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Okay John, I'll humor you, but I don't know. Mine are pretty bad. I wish mine looked like yours. I wish a person could buy the bezels for the gauges, but that's one of the few things I haven't seen while searching for Avanti parts - no gauges, bezels, glass. Must have all gotten used up with the Avanti II's. Oh well, I'll give your plan a go and see what happens.

Thanks for the pictures of the seat belt anchors. I was wondering what those cotter pins were for! I was thinking nuts and bolts, because that's what I had just taken off the old belt anchors. I blame the heat - it's getting to me!

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Boy, it pays to listen to the voice of experience. Or in this case, the voices of experience, voice #1 belonging to John Feser and voice #2 belonging to Ernie.

Example of voice #1: I snuck by the storage unit today at lunch to try out Mr. Feser's suggestion to clean up the gauge bezels. I was skeptical that they would come clean - it looks like they had succumbed to the rust monster many moons ago. With that in mind I picked up some cheap-o chrome polish (I'm not going to burn good money on Mothers or Maguire polish just to waste it on rusty metal). So, I took the cheap-o polish and a clean soft rag and started polishing and rubbing. And polishing and rubbing. I knew some of the grime/rust would come off but the heavy duty rust stayed put. I figured that was where the rust had "broken through" the chrome (or is it stainless?) surface and was forever pitted, and to prove my point I got my pen knife out and gently scraped a bit of the heavy rust. Imagine my astonishment when the rust flaked off, revealing the chrome underneath! Holy moly! I scraped other areas and found the same results. Now I'm excited - these bezels should clean up nicely! I am posting some pictures showing the results from just a half an hour of working on it. John asked me to humor him - I'm glad I did!

Example of voice #2: When it was time to go (much too quickly that comes around) I decided to really have a look at the horns again. Ernie told me to check the ground wires to the horns. There was only one wire connected by a slide-on connector on each horn and I was thinking the horns were grounded to the frame. I checked my wiring diagram for the Avanti and it showed a separate ground wire. So, I really opened my eyes and looked - first thing I saw was that the horns were not mounted to the frame, but to the fiberglass inner fender well on the engine compartment side. Well, I thought, it's not grounded there. So I looked at the horn by the supercharger and bam, there was the ground wire connected to the horn mounting bolt. Jeez (slapping forehead), what a dummy! That wire was nice and secure - that horn works well. I had a closer look at the other horn (the one that is balky) and, after moving some errant electrical tape out of the way, I saw the ground wire connected to the mounting bolt (slap forehead again). That wire is a little wiggly - seems to have a couple of strands broken. So, I bet when I freshen up that connection I will have a nice, original sounding horn.

I'm slow, but I get there eventually. Thanks Ernie and John, for pointing me in the right direction!

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Chris, see, I told you. Now just keep chipping away those rust flakes. They are actually softened a bit with the chrome polish. You will find with more elbow grease and time they will almost become like new. Take just one gauge at a time and work it until it sparkles, then move on. In a few days you will be done and blinded by the brilliance.

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It's Sunday, August 12. Another happy Avanti day - I got out early this morning, headed to the storage unit and picked up the Maroon Marauder (note how I change names back and forth). I brought her back to the home garage and it seemed like old times - sure is nice having her right here where I can work on her. I got right to it, installing the seat belts first, something I've been trying to get to for a couple of months now. I had decided I wanted to fix the "sister" hooks together with screws and nuts, as the original setup had them. Not to eschew the cotter pin setup that is called for on the replacement belt instructions, but because I want to remove the belts when I install carpet. Once I have the carpet in I'll install the belts with the cotter pins - for now they have the screws and nuts. After getting everything tightened down I hopped in and cinched the driver's side belt on. Nice fit, and now I feel secure in the seat - especially at high speeds, er, I mean highway speeds. Hehe....

Next, I went to the horn on the left side. The balky horn. This is getting old - I fiddled around with the ground wire I couldn't seem to see until a few days ago and made sure all the connections were tight. I tried the horn bar - nice solid horn sound. I fooled around with it some more and just the right side horn would work. So, I resolved to remove the left side horn and make sure the ground was good. Except the nut that holds the horn bracket is "welded" with rust (imagine that, on this car). So I sprayed some Kroil on it and I'll keep spraying Kroil on it for a week or so. Maybe she'll come off then. I checked the horn once more and she worked - OK, let's work on something else.

