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Tuesday, 17 March 2020 19:16

Rescheduled Chapter Events

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Since Ontario has entered Stage 3 reopening, we have rescheduled two events. One in August for the Timbers Family BBQ and the Drive Your Studebaker Day in September. Please remember the restrictions and stay safe.

It is a certainty that every car I see at a cruise or car show is using some type of motor oil. Since becoming more interested in motor oils, I find the decision making process used by my peers, to be so very interesting. 

Some men have all their service and maintenance work performed by someone else and do not know the details of the oil used in their motors. At the other end of the spectrum are the very talented car guys that complete every bit of service on their cars including body work and paint. These later men, however, range all over the map with respect to their oil knowledge.

Let me share the process I used to choose a motor oil. First some background. 

I own two early 60’s VW beetles. These are air-cooled, small displacement, six volt engines in which engine heat is removed via transfer of heat from cooling fins to moving air as well as the transfer of heat from the oil to moving air. The cars are infrequently driven and the stock factory motor had no oil filter. The VW owner’s manual calls for 30W oil in summer and 20W in winter. I don’t drive the cars in the winter so only summer driving conditions are relevant. 

Finding 30W oil was at first not that difficult, yet as modern engines evolved into users of multi-grade 0W-20, it was becoming harder to find. As I recall, only oil viscosity was a consideration when purchasing oil. I was ignorant about motor oil additives and their importance. 

One day a local VW club member described the “zinc” issue to me. I did not understand the issue until I decided to complete some extensive research (mostly internet) . Wow, what an eye opener! 

To my chagrin I found that modern motor oils are not backwards compatible to the era of my cars and after thinking about it, why would they be; modern motor oils are made for modern cars.

My research also informed me that there were many oils claiming to be designed for classic cars but they rarely supported their claims with hard, factual numbers. Phrases such as “high zinc” were common yet the actual concentration (ppm) was absent from the label. I also found a “sub-industry”

which produced “additives” that one could simply pour into motor oil and voila, significant protection against valve train wear was implied. When I learned about the process used in blending additive formulations during the motor oil creation process I knew that just dumping the contents of a small bottle into the oil filler spout of an engine and expecting it to protect my engine was “hope beyond

hope”. For me “additives” were a non-starter. 

I did find, during my internet research, two motor oils that were conceived by car guys and

manufactured by proper, modern, lubrication companies. I found it interesting that these two companies created the same product, but they did it independently, one in the USA and one in Canada.

The American company is Classic Car Motor Oil and the seed of the idea originated from the Indiana Region of the Classic Car Club of America. The oil blender is D-A Lubricant Company Inc., Lebanon, Indiana. In Canada, the company is Collector Automobile Motor Oil Ltd. and the oil blender is BOSS Lubricants, Calgary, Alberta. Both of these companies sell an American Petroleum Institute certified, motor oil designed specifically for collector and classic cars, tractors and stationary engines (common element = flat tappet and infrequent use).

Many men, I have learned, use an oil in their classic ride, that was created for a different type of application. Diesel oil is commonly used in flat tappet engines. Racing oil is also frequently used in classic cars because it has “really” high zinc concentration. Some use fully synthetic oils and actually run the risk of increasing tappet wear due to reduced tappet rotation on account that the oil is too slippery; the tappets actually end up wearing faster. 

Upon the conclusion of my research, I decided that the best oil to use in my cars was an oil designed and created specifically for my application; i.e. a custom blended specialty oil. Was I not asking for trouble by using an oil designed for another purpose, in my cars? 

As a point of clarification, following completion of my oil research, I began immediately, to use the Canadian CAM Oil in my cars. In fact I was so pleased with the oil that I became the Ontario representative as I am located in Mississauga (Toronto), Ontario, Canada. 

I am now very comfortable knowing I am using an oil suited exactly to my application.

Peace of mind.


Hank Blommers

Ontario Representative, Collector Automobile Motor Oil Ltd.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Collector Automobile Motor Oil Ltd. is in no way affiliated with the US Classic Car Motor Oil

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014 00:00

Does your Studebaker Overheat?

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We drive our cars in the Summer Months usually when the weather is warm. We tend to keep an eye on the temperature gauge (if we don't have the mid fifties idiot lights) Then the panic sets in; the engine is overheating.

Well, they did not overheat when they left the factory (except maybe Avanti cars). So what has gone wrong and what can be done to fix the overheat problem.

First you have to determine whether or not your engine is actually overheating. The best way is an infrared heat gun (Canadian Tire). The second best is a candy thermometer in the top of the radiator- best done before the engine gets hot to avoid steam burns etc.

