Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays

The Mad Monk works on his Studebaker
It was a little chilly in the garage this morning, but since I received a sweet Studebaker Authorized Service hoodie from my wife this holiday season, there was no reason not to start work before the garage was warmed up.

Having finished up the tar removal on the trunk floor, I have moved on to cleaning up the rear window surround. The more of this gooey stuff I can remove, the better (and faster--and cheaper) the media blasting will work.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a change of mind

Originally, I wasn't going to remove the "soundproofing" from the trunk. But I decided that although I suspected the metal was solid under there, it is a common area for these cars to rust so now is the time to do it right. Off to the garage with the heat gun and putty knife and an hour or so later, I have most of the tar off the floor of the trunk.

Gloriously rust free
I have a bit of time to do more of this work--although I'll call and get another quote, I had a discussion with a body shop that specializes in classic cars and liked the conversation we had. Unfortunately, he won't be able to start on it until late January. So more time for me to do some additional work.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cleaning and sorting

The garage was so cluttered with parts and debris that it was getting hazardous, so I got the Studebaker carcass back on the ground and pushed it outside. Front fenders, doors, hood and trunk were neatly stacked against the side of the garage. And then the sweeping began. Amazing how much dirt comes out of a fairly clean car when you pull it apart.

After that, I started sorting the smaller pieces. What things would I clean up myself? What would a send to get rechromed? What would I have blasted? What pieces should I get chemically dipped?

The shop vac seems to want to be photographed frequently
Work has been a bit hectic lately, so I haven't had a chance to track down a shop to media blast the body yet.  But soon. In the meanwhile, I still have more cleaning and organizing to do. They say it takes the same amount of space as a 3-car garage to do a frame-off restoration on a single car. Less if you're not taking it off the frame. Well, I'm not doing a frame off, but my "almost" two car garage (which has a lot of old wood working tools lining the walls to begin with) is definitely being pushed to the limit. But at least I have a garage, otherwise I'd have to wait until spring to continue the project.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Part of the deal

When you work on old cars, you have to deal with stripped and rusted bolts. One of those was on one of the doors. I had stripped out one of the philips-headed bolts that holds the hinge to the door. While I was able to get the door hinge off the car (and the door with it) I still had to deal with that bolt. My initial attempt left a hardened steel drill bit stuck in the middle of that bolt.

So late this afternoon I decided I had time for a small project, and headed to the garage. I broke out the welder and a spare bolt and went to work:

Now if everything goes perfect, I can put a wrench on that bolt and remove the remains of the old one
After welding the new bolt onto the remains of the old bolt, I let it cool for a few moments then carefully turn it with a wrench and,  voilĂ :

Yup, the head snapped right off. But that's okay. I was able to get the hinge off--and so the door is ready to go to the blaster. And I'll simply drill the remains out of the door and chase the threads with a tap. At least now I can easily get to it.

Earlier in the day I stopped by the Willamette Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club's annual holiday get together in Albany--I got to see some pretty Studebakers and hob nob for a few minutes with Studebaker people--good times!

Next up? Cleaning the garage--it is a mess--time to push the car out of the garage and get things organized and clean again. Soon enough, all the really dirty stuff will be done.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back on track

So the shell is stripped, ready for blasting (unless I decide to remove the rest of the undercoating first.)

Here's how she looks now:

I'm leaving the engine in for now.

I didn't find any surprises--everything was as expected--including this area by the vent behind the wheel on the left front fender. Ok, almost as expected:

What's that grey substance just above the small hole?
I knew there was rust, not very well repaired, on the driver's side front fender. It is a common place for these cars to rust--there is design flaw at the back of the fender that traps water and debris--so I sanded down the area quickly to see what was there.  What I didn't expect to find under that thin pink layer of body putty was a big lump of an epoxy substance commonly known as "liquid steel." That is definitely not the approved way of repairing rust--although I do have to admit that it has held up rather well over the years.

