Avanti R2, 1963, refresh

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I believe the bedroom had been in a house owned by Nuvolari.....

And, amen on the food, have some "fresh" (it's aged for a long time) parmesian cheese and some excellent balsamic vinegar....yum.....

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It is Saturday, March 24th. PM here in Italy. Just checked into our Rome hotel after a few hour drive from Seina in the Tuscany region. I have become a race car driver in our little Fiat Panda. We go like hell to keep up with the Audis and BMWs. And all curves are passing zones, even if you cannot see incoming traffic. But we are having lots of fun. And Greg is still at it too. Here is one of his reports.

"The weekend is gone.

Saturday was spent getting a few parts primed, some visiting, and some road work in the Dodge. I've gotten it out of hibernation and it seems very ready to get out and go.

Today I got some time in on the R-3. A fuel pump overhaul kit came in Saturday's mail, so I disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt the pump and put it where it belongs. Off the shelf and on the engine. One of those enjoyable low pressure jobs.

Then some time spent with my oldest son, celebrating his birthday with dinner and a movie.

Another good weekend as this month and year fly by."



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Still Saturday, here is another report from Greg.

"Haven't been vacationing.

No photos, they didn't turn out.

Day job has been spent fitting the cam bearings for the Wright V8 and then lapping them in. Now I am trying to finalize the crankshaft details so that I can draw it up for fabrication.

Matheson engine: Getting more parts ready for nickel plating.

Black Avanti 5054: Been removing items that come off for body prep prior to painting. Found time tonight to resume the stripping of the old paint. The doors, hood and trunk lids are have been waiting for attention

at the paint shop. Haven't check on progress lately.

The R-3 engine . The valve covers and valley cover need replating. I sent them out to a plater that I heard needed work. He got back to me with a $750 estimate for the three pieces. I said put them back in the box and send them home. I've known all along that platers can easily bring a grown man to his knees, but come on.........."

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Sunday, March 25th PM. Stayed outside of Rome today and visited ancient ruins. While there I spotted the largest car and the smallest car together. This will give you an idea of the competition.

And here is a short report from Greg too. "I don't recall if I have sent this out, day job Wright V8 pic.

I've gotten the camshaft bearings machined, and with the cam and bearings installed, have mounted the case on the lathe to lap and "run it in" .

Now I am studying the crankshaft. They had modified the crank from their production four cylinder engine. I think I've determined how they did it. A wrong answer for an expensive crankshaft would'nt be a good thing. Especially with no one else to blame."



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Friday, March 30th. Our last full day in Italy, heading off to have lunch in Anzio. Toured the Vatican yesterday. We walked eight miles. On the way I finally saw an old Fiat 500, and then another micro car parked with the scooters. And finally, we have been catching the bus into Rome. Here is our bus stop, notice the foot of space between us and the road. Can I say road kill.

Here is Greg's report from last night.

"Photo. Not sure which rule this falls under.

So Lee calls me today. "Get over here and bring your three inch micrometer." I knock off early and know what to expect.

He's sleeving the Studebaker block with the pin groove in cyl. number four. New sleeve in hand, it just came in UPS.

I see that he has already overbored the cylinder , bore dial gauge in hand. He wants me to measure with my mike "So that we're on the same page". He gives me a precise dimension that I'm to turn the outside of the sleeve down to 3.822" No more no less.

Seabiscuit and I beat it back to the shop to get started. He won't want his boring stand tied up with my stuff for long.

I make up an end plug to center the open end of the sleeve and carefully center it in the chuck. No runout. He wants a precise diameter because the sleeve is to be a one thousandths interference press fit. Never having seen a cylinder sleeved before, I can just imagine how easy this job could turn into a dung sandwich. Too tight and the sleeve gets stuck partway in the hole. Remedy probably is to destroy the sleeve. Too loose and you throw the sleeve away.

I very carefully start reducing the outside diameter. Twenty-five thousandths at a time for a while, then when getting within a hundred thousandths of the final size, I start taking ten thousandths at a time. When within ten, I go to two thousandths at a time to check accuracy of the dial and to keep a nice finish. I can imagine that a finish that is not very smooth may prevent the sleeve from going in all the way. What do I know?

