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|July 1, 2015 - As usual, the longest-owned vehicle gets neglected while I play with new toys. Yet even after a couple of months sitting, the Studebaker fired up on her own and provided a great run out to Chesapeake, rolling along with traffic on I-64 at better than 70 on a 90-degree day with no complaints. The car has impressive performance for a 1951 - even at highway speeds you can feel the acceleration when you press the gas pedal down. It feels light and nimble, thanks to the excellent V-8 engine and modern suspension design.|
|March 21, 2015 - Weather, other cars, and work have kept the Studebaker largely ignored for the past few months. I finally got her out for a good run out to Chesapeake. She did great, starting up without help despite her long spell of idleness, and took off down the Interstate with no complaints.|
|July 5, 2014 - The Studebaker got her turn to go to the cruise-in today and got more attention than the Cougar and the Jag combined. There were two film references - the not so flattering 'loaner car' from The Mask, and the 51 Studebaker that Fozzie Bear drives in the Muppet Movie. I'll go with the Frog and the Bear - wokka-wokka-wokka! Anyway, the car did great - it was good to give her some exercise.|
|June 14, 2014 - I installed the new hood ornament last night, then cleaned and polished the Studebaker to get her ready for the show today. One side note - I read a lot of criticism about Bumper Boyz platers on some of the car blog sites. They provided the bumpers for the Studebaker a decade ago, and even after sitting outside in the carport for years, they still shine like new. Anyway, the car ran perfect and got a lot of attention. And as noted previously, she was on the show dash plaque, along with her sister Wildflower. Today reminded me just how good a car the Studebaker is. She drives great, starts and runs smooth and quietly, has plenty of power, handles well, and is comfortable. And though she might not be a show winner, she is attractive and unique. Oh, I think I figured out the water leak. I put a drop cord with a 100 watt bulb under the hood this winter due to unusually cold temps. The radiator drain petcock sticks out from the radiator, and it is likely that it banged the petcock just enough to open it slightly and start a slow drip leak. I did a once-over of hoses and valves before I topped her off, and probably nudged the drain tight again. In any case, she leaked nary a drop.|
|June 7, 2014 - Living in the garage must sit well with the Studebaker. After nearly 6 months of sitting inside under a car cover, I got around to locating the leak that emptied almost all of her coolant. Except there was no leak I could find! After adding more than a gallon of water, there was no sign of a drip or seepage. Surprisingly, she fired right up after all those months with no fuss at all, and everything was in great order. I took her around the block a few times to check brakes and give the battery a little boost. She seems to have healed herself. Next week she is going to a local show that has her and Wildflower featured on the dash plaque!|
|February 26, 2014 - The Studebaker benefited from a new 16' garage door on the main garage that allowed her to move from the carport back into the main building at the beginning of the year. However, she has developed a coolant leak in the radiator or hoses up front and will need examination before I can get her out again. To make her feel better, I bought her some jewelry in the form of a new hood ornament. Hers is pitted, and this one from eBay is near perfect for a sixth of the cost getting the old one replated. It just arrived today, and I am very pleased with it.|
|December 22, 2013 - We had some beautiful weather this weekend - 80 and sunny three days before Christmas! I took the Studebaker out for a long run to Richard's and my parent's - she ran great, but still has intermittent issues with the starter. I need to get her up in the air and clean or replace all the electrical cables and connections. The starter was rebuilt and should be OK. Also, the brakes are stiff - I have only replaced the Master Cylinder since I got the car and the brake cylinders have been on the car at least 14 years. It's likely that all they need is a good rebuild (I have kits), but I may be able to find new cylinders. Anyway, she ran great and zoomed along the interstate with her usual enthusiasm.|
