Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Just picked up my flywheel at the machine shop:

Starting to think about throwing this car back together soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rear Vent Window Frame Prep

The rear vent window housing is metal and needs to be painted to match the rest of the interior trim. I pulled the rear vent windows out of storage this weekend and went to work.

 First, I need to remove the rubber gasket that, after 60 years of baking in the California Desert ("It's a dry heat, man!") it has become as hard as a rock--if you'll recall, large pieces of it fell out when I opened the windows after first getting the car.

To get to the gasket, I need to remove the window. Turning the window over revealed rivets on the back of the hinge that holds the window in place.

After hitting the domed rivet with a punch so I can get my drill bit started, I drill through the rivets and the window slides out.

Then, using a dull, old chisel I remove the old rubber seal.

That old paint, and the small bits of surface rust, need to go. Out with the sandpaper.


After about two hours, the first window frame is ready for paint. I think I'll take a little break before starting on the second!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Killing time

I visited the Studebaker today.

It still hasn't gotten into the paint booth (they got a little busy in the last couple of weeks--but the shop manager told me that they plan on getting on it pretty heavy next week as they need to get it out of the way.) This said, I'm seeing some things that changed since the last time: on the front of the passenger door they weren't happy with the shut line, so they were welding to build up material and then were grinding it to the proper profile. I'm happy to see that attention to detail, and I'm afraid to tell them that the 53 Studebaker coupes are known for their poor panel gaps since they were rushed.

I'm continuing to work on the garage--I tore out a poorly constructed wall-to-wall bench to give me more floor room in front of the car. I'm waiting for the temps to reach the 60s on an afternoon so I can paint with the doors and windows open. Things are still on track for having everything ready when the car comes back from paint.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Starter

I decided to give one of the new "mini" starters a try in my Studebaker. It arrived in the mail today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bring on the Shine!

I picked up my chrome from the platers today:

This is one of the grill inserts
I haven't polished the lens yet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Visit to the Body Shop

Stopped by the Body Shop at lunch today to check on the progress. Looks like the new trunk has been mounted and they've pulled the doors back off to fill the few minor dings on them.

Next up--a trip to the paint booth for a second coat of primer. After that, it will be blocked (sanding with long sanding blocks to ensure the surface is perfectly flat) then back to the paint booth for paint. We're getting close!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Man can Only Clean so Much. . .

I've been cleaning and reorganizing my garage. We're not just talking about sweeping the floor and putting away tools--this is a "I'm going to paint the walls and ceilings and tear out that crappy workbench that came with the place" sort of clean up. I figured that I had some time with the car gone--and it will be nice to have a clean, well-lit place to do some of the assembly work on the Stude.

But after putting up with the remnants of the flu for a week, I decided to give myself a bit of a break from all that cleaning/painting. So I threw the new intake manifold on the engine.

It was fun turning a wrench again--it had been too long. I even threw the distributor back in (although I plan on replacing this with something a bit more modern.) Ok, now back to painting.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Treasure Hunt Results

I headed over to Studebaker John's Saturday morning to pick up some needed parts--and as is typically the case, I came away with a few unexpected extras.

From left to right: The very elusive Studebaker headrests, a 4-bbl manifold, and a passenger-side trunk hinge.

In addition to the parts above (the rust on the headrest looks much worse in the picture than it is in person) I also picked up new 12-volt defroster and heater blower motors as well as a 12-volt wiper motor.  A very nice haul!

Monday, October 8, 2012

That was fast...

My trunklid arrived today in great shape--3 days earlier than expected. Go Greyhound!

My car is back off the "waiting for parts" list at the body shop. Onward!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the kindness of studebaker officiandos, a trunklid is on its way.

No rust and no creases! Such a beauty.
Still shines.

Fingers crossed, it will arrive early next week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Waiting. . .

Rubber should be shipped this week.

Waiting to hear back from one of the two possible local sources for a trunk lid.

I'll be busy soon enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On the rack!

Before they did the final tweaking on all the shut lines the men at the body shop wanted to make sure that the frame of my car was aligned properly. It is, after all, 60 years old and a lot of things can happen to a car in that time and if it needs to be straightened now is the time to do it. So onto the frame rack it went.