To get a nice finish you usually turn the part faster and use a finer feed. This also heats up the part slightly. Knowing that heat is the enemy of close tolerance work, I take a break . When with in a couple thousandths, and taking very slight cuts, I stop and get the air hose. Somewhat warm to the touch, I blow it with compressed air to bring it back to room temperature.

Final cut, measure and start breathing again. 3. 8225".

I snatch it out of the lathe, head back over to see if he's still at the shop. Get it there this evening and he can resume first thing in the morning.

Yep, he's there. Strolling in to show off my ability to get the job done with accuracy and haste, I take the sleeve and line it up with the bore and it falls right in.................slicker than deer guts on a doorknob.

I guess our shop is warmer than his and the sleeve has shrunk a thousandths and a half. Nothing to do but toss this one in the trash and order another.

The rest of this evening I returned to scraping paint off Avanti 5054."







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Still Friday, but PM. Spent the day in the little seaport of Anzio. While there we gassed up at $6.75 per gallon US. And we saw our first accident. Looks like it was a head on between a big scooter and a Fiat Panda. Looks like the scooter rider layed it down before impact, but it was a big one. The were doing CSI stuff. No report on the rider. Here is a pic.

Heading home tomorrow. Cannot wait to get back to work on the Avanti.

Oh, the trip was great, the crowds "janormous" in Rome and on the metro trains. All the folks we met on the trip were friendly and helpful, oh, except for one waiter.

And here are some thing you don't see much off.

Flip flops

Body art

T shirts on men

No tips, built into the bill, 10%

American food except for the rare McDonalds

Not much is written in english, but most kinda speak it.

Most songs are in english and are USA

All TV, over 400 channels are all in Italian, no english.

There are no big US cars or trucks on the road

Parking is non-existent in every city and town

All maps have the littlest print possible in some criptic style of engish.

The GPS is often confused.




Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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It is Sunday, April 1st. We made it home. After a ten hour flight we pulled into the airport, and in a couple of hours we were back on the farm. It never looked so good.

Got up early with a bad case of jet leg. Had to mow this morning as the grass was over a foot high.

Got a package yesterday too with my little hood bumpers and bumper pads. The most I could muster today was to put on the two hood bumpers.

It is good to be home, I promise to do more tomorrow.


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It is Sunday, April 2nd. Still lots of jet lag. We are both up at 3 AM and Alice was up two hours earlier. And I just got Greg's weekend report.

Here is what he said.

"Not much to report this weekend. Had the '21 Dodge out for a run on Saturday. It's running fine, plugs right along. But twice now, without warning it will emit a tremendous backfire.

In a phone conversation with Rob Burchill, he mentioned that he also has experienced this problem and his suggestion was to disassemble the ignition switch and clean the contacts. So, I pulled the dash loose and released the switch.

Disassembly did reveal dirty contacts. At this time, the switch is reinstalled and the car has been test run but not road tested. I'll save that chore for a sunny day. Dark and lonely job but someone's got to do it.

Another sleeve has been ordered for the Studebaker job."


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You may want to check all the wires make sure they are tight be sure to check at coil if you are running the orginial one there's a thum screw that comes lose offen.

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It is Tuesday, April 3rd. Well, the best laid plans. Planned to work on the Avanti yesterday, but it was very cold in the morning and was then reminded that the garden needed tilling. So fired up the old tiller, it is at least twenty years old, and started the work out. I got about half done, enough to say "mission accomplished". But in the end, no car work. Ah, but today is another day.

Backyardmechanic. I forwarded your note to Greg. Here is his response.


To reply to your forum member with the suggestion to check all wire connections, thank him.

Roger that on the loose wires. And they are OLD wires. I'm trying a systematic check to see what might be the remedy. Freshen up the switch and make sure those wires are tight. Run it some. If it does it again try something else.

I'm not using the stock coil. It went to lunch years ago and to get it home I just stuck a more modern conventional coil and condenser in it, and it's still in there. Don't forget I had to file the points at your house once. Rob says he's got new ones for me.

So yesterday, the nice day that it was, after work I drove the DB into town, ran some errands, got gas and back. No problem, but don't forget this backfiring is a very seldom occurance.

Even though it seems like an electrical problem, I'm reminded that years ago the car would do it, blow the expensive Bob Long reproduction muffler to smithereens. But the car was also prone to sticking valves. I cured that by adding Marvel Mystery Oil to it. Since I haven't been doing it, I'll add that experiment to the program after the electrics. No telling what this corrosive corn fuel is doing to it.