|December 4, 2013 - I took the day off today to get the Studebaker going. It was warm and not raining, which is much better than the forecast for the weekend. Anyway, after replacing most everything in the ignition system, rewiring the inside of the distributor, and checking the carb, I ended up calling in a friend from the antique car club. Skip Patnode has a beautiful Alfa convertible and is an auto electronics whiz. After checking most everything I had done, he narrowed the issue back to the points. They were gapped and hooked up correctly, but not passing power. Turns out that even though they were NOS sealed in plastic when I got them, they had corrosion on the contact surfaces. A few passes with some 320 grit paper and we had spark. Had to charge the battery, but once that was done the Studebaker fired right up and ran great!|
|December 1, 2013 - After rechecking the points and making sure I had power to the coil, I decided to make sure the carb float had not gone Titanic on me and caused the car to flood. It all looked good, but just in case i put the top plate from the spare rebuilt carb on. Next guess is a broken or shorting wire in the distributor.|
|November 17, 2013 - Even after replacing plugs, points, condenser, and rotor, the Studebaker showed no interest in starting. So I got a new coil - still no luck! I am getting nothing even with starting fluid, so it seems like there is a spark issue. I have power to the coil, so now I need to trace the flow to the plugs.|
|November 16, 2013 - The Studebaker has been largely ignored due to work and other projects. It has always been so dependable I take it for granted. And I guess she got tired of that, because when I went to start her up and give her a good bath, she refused for the first time! It's time for a long-overdue tune-up, so I got a full kit off eBay and am going to do points, plugs, condenser, and rotor. Once I get her running right again, I want to rotate her back into the garage and put the MGB-GT in the carport. I have some new parts to put on the Studebaker and she deserves some attention.|
|March 30, 2013 - Lights, Camera, Studebaker!! I got contacted by a local film production group looking for vintage cars for a period movie - they wanted to use the Pontiac, TC, and Studebaker for a period film project set in the 1950s. As they were filming some distance away, logistics limited them to choosing one, and they selected the Studebaker! She rolled out to Suffolk with no issues despite having been parked for a couple of weeks. Although used as background, they did take a couple of nice sweeping shots across the car to the main shooting location. We'll have to wait until the movie is done this summer to see!|
|March 17, 2013 - Time for the Drivin' o' the Green, so the Studebaker finally got some more driving - this time to the car club's St. Patrick's Day party. She's been largely ignored lately, first due to the upstart 1937 Pontiac, and more recently by a 1967 Cougar. However, she showed good grace, starting up and running fine despite being parked for a few months. The intermittent start issues remain - I need to get her in the air and replace the starter switch.|
|December 15, 2012 - I got the Studebaker out for a drive today. She's doing well, though I suspect the starter switch needs some cleaning and tightening. I got a new battery for her, but the slow cranking seems intermittent. Anyway, she is running and driving great. I have her at the front of the garage so I can get her out easily. The Pontiac has been moved to the back for some exhaust and chrome work.|
|November 10, 2012 - The poor Studebaker hasn't gotten much love lately. I have been doting on the Pontiac and letting the Studebaker's ills go uncorrected. The starter is still an issue, but I did get the slow leak fixed - turned out to be a screw in the center of the tread. A local tire shop plugged the tire ($15!) and she is back on an even keel. Next step is checking out the starter. I have a spare, but want to make sure all the various cables are clean and tight before I start pulling parts.|
|October 6, 2012 - I noticed the Studebaker was listing to the right and discovered the right front tire was almost flat. Looks like a slow leak - I'll have to pull the tire and get it repaired. Also, the brakes felt a little off last time I drove her, and the starter is having issues. I think I'll have to spend a weekend giving her some attention. There's another starter in the garage for her somewhere, as well as new wheel cylinder kits.|
