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Chris, it is good to see you making progress, a couple of small steps at a time will get you to the end of the road. I am still walking that road too, but I think I see the end just around the bend.

Re anti-freeze. You still have that old gunk in the heater. I would just us plain water and flush it a couple of times before you put in the new anti-freeze. Not going to freeze in the garage for sure this time of the year.

Edited by unimogjohn (see edit history)
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Hey Chris, don't feel too badly or get disappointed in whatever progress you make, learning curves with hands-on experience make great subject matter years after it's over, ha ! We bought a really nice looking street rod truck over here that had been built in a pro shop on the mainland over a period of more than two years, and I can count on something else needing tweaking, adjusting, tightening, replacing, or just plain "cussed" at every time I drive it. The Avanti will more than make up for your trials when you get to start using it, they are SO neat, great sounding and driving, and attention-grabbing- -you'll be proud you did it. Plus, it's fun remembering what all kinds of cars folks have asked you that it is- -Jag, Jenson, Volvo, Mercedes, Barracuda, etc, etc,. Hang in there, John

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Good idea John F., I hadn't even thought of that really. The water will give it a good clean out from all my rooting around in the block, along with the heater core gunk. Plus, I can check for leaks before I put anti-freeze in. Thanks!

John B., thanks for the encouragement - I need it! I haven't reached the point of hiding the household hammers yet, but I'm close. I just need to keep my mind on what you said, fun to drive and get lots of looks! By the way, at the York meet I saw those plastic headlight covers you mentioned a while back. Dave Thibeault had them on his table - $69 apiece. I told his wife, "Now I know where to get 'em!"

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Well, I didn't break anything. I think. I removed the voltage regulator, which I'm going to put with the alternator and send to Dave Thibeault for a rebuild. Rebuild on the alternator and convert the voltage regulator to a solid state unit. I cleaned up around the lifter valley cover, poured a little STP over the lifters, and put the re-chromed cover on. Looks nice! They did as good a job as could be expected on that chrome - the rust had attacked it pretty bad (imagine that, on this car). I removed the old, crusty rubber oil pressure line and replaced it with a nice new one. Another step done.

A few steps at a time, like they say, slow and steady wins the race. I'll take that!

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Made a couple of more small steps tonight, inching closer to the goal line. I moved to the left side of the engine compartment to install the exhaust manifold and change the plugs. I took a stainless steel bolt from the dozen or so I bought a few weeks ago and used it as a thread chaser. I just put a little machine oil on the bolt and hand tightened it in each bolt hole, working it back and forth until the bolt easily went in. I would remove the bolt during the process and wipe the threads clean, put a few more drops of oil on and continue the process. It made for an easier install when I put the exhaust manifold on - not too bad of an install.

Then I moved to the spark plugs, bracing myself for another fight for the threads to release. I was pleasantly surprised when each plug came right out, they were basically near loose. Yay! I figure the folks who got the car running in Texas probably removed them at some point and gently re-installed them. I then got my Champion plugs, gapped them at 0.034, and in they went. Progress, I'll take it.

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Well, I spent the day spinning my wheels trying to get the frozen exhaust manifold bolts out of the head. It's a tight spot, hard to get any tools in there to work. I finally decided to surrender and pull the head - should have done that 2 weeks ago but I just didn't want to feel like I was going backward again. But, as with a lot of things, sometimes you have to go backward before you can go forward. I'll be glad to get the head off and to a machine shop so they can extract the bolts. They'll probably have to put a helicoil in one, after they drill out the bolt extractor I broke off in it. Sorry, no pictures, I wasn't in the mood. Tomorrow, after I remove the head...

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Thanks backyard mechanic, I thought of that during one of my middle of the night "think sessions". I still have the old manifolds, I'll take the right one with me - I hope this procedure isn't going to cost too much.

Thanks John, hopefully it'll be a quick turnaround and I can get back moving forward. Avanti!

