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Does your Studebaker Overheat?

Published in Technical
Written by 24 June 2014

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.

Does your Speedometer needle jump around?

Published in Technical
Written by 22 October 2013

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.

Driveshaft Notes

Published in Technical
Written by 14 December 2015

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!

Exhaust Suggestions

Published in Technical
Written by 11 August 2013

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.

Idler Pulley Bearing on R2 Avanti

Published in Technical
Written by 29 April 2013

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!!

Mistakes that I have Made

Published in Technical
Written by 11 June 2013

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.

Studebaker/Avanti Winter Storage

Published in Technical
Written by 25 October 2012

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.

Valve Adjustment - Studebaker V8

Published in Technical
Written by 12 March 2013

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.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Published in Technical
Written by 25 October 2012

Studebaker engineers were way ahead of their time. ( where have you heard that before). Before the second world war Studebaker designed cars with economy in mind. This was attained by relatively small engines with very light cars. The Studebaker engineers continued this lightweight thinking into later model cars which some of them by now are over 50 years old.

One of the weight saving items was the wheels. Studebaker used 15 inch wheels since 1947 other than the one year in 1958 when they switched to 14 inch wheels more for appearance than weight savings. These wheels were very light weight. Now after rust and fatigue they present a safety factor for current owners. This is compounded by owners attempting to use the new radial tires.

You know that you have a problem when your wheel discs fall off when you go around a corner or go over a bump in the road. The old rims flex and flex badly.

My suggestion is to find a late model rear wheel drive car such as a 1970 Chrysler or Ford at your local junkyard and after a thorough inspection to determine that they run true install these on your car.

If you plan on installing radial tires on your original Studebaker rims I would not go over a 195 X 75X 15 R and these are hard to find. Also they look a bit small on an older Studebaker.

Newer Chrysler or Ford rims can accommodate 215 X 70 X 15 with no problem and look right on most cars.

If you use the Ford rims be sure to use the Ford lug nuts as they are bigger to fit the Ford bolt holes.

Keep an eye on your wheels and remember that little patch of rubber at each corner is all that there is between your car and an accident.

Classic Cars - Oils with ZDDP

Published in Technical
Written by 04 October 2012

CLASSIC CARS – OILS WITH ZDDP

MOBIL 1 HIGH MILEAGE 10W30
Mobil 1 15W50

Castrol GTX 20W-50 (SL,SM)
* Castrol GTX Diesel 15W-40 (CI4,CH4,CG4,CF4,CF,SL)
* Castrol GTX High Mileage 20W-50 (SL,SM)
* Castrol HD 30 (SL,SM)
* Castrol HD 40 (SL,SM)
* Castrol Syntec Blend Truck 15W-40 (CI4,CH4,CG4,CF4,CF,SL)(Semi-synthetic)
* Castrol Tection Extra 15W-40 (CI4Plus, CI4,CH4,CG4,CF4,SL)
* Castrol Hypuron S 15W-40 (CI4Plus,CH4,CG4,SL)(Semi-synthetic)

Castrol Syntec 5W-40 (SL,CF)(Synthetic)
* Castrol GO! 10W-40 Motorcycle O il (SG)
* Castrol GO! 20W-50 Motorcycle Oil (SG)
* Castrol Grand Prix 4-Stroke Motorcycle Oil 10W-40 (SG)
* Castrol Grand Prix 4-Stroke Motorcycle Oil 20W-50 (SG)
* Castrol TWS Motorsport 10W-60 (SJ)(Synthetic)

ALL MOTORCYCLE OILS 10W40 AND HIGHER

VALVOLINE ZR-1, Valvoline VR1 Racing Oil 10W30,
VALVOLINE 4 STROKE OIL 10W40
AMC HD - BULLTEAR

OTHER OILS THAT COULD WORK
PENNZOIL RACING OIL
SHELL ROTELLA T 15W40
CHEVRON DELO
MOBIL DELVAC
ROYAL PURPLE
API guidelines do not need apply to “racing,” “severe duty,” or any motor oils that do not
carry an API “starburst” seal or clearly state for off-road-use only

ADDITIVES

ZDDP PLUS
Synpower Oil Treatment
Wynn's Supreme
GM EOS – Old formula
CRANE ENGINE LUBE
STP OIL TREATMENT – RED OR BLUE BOTTLE (EYE IRRITANT WARNING)
Red 4 cylinder STP