The Studeblogger

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

New Wheels for Old Studebakers

Here's a topic that keeps coming up, so I thought I'd jot down what I know for others looking for this information: what new wheels will fit Studebaker cars?

First, wheels from other makes will fit Studebakers. Stock 5" Stude wheels have a 4.25" backspace, and OEM Ford & Mopar wheels with 4" backspace work just fine on a Stude.

  • Using a 15x 6" wheel with a 4" back space, such as those found on 85-89ish Ford LTDs, Mercury Marquis or Ford Crown Vics will work.
  • Rear-wheel-drive Chrysler Fifth Avenue or variants from Dodge or Plymouth - Diplomats, Furys, etc. will also work.

You can usually pick these up for a song from nearly any auto recycler, although they will certainly need refinishing before you bolt them on.

This one will work.

However, be aware that no currently produced wheel will hold Studebaker factory dog-dish hubcaps, which require a specifically-shaped inner hub to grip the caps. So if you're looking to put factory correct "poverty" caps back on your Stude, you'll need to source factory wheels. 

Wheel Vintiques were my choice for Barney.

For my car, I chose Wheel Vintiques Mopar 15 x 6" reproductions; they come in satin black and fit like a glove. I went to the junkyard and found a wheel off of an old Fury to test-fit, then went ahead and ordered new ones from Vintiques online. 

As I said earlier, these will not hold OEM Studebaker hubcaps, so you'll have to use something else or figure out a way to hold your Stude caps on (the problem is that the full-cover caps will snap on, but will then rotate as you drive, cutting the valve stems).

Since I'm not worried about originality, I finished mine off with vintage '70s Mopar police hubcaps, which are identical to the standard dog-dishes Mopar shipped on millions of Furies, Darts and Valiants, but with a ring of vents that helped in cooling the drum brakes on those big '70s cars. I think they turned out pretty good!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The finer points of Studebaker Batteries

Wow, can't believe it's been a year since I wrote anything here. I guess that's because Barney has been such a good boy that I haven't had to fix anything in quite a while. He's kind of in a state of stasis at the moment; there are things I need to attend to (a few rust bubbles, window seals, etc.), but he drives so well that I've just been enjoying the ride.

Summer, however, is when things get stressed on any car. One of the most common things to fail in the summer is the battery; heat and storage cell technology do not mix well. That's why, at least in the Southwest, batteries fail more often than any other time of year.

And so it went this past weekend. I'd been watching a slow decline in cranking power since April, but since I'm a tightwad (I drive a Studebaker, after all!) I put off doing anything about it... until last Saturday. I sat down and started to crank him over, and Barney...groaned. About 15 seconds of slow turn with no fire, and I let the starter rest; on the second try the engine made exactly 3 revolutions before the battery gave up for good.

The nuance of Studebaker batteries
Studebaker sedans from 1956 - 1966 use a pretty standard-sized Group 24 battery. Notice I said "Group 24" - not the more commonly available Group 24F.

(Also note that Hawks and Avantis use different batteries - Group 24 applies only to sedan-based Studebakers and Larks based on that chassis. Be sure to look up exactly what you need.)

What's the difference? On a Group 24 battery, the terminals are placed so that, with the positive terminal located at the rear, both terminals are located inboard of the fender, as shown below:

On a Group 24F battery, the terminals are reversed; that is, the negative and positive terms are swapped, so that, installed the way you see above, the negative terminal is up front, toward the radiator. This doesn't work: the positive lead to the starter solenoid is placed just behind the battery tray, while the negative lead comes around the front of the battery from its connection point on the block. With a Group 24F, you'd have to swap the cables, and they don't reach.

"No big deal", you say, "just turn the battery 180 degrees." Nope - won't work, and here's why.

It has to do with the contour of the hood. Notice in this view that the hood center rises from the fender to provide extra clearance for the radiator, air cleaner, and battery terminals.

In this view, with the battery reversed (as it would be with a Group 24F installed backward), the terminals are much closer to the fender - and under the lowest part of the hood. Installing the battery this way does not provide enough clearance for the battery posts and installed cables to clear the hood - virtually guaranteeing a dead-short and electrical fire caused by your battery contacting your hood.