|August 11, 2012 - The Studebaker has been languishing in the front of the garage for months now as I focused on the 'new' 1937 Pontiac and took advantage of summer weather to drive sports cars. I'd been planning to get her out for a run anyway - unfortunately, the catalyst in this case was the memorial service for Bob Deal, my best friend in Junior High. It was Bob's refusal to accept the family's 1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser as 'his' car after it had gone through his four sisters that resulted in said car being given to me on my 16th birthday. Parts of that original Studebaker, named 'Becky' after the girl who introduced Mr. and Mrs. Deal to each other, live on in the current version. This includes the 'Cattle Caller' horn Mr. Deal installed in the car soon after he bought it. Bob's sisters Ginny (shown with the car) and Kitty reminisced about old times, and Ginny even gave Becky 2 a kiss on the nosecone. The memorial servic e was nice, with many folks from the local music community paying respects and sharing stories. And at the end, we all gave Bob a standing ovation - the best way any musician can hope to bow out.|
|March 7, 2012 - After nearly eight years of ownership, I've collected most of the literature, magazines, and folders that were available for the 1951 Studebaker. Except for the big dealer fact book, which was a 100+ page salesman's tool. They tend to be expensive and relatively well-used when they can be found at all. This one showed up on eBay recently, and though it was a little expensive ($125), it was in excellent condition and included free shipping. Since I have no plans to get rid of the car in the next few decades, I figured I might as well take the plunge. It's a terrific item, full of interesting information and great photos.|
|February 25, 2012 - I led a group from my car club on a one-day tour to Gloucester, VA, and took the Studebaker. As usual, she ran great and got a lot of thumbs up and admiring looks, even surrounded by an impressive selection of other antique cars. This was one of the first times I was able to use my magnetic signs which tell the year and make. They got a good test, as the wind was pretty fierce. Still, it was an amazingly nice day for the end of February, and we all had a great time.|
|January 27, 2012 - The Studebaker
is one of the centerpieces for a local hospital's Copacabana'
black-tie gala fund raiser this weekend. I took her over tonight
and parked her in the main hall. This is the first time I have had
the car out since I finished up the lights and brakes, and got the
cooling system back together. She ran great, of course, though
there was one hiccup when I got ready to leave for the convention
center. The driver's inside door handle stripped! Happily, I
not only had a spare, but was able to find it and get it installed in
ten minutes. The gala is supposed to be a night in 'Old Havana,'
and the organizers were delighted when they saw the car in person.
I'll be picking the car back up Sunday.
January 29th, 2012 - Brought the car back home today - the sponsor said she was a big hit with the crowd. Had a nice drive back - it was a beautiful day and she rolled smooth as ever,
|December 27, 2011 - One brake light was not working, which got me investigating wiring in the back. The light wires are exposed, and were crumbling apart. I rewired the back using good sections from a donor Studebaker harness and got the light working again. Then UPS delivered a goodie I found on eBay - a 1951 Studebaker Dealer showroom banner (see photo at left). It is in terrific shape, especially for 60+years. My original plan was to hang it in the garage, but it's so nice I don't know about that now.|
|December 7, 2011 - Quick update -
brakes are bled, antifreeze is topped off, and the Studebaker is ready
December 6, 2011 - The new freeze plug is in and setting up - I coated the back with some JB Weld to make sure it sealed up properly. The other freeze plugs showed no sign of deterioration, so I decided to leave them alone for now. Then it was on to the brake lights. The car turned out to have the original brake light switch, which had decided that 60 years was enough. I remembered Advance used to have them on the shelf years ago and walked over - sure enough, the switch was in stock for $6. By the way, that's the old freeze plug above it. I still have to bleed out the brakes - she got air in the system when I replaced the switch. But after that, the Studebaker should be good to go.
