Brake Inspection and Spring Maintenance
April 18, 2010 - April 24, 2010
Catching up on some overdue work. I want to inspect the
brakes (they have not been apart for a couple of years). I
also need to change the brake fluid, fix a water leak, and grease
occurs to me that I have not ever showed the steps involved
in getting at the brakes. Step one: Pull the
hubcaps. With painted wheels this requires care. The trick is to use the slots in the wheels
that the hubcap clips emerge through. Insert
screwdriver and pry gently. I still have to be careful
or the paint will chip like you can see in the picture on
two: Loosen the lug nuts. The only tricky
bit here is on the driver's side of the car. Notice
the little "L" stamped on the stud. These are left
hand thread! Lefty tighty right loosy!
Three: Jacking. Block the wheels then jack up
the front of the car. I like to use two floor jacks to
get a more even lift and avoid tilting the car on the jack
stands. Then I jack up the back on the differential
and put jack stands under the spring mounts.
Look at the tires! The shot on the left is from the
front. The shot on the right is from the rear.
It seems like the car wears a lot more on the front than the
back. That make sense because I don't spin my tires
much in this car. I don't put many miles on the car
but the tires are very old and the rubber is hard so they
wear quickly. I will rotate the tires and keep an eye
on it. Probably I will need new tires in a year or
I also cleaned the wheels inside and out and waxed
both the wheels and the hubcaps.
Now I can pull the rear hubs. Like most cars prior
to 1960 or so Studebaker used a tapered axle.
Essentially the axle is tapered on the end and has a keyway
ground in it. A matching taper and keyway is machined
into the hub. The nut (tightened to 175 ft/lbs) forces
the tapers together and the key locks it in place.
This worked OK but was prone to failure in high-torque
situations and is a royal pain in the a$$ to take apart.
In this picture you can see that I took the axle nut off and
reversed it to help keep the end of the axle intact.
install the puller. This hub puller installs on the
lug nuts and should pop the hub. I have had these
apart before so I did not expect a big problem. In a
spasm of innovation I put a scrap of aluminum plate between
the jack screw and the axle to avoid damage. The jack
handle is to keep the entire assembly from rotating as I
crank on it.
quickly became obvious that the aluminum scrap was a stupid
idea. The jack screw chewed right through it. So
I replaced it with a chunk of 3/8" steel plate. About
the time I was using a three-foot pipe on the end of my
wrench to crank on the puller I realized I was grinding
though the plate as well.
fronts are much easier to get apart so I decided to take a
look there and only fight with the backs if the fronts had
an issue. As you can see everything looks just about
races, and drums look good too. Put it together and call
it a day. I replaced the drums, removed the puller,
threw it across the room and adjusted the brakes.
|I should have taken more pictures of the next steps but I was
annoyed at the rear hubs and forgot. I used a vacuum hand
pump to drain the master cylinder then using fresh brake fluid I
bled all four brakes. Brake fluid absorbs water over time
and will rust the system. It is also cheap so swapping
fluid every two years is cheap insurance.
I also greased the
chassis. The kingpins should be greased with the weight of
the car off the wheels to help the grease get into the top bearing.
Lots of grease fittings on this car. Modern cars are all
sealed and have 0 grease fittings.
since the great engine pull I have been finding this in my
garage. The coolant leak is slow (this is about 1 months
worth) and I thought I found it when I found the lower radiator
hose dripping and tightened the clamp. This slowed the
leak but did not stop it. So while the car was on stands I
crawled under to take a look.
horrid picture shows what I found. This is the radiator
from the bottom looking up at a drop of coolant on the top
radiator hose. Looks like I need to go back to hose clamp
school. I tightened them all up this time and I bet the
time to check the rear end. Simple enough-just pop the
plug out and fill with 80W-90 HP gear lube (GL-5).
It only took a squirt before it started running out.
Replace the plug and we are done.
transmission is next. Care is needed here. Modern
GL-4 and GL-5 gear lubes contain high pressure molybdenum and
sulfur compounds. These can attack bronze components in
older transmissions. This transmission needs straight SAE
90 GL-1 gear oil. NAPA still stocks it but I had to give
them the part number before they could find it.
Remove the top plug. Now how do you get the oil into
this very tight spot?
How about an old hand-lotion bottle? I just stick the nozzle
in the hole and pump the bottle up and down. Again it only
took a little to fill this up.
oil time. The oil plug is huge (1"). Pop it out and
things drain in no time. This is the easy part. The
sequence below shows how to remove the oil filter. Unscrew
the cap, use the handy handle to pull out the filter cartridge,
then stare in dismay at the 3/4 quart of oil trapped in the can
we use a hand vacuum pump to empty the filter. #1 daughter
is helping because I was starting to make a mess at this point.
I filled up the container about 4 times.
all that is left is some sludge in the bottom. A rag is
handy here. Then put in a new cartridge and gasket and
replace the cap. Be SURE to get the gasket in right
is a fairly huge oil controversy out there right now. Oils
are graded by
API service grade. For example straight SAE-30
non-detergent oil is SB. Most modern cars require SH, SJ,
or the latest standard of SM. Grades are changed to
improve efficiency and reduce emissions. But there is a
For many years cars used "flat" tappets where the cam lobes
push on a hardened steel surface to operate the valves.
This creates a sliding, high-pressure, metal-on-metal wear
surface. To prevent premature failure a compound called
diethyldithiophosphate (or ZDDP) was added to oil.
This metallic compound is toxic and can damage catalytic
converters but was necessary. But modern cars use "roller"
lifters where the cam pushes on a wheel to created a much lower
friction valve train. So the amount of ZDDP has been
reduced in later API service grades to the point where current
SM oils have none.
So anyone running an old engine needs to worry about
premature engine wear caused by improper oil. There are a
couple of solutions. Specialty oil makers make older
formulations but these can be hard to find. You can also
find additives to replace the ZDDP. Or you can buy
Valvoline VR1. Since it is designed for racing (where
older engine designs are common) it has ZDDP. But it costs
a bit. See
this article for more information.
My engine has run for decades on SAE-30 oil. But just
to be safe I did a mix of 2 qts. VR1 and 3 qts. 10w-30.
Maybe this is a mistake but it turns out it did not matter
anyway (more foreshadowing!).
the first rule of oil changes is always check for leaks.
Instead I just jumped in the car and drove off. I kept
smelling burning oil but thought it was just the couple drops I
spilled on the exhaust manifold. Then I pulled back into
the driveway and saw blue smoke billowing out from under the
hood. I opened the hood and found everything
covered in oil. The oil filter gasket did not set properly
and about two quarts of oil were pumped into the environment by
way of the cooling fan. What a mess. I especially
like the cloud of smoke on the left...