So, it will take a little more effort to search out the Group 24 battery, as the F variant is much more common these days. And, even when the counter dude (or chick) hands you your battery, be sure you double-check it; they don't always know the difference between a Group 24 and Group 24F.

Happy battery, happy Barney

One more thing: don't forget the battery hold-down. Yes, mine is not factory stock, due to the battery tray having rusted out and fiberglassed somewhere in the recesses of time B.C. (before Clark). But, it does the job and holds the battery in place, which is essential - you don't want that 75-pound lump coming loose and knocking into your fan at speed, or contacting the block and starting a whooping-good engine bay fire.

Barney is happy now with his new battery, and so am I - one quick flick of the key and he's off to the races. Which makes it yet another good day to be a Studebaker driver!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Differential Dilemma.

A persistent small drip from Barney's rear end finally led me to get under the car and inspect the cause. It turned out to be the fact that most of the differential cover bolts had vibrated loose. Obviously, they needed tightening.

As Barney's 1,000-mile chassis lube was coming up (Studes need chassis lubrication every 1k - not like today's 10,000-mile wonders!), I decided I'd do both on the same day, and picked out a nice Saturday to get 'er done.

The first task was to get his butt up in the air. As there are no front parking brakes, it's necessary to lift both front and rear in order to be safe. Note that there are chocks on both sides of the rear tires, as well as jack stands at the rear and front chassis fishplates. You can't be too safe, no matter what car you're working on! Use proper jack stands in good condition and make sure that, when you're rolling around under there, you don't use the chassis as leverage to move - it doesn't take much to pull the car off the stands and down onto you. This generally goes poorly for the human component.

The reason you want to lift the rear end for this is that you're going to need some elbow room. When the car's suspension is fully compressed, the upper differential cover bolts are difficult to access, since they're hidden behind the forward edge of the fuel tank. With the rear end fully lifted, you can easily get to all the cover bolts.

Getting out the trusty Studebaker Shop Manual, I found that there is a torque spec listed for the cover bolts (as there is on nearly everything!). Barney's axle is a Dana 44 limited-slip differential (known to Stude lovers as a Twin-Traction axle - PosiTraction if you're a Chevy fan), so the torque spec is listed as 25 - 30 foot-pounds. Don't use this spec if you have a Dana 27 rear end; the torque required is much lower.

In fact, I learned something important: you may not want to use any torque spec for this operation. But more on that later.

Anyway, I got out my big 1/2"-drive Craftsman DigiTork and proceeded to tighten up the cover bolts. And they were loose. Some at the top were very nearly finger-tight. No wonder it was dripping! So, working my way around, I tightened up each bolt. And, of course, on the very last bolt, something went wrong. The bolt wouldn't torque up, and...well, you know what happened next.

Yep. Off twisted the bolt-head and into the pan it dropped. And the leak, which had previously declined as the cover was tightened, suddenly turned into a significant dribble.

As the sweat started forming on my forehead, I remembered that I had a set of quality bolt extractors. I was going to have to drill out that booger.

This is a tool everyone should have in their box, because sooner or later, you will bust off a bolt. These are reverse-extractors: first the chisel-tip drills the center out of the broken fastener, and then the threaded collar bites into the drill-hole and backs the fastener out of its place.

By the way, be safe: wear goggles when you do this work. Flying steel chips and eyeballs are not a great combination, ya dig?

So I went to work, beginning to drill out the broken bolt, when - wonder of wonders! - something awesome happened. The bolt head had broken off in such a way that it left a nearly straight ridge of metal left across the face of the shaft. When I began to drill, the extractor caught that ridge and the broken shaft backed out of the axle housing like a hot knife goes through butter - no drilling needed. Thank you, God!

As you can see from the pic above, the bolt stretched. You can actually see the deformation of the threads. This failure mode is really what saved my bacon. As Bob Palma (the SDC Technical Editor) noted in this thread on the Studebaker Drivers Club Forum, had it bottomed and been impacted, removal would have been a ton tougher.

Here's where the learning comes in. Even though there's a torque spec in the shop manual, Bob recommends not using it. An automotive professional for over 40 years, Bob says:
I don't even torque mine; I just use a step-down reducer from 3/8 to 1/4 inch drive and then tighten them about as tight as I can get them with a 1/4" drive ratchet, which, as you know, is pretty small. That doesn't squeeze out the gasket, as do higher torques.
 And that's just what I'll do next time.