Next, I wanted to address the horn relay that I left hanging in the engine compartment. Why did I leave it hanging? Because the bolts that hold the old one on are frozen solid - not coming off. OK, time for the drill. So, I drilled the screw head off of one side. Then I twisted the old unit back and forth to hopefully loosen the remaining screw. Then I bent the horn relay back and forth until the mounting tab broke off, just leaving the tab and mounting screw. I clamped a Vice Grip on the screw head and twisted back and forth - movement! I was able to back the screw out with the Vice Grips then. I couldn't use the screw again, as it was slightly messed up from all the gnawing on it. Luckily, I found a suitable replacement and a new star washer and I was in business. I couldn't remove the screw that I had drilled the head off of - no matter, the new horn relay is not an exact replacement as far as mounting holes. So I used one bolt in the good mounting hole I had - holds tight and it's not a show car. I'll take it.

Next, the dimmer switch I left hanging because, well, because the old unit was frozen tight on its screws. Out came the drill again and I drilled both screws out. Bye bye to those screws and the old dimmer switch, itself corroded beyond any useful life. I located a couple of nice screws and nuts and soon the new dimmer switch was in its rightful place. Wow, I love getting stuff accomplished! But, by now I was beginning to feel that familiar urge. Drive! But first, my assignment from Professor Feser (wink, wink). Clean one gauge bezel each time. All right, just one - then I'm driving this baby!

I chose the temperature gauge to clean up. The last two pictures below show the before and after on that gauge. It looks beautiful! I had no idea it would clean up this nicely, and I have John Feser to thank for teaching me some things, not only about the gauge bezels, but other things as well. That's why I affectionately called him Prof. Feser. Speaking of the temp gauge, she's been showing some very nice numbers while driving (for the most part). She's been hanging right around 175, 180, even on a hot day. Not sure what has changed here, but I'm sure happy about it!.

And off I went, cruising about, mostly just rumbling along and jumping on it when the occasion arose. But mostly just an enjoyable drive in my Avanti on a pretty nice day. Can't beat that.

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It's Monday, August 13. Another quick stopover at the Avanti shed. I wanted to do another gauge cleaning, so I picked the amp gauge. I had hit that a little on Friday so I included a pre-pre cleaning pic, then a pre cleaning pic, then the results of the cleaning. One thing about cleaning and shining stuff - it makes the dirty and beat up stuff stand out all the more! I've been planning a big clean-up on the interior of the beast, just waiting for the right time. Plus, I'm trying to take care of other, more pressing items first. All in due time....

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Whew! Rough week! I last visited the Avanti on Monday to clean up another gauge bezel, then later on that day my back went out. It's been a number of years since my back has hurt this bad - it certainly has kept me from working on the Avanti. Still hurting, not as bad but still there. I'm still going to try to go get her tomorrow so I can hit a couple of more things on the list and maybe have some driving fun. I did find out how much the annual "car tax" is on the car, and I have decided to go ahead and register the old girl as an antique. Not that the tax was exorbitant or anything, it was more than I was expecting though. I just came to the conclusion, "Why pay all the "full freight" on a car that is basically a hobby?" Virginia law allows for the registering of vehicles older than 25 years as antiques, and the expense is much less than a regular "daily driver" fees. The downside is the restrictions on driving, but, as I am beginning to realize, I can pretty easily adhere to the restrictions with what I want to do with the car.

Another really big factor in my decision to go with antique registration is the fact that, in a few months, we will reach the 50th anniversary year of the Avanti. And I want the old 1963 plates on the car for that. I want to get the old girl somewhat presentable and celebrate 50 years of Avanti history in 2013. So, to that end, I purchased a set of 1963 Virginia plates today and I hope I can get the registration changed over by the end of the month.

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Sunday, August 19, a nice cooler day for Avanti fun. As is becoming my routine, I made the trip to the storage unit early and got the car ready to bring out. I added a half quart of the Valvoline VR1 Racing oil to bring the oil level up, then off we were! Last week I worked on the horn and thought I had it working. Then, when I took the car back to the unit, I tried the horn again. This time all I heard was a faint clicking - neither horn would work! So I unplugged the troublesome left horn and then the right horn worked. That's when I resolved to just replace the left horn with the universal replacement unit I picked up at Advance. And that was the first thing I tackled when I got her back home this morning. I was surprised at the basic, straightforward job it was to install the universal unit. First I had to try to remove the stock horn - I had treated the mounting nut with Kroil earlier this week, but, since the horn is situated on the hard times left side of the car the nut was not gonna budge.

I call the left side of the car the hard times side because it seems everything on that side of the car is, or was, super corroded, just beat with the rust stick until it could take no more. I'm not sure how this car was positioned when it sat for 24 years, but I have a feeling the left side was facing a large body of water. Who knows, maybe the car was laying on its side in a drainage canal all that time. Anyway, the mounting nut for the horn wasn't coming off, so, holding the horn tight, I gave it some good torque with the wrench counterclockwise. The I gave it some torque the other way - back and forth I went with the wrench. After a few times the mounting bolt broke off - works for me.