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This afternoon I went ahead and removed the head. Last night I cracked most of the bolts loose and got ready to pull the head. Today, after taking it easy for the first part of the day and restoring my motivation I finished removing the head. In a couple of the pictures you can see the bolts are numbered - I like to put everything back where it came from, including (especially) the push rods. The only slight surprise was finding where I had hit one of the head bolts when drilling the broken off bolt. I just put a tiny divot in it - I don't think it compromised the integrity of it, but if I could find another I would replace it. I was more startled that I may have broken through the head wall into the bolt channel. After examining the head when I pulled it I found that some of the exhaust manifold bolt holes extend right into the head bolt channels. I was relieved to find out that I hadn't broken through into a bolt channel. I still hope it can be fixed - I think a good machine shop shouldn't have a problem with it. We'll see....

I examined the cylinder walls and, once again, I'm pleasantly surprised. The cylinder walls are very smooth, and the best thing, there is virtually no ridge. I was very surprised. I think this engine must only have the 68,000 miles showing on the odometer, or someone has done some work on it. I'll probably never know, but I like what see, just like I liked what I heard last November when I ran it briefly. I think it's a good motor.

I was going to just ask the machine shop folks about fixing the problem area where the exhaust manifold bolt hole is messed up (by me) and extracting the other broken off bolt. Now I think I will ask them about doing that and also grinding the valves and replacing the valve seals. Since they'll have it in the shop - shouldn't cost too terribly much more....maybe? When I got the car there were several gaskets and such in the back seat. In an envelope I found a set of valve seals - I'll take those along to the shop since I'm not sure if those seals are readily available.

Speaking of gaskets, in the back seat there was also a set of head gaskets. However, the are quite a bit thicker than the gasket that came off the engine. Does anybody know why the new head gaskets would be thicker? Would it affect the compression ratio to any extent? I'll probably get a new set, if I can find them, I just wondered if I could use the one that is a bit thicker than original.

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Recently I was asked if I had re-named my Avanti. I began to think about some possible names, so far here's what I have:

1. Queen of Spades (Queen for short): I've mentioned this a couple of times on this blog. Thirty years ago I played a lot of the card game "Hearts" with my drinking buddies. For the life of me I couldn't tell you today how Hearts is played (probably has something to do with the drinking part), but I do remember that the Queen of Spades was known as the B***h. So, since I'm using that word quite a bit these days I thought I should somehow memorialize it.

2. BOAT: On the TV show "Pawn Stars" the pawn shop owner, Rick Harrison, hates to buy boats. Why? Because they're money hogs. Every time Rick even considers buying a boat he takes the boat to his "boat guy", a guy who knows boats and can advise Rick on whether he should buy the boat. And this "boat guy" always says, "You know what BOAT stands for? Bust Out Another Thousand!" So, that's why I'm thinking of calling my Avanti BOAT.

3. The Silver Streak: If I ever get to paint this ride Avanti Gray, and it has that sort of silver gray look to it, I might start calling her The Silver Streak (for obvious reasons).

4. The Gray Ghost: Once again, if I get her painted Avanti Gray, I may give a nod to one of our local marauders from the Civil War, Col. John Singleton Mosby, known by his moniker "The Gray Ghost".

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Thanks Roger - I think I'll replace the head gasket with a like kind thin one. Keep it the same as the other side. I'll look around for bolts - I used to have access to lots of those, but they're gone now. Ah well, makes it interesting....

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Nice work Chris, you are going to have one fine running engine when you finish. I chose a similar path, I decided to redo the engine and drive train and get the car running real smooth so I could enjoy driving it, I can always do the cosmetic stuff. When you redo the head get some new valve guides pressed in along with the valve seals, and clean them valves up real nice. If you can depress the valve springs with just the pressure of your hand, the springs are shot so check that out too. You don't want the engine rpm falling off just when you are busting a move on some 'vette or camaro, do you???!!!!

LOOKING GOOD!