The good thing is that to track down the cause and cure of this problem means I have to put a lot of road time on the old thing.

Speaking of road work. Then I jumped out of the DB and into the Avanti. Trip overland to Mother's house about seventy miles from here. A nice evening for Old Seabiscuit to flare it's nostrils and lay its ears back. On the way home, a good chance to test the fuel mileage on the Interstate 66, 12.2 MPG. With it's 3.73 axle it used to get about 15/16 MPG. Fresh engine, front end aligned, where do you think the lost mileage went? I guess going "green" means that you stretch your fuel supply by diluting it with alcohol but you just use more of it. Of course if you use more of it, aren't you spending more for road use taxes?"

Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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Still Tuesday, but PM. I give up. I fiddled with the rear bumper most of the morning. First, one bolt would not line up with the encapsulated nut in the bumper. Loosened every bumper bolt I could see, but still could not get the treads to grab. So went to the other side, it lined up, but the threads would not grab. So I need longer bolts. I finally figured out that the mounts in the bumper were taken out and then re-welded. They sit a bit more into the bumper and now require longer bolts. Go figure. Only took me four hours of frustration to figure that out. One a good note both sides took both a 1/8 and 1/4 rubber shims.

So then decided to work on the rewiring of the driver's side headlight and turn signal. Boy, what a mess. Everything is cobbled together so am going to replace major sections of wires. Got all of them tagged and there is one just hanging loose so will have to figure that one out too. Does not do any good to look at the wiring colors as these have all been replacements at some point. Probably when the harness caught fire.

So for about eight hours I just spun my wheels so to speak. I did pull the battery so at least I will be able to start quickly on the wiring tomorrow.

I also saw that the battery tray is cracking/splitting at the bottom joint. I will have to see if I can fix that too.

And if that is not enough, the power steering hose connection that I can barely get a wrench on has become loose again. I will have to cut a box wrench to fit the pipe to go over the nut and then heat it to make an angle so I can get more of a turn on it. Just more fun, ugh.

Note or PS. Thought about that wire that went nowhere for a couple of hours and the thought popped into my little brain that it is probably the horn wire since I have no horn on the drivers side. I am looking for a horn so I do not want to just cut it out. So will do a little hiding, but not too hard to find.

Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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Wow John - all this sounds awful familiar. Bolt something on, then something else won't fit, unbolt the first thing and bolt the second thing, then the first thing won't fit. A barrel of fun sometimes, eh?

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Greg: Happy you knew Bob Long.In the late 70's we started to manufacture Bob's machinal parts .After a stroke he ask me to take Romar off his hands this was in 1998.We have been at it since.We kept the ROMAR name Bob pass a few years after we took over.

Vern Barker

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Vern, passed on your note to Greg. And if you would like you can contact him at gregcone@msn.com This morning I asked Greg what he was doing for fun. He said "Still scraping paint off old blackie." So that is his report for today.

It is Wednesday, April 4th, early PM. Well, I finally made some progress on my Avanti. Couple of steps forward, and of course, a step or two back.

Rebuilt all the wiring for the headlight and parking light circuits, installed the bucket in the car, and then the headlight. It works, sort of. Have low beams on both, but the high beam on the passenger side is not working. I know my wiring is correct as I had everything labeled. Betting and hoping that I did not push in the connector all the way. But it is a job for another day as I have to move onto other farm activities before I can call it a day.

Oh, and the parking and turn signal lights on both sides are not working either. So I have some troubleshooting to do. They both worked before I took everything apart for painting. I am betting that I do not have them correctly grounded. I did spend five hours on the car today.

Ordered my first batch of Jag parts yesterday. Wanted to wait until I got to know the car before I started on any serious work. All are maintenance items. Seals and new flex oil lines. Everyone warned me that one flex line in particular, oil line to gauge must be changed as they get old and are prone to blowing out. So got that one.

I also noticed that the cam oil lines, a Y thing, is leaking and all the fittings are tight. So it needs new copper seals, but this hard line is prone to stress cracking and blow out, so ordered a new Y which is mostly flex line versus hard. So got that too. So, $220 for stuff you cannot really see.


Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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I don't know, John, some of that "no show" stuff can make a pretty eventful showing at the most inappropriate times if you don't catch it first ! Good for you on chasing bits that could be very destructive. The ground wires gave us a fit on our car when we repainted it, I was almost ready to get a huge buss bar from a construction job and mount under it and ground 'em all there!! Ha. Good luck, it's sure lookin' good, John

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It is Thursday, April 5th. In the PM yesterday tackled the rest of the roto-tilling for Alice's garden. So the patch is about 15 x 50 or so. She was happy as she planted her little spring seeds.

Plan on going to the body shop today. Have to pick up the old Avanti upholstery. Never know if you might need just a strip of vinyl. May even take the Jag.

And I pulled the "Supercharged" badges out of their little baggie for a clean and polish. They will go on today with some help from Alice. They cleaned up nice, but certainly not show quality. But they were born with the car so back on they go.

Just received a good story and report from Greg. It is a good one too.

"Trying to move things along, but nothing to write home about. The weather is cooperating, allowing me to get in a few minutes work in the hangar on the hill.

I'm trying to make sure black 5054 is ready should the paint guy ever say he's ready for it. Still doing grunt work on that one. Scraping paint mostly, but tonight I started degreasing the chassis part of the engine compartment. A cup full of solvent and a bristle brush. No fun, but the 1970's Imron looks ok.

I've been wondering how I could pressure wash the underside of the thing. Tonight it came to me. Problem is although the pressure washer is gasoline powered, I'm working about a couple hundred feet West of the end of the garden hose.

David (Trimacar on this forum) Coco to the rescue!

You see, once upon a time I used to work at this automotive restoration facility. It's a long story, but one evening I got a phone call from this guy in Louisiana. He had a Hupmobile and so did I. I guess that meant even though we had never met, we were like blood brothers or something. Nice phone conversation, see you-bye.

Some time after that while at work one day, the boss said that I had a friend in the office and I should go say hi. Trust me, that never happened! Strolled into the office , saw a stranger sitting on the couch, no friend of mine to be seen.

To shorten the story a little, it was the guy from the phone call. He was applying for a position in our upholstery shop and used me as his reference. Just great. Anyway, he hired on, we became steadfast friends and remain so.

But it didn't take long for him to frequently mutter to me..."Greg, if you ever leave here you're taking me with you." So after a mere couple years of the boss urging him to "find something else if you're not happy here"... he did, much to the boss' dismay.

Trimacar hired on at the local applesause plant as Vice President. Having Mondays off, I'd go in to meet him for lunch. We'd be riding along in his black Mustang fastback, I'd look over at Mr. VP in his shirt and tie (and pants of course) and grin. He'd counter with a Cajun "Pleeeze don't throws me in the briar patch".

What's that got to do with pressure washing? While looking through our storage hangar I happened to find a large plastic drum, fifty gallons or more. A surplus applesause drum! And it even has a spigot installed in its bottom. I'll just put it in the pickup bed, fill it full of water and get started. He's no longer making applesauce, but he was there long enough to make my pressure washing possible. Kind of makes it all worthwhile.

Maybe tomorrow evening before dark I'll give it a try.

And at lunch today friend Lee announced he'd ordered another sleeve, but it went backordered. Just great."



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Still Thursday, but PM. I hopped into the Jag this morning and headed to the body and paint shop, 60 miles round trip. The car ran great and was a hit with the crew. As a reward I filled it with $55 of premium. Gas is now $4.29 a gallon for premium, $4.05 for regular.

More garden work and then installed the Supercharged emblems back on the Avanti. You need some small hands to get in there to attach the little nuts.

Success, so decided to move the Avanti out into the yard and take some beauty shots. So these are the pics I took. Since the Jaguar was out I pulled it to the Avanti so you can see both cars together.







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beautiful cars, John! It's pretty weather for it here in Virginia too!

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Beauty shots indeed, John! Very nice - do you think your green girl (the Avanti) will mind a visit from her rough girl cousin someday? If I ever get her running, that is.

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Amazing the change in what basically is the same type of car (Sport/touring/GT) in about 10 years. Both very lovely. Enjoy!!!! :)

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I agree John, you've got a great pair there. Cars, that is...:D

You've come one heck of a long way from the very first post of this thread and it's looking like it's all starting to pay off nicely. Scott...