You have of course checked all belts and hoses. Right?

If the engine temperature reads OK on the heat gun but high on the gauge then either the sending unit is bad or the gauge is bad or the wire between the two is corroded.

Just as a aside, When the first Avanti ended up in the dealership with an overheat complaint, the factory fix was to splice a 10 ohm resistor in the line to the gauge. This had the effect of giving a gauge reading much lower than reality!!! Some fix.

Anyway, to move along, many factors cause overheating. The big one is a buildup of sludge in the engine block which prevents the proper flow of coolant. The solution is to remove the two plugs at the rear of the block. You have to remove the starter on V8's. These plugs are very hard to take out. After many years of corrosion they become rusted in place and because they have a square head a normal socket will not fit. I have no solution as to how you get these things out. Maybe somebody out there has done this and can provide a answer.

Once you get them out a coat hanger and lots of flushing will eventually poke out most of the sludge. Generally this will clear up the problem

Next we have cars with a clutch fan. Over time these things fail and the fan just freewheels instead of pushing air like it is supposed to.

The test for this is twofold. First, watch the fan, after the engine is hot. Shut off the engine and observe the fan. If it stops in less than 1 1/2 rotations it is good. If it freewheels for several rotations you need to replace the fan clutch. Next, is the most obvious. Black oily like stuff all over the drive area and sometimes the fan itself will wobble. Replace the clutch drive immediately.

Another thing which is obvious is the thermostat. For racing purposes I use a 170 degree thermostat which was the factory installed Avanti thermostat. These are hard to find and I would suggest a 180 degree quality thermostat and gasket be purchased ( NAPA, Carquest, CTC)

Now we get into the tricky stuff. If your car tends to overheat when driving at high speed on the 400 series highways, then we must look at airflow across the radiator. The solutions are numerous, such as sealing around the rad. support with duct tape in the front of the rad to ensure that all the air actually flows through the rad, not through cracks in the rad frame.

The next thing is to install an air dam such as used on newer cars like the Saturn which has been used effectively on the Avanti.

Overheating at higher speeds is somewhat normal due to higher friction in the engine but if it does significantly overheat at highway speeds then you must look at your ignition timing. Too little advance and the engine will overheat. Too much advance and the engine will overheat but you will know about it due to the detonation induced by too much advance.

Often overheating is caused by external forces such as what is known as parasitic drag. This happens if you have a bad bearing on an alternator, supercharger, water pump or brakes dragging which causes the engine to work harder in order to maintain the speed.

Incorrect or low engine oil will affect engine temperature. This is why race cars usually have an oil cooler. The oil acts as a coolant for the engine.

A carburetor which is set too lean will cause overheating. However not many Studebaker owners meddle with the jets in a carburetor BUT.... fuel containing ethanol will run leaner than fuel without ethanol. Look at the Gas Pump to see if the stuff you are using has an ethanol content and if so try switching fuel suppliers to fuel listing no ethanol.

I could go on and on about overheating and never finish discussing it. The causes are so numerous but I think that I have covered to common causes. If anybody has more to offer please do so.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 00:00

Does your Speedometer needle jump around?

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The speedometer on my Champ Truck started to act erratically so I thought that the cable needed lubricating. I reached in behind the dash and unhooked the cable from the speedometer head. I removerd the cable and carefully lubricated it ( a messy job) and re-installed it.

It still acted erraticlly so I bought a new cable and shaft assembly and put it on. The speedometer acted worse. Then it stopped completely and I knew what happened. The new cable had sheared off. The question was why.

Reading on the internet I found that other people had the same problem. Our cars are 50 years old and the speedometer head needs to be lubricated.

So I pulled off the speedometer head and there is a small hole where the cable attaches and the brass shaft connector is supposed to rotate freely. Mine was completely siezed. I little judicious work with an oil can ans a screwdriver that fitted the sheft connector and it finally spun freely.

Reconnecting everything and it now operates as it should.

The purpose of this story is; if the speedometer needle bounces around pull the speedometer out of the dash and lubricate it. It will be like new.

Monday, 14 December 2015 00:00

Driveshaft Notes

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The caption reads DRIVESHAFT but the parts and service manual issued by Studebaker refer to it as the PROPELLOR SHAFT. I think that I prefer to call it the driveshaft as our cars do not have propellers like boats or aircraft

Anyway, in my opinion the driveshaft is the most neglected part of our cars. It is buried in the bowels of the undercarriage where nobody sees it. As a result the universal joints that are attached to the driveshaft are not always lubricated as they should be.

