Oldest picture yet of the Studebaker

My mom has a box of my Grandfather’s pictures and letters. We started organizing it on Thanksgiving and we found a picture of the Studebaker dated 8/26/1952. The car was parked in 1953 for 30 years but it was still a daily driver at this point.

The car at this point looks pretty much like it did when my father started working on it. The 51 Stude bumpers are already on it. It is probably painted the same dark green but the paint is a LOT shinier. When we started working on the car the rear fender in the picture above was scraped and dented, that obviously happened after August, 1952. I have the trim rings still and two of the hubcaps that were on it then. The trim rings are stainless and in good shape but the hubcaps are pretty beat up.

The rear tires look just like the spare tire in the car (which is VERY old). I suspect that the same tires were on the car in 1984-85 when the picture below was taken and that one of them was used as the spare when new tires were put on.

I will have to keep looking for earlier pictures of the car. There is a family story about my grandfather trying to teach my grandmother to drive and her hitting a policeman. She never did get a driver’s license. I wonder if that triggered the replacement of the bumpers?

Wrapped up the wiring

After work I went out to troubleshoot my issues from yesterday.

I started testing the driver’s side headlight bucket with a meter and could not figure out where the problem was so I pulled the entire bucket out. I cleaned the screws and the metal around the screws to ensure I have a good ground.
I installed the headlight bucket at tested it with jumper wires. Everything worked so I wired it back into the terminal block.
Success! Probably a bad ground. On to the brake lights.
I used my jumper to short out the brake light switch and they worked perfectly.
Spotlight works too! Last thing to check is the gas gauge.
Well this might be the problem! Stupid. I remember wanting to check the connections for the gas gauge. I must have gotten distracted and I never actually connected the wires. Easy fix though. Gas gauge works now!

Time to start the car….

She lives! Don’t worry about the stumble. It is pretty cold and I did not let it warm up at all. So the ignition, regulator, and generator are all wired correctly. So everything works! I let the car warm up while I cleaned up a little.

Last thing to do on the car tonight is to install the remaining harness clips.
So I was thinking about turn signals and it occurred to me that my old fog lights might be ideal. These are pretty ratty but new ones are actually not that expensive.
Yeah, that will work. I am out of time tonight but something like this could work.

Completed the wiring (maybe)

I only had a couple hours today to work on the car but I got into testing. Of course there are problems…

First thing to do was the driver’s side headlight. There was some surface rust in here so I painted it last night. That might be causing me problems now but more on that later.
Yesterday I was surprised that I had not taken any pictures of the headlight harness. So here is one. The wires are in a rubber conduit to protect from rocks and water in the fender. The striped wire grounds to a screw in the back of the bucket. You can also see the green bare wire that gets fed though the parking light socket and soldered to the contact button.
The repro wiring is insulated wire with the fabric woven over it. So the wires are a little thicker than the factory wires. Most of the time that does not matter, but for some reason the parking light socket was a lot tighter on this side than the passenger side. So I had to trim off the cotton to get the wire to feed into the socket. No biggie, nobody will see this. The contact button is all soldered up here too.
Bucket assembled…
And installed! Next I hooked up the wires inside the fender. For some reason I don’t have a pic of that.
I connected the horn relay too. Not a lot of extra wire here.
Well lookit that! Main chassis harness is complete! Whohoo!
One last wire to install! Actually that is not true, I did not install the new horn wire or the new gas tank harness. And I have to rewire stuff like the heater/defroster motors and the spotlight. But those are projects for later.
Here is where that wire goes. Connects the coil to the points.
Here we go! So all the wires are run. At least I think they are. Time to test.
Here is the pile of wiring I took out of the car. Keep in mind this is a simple electrical system. After one last look-over I turned on the battery. No smoke! I pressed the horn and it honked. So first test down.
Parking lights work too. Instrument lights and the ammeter moved correctly. So 4 for 4 so far.
Passenger headlight works! High and low beam.
But we have a fail on the driver’s side. It is just glowing in both high and low beam. When I see something like this I assume a bad ground. Since the parking light is working fine the most likely place for the bad ground is the striped wire that ties the headlight bulb to the bucket.
When I unplugged the bulb this happened. That is the common terminal so I assumed this was the problem. I got out my soldering gun and soldered the terminal back on. Then I tested the bulb and it works fine. I also verified I have battery voltage at the lamp socket. But when I plugged it in it still does not work. I decided to move on.