After that it was just a matter of utilizing the mounting hardware supplied with the horn - pretty good deal for 20 bucks. I think it's made in America too. They even supply a lead wire with a push on connector for the ground wire. I just hooked it to the existing ground wire and connected the wires - now I have a loud horn. It's not stock, but someday in the future I'm sure I'll find a horn at a meet for a reasonable price and it'll be stock again.

After that I tackled two of the gauge bezels (extra credit), cleaning the rust monster remains off them. They came pretty clean, the vacuum gauge looks like a good one to tackle next. After I get the really bad coating of rust off all the gauges I am going to go over all of them again and see just how much they'll shine. Sitting in the car and looking around, I see the things the car needs just to make it presentable. If I had a couple of grand I think I could make the interior look half decent. Carpet, headliner, door handles, window cranks, dash cover, paint, etc. We'll see - lots to do on this beast, I hope I have it in me to do a fair job on it.

Since I had a working horn and a couple of more clean gauges I decided to go for a ride.

Sitting at a light a guy looked over and said, "What year?"

"1963", I replied.

"Studebaker?"

"Yep."

"Sounds real good", he said.

"Sure does", I smiled, taking off down the road in my Avanti.

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P.S. In the fourth picture above I have the ground wires connected together with a bolt. I didn't like that, so I connected both ground wires to the mounting nut of the new horn. Looks better and works well. Also, in the gauge pictures, you might notice the tach is showing 1500 RPM and the oil pressure is showing zero. Pretty scary scenario in most instances - but in this instance my tach is stuck at 1500, whether the engine is running or not. In this case the engine was not running - thankfully!

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Thanks, Ben. I'm inching along with progress. Maybe she'll be in fair shape for her 50th!

And John, yep, I'm so glad you suggested I get after those gauges. From looking at them I thought they were hopelessly eaten and pitted by rust. I'm going to listen to you more often in the future :D

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Chris- It is interesting that your tach sticks at the same 1500 as mine. Sometimes in the fall with cooler temps and lower humidity I can tap on the face and mine will work properly. I am thinking it needs to be removed and cleaned, maybe just sprayed with electrical contact cleaner to de-gum the needle movement?

I should see the air cleaner base from SI today or Tues and I think I can finally bring my car home. Can't believe it got lost between three shops but that is the only part in two years so that is good.

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Bill - thanks for that info. Maybe a problem specific to this tach? It's good to know - I've tapped on mine a couple of times but it ignores me. Maybe when it gets cooler...

You are lucky that you only lost the one item, a relatively small item at that. Not a whole engine or transmission!

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It's Tuesday, August 21 - hopefully the waning days of a very hot summer. I got by the storage unit at lunch today (yay!). On Sunday, after driving around a bit, I was headed back to the stable when I realized the signal lights were not working. They had been working when I started out driving. Oh well, must just be a flasher, I figured. Before I closed up the unit I pulled the flasher so I could get another this week. Naturally, as the minutes and hours ticked by I began to have thoughts in my mind. "What if I messed something up fooling with that horn?" "I hope I didn't blow any fuses", "Maybe I caused an electrical malfunction because of the way I installed the horn". "Relax, if you caused a major electrical problem you'd be standing beside the road with a charred hunk of Avanti". "True".

So on it went in my mind. The reason being, when I broke the bolt off that held the horn, the bolt stayed put in its mounting - like its a stationary mount, rather than a free moving bolt. So, I just mounted the horn to the frame for now, until such time I felt like pulling the wheel and getting some good drill bits, and drilling it out. So I went from a horn mounted to fiberglass to a horn mounted to the frame. Then I tied in the ground from the second push on connector of the new horn to the white ground wire of the wiring harness, then attached them both to the horn mount. So basically I ended up with the ground wires grounded to the frame and to the main ground wire for the whole electrical system. Looking at the wiring diagram, all the lights, gauges, etc. tie to the white ground wire. Maybe that's why the signal lights stopped working?

So I resolved to put the horn ground back the way I had it. Connect the new ground wire to the main ground (white) wire and leave it like that. Which is what I did. Then I installed the new flasher and checked out the signal lights. They work fine - actually better than before. A better flasher, I believe. I also checked all the other lights, all fine (one backup light out, gotta fix that). So now I can sleep easy. Oh, and the horn? I tried it - didn't sound so great. It didn't have that loud blast I heard the other day. I unhooked the right horn - then the new horn blasted. What's up with that? Dunno - I hate horns. I'm leaving the right horn unhooked and we'll just see how the new horn does. I promise, no more horn stories - time to move on.

