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1932 Studebaker Indy car build

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With the photos of Mike Cleary's #18 car, I was able to finish off the hand brake actuator tube and mostly finish the middle cross member.  I machined end pieces for the actuator tube from 1.25" bar stock to fit pillow block bearings and welded in the ends.  The tube got a bellcrank lever to mate with the handbrake handle and two more levers at each end to mate with the rear brake cables.  I had to make the tubes about 1/4" short of spanning the inside of the frame rails so I could swing them into place without disassembling the chassis.  A 1/4" spacer plate takes up the gap as the bolts go in.  A short piece of 3/8" steel rod joins the bottom end of the handbrake lever to the actuator tube.  I put a Heim joint on one end of the rod to help with alignment, although Heim joints weren't invented until WWII in answer to a need for smoother airplane controls.  Interestingly, Lewis R. Heim (1874-1964) invented centerless grinding technology for precision round bar to micro-inch tolerances, as well as the famous Heim joint.


Now I have to get some brake cables modified to fit.  The ones that would fit on a 1961 Buick Invicta, from which I took the rear brake assemblies, are way too long for my car.  I've asked a brake cable shop to cut off one of the cable stops, pull out the 1/8" cable, shorten the housing and crimp on a new end, then re-assemble and put a new stop on a shortened cable.  It doesn't seem to be something I want to do in the garage.  Motion of the handbrake lever will rotate the actuator tube and the bellcranks will give up to 2 inches of pull on the cables - should be more than enough.


Once the seats finally get welded into the tail, I can add the two seat supports on the middle crossmember.  They need to be exactly the right height.



Machined bar stock fits inside 1.05 i.d. steel pipe, other end machined to 0.75" o.d. for ball-bearing pillow block.



Ends welded into tube and pillow blocks placed on ends.



Brake actuator tube and crossmember test fit to chassis.



Bellcranks welded on and linkage to handbrake lever installed.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m back at Wray Schelin’s shop for another weekend of metal bashing. We’re completely focused on getting the seats welded in. Today, I hung the seats in the tail with a handful of Cleco fasteners and a couple of big spring clamps. The seats lined up pretty well with the opening in the tail and overlapped the flange in the tail a 1/2 inch in most areas. So, I made a notch through both layers with a 3” cut-off saw then used a small airsaw to trim around the seats leaving the tabs for the Clecos in place. Wray then tack welded every few inches, finished by running long welds between the tacks.  Eventually, I removed the Clecos and sawed off the tabs so there would be a smooth butt weld all around. 


Once the seats were well located and we had some rigidity in the assembly, I took the tail and seats off the car and put them on some tall saw horses. Then I sat in a chair under the tail and held a copper strip behind the narrow openings to keep the joint surrounded by argon while Wray welded on the outside. Of course, he had to hammer on the joint now and then, which was deafening inside the tail. We got about 3/4 of the 80-inch long joint welded, will probably finish it tomorrow. The back side will get welded, too, wherever Wray can reach the seam with the TIG torch. Then there will be lots of grinding with hammer-and-dolly work. It’s taken a long time to get this task done, but it’s going well.



Seats in place with Clecos and clamps, sawing begun.



Ingersoll-Rand airsaw and narrow joint gap.



Beginning of welding.



The difficult corner where the shapes didn’t match well leaving a wide gap.

Round marks are from the rubber suction cups I used to pick up the seats sometimes. 




After some gentle heating with the acetylene torch and some hammer work, the joint came together and got welded.



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More trimming and welding today. I formed the complex joint behind the driver’s seat by sawing and hammering over a wood form.  It got welded as did the rest of the joint in the seat back. With all of the front side welded, we spun the tail around and Wray ran over the weld beads on the back side to fuse things completely. With the tail set up against the garage door for this work, it made a perfect throne. 


Wray is also working on building an aluminum replica of a 1937 Coupe Express truck. He had some students build the wireform for the left side front fender, and some of the pieces to make a fender have been formed up. 



The joint behind the driver ready for welding. 



The seats welded in and the welds “washed” with another pass of the TIG torch to smooth them out. 



The rear side of the seats after washing the welds. 



On the throne. 



Wireform for the 1937 Studebaker Coupe Express truck fender. 