Ignore the hood alignment--the bump stops are not in yet.
I'm happy to report that the frame alignment is right where it is supposed to be--it is nicely straight and square! No adjustment necessary.

In other news, I ordered a "rubber kit" for the body today--there's a surprising number of cushions, seals, weatherstripping, and flappy-things on this car. Since every piece of rubber on this thing was hard as a rock (it really was) a kit was the most cost effective way of getting those things. Hopefully it will arrive soon so the hood alignment can be completed.

The pace has slowed down a bit, but I'm still seeing signs of progress.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Body Shop, Day 3

It has been awhile since it has been all together like this--it was nice to see it. Things are going well--the gap alignment is very decent (with the exception of small minor areas around the front fenders, which is typical of 53 Studebakers) and so far there have been no major surprises.

Well, ok, almost no major surprises. One thing has come up: the trunk lid has been bent in front of the right hinge and was repaired poorly. I'm now searching for a replacement. While it could be repaired--anything is possible--it would be better if I could find a nicer example.

Those of you who have done body work will likely notice the door is too far in at the back--this is because I had left the latch for that side in the garage. That's why I was there today--delivering some parts.

If this pace continues it won't be too long the until secret of my color selection is out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Home (for a bit)

My Studebaker, after a busy weekend of going over any little area that needed new metal after media blasting, was loaded onto the flatbed again and hauled the 5 blocks to the body shop. There it will have a couple areas repaired that I didn't have the equipment (or knowledge/skills) to do properly myself, followed up by block sanding and paint.

To do it correctly, they're going to reassemble the car to make sure all the body panels line up. After dropping off the car early this morning, I went to work--and they called to ask if I could bring in the hood hinges and the radiator surround. When I brought the parts in at lunch, they were already working on the small dent I wanted them to pull out of the panel at the rear of the trunk. I was very surprised (and happy) to see them start on it so soon--I expected to see it sit for a bit.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Quick status update

  1. Dash chrome was put in the tanks today.
  2. Car goes to the body shop for blocking (sanding to a flat surface) and paint on September 10.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back, in black

Back home from media blaster. Looking good!
Yesterday afternoon I was able to bring the Stude home--everything looks good. I have a few small areas of old plastic body filler that I need to take care of and a couple of small rust pinholes to fill in. But it should be ready to go to the body shop when they get an opening, "in a couple of weeks."

Not holding my breath on the last part--but I now have plenty to do in the meanwhile.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A little this and that

Didn't do much Stude stuff this weekend. On Saturday my entire day was spent buying a new car to replace our daily driver; it is amazing how much time it takes to buy a car.

Today (Sunday) after doing a few things with the new car, I decided I needed to make a little more room in the garage for the time when the Stude comes back home for final assembly. So I started by pulling the transmission off the old flathead 6 and moving the two 3-spd transmissions into storage. Then it was more cleaning and organizing.  Unfortunately, nothing really worthy of a picture.

I also pulled all the painted interior trim and the dash into the garage so I can get it prepped to paint--it is thinner than the body metal so didn't trust to have it media blasted. So this week it will be a continuation of the garage cleaning, and when I get bored with that, sanding on the trim.

Hopefully, the blaster will finish with my car this week. . .

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A tale of two trans

I'm a little tired of doing body work and paint prep, so with the car gone to the media blasters it gave me the opportunity to do a little mechanical work. Time to mate up the new T-5z trans to the old Studebaker bellhousing.

The operating theater is ready to begin the transplant
First, I removed the bellhousing from the old transmission.

That was easy. Only 4 bolts.
 It is amazing how close these two transmissions are in size.

The old transmission is only an inch or two longer

Then a little clean up and a fresh coat of paint (only on the outside.)

Sorry it is so blurry, my phone kept focusing on the cardboard.
Then, using an adapter sold by Dan Giblin, which includes a plate that fits between the bellhousing and the trans and a new steel bearing retainer for the front of the trans that has been machined to the proper diameter and length, I mated the two.

Here's the view from the working end. The kit also included a new throwout bearing (also adapted to fit) and a pilot bushing.