Then it was time to hit another gauge - the rusty, crusty vacuum gauge. She came pretty clean for the first pass. I'll hit them all again once I get the first 20 years of crud off all of them. A couple of extra pictures - one shows my new tool bag from Sears, to replace the cardboard box I was using. And, a spiffy extendable magnetic picker upper with light. Ooooo...way cool!

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August marches on - now the 22nd. I guess there's about one month left until fall (can't come soon enough for me). I went home for lunch today and to take care of a couple of things, checked the mail and there were my 1963 license plates! I was expecting them and am happy to say they look pretty good. Some rust (who invented that stuff?) attacking the edges of the plates, it's starting to get pretty serious on the one plate. I'll take some Rust Reformer to it tonight, that should take care of that. Then I'll have to try to match up the original color paint and do a little touch up. Overall though, they're in pretty good shape. I'm excited about getting the old style plates on the car, hopefully I'll make some progress on that later this week.

I also took a few minutes to have a look at the ignition shielding for the engine. I wanted to see how the chrome cleaner worked on the stainless - I just did the distributor cover for now. Cleaned up nicely - it's not chrome, but still looks good. I'm going to make the re-install of that shielding my next item on the list. Then it'll be the door locks. And the window seals loom over the horizon like a scary sky - gotta hit that too before long.

Finally, I made a list of a few items that I think will freshen up the interior some. Not all the things it could use, but select items that might make the old car look a little more presentable (it is coming up to her 50th, you know). The total for those items? A grand. Not saying I'm gonna do it, just window shopping.

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Chris, re the paint for the plates. Head to your local hobby store and get a small bottle of enamel paint and a fine brush. A little sand paper will clean up the rust and then you can just paint it. Take a plate with you to match the color.

I ended up buying Model Master Enamel Gloss White FS17925. Or you may have to dull it down with a little flat white enamel or just get semi-gloss depending on the paint of your plates. I polished the heck out of my plates and the gloss white looks fine.

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It's Saturday evening - been busy the last couple of days taking care of this and that. I actually had some time to get some things done with the Avanti - not nearly as much as I wanted to but some progress anyway. I looked around for some paint for the vintage license plates I got but didn't have much luck. John Feser recommended some paint but the hobby shop was out of that - they don't have much paint to speak of for a hobby shop. I was able to find some paint at another store that looked like a good match so I picked it up. I had already treated the rusty areas with Rust Reformer so the plates were ready for paint. I painted the problem areas and I was pleased with the match. After the paint dried overnight on Thursday I took the tags to the DMV on Friday and had the registration changed to "antique". Things went fine - in and out of there in 15 or 20 minutes. Now I can put my vintage plates on the car and be one step closer to having the historic "look" for the 50th anniversary year coming up.

Since I had trouble finding the paint I needed for the tags I had to use what I could find. The color was a good match, but the finish was not - the paint dried too flat. So, I kept looking for for gloss white paint and finally found some today (you'd be surprised how few places carry hobby paints). So tonight I gave a touch-up coat over the first coat to give it a gloss finish. Turned out fairly good - not going to get a perfect match for plates that are 50 years old. But they look pretty good anyway.

I also got around to cleaning up the ignition shielding for the engine, something I want to install tomorrow. When the car was delivered to me last November the pieces had been removed and were in the passenger compartment. I put them aside until I could complete all the engine work and everything else - now it's time to get the engine looking original again, with everything bolted on. Also tomorrow, I'll put the vintage plates on and maybe get to clean up another gauge.Step by step...

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Sunday, August 26 - woke up this morning to torrential rain. Hmmm...won't be fetching the Avanti in this, I thought. But, there's nothing that says I can't head on over to the stable and try to accomplish something. So that's what I did, arriving around 10 o'clock. First off, I pulled the license plates off and replaced them with the new old plates. I must say, those old plates look like they belong on the old girl. Satisfied with that, I moved on to installing the ignition shielding. A few months back I had purchased a new set of acorn nuts for the ignition shielding from S.I. Now was my chance to use them - I was wondering how the main "box" (the piece that covers the distributor) would fit, but it went on with no problem. Then the wire cover pieces went on fairly easy. Then I got to the right side cover(sound of brakes screeching). Not going on unless you unbolt the air cleaner assembly. Oh no, I remember how much fun I had back in March trying to get that thing to fit, what with it having to hook up to the big supercharger hose, and the under bracket and the rocker cover stud bracket. I didn't want to have to go through that again. So, after finagling and pushing and pulling, I determined that I was going to have to at least remove the bracket nuts, top and bottom. And that's what I did, unbolting and pulling and pushing and turning and more finagling, sweating buckets the whole time.