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By Sunday afternoon, things were in good shape with the welding.  I ground down the seams with a 50 grit 2" Norton Blazer disk (very good stuff!) on a Harbor Freight die grinder.  I gradually went to finer abrasive grades and eventually to a small oscillating sander to blend the seams to the rest of the body.  A few places benefitted from hand sanding with a rubber block to knock down some high spots.  We'll still need to hand tune the tail section with dolly and hammer as the shrinkage of the welds generates some low spots and we want to minimize the need for Bondo when it's time to paint.


The tail section got put back on the chassis temporarily and I was able to measure the location for the seat supports.  Some short pieces of 1" square tube and 4" x 5" pieces of 3/16" plate were used to fabricate the supports.  I pushed them tightly into place, then tack welded them to the new crossmember as I lay under the car - not an easy welding position.  I pulled the crossmember out and we finished up the welds on the bench.


With the tail section fully assembled, I finally got to sit in the car on real seats for the first time.  The upholstery will have to be about 3" thick to so I can see over the cowl, but not too thick on the seat backs because, even for me, there isn't a lot of leg room.  Now I know where the pedals have to go, so this will be my work for the next month hooking up gas, brake, and clutch pedals.  When I go back to Wray Schelin's shop in December, we'll finish off smoothing the hood panels and start on welding the belly pan together.


The drive home late on Sunday night was a challenge as the rain was bucketing down and the wind gusts were 45-60 mph.  My 20 ft enclosed trailer was built extra high so I can get my 1948 Studebaker pickup truck inside, so it presents a lot of area to the wind.  Even though my long version of the Ford Expedition weighs over 6000 lbs, I still got pushed around some by the wind.  The 140 ft high, mile-long Braga Bridge over the Taunton River at Fall River, MA was extra windy, but I took it slowly and stuck to the middle lane.  Only 10 minutes from there to home and a good end to a great weekend.



Welding complete and weld beads ground smooth.  Nearly all of what you see now will be covered by upholstery.



Upholstery in car #37 covers nearly all of cockpit interior, provides padding for body and legs.



Inside of the cockpit area showing slip joint between the cowl and tail section.



The crossmember with seat supports welded in.  They are close to the front edge of the seat bottoms.



My first time actually sitting in the car on the real seats.  It felt great!



The original car #25 in 1932, Tony Gulotta at the wheel.  Note leather upholstery on sides and behind driver and riding mechanic.

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I want to get the engine started, but need to wait until I have the gas pedal linkage, clutch linkage, and brakes installed.  Having built the rotating crossmember to actuate the rear handbrake/parking brake, I ordered some standard 1961 Buick Invicta sedan rear brake cables to fit the Invicta backing plates I'm using, then had them cut shorter and new stops installed by Bruin Brake Cables, Fox Lake, IL - good price, fast service.  I got new brake shoes, springs, wheel cylinders, adjusters, etc.  It always amazes me that new wheel cylinders don't come with the push rods that fit in the wheel cylinder cups and go onto the shoes, and they don't come with the spring kits.  I wire brushed the old push rods and put them in.  Some years ago, I bought some brake pliers after a brake spring tried to attack my hand while I used a big screwdriver to install the springs, glad I still have them.  The handbrake cable got attached to the lever on the rear shoe and my modified actuator bar just cleared the backs of the studs in the hub.  So, now most of the mechanical bits and pieces are in place and I can start on the plumbing.  I also have to build some small links from the handbrake cables to the bellcranks on the rotating crossmember, but that should be simple enough.


The front brakes came from a circa 1966-1967 Buick Riviera.  The backing plates are rotated 90 degrees to let the wheel cylinders clear the steering knuckles, will have to use my vacuum bleeder on them.  The shoes and other parts are in place, and drums and hubs went back on.  Since I had the parts, I put the automatic adjusters in the front brakes, will see if they work OK.  For both front and rear brakes, I test-fitted the shoes to the drums, didn't get them arc'ed as they seem to fit pretty closely - they'll wear in quickly enough if I go gently at first.  I'm glad I learned how to rebuild drum brakes as a 16-year old.  It seems criminal what a dealership charges to do brake work these days.


The original 1932 Studebaker Indy cars used 12" cable-operated brakes from 1931 Studebaker Dictators with stamped steel drums that distorted when they got hot.  Not for me, I like hydraulic brakes with good drums.  If the brakes will stop a 5,000 lb Buick, they'll be OK on my car with an expected weight of about 2,500 lb.