A good day's work today.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My goal for the long weekend was to have the car stripped to its shell, ready to be media blasted. I didn't quite make it.

still remaining. . .
I made very good speed on the back half of the car, but the front end slowed me down considerably.  I still have 5 things to remove--one of the grills (one, the closest to the camera is removed already), both grill surrounds, the area around the grills and the two front fenders. Unlike most of the cars I've worked on, the inner and outer fenders are one piece. They're not held in by many bolts (and 6 of them per side are out already, but it looks like some of them are not very easy to reach.) So the car will go up in the air a little so I can remove the front wheels to access everything.

A clean trunk is a. . .uh, I got nothin' here.
But overall, I'm making decent progress. Definitely running out of room in the garage--so will be glad to get it out of here to get media blasted so I can reorganize things and get it cleaned up for the next stage.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A tale of four colors

Although I still haven't found a single coin or lost dollar bill during the deconstruction of the Stude, I am uncovering some interesting things. I knew that the color of the top was a little bit too light but wasn't quite sure how light. After removing the "Studebaker" script from just above the beltline on the C-pillar, I discovered this:

I didn't spend a good deal of time cleaning this up since it is going to be blasted away soon--I just wiped it clear of several years of gunk with a damp rag. But here you see 4 colors: a baby (or sky) blue (with a little bit of haze from waxing) followed by Studebaker Maui Blue, transitioning to Studebaker Ivory Mist and then a off-white/bone color. While both the sky blue and the off-white color are faded a little, I've polished up a few areas to remove the oxidation and the colors remain close to what you see here in the picture.

How did this happen? Well, someone could have picked different colors, of course, but I have a different idea. You'll recall that the quality of the paint on the car is, uh, let's say inexpensive--I'm thinking it is a typical Earl Scheib or Maaco bargain job. And going into one of those places and simply asking for Maui Blue over Ivory Mist may have gotten you entirely different colors from what Studebaker used. For example, take a look at this GM color called Maui Blue:

While it isn't a perfect match for the upper color (and is a metallic paint) it is much closer to that light blue than the original Studebaker mix.

While we're talking about paint, I also discovered that the car has been painted at least 3 times--possibly more if someone took the car down to bare metal before then--but I suspect not. Each time it appears that people made an attempt to return it to the original color.

More details on the great Stude tear down of 2011 soon. . .stay tuned!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My car USED to look nice

Not so much anymore.

What did I do!
Unlike most modern cars, the rear fenders unbolt on the Studebaker. That'll give the media blaster a chance to get a good, clear shot at the joints and seams (and also allow them to clean up all that surface rust behind the door.)

The trunk lid has also been removed, and that stuff on the floor on this side of the rear tire is the  remains of the headliner (the headliner bows, which will also be media blasted then painted, are resting on top of the car.) That's the engine in the background, covered in plastic. The side glass has been removed.

Front fender comes next (after the hood, which I need help to remove.)  After the front fenders (actually, the entire front "clip"--everything that unbolts up front) I'll decide if I need to pull the doors--those are tough to remove and the hinges are in great shape.

I'm getting quite a collection of parts:

I think I have a 4-day weekend coming up, so my goal is to have it ready to go the media blaster by the end of next weekend. That's a lot of work yet, but so far things have been coming along well. Of course, I still need to locate a media blaster. . .

UPDATE: All glass (windshield, back window, side windows) are now out of the car.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Well, mostly. There's still a thin layer in places, like on the transmission hump, but a quick hit with a sander will clean that right up.

So here's what I found:

The areas marked in red with the Xs through them are the 3 areas where the floor has rusted through. The biggest hole wouldn't fit a quarter, but the metal is thin and has been weakened. These are the areas that I have to replace.  The blue areas are sections of the floor where the metal is still thick and sound, but the rust has penetrated below the surface--this area is pitted. While I could get by with cleaning up this area then using a product like POR-15 (or something newer) I'm going to go ahead and cut it out. The other areas that show up rusty-colored are just a light coating of surface rust. This will be easily removed using mechanical means, such as sanding or media blasting. I'm surprised that the rear foot wells were only surface rusted--they look as if they'd gather a lot of moisture.

