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Stalling 1938 Studebaker? Any ideas?


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I run 308’s. And I keep the gap tight........     .18

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I’ll get the 308’s today. Should have asked this days ago but forgot. Damn grey hair keeps pulling all the memory cells right out of my head! 

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Just finished the wires and checking the gap on the plugs. Changed that to 20. Going to try it now and see what happens. I’ll post here and text you.  Thanks. Dls 

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It seems a little better with the new wires and gapping the 393 plugs closer but basically not solved. It starts happening at a little higher speed in each gear. By that I mean trying to start moving in 2nd or 3 rd it was stalling at about 6 or 7 mph. Now it’s at about 10-11 mph. 
if it’s electrical then it’s got to be the distributor. Don’t know what else I can try. 

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That is disappointing news Dave.  Sounds like it’s going to take an exorcist to chase the devils out of it.  In my mind I see this little wire somewhere that bounces around when your moving and messes with the ignition.  Know any good witch doctors in the area?

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Jim. I can not see it move. That’s been part of what is driving anyone that has suggested fixes nuts. Is it the distributor? Is it the vacuum? Is it the fuel?  
The only major change I’ve done is having the carb rebuilt and the carb shop guy is just as confused as e are. It is just not making any sense. I’m sure the guys that know flat heads would solve it in a few minutes if they were here. It will get solved I just wish I knew more about these engines. 
 

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The vacuum advance not working could cause the symptoms you're seeing.

I'm assuming 😀 your distributor is the type that is moved by the VA, if its not then the VA should be moving the breaker plate, one or the other. If it is nether, it could be  one of your problems.

 

The carb float level should be 5/8" according to my Motor's Manual, I think you have or should have a BX-O26 Stromberg carb there. Should be easy to check.

 

I'd like to see the engine have higher vacuum numbers.

 

Good luck and good hunting.

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Yes cap and rotor were changed. The distributor, coil, cap, wires and carb are being sent to a very kind expert mechanic that has test equipment and can rebuild anything mechanical!  Hopefully I’ll have good news in a week or two. I understand he is doing this in his spare time so I’m not worried how long it may take. I’ll let you all know. 
 

I did try to record it but a semi decided to start up and move so the recording is useless. 

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AND THE ANSWER IS............BAD COIL, AND IT'S NEW!

 

I STILL HAVE NOT CHECKED THE DISTRIBUTOR OR CARBURETOR....MORE TO COME.

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Posted (edited)

It’s amazing how a person with skills, knowledge, ability and willingness to just be a good kind person can make your day!  Ed is that person for me. He said it was electrical before he even knew I had replaced everything. He did not think it was a fuel problem but had me check that out as some others had suggested just to be safe. When nothing worked he wanted to test the coil and distributor. The new coil is junk.  
 

I told the girls the beast will be up and running shortly and we can then go for their daily rides again. If they see Ed I’m sure he will be covered with doodle dust from them jumping all over him!  
I want to thank everyone that tried to help me get this problem solved. TerryB, Bloo, Frank, Padgett, John and others I’m forgetting and of course Ed. Also a special Thanks to Peter for allowing this thread to stay on the general forum instead of moving it to the Studebaker forum. Based on the number of responses and views I think it has been of interest to a lot of members. 
Thanks Ed, you are a very appreciated man and I wish there was a better way to say that and show you how much respect you deserve for being such a kind, giving individual. 
dave s 

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Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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Jihn S. The congratulations should go to all of the people that helped. Ed and his trusty side kick with the giant hands Phil are the ones that found the coil problem. Ed had said it was electrical from the start. 
I am, along with Sophie &Gracie ( probably my wife as she will be happy to have piece and quiet in the house when we go out for our rides) are going to be very happy when I get the parts back in. Hopefully that will be by weeks end! 
dave s 

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Placed the distributor on the Sun Tester today. We had other things pop up, and didn’t get to finish with it. It certainly has a issue with grounding causing erratic performance. Tomorrow, I’ll go through it and get it back to factory specs. Often times I see multiple issues causing running and no start problems. That’s the case here also. With luck, everything will be back in Dave’s hands for the weekend. Won’t know for sure with problems at work and home things are piling up............will keep everyone in the loop here. 👍

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16 minutes ago, John348 said:

Many Congratulations!

Good call Ed, 

 

Was the bad coil an NOS coil, old replacement coil or a new replacement coil?


The coil was new modern. I have seen a huge number of early pre war coils failing the last two years. So much, I have begun to replace all our car coils with new modern units. I also check the new one before I install them, since I have the equipment. This is the first time I have seen a new defective coil.............I’ll check the cap, rotor, and wires while they are here also. I’m interested to see how the vacuum advance is working......it’s moving well and holding vacuum.......but I’m not certain if the amount of advance is correct.....by eye, it looks like too much. 