Finally I worked the metal cover into position and bolted it fast. Then I pushed and pulled the air cleaner brackets into position and bolted them fast. Whew! I looked at the fender and had to chuckle - it was soaked with sweat, puddles of it. Well, almost done, just gotta get the left cover on. That was a piece of cake compared to the right side - pretty soon it was a done deal. Then I took some of the chrome cleaner I've been using on the gauges and cleaned up the valve covers and air cleaner. Looks pretty good. Speaking of looking good - the sun had been out for a half hour and things were looking pretty dry. Well, let's see, should I clean up the speedometer bezel, or should I fire this baby up and go for a ride. Ha! No brainer, as they say - I fired her up and took her out!

We had a nice ride here and there, just another pleasurable time cruising about. Sometimes just rumbling, sometimes jumping on it. I love it when I'm running up through the gears and I get to third and I open her up - the secondaries open, the supercharger whines, and she starts to fly. A real thrill, I gotta say. But all fun must end, and too soon we were back at the stable. I took a moment and walked around her - what a car! And, like I said before, those license plates look really cool on her - it's like we've gone back in time to 1963 - love it! Before I put her to bed I tried the horn. Nice and loud. Good! And as I closed up the door to the the unit the skies opened up and the rains came. Perfect timing.

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Tuesday afternoon - I was able to get by to see the Avanti today at lunch. I took the chrome cleaner with me and attacked the speedometer bezel. Another one down - I guess the clock or tach is next, all depends how much time I have next time I visit. I started fooling with the turn signal indicator bezel to see if the rust would come off of it. It does, so does the little black arrow! Oops. I hate when that happens. I was giving the bezel some chrome cleaner treatment and wah-lah, the arrow disappeared. Oh well, gives me something to keep an eye out for at the next parts meet. Little arrow made it 50 years - then disappears in 3 seconds - arrrrggghhh.

Just grin and bear it....

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Chris, you might try cutting a small triangle of self-adhesive black vinyl (like the sign makers use.....in fact, you could probably get a scrap piece for free at a sign makers place) and stickng it on the turn signal indicator. Or even a triangle of black electrical tape although it may not stick well enough long term.

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Hey Paul - good to see you're still checking in on my fun. Yeah, I'll make something up until the day comes (or not) that I find those little indicators somewhere. I think they are pretty much the same on all the Studebaker models. In fact, I seem to remember, as a child, fooling around with the indicators in my father's Hawk, and pulling one of them out. I put it back real quick so I didn't get in trouble, but it's just a push in type deal. No biggie - I was just surprised when the arrow disappeared! I thought the arrow was on the inside of the indicator.

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Well, glad I haven't run you off with boredom, Paul! Here it is Wednesday, August 29, and I got to the Avanti space at lunch again today. Happy days! I wanted to stop in and grab the trunk access cover panel so I could possibly spiff it up some (if that's possible). It was attached until the towing job that took the old car to the shop in April. We flew down the road so fast that any bumps the tow truck hit had the Avanti bouncing around. So, when we arrived at the shop I noticed that cover was laying in the trunk. I figured the hinges broke off - that whole back shelf is hurting, all tired and sunken down toward the trunk. I have to have a close look at that shelf and determine what it's going to take to make it presentable again. I'm hoping I can take my scissor jack and straighten it, then brace it somehow. We'll see.

The reason that shelf is all saggy is because of all the years the car sat and the rear window leaked water all over it. It's a good thing the body is fiberglass on this car because all the floor pans would have been gone. After having a look at the access cover I saw where it has hinges that fit into slots, making the panel removable. So that's good, I think. Maybe I can clean it up, fix the shelf, and slid the hinges back in the slots. I hope.

Since I had the trunk open I decided to have a look at the back up light that is out. I removed the lens - the bulb was dirty, but looked like it was still good. So I cleaned the bulb and lens, took some chrome cleaner to the lens retainer and put things back together. Still didn't work - I removed the lens again and fiddled with the bulb. It lit up - just had to wiggle it around. So, I took some steel wool to the base of the bulb and shined it up. Put it back in and it wouldn't work - I noticed a tiny spark in the bulb at the filament. OK - she's done. Upon closer inspection I noticed the filament was separated - I guess that's to be expected for a bulb that's decades old. Time to pick up anew one.

Then, sticking to the plan of cleaning one gauge at a time, I hopped in and cleaned up the clock. Now all that remains is the tach - after I'm done with that I'll have another go at all of them. Maybe I can get them even shinier.

