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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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 moved back in January and the new house has been taking up all kinds of time. So I did not get to the sprint maintenance until early summer. Saturday, July 3rd to be specific. Oh well, these things happen. One down side is that it was REALLY hot so after a while I just stopped taking pictures. Usually I start with an oil change but I am gong to shift the oil change to fall so the car has clean oil in the winter when it sits more and gets hot less.
Well this is a bad start. Looks like I have a radiator leak. With any luck at all this a pinhole in a tube and an easy fix. It is just seeping out so I am going to defer fixing this until after car show season.
First thing to do is check the fuel sediment bowl. As usual a little bit of crud in there. Then I used this gas and some kerosene to clean the air filter. On to the plugs!
All six plugs looked great. Grey insulator, no oil fouling. I cleaned and re-gapped all the plugs to 0.025″. All were a little open. These plugs are getting older and will probably need replaced in year or three. For right now I put them back in.
Next I checked the distributor. I have been having some eye trouble and I really noticed it here. I could not see the points gap. I used a magnifying visor and a bright light and checked the gap. It was a little small so I adjusted the points. Here you can see the .020″ feeler gauge in the gap. If it looks like the points are not lining up well with each other that is because they don’t. Never have and I am afraid to mess with it because the car runs so well. After getting the points gapped I cleaned and lubed the distributor lobes and put a drop of oil on the felt wick in the shaft. With the distributor back together.
I lubed all the lubrication points under the hood (mainly the generator and steering box). Then I checked the battery electrolyte levels and cables. Then it was time to jack up the car.
At this point it was really getting warm out. I greased the chassis and adjusted the brakes all around. Here is where things went a little pear-shaped. First the rear universal joint on the driveshaft was installed backwards sometime around 1987. Because of that you can’t get a grease gun on the grease fitting. So to lube the joint I have to unbolt the driveshaft from the differential, lube the joint, then put it back together. This generally takes about three minutes and the only tricky part is holding the u-joint together so the grease gun pressure does not blow it apart. This time I could not get the u-joint to fit properly back in the yoke on the differential. After much fooling around I realized there was a little chunk of debris in a corner of the yoke. After cleaning that out it went right back together but it was frustrating.
All the brakes adjusted OK except for the passenger side rear that brake was dragging a lot.. I just rebuilt these back in April and they should not have been dragging. I did a lot of fooling around and tried to re-center the brake by feel which I am not 100% convinced actually works. But eventually I got it pretty well adjusted and it feels pretty good. I still think something might be wrong with this wheel so I will check it again later.
The 17 year cicadas just died off but this one left early. For some reason it looks like it was surprised when my giant shiny green car snuck up on it.
Last year about this time I found leaking wheel cylinders in the front brakes. The rears are at least as old as the fronts so I made note at the time that I should check the rears too. Finally got to it today.
First the parts. I bought two NOS wheel cylinders off e-Bay years ago (that one in the blue box). But they are at least 20 years old and no way am I trusting rubber brake parts that old. I had one fresh rear rebuild kit I bought by mistake a couple years go (the small box) so I went to NAPA to get another one like it. Discontinued. Crap. Then the guy helping me said they had a complete wheel cylinder on the shelf. Sold! So I have one new wheel cylinder and one new-but-needs-rebuilt cylinder. Lets rebuild!
Now it is time for one of my favorite tools. I got this puller off e-Bay after my old puller proved horribly inadequate back in 2010. It is military surplus and AWSOME.
Here is the puller hooked up. All 4 arms are on the studs and tight. Notice the axle nut is reversed and put back on the axle to keep drum from flying off.
Here is a close-up of the end of the puller. Then you whack it. A lot. This is the passenger side and it did not want to let go. So I put some heat on the hub. That worked. Scared me it was so loud.
Looks like some water got on the axle. I will have to clean that up. No sign of leaking or damage.
I removed the grease cover and wheel cylinder then cleaned up the axle.