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It is Friday, April 6th. Going to spend some time on the Avanti and then on the 2003 VW Passat W8 Wagon. Have been neglecting the modern cars and they need a beauty treatment. First up will be the W8 with the full treatment.

And just in, a report from Greg on his black, sort of, Avanti.

"But 'tweren't no day at the beach.

After work I loaded up the powerwasher in the company pickup, delivered it to the hangar on the hill and then loaded up the applesause barrel to fill it with water. Managed that and then with 5054 rolled out into the sun, I tried my luck.

Feeding water through the small spigot that someone had installed in the drum just wasn't enough to satisfy the demand. Loosened the hose and dropped the loose end in the barrel and we were off to the races.

Yesterday's presoaking with the solvent seemed to work, even if it was a biodegradable "green" (darn I wish I had the trademark for the word green!) cleaning agent. The exposed chassis looks pretty good, in fact would clean up even better if I got after it with a rag. Maybe someday I'll put it on Rob's lift and spend some time underneath it.

After hitting the fender wells and frame visible from the front wheels, I then hosed out the filthy gas tank compartment and trunk area and rear wheel wells.

By then the sun and temperature had fallen and I called it a day. Sure glad that's over with."





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We all love stories, especially car related. And we love Greg's car stories. Here is one he just sent me. It is a good read.

"That smart guy Randy Hespenheid just dropped me a note about how many moving parts does it take to steer a Studebaker?

He brings a story to mind. The answer to his question is the same answer I got from an Army helicopter mechanic in Viet Nam.

I wanted to hitch a ride in one of the new Cobra gunships that just arrived. The answer I got in all scencerity. "Don't do it. Too many moving parts and each one is critical". I'm still following his advice.

Meanwhile back at Studebaker. When I took 5054 off the road for a frame up restoration, I needed to replace it since it was my daily driver. I found and bought another Stude, a '65 two door sedan. Actually the last Studebaker sold new in Winchester. I liked it because it shared the 109" wheelbase chassis with the Avanti. I didn't like it because it had a Studebaker installed Chevrolet engine.

Used it to commute the fifty miles (each way) to the dynamite factory where I'd been hired on (good pay to pour into 5054).

One day when working the evening shift I was driving my usual 65 mph on the interstate. On Rt. 81 just North of Winchester the dual lane highway starts to bear to the right. The car was lazy about staying in the right lane. I corrected a little more. It didn't. I was used to driving cars with sloppy steering, but this thing was starting to straddle the dotted line. Correct some more. Still heading for the fast lane. As my two left wheels were leaving pavement for the median, I really cranked the wheel to the right. Nothing.

Leaving the asphalt all together, I gave the steering wheel a snap and it just spun like a top. Meanwhlle the car was roaring along in the grass . I knew the car had drum brakes and knowing that they can be touchy, was afraid to use them. Lock one up and it might

toe in or out and who knows, might cartwheel the car. I just took my foot off the gas.

The median is trough like. As it found the bottom, it then began to climb the other side towards oncoming traffic.

Not heavily traveled at the time, but cars were starting to scramble. As my two left wheels were about to climb the asphalt of the oncoming fast lane, the car then began to heel over to the right again. Down the trough and up the other side . My two right wheels got close to the asphalt of the friendly fast lane. Then down we went again. Although it was slowing itself down, the car took me up to greet the oncoming traffic again. It did this five times before I felt I had slowed enough to use the brakes. I got it stopped just before it would have hit the berm of a crossover. I'd been too busy to freak out, now it was time to sweat a little.

A passeby that I'd narrowly missed pulled up beside me to see if I was ok. They gave me a lift to a nearby telephone. I called Steve who was just getting off work. He brought my floorjack and I crawled under the car to see what the heck happened.

If you look at the photos I just sent, you'll see a big nut on the steering box that retains the pitman arm. It was missing and the arm dropped off. Can you believe I had a spare in my toolbox?!

So, how many parts does it take to steer a Studebaker . All of them. And I found out that that big one on the steering box is just as imprortant as the nut behind the wheel.

Now, every time I travel 81 Noth towards Clearbrook, I'm amazed when I see the number of culverts and other cement structures that litter that stretch of median . And I missed every one."

Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)

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