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Chris, I think that the package tray assembly is a fiberboard material. Your stuff has probably turned to sawdust. You can make a new one if you have a jigsaw. You just cut a new one, cover it with a thin foam and your vinyl and then install. Your old vinyl may clean up OK or you can order new from SI. Just depends on how you want to go. The fiberboard is available from many local sources. I would stop by your local auto trim place, or you can call Sterling Hot Rods, I know they have it or can get it for you.

Also why doing you take some pics of the entire car and interior so we can see your starting point.

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Hey John - well, it hasn't turned to sawdust, but it's all warped and messed up. I'm thinking I can clean up the old unit and attach a new piece of hardboard to it. I checked Home Depot - they have a piece of hardboard, 2'x4' for $5.47. Seems like a good deal to me - I'll check it out in the next couple of days.

I've been planning on doing some cleaning on the interior - it is really bad, all mildewed and crusty. Yes, I'll take some before and after pictures of the interior clean up and refresh and post them. I also want to replace the door locks - so those are the next things on the list, door locks, cleaning, and try to fix that shelf/access opening cover. And, oh, the front and rear window seals loom in the future. Just too much fun!

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Evening, August 29. Upon closer inspection the hardboard of the trunk access door is not too bad, considering what it's been through. It's the trunk side cover that is hurting, basically a thick piece of cardboard that has warped and is flaking into pieces. It is attached to the hardboard with several short screws. So now I'm not looking for hardboard, but cardboard. Let's see, where might I find that - I know some inexpensive furniture has it as its backboards. Stapled to the back of dressers and cabinets. Hmmm...I bet I could probably find that stuff at Home Depot, maybe.

Well, I removed the rotting cardboard and took a solution of water, bleach, a little soap, and TSP and scrubbed it up. Cleaned up fairly well - then I sprayed it with vinyl restorer and wiped off the excess. The panel, or door, as I've been calling it, has a slight bow in it, so when I put it to bed for the night I laid it flat, raised up off the work table. Then I put a couple of bricks in the middle. It might take a couple of years to get the bow out, however. Maybe I'll drive the car over it - just kidding. We'll see how the bricks do.

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Here it is Thursday already. I got by the storage unit again today at lunch - third day in a row! More fun with the Mightyfast Avanti, although not of the driving type of fun. I stopped by the auto parts store on the way and picked up a couple of new bulbs so I could get the back up light working. I hit that as soon as I arrived and I soon had a working set of lights. Then I attacked the last gauge bezel, the one belonging to the tach. It came clean, not like new but shiny enough. I'll keep hitting them all with polish from time to time and hopefully they'll be pretty nice by the time I finish sprucing up the interior. That's all I had time to do - back to the grind I went.

Tonight I checked on the trunk access door - the bricks seem to have straightened the bow out of it, so I sprayed some more vinyl restorer on it and left it. Now I have to figure out where to get that pressboard stuff that attaches to the underside. No rush, but it will be nice to have it ready to re-install. Looking forward to a long holiday weekend - I want to take the old car for a long ride here and there and maybe even get to those door locks.

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Thanks Ben. You must be reading my mind about that steering column - just a few hours ago I was thinking about the right paint for that. I was wondering, "Is that fawn, or white?" Then I seemed to remember that Studebaker International has steering column paint. I'll have a look at their catalog. I want to do a "freshen up" on the interior - cleaning, new carpet, door sills, door handles and a headliner. And I'll have a go at that rusty steering column too. Hopefully by the end of the year?

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Sunday, September 2. Another Avanti Sunday - this one had some good and some not so good parts to it. I got to the storage unit a little later than usual - I wanted to take the car for a longer than usual run. First, I took a few pics of the interior to show what I'm up against. I will post some more pics this week as I (hopefully) commence the task of trying to clean the interior and refresh it somewhat. There's only so much you can do with a car that has spent many years in neglect. Hopefully, with some scrub-a-dub-dub I can bring her back to a somewhat presentable appearance. A headliner, carpet, some door sills, door handles and ashtrays will go a long way toward freshening things up. So, there you are - the first few pictures of the interior, in all her splendor. I plan on doing the interior much the same way I did the gauges - a bit at a time. After a while it might look halfway decent.