All back together and ready to put the drum and hub back on
Next I cleaned the drums up and found this. Both drums are less than flat and smooth. I probably should get them turned and replace the brake shoes but that might be a problem if these drums are too thin. I need to pull the drums off my spare axle and see what they look like. Shoes can be had. Not cheap but they are out there. so I just put it back together.
I tore down the old wheel cylinders to see what they look like. There is some corrosion but not bad.
I have seen worse but this is not great. It can be honed and rebuilt though.
Lots of corrosion in the pistons too.
I forgot to take pictures while I was putting the drums back on. I reinstalled my speed-bleeders and bled the brakes. Took a few stops to bed the shoes back in but they work great now. Plus I washed the car!
So 12/11/2020 marked the Studebaker’s 80th birthday. Car birthdays are tricky. The cylinder head is dated 11/28/1940 but the engine block is stamped 12/11/1940. Oddly that date is also the shipping date shown on the production order. Which means either they built and shipped the car the same day OR somebody fudged the production order.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the car before my father started working on it. Here is the earliest picture I could find. It is of my sister and I washing the car in 1982. This was the first time I ever saw the car out in the open. We were visiting for a week so all we did was clean it up and make a list of things we needed to do.
This next shot is a couple years later. After working on the car whenever we visited Dad finally got the car running. This is us looking very pleased with ourselves. Notice the oil dripping up front…
My grandfather got into it at this point and decided to get the car painted. He knew a guy who ran the body shop at a car dealership in Greensburg PA. Here they are during the project
And pictures of the car being painted…
Dad took these pictures on our next visit after the car was finished. It looked amazing. Grandpap looked thrilled. This is the only picture I ever found of him driving the car.
After he passed the car sat for 8 years until my grandmother also died and left it to me. It was a sad sight with years of dust on it.
We got air in the tires, pushed it up the hill, and loaded it on the trailer. This was difficult because it has been parked for years with the parking brake on and the back wheels did NOT want to turn.
At this time my father was building houses and we asked the contractor who graded his lots to help use bring the car home. This trailer usually held a backhoe so the car was no strain. We did have some excitement when several deer decided to cross I-70 and we locked up the trailer brakes getting stopped. I thought for sure we were going to wreck but we did not hit anything and left a really impressive set of skid marks.
Friday night Maria and I took the Stude into town. We left at dusk and when I turned the headlights on nothing happened except the instrument lights got really dim. Parking and taillights work fine. So today I started tracking down the problem.
So this happened…
The weather was SO nice that I decided to take care of a couple of little things. The first is this defroster vent hose. It has been falling out from under the dash for years. The hose is fabric soaked with some sort of flexible compound that is not flexible any more. Plus the canvas is rotten. The last time it fell it broke in the middle and that is that. I found that hose above on Amazon. I found some other hoses that looked more like the original hose but they cost $5-$8 per foot and nobody can see it anyway. This hose was $9 total. Sold!
I cut the hose to length. I could have made it shorter but I have plenty of hose (there is enough there for another car, let me know if you need it!). I found some hose clamps too.
Here is where the hose attaches at the defroster heater core. The other hose going up is only about 5 inches long and still intact so I am leaving it. The other end of the new hose goes to the vent over the glove box.
Here is the new hose attached. It was tight getting it over the pipes. I think the intention was not to need clamps. I put the clamps on anyway. This is not falling down again.
Next job. The passenger side door check strap on the car is attached with a sheet metal screw stuck in the hole. Not only is this ugly every once in a while it pops out and causes problems.
Cleaning up my late father’s stuff I found a stash of 4 pins. I snagged them figuring one would work.
The bit shiny one on the left worked the best. I put some grease in there and put it together. I don’t think this will pop out but if it looks like it might I will have to do something to hold it in. For right now it is good.
Usually I get the spring maintenance done in April but with my Dad’s passing and the pandemic I am WAY behind. Here we go..