Eric W

1952 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe

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Lot of little things this weekend. That last photo was just the drum on the spindle - no brake inside.

 

Temporarily bolted the "loaded" backing plates to the spindles to disassemble the brakes. Put all the small parts in Evap-o-rust to clean them up.

 

Cleaned the backing plates. Sorry, no before photos, but they were caked with mud.

 

Got the correct '54-later wheel cylinders installed in the rear brakes. Got the rear drums put back on. Tightened the brakes with the adjusters to hold the drums from rotating while torqueing the nuts that hold the drums on. So the rears should be ready for bleed & adjust.

 

Got new front wheel cylinders ordered. Took the drums to a local chain brake shop. They couldn't comment whether they could turn them or not because they couldn't find a limit - too early for the limit to be stamped on the outside, and their computer records didn't go back that far. From the SDC forum, it looks like the limit is 11.090".

 

The parking brake clip that goes at the master cylinder is in the Evap-o-rust now.

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I would like to offer a comment about tightening the rear axle nuts in your post #27. I doubt you will be able to get them tight enough until you get the Studebaker back on the ground. Then, with the car in gear and hand brake set, you will be able to torque the nuts. They need to be around 200-250 ft. lbs. This kind of tightening is especially important for axles with tapered fit. At least this is what I had to do with similar axles on Packards. JWL

 

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Thanks JW - I've been studying the hub installation on the Studebaker forums - they caution about over torque, and the Studebaker torque is less than what you reference for Packard. I expect to redo both sides - need to replace the parking brake cable & there were incorrect shoe return springs on the left side.

 

Anyway, some updates over the past week - got the '57 front brakes installed, including new wheel cylinders & hoses. Put an initial adjustment on all 4 brakes. This morning, got to the point of bleeding the system, and the (new) master cylinder leaks. Compared with the Buicks, this is low cost enough to just try another one after a little more looking to confirm it's the cylinder & not the fittings on the outlet or something.

 

Got the parking brake clip painted & installed - definitely a necessary part to allow the cable to get tight enough to act on the brakes.

 

Got a couple of unrelated parts from the nearby Studebaker parts specialists including reflectors for the tail light assemblies. Got those installed. Also replaced LH tail lens - it was cracked in multiple pieces when I pulled the housing off to get to the reflector.

 

After the brake bleed fail, ran the engine for a few minutes to be reminded that this car is really pretty close to driving - a LOT closer than the last 2 vintage car projects I worked on. (One took a year before driving, the other one I owned for over 3 years and it only drove around the block a couple of times.)

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Edited by Eric W
Added photos (see edit history)

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If it were mine, I would look closely at the brake pipes. The one shown going upwards from the master cylinder looks very corroded around the bend and may not have much meat left to resist an emergency stop. Are you sure it is the cylinder leaking and not the pipe, through tiny holes?

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5 hours ago, Spinneyhill said:

If it were mine, I would look closely at the brake pipes. The one shown going upwards from the master cylinder looks very corroded around the bend and may not have much meat left to resist an emergency stop. Are you sure it is the cylinder leaking and not the pipe, through tiny holes?

 

X2 for sure. Those lines are what.......65 years old?? They corrode from the inside and outside. Remember that brake fluid is hydroscopic (spelling?) - it absorbs water.

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I don't see leak from the lines, but yes, I reached that same conclusion that I'll change those out. Inline Tube has a set that's labeled for a '50 Champion that used the same frame & brake tube routing as far as I can tell. I did buy a tube from them once before, and I recall that shipping was nearly as much as the tube since they're stuck shipping a huge box... And for longer tubes they bend them approximately in half around a large radius - for the user to straighten. But the set is all 6 tubes for the car at the correct length with end fittings already installed.

 

Anyway, something I could accomplish - replace the glove box. The glove box that was in the car had carpet glued inside and was almost falling out of the dash anyway. It fell apart when I removed it. I got the new one in through the glove box door opening with some flexing and taking the dash loose on the right side. There wasn't any way to bring it up from the bottom with that defroster core in place. I removed the ash tray bracket, the outside vent bracket, and 4 fasteners on the right end of the dash that hold the dash to the body. Between the flex in the glove box and the flex in the dash it was enough to work the box back behind the dash flanges.

 

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Nice job on the glovebox! I like how you're getting the car safe and drivable for cruise-ins and such with the kids. Makes for a lot of fun when you ca drive it pretty quickly and not get bogged down with a big restoration. I'll be following the progress! P.S. I got all the brake lines for my Avanti from Classic Tubes - nicely made set and are working out well.

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Thanks Chris. I looked at the Classic Tubes - fairly expensive compared with bend-your-own from the local parts store. In the last week, I picked up a couple of Studebaker history books from a local club member who's reducing his collection. Also got the '52 Commander owner's manual (so I can see what controls are supposed to be there and how they work), the '52 product line marketing brochure, and the '52 "Inside Facts for Studebaker Salesmen" which was by far the most expensive, but probably the most rare of the bunch.

