Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Converting gauge cluster to 12-volt

First, let me start this post by letting everyone know that I actually own two gauge clusters for the Studebaker, and that through this process I will be combining parts from both as I do this conversion; it is not my intention to confuse anyone, although if you'd like to turn this into a game of spotting the differences between the pictures, feel free.

Ok, with the official disclaimer out of the way, let's launch into the project.

I've done two things to the Studebaker resulting in a major impact on the gauges: first, I've put a different engine in it, which has different sensor output than the gauges are used to receiving, and second, I've switched it from 6-volt positive ground to 12-volt negative ground (the modern standard for the majority of automobiles.) While it would be possible to hook the gauges up to a twelve-volt signal using a step-down converter such as a Runtz capacitor, I would still not be sure how accurately they would read with the signal from the V8's sensors.  Fortunately, there's a relatively painless solution: the individual gauges from a 63-66 Studebaker Lark will fit with minor modification and are a match to the sensors on the new engine.

Here's the gauge cluster at the start:


The piece that contains the gauges detaches from the rest of the assembly by removing 6 screws:

Next, the old brittle wires were removed by pulling the bulb housings and removing the nuts from the back of the gauges.

The gauges are now easily removed.

Of course, I wanted to see if the new gauges really fit, so I tossed the temperature gauge in place. Then it was cleaning time.

The light, robin-egg blue color supposedly reflects a softer light across the gauges.  It cleaned up nicely--no need to repaint. Time to trim the two lower gauges (the others were just fine) and then  throw everything in place.

Hmm,  should I paint the speedometer needle orange, or the other needles white? Although that would be less work, I'm not sure how well that would go with the gold trim. Time for more cleaning. . .light soap and water for the glass bits, and a bit of microfiber and wax for the metal parts, with a light coating and buffing over the glass as well.

Complete--for now. I need put the lights in place (they simply snap into holes in the back) but want to see if I can source new replacements for those. And there needs to be a bit more cleaning around the switches, but that will wait for another day.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Not so fast, Houston

Sometimes I act before fully thinking through a problem. Not very often, thankfully, but it does happen occasionally.

I figured out that the steering box has room for a tiny bit of adjustment, and, after loosening the three bolts that hold it to the frame discovered that small movement at the fulcrum made a difference of several inches at the end of that lever. Here it is, in the proper position:


So where exactly does the act come in to play here? Well, I bought an Avanti steering column to match the Avanti steering wheel that I obtained a few months ago and it is being shipped here now.  So, if nothing else, I'll have a couple of options.  There's still a bit of work to get my old steering wheel to match up to the new column (for instance, the steering shaft diamater is smaller than the original) but at least it the wheel won't be resting on my legs when I'm driving.

I also got the parts I needed to install the rear shocks today. Of course, nothing could just be a bolt in--the lower mount that came with the shocks was a slightly larger diameter than the hole in the spring plate.

That shock mount is really thick!
After drilling the plate to the right diameter, everything just slid together nicely.

Getting closer!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Houston, we have a problem!

It was too cold to do too much work this weekend in my unheated garage (my little space heater just couldn't keep up with temps in the single digits) but there were a few things I could do that wouldn't take much time and I could still feel like I accomplished something.

One of those things was to install the old bench seat in the car to make it easier for my assistant to depress the brake pedal when we bleed the brakes in the near future. The frame barely fit behind the shifter, but with a little wriggling I managed to get everything bolted down. Unfortunately, it was then that I discovered the steering column seemed unusually close to the top of my thighs.

Time to put the dash in place to see if I'm just imaging things.

That's a good 2 to 3 inches below where it should be.

Apparently, the mounting bracket on the GT Hawk steering box, which bolted right up to the frame, is clocked slightly different from the earlier box that came in my champion.