I did find that it got a bit hot when sitting in the car with a heat gun and a putty knife removing the old "soundproofing." So every so often I'd stop to cool off, and work on another part of the car (when I didn't run inside and get a drink and watch some football--this is a hobby after all, not a job!) So I removed the side rear window assembly, the outside rear view mirror, and the wing vent. All the glass needs to come out of the car anyway, so I got a head start on it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Buried treasure

I'm about halfway done with the tar removal. I work on it for a little bit at a time--it gets pretty warm in the car with the heat gun on full blast after about 30 minutes. It is going well, though.

Some people are lucky. When they clean up their car they find loose change and even the occasional dollar bill between the cushions. I thought I'd at least come away from this with a solid silver quarter or something, but no, not a single coin.

I did find this wedged between the back seat separator and the trunk:

From what I can find on the internet, Hershey-ets were available from 1954 through 2005 and may still be available seasonally. I don't recall ever seeing them. I think this wrapper may be from the 50's or early 60's, judging from other's guesses on their photos when I did a google image search.

Anybody remember these?

Monday, November 7, 2011

How old is your back seat?

I had to remove the rear seat back to get at more of the tar-like undercoating on the floor. When I removed it, I found some tags.

Hard to read, but it says, "Received Jul 27 1953 National Automotive Fibres Los Angeles"

Hmmm, wonder what "Final Run Old Style" means?
Hard to believe that anything made from such cheap paper has survived so many years.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And so it begins, again.

Not as rusty as it looks
I've pulled the front seats, and the bottom of the back seat, out and have started the process of removing the tar-like "undercoating" that covers the surface of the floor. I want to be sure to identify any rust through so I can cut that section out and patch it with new metal; the floor overall is in excellent shape and will not need replacement--just a few spots where moisture was trapped have rusted through. So far, only three small areas have been found.

Another decision awaits. Do you see those two depressions on either side of the drive line hump (under the vacuum cleaner hose)? Those were created to allow a little additional foot space for the rear seat passengers, however, they're very small in size and impractical--apparently, people in the 50's must have had much smaller feet! Most hot rodders remove them to allow more room for exhaust under the car. They're only spot welded in place and easy to remove and replace with fresh metal. Should I flatten out the floor while I'm doing the rest of the repairs?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The new American car with the European look

I found an original dealer's brochure for my car. It is about the size of the old Life Magazine. Click on the pictures for a much larger view.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What's happening in Stud-e Land, you ask?

The next steps on my project are pretty major.

First, I plan on pulling the seats out, getting rid of the floor covering and, slowly and painfully removing the tar-like anti-rust coating (it has hardened, so this will likely be done with a heat gun and a putty knife--I'll experiment to see if I can find something quicker, but I don't have much hope that it will be anything but a tedious job.) The goal of this is to find any spots that have rust through, or thin metal that needs to be replaced. My initial looks have revealed only one small area that needs to be patched, but I want to be sure; the only way I can do that is to get everything out of the way.

Once the seats are out of it, it becomes difficult to hop in and drive it in and out of the garage when I need the space for other projects, of course.  Since my current daily driver needs some attention (rear brakes and a non-functioning temperature sensor for the climate control) the Stude has been moved outside for a bit. It'll probably be another couple of weeks before I have time to work on it again, so I apologize if things are a bit boring around here in the meanwhile. I'm sure there will be something Studebaker related that I can post up here during that time, though.

If you just visit my site for the pictures, don't worry! I just got back from a few days in Nashville, where I visited the Lane Motor Museum. The Museum has a very nice collection of mostly imported automobiles. You can view my pictures here.  If you're not familiar with the Tatra, a Czechoslovakian car, I think you might be in for a surprise.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just one of those days

Ever have one of those days when things seem to be against you?