|December 5, 2011 - The old freeze plug came out pretty easily - it was so thin from rust that the first tap of a screwdriver broke through. I have the block cleaned out and scooped the goo out of the inside. I'll try to get it finished up later this week.|
|October 22, 2011 - The Studebaker has been so dependable, I often forget she's 60 years old. A couple of minor issues have come up recently - a leak which I traced to a heater hose connection, and trouble getting the driver's door to latch. Given I wasn't sure how old the hoses were, I decided to go ahead and replace them - all 17 feet of them. Yep - that rather impressive looking collection of hoses provide hot water to three separate cores - one on the firewall, a defroster coil, and a heater under the front seat for rear seat passengers. (And warming the seat nicely for the driver as well). After I got the hoses removed and carefully labeled, I attacked the latch, which was literally tearing apart. I'd noticed this a while back and got a bit concerned when a number of inquires failed to locate a replacement. Then I remembered the parts car I stripped when I bought this car and started digging. Sure enough, I had pulled the latches off and stuck them in a box (whew!). After cleaning and adjustment, the door now shuts nicely with the first try. Now it was time to get the new hoses and clamps and put the heater system back together.|
|The damp connection had double clamps on either side, with one side corroded pretty heavily. I figured it would be best to replace everything, especially when one of the hose clamps came apart. As it turned out, all of the hoses were incorrect - one size too big. I replaced the whole setup with the correct sizes and all new clamps for only $21 at CarQuest, and the put the system back together. I used some proper routing that had been missed with the oversized hoses, and ended up with everything neat and tidy. Unfortunately, once I got the car running, water started dripping again in the same spot - this time with no hoses in that area. I had to get a flashlight and get up under the car, but the actual culprit became quickly obvious. A freeze plug on the engine block is seeping, and has been for a while going from the rust around it. At least it looks reasonably easy to get to. I'll try to replace it later this week. And I'm glad I replaced the hoses, anyway.|
|September 23, 2011 - My car club got a request for a 1951 vehicle for a parade today in Virginia Beach. The Virginia Volunteer Firefighters Association was formed in 1951, and wanted to have a car from that year to carry the association president. Weather had been iffy all week, but the Studebaker is no stranger to bad weather. We took off for the beach on a Friday afternoon at peak traffic time in drizzle, having been assured that the parade would go on. However, when I got to the staging point, no one else was there. Turned out that the parade got cancelled about 5 minutes after I left, and the coordinator lost my cell phone number. Oh, well. The car did great and we got lots of smiles and thumbs up - and she needed a good run.|
|August 9, 2011 - The Studebaker has been out for a run or two with nothing eventful. I decided she needed a reward for her faithful service, and got a new old stock hood emblem off eBay that I installed tonight.|
|June 25, 2011 - I went out to the Smithfield Olden Days today, a town festival that also happens to be the site for the local Studebaker Driver's Club's annual meet. I haven't been back since May of 2004, when I took the car out right after I bought it. She did great as usual - the engine stayed clean, so the oil leak does appear to be gone. The brake lights don't seem to be working, though. I'll check the switch tomorrow. It sits down low at the end of the master cylinder and mat have gotten dirty.|
|May 20, 2011 - The Studebaker got pressed into limousine service again tonight, this time taking the same friend's daughter to her Senior Prom! The car got a lot of thumbs-up and looked a lot more elegant than the stretched trucks they call limousines now. I wore a dark suit and mirror sunglasses for the 'Mafia Bodyguard' look and did the formal door opening routine. We all had fun, and the Studebaker got a good run. When I got home, there was a nice surprise in my email inbox. The granddaughter of the Studebaker's original owner's had emailed me to let me know how much she enjoyed reading about what was going on with the car (Hiya, Vickie!). She included her phone number and we had a nice chat about the car and her memories of it.|