After taking the pictures I gave the old car the once over, checking fluids and lights, etc., making sure everything was good to go. I fired her up, went to the gas station and got 6 gallons of gas. That should get me through the day. I headed for the interstate highway - the first time she had been on the interstate under her own power. I took her up to speed and headed west - she did fine at interstate speed, never missing a beat. I thought about heading to the Feser's, but I didn't want to just drop in. Instead, after 15 or 20 miles on the interstate I exited and headed off onto a secondary road and headed out into an area of farms and estates. My first stop was at an old church with a cemetery surrounding it. I wanted to take a scenic picture of the car by the church, so I pulled behind the church on the cemetery access road and shut the car off. I got out, had a look, and decided that it was perfect for a picture of the old car and the church. I framed the shot, depressed the camera button, and the camera died. Batteries dead! Grrrrrr....the first pain of the day. Oh well, a great shot wasted. And that meant the next shot I wanted to take (a picture of the Avanti by an old barn belonging to some folks I know) wasn't going to happen either.

So, I resolved to head into Warrenton, the nearest town, and get some batteries - then take my shots on the way back. I headed to Warrenton the back way, enjoying the easy, traffic free trip through the monied estates. I headed to the first shopping center I came to and pulled up in front of a Sears Hardware. I don't like leaving the car parked in public where I can't see it because I can't lock it up (another reason that the door locks are next on the list). I went in, hoping batteries would be right next to the checkout area. Looking around, and not seeing batteries, I asked, "Do you have batteries?" "Yes, over there in tools." Way over there in tools. 200 feet away. I decided to head to a convenience store and pay extra for convenience. I headed back to the car, got in and cranked the engine. And cranked the engine. And cranked the engine.

She wouldn't start. Before completely draining the battery I decided to wait a bit and see if she would fire. I waited. I cranked. Not gonna do it. Luckily, the shopping center resides on top of a hill, and I was parked at the top. I pushed the car back out of the parking space, hopped in and began the descent down the parking lot. I turned the key on, stuck the gearshift in first (note to self: next time use second so you don't rip the rear end out). After rolling halfway down the hill I dumped the clutch, the rear wheels grabbed hard, barked (see note to self) and she fired. Oh well, I thought, I'm not getting any batteries here - I'm taking the old girl back to her stable. And that's what I did - she ran beautifully all the way back, she ran beautifully all day as a matter of fact. She just didn't want to start once she was shut down. I ran through a pretty heavy rain shower on the way back - the most rain she's had on her since I've owned her. She did fine.

All in all, I logged about 75 miles round trip, and, as I said, she didn't miss a beat. All the gauges looked good - the temperature even behaved, only rising to 185, 190 during extended highway speeds. Only problems I encountered were bad camera batteries and a non-starting car. When I returned to the storage unit I left her running as I removed my daily driver from the unit. I backed the Avanti into the unit and shut her off. Realizing I was in the unit crooked I attempted to start her up and straighten her out. She wouldn't start.

The only clue I have at this point is the smell of the exhaust when trying to start the car. Remember, in the old days, when you would shut a car off and the engine would "run on". Sometimes the motor would sputter and cough for a minute or so before finally shutting down. And the exhaust from that "run on" would have a distinct smell. That's the smell I'm getting - brings back old memories as a matter of fact.

Does the timing need to be advanced? Fuel mixture too lean? Anybody have thoughts on it? Hope so!

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Chris, oh you were so close. You should have dropped by.

Re your starting issue. The first thing that you have to check is your starting circuit wiring. This is the wire that goes from the ignition switch directly to the coil. Remember, you have a starting and running circuit. The running circuit goes through the resistor and drops the voltage from 12 to 8 volts, which is much easier on the points. The starting circuit does not engage the running circuit until you release the key. So I suspect that the green wire (yours may be a different color) has come loose from the coil or the key switch. Most likely it has broken at the coil. So this is why your car will not start when starting, but runs when the key is in the on/running position.

And the smell, that is hot fuel vaporizing and blowing out the exhaust.

Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)
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Thanks for the info John - when the car would not fire my first thought was the coil, then I figured I would try to jump it. Then it started and ran fine so I was puzzled - good to know the info you provided. Makes sense to me now. I'll run by the unit and check it out today.

Yes, I was almost at your doorstep - ah, well, I'll be out that way again soon. It's nice to drive those country roads in the old Avanti!

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John & Seventhson;

I don't believe you are correct about the green wire. Studebaker did not issue a service letter (J-1963-11) until March 1963 about installing the bypass wire. Prior to then all Avanti's (mine included) did not have the by pass wire. and the cars started when the ignition switch was in the start position. Originally (and after the change) wire 22A (black with green tracer) went from the run position of the ignition switch to the resistor that is before the coil. For the change the factory ran a wire from the second small terminal on the starter solenoid to the ignition coil by passing the resistor for starting.

As for why the Avanti will not start, I don't know. It will be interesting if it starts the next time Seventhson visits the car.

