The Studeblogger

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Good news, bad news, good news...! Post 100.

My friend Kirk Richardson came over this morning. Kirk is one of those guys who was born with a wrench in his hand. Worked on machinery all his life, from old cars to Caterpillar tractors - he's got a natural talent for it.

I asked if he'd help me suss the fuel leak that'd been driving me nuts for months, and within 2 minutes, he'd cured the problem. No more leak; my hard line to the carb was dry as a bone on both ends. I guess the car just responded to him :)

Well, since it was running nicely, he started futzing around with the carburetor, and got the idle mixture and idle speed set, then started in on the timing. But he couldn't get it right -- it ran well at idle, but kick up the RPMs to around 2,000 and it missed and sputtered like a PETA member at a hot-dog eating contest. He sucked on the advance hose and got no response either.

So off comes the distributor cap and right away Kirk says "Oh oh." And he grabs the rotor and proceeds to give it a twist. A distributor in good condition would resist this, but mine -well the rotor moved about 20 degrees either way. "What the hell's with that?" he says. "I don't know much about Studebakers, maybe that's supposed to do that... but I ain't never seen anything like that."

So out comes the distributor -- original Prestolite -- and, looking down into its guts, Kirk gives with another "Oh oh." And he points to a slot in the breaker plate where we can clearly see that one of the advance weights has fallen out and is flopping around down there. Over to the tool chest we go, but not before he turns the unit upside down to let the broken spring clip that supposed to be holding the cam to the shaft fall out into his palm.

The further he opened it up, the worse it got. Advance springs laying in the bottom, metal shavings, egged-out holes in the advance yoke, mismatched weights, and a kluged-in vacuum advance can that interfered with the operation of the breaker plate.

He put it all back together and stuffed it back in the hole, and I fired Barney up from inside. It ran better, but obviously was not well yet. "You need a new distributor," says Kirk; "this one's shot."

At this point, we'd been sweating in the sun for a couple of hours and figured we'd gone about as fur' as we could go. On the plus side: Barney ran for longer than he has since the engine went back in, oil pressure was 40 or better at hot idle the whole time, I put the transmission in DRIVE for the first time since the rebuild, and felt it snick into gear smoothly and strain against the brake. This car wants the road, baby!

So I posted to the SDC Forum and within an hour had two offers of a free distributor from guys within an hour's drive of me. And tomorrow I'm going up to Perris to meet Warren Webb, who's giving me a spare Delco distributor!

I keep saying it over and over -- in all the time I've been into old cars, I have never found a group that is as generous, gives as much effort, moral support and pure camaraderie as do the members of the Studebaker Drivers Club. I love these guys, and I feel absolutely at home among them - they've given me more support than I ever would have dreamed of during Barney's re-vivification. I just hope that I can help out someone else in the same way.

100th post: Can you believe that? It's been - wow! - over 3 years since I started this adventure. Over to the right is a cell-phone pic I took the day I bought Barney and drove him home (the longest drive I've yet had in the car, by the way - 5 miles from Carlsbad to Oceanside). A long, strange trip? Sure, but fun too. Thanks for joining me on the ride. Here's to the next hundred posts!

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