Fortunately, for me, it was just the house that apparently felt neglected and wanted a bit more of my attention. This morning began at dawn, snaking tree roots out of the sewer line after having the toilet overflow on the bathroom floor late last night. And then this afternoon while taking the pics below, one of torsion springs on the garage door broke (it made a surprisingly loud, gunshot-like noise when it did it as well.)

But that said, I had a fairly good Studebaker day. As you can see from the pics below, I have the engine mostly assembled. The machine shop took care of that broken stud for me in the rear main bearing cap, leading to a largely uneventful reassembly.

Please ignore the fan blade and the alternator--those are going to be replaced so I didn't spend any time cleaning them up.

Intake? Going to replace that with a 4bbl model, so might as well leave it off for now.

Valve covers are being prepped for paint.

Colors are close to original for a 53, with a little bling added here and there.

Right now, the valve covers are on it and it is wrapped in plastic on the stand, ready to spend its first night outside the garage. Given the weight of the beast, at least I'm not too worried about someone carrying it off. . .

Update: Garage door fixed, engine nestled safely in the garage. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

oh sh*t!

It was bound to happen eventually.

Tonight I went out into the garage to fit the oil pan side gaskets so I could put the timing cover in place. Being a responsible Studebaker owner, I decided to replace the rear main bearing seal while I was in there, even though the old one didn't show signs of leaking. To remove the rear main seal, I carefully removed the oil pump so I could access both bolts on the rear main bearing cap, then loosened the middle 3 main caps per the shop manual and then removed the rear cap.

Everything looked very good--there was little if any sign of wear on the rear main bearing, and the seal was still supple and sealing well. I carefully removed the seals halves, put in a new ones and torqued down the bearing caps.

I was snugging down the last nut on the oil pump with a small hand wrench when I heard a loud crack and the nut spun freely. I had broken the stud.

It really isn't rusty, that's just my old camera phone under fluorescent lights.
I made a quick attempt to remove the remains of the stud by carefully drilling a hole in it and trying a bolt extractor, but the metal was too soft and it couldn't grab enough material to back the stud out. So I'm not going to take a chance--it is off to the machine shop tomorrow to let the pros take care of it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Upside down. . .

Busy weekend, but it might not look like it from this pic:

I'll get out the real camera and take a nice pic when it is all together.
I cleaned and painted the heads and got them installed (man, they're heavy--it wasn't worth getting out the engine hoist for just a few minutes of suffering!) Before installing the heads, I had to clean up the mating surfaces, chase out the threads with a tap to make sure they were clean (and I ran the head bolts though a die as well) and then make sure everything that would be inside of the engine was very, very clean.

I also installed the core plugs (aka freeze plugs), the oil filter block, and the motor mount assemblies. Of course, this also meant that I cleaned them up and painted them as well.  In addition, I modified the timing cover to take a more modern, neoprene seal instead of the old felt seal (instructions here, if you're interested) and I cleaned, painted and assembled the harmonic balancer and front pulleys. I also cleaned and started straightening the oil pan. It was a mess--dented, rusty, and of course, grimy.

I have to install part of the oil pan gasket before I can install the timing cover. I've never seen anything quite like it so I'll have to study up on how to do that properly. It is a confusing collection of 4 individual gaskets  made of two different materials. And although I've pretty much figured out where everything goes, nothing seems to quite fit just right.

It is getting there, though. At least there seems to be fewer parts on the floor.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reverse disassembly

Starting to put the engine back together, cleaning and painting parts as I go. It is slow going, but this is no time to rush.
In 1953, Studebaker painted their engine blocks dark green.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

No comment

I've heard rumor that some people have had difficulty leaving comments on the blog. And I've also discovered that I don't seem to be able to leave comments as well!

For those that have had difficulty--my apologies, but I'm not sure there's anything I can do about it. And to those that have left comments please bear in mind that I'll be unable to leave a response unless I do so in a future post.

