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Stearns Knight


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8 hours ago, pughs said:

Ed,

And are you still gluing the pieces back together??? I would have thought a 5 pound hammer would have been sufficient to pulverize it.

 

 

Steve, just my sick sense of humor for AJ's benefit. 

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Hi, following your post every now and then, reading there wasn't any result after a month with the diesel. Took the phone and called a friend who works with aluminium , old and new in his shop.

My friend agreed on the diesel solution, also said it can take a very very long time , the submerging being a major attribution in the process, when possible. He also suggested cleaning vinegar or lemon , both dissolving the salt cristals formed at the oxidation of the alu. If not tried already you could think about this.  Johan

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  • 1 month later...

Hello all, 

 

Well we finally started full tilt on the 1929 Stearns Brunn Auto Show Car. Lots of delays from COVID, lack of tubes available, and just life in general. Took it for a quick spin before we tore into it. We outlined a plan on its upgrades and sorting. One thing I don’t like to do is tear a running and driving car apart to the point it will take years to finish everything. Phased service when ok with the owner is the best way to go. I won’t publicly disclose why we picked the order we are doing things............or the logic that made us arrive there. We will post photos along the way. We don’t plan to end up with a 100 point car. We do plan to clean it up, make correct a bunch of small and slight changes done over the years like incorrect hardware, replacing a poor choice for an aftermarket carburetor, and some light cosmetics to make it appear exactly as it did in the Auto Show.  Photos to be posted soon. Ed.

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I'll be following with interest, these straight eight Stearns-Knight are so obscure and little known, this will be a real education for us.  Thanks for bringing up along on the experience.

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Here are some photos.........not too much happening yet.........we will dig much deeper.

6E1A6DE7-8C5A-4266-8688-0C45FF433A89.jpeg

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44A2D3F0-29C1-497A-839F-5715D8586677.jpeg

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Another day of pounding out the impossible on the obscure. Ten steps forward..........two hundred miles back.  I’m not in the mood to post about it now. Looks like we will be digging into the Stearns engine. Such is life. More later. 

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While working on the Stearns Brunn, we decided to do an oil change. We did one about 25 miles ago. We were changing oil viscosity. Well, we found chocolate milkshake in the pan. We have what Stearns calls a bad head gasket. Since the car doesn't have a head gasket, it's better described as a coolant gasket leak into the oil pan. So: Now we pull all eight heads, and the oil pan. When AJ bought the car, I was busting his balls telling him I was going to take the eight cylinder sleeve valve engine apart to see what makes it tick. Well, now I get to take it apart to fix the water leak. Fortunately we have expert help to guide us from Mark Y. It's just a bunch of work, not paticularly difficult. No gaskets are available, so I will do them here. Phil "With hands like George the Animal Steel" will be assisting. All the chassis work has been uneventful. The build quality on a Stearns eight is way above average. I must admit, I'm impressed......and that does not happen very often. We will post photos as it comes apart AFTER Pebble Beach. I have too much on my plate before then. Photos tonight.........Ed

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Lots of things happening with the Brunn Stearns Knight auto show car. Unfortunately it's been crazy busy here, and not in a good way. We have done the following so far:

 

 