Strange noises or vibrations are a clue that something is wrong. First inspect the universals for any kind of "play". Replace these first. If the noise or vibration continues you may need to take your driveshaft out and have it balanced. ( see note below for recommended Driveshaft Shop)

Still having vibrations, then the next place to check is the rear axle pinion angle. This to me is a "black art" and is best left to a shop that services springs. They will measure the angles to ensure that they conform with the factory specs and add shims to correct any variances This should ensure no more vibrations.

Do not neglect your driveshaft. I have seen where a front universal broke due to neglect and the owner was fortunate to escape with his life. A broken front universal will cause the driveshaft to "flail" and it will remove the floor pan of the car and injure occupants  because the driveshaft, although no longer connected to the engine, is still connected to the rear axle and as long as the car is in motion the driveshaft will continue to turn and flail the bottom of the car.

If a rear universal fails the result will usually mean the driveshaft will fall out and be a hazard to other motorists.

Check AND lubricate your universals regularly.

Recommended Driveshaft Shop: Lindsay Driveline,

   42 Needham St Lindsay.

Cost to balance driveshaft $44.00 plus tax. Takes about 1/2 hour if you remove your driveshaft yourself and take it in to be balanced. Only 4 bolts to undo!

Sunday, 11 August 2013 00:00

Exhaust Suggestions

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All internal combustion engines use an exhaust system so it's nothing new that our Studebakers have them.

The things that we should be concerned about are leaks and perforations. These are fairly easy to detect due to the noise but the unseen enemy is the carbon monoxide which can seep into the passenger compartment unknown to anybody and it can kill very quickly.

Most of the original supplies of Factory exhaust systems have been depleted so we must now rely on muffler shops to fabricate new parts for our cars. These shops use generic mufflers and bend pipe with a press to make things fit. They will do the job but you probably will not be happy with the result and you probably paid a lot of money for the job.

My suggestion is to purchase your exhaust system from a RELIABLE supplier, somebody who makes the system to factory specs, and have it installed by your favourite mechanic.

The best system that you can purchase is one that is made in Canada by Don Simmons who operates as Silvertone Exhausts in Ingersoll Ontario. You can see his advertisements in Turning Wheels. When your local mechanic installs it he will tell you that it fits perfectly with no bending etc. I have the system on my Avanti R2 and I am more than pleased.!

The final outcome will be a system that is mandrel bent to allow gasses to properly exhaust, and more importantly, sound like a Studebaker should.

Monday, 29 April 2013 00:00

Idler Pulley Bearing on R2 Avanti

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For the third time in 8 years I have replaced the idler pulley bearing on my Avanti. Maybe I tension the belts too much. Anyway the problem is buying a new bearing. I have been dealing with BDI a major bearing supplier. They take a look at the old bearing and then tell you that they have one on the
shelf. DO NOT FALL FOR IT. The ones "on the shelf" are made for a electric motor and the tolerances are too great which causes the bearing and pulley to wobble. They are labelled

"C 3" in the suffix of the bearing number. AVOID THESE !!

You will have to explain this to the counter guy and he will order you the correct one from their warehouse.

They are both the same price.

If you have a supercharged Avanti, before you send your Paxton off to be rebuilt because of noise, remove the belts and hold the idler pulley and wiggle it. It should not have any lateral "play"

The bearing is easily changed by removing the pulley from the arm. (easier if you remove the Paxton) the special bolt has a "flat" on one side be sure not to lose it likewise about the spacer bushing. Use snap ring pliers to remove the snap ring and tap out the bearing. I use a suitable size socket.

Re-install the new bearing using the same method except that for ease of installation put the Pulley in the oven and heat it up to 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Put the bearing in the freezer for the same length of time and Voila!! it drops right in.

You will need a little patience putting the pulley assembly back on the arm. Don't utter too many bad words!!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 00:00

Mistakes that I have Made

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Mistakes that I have Made

(Confessions of the amateur mechanic)

They say that if you never make a mistake then you are not doing anything. I think that that is true BUT sometimes stupidity takes over.

For instance, I needed a new dipstick and tube for an engine that I was building. I ordered the parts from Phil Harris and when the engine was installed I put the new dipstick assembly in place. Then I filled the crankcase with 5 litres of oil plus filled the oil filter withabout a half a litre as you are supposed to do. Fired the engine and did the usual check for leaks. After about 15 minutes I took a reading on the dipstick. It was down one litre. This was odd. I rechecked it and used another dipstick and got the same result.