I had a new bolt of the proper size in my bin, so I screwed it in and the leak stopped, but now I'd need to refill the axle. Running a differential dry isn't good for you, for your car, or for your wallet! So down went the car, under went the catch basin, and out came the gear lube. Why lower the car, when having it up would have made filling easier? Because you fill the axle with lube even with the bottom of the fill hole, so the car must be level when you do it.

Removing the filler plug will require a Crescent wrench; a 12" should do.

Just so happens I was prepared, with a brand-new bottle of gear lube in the garage. Now, some guys stick a clear vinyl tube on the bottle spout and stick it in the hole to fill the axle; others have used their wives' turkey baster (not a recommended procedure!). I prefer to add a little at a time, so as not to overfill and have a river of lube pouring into the pan. I used a spare medical syringe available at any pharmacy.

As it turns out, the axle was pretty empty. It took about 20 of these - I estimate between 1.5 and 2 cups of gear lube went in before the proper level was reached.

See the differential gear carrier, visible inside the case through the hole? Besides the tags on the axle housing, this is one way to physically confirm that the axle is a real Twin-Traction limited-slip diff - the carrier is so large that an index finger inserted in the hole will be stopped by the carrier at the first knuckle. If the differential was a standard "open" unit, you'd be able to get an entire finger in there.

In this photo, you can see a little trickle of lube out of the hole. That means it's filled to the proper level. After it's filled, all that remains is to wipe the case and reinstall the filler plug. Remember, you're going into a steel cover with a cast-iron plug - so clean the threads and tighten it up snug, but not so tight that you strip it out.

All back together - and just in time for International Drive Your Studebaker Day on September 14th! All's well that ends well. And all's well that doesn't leak, too.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Advanced Distributing for Studebakers.

That little part above is, as you probably know, a vacuum advance canister (or "spark modifier" in Studebaker parlance" for a Delco distributor of the type used on Studebaker V8 Larks from 1960 to 1961. Although only used by the factory during those two years, the "window-type" Delco is prized by many Stude drivers because it's easy to rebuild, get parts for, and set point gap on, compared to the Prestolite units used on other years.

As detailed in an earlier post, I obtained and rebuilt one of these Delcos, using a core graciously given to me by Warren Webb, one of the regulars on the Studebaker Drivers Club Forum.

At the time I built it, however, I installed a vacuum advance specified for a 1961 Impala, figuring (wrongly) that a vacuum can is just a vacuum can. I should have known better! What I've found out since is that not all cans are equal. On this Forum thread, Joe Hall notes that the can commonly sold for Studebaker applications (NAPA VC680) is actually 2 degrees shy of the Studebaker OEM advance setting for V8 cars.

It turns out that nearly all of these vacuum advance units are all manufactured by Dana Engine Controls, now owned by Standard Motor Products, so no matter what brand you buy, it's the same part in the box. The trick is determining the right part. And there are about 25 different cans, each with a different setting for the point at which full advance kicks in. So how do you identify them?

Dana stamps a number on the mounting bracket of each advance unit. Each number corresponds to an advance profile that denotes how much vacuum must be applied to achieve full advance. It turns out, according to Joe Hall's research, that the Studebaker part number is "B20." The VC680 that NAPA's system specfies is "B1". Obviously the wrong part.

Insufficient advance can be responsible for lost power and poor gas mileage - both of which my Barney has exhibited. So I started digging to find out what part number was correct for the Studebaker distributor. VC1765 turns out to be the correct Stude part.

Thanks to the guys on the Corvette forums, who know their stuff when it comes to Delco parts, I found out the difference in the two parts' advance delivery settings:
  • VC680 (stamped "B1") delivers 0 degrees of advance until 8" of vacuum, and 16 degrees of advance at 16" of vacuum.
  • VC1765 (stamped "B20") deliver 0 degrees of advance until 6" of vacuum, and 16 of advance at 12" of vacuum.
So the part I had on the car started delivering advance too late, and full advance came in waaaaay too late. No wonder I was getting crappy mileage! B20, by the way, is the unit used on high-performance GM engines. I take a bit of pride in knowing that. (According to a very scholarly treatise on vacuum advances written by Lars Grimsrud of, B26 carries the same specs as B20 and may be found in the same box.)