|April 17, 2011 - I had noticed oil on the carburetor and air cleaner when I got back from the parade and planned to check out the source. Naturally, work and other activities delayed investigation until this past Friday evening, just before I took off on a tour to North Carolina. The oil was coming from the filter assembly (circled), an external unit with multiple oil lines running to the fuel pump and the engine block. I'm used to dealing with oil leaks - she's had drips from the back as long I have owned the car and i just kept adding oil. However, this appeared to be something new, so I pulled the whole assembly. It turned out that the actual oil canister had a leak in the welded area at the base! Happily, I had a NOS filter sitting on a shelf (the one shown in the photo) and after replacing a fitting damaged in the swap, had the engine back together by 10 pm. It looked good, but the best news didn't make itself known until much later the next day. That oil canister leak had been the Studebaker's problem all along - the oil would blow back across the top of the engine and run down the back, creating the illusion of a rear main leak. After more than 300 miles of hard driving, the car hadn't used any oil at all and was clean and dry! As a side note, the Studebaker was the oldest unmodified car on the tour, and did terrific. Note the photo in front of the Plymouth Central Garage - long abandoned, but sporting a nearly complete and solid (if upside-down) 1967 Opel Kadett station wagon!|
|April 2, 2011 - The Studebaker has been sitting for months again, patiently waiting in the garage while the Aspen wagon and the TC and MGB-GT got regular use. Yet when rain cancelled plans to take the TC to a local parade, she fired right up this morning and ran great. The electric fuel pump had a slight glitch that kept her from starting back up after the parade was over, but a thwack on the fuel tank got it working again. I have a new mechanical pump ready to hook up, which I will do before taking her on the TRAACA Spring Tour to North Carolina in two weeks.|
|August 27, 2010 - I took the Studebaker to our club Friday Night Social, and she was ready and eager to go. It's amazing how effortlessly the car rolls along at 70 and higher - as a matter of fact, I have to be careful because traffic rolls along pretty quick around here sometimes and I sometimes pass the leaders! Gave her a good fill-up with high test on the way home.|
|July 24, 2010 - Poor Studebaker! After her on night of glory back in February, she got squirreled away in the garage while a parade of uppity Brits took over all my time. I decided she was long overdue for some driving time, and took her to our club Tech Session to be the demo car. She started right up and ran perfect, cruised to the tech session site in the next city at illegal speeds in blistering weather (close to 110 heat index) smooth and cool as you please. The car cover kept her clean, so she was quite presentable. After the tech session, we rolled out to my parent's for a long visit before heading home this evening. Sometimes I forget just how great a car this is!|
|February 27, 2010 - It's been more than 4 months since I parked the Studebaker in the garage after the Fall Tour. I started her up about two months ago to check the battery, but that was all the attention she got until last Saturday. I had promised to use the Land Cruiser as a limo for a friend's daughter's Ring Dance tonight, and figured I'd get the car ready a week ahead of time. Except that she wouldn't start. I spent the next three days cleaning and adjusting, checking fuel, checking plugs. I finally got the troubles isolated to the coil and the battery. The 5-year-old coil seemed to be weak, and the battery was not cranking well even after a fresh charge. So I got a new coil and a new battery Tuesday night, and she fired right up! Whew! Took her out today for a good run on the Interstate to clear everything out and filled her up with high test. Then it was off to pick up her passengers! I dug out coat, tie, and a chauffeur's cap to make it all look official. The kids all crammed into the back for the rides to the restaurant and the dance afterwards, but split up for the ride home afterwards. They had a good time, and the Stude got a lot of attention as something unique amid the stretch limos.|
|October 18, 2009 - The Studebaker survived about 400 miles of driving in mostly heavy rain with nary a hiccup. Well, maybe just one on the part of the driver. I do the car club web site, and wanted to have some shots of the cars rolling down the road. When one of the few rain-free periods came while we were traveling, I zoomed ahead to find a good pull-off spot. A turn lane looked good, so I pulled off on the grass. Unfortunately, the steady, heavy rain had turned the ground to something more like quicksand, and both left tires sank almost to the axles. I hopped out and took my pictures as the tour drove past, then set about trying to get the poor car back on the road. By a great stroke of luck, four truckloads of local young men happened to be driving by, and stopped to lend a hand. The Studebaker was back on her way in minute. About 16 mpg and smooth and steady all the way!|
