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Kenneth Stewart

I need to replace wireing harness on my 39 Commander

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Yesterday I notice that both of my headlight bulbs were a funny blue clouded look, burn out, no good. Now I need to find out what has happen. The wires don't look very good. So where the best places to get a new wire harness for my 39 Commander. I got parking lights and tail lights but no head lights now. I don't have any power there? Always something I guess.post-99883-143142817001_thumb.jpg

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The earth for the headlights is dodgy at best. Check the voltage at the bulbs. Even with a new loom, you may still struggle to get good lights unless you tidy up the earths. They earth through the headlight reflector, to the headlight shell, to the fender, to the frame holding the fender up (radiator surround) to the chassis. Originally then from the chassis to the battery, but many have the battery earth to the engine, so the earth then must be through the engine earth strap into the engine. There are a lot of places to lose voltage due to resistance.

Are you a member of the Studebaker Driver's Club or the Antique Studebaker Club? The vendors will advertise in their magazines. Is there also a Rhode Island wiring harness company?

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Rhode Island will be able to provide a wiring harness, there may be others but I know RI does excellent work and makes very authentic looking products. As already mentioned, check your ground connections. Make sure the socket contacts are clean. I have seen some folks add relays near the headlights to eliminate voltage drop through the long wiring runs. It would be difficult to describe how to do that on a forum reply but a good auto restoration shop can help, or some internet searching.

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"Skinned Knuckles" just did a nice article last month on the relays and the advisability to install them if you don't have them. My Dad installed relays in the 37 Coupe many years ago, and I installed new relays in the Coupe Express while rewiring it (yep- Rhode Island Wiring makes great repop harnesses. Google them. ) I also have an internet article on relays and how to put them into your system if you don't have them. I will find that article and post how to get it on your computer.

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Pretty good relay article on the net: Daniel Stern = Why and how to upgrade your headlamp circuit. Enjoy. If you have relays and don't know how to hook them into your system, I can help. Drdon1111@aol.com

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Rhode Island and a company called YnZ's Yesterday Parts in California are both excellent for quality harnesses in the original appearing cloth braided and lacquered wire. Can't go wrong with either. Cheaper harnesses are available in wire without the cloth braid and lacquer. Totally safe and effective but not if you want a show car judged. Should you go with a modern harness from another supplier, make certain they know it will be six volt. Otherwise the wires will not be able to pass the amperage.

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If I ever replace the wiring harnes in 1939 Coupe Express, I'll get an extra wire put in the headlight wires to take a good earth to the lights.

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I never heard the ground wire called earth before. That a new one on me. I am going to change my headlights to seal beams so I can see at night. Lets see a picture of your 39 Coupe Express. You lucky dog.

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I would sort out the ground = earth and then wonder if sealed beam lights would be better. The car is worth more if it is original as far as possible. Put in a good solid wire. You could even put in a temporary wire (or even a hole set to the headlights) now with new bulbs and see if there is any improvement. You don't need it to be hidden if you are experimenting. Remember the amperage on 6V so put in beefy wire. I think the wiring diagram will give you the minimum (in size not number) gauges to use. [Wire gauge is another of those daft ideas that hang around where the smaller the gauge the bigger the wire. Why not just use, say, 1 square mm wire and remove all the mental gymnastics?]

My Coupe Express is not very presentable. Here is a photograph from about 1993.

post-88545-143142823833_thumb.jpg

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You lucky fellow. Its right hand drive I see. Where was it built? Those are rare around here. You got the both of world. A car and pickup. I sure do enjoy my 39 Commander. Is your a six cylinder?post-99883-143142824302_thumb.jpg Does yours have a heater under the seat? Mine does.

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The Coupe Express has a 1939 Commander chassis and springs etc., except there are extra helper spring leaves on the rear. All running gear is 1939 Commander. The cabs are the same as 1938 with 1939 front clip but 1938 bumpers and bumper guards. 1200 were made and I think something between 50 and 100 survive, based on a count of those in the SDC and Antique Studebaker Club membership lists.

The car has no factory options. There is an aftermarket heater under the dash. I have fitted a '39 overdrive (it had a '38 in it when I bought it). I think it came to NZ with 4 others as chassis cabs, probably built South Bend. I can account for four of the five (two survive). The fifth may be in a landfill - it may have been abandoned on the side of the road in the southern South Island. The engine is a 245 cu. in. from a 4E truck in the mid '50s. This is the 1949-50 Commander motor and is similar to the 1939, but with a longer stroke. The spare wheel should be in the left front 'guard; one can see the weld bead in places underneath where the opening has been filled.

A restored 1938 RHC long chassis version was sent back to USA a number of years ago. It was rumoured to have been bodied as a hearse in NZ.

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Ken, you should immediately contact Donald Erickson of Lark Works in Stockton, KS. He makes Studebaker wiring harnesses exclusively. He's very knowledgeable, and has equipment to make vintage wiring, even to weave cloth covers. You probably have to wait for a couple months, but since he is a graduate of McPherson College's 4 year program in auto restoration, he's quite in demand.

http://www.larkworks.net/

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I never heard the ground wire called earth before. That a new one on me.
Ken, Pretty common in very old, or foreign, vehicles to refer to ground as positive earth or negative earth. Earth=dirt=ground! Chuckle, chuckle! :rolleyes:

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If I ever replace the wiring harnes in 1939 Coupe Express, I'll get an extra wire put in the headlight wires to take a good earth to the lights.
All you really need is a good metal to metal contact. The original ground (earth) is the screws that hold you headlight buckets to the front fender sheet metal. Over time these wear and/or corrode (or are insulated by additional painting over the years). A 1/8" drill bit and a fresh sheet metal screw are about as new and clean as you can get. Clean, tight grounds are the very simplest and unobtrusive additions that can be made and will solve 90% of all electrical problems in old cars.

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This is really easy to measure. If you don't have a cheap multimeter get one. Set it to DC volts and put one lead on the battery negative terminal and the other on the low-beam terminal of the headlamp socket (I am 90% sure that is the horizontal terminal). Turn the lights on and measure the voltage. That is the voltage drop across the supply for your headlights. Now move the meter to the ground terminal ( if "n" is the terminal i think the ground is the right side of the "n"). Read that voltage and subtract from the battery voltage measured across the battery terminals. That is the voltage drop on the return side. Both should be as low as possible. Grounds tend to be the troublemakers because the supply leads are all tied to nice terminal blocks with brass screws while grounds are just screwed to the nearest metal. Find the problem then fix it. Replacing your wiring harness for a bad ground is like amputating your arm for a paper cut.

"Earth" is British for ground. You see it a lot in the Hayes manuals written there.

Nathan

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I had a new wiring harness made from Studebaker Blueprints for my 1933 Studebaker Rockne. The Company that made it for me was Larkworks, he did an excellent job and all the wiring came numbered so it was a fairly easy installation. I also had him wire it for a right rear taillight and emergency flashers. His price was decent, about $500.00. You can find him on the Internet, and if you do business with him mention my name. Tim Hoffman Also if you need more information on the Company call me @ 567-280-2951.

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You fellows have been a great help. I got a lot of winter work on my antique cars so I will be busy. I am also working on a 1940 Ford Conv. post-99883-143142830753_thumb.jpg I plan on showing it at the V-8 National meet next year. The 39 Studebaker sits beside the 40 Ford and they get along very well.

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