Inspected the steering, suspension, front end, inspected the electrical system top to bottom. Pulled apart the wheels, drums, and brakes. Made new brake springs......and are going to have exact replacements made to swap out with the ones we modified to get the car down the road. Repacked wheel bearings front and rear, cleaned and adjusted the brakes, repainted the brake drums, and reassembled everything. Went through the shocks, cleaned them, and filled with correct fluid. Greased the front end, braking system, drive shaft, ect. We are waiting for the new snap rings to return from chrome. The rims have been sandblasted and are now back to the factory color.........NO MORE ORANGE WHEELS! Black walls are on the shelf along with tubes. We will be doing a compression test and a test drive BEFORE we pull the motor down to fix the bad head gasket. We will do the heated evapo rust treatment to the block for a few days BEFORE we tear the top end off. Also working on plans for the upgrade from a single barrel intake to the dual barrel and new carburetor swap over. We will tear it down ro a short block in the car, clean the engine compartment and engine, and paint it in place. We should end up with a much more eye pleasing under hood when done. So the short term plan is to get it going down the road BEFORE we tear it apart.........we can check the steering........the box was adjusted by a retarted tractor mechanic........  I expect it will steer, stop, and drive as a good Stearns should. We also worked with a local trucking company for access to a new Hunter Tire machine so we can balance the wheels. Looking forward to the test drive......I expect much improvement. I honestly don't think this car had any service done to it since the 60's. We have managed to fix all the workmanship issues we have come across.......fortunately they haven't been too bad, and all were fixes that just involved.........time = money. Half of our labor so far is dealing with poor workmanship........incorrect hardware, loos fasteners, poor installation of new battery cables and cut off switch.......ect. All small things, but they all add up to things that can leave you sitting on the side of the road. When the snap rings arrive we will get it on the road quickly.......and we will shoot a video of the car. It's new look with correct color wheels, tires, trim, and removing all the excess junk added over the years is really making the car come together well. Plans are to show it at the Palm Beach Concours in December, and the CCCA Annual Meeting at the Breakers in January. More to come..........lots of things happening here.......not all that can be discussed in public. Ed

 

Things like flushing the trans and worm drive rear are also done......we have done so much work in a short time it's hard to remember everything.......basically we are giving it the "1917 White treatment".

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed,

If you have a leaking head gasket, be careful using the Evaporust before the repair.

As the ER evaporates it becomes extremely sticky and if it were introduced between the sleeves could result 

in damage. Pour some on the floor and come back the next morning.

I don't run ethylene glycol in my sleeve valve for this same reason.

Not saying it will happen but it could. I didn't get to see the chocolate milkshake, but it obviously leaking

down through one of the heads.

Dennis 

 

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Dennis......thanks for the heads up..............I have been cautioned by a few others as well. I will take each step one at a time. First we will do is a compression check...........if there are issues with compression, I will pull the engine out to address that issue. While I can do rings with the unit in place.......at my age R&R the engine is the proper choice for better access at that point. But then we get into sleeves and babbitt. I want to walk before I run. If necessary, after evapo rust treatment, I can circulate five weight engine oil through the system to wash everything down. It's not an optimal choice, but with such a complicated engine with so many parts...........it is something to consider. Also remember, this is a job for myself & AJ so I can take processes on that I could never do with a regular customer job. If this were a "normal" customer job the engine would be on a stand now. We won't take any short cuts that effect running, driving, or risk any type of damage to the car.......but I would rather not pull the engine all with way down. Aj and I have so many cars it's not necessary to do frame off service on them all. We would like to have the car sorted for less than 75K, and that isn't going to happen if I have to pull the engine. Our end game on this car is to have it perfectly sorted and running for three day tours...........we will never end up running this car 1200 mile in a week, but we do want to have a turn key reliable car for show and go. It's just too unique not to show and use it. And the auto show history just makes the thing so cool.............

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed,

I wouldn't pull the engine down at this point either. I might investigate repairing the gaskets and then Evaporust treatment.

I'm certain you already know this but some things to consider with the sleeve valve.

A compression check can lead you to conclude that there is an issue (low compression on the starter) when in reality the engine is fairly healthy.

 There is usually a cross drilled hole in the head. As the piston comes up on compression this will expand the junk ring to the innner sleeve

resulting in higher compression. (running). These holes are usually plugged with carbon. Investigate this while the heads are off. New junk rings are not available.

 

Dennis

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Got to love a car that uses "junk rings". The most interesting thing about this project is how far out of the box it is. In reality I would love to rebuild the engine, just to say I did one. It's the time issue that stops me from doing it. I rather tour than fix cars. But the one problem with touring is I can't drive anything normal........if it's not cool, I don't want to play with it. A Stearns Knight eight is WAY COOL! I'm confident we can get the car to 100 percent. It's just how long the journey is going to take is the only question. With luck it will be ready for the two shows and our Stearns friends can come down for some Florida sunshine and a ride. It's always more fun to have the people helping you go for a ride and then drive the car.........

