The Studeblogger

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Driveshaft Away!

A gorgeous day in SoCal was a great opportunity to get out and under the Studebaker today, and I determined to get the Lark's driveshaft and starter put back in. These are literally the last couple of things I have to do prior to starting her up.

I got started around 11AM (yeah, I know, but it was Sunday!) and began by jacking up the rear of the car and placing jackstands (I know you can't see them in this shot, but believe me -- they're there) under the car.

I got the shaft out of storage in the garage and blew out the yoke end with compressed air. Previously, I'd installed a new Zerk fitting on the front U-joint and lubed it up; I also shot some lube into the tiny port on the rear U-joint so it wouldn't be dry when I put it back on. Then I cleaned up the saddle bolts and got new nuts and lock washers out of my stash (it's amazing how many fasteners you accumulate when you're working on a car!).

Here, I ran into my first minor roadblock. The Shop Manual says to lube the interior splines and exterior machined surface of the front yoke with some ATF before sliding it onto the transmission output shaft. This I dutifully did. Then I removed the painter's tape StudeRich had me put over the rear U-joint caps when we removed it oh those many months ago, and wrestled it under the car. I lifted it over the parking brake cable, slid the yoke onto the output shaft... for about 1/2". It went no further.

Yanking the yoke back out of the trans, I noticed for the first time a thin film of rust coating the output shaft splines. Seems those months of sitting in my driveway had moistened things up a little! One of the hazards of living near the coast.

After brass-brushing the rust off of the exposed splines, it occurred to me that lubing the output shaft, as well as the interior of the yoke, would be a good idea. But how to get ATF up there without lubing myself in the process?

My wife laughs at me for saving old stuff, but my mind went to the pint-sized ATF bottle with the squirt nozzle I'd stashed in the garage a couple of years ago. Perfect! I filled it with new ATF and wiggled it above the output shaft, dripping little dribbles of red all over the shaft and spreading it into the splines.

Another try: I lifted the driveshaft into position, mated the splines and gave a little shove -- and it slid home, pretty as you please! Woo hoo! A minor problem solved! I was feeling pretty good about things and took a few minutes to slide out and converse with my wife, who had just come back from the store and was beginning to talk of lunch (a favorite recurring subject in our house).

After a little break, I got back under and proceeded to mate the rear U-joint with the flange on the axle input shaft. That's when the second problem asserted itself. The bearing caps on the U-joint must fit between little "ears" cast into the saddle of the axle input shaft. But they didn't want to! They were about 1/16" too wide. What was going on here?

What was going on was, even with my careful attention to keeping the bearing caps on the rear U-joint, one had still managed to come partially loose; four of the little roller bearings had fallen out of their race and were stuck in the old grease at the bottom of the cap.

Luckily, none were missing, so the fix was easy: use some forceps to retrieve the bottom-dwellers and put them back where they belonged. With that done, the cap slid back on as it should, and the U-joint seated between the ears like a nice, proper little part.

After that, the hardest part was torquing the nuts at the top of the differential, but with the car's butt hoist high in the air, I was able to roll in from behind on my stomach and torque them down reaching over the axle.

A note here: Because the nuts are so close to the diff housing, you can't use a regular socket with your torque wrench here - there's no room for the socket alone, let alone the head of the wrench. This is where a crows-foot socket comes in handy; just keep it at a 90-degree angle to the wrench handle and you'll be able to set the correct torque.

With the driveshaft successfully installed, I set the Lark back on all fours and proceeded to jack up the front wheels so I could put the starter in. This would be the 2nd time trying: the first time I was stopped cold by a problem that needed answers from someone smarter than I.

Studebaker starters are held on by special bolts as described in this post. They must be inserted through the bellhousing into the starter, and the nuts torqued on from the starter side, because the bolts are too long to go through the starter flange (they are interefered with by the starter snout casting).

Well, my bolts didn't want to go through from the bellhousing side. The threads would enter, but the shoulder portion of the bolt stopped hard against the bellhousing.

Reversing the bolts and sliding them through from the starter side worked... but as previously noted, it's impossible to mount them in that position.

Guys on the SDC Forum suggested that maybe the transmission inspection plate was misaligned, and that I should loosen its bolts and, after aligning the plate and bellhousing holes using a brass drift, try again. That was a couple of weeks ago; trips out of town kept me from revisiting the issue until now.

So I took the inspection plate off altogether and tested the bolts. Nope! Not gonna work! Curious, I got my micrometer out and started measuring things. The bolt shoulder clocked in at 0.437"; the engine side of the mounting hole at 0.439". So far, so good. But the bellhousing side of the mounting hole measured 0.435" - just two-thousandths too small to allow the bolt shoulder through!

I have no explanation for why this is, but I guess I'm going to have to ream the holes a little to let the bolt slip through. Maybe this explains why common bolts were on the starter when I removed it, instead of the Stude starter bolts!

Giving up on the starter, I did accomplish a few more things before quitting time. Like many '60s cars, Larks came with heat riser valves on one exhaust pipe; these have a thermostatic spring that keeps them closed when the engine is cold, sending exhaust gas up to the choke heat stove and helping speed warmup. When the engine is warm, the spring unwinds and the valve opens to let the exhaust flow freely. Well, mine was gone altogether.

A post from on the Forum advised that one from a '60s Caddy would swap in with some small modifications (NAPA part # 600-1824). Specifically, a portion of the butterfly must be removed to clear the Studebaker exhaust manifold opening (shown marked in the adjacent photo). A little Dremel work and it was ready to go in; fit like a glove and worked freely.

While I was under there, I also sanded the rust off the dent the exhaust pipe made in the oil pan when we reinstalled the engine, primed it, and painted it with black Rustoleum.

So now the starter is the only thing keeping me from firing it up! Hopefully I'll be able to solve this problem quickly and next weekend we can bring it back to life.

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