The Studeblogger

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Oil Breather Caps for late Studebaker engines

When you're detailing an engine, it's the little stuff that makes the difference. Decals are one thing that contribute, as are correct engine accessories. In my case, the oil breather/filler caps were one of the last things to need touching.

Studebaker converted to full-flow engines (that is, an engine where 100% of the lubricating oil is filtered) in late 1962. Prior to that, Stude V-8s were partial flow engines, meaning that not all the oil was filtered as it passed through the oiling system. The two engine types can be immediately identified by the location of the oil filler tubes and the valve cover design: partial flow engines have a filler standpipe front-and-center, forward of the valley cover, and the valve covers have no filler openings. Full-flow engines have oil fillers in the valve covers  and no standpipe on the block.

Compare the two photos below to see the difference: On the left is a V-8 installed in a '62 Lark; its central oil fill and solid valve covers mark it as a partial flow engine, while the '63 engine compartment on the left has the dual valve-cover-mounted fillers of a full-flow engine.

Regardless of the type of engine installed, notice that the oil filler cap is the same in each photo: a low-profile orange cap with a blue and white label. This cap, painted orange, was used on all standard '62 - '64 Studebaker engines. A chromed version was used on Jet Thrust engines installed in all Avantis, or on Larks and Hawks that had an optional JT engine. In fact, I believe the basic design of this cap dates back to the very beginnings of the Studebaker V-8; the photo below shows a cap of similar (if not identical) design installed atop the oil filler of a pristine 7,400-mile 1951 Commander State sedan.

Nevertheless, if your cap is missing, it is available as a reproduction from Studebaker vendors - but only with the chromed finish. I don't know why they don't offer a painted version, since there were far more non-JT engines produced over the years, but there it is. So if you have a pair, re-use them! Or get a used pair cheap, wash them up and refurb. Here's the quick-and-dirty makeover.

When I acquired Barney, his OEM Stude breathers were already long gone, ditched in favor of a set of Mr. Gasket chromies. These work find and look OK, but they sit high; the Stude breathers snuggle down over the filler pipe and sit close to the valve covers. So I procured a used set from an SDC Forum user and proceeded to strip off the old paint. The photo here shows an original breather alongside its twin, paint removed using a nylon abrasive wheel.

After the old paint's gone, the new goes on. The secret here is to use Dupli-Color DE1620, better known as Chevy Orange. It's a perfect match for the orange paint Studebaker used in several places under the hood on late V-8s. I always use a base-coat of Rust-Oleum red primer just to even things out; after that, the Orange goes on.

Not a bad result! This is after a coat of primer and two coats of Orange. Now the finishing touch: the decals. These are correct for 1961-1964 caps; older ones were painted only solid colors. The decals are basically STP advertisements (Studebaker acquired STP in '61 as the Corporation began to diversify). These labels are reproduced and can be gotten from Studebaker vendors.

There was some discussion on the Forum a while back as to which direction these labels were applied; some maintained that they went on so that the lettering could be read correctly with the cap installed; others swore that the labels were put on upside-down at the factory. I prefer mine right-side-up, so that's the way I put them on. It just makes sense that way, to me! The labels are self-adhesive, so no wetting and sliding of decals is needed. Here are the completed caps, ready to go.

Above are before-and-after shots of Barney's engine. On the left, the Mr. Gasket breathers. As I said, they're not bad. On the right, the newly-refurbed Studebaker caps. Notice how they hug the valve covers. Also, you can see in the photo below, the Dupli-Color orange really is a perfect match for the OEM paint: the Viscous Drive fan in the photo has factory-original paint and the difference, to my eye, is nil.

Happy Studebakering!

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  • where did you get the new gas filler to gas tank rubber hose...? i need one and your new piece looks really rugged... thanks.

    ps 53 starliner i think.....the one without the post.....

    By Blogger H, at 10:28 AM  

  • Herb, I got the part from Studebaker International. '53s are really popular, so I wouldn't doubt they have one for you too. Give 'em a shout!

    By Blogger Clark, at 10:45 PM  

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