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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.

Thursday, 25 October 2012 13:54

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

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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.

Thursday, 04 October 2012 12:31

Classic Cars - Oils with ZDDP

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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)


VALVOLINE ZR-1, Valvoline VR1 Racing Oil 10W30,

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


Synpower Oil Treatment
Wynn's Supreme
GM EOS – Old formula
Red 4 cylinder STP

Monday, 14 December 2015 00:00

Studebaker Innovations - First to use or Develop

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Here are some of the things that Sudebaker was first to use or develop during their time.

1921 – Molybdenum steel and produce a car using it

1925 – Hydrostatic gas gauge and produce Hardtop body

1927 – Mechanical Fuel pump

1928 – Ball Bearing spring shackles

1929 – Rubber covered steel core steering wheel

1930 – Carburator silencer, thin steel-backed main bearings, to use free-wheeling, automatic vacuum spark control advance and helical gears in transmission (high and second).

1933 – “Heat dam” Pistons

1934 – Celeron spoke-type camshaft gear

1935 – Plane wheel suspension

1936 – Automatic Hill-Holder

1937 – Hancock rotary door latches, variable ratio steering gear, direct action shock absorbers and install double walled pickup boxes

1940 – won 1st place awards in all 3 divisions of the Gilmour economy run

1941 – First major production of curved windshield (Sedan- Coupe)

1946 – produce post-war automotive styling and use self-adjusting brakes

1948 – Truck with enclosed cab step

1950 – air-cooled torque converter, automatic transmission anti-creep device and inhibitors for “Park” in an Automatic Transmission

1951 – Polyurethane rear spring liners

1953 –To produce a low silhouette car

1954 – Self-centering and self-energizing brakes

1956 – Finned Brake Drums to minimize “Fading” and Acoustic sound deadening Headlining

1961 – Instrument panel safety padding as standard equipment on all passenger cars

1962 – US Automotive manufacturer to offer Disc Brakes on a full-sized car and install seatbelt mountings for four belt installations inevery car

1963 – Installed seatbelts in the front of every car and produce a stationwagon with a sliding roof

“Always offer more then you promise”

Thursday, 04 October 2012 12:22

Vapourlock - It can leave you sitting

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While at Studefest in 2010 our 64 Cruiser stalled out and was really hard to start. Al Jordan and Bill Patterson were assisting me in trying to start the old girl by pouring some gas down the Carburetor and after some flooring of the gas pedal she finally started up. They both indicated that it was probably vapourlock but it was news to me as this was the first time it has happened in the Cruiser. I was able to keep it going and got to a gas station where I filled the tank and made it back to the hotel with no further problems.

What is Vapourlock? It’s when the fuel in your gas line is so hot that it turns into vapour due to its close proximity to the engine. You can’t run your car on vapour so this situation will leave you sitting on the side of the road scratching your head. The thinner ethanol based fuels we use now also increase the chances of vapourlock so this needs to be fixed if you want to use your car on these hot summer days. When back at home I inspected my fuel line and notice that I had installed it too close to the intake manifold and so I re-routed it away from the hot engine towards the water pump manifold. It’s closer to the fan and further away of the motor so this will help.

Some of the other things you can do:

Use only Non-Ethanol Gasoline – Some premium gases sold in Ontario are High Octane non-ethanol fuels. Although most of our Studebakers were designed to be used with regular gas, all regular gas in Ontario has Ethanol which should be avoided when possible. In Ontario, Shell, Cdn Tire & some Flying J locations sell 91 Octane Premium which has no ethanol and most gas stations in the US sell non-Ethanol Premium gasoline. Visit (Ethanol Free premium Coalition) and (Pure Gas) for the full story.

Insulate your Fuel Line – It comes from Tech Flex and it’s good for 950 degrees F. You install over the fuel line and put ties on it to properly secure it. This cover protects the fuel line from getting too hot and greatly helps in preventing vapourlock. For more info go to It’s available at for $10 or more depending on size and length.

Install an electric or 5 or 6 blade clutch fan to keep the engine cooler. The stock 4 blade doesn’t always cut it and if you have a V8 that has rust and corrosion in your water jackets, this tends to make the engine run hotter. When Bill Patterson took out a small coffee can of build-up rust and corrosion from the water jackets in the engine block when he was rebuilding my 289, I learned that this is a common occurrence in all V8 designed engines. If you look at the way the engine is installed. It points up at the front end and if the engine’s cooling  system isn’t flushed out regularly it tends to allow accumulation of rust and corrosion in the rear of the engine block water jackets.

Install an electric fuel pump – this will ensure you have a constant flow of fuel to the engine, it needs to be installed near the fuel tank and hooked up via an on/off toggle switch under the dash and used mainly for hot summer days when this situation usually happens. Under normal conditions you would leave it off and use the regular mechanical fuel pump. Remember to ensure it’s turned off whenever you stop the engine because it may cause your car to leak out fuel due to the much higher pressure in the fuel line.

You can also install an in-line fuel filter which has a return line to the Fuel Tank as Bob Easton did on his 1960 Lark Convertible. He had the same problem when he went to the Crossroads Zone Meet in Chilicothe, Ohio. He had no problems now driving from Welland to Brockville return during last year’s Studefest.