The next step was to turn on the ignition. No smoke there either. So I started testing.

Turn signals work! Gas gauge does not move so I probably got those wires backwards in spite of my best efforts. And for some reason the passenger brake light does not work. Since the turn signal does work that is a bit of a mystery. However the Climatizer and defroster fans work. I am out of time but I will troubleshoot this and then try to start the car.

More harness work and started on headlights

I have been less than thrilled by the quality of the 1-1 connectors that came with the new harness. One of the original factory connectors was broken so I took it apart. The brass insert is much thicker and better shaped than the reproduction connector. And it is plated with tin or maybe even silver. I decided to use the original connectors if I could.
The connectors from inside the car were not bad, but the ones from under the car were pretty nasty. I soaked them in solvent, scraped off the undercoating and paint overspray, then blasted them out with brake cleaner and compressed air. Finally I soaked them in vinegar to try and clean the tarnish off the contacts.
The results were impressive. I can use these no problem.
The first thing to do is get the main chassis harness positioned. To do that I need to join it to the rear chassis harness. So after carefully routing the wires I was ready to connect. The triple-connector here contains the gas gauge and tail-light wires.
That went well so I hooked up the rest of the rear chassis harness. I pull-tested each connector, they all held very wll. The ugly wire up top is the blower motor wire. That needs replaced but I will do that later. All these connectors will tuck up into the frame rail.
Next I hooked up the brake light switch. Those little clips that hold the bullets in are VERY weak springs. Every time I take them off I have to squeeze them tight again to get them to hold.
Once the connections were all made I tucked the harness up in the frame rail and installed the clips to hold it in . You can see one hooked over the frame there. I installed all the clips from the front to the rear axle.
Back on the firewall I positioned the harness vertically and held it there with one of the clamps. That let me hook up the high beam switch and the voltage regulator.
Moving forward the generator harness goes in.
Making progress. As each end of each wire is connected I double-check the location and wire color then check it off on the wire list.
Time for the headlights. Driver’s side first.
After removing the trim and the headlight bulb the bucket is exposed.
Then I fed the wires out through the hole in the inner fender
4 screws and the bucket is out. I have to take that apart now.
To get the headlight mount out the two springs are removed. Then the headlight mount can be wiggled off the adjusting screws.
The parking light socket is built into the bucket so once again I have to fish a bare wire thorough then solder on the contact button.
One rebuilt headlight bucket with a new harness.
Bucket and headlight are re-installed.
Here is how the harness from the bucket is routed though the fender.
To complete the headlight the wires just get connected at the terminal block on the inner fender. Almost done but I am out of time for today.

Main harness is out!

This is the first free time I have had this week so I went out to work on the car for an hour or so. The goal is to get the old main chassis harness out.

First I disconnected harness from the starter switch. This is also where the negative battery cable connects, so here is where the entire harness connects to the battery.
Next the high-beam switch. This is really buried down there. I jacked up the car and came up from the bottom.
Next I disconnected the wiring from the headlight terminal blocks.
And the horn relay
Generator wires are in super rough shape. Disconnected those and the horn wire. I will have to decide soon if I want to replace the horn wire. It runs though the steering box, up the column to the horn contact under the wheel. Nothing about it looks easy, on the other hand it is probably as bad as the rest of the wiring.
Back under the car I disconnected the brake light switch and this connection for the Climatizer fan.
These two clips are the last things holding the harness to the car. Some quick screwdriver work and off they came.
Victory!
Now I have to snake the new harness into position. I had to get it behind the hood-release cable and under the emergency brake cable. My big worry here is getting everything hooked up and finding that I put something over where it should be under or behind where it should be in front. So I am comparing to the pictures I took every step of the way.
In this picture I have the harness more-or-less where it will go. I highlighted it in the picture to make it clearer. More work to be done here but I am running out of time.

Studebaker Champion Switches

For my future reference and maybe to help others this post will have the terminals on all the switches on the car. I have taken thousands of pictures of this car so you would think I would have better ones than some of these. But they are good enough.