So I went to my friendly local NAPA and ordered a VC1765. Wisely, I  checked the part before leaving the store - the wrong part was in the box, with a hand-written label that had another part number on it! Always check. Another part ordered, and this time it was correct - B20 stamped into the boss.

Replacement is easy, and doesn't require removing the distributor from the car. Just unplug the coil wire and undo the two spring-loaded screw clamps that hold the distributor cap on, and move it out of the way. The screws that hold the vacuum advance to the distributor base are accessible from the passenger side of the car once the cap is removed.

As you can see in the photo above, there are two screws holding the advance unit on. Use a magnetized screwdriver to remove them, otherwise you'll be cussing as you remove the distributor to fish them out after you've dropped them! Also note that a lug attached to a wire that grounds the breaker plate is located under the screw at the end of the actuating rod - you'll need to replace it there after installing the new advance.

After the screws are removed, pull the advance unit out; the actuating rod will then be able to rotate out of the hole in the breaker plate by pulling the advance body upward.

Installation, as they say, is the reverse of removal. Once it's all back together, don't forget to check the timing and reset the idle if need be.

For some interesting reading about vacuum advance, check out this post from the Vetteclub Forum, and the aforementioned paper from Lars Grimsrud. You'll find out everything you need to know and more!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Avanti Eye Candy

There's nothing prettier than a really loving restoration. Brad Bez, who owns a shop called Bez Auto Alchemy in Washington state, has been blogging lately about an R4-powered Avanti upon which he's executing a painstaking body-off restoration for one of his clients. Check out his blog for the latest installment and follow along! I know it's inspiring for me... maybe you too? There's only one portion of Barney's frame that's as clean as the one shown here, and it's getting less shiny by the day ;)

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Installing a Studebaker Windshield

Up in Washington state, my friend Dick Steinkamp is restoring a very nice '63 Wagonaire. As part of the restoration, Dick needed to install a new windshield. There's an art to doing this, especially in an older vehicle like our Studes. Dick got an installer out to his place, and photo-logged the entire process. Check it out here.

Even if you don't plan on doing this yourself, this is a valuable lesson in how the job is done!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Repro Studebaker C/K Fenders on the way!

One thing that owners of more popular marques - like Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, etc. - have long enjoyed is the ability to order reproduction sheet-metal for their cars. Heck, you can buy entire body tubs for '57 Chevys, but new body parts for Studebakers? Dream on.

(OK, sidebar: our friends at Classic Enterprises have a good assortment of structural steel pieces for our Studes - torque boxes, floor pans and such - but no body stampings.)

Anyway, Steven Tomblin of Goodmark (one of the aforementioned providers of GM and MoPar sheet metal) posted today on the SDC Forum that reproduction C/K rear fenders are just about ready to be released. Their prototypes are in the test-fit phase, in fact.

This is amazingly good news. While front fenders are probably needed more due to the rust-encouraging way that Studebaker designed them, the fact that a company - and a major one like Goodmark, no less - is beginning to reproduce Studebaker parts is a bright light indeed.

Maybe, with luck, we can look forward to new '59 - '61 Lark front fenders, or '64 - '66 trunk lids one day. I know, it's a pipe dream, but maybe...

Keep your fingers crossed!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Studebaker Front End Rebuild Series

One of the most popular topics on my blog has to be the How-To series I wrote about rebuilding your Studebaker's front-end suspension. This is the topic of more questions than any other, and get more hits than any other here on the site, too. So here's a listing of all eight parts, now in one convenient carry-home size!

Now go get'er done!

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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Scotsman Rides Again.

I was browsing Paul Niedermeyer's Curbside Classic site when I found a very well-written article on the Studebaker Scotsman, the low-priced base-price stripper that S-P fielded in 1957-1958 to try to gain a foothold with fleet sales and accounting firms. The Scotsman was the direct ancestor of my Standard, which was a return to familiar territory for the Corporation - take a regular offering and de-content it to meet a price point.

