The Studeblogger

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oil Change.

OK, really? A how-to post on changing your oil? Who doesn't know how to do that? Well, maybe. But stick with me; this tale has a surprise ending.

With 500 miles on the clock since commissioning his rebuilt engine, it was time to change Barney's break-in oil. For break-in, I had run a load of precious Service-CI4 formula Shell Rotella T (with a full load of ZDDP to protect the solid lifters in the Stude's engine), accompanied by a pint of GM Assembly Lubricant for extra break-in lubricity (ooh! $5.00 word!).

Oil changes, the traditional way, are messy, dirty jobs. You pull the drain plug from the pan, get splashed with hot, dirty oil, lose the plug in the bucket of hot, dirty oil, realize you forgot to pick up a new package of plug gaskets... So a while back, I purchased a Pela oil vacuum specifically to avoid all of this.

The Pela is great. All you have to do is push its pickup tube down your dipstick, attach the pump and give it about 10 strokes. In seconds, you see the tube fill with black gold and it begins to flow into the vacuum canister. OK, it takes a little time... the 5 liters in Barney's sump took about an hour to pump out. But that's about the same time you'd take to make certain everything finished dripping out of the oil pan -- and with a lot less mess.

After cooling it, the deed was done and the engine had given up its filthy load of black lube. Nasty stuff for only 500 miles! But break-in is where all the rough edges inside a rebuilt engine get smoothed over, so the break-in oil is necessarily ugly.

So we're ready to pour in the new oil -- uh, no. Gotta change the filter first.

The oil filter on the car is a Purolator Premium Plus 30005. It's a full-quart unit that is rated very highly. Unfortunately, I couldn't find another in the area. But my NAPA supplied a Mobil 1 M1-203; it's a 3/4 quart filter, but has an upgraded element to handle the nasties.

Some guys just use the old screwdriver-jammed-through-the-can tool to remove old oil filters. I've tried that - once - and didn't like it. Too messy. Plus, the cans tend to tear; bad scene there.

I found this genuine ChannelLock oil filter pliers in the discount bin at NAPA for $5.00. You can't beat that deal with a stick! I like these better than the strap wrench because they "bite" the can but don't destroy it. The adjustable slip joint makes it easy to get a good grip. A little loosening and the filter spins right off.

Remember, that thing's full of dirty dino juice, so be sure you have a tub under the filter when you loosen it. A goodly amount of greasy goop will spill out once you undo it, too, since the system is under pressure.

You can probably get the filter off without raising the car (if you're skinny enough), but I like a little more elbow room. I chocked the rear wheels, lifted the front, and rolled under with my creeper in comfort.

Notice in the photo above that the oil filter can is located directly over the passenger's side exhaust pipe. This is significant, because it means that --

Right. Studebaker engineers routed the exhaust pipe directly beneath the oil filter mount, virtually guaranteeing that I'll be smelling smoke for 20 miles until the oil burns off the pipe.

The good news is that, while I was down there, I found the two nuts that hold the flywheel inspection cover to the bellhousing were a bit loose, so I tightened them up. Don't forget to put a few drops of oil on the gasket of the new filter, and remember to spin it on hand-tight (not finger-tight!), or you'll wind up with a big grease spot on your driveway in pretty short order.

Now, here's the surprise I promised: if you go by the capacity chart in the Owner's manual, you'll be shy a quart of the honey gold. Yep, the Studebaker manual for 1963 lists the capacity of the engine (both 6 and 8) as 5 quarts. But if you put only 5 quarts in the engine, the dipstick will tell you you're a quart low. I know, because I measure out my oil before pouring it in.

The guys on the SDC Forum have confirmed this quirk. Perhaps it was a misprint, or a holdover from the old days when oil filters were accessories. Whatever the case, if you're doing a full oil and filter change, you'll need 6 quarts.

I always get a little knot in my stomach when I first fire up the engine after an oil change. There's always that little bit of apprehensiveness; the engine is spinning but the pressure gauge shows zero... and then, after a couple seconds, the needle shoots to its accustomed 60 pounds and stays there, the relief valve open and engine purring. Ahh... success :) Time for a drive!

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