Headlight switch

B = Battery, T = Taillights, H = Headlights, P = Parking lights

Ammeter

Gas gauge

Instrument lights dimmer

I measured the resistance at 1Ω to 3.3Ω

Defroster switch

Resistance is .2Ω to 22Ω

Climatizer (heater) switch

Ignition switch

Fuse block

Headlight dimmer switch

Finishing the under-dash wiring

I had a about half a day to work on this so my goal was to get as far as I could under the dash. It actually went very well. First I checked out the wiring on the ignition switch that worried me yesterday. Sure enough they were backwards, but as it turns out it does not matter. The switch is set up so you can’t wire it wrong. Nice. Moving on…

First I hooked up the headlight switch. This wiring had been modified on the original harness and my notes were wrong so I had to do some detective work. It was complicated because I can’t figure out how to take this switch out of the car. While I was doing this I also re=installed the instrument lamp dimmer and hooked up the power wire to it.
Next I put the spotlight switch together. Besides the left wire that I made yesterday I also made a temporary extension for the wire going to the spotlight. This wire barely reached the switch before. Eventually I will remove the spotlight and replace the wire but for now this will give me more room to work with. I installed the switch and attached the power lead to the fuse in the fuse block on switched power
Next I put in the switches for the Climatizer (heater) fan and defroster fan. The long lead is one I made earlier to reach the non-stock location of these switches. It ties to switched power on the fuse block. The short jumper lead feeds the power from the Climatizer switch to the defroster switch.
I changed the orientation of the switches from where they used to be. The Climatizer switch has writing on the knob and I wanted that text to be upright when the switch is off. The catch is that now the heads of the screws for the switch terminals are hard to get to. To get around that I had to remove the switches again, connect the wires, and re-install the switches. The left-most wire is the wire for the defroster motor. That wire is not great and needs replaced but to do that I have to remove and disassemble the defroster motor. That will be a job for another day.
Finally I installed the switch knobs and the lighter. I was about to make a new power lead for the lighter and realized that I had no intention of actually using it so I just left it disconnected. If I ever take up smoking I can hook it up.
Turn signal time! Here is the new turn signal switch. That dinky hose clamp is the first problem.
I want the turn signal switch as close as possible to the steering wheel. To do that the best place to mount it is on the housing on the steering column that the shifter is mounted in. So I need a bigger clamp. This is the one from the old switch. I thought about reusing it but it is too wide.
This is the biggest clamp I have. I think it is for a dryer vent. I test-fit it then cut it to length.
Oh yeah, that will work. I will just have to tweak the position a little
Nice!
I wanted the wiring for the turn signal up out of the way but I also needed to make sure I could connect the power and ground wires. This is what I settled on. The power lead with the fuse holder is getting power off the ignition switch. I looped the turn signal harness over the steering column and tied it to the main chassis harness with a not-period-correct zip tie. That ensures the connectors don’t have any strain on them. This would not work if I had a radio but I don’t so might was well use the space.
I found a threaded hole in the bottom of the dash where the factory heater controls are supposed to mount. I found a slotted screw that fit and used it to ground the turn signal switch.
Last task under the dash is the instrument lights. The new harness comes with the two sockets that plug into the back of the gauge cluster but there is a third custom light socket that lights up the ignition switch (of all things). Here is what that looks like. The can on the right screws to the dash above the ignition switch and there is a slot in it to cast light on the switch.
The harness comes with a kit to rebuild the custom light socket. I will have to put the parts on the wire and solder that little brass button onto the wire. I decided to reuse the spring from the old harness, it looked better made than the new one.
New harness ready to install. This was easy to put in, the biggest problem was getting the screw in to mount the ignition switch light. It is is tiny and has to be installed blind.
Done under the dash! Mostly looks pretty good. I will remove the tags when everything works. The old wire dangling by the flasher is the dome light wire. That has never been hooked up on this car. If I ever replace the headliner I can replace that then. I can clean that stuff up later.
I was about out of time but got as far as disconnecting the voltage regulator. These wires are scary bad! I am maybe 2/3 of the way done getting the old harness out but most of the rest is under the hood. That will have to wait though. I have other chores for the rest of today.

More under-dash wiring

After a week I got back to work on the wiring with more work under the dash. Lots of labeling and disconnecting but finally was able to start pulling the harness out through the hole in the firewall.