I've never seen a pilot bushing like that. Or a throwout bearing with a grease fitting.
Felt good to turn a wrench again.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

SDC 2012 Pacific Can Am Zone Meet

Yesterday afternoon found me heading north on I-5 to Tacoma, where the Studebaker Drivers Club Zone Meet for my region was being held.  Although I was unable to stay for the entire meet, I was able to meet up with a bunch of Studebaker folks and see some beautiful cars. Here's a few of my favorites:

They were all great, but I have to admit that my favorite of the meet was the two-tone green 41 Champion Business coupe (pictures 5,6, and 8). And the 54 Champion Coupe in the 3rd picture convinced me that the coupes do look good in two-tone!

There was even a 49 Pickup that had been converted to electric.

You can see more of my pics here:

Flicker Photo Set

I did come away with a couple of things from the swap meet: a mounting plate that adapts the shift tunnel to the 4-speed floor shift which was used in the GT Hawk (which should work as a good starting point for my conversion) and, for only $15, a Nocturne Blue over Maui Blue 53 Studebaker Commander Hardtop:

It is surprisingly heavy

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm sick of it, just haul it away!

Mark, tow-driver extraordinaire, chains down the Stude
Ha, ha! Not quite. But finally, some action. The Stude was hauled off to the media blaster first thing this morning. 

Beat-up old pickup loaded with parts

Dick Bunce, the blaster, was very happy about the gauge of metal involved--says it makes his work much easier. And Mark, the tow-truck driver, had never heard of or seen a Studebaker before; I'm guessing from him taking a few snap shots with his phone that he thought it was interesting.

The car is getting completely stripped to bare metal--interior, exterior, top and bottom. It will then be cleaned off and immediately primed with an epoxy primer.

Depending on what they uncover (I'm not expecting many surprises) the body will either head back to my garage for a few additional repairs, or on to the body shop for prep and paint. Fingers crossed it won't be coming back here until it is nice and pretty.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

No more undercoating

Ok, almost. But all the areas that matter.

While I used a needle scaler and multi-tool on the removeable fenders, I didn't want to have another noise complaint, so for the last week I've been going out with an old, cheap wood chisel and using it as a scraper. That did a great job for most parts, but in the area right above the rear wheels (the inner fender) it was on there tough.

So looking on the web for other solutions, I stumbled across someone who recommended an air chisel at its lowest setting. I thought it was worth a try--if it was loud, I'd go back to the hand chisels and just suffer through it.

Fortunately, while loud in the closed garage, it wasn't so loud that it carried much beyond the garage--and it made fairly quick work of the old, brittle undercoating. Oh, and for those who are concerned about my health, I wore a respirator and a face shield while doing this work.

Now back to waiting for an opening at the media blaster.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My first noise complaint

Removing the undercoating is a noisy affair. The large metal panels vibrate with the tools. So while I hoped the noise wouldn't carry far, I did have a complaint from one of my neighbors who was walking past; it was friendly in nature--the neighbors have been supportive of my efforts. And I want them to remain that way. Fortunately, I was nearly done--so I quickly finished the piece (it only took two minutes.)

I had two pieces left, the trunk lid and the hood. The trunk was a piece of cake--it had a tar-based coating so it was easy to scrape off using a heat gun.

But the hood worried me. For some reason, it had been coated underneath with the same PVC-based undercoating that was used on the rest of the car. And that had required the down-sized equivalent of a jack hammer to get rid of it. What was I going to do?

Fortunately, all the fluids leaking out of the car, and the constant heat cycles, had broken down the undercoating. In certain areas, like the area over the battery, it peeled off in big flakes. And in other areas, although it was fairly solid, it was much softer than what I'd dealt with before; by keeping a flexible putty knife sharp with a small file, I was able to get it off relatively fast--and quiet.

Now it is just a matter of waiting for a place to open up for me at the blaster.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hmmm, a box!

I like pulling in my driveway after work and seeing a box waiting for me.

The yellow tape says "Heavy"

Ah, I know what it is:

For my gear head friends, that is a Tremec (Borg Warner) Ford Racing T-5 (Z series) transmission. The regular T5 that comes in the 5.0 L Mustang does not have a high enough torque rating for my little 4.7 L V-8, so I had to go with a beefier model. Plus the racing series has a 2.95:1 first gear, which will be a better match to the rest of my drive train.