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

Great is is a beautiful sun tester, does the strobe work ? (Have one but not that pretty)


It’s upgraded to a Xenon strobe and all solid state. The tubes have been all changed out to modern electronics. Also a half horsepower motor to spin magnetos. It’s a nice piece of equipment.

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Another update..........the Chinese points don't fit correctly, can't be adjusted correctly, and float over 1200 rpm. Typical one size fits all Chinesium junk with poor spring pressure. So a correct American set of points is on the way. Typical running problem where you find multiple issues.............we will get it all correct. 👍

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Many old time tune up books list the points spring tension, I wonder how many times that was ever tested over just replacing them with a new set.  It seems the  “new” stuff can really drag you down the wrong road when you add “well it’s all been replaced” when troubleshooting.

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What was the source of the points?

 

My 36 Pontiac came to me several years ago with altogether the wrong points in it, causing problems, so changing them was one of the first things I did. The new ones I bought were a brand that used to be one of the most respected in the business. I saw someone online with a similar Pontiac complaining about these particular points, said he could not get them to work, firing inbeteween cylinders, etc. I noticed when I put them in that the hole that goes around the pivot was the wrong size. I didn't really see how it could work correctly like that, but I went ahead and put them in. They did not work well. I put the distributor on the distributor machine, and found the points bouncing and firing almost at random just like you might expect.

 

I figured out afterwards that several old respected ignition brands are under the same ownership now, including the brand I bought. My solution was to get on Ebay and buy several sets of NORS points in old dusty boxes. They are an off brand but work fine.

 

EDIT: On a second look, on the points in the picture the return spring is entirely missing. It is sometimes provided as a separate piece. Sometimes people fail to put them in. The only return spring present there is the copper strap....

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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The new Chinese junk ( do they float because they are junk? ) came from Napa. Only place available locally when I was first starting this mess.  I can not find a set of NOS points for the State Commander. They are available for the President but that’s a Delco distributor 8 cylinder.  The State Commander is an Autolite distributor 6 cylinder. Not positive that matters but I’ve already feel I’ve given Ed enough curve balls. The newest ones are supposedly American Made Autolite that the supplier says he hasn’t had any complaints about. He is a Studebaker parts supplier. He also is close to Ed’s location so with luck (like I have any of that) they should arrive tomorrow. 
It’s amazing Ed’s attitude toward solving this multi part problem. He will not be satisfied until this lowly Studebaker (compared to what he usually is working on like the Great White) is sorted out to the level of a Pierce Arrow !  He just keeps checking everything until he knows there is absolutely nothing wrong. I love it and I’m truly thankful for every bit of that experience and determination. 
dave s 
 

 

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Too bad, might have some Delco points not no Ford stuff.

 

Glad you found the problem, Stude prolly gave up after so many poked at it.

 

Did pretty much the same to my Sun tester, guess that makes it a resto-mod. (Selenium rectifiers are mostly melted by now).

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1 hour ago, Bloo said:

What was the source of the points?

 

My 36 Pontiac came to me several years ago with altogether the wrong points in it, causing problems, so changing them was one of the first things I did. The new ones I bought were a brand that used to be one of the most respected in the business. I saw someone online with a similar Pontiac complaining about these particular points, said he could not get them to work, firing inbeteween cylinders, etc. I noticed when I put them in that the hole that goes around the pivot was the wrong size. I didn't really see how it could work correctly like that, but I went ahead and put them in. They did not work well. I put the distributor on the distributor machine, and found the points bouncing and firing almost at random just like you might expect.

 

I figured out afterwards that several old respected ignition brands are under the same ownership now, including the brand I bought. My solution was to get on Ebay and buy several sets of NORS points in old dusty boxes. They are an off brand but work fine.

 

EDIT: On a second look, on the points in the picture the return spring is entirely missing. It is sometimes provided as a separate piece. Sometimes people fail to put them in. The only return spring present there is the copper strap....

 

 

So maybe the Pertronix module may have solved this problem....😁

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Packards in the late 1940s used both Auto-Lite and Delco ignition systems.  Back when I was a small time parts vendor guy I had some Auto-lite points for a fellow who needed a set for his Packard.  All the local parts houses only had Delco points in stock.  I had Auto-lite stuff as I was mostly selling MoPar parts at the time.