Yes! Harness is out from under the dash. Made a huge mess.
I removed the switches that I could get out for cleaning. The ignition switch is staying in and I can’t figure out how to get the headlight switch out. This picture shows the fuse block on the right, instrument light dimmer up top, and the spotlight switch on the left. All of them got cleaned up and hit with DeOxit. I also tracked down replacements for missing lock washers and such.
The power wire for the spotlight needs a new wire and since it is aftermarket these wires are not included in the harness. I bought some extra wire with the harness and used some to make a new power lead. Original is on top, mine is below.
I took the cigarette lighter apart and found several problems. First, the terminal at the end is rusty. Second, the plastic insulator for the contact is broken
Plan A to fix it was to steal a contact and insulator from another lighter I had setting around. But the new one is much shorter and has a different profile. This will not work.
Plan B, fix the old one. Since the insulator is trapped in the bottom of the lighter tube it does not have to be strong, it just has to go together. So I superglued it. This worked!
There, all back together.
Wow, lots of space with no wiring. And lots of dirt. The only wires left in here are the instrument lights. They will get replaced later. Those two hooks hold the harness under the panel.
This is what came out of there AFTER I vacuumed the inside of the dash. 80+ years of dirt!
Time to put the harness in. The first step is to put this flange over the harness. Even though it is split you really can’t flex it much. My main concern here was to not get it backwards.
So the plan here is to feed the under-dash part of the harness in while leaving the old harness still attached in the engine compartment. Once I am done under the dash I can ‘line up’ new harness with the old one and put the grommet in to hold the harness in place in the firewall. It took a little effort to wiggle the harness thorough the fairly small hole.
Some wires have to be first. After snaking the harness more-or-less where it is supposed to go I hooked up the first two wires to the ignition switch. This is the very end of the harness. I hooked this up the same as it was before but once I looked at this picture I see one terminal marked “GA” and the other “AM” If those are “Gas gauge” and “Ammeter” I have them backwards. I will have to figure this out later.
Next up were the wires going to the gauges. At this point I am just trying to get “landmark” wires connected so I can position the harness correctly. As each end of each wire is put in its final position I am checking it off on the wire list that came with the harness. I am verifying color, tag number, and position.
Final wires of the evening. To get these to reach I had to twist or roll the entire harness (they were poking out towards the dash instead of towards the fuse block. The top red wire is about 1/2″ shorter than the factory wire and it almost will not reach. I am leaving the paper tags on for as long as I can to keep track of things.

New wiring begins

Last year I had a short in the headlights and decided that it was really time to replace the wiring harness. I did some shopping around and decided to go with a authentic reproduction wiring harness from Lark Works. The car’s original wiring was all insulated with woven cotton. The reproduction harness will use modern vinyl insulated wire with cotton woven over it so it looks original. I went with Lark Works because they were competitive on price and are Studebaker focused. Their harnesses are designed from factory drawings and use Studebaker part numbers. Plus they were super responsive and helpful when I contacted them. I went with a stock harness with the addition of turn signals. It was a pile of money but the harness is beautiful and the documentation is excellent. All this was late last year. I was going to do it over last winter then we moved. Next I planned to do it after the Delaware car show in July and that got delayed until October. Now I am out of excuses. Time to start.

Got to start somewhere

The harness is in several sections. The big one is the main chassis harness. That is most of the instrument panel and under the hood. So it goes through a lot of tight places. The main chassis harness ties into the rear chassis harness that runs under the car to the gas tank and tail lights. A separate rear compartment harness in the trunk connects all the lights to the rear chassis harness. I want to start simple so I am starting from the back and move forward.

The light sockets for the tail lights are not replaceable and the factory wires are crimped into the terminals. The new wires just have a bare end, so my first challenge is how to fix this.

Lets solder it!
The old wire is fine, just the insulation is bad. So I cut the old wires off and stripped what was left.
Then just solder the wires together.
Then a little shrink tube and good to go. Shrink tube is not authentic but that is just too bad.
Next the license plate light. I installed this NOS but the wiring is still old. The new harness came with all the innards for the light socket.
But that means I have to tear apart he light. I wish I could find new foam washers for this. The old ones are pretty ratty.
All done!
Next the rear compartment harness. Someone installed an aftermarket backup light system, my father installed aftermarket turn signals, and there is plenty of repairs, modifications, and screwups. So my first task is to trace the wires. It would be super helpful if I could read the color codes off the old wires but they are so faded and dirty I don’t trust my interpretations.
Here is the new rear compartment harness. Notice every wire is labeled and the harness comes with diagrams and a wire list.
New wire running up to the license plate light
Rear harness installed and attached with 1-1 connectors to the tail light