This leaves me with a few options:
  • I could go back to my original manual steering box and column. The ratio is the same as the existing box, but would require a modified pitman arm.
  • I could make adjustments to the frame to change the angle of the column. While this seems the easiest option, the fear here would be that this would weaken the frame. The mounting bracket on the box itself is integral, and is cast in such a way that it is not conducive to the necessary modifications.
  • I could modify the GT column, shortening the shaft and the column, terminating it at the firewall and adding a couple of u-joints in the shaft to join it to the steering box. This would require an addition of a plate and mounting bracket to hold the column in place at the firewall.
  • I could buy an aftermarket steering column and, as above, terminate it at the firewall. This would save time while adding the advantage of plug and play wiring for the turn signal switch. However, it would likely result in the inability to use an original Studebaker steering wheel--something I would prefer to retain.
So I have a few things to ponder, which is just fine for now--I'm not too anxious to return to that cold garage.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The "it was bugging me" weekend

When I purchased the 64 GT Hawk drive train from a fellow local SDC member, he'd mentioned that he'd recently done the rear brakes. And of course, I had no reason to doubt him but I've always wondered if that had included new wheel cylinders. When I installed the rear end and set up the brake lines, I flushed everything out as good as I could; nevertheless, I still had that nagging feeling that I really should have inspected things and replaced the wheel cylinders.

So I ordered new wheel cylinders (they're readily available and inexpensive) and this weekend popped the drums off for a look around:

Things were a little dirty (as expected) but there was plenty of pad left and the inside of the drums were in good shape. So I popped off the springs, removed the wheel cylinder, doused everything with brake cleaner and slapped things back together with the new cylinders. It was then lather, rinse repeat on the other side.  That's one less thing to worry about.

Then it was on to the leaking pinion seal.

First, a quick clean up of the area around the nut, as well as marking the position so I re-install it correctly.

 Then a quick hit with a 1-1/8th inch socket on an impact wrench to remove the nut, followed by more cleaning after letting a little fluid drain out.

Cleaning almost completed.
Next, after a smear of black RTV sealant around the edge and at the back of the splines, I installed the seal using a piece of PVC pipe and a few light taps from a hammer

Then the pinion is slid back into place. A smear of black RTV sealant on the back of the washer, and the washer and nut are put into place and snugged up. Next, I needed a little assistance from my version of the special tool needed to keep the pinion from turning as I snugged that bolt back to 150 ft-lbs.

150 ft-lbs is a LOT on your back under a car

And now I wait 24 hours for the RTV to dry before topping off the fluid.

fingers crossed that did the trick!
Not very exciting, but now I can move on without worry. And my garage floor will be a bit less greasy as well.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holy crossmember, Batman!

It has been a while since I posted--sometimes everyday life gets in the way of getting things done on the Stude: trees drop leaves on the yard, gutters need to be readied for another winter season, old shoulder injuries get aggravated, leading you to spending more time sitting in the easy chair than laying under an old car wrestling with a large, somewhat heavy, unwieldy piece of iron.

Okay, I'm done whining now.

As I'd mentioned earlier, I'd picked up what's known in Studebaker circles as a batwing. Studebaker started installing a batwing on their hardtop (Starliner) models in late 53, and had them on all coupe and hardtop models (Starlight, Starliner, then the various Hawks) for the rest of production. The batwing added much-needed stiffening to the frame, not only tying the two sides together, but adding strength to the body mount under the outer edge of the cowl.

Since it had been under a car for over 50 years, it was a little rusty. I played around with the idea of cleaning it up with a wire brush, but after a good look I decided to have it sandblasted and primed by the same folks who did the rest of the car. A few days later, I picked it up, then sat it aside as I worked on other parts of the car.

Cleaned, primed, painted and resting on the front of the car, waiting for me to get around to it.
Of course, I needed a few parts--12, 3/8th inch diameter bolts, matching nuts and washers, and some reinforced rubber pads that fit between the batwing and the body mounts.

Next, some small body mount plates needed to be removed. This involved drilling out a few rivets, then unbolting one bolt on each side.

The batwing could then be maneuvered into place. Since I'm working by myself, I found that balancing it on a floor jack helped a lot (although I did drop it on my ear once.)

Then it became a struggle--the fit is incredibly tight, so I had to lightly file the bolt holes to give me a little wriggle room. A lot of prying, flexing, tapping lightly with a hammer...and finally, I managed to bolt it into place loosely. I then had to drill a hole in the body support for the outside bolt (seen at the top of the picture below) on each side, add another rubber pad, and once everything was in place, snug everything down.

That took a lot longer than I expected. I'll be glad when I finish up the work on the underside of the car.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Clutch operating shaft install

With the change to a 5-speed transmission, neither the stock clutch operating shaft or the bracket that holds it in place would fit. I noticed in a thread on the Studebaker Driver's Club forum that others had used a shaft that had a curve in it to make it shorter, but still leave the rod that goes to the bell housing in the correct position.  And while I had a picture of the shaft in question, I had no idea of which particular model of Studebaker it had come from.