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Thanks big bro' - I hope you don't get disappointed in me if I throw this head right back on. I think the engine is a real "mail hauler" already, from what I heard and what the guys in Texas told me. I think they were being truthful when they told me the car will fly. I hope to find out soon - hehehe....I'm not gonna do anything stupid, but I would like to see how she runs. I took the head to the machine shop today and asked about getting the 2 broken off bolts out. The guy asked me, "Have we had any help?", meaning, did I mess it up first? Haha - I guess they get that a lot. He kind of dissuaded me from grinding the valves - he said on the old motors the lead in the gas from old days actually protects the valve seats, and if you grind that off you start getting deterioration on the seats. Made sense to me. Maybe he didn't want to mess with it. Anyway, I couldn't get a firm price or finish date from him, so I said thanks and left.

Twenty minutes later I was at another machine shop dropping the head off - just get the bolts out and fix up this torn up spot. The machinist said he would do what he could, "It wouldn't be pretty, though." OK - I can deal with ugly, as long as it works. He called me a few hours later and said to bring the exhaust manifold by (I ASKED him if I should leave it with him). He says he got everything fixed up - might have to adjust the manifold bolt hole though. Arrrrggggghhh, a brand new manifold! He said it was better than a brand new head. I couldn't argue with him. I'll know more tomorrow - it was too late when he called for me to make the trip to his shop.

Tonight I installed the left side down pipe - it's so nice to have new studs and nuts and gaskets and pipes. New is the way to go! Last picture shows the divot I put in the head bolt.

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No indeed I am quite happy to share in your excitement as you wrestle your way thru this most recent endeavor of yours. If you are happy with your engine I am happy! It is no small expense to redo those heads so why not use the car while your resources recover from this onslaught! Youve done an excellent job so far and your gaining on it now. Onward and upward with the little mauve color rose of Texas.

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Man, you aren't kidding about an onslaught! Jeez - I've never worked on a car with so many frozen bolts! I've spent a fair amount of money just on extraction tools and such. Didn't really expect that...thanks for the encouragement, it's good to have the support of other Avanti people, especially when they're your own brother!

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I made the trip to Falls Church yesterday at lunch for the second day in a row. I went to the machine shop to see how things went with the exhaust bolt extraction. The bolts were out - they gave a good fight but lost in the end. However, the head suffered some collateral damage and "adjustments" will have to be made in the mounting of the exhaust manifold. The machinist recommends using a stud at the point where the most drilling took place - I may have to adjust the manifold bolt hole some to get a fit. I will also fill in the gaping maw where all the damage was incurred - probably with ThermoSteel or Permatex Hi-Temp epoxy. The machinist was talking about keeping it and the new manifold and making everything pretty - I saw dollars with wings flying out of my wallet, so I said I would take it from here. Plus, if I have to make the trip for a third time I will check myself into an insane asylum. I was already in it for too much and the bolts were out - that's what I needed. I will post some pictures in the next couple of days when I prepare the head for re-install.

Last night I installed the re-plated valve cover on the left side. It's about as good a re-chrome job as could be expected on such a rusty piece. It's fine for a driver - probably get some points deducted in the Concours though. I also started installing the re-built power booster but held off because there is a plate that fits on the back of the unit and I'm not sure which way that goes (it has a little cutout on one side, does that go up or down?) I want to find out before I go ahead with the install.

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With John's helpful picture I was able to continue the install last night of the brake booster unit. After that I proceeded with installing the master cylinder. I got a new brake light switch last week, which I installed too. The lead wires for the stop light switch are in need of help (imagine) - I'll have to address that. The wires are half broken off, probably going to have to snip them off and install new connectors so we have a nice connection.

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If memory serves me that push rod on the brake booster which goes into the Master Cylinder has a critical adjustment. To long and the brakes drag, to short and you have no brakes and I am not sure the Shop Manual is much help. There is another book out titled "What the Avanti Workshop Manual Doesn't Tell You" and I believe I found it in there. FYI

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Hmmm...the things you find out. I need to get a copy of that book! Where did you get that, by the way?

