The Studeblogger

Monday, July 28, 2008

Found! Barney's former owner.

Well, one of them, anyway :) The fellow who owned the Lark prior to the guy I bought it from. A little digging online (aided by the back cover of a Studebaker International catalog that had his name on it) led me to a phone number in Escondido and, sure enough, that was him.

His name is Grant, and he is an SDC member (although he's primarily a racer, so isn't a member of the local chapter) with a '53 Starlight Coupe and an R3 Avanti set up for drag racing. He seemed pleased to hear from me and said he often wishes he had the Lark back.

Grant told me that he'd bought Barney from a Navy guy who had to ship out of San Diego, and that he'd had it for a couple of years before he sold it to Mitch, the guy I bought it from. He said that the Twin-Traction and 4bbl. were on it when he purchased it, but that it had been painted dark blue and he'd shot it with the white it now wears (in his garage, no less). He also told me that "it needed everything" when he sold it to Mitch. I allowed as how I'd gotten it pretty much the same way ;)

So now I know the Lark's history back to around 2000, at least. Next time I talk to Grant I'll ask if he remembers the name of the sailor he bought it from.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

That damned transmission spacer.

It's a little piece of metal that's one of the most overlooked bits in Studedom - the transmission mount spacer, better known as Part Number 523427 (when it's known at all).

This little bit of metal doesn't appear in the Shop Manual, but it does show up in the Chassis Parts Manual, on page 19 in the Engine section, called out in the illustration as Group # 0101-40. On left-hand drive cars (for countries that drive on the right side of the road) with automatic transmissions only, this spacer is placed between the driver's side transmission mount and the transmission cross-member; it imparts an angle to the transmission output shaft to decrease vibrations under load. It's prescribed for use in all cars from 1961 through 1964.

Most Studebakers that have had transmission work have, over the years, lost this part. Or, it may be installed on the wrong side of the car - mine was, thanks to the illustration in the Chassis Parts Manual that shows it mounted on the passenger's side of the transmission! (And in fact, if the car is right-hand drive, the spacer does go on the right side of the car.)

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to get it on there correctly, my crew and I installed the spacer on the wrong side of the car. Today I spent the last day of my vacation under Barney, getting it out of there with the intention of swapping it to the correct (driver's) side.

Well, I did indeed get it out. I don't own a transmission jack or a four-post lift, so this is a driveway effort, and it was rough going, compounded by the fact that I was constantly cussing myself for being so stupid :) By jacking up the trans with a 1" plank on top of my floor jack's saddle, then loosening all of the cross-member's mounting bolts, I managed to get enough space between the transmission mount stud and the cross-member to wiggle the spacer out.

"Installation is the reverse of removal", as the saw goes, but in this case... not quite. The transmission mount stud on the driver's side of the car is actually 1/2" longer to accommodate this spacer, and pry, pull and sweat as I might, I could not clear the stud from the x-member. Short take: no way was that spacer getting on there the way I was trying to do it.

About 4:30, I decided to button the car up and seek help from the SDC Forum. One of the forum members had, a month or so ago, posted about solving this same problem (a missing spacer) by welding together a stack of washers and cutting a slot to slide the spacer around the trans mount stud (kind of like using body shims). I might go this way and cut a slice out of the Stude spacer to accomplish the same thing; haven't quite decided yet. Stay tuned...

BTW, if you're R&R-ing your trans and you find this spacer missing, you can get one from SASCO, Studebaker International, Chuck Collins or nearly any Studebaker vendor.

Update: I did in fact saw out a slot in the spacer and got it under the car last weekend (8/2). It slid right around the stud and I lowered the trans and torqued everything down to spec. With 600 pounds of Studebaker V8 plus trans sitting on top of it, it shouldn't move... but I have an original spacer that I'll most likely have the transmission shop slide in when appropriate. (Let them bust their knuckles on those stupid mount-to-bellhousing bolts!)

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Friday, July 18, 2008

More Than They Promised... a very good read.

For Christmas, my wife got me Thomas Bonsall's "More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story". I just finished reading it, and I enjoyed it very much.

Bonsall is a very thorough historian, combing through old company documents, accounts by contemporaries, and all sorts of auto-related lit to piece together the life and death of the Studebaker corporation. There's also a nice chapter on the post-Studebaker Avanti, and an analysis of why that effort was so successful for so long, only to join its predecessor on the dustheap of failed companies.

Check it out if you really want to find out more about the company and the men who built and ran it. (One note: if you never liked James Nance and placed the blame for the demise of Packard and, consequently, Studebaker at his feet - prepare to hear another side of the story!)

Check out more at this link.


Friday, July 11, 2008

1963 Lark Vent Seals still available!

A while back, after looking through the Studebaker International catalog, I was grousing about vent window rubber for 1963 Larks not being available. I guess it's understandable, since the '63 Lark was a one-year body style from the cowl to the backglass; Brooks Stevens freshened the '59 - '62 sheet metal to make the greenhouse crisper.

Anyhow, on a whim I poked the part number in on the SASCO website and lo! They were in stock! That's right - original factory rubber parts for '63 Larks. Needless to say, I snapped 'em up, since Barney's original weatherstrips are, shall we say, a bit used.

Bottom line: if you have a '63, get a set while you can - who knows how many Dennis has left in his stash. Here's the particulars:

  • 1353340 Weatherstrip, Left
  • 1353341 Weatherstrip, Right

Price at this writing is under $30 each, a bargain if you ask me.
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