I needed help, and asked the forum. Not only did they identify the shaft in question as one out of a 4-speed equipped Hawk or GT Hawk, a fellow SDC Member from Canada had one on a '61 Hawk parts car.  So, thanks to Gord, I soon had the correct operating shaft for this swap in hand.

First, a little clean up with a wire brush
But I was still missing the ability to connect the right side of the operating shaft to the vehicle. It was time to make a simple bracket.

First, drill a hole in some stock:

Is it just me, or is there a bit of a wobble in that bit? Might be time for some new bearings in the drill press.
A little clean up:

Then a 90 degree bend (hammer time!):

Then under the car to measure, cut to length, measure again, drill a hole, mount the pivot pin and dust cover, then put in place:

Time to pull it back off and paint it.
A simple job, but should do the trick. I think I'll go ahead and add a gusset to the side of the 90 degree bend to add a bit of strength, even though it probably isn't needed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rear sway bar installation

This morning I decided to install the heavy duty rear sway bar.

My car did not come with a rear sway bar; fortunately though, it was an option, so the holes were already in the frame for it. And since the new heavy duty front sway bar is about twice the diameter as the stock one, I really need to have a matched one in the rear to make the car handle normally.

So, car safely on jack stands, I head under to remove the metal plate that holds the rear axle and springs in place. First off comes the shock, and the four nuts holding it on.

Then the new plate, with the extra tab for the sway bar drop links, is bolted into place.

Next up, the bushings and mounts are put on the sway bar (the hardest thing I had to do during this procedure.)

Then the sway bar is bolted in place...

In the top center of the pic you can see the back of the transmission, visible through the center bearing housing.
Then the drop links are added, completing the job.

And yes, the front pinion seal on the differential is leaking.  :(
 Much easier than I had anticipated, although having recently swapped out the rear end made it much easier. Careful observers will note that the rear shocks are missing; I have to replace those with newer models that match the new plates. There is always an unexpected price to pay for modifications.

And speaking of the unexpected, I was removing a bolt on the top of the frame to clear the opening for the sway bar bushing mount. I put a hand wrench on the top of the bolt, and, since it was resting against the frame and seemed to be secure, I left it in place while reaching for my socket wrench. When I turned back around, the hand wrench came flying off, landing tip first (unfortunately, not the box end) on my forehead. There was a bit of swearing, followed by more swearing when I realized I was bleeding. A quick run inside to clean it up, apply pressure and a butterfly, and I was back out to finish up the job.

One of the many costs of building a restorod

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A little this and that

Just a quick update: I'm still in waiting mode for a couple of things, but my short motor mounts and the remainder of the pieces I needed to bolt down my valve covers arrived, so I got those things taken care of this weekend.

I didn't take any pics of the motor mount install, but it was very simple--attach the engine hoist to the two forward most bolts on the intake manifold, remove the nuts on the mounts, raise the engine, remove the mounts, slide in the new ones, lower into place, tighten things back up. Pretty easy, and I'm very happy about the angle of the transmission now--it looks like I can get by with using a two-piece drive shaft so I won't have to remove that cross member.

New mount in place

Today, I had some chores to take care of around the house, but did have a chance to get those valve covers buttoned down. The breather caps are stock Studebaker, down to the STP stickers.

The engine is a little dusty from sitting so long, but I think it is looking pretty good.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Progress report

Things have slowed considerably.

This is mostly due to modifications I've chosen for the car: had I kept the car stock, it simply would've been a matter of putting things back on the way they were removed. But first, let's show some accomplishments:

I took a trip over to Studebaker John's last weekend and picked up a few parts--a new fan assembly (shown installed in the picture above) some gas pedal linkage (installed but not visible in the picture) and a frame strengthening component known as a "bat wing" in Studebaker circles. Right now, that looks like a long, rusty piece of metal--I'll do some before and after pics when I install that.

So, since I'm still waiting for my "short" motor mounts to arrive, I decided to work on some other things. I experimented with a few clutch actuator rods, but didn't quite find one that was the right size: I'll either have to modify one, make a new one, or find the right one from a used parts vendor.