So a word about the 1-1 bullet connector splices. The new harness came with a bag of new connectors. This is one of them disassembled. The new splices do not grip the bullet tightly and the brass tube is very short so pushing one wire in can push the second wire out. Disappointing. You can see in the second connector a tiny dimple which is the only thing “snapping” the bullet in the splice. I can improve them by tightening up the brass tube but still not great. I can reuse the original connectors but the ones that have been riding under the car for 80 years are just FULL of dirt. Honestly I am not sure what I am going to do. If the originals clean up well I will use them, if I have to use the reproductions I will pull test them to make sure the wires are connected well.

Now for the rear chassis harness…

This is the new rear chassis harness.
This bad boy snakes up through the driver’s side frame rail through some fairly tight places like in the picture where it is going under the rear shock. So I had to figure out how to do that.
This fuzzy picture is what I came up with. I put a plastic bag over the wires on the end of the new harness and taped it tight. Then I attached that to the end of the old harness. Then it was pulling and pushing..
It took some wiggling but it worked. Looks better already.
And here is the old harness. I will add it to the pile of dead wires…
I am not doing this any too soon. Bare wire is poking out through the “insulation” all over this. Some of the damage is probably from me removing the harness but I suspect the dirt was preventing more shorts than I care to think about.
Now it is time for the main chassis harness. Here it is! Easy, right?
This is the main harness documentation. I “unrolled” the main harness and used the wire list and the tape to “map” the harness.
At some point I am going under the dash. To make it easier I removed the front seat. I also removed the engine pans and other bits that would be in the way. This actually the first time I have had the seat out. That big black thing is the heater core. The heater fan is in the middle. It sucks air in and blows it out through the core.
A big part about this job will be removing stuff that does not belong or work. For example at some point someone put a “courtesy light” under the dash. There was also a power tap for a radio, some wiring for the the aftermarket backup lights, and a couple of loose wires that I don’t have a clue about.
Here is the light removed. That bare wire was twisted around a terminal on the fuse block. The other end I think went to the door switch but who knows? It is gone now. I also removed ash trays and glove box to approve access.
Before a single wire gets disconnected I need to figure out what terminal is what on the gauges and trace any wires I can’t identify. Wire colors are not much help. For example that right wire is red. Can’t you tell? Access is tough to. I took this picture by jamming my phone up behind the dash but from underneath the pedals are in the way and it is tough to see.
The fuse block is another problem. I already took that courtesy light off the very busy terminal you can see but there are three other wires. Got them figured out. Two are supposed to be there, the other is feeding the cigarette lighter. That switch you can almost see on the left is for the spot light. That wire is running straight up to the spot light mount above the emergency brake. That wire is NOT in the new harness so I will have to decide what to do with that. I am not sure where it is getting power from yet.
I can install one new wire. This is the indicator light for the high beams. The new harness came with a brand new bulb, wire, and socket. So I installed that.
I also removed the heater and defroster switches. These look to be in really good shape. The defroster switch is just a rheostat, the main Climatizer switch is a three-position switch. I cleaned both and sprayed Deoxit into them.
Working on the switches I found the first real problem with the reproduction harness. My heater/defroster switches are not in the stock locations. So the power wire that came in the harness is too short. Someone else made a longer one back in the day so I did the same thing. The “original” wire and my copy are above. I used modern 12ga wire since this is going to be replaced when I put the factory heater controls in.

I also identified all the terminals on the ignition switch, headlight switch, and the gauges. I removed the grommet in the firewall and the clamps holding the harness to the firewall. So it is about time to bite the bullet and pull the harness out from behind the dash. But it is super late and time to quit. More to come!

Delaware OH Car Show 2021

The car show is usually in July but we had severe thunderstorms predicted for that day so the organizers postponed it until October 9th. We woke up to dense fog but my new neighbor fired up his Mustang and I followed him though the pea soup to Delaware. Once the fog burned off the weather was perfect!

We had shady parking, so the picture is backlit. But shady!
470 cars I heard…
That is my neighbor’s very nice 67 Mustang fastback next to me.