Final Diagnosis and repair: After breaking down again en-route to the Maple Leaf Tour I proceeded to replace the Intake manifold which saw the original having burnt paint on the middle  portion. I also found that the Heat Riser valve was sticking closed which was the real culprit in this situation. After I replaced the intake manifold, cleaning/resetting the carb and removed the heat riser valve the car has worked fine since and has seen no reoccurrence of this problem. Ethanol Gas is still a problem and I now only use Premium non ethanol gas in all of our vehicles.

Maintaining our Studebakers in these days of unleaded, ethanol based fuels and hot summers has always been a challenge but if you have stalled out under similar conditions then this could be your fix to having a lot more fun and less time being under the hood fixing your car on the side of the road.

Thursday, 22 November 2012 00:00

Oil for your Studebaker Engine

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For over two years our GT Hawk has been off the road due to a tired engine. After $2500 in parts, machine work and with much assistance from Bill Patterson, the GT Hawk will be out on the road in 2008 with a superbly rebuild 289. I was talking to Bill the other day and he indicated that we should start looking for oil for the newly rebuild engine and I asked what he meant. Well to my great surprise proper oil for our Studebakers is getting very scarce with the news that the new standard for oil is “SM” which has completely eliminated the additive “ZDDP” (zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate). This additive has been present in oil for over 70 years in various content levels and greatly assists in the proper lubrication of camshafts and flat-top lifters in older stock engines (pre-1988) cars or trucks.

I have done much research on this subject and many on the internet have a lot of concern that that the oil companies have eliminated this additive. In 2007, they have removed ZDDP in most of our motor oils to meet new emission standards, while being no longer needed in modern engines and also ensures longer life for your catalytic converter. Without this “ZDDP” additive your camshaft and lifters in such cars as Studebakers, AMCs and many other similarly designed engines could prematurely wear out and will have to be replaced much sooner then necessary. Many antique or vintage car owners have different solutions for this problem but being in Canada does create some problems with the quick availability of any suitable additives or oil. Many major oil companies are still doing “research” on this problem which does little for us if our camshafts are prematurely wearing out.

So what do we do for the next oil change? Ensure to check the oil and don’t use “SM” standard or Energy Conserving oil unless supplemented with some ZDDP additive. On the market is an additive called “ZDDPlus” which is available on the internet at or at such Auto flea markets as York or Reidsville. I have just purchased six bottles at around $10 US per bottle. One 4 oz bottle mixed with any suitable oil which includes the “SM” grade will help ensure that your camshaft and lifters are properly lubricated. If you can track down some 4 Stroke motorcycle oil rated at “SG” or Diesel oil which is Heavy Duty rated such as straight 30 or 40 SAE oil then it should be suitable. Check the product label or their company website and the applicable product data sheet to see the Zinc or phosphorus content in the oil. If you have oil in your garage then see if it is in the “SH” to “SL” grade ranges which can still be used in our Studebakers with varied levels of success. Also some older bottles of STP oil Treatment or GM EOS reassembly oil have ZDDP in it. For myself, the best bet was to
get afew bottles of the ZDDPlus additive and let’s hope that the oil or additive companies can come up with readily available, alternative solutions to keep our Studebaker engines
properly lubricated and on the road for many years to come.

Final arrangements are in place for the Maple Leaf Tour, 2012 edition, October 12-14. The meet hotel remains The Village Inn, 39 Queen Street, Lakefield, 1-800-827-5678 at $95.00 per room, breakfast included. We have 20 rooms on hold until one month prior to the event. Arrive early on Friday to enjoy the quaint shops of the village core. Dinner will be off the menu at the Thirsty Loon Pub in the hotel. It is quite reasonable and there is entertainment Friday evenings. Manager Tina tentatively has a local old-time fiddle group and step dancers booked for Friday, October 12. Sounds like a hoot! The Saturday tour will run north from Lakefield, likely into the Burleigh Falls and Buckhorn area. The actual route will be set through the summer as we determine what is actually happening that weekend. We plan to arrive mid afternoon at the Peterborough Museum and Archives which has an extensive and interesting area history display, very well presented. During October, the program in the Special Features Gallery is a 1,500 square foot traveling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum called "Fakes and Forgeries: Yesterday and Today". I know one of the curators who put this together and he is quite ex-cited about it. Bill and Linda Hooper have graciously invited all of us to lunch on their horse farm at Indian River about noon. We, of course, accepted and decided that considering a feed of pub grub at the Black Horse later, we should eat lightly. There will be rolls, cold meats, potato salad, cheese, vegetable and fruit trays, coffee, pop, and home-made desserts on the menu. We are adding $5 per person which is now included in the registration, making it $10 each, or $20 per couple. Dinner Saturday will be at the Black Horse Pub in Peterborough, which is only a few minutes from the hotel. They have an "easy listening" group in from 5 p.m. and a dance band from 9:30. Our group rate is $25.00 including tax but plus tip. Choices are roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, seafood pasta (likely shrimp), Chicken Supreme or vegetarian. Includes soup or salad, potato, vegetable, table beverage and cheesecake. Help us maintain fast service by marking your choice on the registration form. We have parking set up in the City Hall lot, one-half block north of the pub.

For more information please contact Verne at 705-454-3854

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