|October 14, 2009 - I've been working on the Studebaker the past couple of nights to get her ready for our Fall Tour to Ocean City MD. Nothing major - lubed the chassis, checked fluids. Tonight I decided to try adjusting the deck lid, which has stuck up on the left side as long as I have owned the car. I even replaced the hinge and could not cure it. Tonight I pulled the back seat out and undid the hinge. I ended up adding some heavy washers to space the top of the hinge away f the body, and got the lid pretty close to correct! Only took 5 and a half years to get it straightened out. Still have to top off the gearbox and rear axle, and get the back seat reinstalled. But she is pretty much ready to roll.|
|September 19, 2009 - Got the oil and filter changed last night, and rolled out to the Keels and Wheels show this morning. The car did great and looked good - got a lot of admirers at the show. I snuck home riding my bicycle and spent the day cleaning the TC for tomorrow's Brown's Island Show in Richmond VA, and then picked up a borrowed trailer and brought the Studebaker home on that to avoid having to bike back to the show site. I forget how heavy the car is - when I pulled up on the trailer, it lifted the back end of the truck almost off the ground! made it home without incident, and unlike the Chevy next to it, the Studebaker did not leak a single drop of oil at the show!|
|September 17, 2009 - I moved the Studebaker into the garage when the Packard rolled out, the next time I pulled her out there was oil on the garage floor. I checked the rocker covers and found that the retainer bolts were loose, so I tightened them down. That resulted in even more oil leaking. I thought I had over tightened the gaskets, so I pulled the rocker covers and checked. No sign of leaks, but I painted the covers and put some fresh sealant on them. This time the car dumped oil out on the floor! Baffled, I had dark thoughts of the rear main seal having ripped apart, but even that wouldn't dump that much oil. I backtracked, trying to figure what I had done. The distributor? Nah - that doesn't even get oil. But right next to it was the flexible oil line to the oil pressure gauge. Sure enough, it had broken at the base. Happily, I had a good line left on the spare engine - I unbolt rather than cut things apart when I strip a car. With the replacement installed, the engine was tight and dry again. Phew! I also installed a new fuel pump I've had for ages, and fixed a bad ground that was keeping the rear license plate light from working. I'm planning to take the car to a show Saturday - glad she's all back together.|
|August 19, 2009 - The Studebaker has not had much attention - as in pretty much ignored for the past few months. She did get cleaned up and rolled out to serve as the wedding car for friends back in May, but other than that she's been sitting. With the TC in the little garage, there is room for her in the main garage, so I decided to move her out of the carport last night. And for the first time since I got the car more than 5 years ago, she wouldn't start! I pulled her out of the carport with the truck, and worked on her until late last night with no luck. My first thought was no fuel, but the pump is working fine and shot gas out the hose. Ether didn't help, nor did cleaning the plugs and cleaning and gapping points. There was power on both sides of the coil, which is just a couple of years old. By now, the battery was down too low to do anything, so I pulled it and charged it overnight. Today I installed new plugs, points, and condenser. Still nothing. I finally checked the points - no spark. AHA! The coil? I started looking for a spare coil to test with, and then realized that there was power coming into the points, so there should have been a spark.|
|I messed with the points again, resetting them and making sure all of the internal wiring in the distributor was tight. This time I had a really strong spark at the points, and when I put everything back together she fired up and ran so smooth you could barely feel the vibration with your finger on the engine. Phew! Took her out and ran her around the neighborhood, then the Interstate. All is well, and she finally sleeps in the garage I am planning to do some work on the front steering linkage to tighten some play and give her a really good cleaning and polish. I'd forgotten what a great driver she is. Gotta get her out and running.|
|November 9, 2008 - Last year's Fall Tour ended up being run with the Sonata due to weather and some time issues. However, the Studebaker has been used for local events and some pleasure driving the past year, and she DID get used for the 2008 Fall Tour this weekend. I had not driven her in quite a while, but she fired right up and ran great the whole weekend. Besides rolling along at speeds up to 85 (playing catch-up when I stopped to take photos of the Tour group as they drove past), she provided a jump start for an ailing 1942 Lincoln and generally impressed all on the tour. The steering wheel didn't make it on yet - trouble with the steering column, which has yet to be resolved. In truth, about the only thing i have done to the car the past year is add gas and drive it.|
