The Studeblogger

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let the (paint) chips fall where they may.

I got a page of paint chips for the 1963 Studebakers from an eBay seller (man, you've gotta love eBay - America's Garage Sale!), so I'm posting it here for the benefit of all those other '63 owners who might be wondering what was out there.

My Lark was originally Rose Mist (2nd chip in Column B), a pretty metallic that reminds me of the color of Las Vegas soil. We're still debating whether or not to take it back to original, although with the Chestnut interior it's a pretty combo.

But (even though I'm not a fan of white cars) the Lark does look good in white. Dunno... gotta think on this. Either way, painting is a ways down the road. Gotta finish the mechanicals first.

Speaking of which, I got a call from Ken last night. He'd finished tearing the engine apart, and said that apart from a damaged crank hub and thrust bearing, it was in great shape. The crank is OK, and appears to have never been turned, so we can go .010" over with no problem. This is really good news, since it means I may not have to spend as much for parts as I 'd expected (dreaded). Ken will be calling Rich Gahlbeck at Studebakers Northwest to order parts today.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Build it and they will come.

I ordered the build sheet for our Lark from the Studebaker National Museum, and it arrived the other day. I've been really waiting for this, because it clears up a bunch of stuff I'd wondered about.

It looks like our car was a California car from the beginning, being shipped to a dealer in San Francisco. It was originally Rose Mist with Chestnut vinyl interior. The only option on the car was the Flight-O-Matic automatic transmission!

That means that some of the other stuff was definitely added later. The 4-bbl manifold and carb was obviously a put-on (the carb ID's from a '57 President), the dual exhausts were a mod, and the Twin-Traction rear end was most likely a dealer-installed option. Was the Climatizer still an option at this point? I don't know; I'll have to find that out.

You can get your car's production order for any year between 1936 and 1966 directly from the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. You can order online; it costs $40 bucks and takes about 6-8 weeks. I'll post paint chips when I have 'em. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rebuild in progress.

Well, the Lark's engine is now in Three Rivers, California, at Ken Pyle's place for rebuilding. I and my brother-in-law, Dave, drove up from San Diego on Friday (with a pit stop in Visalia at Bob Kabchef's, a/k/a Mr. Biggs) to drop it off. The trip was mostly uneventful; weather was good, we got an early start and beat most of the traffic through LA on the way up... coming back was another matter. Traffic was miserable from the moment we hit the LA County line until the moment we crossed into Orange County. Took us a good two hours just to get through LA, most of it in Burbank where traffic wasn't even stop-and-go... it was just stop.

But the engine is now in Ken's capable hands and I should know within a week exactly what it's going to need. I'm crossing my fingers :)

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Flexible Flyer.

Pulled the torque converter off the engine yesterday and look what I found!

Guess we found the source of the problem! The missing alignment dowels meant that the trans input shaft was not aligned with the crankshaft, and it tore up the converter and the flex plate. Someone really didn't know what they were doing.

Tomorrow Dave and I take the engine up to Ken for rebuilding. Wish me luck!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Transmission stuff.

Well, Reed and I split the trans off from the engine block today. It was pretty easy, but (as with everything I do on this car, it seems) there are a few "gotchas".

The transmission had definitely been out of the car, just like my friend Bruce said . He knew that because the torque converter was painted; originals were natural. I confirmed it today because when we pulled the bellhousing from the block, the locating dowels that were supposed to be there to hold the housing in alignment with the crank - were missing. The flywheel inspection plate was held on by two brass bolts at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions only. Oh, and one of the bellhousing bolts is snapped off inside the block. I hate drilling out busted bolts...

General consensus from the Studebaker Drivers Club forum is that the missing dowels mean the transmission input shaft was off-center from the crank - which means vibrations that will tear things up. Which is probably why my flywheel bolts egged out, and why the flex plate is cracked. The excessive crank endplay probably didn't help any either.

I was planning on just reinstalling the transmission with a new torque converter, but knowing now that things were messed up by whoever did the trans service, I think I'll have the unit inspected. My friend Kirk says Tri City Transmission in Vista is the place; he says Curt keeps the place so clean you could eat off the floor.

Hope I get a good Christmas bonus this year!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heavy Lifting.

As I mentioned, the engine came out of the Lark last Saturday, thanks to the invaluable help of my friends John Dick and Dave Gahlbeck, who came up to help get the beast apart.