I came to the conclusion that the new dipstick tube was too long and did not go into the crankcase far enough to give a correct reading.

My stupid solution, and I have to admit this, was to cut about 3/4" from the top of the tube. Now the dipstick read full!!

Sometime later, much later, I was draining oil from another engine and needed to put it somewhere to take to the disposal station when I noticed that the jug that I had filled the engine with was not 5 litres. It was only 4 litres!

Talk about feeling foolish. I ordered another dipstick and tube from Phil Harris and told him that I would not tell him why.

We all do dumb things and the above story is not the only blunder that I have made. From time to time I will add to this.

Thursday, 25 October 2012 13:57

Studebaker/Avanti Winter Storage

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Living in a Northern climate means that we cannot ( or should not) drive our cars when there is salt on the roads. Everybody knows that Studebakers tend to rust very easily if not meticulously maintained.So we store them over the Winter months.

I will run through some of the basic things that need to be done.

1. Drain the oil. Change the filter just before you store the car. Oil used for any length of time tends to gather acids from the combustion process and this attacks bearings within the engine.

2.Make sure the radiator is tested for enough antifreeze for the place where your car will be stored.( If you have air conditioning you should have antifreeze year round)

3. Try to arrange storage on dry concrete floors. There is no need to put your car on blocks but if you insist then be sure to put the blocks under the axles and not under the frame. If you let the springs hang your car may sit a bit higher when you are ready to take it out again in the Spring. The old theory about putting them up on blocks was correct for bias ply tires as more often than not they were made with nylon cords which thumped after they had been left without being run for a while. Modern radials have cured this annoyance.

4.Wash your car before storage and be sure to put a BREATHABLE cover on it. If you use anything else you run the risk of having moisture collect on the car causing premature rust.

5. Put a name brand of fuel stabiliser in the fuel tank and RUN the engine for 5 minutes to make sure the fuel stabilizer works it's way though the system.

6. I remove the battery and take it indoors and store it on a wooden surface. Twice during the Winter you should use a battery charger or if you are lucky enough to have an automatic battery charger you can leave it attached all Winter.

7. Depending on where you store your vehicle you may want to buy a box of "Bounce" sheets and scatter them liberally within the passenger compartment and engine bay. Old fashioned moth balls should not be used in the car at all. They stink for a year after and you will not appreciate the smell. You can scatter mothballs on the floor if mice are a problem.

8. Inflate your tires to about 5 lbs more that you normally do. This is to compensate for the cold weather change in pressure which tends to make the tires end up looking soft.

I am sure that there are other things that people have done or should be done. Feel free to add to this annual challenge.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 00:00

Valve Adjustment - Studebaker V8

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I have just completed a valve adjustment on my Avanti 289 engine and I thought that I would share with you the procedure that I used.

First remove all the spark plugs. (time to do a compression check here)

Remove the coil wire from the distributor and ground it to the engine block.

Using a jumper wire from the started solenoid to the battery ( I have a push button jumper set from Canadian Tire)

"Bump" the engine over to put the engine on Top Dead Centre (Timing mark on the vibration damper lined up with the pointer.) This can be done in two ways. One by removing the distributor cap and verifying where the rotor is pointed or the way that I do it by removing both valve covers and checking where the valve position is on number one cylinder. (The valves on number 1 should both be closed and you can easily tell by pushing on them and they should move about .025.)

You may be able to rotate the engine with a big wrench on the vibration damper bolt to make the mark line up exactly with the pointer and mark on the vibration damper, but on an Avanti this is next to impossible.

If the mark on the vibration damper shows that it is on Top Dead Center but number Six is in firing position it really does not matter, just follow the chart below.

With Pointer and engine on Number 1 firing position adjust valves

EXHAUST Number 1, 3, 4, 8

INTAKE Number 1, 2, 5, 7

With pointer at Number 6 firing position adjust valves

EXHAUST Number 2, 5, 6, 7

INTAKE Number 3, 4, 6, 8

Now, the factory manual specifies valves to be set hot and running. This a very messy and awkward thing to do. It is best to set your valves cold and I mean cold. Allow the engine to sit overnight to be sure. The set the valves to .027 not the .025 as the manual states

I prefer to set valves a bit on the wide side as today's fuels seem to make the engine run a bit leaner (hotter).

After you have done the valve adjustment in accordance with the procedure outlined you should do a double check just to be sure that you have set them accurately and you have not made any mistakes.

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