|October 21, 2007 - I went to the big Hershey swap meet at the beginning of the month for the first time in years - it rained (of course) on Thursday, but Friday and Saturday were great. The Studebaker was the big winner - I picked up a recast steering wheel for $550. A big hunk of change, but I'd priced having my old one recast for anywhere from $750 to over $1200! No time to put it in yet - been working on the house, but the Studebaker has been great when I took it out. No further battery or starter issues, and she rolls right along. I took her out to both of the local AACA shows in September, and she got her fair share of attention. If all goes well, I'll install the steering wheel over the next week, and have the car ready for the club's Fall Tour the weekend of November 4th. It's a fairly long run, over 300 miles all told, with some extensive side trips planned. Should be fun!|
|July 8. 2007 - Good grief! Six months since I updated the Land Cruiser's page. However, looking back I haven't done anything to it since January except a few uneventful drives. The car has been its usual wonderful self, starting up and running well any time I wanted to use it. The only issue that keeps popping up has been a slow starter. Sometimes she worked great, other times, it cranks like the battery is on its last legs. I had her out today at friend Richard Hall's when she started acting up again. As soon as I opened the hood, he spotted the battery cut-off switch that came with the car and said "Get rid of that!' Sure enough, once we removed it, the car cranked over like new. Lesson learned - battery cutoff = BAD!|
|January 31, 2007 - "There's a
signpost up ahead - Your next stop, the Twilight Zone" - Looking at the
photo, you might not think there is much connection between the resin model
kit and the old Sci-Fi TV show. Bear with me. I went over to
friend Neil Sugermeyer's tonight to go over a presentation we are making
next week at the National AACA meeting in Philadelphia. When I got
there, he presented me with an extremely rare (as in I NEVER heard of one
before) model of a 1951 Studebaker sedan. And not just any sedan -
this is the Land Cruiser, with the rear vent windows. I was delighted,
of course. It is a custom cast-resin model, typically made in very
limited numbers by hobbyists. This particular model is very accurate
and highly detailed, with excellent proportions, and is complete.
I was curious about the maker, Miller Automobilia, and did some research on Google. Turns out the kit was made in 1982 by Sam Miller of Charlottesville, Virginia, apparently a highly respected maker of resin kits. He also happens to be the same man who ended up with Becky, my 1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser back in 1973. So it is very likely that this model was actually based on my first car! Talk about a small world? It seems that Becky finally made her way back to me after more than 30 years! OK, cue Rod Serling....
|December 9, 2006 - Drove the Studebaker out to the TRAACA Nuts and Bolts Youth Chapter Holiday Party. A nice long run on the interstate and some windy back roads. The car ran great, and the brakes and charging system are fine. It's amazing how well the car drives - I was rolling with traffic the whole way, as smooth and comfortable as any modern car. Not bad for 55 years old!|
|December 2, 2006 - The generator was the culprit - after trying a different regulator and polarizing the system, I took the old generator over to Advance this morning to be tested. Greg checked it out for me there and we discovered it had a bad brush spring. I came back and pulled the end plate off the generator that was in the car and swapped it out - that took care of the charging problem. The one that was in the car was supposedly rebuilt back in the late 1990s, and the insides look good. I found a place on eBay that had a rebuild kit including brushes, the shaft bearing, and end bushing all for $10. And I have another Delco generator with the brush spring assembly, so I'll see if I rebuild the bad one myself. Could just need cleaning - the armature contacts were dirty. Anyway, that pretty much takes care of the Studebaker's woes - I can drive her whenever I want now.|
|November 25, 2006 - As
you can see, the old master cylinder had some problems with the fill cap -
as in, it was made up of JB Weld, masking tape, and an old bolt. No
wonder the brakes weren't working right! I suspect some trash worked
its way into the system and blocked the fluid return. I ended up not
using the spare Hill Holder - it was very rusty and in unknown condition.
The one on the car has always worked, and the rebuild kit turned out to have
only a couple of of seals. Since the Hill Holder has not leaked, I
decided to leave it alone. In any case, the brakes feel a lot
different now - there is pedal free play and they are smoother.
I flushed the whole system out with new fluid - still using standard DOT 3.
Thought about silicone, but decided I don't need it for the Studebaker.