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The very late serial number Stearns Knight H engines (chassis were either H - 137" or J - 145", and all engines were H)) did not use a traditional junk ring. The Brunn car is very near the end of the S/N list for known cars, so I suspect that it does not have them. In their place is a double wide, double deep ring groove. In that groove are 4 compression rings - 2 high and 2 deep. I had trouble sourcing these rings and had them made for engine #11961.  The car had been idle for 50 years, and all rings were very stuck despite being replaced a couple year prior to being parked. I don't think I have any service bulletins or other documentation about this change.

I think these engines are more simple than a poppet valve engine and have fewer parts. They are just different.

And yes - getting a ride in and driving the Brunn was a major blast!

 

Mark

Edited by Mark66A (see edit history)
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So, we are almost finished with under car service.......about 100 hours of labor for Phil and I. No disasters, but a few challenges that we weren’t expecting. We will need to revisit some details as we are making a few special parts that are not available. It’s probably fine as is, but we try for perfection, not for good enough in the shop. If you try for perfection, you can usually achieve excellence. It’s a great car, and it keeps impressing us as we work on it. We will have a video up of the changes and improvements in two weeks when we get the snap rings back from the chrome shop. More to come.......

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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As usual, outside contractors are behind schedule. The wheels we repainted were supposed to be done yesterday, and now it looks like the end of the week. What's new? We are putting the wheels back to the very dark brown......almost black, like the belt line of the car to match it as it was new. The fenders and splash pans along with the gas tank cover were painted several times back when the car was new to make it look like it was a different car in each city while it was making the auto show rounds. Currently the fenders are a much lighter shade of brown compared to how it was shown in NYC.......when the fenders were also the very dark brown/almost black color. Looking forward to seeing it in its original "as displayed" at the auto show colors. 

 

Spent some time looking closely at engine disassembly today, looks like things were apart about 40 years ago, so with luck, we won't run into any unexpected issues..........

 

 

Special shout out to Mark Y, who has been most helpful on this project. He makes my job ten times easier...........it's nice to know the people who have actually worked on these unusual cars. THANKS!

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, edinmass said:

As usual, outside contractors are behind schedule. The wheels we repainted were supposed to be done yesterday, and now it looks like the end of the week. What's new? We are putting the wheels back to the very dark brown......almost black, like the belt line of the car to match it as it was new. The fenders and splash pans along with the gas tank cover were painted several times back when the car was new to make it look like it was a different car in each city while it was making the auto show rounds. Currently the fenders are a much lighter shade of brown compared to how it was shown in NYC.......when the fenders were also the very dark brown/almost black color. Looking forward to seeing it in its original "as displayed" at the auto show colors. 

 

Spent some time looking closely at engine disassembly today, looks like things were apart about 40 years ago, so with luck, we won't run into any unexpected issues..........

 

 

Special shout out to Mark Y, who has been most helpful on this project. He makes my job ten times easier...........it's nice to know the people who have actually worked on these unusual cars. THANKS!

Ed, that car will look so much better in it's New York livery of dark fenders and wheels.  That light chocolate color does the car no favors.  Kudos on your work so far.  -Peter Woyen

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3 hours ago, Peterwoyen said:

Ed, that car will look so much better in it's New York livery of dark fenders and wheels.  That light chocolate color does the car no favors.  Kudos on your work so far.  -Peter Woyen

 

Pete, we are in complete agreement.

1929 Stearns-Knight J-8-90 Convertible Victoria-1 - Copy.jpg

IMG_6805 (1).JPG

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Agree on the color! Looking at the photos... in the original it appears there is fairly wide pinstriping outlining the dark accent on the cowl, hood and top of the doors? It could be my old eyes but I don't see it in the color photos. Will you be adding the striping too?

 

Very, very awesome car! 

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13 minutes ago, Terry Harper said:

Agree on the color! Looking at the photos... in the original it appears there is fairly wide pinstriping outlining the dark accent on the cowl, hood and top of the doors? It could be my old eyes but I don't see it in the color photos. Will you be adding the striping too?

 

Very, very awesome car! 

Hi Terry,  I see what you're talking about.  It would be in keeping with Stearns to have pinstriping that outline the molding.  The existing stripes I've seen are about 1/16" wide.  They might have done something different for a show car or it might be sun reflection making them look wider in a photograph (?) On a tan and dark brown car could the stripes have been gold?    

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