I had bought a dual master cylinder and pedal mount from Wilwood last year but I don't think they are going to fit on the firewall, will have to do something else.  It's a very tight squeeze for all three pedals and their linkages.



Hand brake cable shortened from 48" to 24".



1961 Buick Invicta rear backing plates modified to fit 1928 Studebaker GB Commander rear axle.



Buick 12" x 2" brakes installed.  Custom inner hub fits 1928 tapered axle, studs pressed in from back side.  NOS axle shafts were used.

The parking brake link had to be partially cut away to clear the axle housing, has a reinforcement bar welded on.



1967 Buick Riviera 90-fin front drums used on all four corners.  Center hole of drum centers on hub with about 0.002" clearance.

These aluminum drums aren't made anymore, so I've collected four more as spares.



Outer splined hub for Rudge-style wire wheels installed over drum and inner hub.

Hubs are machined from 4340 steel billets to produce 112 small splines.



Front brakes (12" x 2.25") from 1967 Buick Riviera with self-adjusters on 1929 Studebaker President front axle.

Wheel cylinder is in back of axle in order to clear knuckle.  The shorter "leading" shoe is on top.



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Very good Gary, this is one favorite built. Only thing is the vertical mounted front braking cylinders; you will get some challenges getting the air frome these. You may even need to remove them from the car to fill em and vent em before returning them back leaving the brake hose attached and blocked. I tried vacuum venting and it is not very optimal on classic rubber cup based brake cylinders since the seal technology allows air to re-enter if vaccum gets prominent on the hydraulic side. 


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The engineering and fit and finish on your braking system is simply fantastic. I don’t think I have ever seen better work on any build on the braking system in a car. Add in the wheel hubs and the machine work....... literally  amazing. There was probably three thousand places that thing could go wrong, and I’m sure all will be just fine. I’m Intrested to see what you run for a master.........will volume from a small unit be an issue with four large drum brakes? 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Autofil:  Yes, I may have to remove the wheel and drum, remove the backing plates (4 bolts) with the wheel cylinder and complete brake assembly intact, rotate the plate back to normal position and bleed the cylinders on the front axle.  I think Mike Cleary has done that on his blue #18 car.  Fortunately, this isn't a task that has to be done very often.  However, with the hand-held MityVac brake bleeder, it doesn't take much vacuum to pull brake fluid through the lines and wheel cylinders, should get the bubbles.  I'll keep my fingers crossed but know that I do have Plan B.  I'll also add Speed Bleeder screws with check valves to help the job.


Ed:  I don't think the master cylinder needs to be very large as it's serving four pretty standard wheel cylinders.  The front cylinders are 1.125" bore, the rears are 1".  With two pistons per cylinder, 1/2 tablespoon (1/4 fluid ounce) of brake fluid will move all 8 pistons 1/8".   Even if each piston moves 1/2", that's still only 1 ounce of brake fluid to be pumped by the master cylinder.  Cars with disk brakes need lots more fluid to move the calipers, which is why modern master cylinders are so much larger. 



MityVac brake bleeder.



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OK, I might have jumped the gun on the previous posts.  I had 3 of the brake assemblies done, was sure #4 was going to be a shoe-in (pun intended).  Not so!  I assembled the cylinder, shoes, springs, etc., then found the drum would not go over the shoes, even with the adjuster closed all the way.  I used the gauge I bought recently to determine that the drum i.d. measured about 12.030 and the smallest diameter of the shoe assembly was about 12.075.  I needed to get at least 0.045 off the shoe diameter. 


Inspecting the shoes, one of them clearly had a thicker lining than the other by .050" or more.  It was as if one had been ground at the Centric factory and the other was not.  All of the info on-line these days says, "Nobody grinds shoes anymore."  I scratched my head, called about 20 places near me including brake service shops, truck spring and brake places, and a bunch of old-time tire shops.  No one had  - or would admit to having - a brake shoe grinder.  Apparently, the EPA regulations dating back to 1989, banned the use of brake shoe grinders due to asbestos content in old linings.  Even though future linings would not include asbestos, Ammco dropped their line of brake shoe grinders, won't sell spare parts, and many state and EPA inspectors insisted on destruction of the Ammco 2000, 880, and related shoe grinders.  Today,  there are a few Ammco shoe grinders on Ebay, but expensive.  Eventually, I called an old hotrod shop where they admitted to owning a grinder but had never set it up to use.  A call to one of my car buddies who lived near the shop, and knew the owner well, produced the right answer:  he went to the shop, took the grinder from the back room, and brought it home.  I went there this morning, we disassembled the grinder, cleaned all the moving surfaces and greased them, and got the grinder working.  About 10 minutes of fiddling and grinding got the job  done with a minimum of brake dust, none of it asbestos. 