Well, I try to do something every day on the Avanti. If time is limited I try to pick one of the thousand things that need to be done that may take a little time. Of course, it usually takes a longer amount of time. I didn't have a lot of time tonight so I decided to work on the trunk latch that was all frozen stuck with rust and crud. I removed the trunk latch a couple of weeks ago when I pulled the new release cable in through the passenger compartment. It was bad, frozen stuck and basically petrified. So, I attacked it with wire brushes and Liquid Wrench. Scraped, brushed, and sprayed. Worked the release mechanism. Sprayed more, worked the mechanism more, Slowly it thawed out from its long rusty freeze. Now it works smoothly! Hooray!

I also looked over the wheels on the car in order to pick one for the spare. I thought the one in the trunk might work, but upon closer inspection I found it to be the least desirable option. Rust had attacked it mercilessly - it will find a new home at the scrap yard. The wheels on the rear of the car are rust bombed also. So, it falls to one of the front wheels, I picked one and put it in the truck to take to the tire shop tomorrow for a new tire. I'll just get the cheapest radial 205/75/15 they have - just for use as a spare. The rest of the wheels are heading to the scrap yard once I get four new wheels made for radials. Note the old bias ply tire on the original spare. Probably the tire that came with the car.

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Chris, re your spare. Folks are looking for original spare tires for display if they are correct to the car. You might check yours to be sure and then if you do not want it offer it for sale.

On the book. Here is the information. Go to the web site for ordering and pricing information.

Stan Gundry, Author/Publisher

What The Shop Manual Won't Tell You: Studebaker Avanti Restoration and

Maintenance.

For information about this book, go to: AvantiPublishing

If you have questions, write me at: sgundry@aol.com

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Thank you John - the help you have provided along the way is immeasurable. I will order that book today. Who knew someone may want the spare tire? I will keep it around in case anybody wants it.

Enjoy your trip John and Alice!

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Hmmm, I wonder if anyone out there would want it. The wheel is way rusty, but the tire looks to be an original bias ply Firestone. The tread looks like it maybe has not seen the pavement. I'll take a closer look this weekend.

Tonight I started working on the head - I'll post some pictures in the morning. For now, time to rest.

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Well, finally got back to the computer. I sort of overslept this morning, which set the pace for the whole day. One step behind. But I recovered and was able to get some things accomplished. Last night I took a good look at the head. Whew, those rusted bolts sure took a toll - like everything in life it would be good to know then what I know now. If I knew then what I know now I would have drilled 2 small holes at a diagonal above each rusted bolt stud, intersecting the bolt. I would have the dripped or sprayed Kroil into each hole repeatedly for a week. Then I would have tried the extraction. Oh well, it's done now and hopefully I am on the other side of it.

After examining the damage I proceeded with the plan the machinist had laid out - screw the stud in tight, making sure not to enter the head bolt channel (no worry there, the stud wouldn't go that far). Then I filled the damaged area around the stud with JB Weld (how did I live without that stuff before?). Then I put it to bed. Tonight I filed the excess JB Weld down flat across the exhaust port, then began the process of fitting the exhaust manifold. Because the stud was basically beside the old bolt location I had to file the exhaust manifold holes on that right end. A little from the top hole, a little from the bottom hole. I kept filing and checking until the manifold fit, with all bolts installed. Halfway there. Now I have to re-install the head and move forward. Speaking of re-installing the head, in the Avanti manual they say to apply "Perfect Seal" gasket sealer. I'm sure they don't make that anymore, however, I never used any type of sealer on a head gasket. Anybody out there use a sealer on a head gasket? I received the new gasket on Friday from Studebaker International - it's not metal like the old one, sort of cardboard like. I'll have to research more before I proceed.

The last pictures are the block cleaned up for head install and the new spare tire I got on Friday.

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I've never used any sealers on any head gaskets I've installed. Some gaskets I've used had a small bead of some sort sealing compound on them but usually only around the water or oil ports.

Do all the bolts fit snug within the manifold's bolt holes or is there a little play around them? I was wondering if you needed to provide a similar amount of clearance around the new stud to allow for expansion and contraction of the manifold.