Nothing Studebakery (is that a word?) to report, other than I ordered some gaskets and core plugs (aka freeze plugs) from Studebakers West today. Oh, and I discovered that when I was getting a parking permit at work last week, Studebakers are not listed on the computer system.

"Who makes Studebaker?" she said.

"Studebaker," I replied. "But they haven't made cars since 1966."

"Oh. That's probably why they aren't in here."

"Could be."

I wonder if the guy at work with the 54 Panhard Dyna Z had the same problem?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Black sand

This weekend, I cleaned up the block.

As part of that cleaning, and based on some of the reading I've done on the Studebaker Drivers Club Forums, I decided to pull the freeze plugs and see what things looked like in the water jacket surrounding the cylinders. Of course, the experienced folks at the SDC Forums were right. There was a lot of casting sand packed in there that, for best cooling, needed to come out.

So tonight after making a special tool out of a discarded piece of brake line tubing, I started pushing, prodding and pulling the blackened sand out of the engine block. 

Perhaps it was the combination of the sand and the hammer I'd used to form the end on the tubing that brought it all back to me, but suddenly, I was a 7-year-old boy again, timidly entering the front door of the cast-iron foundry where my Dad worked, his forgotten lunch bucket in my hand. I stopped just inside, my eyes adjusting to the light. There he was, just in front of me, the cauldron of molten metal beyond giving more light to the room than the dim sodium bulbs 25 feet overhead. I walked over as he was driving spikes into a large black cube with a 5-lb hammer. He saw me, smiled, and walking me into the nearby break room split a Little Debbie's snack with me. I asked what he was doing, so he took me back into the foundry, and showed me how they made the molds out of sand. Touching the mold, I would have never guessed that something made from sand could be so hard. As the overhead crane swung by to move the mold over to the pouring area, he lead me back outside and thanked me for bringing me his lunch.

Dad passed away a little over a year ago. I would've liked to ask him what he thought about that much sand left in the casting, but I think I know what his answer would've been. Somehow, I don't think he would have approved.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night's Alright for Pulling Heads

A little carbon but not bad
It was a quick job, but man, those things are heavy. I decided to use the engine hoist to pick them up for me.

I really should of at least wiped off the oil and anti-freeze before taking a pic.
Everything was about as I expected. A good amount of carbon build up, but I could not detect a ridge at the top of the cylinder with my finger nail (it was visible as a dark area.) Cylinder bores were mostly shiny but if I looked carefully I could see evidence of cross hatching.

I'll clean things up in the morning and have a good look, but I'm thinking that I'll likely just button things up (although there is a temptation to throw new rings and bearings in it... and maybe some flat top pistons and a nice cam. See? That's what happens when you tear into things. Maybe I should've just left the heads on.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I should be at work right now. . .

After spending yesterday cleaning up the garage and getting ready for the next phase of the Studebaker project, I had planned on going into work this afternoon--I'm working on a project that needs to be completed by Friday and while things are going well on meeting that deadline, it would be nice to have a little breathing room in case something unexpected comes up.

But sometimes, especially when you've been working particularly hard lately, a little mental health break is in order. And for me, there's nothing more relaxing than tearing into an engine.

So much for that nice, clean garage floor.

Here's what I started with. . .

Here's what I ended up with about an hour and a half later.

Pleasantly, no surprises. Everything looks clean and, as my British friends would say, in good nick. I have a lot of exterior cleaning to do, but I'm pretty sure I'll button it up fairly quick. Ok, I admit it: it will go together quickly, but the cleaning will be a pain.

The only thing I'm pondering--and here's a question for you gear heads out there: should I pull the heads?

If you're having a busy few weeks at work and need to unwind, I strongly suggest tearing into a Studebaker V-8. I'm much calmer now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


After my morning cup o' joe, I headed out to the garage to button up a few things on the Stude so I could take it for a little bit longer of a drive than to the corner and back.

Basically, I needed to clear up a few very small leaks in the brake system. A couple of new crush washers on the left front, re-double flaring the lines into the master cylinder, a couple of trips to the parts store because I invariably forgot some small thing and I was set to bleed the brakes. This was quickly accomplished thanks to the help of my able assistant.

