jhussey

37 Dictator Speedometer

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Greetings: Is there anyone out there restoring the white plastic speedometer face for the 1937 Dictator / Coupe Express?

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I have not heard of anyone doing that. I have a couple of old ones I bought when in acquisition mode a few years back, but would probably need to sell the whole unit or the rest would be worthless. Interested? PS not in great shape but I could send pics and prices.

drdononeoneoneone@aol.com

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Actually, the backing behind the needle is metal with painted numbers. I have plenty of reproduced decals to place on the painted background.  How many do you need?  

 

The last time I had a set of instruments restored for a '37 Dictator, the restoration shop preferred to paint the numbers rather than use the decals.  I'm not sure why.  I seem to recall that they were concerned about getting air bubbles out from behind the decal. 

 

I also have have several sets of original glass for the instrument faces.

 

Tom

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Tom:  how about a photo of those decals?  I've seen some photos of Jim's speedometer faces - including a broken one - and it sure seems to be Lucite acrylic plastic.  Studebaker apparently stopped using Lucite speedometer needles for the 1938 cars and went back to metal.  Did they switch from plastic to metal speedometer faces mid-year for 1937?

 

MicroMark has some good chemicals to help with getting decals to lay flat without bubbles and to hide the edges of trimmed decals:  http://www.micromark.com/decal-accessories.html

 

Just be careful about overcoating decals.  You can use acetone-based acrylic sprays like Krylon or paints for decals printed with an inkjet printer, but only use water-base overcoats for decals from a laser printer.  Water-based overcoats include Future floor finish and Minwax Polycrylic clear varnish.

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Here are some photos.  The first is of the restored instruments in my '37 Coupe-Express.  That work was done by Williamson's Instruments in Chester, AR.  The second is of an instrument panel that I picked up at a swap meet in Texas last year.  I might have to take that one apart to see what the backing is made of.  There are some very deep cracks that look deeper than they should be if that was just paint on a metal background.  I also found it interesting that if you look closely under all the dust, those numbers go up to 100 on the speedometer.  

 

I couldn't get a third photo to attach, so I'll start another reply as soon as I post this one.  Tom

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Here are the images of the decals.  All these show a top speed of 80.  All I can say to that is good luck in a stock '37 Dictator or Coupe-Express.

 

Anyway,  years ago Jerry Kurtz provided me with the first set of decals and I took that set to a local sign shop and had more made.  

 

Well, I couldn't stand not knowing, so I took that unrestored instrument panel apart and the backing plate IS some kind of plastic.  Now I'm thinking that maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. I have three more instrument panels, and none of them have any remnant of a backing plate so I'm thinking that they were all plastic and deteriorated.  Obviously I used the best of whatever I had on hand at the time I sent the instruments in the Coupe-Express off to be restored, but I'm certainly retracting my statement that the backing plates were metal.  And, no, as curious as I might be about this now, the  instrument panel in the CE is not coming out to satisfy that curiosity.

 

Tom

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I did a quick layout on my CAD program for a 3D model of the speedometer face.  I traced over some photos that Jim sent to me, guessed at dimensions, so I made the part about 7.06" wide and 3.1" high.  I used 0.04" for the wall thickness of the rim, .125" for the rim height, and made the large surface .06" thick.  This produces a part that has a net volume of almost exactly 1 cubic inch or 16.4 cubic centimeters.  I know these dimensions are not exactly right, but it's probably close enough to get a good estimate.  I uploaded the CAD file to Shapeways.com and got a price of $15.78 plus shipping, ships in 6 business days.  I was pleasantly surprised how cheap it could be!  The part would be made of their "polished strong and flexible" plastic (laser-sintered nylon).  I've made things with this material before and it would be plenty stiff enough for a speedometer face. 

See https://www.shapeways.com/materials/strong-and-flexible-plastic?li=nav

 

This material can also be painted.  Paint will be needed, even on a polished part, to get a very smooth surface.  This is especially true for putting water-slide decals on the surface. 

https://www.shapeways.com/tutorials/painting3dprintedsls

 

So, if we get some real dimensions, including the size and locations of the screw holes and BRIGHT LIGHTS hole, I can quickly make a correct 3D CAD model.  I can even add in the pins for the speedometer needle stops.  Maybe a nylon plastic part wouldn't be a bad choice - and it doesn't require much labor or any tooling.

 

And, if Tom still has a decal, it's nearly there.

 

 

    

CE speedo 1.png

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Thank you all for the helpful feedback.

 

Currently I have three 37 speedometers. All in various stages of deterioration and none good enough to use as is. It certainly seems the 3D printer could be a viable option. Gary has been very helpful with his attempt at 3D Cad. I'm heading to the shop now to take some better photos with a ruler and a true digital SLR camera. Here are some photos using my not so smart phone.

 

Jim

 

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Gary,

if you need one old one for getting all the holes, etc. just right let me know and I will get you one.

What a great idea. I had wondered if this could be done and now I know it can. 37 owners can

take great delight in this assuming it works out.

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Don:  I'm hoping that Andy Beckman at the Studebaker National Museum can provide Jim with copy of the original drawing of the speedometer dial (part number 190563).  It will show details that are hard to measure with calipers, micrometers, etc.  If the drawing doesn't exist, we can use your part to measure.  Thanks.

