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1920 Studebaker Big 6 Touring questions


Randy D
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I just inherited this car from my father who passed away quickly before he could show me these things and I now have a couple basic questions that I can't seem to find answers to. It's a nice mostly original survivor that's been in my family mostly since new. 

1) The spark advance lever, How do I use it and which way is advanced vs retarded?

2) It runs well but when I stop and shut off the engine, it pukes out a lot of anti-freeze. The radiator temp gauge says the temp is fine.

3) Struggling to figure out the clutch. so far I just start in 2nd or 3rd and leave it there but it would be nice to shift. I've tried adjusting the linkage but nothing seems to help. Double clutching does not help nor does pressing the peddle only half way. If I take it out of gear while using it, I need to stop the engine to get it back in a gear.

 

The oldest car I've ever owned previously was a 39 Ford coupe so this car is completely alien to me. I have a huge learning curve ahead of me.

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Great road going car

The spark advance should be all the full down to start about 3/4 way up on warm up and all the way up on normal running.

You may want to back off in high gear at very low speed to prevent detonation knock.

You need to leave space in the radiator for expansion as the coolant heats up.

At least have it above the tubes about half way between the tubes and fliller neck.

If you can shift into first and reverse sitting still at an idle you clutch would not be causing shifting issues.

1rst to 2nd shifts usually work well getting it rolling about 10mph or less double clutching and letting the revolutions drop top most an idle and use a quick throw into 2nd. Similar unto 3rd. Make sure the transmission fluid is full. It will take some getting used to with no sychromesh and straight cut gears.  Its all about matching the revs with the roads speed. Once in third you rarely need to downshift until to stop. The big six will lug down to 5 mph or less. Just use light throttle pressure when  in 3rd at very low speeds.

Have fun.

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It’s an issue of learning how to match the engine speed to the cars speed... it takes experience and patience but you will get it to work. Shifting at low speed Is good as the ratio of first is lower than you think. And shift very slowly as well. To downshift, again bring your speed down, then shift into neutral and release the clutch and slowly bring the engine revs up while barely moving the shifter into second. You should feel the gears match speed And then push it in before dropping the throttle. Do not try downshifting into first unless you are barely crawling.

 

I don’t know about 1920 but in 24 there was a clutch brake if you took the pedal to the floor which I had issues getting used to. If you have a copy of the owners manual it should say whether you have that or not.

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11 hours ago, Randy D said:

take it out of gear while using it, I need to stop the engine to get it back in a gear.

This is not right, your clutch is either totally out of adjustment or sticking.  Does anyone have a manual showing clutch adjustment they could post?

 

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I agree with trrimacar.

If yoou can't shift into gear from neutral with the engine running, it sounds like the clutch disc is stuck to the flywheel.  I am not totally familiar with the big 6, but I believe the clutch is recessed into the flywheel which eliminates the trick of removing the clutch inspection plate and pushing a putty knife between the clutch disc and the flywheel.  Otherwise, there two options - remove the transmission which requires removing floor boards, toe board, pedals and various other items.  Or it can be done this way, but be VERY CAUTIOUS when doing it.  Jack the car up, put jack stands under the rear axle and blocks in front of the front wheels.  Put the trans in high gear and start engine.  Accelerate to about 30 mph.  With clutch pedal HELD DOWN hit the brakes as hard as you can.  Repeat if needed.  A bit brutal but it works.

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Thank you all.

 

The clutch is not stuck as I can shift into any gear initially but once it warms up if I shift into neutral, that's when I can't get it back into a gear without shutting off the engine.

 

I'll try leaving the coolant lower and see what happens.

 

Think I'll drive around the neighborhood tomorrow practicing my shifting.

 

Attached a picture of my new toy.

2006-04-12 12.01.00.jpg

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It probably has a clutch brake. To shift a car with a clutch brake do NOT push the pedal all the way to the floor. Push it down 2/3 to 3/4 in.......and shift. Try it and see if it works. It’s most likely your problem. 

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4 hours ago, old car fan said:

Big 6,and special 6,indeed have a clutch brake.


 

It’s most likely the problem. Especially if he is tall........early cars with clutch brakes that have little room cause me fits......between long legs and size 14 feet it makes for a difficult driving experience. 

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I see you have this posting in two topic areas (here and Studebaker) so I'll respond to this one since it has more comments. 

 

Good advice on spark lever and coolant issues.

 

The Big Six uses a cone clutch  which can be a bit more finicky than a flat plate clutch and cold vs warm performance can make a difference. It sounds like once it's warm, and you are shifting out of neutral into a gear while depressing the clutch pedal you cannot get it in gear without it grinding.  Is that correct?  If so, the clutch brake is not the issue, it is the adjustment or wearing of the cone clutch.

 

FYI - All the early 20's Studebaker models have the clutch brake.  The clutch brake was to allow you to come to a stop, leave it in neutral, release the clutch and when it was time to take off again, you just pushed the clutch down all the way and the brake allowed you to immediately stop the input shaft from spinning and engage first gear rather than waiting for the gear to coast down before engaging first without grinding.  Otherwise, without a brake, if you wanted a rapid start you have to leave it in gear and hold the clutch in.  During a traffic jam or stop light your leg gets tired. I had my Light Six (flat plate) clutch adjusted to release closer to the floor but then it had very little pedal movement before the clutch brake engaged so I adjusted it to release toward the top of travel and that helped a lot. Nice looking car by the way.

Scott

 

 

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On 6/22/2020 at 8:48 PM, Stude Light said:

The Big Six uses a cone clutch  which can be a bit more finicky than a flat plate clutch and cold vs warm performance can make a difference. It sounds like once it's warm, and you are shifting out of neutral into a gear while depressing the clutch pedal you cannot get it in gear without it grinding.  Is that correct?  If so, the clutch brake is not the issue, it is the adjustment or wearing of the cone clutch.

Scott

 

 

That's exactly what's happening. I've adjusted it for maximum throw and I still can't shift when it gets warm without stopping the motor. If I have to reface the clutch, is their a better modern material than the leather recommended in the old manuals. I know my father did replace the leather once years ago.

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Hello Randy,

Sorry I am a little late to this conversation.

I have a 20 Special six touring with Kevlar clutch lining and a 20 big six touring with leather.

I prefer the leather. Bob Knaak in California does a great job at a fair price. 

Let us know where you are and maybe someone can recommend a radiator shop.

I am in Ohio.

Dennis

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