Edited by Bleach (see edit history)
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Bleach - good question on that exhaust manifold. There is a little play around the holes - I'll have to check the fit on the holes I adjusted. An Avanti guy told me those manifolds will warp, go figure. Lots of little tricks on these cars. On the head gasket, I'm thinking it's going on "dry", but I'm going to check into a little more. Thanks for the info.

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The first two pictures show the new head gasket. Which side goes up? The old gasket and the gasket that was in the back seat of the car when I got it helpfully indicate "This Side Up". Pictures 3 & 4 are of the old (new) gasket that was in the back seat. Apparently the previous owner was going to do some engine work and purchased a bunch of gaskets which he never used. The old new gasket even has a price of $5.95 on it - wish I would see prices like that today. I would use that gasket but it is damaged, bent on the end (picture 4) and rust starting on the flip side. I'm happy with the new gasket, I just have to find out which side is up. Anybody know?

The last few pictures show the exhaust manifold fit - looks to be some room for expansion and contraction.

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Chris, if you had ordered a pair of head gaskets you would have the answer. I suppose that the gaskets are the same and no matter which side is coming up or down. If I were in your situation, I would install the gasket as shown on the second picture: the face we can see up.

Maybe you will get a different opinion...

By the way, on this type of gasket, no sealer is necessary I was told.

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Do any of the gaskets shown in the picture match exactly the one that came off the motor? If the answer is no, then the pictured head gaskets likely are the remains of an old engine rebuild gasket set which contained the correct ones which were installed and the leftovers tossed in the car... just sayin! The pictured gaskets do not appear to be similar to the one removed. I have more than one set of those pictured as they too are the remains of old gasket sets. For correct compression ratio the thinest gasket is the correct one, its flimsy metal. Does the one that you removed show much age? Could it be cleaned and re-used? These are rhetorical questions not intended to suggest anything?:confused: If you can get Nimesh on the phone, that is who I called with the same question.

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The gasket pictured above, in the first 2 pictures, is a special kevlar composite gasket made by Best Gasket Co. They make gaskets for vintage cars and sell only through specialized vendors such as Studebaker International and Dave Tbow. Dave Tbow tells me that they are great gaskets, but cannot tell me for certain which side faces up. I'm kind of disappointed in Studebaker International because the last 2 items I got from them seemed to other peoples' cast-offs. For example, this gasket arrives on a piece of plywood (which is fine, no bending) with no packaging, no wrapping, no instructions for installation (this side goes up, spray with Permatex Copper Gasket Sealer, etc.) Nothing! Nada! Zip! So, like the first disappointing item SI sent me, this is going back.

The gasket in the second 2 pictures is the gasket I found in the car, a gasket comprised of two sheets of metal with a fiber type center (maybe asbestos). It definitely will lower the compression ratio on that side of the engine. I don't want that. The gasket that came off the motor is the original, correct, thin metal one. I thought that was what I would get from SI, but no. So, when I send the gasket back to SI I am going to NAPA and getting their head gasket set for $72, which includes both gaskets, all the water manifold gaskets, valve seals, etc. (I don't really need all that stuff, but I'll keep it around). But first I am going to look at it and see 1. if the gasket is correct metal, and 2. if there is "This Side Up' stamped on it, which is the way they used to do things in this country, before the children took over.

Of course, none of this is going to happen until this fall, because I'm putting the car in storage until then and going out and enjoying my life. I'm tired of fighting the battles and spending the money with the victories coming few and far between, and only then with me clawing them out of the jaws of defeat.

Whew! I feel better already!

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The gasket you found in the car - 2 sheets of metal and something in between is looking like the gaskets Fel-Pro is selling. I doubt that you will find thin metal gaskets as they are good with new components at the factory but as less suitable in the field for repairs.

If the gaskets you got from SI are from Best Gasket, ask them about what you would like to know!

By the way, you cannot expect from a supplier that they produce themselves the parts they are selling. Even car companies bought parts from suppliers!

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