At 2 p.m. I backed out of my driveway and roared away to the north. My first goal? The gas station . Wouldn't do good to run out of gas on International Drive Your Studebaker Day. The attendant (we're not allowed to pump our own gas in Oregon) was surprised when I told him that it was IDYSD, and then talked about the big Studebaker sedan his Dad had when he was a little kid.

One fat guy in a mullet walked up during our conversation and asked, "what year is that?" When I told him it was a '53, he snorted and said, "yeah, it looks like it." Nice, my first sneering comment. I wanted to follow up with a, "have you seen what most cars actually looked like in 1953?" but I refrained. Nothing was going to ruin my little IDYSD drive.

Then the car wouldn't start. A little fiddling with the carb, though, soon cured that. In the car's defense, it hadn't been driven this far in at least 10 years (if not longer) so it really could use a good tune-up, including going through the carb and cleaning things up.

So where to now? I decided to not be fool hardy, and just take the long loop around the quiet back streets to my house. So off to Crystal Lake Drive. The car cruised along nicely, but the temperature gauge was at the very top of the normal range--a little concerning. Either the gauge is off, or I'm on the border of overheating.

And then my left front hubcap decided I was driving too slowly and raced ahead down the side of the road. I caught up to it, pulled over and threw it in the passenger seat.

3 minutes later, I was pulling into my driveway.

Loved every minute of it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Today is a special day

Today happens to be my birthday. And the first day I drove my Studebaker down the street.

I still have a little work today--the brake pedal is a little low and a bit soft and I need to change the connectors on my brake light sending unit. Oh yeah, and there's no muffler either. But she moves down the road just fine.

It was a good birthday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If you want something done right. . .

You might recall that, a few months ago, I ordered all new stainless steel brake lines for the car. Yup, those are the ones--from that specialist place that bends them with a computer operated machine for that perfect fit.

When I installed them on the rear end, they were close, and with a bit of massaging, I made them fit. The line from the back of the car to the master cylinder area (actually, it is supposed to go to the hill holder) was a little short, but that's okay, I think, I can get a coupler and another small section of line and make do.

From there on, it goes worse. The front lines aren't even close. There's supposed to be a 180-degree bend in one--there isn't. The one that runs across the front crossmember was the right length, but the ends point the wrong way.

It isn't the end of the world--I will be able to adjust them--and with the modifications to my braking system it wasn't like they were going to be a perfect fit anyway, but it is frustrating to expect a product to be quality that simply isn't. That said, it really won't slow me down terribly--perhaps a few hours and a visit to the parts store for a couple of generic lengths of line.

But in other good news, I found the right size drive shaft, which I'll pick up this weekend. And since it is a 3-day weekend I'll have an extra day to work on the car.

Knock on wood, I'm hoping to at least be able to drive it around the block on IDYSD!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

8 gallons later

This afternoon's project: get the parking brakes working.

Simple enough, just run the cable from the rear brakes to the bracket that attaches it to the handbrake handle. Nothing is that simple though.

On the left hand side of the car, the cable goes above the fuel line. To get it there, I needed to disconnect the fuel line at the tank.

No problem, I think. I know that the previous owner had drained the tank to inspect it the interior of the tank before starting the car. And while he added some fuel, and I added a little more (left overs from the lawn mower) over time, there couldn't be much, right?

Well, you know the answer. 8 gallons. Unscrew the drain plug, fill a container, replace drain plug, inspect for contaminants (it was very, very clean) then dump into my old truck's gas tank.  I came away smelling slightly of unleaded fuel and the truck ended up with a full tank but overall not as bad as it could have been.