Ron

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Monday, September 3. Happy Labor Day all you hard workers out there! A little departure from cars on this post - we paid a visit to the nearby Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum. Not cars, but planes - but since a lot of wartime military production fell to the automakers I guess it counts. Amazing collection of historical airplane artifacts, from the power plants to planes. A lot of American pride in that building - the pictures start with my personal favorite plane of World War II, the P47 Thunderbolt, a terrifying monster of a plane. If you were the enemy and you saw one of these drop down out of the sky toward you on a strafing run you'd better hope there was a stout concrete wall you could jump behind. Or invisibility was a secret power you possessed. Otherwise, you were, as they say, toast.

Second picture is a P51 Mustang in private colors, the fighter that holds the distinction of having the second most enemy aircraft "kills" of the allied forces. Third picture is a P38 Lightning (positioned beneath the B29 bomber), the plane my father was most familiar with, as he helped work on and maintain them in the South Pacific theater of the war. Picture 4 is the Space Shuttle Discovery, I believe a recent addition to the collection. The first shuttle on exhibit here that actually flew in space. Number 5 is a picture of the B29 Superfortress, the big bomber. Picture 6 is just a view of a bunch of the planes - the Concorde being a prominent one in the bunch. I threw in picture 7 for Dale, a tiny plane built for Mr. Crosley, of radio and car fame. Picture 8 is the P40 Warhawk and picture 9 is the F4U Corsair a carrier capable "gullwing" fighter. Lots to see and learn at this museum - if you're visiting the D.C. area put it on the "to do" list.

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After returning from the museum I found I had a few minutes to kill so I headed straight to the storage unit. I removed the center ignition shielding cover and had a look at the wires. All seemed tight except one - the wire that runs from the coil to the distributor. That wire was a little "wiggly" at the coil, meaning it felt like it had a few strands broken. Hmmm...I removed it from the coil and had a closer look at it. It didn't seem as bad as I first thought so I re-attached it, since I didn't have my extra wire connector ends and crimper tool with me. All wires looked fine and attached tight so I figured I would see if the car would start (probably should have done that first). I hopped in and cranked her over. Two cranks and she fired right up. Sat there and idled like a race car (I love the sound of this car idling. Actually, I love the sound of this car all the time, idling, highway speed, flat out). I shrugged my shoulders and set about re-installing the ignition shielding cover. Once that was back together I hopped in again and tried the ignition again. Two cranks and she fired right up. I sat and listened to it idle. Nice. I shut it down since I didn't want to be found expired from CO poisoning.

So, what's the deal, Lucille? I have no idea - maybe a fluke, maybe the long trip overheated something? Coil going bad? Vapor lock? Looks like a mystery for now - but I'll see how she does on my next long trip. Maybe I should start carrying an extra coil, wire, connectors, etc. Probably a good idea anyway.

Also, I have noticed that my Avanti has the wire that runs from the coil to the starter solenoid. I noticed that some time ago.

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Thursday, September 6. A couple of days away from the Avanti - I finally was able to get by the storage unit for a drive-by work session. I'm getting ready to replace the driver's side door lock, so I can lock the old car up when I want to leave her for a few minutes (or hours). A few months ago I got the door latch and window crank handle removal tool from S.I. in preparation of pulling the door panels. I know the tool can be purchased at auto parts stores, but since I was ordering a bunch of stuff at the time from S.I. I just went ahead and got it from them. That way I would have it when I needed it, which was today.

I went by at lunch time and got to it. Actually, the other night when I stopped by to check out the ignition wires I pulled the window crank handle. I started in on the inside door handle but it was being cantankerous. So I left it til today. It must have felt better today because it only took about 30 seconds for me to remove it. Then it was a matter of removing the inside lock lever and escutcheon, the screws on the inner door pull, and various screws holding the panel in place. Then the panel came off - you can see in the pictures what I'm up against. Specifically, the pitting and rot and general deterioration of the various components. I'll do my best to clean them up, but I lost my magic wand so there will be only so much I can do.

After pulling the panel I starting checking out how the exterior door handle comes off. I read about it the other day in the shop manual so I had a general idea. There is a screw that comes in from the side , basically near the door latch, that is covered up by the rubber door seal. Not a problem in this case, as the rubber has pretty much all rotted away on this car. What was left of it I pulled off a while back when I was trying to get the door to close tightly. Peering into the access opening by the latch I saw there are also 2 nuts holding the exterior door handle on. Unfortunately I had left my socket set with extensions at home. Screech. Fun time over. No matter, it was high time to head back to work anyway. I'll just bring the socket set with me tomorrow.

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