The Scotsman was beautiful in its own way - a big car devoid of chrome, ornamentation or fancy paint jobs in a go-go Atomo-Powered era that was all about glitz and flamboyance. Without the distractions, the smoothness and beauty of the car's lines were easily apparent. And the ploy worked, as Jeff Nelson describes in his article - enough Scotsman cars and trucks were sold to enable the Corporation to field the Lark for 1959, an even bigger success that would give the company another half-decade of life.

Read the article here.


Friday, September 07, 2012

Fiberglas Hawk Panels!

We've all run across 'em - a car so beat, so decomposed, that even the thought of attempting metalwork on it gives you the cold sweats and causes your wallet to ball up in a paroxysm of self-preservation. But still, you want the car... you have a vision.

For those of you with a Studebaker Hawk in that viewport, there's some good news: you may find steel body panels scarce, especially for the later, lower-production GT models, but there's a company out there producing Fiberglas bolt-on fenders, doors and trunk lids for these rara avii. Meet Class Glass Performance, of Cumberland, Maryland.

These guys have been around since 1990, making Fiberglas parts for street and track racers. The Hawk's slippery profile has long been a favorite of drag racers, so 'glass body parts are a natural. They make everything from complete body tubs (shown above) to individual doors, trunk lids and front clips for '53-62 Studebaker C/K bodies. So when you find a car that looks like this: can start thinking about bolt-on replacements instead of getting out the torch and spoon.They also make sweet fender replacements for Studebaker M- and R-series trucks!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Studebaker Ad of the Week, #5: Lark takes flight!

A great example of Studebaker's early 60s' marketing. Here's a December, 1959 ad from Ebony magazine, showing people of color in an upscale setting, enjoying the beauty and power of their new Lark. I love the little touches, like the Lark logos as paragraph markers in the copy block, and the subtle lighting on the plane.

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Happy Anniversary... to me!

I was just looking over my collection of Turning Wheels (the official monthly magazine of the Studebaker Drivers Club) and realized that it's been six years since I embarked on this crazy Studebaker adventure. It was August of 2006 when I purchased my 1963 Lark, Barney, drove him home, and signed up for the SDC. My first Turning Wheels issue was the August, 2006 edition.

Barney, as he looked in the driveway of the previous owner's home

Barney had lived a rough life, it turned out. He had a knock when I bought him; we knew it was the transmission flex plate that had cracked (I'd taken my friend John Dick, the gearhead, on the initial visit and diagnosed the knock - it went away under load, which ruled out rod bearings). What we didn't know was that the engiine's crankshaft thrust bearings were shot. Upon bringing Barney home, I took him to Brian Wilson, a neighbor who was a former transmission shop owner, who put him up on his lift (yes, a single-post lift in his home garage... so jealous) and showed me the quarter-inch endplay in the crank. Sure enough, when I drained the oil prior to pulling the engine, it was sparkly from all the ground-up brass in suspension.

There were other things. The transmission pan was caved in -- the 17-year-old girl who'd driven Barney previously had off-roaded him, embedding field grass in the frame and crushing the transmission's transfer tube, which burned up the rear pump. A motor mount was collapsed, and the engine was leaning over on the right A-arm. The suspension was shot: no rubber in the front at all, and flat leaf springs in the rear. The alignment was so poor that the car looked pigeon-toed.

And then there was the electrical system. It looked like a battlefield of demented spiders. Melted wires, the requisite bundle of bare-ended wires-to-nowhere hanging from the dash, and a lamp-cord horn circuit. In short, everything was a mess.

But the body was straight, and there was little rust. With a Studebaker, that's a huge plus.

Rebuilt 259 c.i. engine, 0.60 over, with viscous-drive fan, 4bbl. Carter WCFB
A Studebaker in its natural habitat -- on the road.
I Love my Lark!

Today, on the sixth anniversary of bringing Barney home, I can confidently say I'd do it all over again. In that time:
  • I've rebuilt the engine (well, had it rebuilt).
  • I've rebuilt the transmission (again, had it rebuilr. I sense a theme here).
  • I've rebuilt the suspension, front and rear (did that myself).
  • The brakes were converted from a single- to a dual-master-cylinder system, with all new hoses, shoes, drums and steel lines all around.
  • I completely re-wired the car with an OEM-spec wiring harness.
  • Cooling system and the Climatizer (heater) system were rebuilt as new.
  • Rebuilt the broken speedometer and installed an OEM electric clock.
  • Rebuilt the parking brake system, which was missing.
  • Installed a new dual exhaust system from the manifolds back.
  • Installed tons of other miscellaneous parts - windows, brightwork, fuel system, keylocks, and too much more to list.
Of course there's more to do... new paint, new interior, leaky windshield gaskets, rattle-y doors... but we'll get there. Along the way, I got involved with the Studebaker Drivers Club at the national level, and am now the Administrator for the club's online Forum, which is open to Club members and non-members alike (check it out here).