I found out why the Ebay listings for Ammco grinding material are so expensive.  The material seems to be about 4" wide fabric-backed grit, say 36-50 grit.  No problem to buy this in sheets or rolls.  However, Ammco took the stuff and riveted it to a couple of steel bars to load into the machine and clamp it firmly.  Maybe they cost $5 to $10 back in the day, but the NOS items are now $175 or more for a pair of these,  A patient guy could easily re-rivet the old metal strips to a new piece of abrasive material.  The grinding drum is a lot like a floor sander.  The machine has a blower and bag to collect the dust.  We were impressed that the machine was well built, sturdy, and easy to use, even after sitting for 25 years or more.


Anyway, we got the worst shoe re-arced to a smaller radius using the ancient abrasive belt, took about 0.045" off the diameter of the offending shoe in about 3 passes.  The ground shoe fit the i.d. of the drum exactly.  Now I can get the brake drum over the shoes, though it looks like I have to spend some time grinding/sanding/filing the outer ends of the worst shoe to eliminate the last aspect of excess drag.  That I can handle.


I understand the EPA's concerns in the 1980s about asbestos and don't disagree with the principles of the decision to ban both the manufacturing of asbestos materials and the downstream processing, i.e. grinding brake shoes containing asbestos, but since there basically are no more asbestos brake linings except for rare NOS stock, it seems excessive to ban all brake shoe grinding.  If the shoes don't fit the drums, what options do we have?  The EPA recognized there would be issues for antique cars - and "shade tree mechanics" working on them - but offered no solutions or exemptions.  If you have brake shoes that need grinding, do not call me.  The machine is not mine and will be back at its secret location.  Marty Roth is the only other person who has has been there.  



Brake shoe clamped in Ammco brake grinder.



Ready to grind the brake shoe in Ammco machine.



Rotating the brake shoe across the grinding drum.


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My Dad gave me a drum lathe, and a shoe arcing machine. I've used the drum lathe a few times, but not the shoe grinder. I haven't  needed it since he gave it to me a couple of years ago. In the past, I've had shoes re-arced by the place that relines them.

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Thanks, Ed, I should have thought of Indian Orchard, but that’s still a 2-hour drive each way. But, now I know there’s a machine 20-25 minutes away that my buddy with the MG-TC, MG-A, ‘55 VW, 1913 Mitchell, 3-liter Bentley touring car, ‘39 MB roadster, etc. has access to. 


I did have to fine-tune that one shoe with a hand file as the drum dragged a bit when I bolted it on. I’d never thought about using a file on brake shoes but it works. I’m glad we found the machine because I wasn’t looking forward to hand-lapping 0.045” of lining off a shoe by gluing 36 grit paper to the inside of the drum. There was a high spot on the top edge of the trailing shoe that showed up when I tried to turn the drum by hand after mounting it.  Now, all is good!  Plumbing is next, 3/16” cunifer tube is here. 

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On 12/4/2020 at 8:47 PM, Gary_Ash said:

I’m glad we found the machine because I wasn’t looking forward to hand-lapping 0.045” of lining off a shoe by gluing 36 grit paper to the inside of the drum.


That's what I do to make sure I have full contact of the shoes to each drum. Use a spray bottle of slightly soapy water to keep down the dust. In fact, if you don't need to take much off, you can hold the sandpaper without gluing it.......the water helps it stay put too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I spent another 3-day weekend at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop working on the belly pan.  We had formed the basic pieces some months ago, so it was time to correct and fine tune the shapes of the tail end of the pan.  The back section is a tough shape because it is almost square at the rear axle but transitions to a round cone at the back end.  I had over-shrunk some of the areas creating a bulge on each side.  Wray used a little heat from the Meco acetylene torch, then hammered the bulges down.  This shrunk the metal back into itself, but left a lot of ugly wrinkles.  However, a few minutes with the English wheel and all was smooth again.  Fine tuning meant we had to repeat this process a couple of times over the course of several hours.