The fuel out of the way, it was easy enough hooking up the cable. And now at least I have some form of braking other than the sole of my shoe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sometimes a little inspiration helps

This morning I headed over to Albany, Oregon to a car show. Since it was co-sponsored by the local chapter of the Studebaker's Driver's club, I figured I'd get to see a few Studes there.
Here's a few highlights. Sorry for the quality of the pics it was very bright outside--the weather was wonderful for a car show, but not so much for photography. Click on any picture for a larger view.

A beautiful 61 Hawk
Love those fins! (same car as above)
A '53 Champion next to a '47 M-5 Pickup as they wait to move onto the main field
This is a dressed-up 289 V-8 (like the one going in my car) in a gorgeous Lark Wagon.
What a fun start to the weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another photo of the rear end? Really? C'mon!

Yes, it is a little repetitive, but if you're a careful observer you'll notice that the rear end is positioned on the springs (it is even bolted down) and the drive shaft is fitted.
You might also note the poor quality paint job I did on the brake drum/hub.
So a little more progress--what you don't see is that I needed to re-size the inner sleeve of the rear bushing. Most of my time this evening was carefully removing about 1/8-inch off of each side of the sleeve with a small cut-off wheel on my dremel.

Now the question remains: will the drive shaft work? Sure, it fit at the bottom of the travel of the rear end, but it was very tight. If it works, there is a small hope that I would be able to drive the car on International Drive Your Studebaker Day using the rest of the existing drive train. But to accomplish that, I still need to finish the brakes: complete installation of the hard lines and install the updated master cylinder and associated components. And, given that the rear shocks were completely non-functional, I'd need to replace the front shocks as well. And, of course, I need to finish up this install (the shocks and parking brake lines remain.)

Time permitting, I'll install the rear shocks tomorrow and slowly lower the car to the ground to see if the drive shaft binds. I still need to lower it to put the suspension in the proper position to torque the fasteners on the springs anyway, so that will be a good test.

(Now that I think about it, I'm very suspicious that it won't work, so I'll disconnect the shaft, lower it and then reconnect it just to be safe.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A few minutes of work tonight

I got the leaf springs back today, so fit them into place.
starting to look like a car again

Now I know if you work on cars you're thinking, "You got the springs back? What, did you get them re-arched?" No, I had the old bushings pushed out and the new ones pressed in at a local machine shop on their press. Only took a few minutes (and a few bucks) but having fought with old bushings before I knew that it simply wasn't worth my time to struggle with them.  Yes, yes, I whimped out. But I still have skin on my knuckles--at least for another day--and didn't hit myself on the thumb with a 5-lb hammer.

The springs are now in position. And since I'm working by myself, I came up with the brilliant idea (pats self on back) to put the rear end in place and up on jack stands before putting the springs in. Now all I have to do is lower it one side at a time into place on the springs--that's something I can do by myself. I'd never be able to get it in position over the springs by myself.

One thing I noticed that might come back to haunt me--the shackles (these are pieces of metal that hang down to support the rear of the leaf spring) are 3.5 inches on one side, and 3 inches on the other. Perhaps this is by design, but I'm thinking that at some point over the years a previous owner may have done that to compensate for a sagging spring. If that's the case (and it is uneven when I get everything in place) I'll have to find another pair so they match. [Update: this is by design on the Champion cars, supposedly to counteract the weight of the driver.]

More to come soon.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A busy day

After an early morning hike with the dogs in Mac Forest I started the deconstruction of the rear end of the car. First I removed the differential.
The 3rd member. It is a little greasy--and this was after I cleaned it (in the car. . .this is the part I couldn't see well)

Followed by the springs, shocks and associated bits.
I had to remove the muffler and tailpipe to get the parking brake cable out.
Overall, it went easier than I expected, but took the good part of the day to get everything out of there (I was taking my time, with plenty of breaks, including lunch). And I still have a little bit of work remaining--the shackle bolts are a little stuck. But here's what I'm left with--I even hit it with the pressure washer when I was finished to wash off the caked-on dirt.
At least I didn't have to remove the gas tank--that's the drive shaft hanging down between the jack stands.
Tomorrow I'll see if I can free up those two shackle bolts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It has begun again

I'm back at it.