I love Barney and enjoy the heck out of driving him. I love the looks I get when I rip around corners in him, and the questions and thumbs-ups received, and the questions and conversations that ensue when people walk up and inquire about the car. I wish I'd gotten a Studebaker much earlier in my life -- but I'm sure glad I have him now!

If you're thinking about a Studebaker and wondering if it will be worth the effort - believe me, it will. You'll never meet a kinder bunch of folks than Stude folks. And you'll get more attention in a Studebaker than any Chevy, Ford or Dodge you might find.

Happy Anniversary, Barney. And here's to many more to come.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

International Drive Your Studebaker Day is almost here!

Every year, the 2nd Saturday in September is designated International Drive Your Studebaker Day! That's the day for Stude owners to get their cars on the road and let them be seen. This year's date is September 8, 2012 -- so if you've got a Studebaker in the garage, get it out! Doesn't matter if it's not perfect -- just get it out and let folks see it. And bask in the glow of the thumbs-up you'll receive.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Studebaker Ad of the Week, #4: Hawks Rock

In 1960, the Hawk was in its 4th year as a model, but its 9th year as a body style. Where the original 1956 family of Hawks (Golden, Silver, Power, Flight and Sky) had been pitched as a complete range of sporty family cars with a range of powertrain choices and hardtop or sedan styling, by 1960 there was only one Hawk, and the Corporation was hitting the "personal car" concept pretty hard in advertising. Here's an example of that pitch, from the May, 1960 issue of Ebony magazine.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Steering Wheel Repair for the Home Studebaker Enthusiast

If you're working on an old car, you're likely at one time or another to come up against a steering wheel from hell. One that looks like the bad boy above (this particular vision in plastic was looted from from a '61 Studebaker Lark 4-door. The rest of the car looked worse).

So what do you do with a beast like this? Paint is easy enough, but what about the cracks? Several companies make kits to restore steering wheels (like this one from Eastwood), and some companies will re-cast your wheel -- they break off all the old plastic and mold new plastic onto the wire frame. Schrock Brothers are one such company well-known in the Studebaker world.

But most of us don't need a re-cast wheel and are willing to take on the process ourselves. But even though the kits you can buy are well-documented with detailed instructions, there's a bit of trepidation involved in breaking out the tools and cutting into your wheel, no matter how unlovely it is.

Tool Dude Tony, also known as Dudorino on the SDC Forum, has posted a YouTube video showing just how easy it is to do this job yourself; he illustrates on the wheel from his own '57 Hawk (seen in the vid). All you need are a few common tools, some two-part epoxy, and a little time, and you can have that wheel back in presentable shape in no time.

It's been noted in this Forum thread that the POR epoxy that Tony uses in the vid is suitable only for hard plastic wheels, as it cures rock-solid. If you have one of the flexible wheels, 3M #8081 Panel Adhesive is recommended as a filler, as it solidifies but does not harden.

Now there's no excuse for that lousy cracked wheel! Git 'er done!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Studebaker Ad of the Week, #3: Avanti!

1964 Studebaker Avanti  by coconv
1964 Studebaker Avanti , a photo by coconv on Flickr.
Love this ad for the '64 Avanti. As a good friend of mine says, "When this thing hit showrooms, it was like nothing anybody'd ever seen. It was a flying saucer."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adjusting Idle Mixture on the WCFB

Idle mixture is an important setting on a carburetor, and most people don't know how to do it. What you're trying to do is set your carburetor's idle circuits for the most efficient operation with the least fuel.

There's no better tool for doing this than a vacuum gauge. It can also tell you a lot about the health of your engine; it's really an invaluable tool. For a great walk-through of how to use a vacuum gauge for diagnostics, check out this tutorial from Greg's Engine & Machine, of Copley, Ohio.