Eventually, I got the two pieces that formed the back section correctly shaped and smoothed, then trimmed the two, making a tight-fitting joint with the pieces clamped to the wireform.  Wray TIG welded up the seam on the outside and inside and, after grinding the welds mostly smooth, we power hammered the seam to flatten it and stress-relieve.  The 27" long front piece got welded to the 23" long middle section, followed by grinding and power-hammering, then fine grinding to clean up the remaining visible welds.  The tail and the forward/middle section made one more trip through the English wheel to bring the shapes back to true, as weld shrinkage causes some distortion.  I also formed up two pieces of 1-1/4"x1-1/4" angle from some 0.062" thick aluminum to make flanges for the sides of the belly pan, then used the shrinker/stretcher to shape them to the under side of the chassis rails both vertically and horizontally.  These will get riveted to the pan.  Studs on the lower surface of the chassis will hold the pan in place.


When I return to Wray's in January, we'll punch in about 32 louvers in the mid section of the pan for air circulation, then weld the two sections together.  I was able to trim the excess metal from the belly pan pieces after placing the wire form in the pan and then line them up as they will get welded eventually.  The pan is the last piece of sheet metal that needs to be made.  It was a satisfying 3-day session, but now time for a Christmas break.



The two pieces forming the back section of the belly pan heavily clamped to the wire form for welding.



The tight fit of the joint before welding.  Fit is made by laying one piece over the other, scribing a line along the top edge,

cutting about 1/16"-1/8" short of the line, then grinding exactly to the line with a die grinder and 3" abrasive wheel, 50 grit.



The welded seam after rough grinding and planishing in the BIG power hammer.



Pan pieces on the floor with the wireform inside for marking the trim lines.



The pan pieces after trimming.  The forward section is about 6" deep, will be the only section visible with the car assembled.

One of the shaped flanges is shown next to the pan.



Trimmed pan pieces ready for louver punching, welding, and riveting of flanges.  The pan will weigh about 30 lbs.


Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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I look at that level of fabrication and just ponder the hours to make such a panel. Even with world class help, it takes dedication and perseverance to achieve such excellence in craftsmanship. I must be getting old.......my desire to expand my skill level is waining..............although today improved my skills on an ignition system. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gary and all followers on this forum.  I share the same Holiday message, Merry Christmas and prepare yourself for a much better New Year.  All we need to do is get this Covid-19 thing under control and that may be happening, we hope.  Now to compliment Gary and his terrific endeavor with this Studebaker Race Car project.  Often we associate greatness with the 3 P's in automobiles.  I would like to associate the three "P's" with Gary and this nearly done project.  The first "P" is Plan and stick to it.  The second "P" is Persistence, (nothing more needs to be said about Gary or this project).   The third "P" is  Professional, (Gary has brought "who he is" to his project with very professional results and a major compliment to him).  Gary the best to you and your wife.....


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After a Christmas break, it was back in the garage to clean up some details.  With the modified rear handbrake cables in place in the back brakes, and my hand-made clamps installed, I needed to connect them to the handbrake crossmember.  I got a couple of 5/16" clevises from Speedway Motors to mount on the bellcrank levers.  Following the original design of the Buick parking brake connectors, I bent up some 1"x1/8" flat stock, drilled a hole for the 3/8" diameter cable stop, and milled a 1/8" wide slot for the cable itself.  The stop drops in the hole, then the cable is pulled around the corner of the connector so it won't fall out.  The threaded end of the clevis went into the opposite end of the cable connector and double-nutted to keep it tight.  With the rear end jacked up, I checked that pulling the handbrake lever locked up the wheels.  So, hand brake/parking brake works!  Hydraulic plumbing awaits, needs to go in before the belly pan gets finished and installed..


There was another nasty job that had been waiting a few years to get finished.  When I had the splined hubs machined, I knew that eventually they would need a hole in the side on the front hubs so that a cotter pin could be inserted to hold the spindle nut in place.  I wanted to be sure of the exact location for the holes.  The hubs extend about 2 inches beyond the spindle end, and the cotter pin hole is located 1/4" further in.  The cotter pin hole in the spindle was drilled for a 1/4" cotter pin, a size I have never used before - it's massive, and the head is 1/2" across.  I carefully measured where the ends of the spindles were relative to the hubs, then used a small center drill to start the hole in the splined area.  I worked my up from 1/8", to 1/4", to 3/8", to full 1/2" hole.  The hubs were machined from 4340 billet steel, with a machining rating of about 57% of standard 1212 carbon steel.  It can be machined with normal tools and bits, but it's still tough stuff.  I had to re-sharpen all the drill bits to chew through the hubs.  It was recently pointed out to me by a car buddy with several English cars, that all Rudge-style splined hubs have cotter pin holes.  I just wish he had told me that long ago when he had the hubs made for me.      