Not much to report, and nothing to take a picture of, but I "closed up the pumpkin" [that is, I replaced the differential cover] and filled the beast with fresh synthetic gear oil designed for use in limited slip differentials. I hope to remove the old differential, rear springs and rear shocks on the car this weekend.

Heads up though, even if I get the old stuff removed this weekend (and that'll be a job since it has been in there for a while) I won't be able to put the new one in. I discovered that the new heavy duty rear leaf springs I got with the drive train package are different years (one is probably a 57, the other a 58 or 59), and so of the 4 rear spring bushings I purchased, only 3 fit. Not a worry--the difference is minimal and will not impact performance. While a new one is on its way from Indiana, it will likely not arrive in time for me to get it pressed in to install this weekend.

Felt pretty good to turn a wrench, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There's a box from Canada next to my front door.

Whatever could it be?
I decided a while ago to stop boring you with pictures of boxes full of gaskets, seals, bearings and the like. After all, my dog was getting bored posing for the pics and that was about the only way I could make that stuff look interesting to anyone other than me (or that strange person down the street you happen to know who may be getting an old Studebaker back on the road.)

This one was different, though.

A few weeks ago, I made contact with a man from up the road in British Columbia, Carey, via the Studebaker Driver's Club Forum. Carey had discovered a radio from an old Studebaker amongst his Grandfather's old things and instead of throwing it out, decided to see if anyone could use it in their project. It had sat on a shelf since the 60's, but after a query discovered that it was from a 53 or 54 model so would be appropriate for my car. We had a few e-mails back and forth and he shipped the radio my way for evaluation. There's a lot to be said for good folks within the old car community, and I'm glad to be able to keep a little part of Carey's old family alive.

Here's what she'll look like in the dash. This is a pic of the one I received.
With the possible exception of the new horn button, this is the shiniest thing on/in my car right now. But unlike everything else in my cheap ol' car, this beast is the top of the line model--it was an $81 option back in the day, which, according to a inflation calculator I found online, would now be a hefty $684.77.  That's a lot for an AM radio, even if equipped with push buttons and 8 tubes.

Oh yes, I said tubes. This thing is pre-transistor, and it is huge.

13 lbs of glass and steel (and well, a little bit of fiberboard on the back side of things)
Those who have been following along faithfully are thinking, "But Dave, aren't you going to update the car to 12-volt negative ground with the engine swap?" The short answer is yes. But I have a couple of options with this system. Regardless of what I do, I'm going to have it gone through by experts. I'd hate to get my car finished only to have the radio catch fire (or, more likely, just not work properly--40-odd years is a long time to sit on a shelf.) While those experts are in there, they can either convert it to 12-volt negative ground during the rebuild, or they can simply replace the old tube electronics and substitute in a nice stereo AM/FM digital unit with iPod connectivity while still retaining the use of all the old controls. So I'd have the best of both worlds.

However, there is something about the warm sound of an old amplifier, combined with the distinctive smell of the tubes and the gentle crescendo of sound as the they come up to operating temperature. It is a unique experience that most of the drivers in the world today will likely never experience.

Utility over nostalgia? Boy, that's a tough one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Leapin' Studebaker!

She's flyin' out of the garage.
Nothing big to report--I've finally finished up that bass guitar, so after I build a shipping crate and send it off, the rest of my summer will be dedicated to this beast. Here it is lined up in the driveway, up on my new sturdy ESCO jack stands, ready for the rear end swap (which will clear up a lot of space in my garage so I can return this to indoors work).

For now, she's up in the air, with all the bolts around the rear springs, shocks, shackles, etc. soaking in penetrating oil. I'm not expecting them to give up without a fight!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm not sure I'm tall enough!

I put the engine on the stand today (finally) and wow, is that thing way up in the air.

Doesn't look nearly as filthy in the picture.

Back to the waiting game. Can't do much to it at this point until parts come in but at least I can move it around the garage.