 

We just need Tom Lewis (or Jerry Kurtz) to chime in that he has some decals left.  I can give Dennis Dupont a call in NH and see what he knows of these parts - he has '37 Dictator coupe.

 

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Hi. I've been away from the forum for a couple of days.  I have nine sets of decals with numbers that go up to 80 mph.  I intended to call Jerry and confirm that these were made for Coupe-Expresses, but didn't get that done.  Jerry knew at the time I got these from him that I was working on a CE.  I have a photo of the speedometer in Jerry's Dictator sedan and the numbers go up to 100 on that one.  I don't have any photos of his CE instruments,  but as meticulous as Jerry is in his restorations, I'm sure if there is a specific difference, he would know it!

 

I just went out to the garage and double checked the decals.  Either I made a mistake when I ordered these or water-slide decals were not available.  These are adhesive backed, so they are not as user-friendly as water-slide.  Basically, there is a one-time shot to apply them correctly.  I've not been able to adjust adhesive backed stuff in the past after application, but maybe that's just me.  I also tend to manage to get fingerprints in the adhesive.

 

I'll be happy to donate sets of decals for anyone's project until I run out.  Tom

 

 

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Tom, a thought on the adhesive backed vinyl......I was watching one of those car restoration shows during a slow time over the holidays. They were finishing up the resto of a Plymouth Roadrunner and were applying the adhesive stripes just above the rocker panels. They used some sort of liquid or gel that allowed them to exactly position the stripes, then squeegeed them to get them to stick. Sorry I don't know what this stuff was, but a little research on applying muscle car vinyl stripes might turn it up. 

 

It looked to be a commercial product in a squeeze bottle, and seemed to have a thicker consistency then just water or a similar liquid. 

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RapidTac is one such commercial product.

 

Another web site suggest a trigger bottle of water with 2 to 4 drops of soap (not detergent - they liked baby shampoo).

 

And another likes glass plus on the vehicle first. The example was flames being applied to the side of a modern heap.

 

Some were applying decals and some vinyl; some said "decal or vinyl".

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I received an email from Andy Beckman confirming he is searching the archives. I hope to hear back soon. 

 

With regard to decals: Both the speedometer in my running 37CE and the speedometer from my current 37CE restoration show 0 to 100. Perhaps it makes sense to make water-slide decals in both 0 to 80 and 0 to 100?

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Tom:  If you send me one of the adhesive decals, I'll scan it and make some water-slide decals, and send you back the original with some water-slide copies.  Did the cars get 0-100 and the CEs get 0-80? Jim's photos clearly show an original dial with 0-100.  The parts book shows the same part numbers for speedometer assembly and dial for 5A, 6A, and J5 models.  For speedometer gears, the only difference is whether the rear axle is 4.55 or 4.82 and whether the car/CE has overdrive.  Fred Fox's article on the 1937 cars in the August 1989 issue of TW has a photo of the Dictator/CE/large truck dash with 0-100 on the speedometer, and Presidents used completely different round-face gauges.  I wonder if Williamson's, or whoever made the 0-80 adhesive decals that Tom has, used artwork for another brand of car from the same era that used Stewart-Warner or AC (?) speedometers.  Does anyone have an original car with 0-80 mph speedometer?  Or is it just Jerry's Coke truck?

What color paint was used on the dial and rest of the instruments?

 

Here's the dash of Jerry's 1937 Dictator sedan during this fall's Revival Glidden Tour in NH.  It shows his 0-100 speedometer.  I was comfortable in the rear seat while my wife Jane got the job of navigating that day.  We met another antique car tour coming the other way. 

 

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At onepoint I had 6 instrument clusters- one each in coupe, sedan and CE, plus 3 spares. Two are nice- rest not so. 

All 6 are 100 mph, including original from CE. 

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At onepoint I had 6 instrument clusters- one each in coupe, sedan and CE, plus 3 spares. Two are nice- rest not so. 

All 6 are 100 mph, including original from CE. I also notice the new decals stay in multiples of 10, while the originals show 

0-10-20-40-60-80-90-100. Hmmm

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Malcom Barry of Ohio has a source for reproduction 37 speedo faces. There are two different colors, one is silver and the other is  chocolate depending on the rest of the gauges, have seen them both ways. They are made of a modern plastic and are a perfect fit. The price if I remember correctly was very reasonably. The one in Gary's photo from the Glidden tour is the original one to the car. The larger trucks that used the 37 dictator dash up until I believe 39 used the 0-80 faces. My K15M has a 0-80 speedometer.

Jerry Kurtz

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Arrow trucks were made by the Arrow Transportation Company in Portland,Oregon during WW 2 . Most of them used Kenworth cabs and fenders with their own hood and radiator. Hard to get new trucks during the war so they made their own.

Cheers,Pat

Here is a shot of three of the four that are known to exist..

 

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Thanks for including the interesting history lesson, what engine and transmission?  The wife and I visited Portland in fall of 2015 and had a great time.  Someone on this site recommended the WAAM museum and it was a most memorable trip.

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