But for setting the idle mixture, there's nothing like actually seeing it done. Here's a short video tutorial I put together, showing idle mixture adjustment using a vacuum gauge on my '63 Lark with 259 and WCFB 4bbl. As you'll see, it's simple and fast - all you need are a tach, vacuum gauge, wrench and screwdriver.

Now go get 'er done!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Where can I find Studebaker parts?

Yeah, it's true - there hasn't been a Studebaker made since 1966. So it must be impossible to find parts, right? Wrong!

Check out this video taken at the recent (August, 2012) Studebaker Drivers Club International Meet in South Bend, Indiana. You'll see thousands of parts, mechanical, body and trim, plus interviews with parts vendors and reproducers who can find or make nearly anything for a postwar Stude.

If you're looking for Studebaker parts, as the video says,  your best bet is to join the Studebaker Drivers Club and avail yourself of all the resources available there. But if you're not the joining type, that's OK too - check out for a big listing of who and what.

Keep those Studes running!

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Light Up The Night.

Every so often someone posts to the SDC Forum asking about headlight aiming, so I thought I'd document some answers and useful links here.

The high-tech, pay-someone-else-to-do-it method is to find a shop with a beamsetter. It used to be a lot easier to find these - remember the yellow Bear Headlight Alignment signs with the little laughing bear (that the Grateful Dead later copped) outside gas stations?

These items basically consisted of a unidirectional photocell that measured the candlepower of the light emitted by your headlamps. You pulled up square to the unit and adjusted the lamp until the focus of the beam produced the highest reading on the CP meter. (More about Bear Beamsetters here, if you're interested.)

Needless to say, these are rare birds in this day of sealed headlamp assemblies and halogen cartridge bulbs. So how do you aim an old Studebaker's lamps?

Daniel Stern in a guy who lives and breathes automotive lighting. His website has just about everything you'd want to know about bulbs, circuitry, output, regulations and more car lighting esoterica than you can shake a stick at. He has a wonderful, plain-language explanation of how to aim the bulbs on nearly any car - all you really need is a flat surface, about 40 feet of work space, a vertical wall and some painter's tape. Read it here: .

And while you're at it, maybe think about upgrading the headlamp circuitry on that old car. Another frequent question on the Forum is "Why do my headlights keep blinking on and off at night?" Generally, it's due to one of two things:
  1. That little booger on the left, there - a headlamp circuit breaker that's gotten old and weak, and is kicking off when the juice is applied, then back on as it cools down.
  2. The breaker is fine, but your wiring, switches and connections are old, and resistance in the headlamp circuit is so high that the breaker is doing its job, kicking off to prevent your wiring harness from turning into a mass of carbonized copper with melted plastic dripping off it.
Generally, it's a combination of the two. In old cars like ours, there is no headlamp relay - the juice to light you up goes straight through the headlamp switch in the dash, then back out to the front of the car. That's a long way for those electrons to travel, and there's loss along the way. (This is also, BTW, why your lights look dim and yellowish.)

The solution is to install a modern headlamp relay circuit. This takes the amps out of your dashboard and routes them directly from the generator/alternator to the bulbs, instead of taking the long way 'round through the Inland Empire (SoCal residents get the joke).

Daniel Stern also has a great article on how to do this, natch: read for the whole skinny.

Because there's nothing worse than being out for a nice cruise on a warm summer night... then having to feel your way home against the curb because your eyes suddenly went dark.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Drivin' on the Coast.

Today, Barney took his longest drive yet away from home a 36-mile round-trip down coast to Solana Beach and back. It was a beautiful day, and we did some mixed driving - about half of the trip on the freeway, the rest along the 101 Highway. The drive was awesome - no problems of any kind, Barney easily kept up with freeway traffic (at one point hitting 75 to pass some tractor-trailer rigs) and just generally having a blast. He's in fine fettle and I'd feel no qualms about taking this car just about anywhere. Maybe La Palma on May 27th? Anyway, here's some pics from today's trip. Enjoy!

Today's route...
On I-5 heading South towards Leucadia
Along the Coast Highway in Cardiff-By-The-Sea
Coming back... looking north along 101 in Solana Beach. This is one of my favorite views along the coast.
North into Encinitas on the 101.
Spring wildflowers... just because I wanted to.

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