I had ordered brand new wheel bearings a while back, had been using the old bearings from 1929 for rolling the chassis around - and no cotter pin in the spindle.  Amazingly, new 2788 and 1779 tapered roller bearings bearings and matching cups are easily available and cheap.  We have Lewis Rasmus Heim (1874-1964), he of the Heim joint, to thank for the invention of centerless grinding equipment that made tapered roller bearings precise, reliable, and cheap.  I unboxed the new wheel bearings, packed them with grease, put the hub on the spindle, and screwed on the new slotted nut.  Of course, the brand new, modern nut had slots too narrow for a 1/4" cotter pin, so into the milling machine it went.  While the old Studebaker parts catalog called out 2" long cotter pins, that was for when the ends of the spindle were easily accessible.  I had to saw off 3/4" of the cotter pins to get the heads to seat in the slot without the ends contacting the inner surface of the hub.  Eventually, the cotter pins went in, got bent over to retain them, and the wheels remounted on the car.  



Hand brake cable clamped to chassis.



Fabricated connector joining rear brake cable to clevis  on rotating crossmember.



Brake cable linkage inside chassis rails.



Hole in front hub for insertion of 1/4" cotter pin with 1/2" head into front spindle.  Slot in nut is just visible.



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Hi Gary,

Rich Heinrich here.

You have done a truly magnificent job on your Indy Car.

Your detail work is really impressive.

I still drive my replica Junk Formula '31 Studebaker out here in Arizona (the one the internet calls a 1932 Studebaker).

Most fun car I have ever had.

Looks like yours is just about ready.

Nice work!!

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The clutch, brake, and gas pedals have to go in.  It may seem late in the game to be doing this, but lots of other stuff had to get designed, built, and installed first.  As some of you might have noticed on the Studebaker threads, I needed some help figuring out what the original clutch linkage looked like in order to fabricate something that would fit my car.  Some good photos were posted, so I was able to draw up and 3D print a prototype combined pedal and shaft, eliminating lots of extra linkage.  The pedal shaft slips over the clutch release shaft that sticks out of the bell housing.  I'll need to make an outboard end support and attach it to the left side motor mount box.  The clutch pedal and shaft will be made from a piece of 3/4" cold rolled round bar and some 1/4"x3/4" steel flat bar.


The brake pedal was more challenging.  A couple of years ago, I bought a master cylinder and a pedal assembly from Wilwood, a supplier to the street rod people.  The plan was to have the pedal mount on the inside of the firewall with the master cylinder on the other side in the engine compartment.  When it came time to put those in, there were several other items already occupying the space.  Maybe I didn't plan that out so well.  Anyway, I ordered a different pedal assembly, one that has a reverse swing so that the master cylinder winds up inside the firewall under the cowl.  I also ordered a skinnier master cylinder that has the capability for remote reservoirs for the two circuits.  At this point, I'll try to avoid the remote reservoirs and put them on top of the M/C.  The downside of that is the cowl will have to come off to add fluid, but I don't think that will happen too often.  I'll be able to see the fluid level through the transparent plastic reservoirs even with the cowl in place.


It turns out that both brake and clutch pedals should have a pedal ratio of about 6:1.  That is, if the stroke of the master cylinder is 1", then the brake pedal has to move 6".  In practice, the actual movement will be less, but the ratio is fixed.  Ditto for the clutch pedal, so that 30 lbs of force on the pedal produces 180 lbs on the throw-out bearing to release the clutch.  


Of course, the reverse brake pedal assembly was out of stock at Wilwood and not available for another 3 weeks.  So, I used their drawings to create a 3D file in CAD and printed out a plastic version of their forged aluminum part.  I cut the pedal arm out of some plywood.  At least I can use the mockup to build a bracket from 1/8" plate to hold the pedal when it does get here.  The brake pedal and master cylinder will be mounted high up on the 1/4" thick aluminum firewall so that the clutch and brake pedals are at the same height.


