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!