Now I'll have to get rid of that shifter on my steering column. Part of me is sad to see it go--but this is a much better solution for a daily driver.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Will the undercoating ever end?

Getting everything ready to go to the media blaster next week. Unfortunately, all that undercoating needs to come off. So I went and got the rear fenders, the hood and the front cowling and got to work.
All gone!

Alternating between a oscillating multi-tool with a flexible scraper attachment and a pneumatic needle scaler, I'm getting pretty fast at this (well, the rear fender took about 3.5 hours.)  I managed to wear out my multi-tool (it was a cheap, poor quality tool) by the time I got to the second piece, the front cowling, but I was far enough along that I could finish up with the needle scaler.

To be honest, I'd just use the needle scaler, but it is a little louder and while my air compressor is a nice size for a hobbiest, the 15 gallon tank doesn't last very long powering this particular tool.  I think I'll buy a better quality multi-tool (that is much cheaper than a larger compressor!)

And speaking of spending, I also bought a couple of objects this weekend on the internet. I'll keep those as a surprise until they arrive.

Friday, July 20, 2012


This morning I loaded up the chrome and took it to the platers.

The chrome doesn't mind the hair and muddy footprints in the back of our "dog car"
I'll get it back in 2 months. And my pocket will be lighter by about $2k. But that includes straigtening the front bumper, removing dents from the back, removing a small dent from one of the pot-metal gril surrounds (a difficult task) and a lot of pocks that will need to be dealt with. And the result will be show quality. (There's a bunch more little bits in the bottom of the box that you can't see, by the way--dash parts, tail lights, door handles, window cranks. . .)

Oh, and finally my first choice in media blasting is finally back from vacation. I'm hauling the car across the river to his shop towards the end of next week.

So for now, my job is shifting from being a laborer to being a general contractor.  I think, in some ways, I preferred being a laborer: it was fun (most of the time) and easier on the bank account. But there are some things I just can't do (chrome plating) and other things I know that I wouldn't be happy with the results if I did do it myself (painting). Now here's hoping that the painting is done before the chrome is!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hurry up and wait

You think it would simply be a matter of looking up the numbers of a few local businesses that do media blasting, give them a call and arrange to have all the paint and crud stripped off your old Studebaker.

I'm sure this would be the case if I lived in a major metropolitan area.

But here in my small-town corner of Oregon, there are only 2 media blasters. One--the one I'd prefer to do my car, hasn't returned my calls for the last 2 weeks.  The other, who I finally called since the other wasn't responding, told me that he only blasted the edges--he wouldn't do the flat areas of the large panels because he was afraid of the heat warping it.

This was not reassuring.

So this weekend I ignored my car. I worked on other projects around the house and pondered. What to do?

Then, this afternoon, I remembered reading in the Studebaker Driver's Club forums about how Avanti owners would use a razor blade scraper to remove paint, since the fiberglass their cars were made of required special care. And I thought what the hell; anything is worth a try. So I rolled the car out of the garage, managed to find my razor blade scraper without much effort--and even a couple of blades.

It was amazing.

I stripped 3/4 of the roof down to primer in about 30 minutes. I only stopped because I'd managed to break both of my blades.

It would've taken me at least twice as long to remove it with a rotary tool and abrasive
I'll pick up more razor blades so I can finish the top, then try a couple of the bigger panels. If things go as well as the roof, I'll at least save money on the media blasting. I'll also explore to see if there are ways to get into all the nooks and crannies--maybe I won't need to media blast at all?

Sunday, July 8, 2012


In a fit of "you know, that would look better if, " I decided to complete the removal of the tar-like soundproofing on the sides of the trunk.

If you'll recall, this involves warming it with a heat gun and scraping it off with a putty knife.  While a bit tedious, this wasn't that bad of a job in the winter. But summer finally arrived here in the Northwest, and temperatures in the upper 80's added a whole different feel to it.

Tools of the trade--the removed bits are already brittle, waiting for the shop vac.
This said, it didn't take very long, and now it is ready for media blasting.