We started around 10 AM by removing the hood (I had already pulled off as many accessories as I could the weekend before). Before we could pull, of course, we had to disconnect stuff underneath.

I hadn't gotten under the car yet because, with the parking brake inoperative, I thought it best to do that when others were around. So Dave dove under and pulled the driveshaft, while John disconnected the exhaust at the manifold flanges and pulled the pins from the accellerator and transmission connections.

After that, we realized that, for the transmission to come out, we would need to drop the trans support crossmember - and also that we'd need to support the transmission to keep it from dropping to the concrete!

Luckily, Dave carries a floor jack in the trunk of Sweet Pea (his '65 Cruiser), and we employed that to hold the tailshaft. Awfully nice to have a Navy chopper mechanic on hand!

John and Dave then started unbolting the transmission crossmember. The bolts on the passenger's side were loose and about ready to drop off, while the ones on the driver's side were torqued down tight. It took a little bit to get undone, but out it came and the transmission mounts dropped out.

Dave and I then hooked up the lift chains to the head bolts and undid the engine mounts as John lifted the engine slightly to take pressure off them. And then it was time to lift!

The actual pull took about half an hour, as we slowly lifted the engine (keeping the front high to get the trans clear of the firewall) and simultaneously rolled the car backwards. I had sucked out most of the trans fluid with my oil vacuum, so we only spilled about a pint on the concrete :)

So now the engine is sitting on a pallet on the side of the house. I still need to pull the exhaust and intake manifolds and separate the transmission from the block (it's in good shape and only needs a new flex plate. I'm also going to throw in a new torque convertor as long as it's out). Then, in two weeks, my brother-in-law and I will truck it up to Ken Pyle in Three Rivers for rebuilding.

By the way, Dave's Cruiser is a real beauty. Gorgeous car with a black interior and a 259 that purrs like a kitten. I especially like the white-letter tires and plain wheels - gives it a very muscular vintage look!

My son and I will definitely be rebuilding the suspension before the engine goes back in. On the passenger's side, where the engine mount had collapsed, the block was leaning right against the upper A-arms; the pressure had completely destroyed the bushing. I mean, there's no rubber in that joint at all. It does not exist! Also found that someone had deep-sixed the exhaust heat valve on the starboard manifold, probably because it froze, but that's a small detail.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Engine's out!

Yes, the engine is finally out of the Lark. StudeDave57 and my buddy John came up on Saturday and we yanked it. I'll post pix soon!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Dash it all - part deux.

I just received a big box from the FedEx man (I love big boxes!) and inside was the new instrument cluster bezel I got off eBay. Check out the picture: it's even nicer than it looks! This thing is almost NOS-quality. Chrome is perfect, textured insert panel is perfect, the heater controls are perfect and operate like new - even the plastic switch indicator lenses are scratch free! This is about 100 times nicer than the bezel that's in the Lark right now...

... and it cost $16.01.

I love eBay.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dawning is the day.

Forgive the song reference, but I've been listening to the Moody Blues all day long :)

I spent some of last Saturday yanking stuff off the Lark's engine in preparation for pulling it this weekend. My friend John is coming over with his engine hoist, and I somehow talked Dave from the San Diego Chapter of the SDC into coming up and lending a hand. Dave's got a couple of nice Studebakers, including Sweet Pea (his '64 4-door, a daily driver), a couple of '50s wagons and whatnot (check out pix of his cars here).

So I pulled as much off the block as I could: carb, distributor, water pump, water manifold, fuel pump, alternator, wires, etc. Took the radiator out too. I was thinking I'd just disconnect the engine from the transmission and leave the trans in the car, but on the advice of the group we'll pull 'em both as a unit and separate the two once they're out.

Man, there were a whole lotta rat turds under the intake and on top of the valve covers! I also found a snail lodged between the water manifold and the block... go figure. The coolant that drained out of the radiator was dark brown at the bottom; lots of sludge in the cooling jacket no doubt. I haven't drained the block yet because I can't get to the plugs while she's on the ground, and I didn't want to get under her without someone around to help (since the parking brake is non-op, I'll have to chock the rear wheels and pray).

Things remaining to do before Saturday include sucking the transmission fluid out and unbolting the throttle bell crank from the back of the block. Once she's on jack stands, we'll need to remove the starter (tucked between the block and exhaust forward of the bell housing), loosen the exhaust pipes and disconnect the speedo cable and shift control linkage; then undo the motor and trans mount bolts and we'll be ready to lift.

Wish me luck!

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