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5 hours ago, maok said:

 

So maybe the Pertronix module may have solved this problem....😁

 

All kidding aside, it might have. That was early in my ownership of the car, and I was pondering how I might get electronic ignition in it. I got pretty serious about investigating it when I figured out that all the brands I was looking at for points were owned by the same company and were probably supplying the same points. I have since decided that converting it was a bad idea, in part because the car is 6 volts, and in part because it destroyed a digital panel meter (volts) in a three mile drive, and then made my test equipment lock up when I tried to figure out why.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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One other thing to consider about the Pertronix system. The car is 83 years old and the original system has worked for that time. The car is original paint, running boards, grill and trim. We redid the internal engine parts- rings, valves, bearings, gears, rebuilt the suspension and transmission. Recromed the front and rear bumpers. Replaced the windshield but all other windows are original. I wanted to have the seats done but at a cost of over $7000 and the headliner is good it was just not in the budget. So I covered them myself. I want to keep it original. It’s older than me and I’m sure it’s going to outlast me. But while I can I’m going to enjoy it as an original fun car. I’ve put about 6000 miles on it in the last 4 years. Hopefully I can do another 10,000 in the next 4!!!! 
dave s 

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Finding the running problem without extensive experience in this case was unlikely. New coil that’s junk. New points floating over 1100 rpm..........not much chance for shady tree mechanics to figure it all out. I’m hoping the fuel system is ok. I can sort the ignition system here no problem. Another typical problem......a car with a rebuilt engine that the accessories didn’t get rebuilt also. I know there is a mechanical advance issue, and haven’t checked the vacuum advance yet. To be honest, I’m not use to working with such small components.......I usually am working on the giant stuff. I can set up a dual point Delco V-12 Pierce unit un under fifteen minutes.......I have done countless numbers of them. All the info needed is stored in my head. On the Stude......went over to my trusty National books for specifications. Everything I need is at my fingertips. 
 

Bloo.........correct that the main spring is missing. Really doesn’t matter, as the set does no look correct to my eyes. I can’t tell you how many big shops just install and set of points that will fit........so they think, and try and run the car. Most modern reproduction points don’t fit correctly for my experience. Last weekend a member here flew down for the second time in a month, and I rebuilt his distributor for him while he waited. I have all the special Delco tools and can do a non cosmetic restoration with bushings in under an hour in most cases. It’s also common to see “the right carburetor” on a car that isn’t correct. It may be the correct model number.......but you can bet the farm it’s calibrated for some obscure series of car that never got installed and now it’s on a car that has twice the displacement. At Amelia a few years ago I was looking at a 9 million dollar car. They opened the hood up, and as I was looking it over, I asked the restorer why his car had a  Studebaker carburetor made six years earlier than his car? Didn’t realize the owner was standing there also. I asked if it was hard starting and idled poorly........he admitted it did. It also had an incorrect fuel pump on it.......but what do you want on a restoration that ran well over a million dollars? Correct parts? Silly you. I sold the owner the correct carb and pump on the spot...........a week later the car was running fine. He still thanks me every time I see him. There are a lot of great restoration shops.........but very, very few can set up a car to drive, steer, stop, and run correctly. I have driven a fresh restoration with ten miles on it that was so badly set up I downed the car for safety from the club tour. It was so bad I wouldn’t drive it on a public street. The owner foolishly drove it anyway. Almost killed himself and his family. Eighteen months later half the cars components ended up arriving at the shop for us to fix. Just because it has nice paint, chrome, and upholstery........doesn’t mean it drives worth a shit.

 

 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed just showed me my distributor being tested on his machine and it was perfect!  I believe the 38 will be up and running shortly after the parts arrive back here. I can understand why Ed gets to work on the cars he does. Putting it simply he knows what the heck he’s doing!  
I will let you all know how it goes in a few days, just waiting on USPS to deliver. 
Have fun. 
 

Ed enjoy your upcoming tour!  
Thanks again. 
dave s 

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It’s been a crazy day, and a terrible week. If anything else goes wrong, I quit. Dave’s distributor, coil, condenser, cap, wires, and plug ends are 100 percent. He should be good to go. It was less than a half hours work to get everything done. Nothing like good equipment. Unfortunately this week I had a bunch of terrible news..........just one thing.........my dog Haggis has cancer all over, and needs to cross the rainbow bridge. He’s seems ok right now, but I’m afraid that while I am on tour next week things will change. I don’t have children, and my dog is my favorite person. He’s been nothing but a pleasure. A kind and gentle soul, and I’m distraught with having to put him down. I rather burn  all my cars then lose my friend. I would burn every car in the collection to have more time with him.

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Ed, he looks like a tough little critter. Probably all bark and no bite but will lick you to death while wagging that tail like crazy. It’s hard too have to come to that decision but at least you know he will not suffer. I had my Max 17+ years when he had to be put down. My mistake was waiting too long to get another one. After doing it (actually got the two girls) I realized it was the smartest thing I did. Mac would have been proud we gave a hood home to the two pups. The love you give and got from him you will get to give another pup, Haggis would want it that way because he had such a good life with you. I learned the hard way and missed out on years of that unconditional love. Grieve for your loss but honor him by helping another pup have as good a life as your buddy Haggis has had. 
Truly dirty you have to go through this along with the other hits you’ve taken this week. 
dave s 

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23 hours ago, maok said:

 

So maybe the Pertronix module may have solved this problem....😁


 

Nope.....I have a pertronix unit coming in to be removed this week............just as bad as the Chinese Kung Flu.....old school is best.........

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