Next, I'll have to find space for the gas pedal.



3D printed prototype of the clutch pedal and operating shaft.



The plastic clutch pedal in place for a test fit.  The eventual brake pedal will be at the same height

as the clutch pedal.



Wilwood tandem master cylinder and 3D printed mockup of the pedal mount with plywood pedal arm.

The pedal arm will need a return spring, but the Wilwood part includes a drilled tab for it.



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Gary, I'm impressed with your use of the 3D printing technology, especially using it for mock up. I guess it's a modern version of the old saying "Measure twice and cut once".

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More work on the belly pan at Wray Schelin’s shop. Mike Cleary had told me how hot it was to drive his #18 Indy car in the Great Race a number of years ago, and how they had to cut holes in the belly pan to get air circulation.  He eventually added two rows of louvers near the back, so that’s what I did yesterday. Wray recently built a big, dedicated louver press, had dies for 3” and 8” wide louvers. We load up the 3” die set, and I marked off two rows of louvers, 16 per row, 1” apart. Once we got the die lined up, it went pretty quickly and we got two straight lines of identical louvers punched.  The pity is that the louvers are under and behind the seats, can’t really be seen from the side of the car, either. Maybe some squirrels will see them someday. 


We’ve been welding on the back panel of the belly pan today, should finish that tomorrow. 



The front 2/3 of the belly pan showing the layout for louver positions. 



Wray’s new louver press. The cylinder is air-over-oil design. 



Hardened top and bottom punches.



Setting up to punch a louver



The finished louvers





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Typical Wray built equipment. No flex, no twisting........just a hernia if you ever need to move it. Looks great, and as there is no doubt.....it works great. I would have been passing out running that pan through it after all that work. I would have done about ten test runs on some old flat stock first. 👍

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With the louvers done, it was now time to weld on the rear piece of the belly pan.  I had previously placed the two belly pan sections with the wire form inside them on the concrete floor of Wray' shop.  I added a couple of sand-filled beater bags to hold the wire form tight against the aluminum.  The front section had a nice, straight edge, so that was used to mark the back section for a cut where they overlapped.  After cutting and grinding to the guide line, I re-checked that the two pieces would join to make a good seam.  Of course, once we got the belly pan pieces and the wire form up on a table to weld, the challenges of aligning and clamping the sections became more clear.  Fortunately, there needed to be a 10"x12" hole in the back section for access to the rear axle drain and fill plugs, so I rough cut the opening to allow some clamps to go through. 


We started tack welding in the middle of the seam on the inside and worked our way towards the edges.  The weld beads shrink when they cool and draw the pieces even tighter together.  By the time we got to the outside of the 32" wide pan, the gap had disappeared and the top edges were now overlapped.  A little action with an air saw and narrow blade fixed that problem.  Wray then tacked the vertical sections from the outside.  Once tacked sufficiently to hold the assembly rigid, we pulled the wire form from the pan and Wray TIG welded the entire seam outside and inside.  I ground the welds almost flat, then we used Wray's giant power hammer to planish the welds and remove warpage.  The 7 ft long pan needs two people to support and steer it through the hammer.


I then did the final cut to the opening in the bottom and for the axle openings on each side, leaving enough for a 3/8"-1/2" flange.  Around the edge of the openings, the metal got coated with black Sharpie ink and sooted from the acetylene torch, then heated until all the black disappeared to anneal the metal.  Using a pair of parallel-jaw welding pliers with extended handles, I went around the edges of the opening and gradually bent the flanges inward in a series of passes.  A little hammer and dolly work squared up the bends and removed the wrinkles, followed by a little grinder work.  Wray then used a big steel slapper and some chunks of 2x4 to re-adjust the shape and straighten weld-induced warpage, then I had to do a lot of hand planishing with slapper and dolly to remove small dimples.  We agreed that the shape now looked very good and ready for the next stage.


Now I have to check the fit of the pan against the chassis and tail section of the body, make two small "wings" to support the back end of the pan against the tail, and rivet on the flanges that will support the front end of the pan under the chassis rails.



Tack welding the inside of the belly pan pieces on the wire form.  This cannot be done on a wood buck! 

The big cushion was for Wray to lean on while bent way over the belly pan.



Black Sharpie marking covers area to be annealed.  A layer of soot from the torch is added before heating to annealing temperature.