 

Pulled the rear brake lines - along the frame and along the axle. The ones along the axle were crushed in 2 places on each side, as though maybe links of chain had held the car down (or dragged it) at some point. That would explain no fluid at the wheel cylinders. I'm bending up my own tubes to replace these. $28 so far. So for about $6-8 per tube, I can afford a couple of do-overs if needed from the local store.

 

Got the rear axle tubes about bent up, but I'll need the joiner fitting that connects the 2 tubes to the hose. The one from the car has made itself one with the 2 tubes & hose (for a couple $, not worth extraordinary efforts to save it). Like the other items in the system so far, this part is common with many years of Jeep, about $5 online.

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Made a 2nd try on the left side tube in the last photo above - realized there needs to be a jog in the line to clear the bump stop. Got a replacement axle tee fitting from Merle's - they're great for parts for older cars. $7.59 incl tax, so not worth mail ordering from anyone. 

 

Last photo (below) - 2nd try at that left side brake tube with a jog to clear the bump stop. Also got the right side line secured to the wheel cylinder, the axle clamp (just inboard of the suspension spring), and the differential cover clamp. Hardly any time to work on it because of other things going on, but it will get there.

 

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I often have to give up on a brake line and start on a second one, usually get that one right. Don't feel like you're the only one this happens to!:)

 

On the way home from a Studebaker meet in the North Carolina mountains - a good weekend. 

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Finished replacing the rear of the brake system. First photo is checking the length of the hose with the rear axle hanging free. The catalog listed a 2" shorter hose for this, and when I had that one installed, the axle would hang from the hose - no good. The hose part number for the fronts is 2" longer, so that's what I got. Same hose in all 3 places. Next 3 photos are the new tubes on the axle. Last photo is the tube along the frame. I short-cutted the rear corner to give a little more length up at the front - turned out to be too much, so I ended up putting a "V" bend in the front tube. Got this pair of tubes into the factory frame clips.

 

Put the system back together, bled it, and did first drives today (Sep 16)! So about 7 weeks to get to this point. Still things to do before I'll take it out of the neighborhood, but at least I can move it out of the garage to sweep out under. It goes pretty well - quicker than the '51 Buick. The overdrive works, though it's on a manual switch on the shifter and not the automated factory setup. Those front brakes actually work pretty well - no bad noises and reasonable stopping power.

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Brakes are better than I expected. Since they'd sat for however long, there was a little corrosion on the inside of the drum at the bottom. I had scrubbed that off pretty well with scotchbrite & 400 grit sandpaper. I was prepared to have them turned, but they aren't noticeably more grabby as that spot goes around. I need to adjust the shoes to see if I can raise the point in pedal travel where the brakes start to grip, and I'll probably have some side-to-side adjuster tweaks as well. For the little drive that I've done so far though, there wasn't an obvious one-side pull.

 

I just noticed in the video, right where the car passes closest to the camera, I can hear the click where I hit the overdrive switch.

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Spent a while last night under the dash with electrical tape - a later headlight switch was spliced in somewhere along the way, and it was shorted.

Received a replacement parking brake cable from Studebaker West (they had the right part number). Toughest part was getting the old one out. The threads at the back end were corroded to the point that I couldn't adjust the cable tight enough to work, and the clevis pin at the front didn't come out of the clevis either. But eventually got the old cable out & got the other one in and adjusted, so now the parking brake is working.

Greased the front wheel bearings.

Drove it up & down the street (to pull it out & sweep the garage floor), and right when I got back to the house, it stuck in first gear. Fortunately it was in a position to miss the other car in the driveway and get back to its spot in the garage. But something new to figure out.

After it sat a while, my wife came back from the store & said the garage smells like gas. Found no major leaks, but the fuel pump is weepy.

Someone else commented that it's nice to get something going & not immediately be faced with a major restoration, but these things seem to make their own to-do lists.

But a couple more items and maybe it can at least make the 6 miles each way to the cruise night...

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Swapped in the last few parts that I'd included in other parts orders - original type radiator hoses. Not only were the ones on the car generic "flex" hoses, no telling how long they'd been there. Anyway, I don't like to see the generic "flex" type hose when one that's molded to the correct shape is available. But in looking closer at the top of the engine area, I've figured out some more of the original parts are missing. I also am cleaning up the 14" rim that was in the trunk for a spare. I got a 15" (same size as the other wheels) at the salvage yard, but on removing the tire, I found that the rim is so rusted I'd rather not use it.

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Yes, I actually just got back from a local Studebaker collector's place where I picked up a battery hold down. Needs de-rust & paint, but should have that installed in the next few days.

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Thanks guys. I got the battery hold down installed. I had been discouraged to notice that the ammeter was indicating Discharge while driving. I mentioned this while picking up the battery hold-down, and I was told about "setting the polarity" by touching the "A" terminal on the generator to the non-ground battery terminal (in this case the "-" terminal, because it's a positive ground system). I did that, got a little spark at the battery terminal, and heard something click over by the generator. The click may have been in the voltage regulator that's right next to the generator.

 

Anyway, that worked, and the generator is providing charge. Nice to fix at least one thing without more parts...

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First cruise night last night. And the faster backwards jokes begin... Still too hot around here. Reached 100F during the day. Car made it there & back no problems.

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