The Studeblogger

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Engine's Home!

She's home! Last Saturday my brother-in-law Dave, my son Reed and I went up to StudeKen's shop in Visalia to retrieve our freshly rebuilt 259.

It's a heckuva trip, about 300 miles each way. We started out at 5AM to beat traffic through LA, and got home at 6:30PM. Makes for a long day, but it's fun spending time with just us guys.

Visalia is a little ag community in California's Central Valley, not far from Fresno on Highway 99. Ken's shop is in Three Rivers, an even tinier place amidst the mountains, lakes and rivers 40 miles east of Visalia.

Visalia still has a very small-town feel. Mearle's Diner (shown on the left) was, until recently, representative of the time trap the city is stuck in - it's American Grafitti in that town! (Mearle's was recently closed and is now vacant, waiting for a savior.) They even have a working A&W Drive-In!

We arrived at Ken's place a bit before noon, where we immediately saw our 259 hanging from the hoist on his shop floor. It's back to its rightful color now, black with yellow valve covers (as opposed to the flaking turquoise it was covered in prior to our pulling it).

Ken's an interesting guy. When I first talked with him about rebuilding our engine, he told me he'd built his first Stude engine in 1967. What he didn't mention was that he'd built it in South Bend, whilst working for Newman & Altman's Avanti Motors (N&A bought the dies and tooling for the Avanti from Studebaker in 1966 and produced the original Avanti until very recently). So he honed his chops at the birthplace of Studebaker! Cool.

We loaded the engine into the homebrew cradle I built for it and slid her into the back of Dave's truck, then hit the highway for the trip back home. (A recent thread on the SDC Forum puts a dry Studebaker V-8 at about 650 lbs. I can attest to the fact that Dave's Dakota rode very smoooooothly on the way home.)

We had a little traffic coming home through LA, but nothing too gripe too loudly about. We pulled in about 6:30 and unloaded her, after which Dave took off for home (another half-hour drive for him). Reed loves using the engine hoist, so he got to hook the chains to the heads and pump it up. We tarped her up for the night, and the next day we attached her to an engine stand borrowed from a friend.

Here are some daylight pics. Lookit that engine shine! Looks nothing like the greasy green mess we pulled out.

A "before" pic so you can see the difference:

She sure is a beauty. Can't wait to fire her up! I've been painting little pieces (intake manifold clamps, exhaust manifolds) while I wait for the transmission to be done. Woo hoo! It's coming together!

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