Since that was a bust, I decided it would be a good time to install the rear anti-sway bar (mainly because I was tired of tripping over it in the garage.) This started well--there were already holes in the frame for the mounts. But I'm missing a couple of pieces: the pieces that link the bar to the rear axle plates and the axle plates provided with the kit were for a newer Studebaker than mine, so my shocks won't match up. I'll give the guy who makes the kit a call this week to see if I can get those things shipped my way. Fingers crossed, I won't need to change out my rear shocks since they're brand new.

The moral of this story is modifications might be nice in the end, but they sure add a bit of time to a project.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Small Update

I'm waiting for a few more parts to arrive, but I haven't ignored the Stude completely. First, I finished mounting the power steering ram and the mounts for the anti-sway bars.

The sway bar is on the floor, so appears a bit small. I'm going to need a hand installing that.
Then I re-connected the brake pedal assembly and started to re-connect the clutch pedal, but since I'm not happy with the angle of the engine/transmission assembly and since I need to modify the inner mount against the new transmission, decided it is best to wait until I lower the front of the engine. So I'm ordering shorter motor mounts for the front. They should be on the way.

And, since I'm a bit closer and I found a 15% off sale, I ordered a new carburetor--an Edelbrock 1403, which is a good match for the size of my engine.

I've talked to the body shop, and I'll have it with me a while longer; the goal is to have it go into the body shop for a quick turn-around this time. So I'm going to get as much done as I can with the car during the time I have it until they have an opening. So more updates soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Today is International Drive Your Studebaker Day.

I don't think I'm going to make it. But I did get the adapters that fit on my spindles so at least the car is rolling again. So, in honor of IDYSD, I rolled it out of the garage for a pic.

Happy IDYSD everyone.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Keeping busy

Sunday found me heading out to clean up the garage a bit. First, I put the old, flat-head 6 that came in the Stude on my engine stand so I have a bit more room on the garage floor. Then I headed under the car to bolt down the mounts.

It was then that I discovered that while the front motor mounts had slipped into place, the studs on the rear mount (on the engine bell-housing) were still resting on top of the cross member. Ah, I figure, they're really close to the holes--I'll just grab the tail end of the transmission and wriggle them into place.

It wouldn't budge.

I discovered that the back of the transmission where the shifter connects was resting very, very firmly against the transmission tunnel. Easy enough to fix: I need to cut a hole out of the tunnel for the shifter anyway. So out with the cut-off discs.

It was easy to wriggle the trans into place after that; notice the little half-moon shaped area at the front of the cut? I needed to remove that to have enough clearance to move the trans, but now that it is in place, I'll fill that in with a bit of sheet metal just to make things pretty.

This evening I finally got the engine and trans securely bolted in place. And since my new front shocks arrived, I went ahead and installed them.

That's a shock in there. Honest.
Next up, I put the flywheel inspection plate in place...

Apologies for the blurry picture, but to be honest, it really isn't all that exciting.
And then I installed the new, shorty starter.

That's enough work for a Monday.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Heavy Lifting Saturday

It was a busy day. I started the day by threading the horn wire through the steering column and then installing it and the pitman arm with its attached power steering control valve and reach rod into the car.

Next, I hooked up the leveler to the engine, pulled out the hoist and got the engine off the stand.

Then I installed the flywheel. When I was torquing the flywheel nuts, I noticed the pilot bushing was still in the crank. Hmm. Well, that shouldn't be a problem, I'll just grab my little hooked screwdriver-like tool I made to clean out the coolant passages in the block and get behind the bushing and pop it out.

Not so much.

Then I tried the old hydraulic method. I packed the opening with grease, slid in a tight fitting dowel rod, and hammered on the end of it. Has always worked like a charm for me before, but not this time. Time for more drastic measures.

I went to Auto Zone and borrowed a pocket hole puller. Took more time to put the tool together than to pull the bushing. What is that saying about having the proper tool?

After that old bushing was out of the way, it was on to the clutch and pressure plate...

Then the transmission is matched up. I always struggle with this a bit, but after a great deal of wriggling, wailing, and whining, it came together.

And now for the fun part--that needs to go into the car. First, of course, I had to remove the shifter. Then it was just a matter of getting it to the right height at the right angle.

With the transmission attached, it was a very tight fit. More cursing ensued, but 30 minutes later, after several adjustments of the angle and height at various stages, I was able to maneuver it into place.

I really need to get that ugly old fan out of there.
Today I'll get everything bolted down--then there's some cleanup to be done around the garage.