Hand bending the flanges using extended parallel-jaw welding pliers.  Annealed aluminum bends easily.



Finished flanges on the inside.



Belly pan with welds ground and flanges finished.



Belly pan of the blue #18 car for comparison.  Strange-looking pipes are for seat belt attachment.


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Gee, I thought this is my second career...


As an indicator of market potential for professional metal bashers, hardly anyone is beating down Wray's door to get body panels made for old cars.  What are people doing to get sheet metal made for old car restorations?  He isn't interested in doing stuff on hot rods, chopping tops, or that kind of stuff.  He seems content to teach classes and assist in student projects like mine, sell his line of English wheels and other sheet metal tools, and take on occasional art and architectural jobs. There are some cars that come into the shop, get done by Wray or his employees.  But, you, too, can sign up for 4-day or longer sessions at Proshaper.com to learn how to do it yourself.  Actually, quite a few restoration shop professionals do come to Wray's classes to expand their skills beyond mechanical and minor body repairs.  Wray has posted lots of free videos on metal shaping, welding, etc. so you can learn at home.  

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Wray did an "emergency" job for me last year. It was a rediculaously difficult repair to six cut down Duesenberg hub caps. They needed to be PERFECT.....as fit and finish were important as they needed to be chromed. He made tooling to accomplish  the repair......they were done on time.......and came out perfect. Having correct original hub caps on a unrestored Duesenberg with only 26k on the clock is important for having the car certified by the ACD Club. We accomplished our goal.......no one knew we had made repairs to the caps...........I would recommend Wray to anyone who has a difficult sheet metal problem............Best, Ed.

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I wanted to see if the belly pan was going to fit well.  First, I jacked up the back axle and slid 3" worth of wood under each wheel so that the pan could clear the back axle pumpkin.  I was able to get the pan under the car and then blocked it up on some more wood.  As I knew to be the case, I have to do a little trimming on the front edge to match the back of the engine and bell housing, but I think it's only a matter of taking out 1/4" to 1/2" along the right-to-left line.  The middle of the pan looks to be a good fit back to the kick-up in the frame rails.  I have the flanges made for that section, ready to be riveted. 


At the very back, the pan has to wrap tightly around the tail.  I made the pan a little long so I could trim for the best fit.  I'll have to pull the sides out a bit by hand to get the shape right, but that won't be much work and the pan should fit tightly then.  Overall, I'm happy with the fit and shape, just needs a little fiddling.  Once I get the wings shaped and riveted to the pan, I can pull the pan up to make a nice, tight joint with the tail section.  



Belly pan under the car supported by wood blocks.



Belly pan on #37 Indy car.



Back end of belly pan on #37 Indy car.



Tail section of the #18 car showing the wings on the pan meeting the wings on the tail.

The back edge of the pan is just below the "1" on the 18 graphic.

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Mike Cleary and his son Jamie do race the blue #18 car with gusto at Laguna Seca, and other places.  However, it's all non-contact racing.  What you were seeing in the photo above is actually reflections of other objects in the shiny paint - I think, but I'll have to ask Mike.  When I last saw the car in person a year ago, it was all straight.  Mike also owns a Type 35 Bugatti like the two you see in the picture below.


This is the way these cars should be seen (and heard), not in some dusty museum!



In traffic at Laguna Seca.



At a car show in 2019.

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I received a very nice present in the mail today from Stan Smith, Jr. in PA.  Stan and his father restored the green #37 car back in the 1970s.  Previously, Stan had sold me the wooden body buck used to reconstruct the tail of #37, and he had sent me a tracing on cardboard of the original firewall, plus some other small pieces.  Today, he sent me a certificate he had made up with a 2"x3" piece of the original upholstery material from the car's racing days.  I'm guessing it's a kind of imitation leather, has some black or very dark brown pebble-grain finish.  This will be interesting to try to match the material.  Now I have some original DNA from the Studebaker Indy cars.  What a great gift!  Thank you, Stan.  



Certificate that Stan created.



Closeup of the upholstery sample.

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I replied to your PM.  I’ve been hunting for a match for that material with little luck.  The Civil War Rene actors have quite a few discussions on oil cloth, you can Google that and even find discussions on how to make it.  The material you show was the precursor to our modern vinyl.




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What does the back of that sample look like?


The cloth appears fibrous rather than woven in what little I can see from the front. I would not have expected that.




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