motor runs just fine, but I have a feeling the plastic tubing just got a leak somewhere.

    Oh well, one of these days...
  • mikey33mikey33 Member Posts: 6
    Andre how do you release the hydraulic mechanism on your pontiac to work the top manually. Mine is stuck in the down position and it wont budge. Its so hard to find a competent mechanic, plus I have been ill, in and out of the hospital. thanks for any help ful ideas. Mikey 33
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,455
    I've had to raise and lower my top manually ever since I've had the car...the most the power assist will do is if I have the top balanced at its half open/half closed point, it MIGHT give it just enough boost to make it go one way or the other.

    Anyway, I've never had to release anything before raising the top back up. I just grab it as close to the center as possible, so i won't bend the frame, and I lift. I'm 6'3", with long arms, so I don't have a problem reaching the center, although it's not exactly good on my back! It's really a 2-man job to raise the top easily.

    Sorry if this isn't much help. Oh, by the way, my mom had a 1966 Catalina convertible that she bought brand new when she was 17. She got rid of it after she had me, because she wanted something safer with having a child. Needless to say, she wasn't too pleased when I got mine...ahh, the paranoia of roll-overs!!

  • mikey33mikey33 Member Posts: 6
    I tried using 2 very strong people to lift the top on my 66 catalina and it will not budge. Someone told me I ahd to release it from the 2 cylinders that work with the hydraulic pump but they didnt know how to do it. I am afraid to open a new pandoras box. Meantime I see you have had some old Chrysler Newports. I have a 1970 Newport Convertible with a very good top that goes up and down whenever I want it to. Unfortuneately it was in a head on 25 years ago and when they fixed it they lefta small ripple in the frame. I had it "adjusted" so it drives fairly well. Whatever you can tell me about how to get my pontiac top up was very thoughtful. I just wish I could find a competent mechanic here on Long Island. Thanks again/
  • mdelrossomdelrosso Member Posts: 18
    sounds like you need some new parts. look in a mag called cars & parts, there are nationwide
    distributors of conv lift cylinders/hydraulics etc. Also look in Hemmings for a local shop to correctly install all this new stuff. I have a '65 caddy rag top and last summer the top got stuck mid way. These tops are VERY difficult to move by hand, I had no clue. I was able to muscle the top closed and haven't opened it since!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    If you are using brute force to push your tops down, you are probably bending something!

    If you bend the metal top pieces you will have a hell of a lot more trouble than replacing a ram!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,455
    I have no trouble at all putting my top down. I just lift it up to the midway point, and then it folds down under its own weight. Getting it back up is a different story, just because it's so heavy. Still, I'm not forcing anything, so I guess I'm not doing any more damage...at least I hope I'm not!

    Mikey, my 2 Newports were not exactly cream of the crop! My first was a 1979 R-body with a 318 that I bought from the junkyard for $250. It had about 230,000 miles on it. Still, it lasted me about 2 years. I retired it because I bought an '89 Gran Fury ex-police car that only had 73,000 on it. In retrospect, I wish I had kept the '79 though. It got better gas mileage and handled better than the police car, and was a lot roomier, but it seemed like it broke down about once a month. My '67 was actually given to me by a friend who's grandmother passed away. The family was settling her estate and just wanted the thing gone. It only had about 108,000 miles on it, but had been sitting so long all the rubber stuff was rotting away. The 383 and the rest of the driveline were rock-solid, and the A/C even still worked, but the body and interior were falling apart. I finally got rid of it when the brakes started to fail and I bought my 2000 Intrepid, and had too many cars on my insurance policy. It just goes to show how important maintenance and care are on a car. My '68 Dart with 337,000+ miles is in better shape and looks better than that '67 did!

    Have a good one, guys!

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