The battery was low and had to be charged up before the car would start. I now think it's the generator rather than the voltage regulator. I'll check it out with a volt meter and see if it is charging. The starter worked well with a charged battery, so it is probably fine. I went ahead and pulled the spare out. Unfortunately, the spare generator has a broken end plate. I may swap it out temporarily and see if that takes care of the charging problem. There is also a possibility the generator only needs a set of brushes. I'll check around - Advance actually used to carry them, though it has been quite a while.
|November 18, 2006 - I
picked up the master cylinder from A&B today, and then dug out the spare
setup I had from the parts car. Note the big, rusty device on the
right end of the old master cylinder. that's the Hill Holder. It
is a device that holds the current brake pressure when the clutch is
depressed, and releases it when you let up on the clutch. Very useful,
especially in hilly country. I picked up a rebuild kit and plan to
clean and redo the spare unit so I can replace the existing setup all at
once. Depends on what I find inside the Hill Holder. If it's
pitted or damaged, I'll go ahead and use the one currently on the car.
I sprayed down the connectors and bolts with WD-40 tonight, and hope to be
able to get it all apart tomorrow.
I also checked on the voltage regulator - seems there is an adjustment or two to be made on these old regulators. I think I have a new one in the trunk anyway, but may see if regapping the regulator contact points fixes it. Going to dig out the spare starter tonight and see about getting it rebuilt. I want the Stude right!
|November 17, 2006 - Took the Studebaker out to a car display in Portsmouth tonight. The brakes are fine for driving, but she came up with new issues. The voltage regulator seems to be going out, as she stopped charging on the way over, then worked sporadically the rest of the night. Also, the starter is pretty slow - I am going to get the extra one from the parts car rebuilt and swap it out. She ran great, though, and got a lot of attention. Oh, the local NAPA store also ahs the master cylinder on the shelf!|
|November 11, 2006 - Well, it was a nice thought, but the lack of play is due to a missing brake pedal return spring. I tried adjusting the pedal to no avail, though the car started and ran great, and stops fine. I need to go ahead and replace the master cylinder and rebuild the Hill Holder. A & B Auto, a local parts house, has the master cylinder on the shelf, and I already got the rebuild kit on for the Hill Holder. I'll rebuild the spare unit from the parts car, and replace the units in the car.|
|November 1, 2006 - I received the windshield stainless trim today - looks great! I'll get it over to the glass shop and have it installed. Took the car to work yesterday. Though it's been weeks since I ran her, she started right up and ran great. The brake pedal has no play - could be all I need to do is make an adjustment.|
|October 19, 2006 - Well, the Studebaker wasn't the best 1951 at the show, but she did get a Second place trophy which made me happy due to the really nice vehicles that were there. I have some work planned for the car as soon as parts are located - a friend in the car club has a new master cylinder and the optional firewall reservoir (standard is under the floor board and a pain to check) that he pulled to update his Studebaker to dual-system brakes. And I have a kit for the Hill Holder. In addition, I just got a windshield trim set to replace the one damaged when I changed the windshield. However, I bought the Jeepster the weekend after the car show, so the Land Cruiser has been sadly ignored.|
|September 18, 2006 - Plastic Surgery! - The Studebaker's distinctive bullet-nose is actually made of plastic, and after 55 years, it has gotten a little crazed. The new one (far right) looks very nice indeed! Happily, the 'nose job' only took about 15 minutes tonight. I also replaced a weak headlight bulb, and fixed a loose connection in the license plate light. We have our annual TRAACA show this weekend, with an award for the best 1951 car. I have my fingers crossed that the Studebaker will bring home that award, but you never know who will show up!|
|September 17, 2006 - The Studebaker's brake lights have been staying on, and the shoes are dragging slightly. My best guess is that the Hill Holder is not releasing properly. Given the fact it is 55 years old and probably never been serviced, the failure can be forgiven. I called up Stephen Allen Studebaker Parts and got both the kit and a new plastic nosecone (the original is crazed) delivered two days later! I probably won't get to the Hill Holder until after our annual show next weekend. But the nosecone is a quick job.|
|September 9, 2006 - Got the Studebaker out for a run to Doumar's, a local old-time drive-in. The car club is gathering there for a fun evening. Had a friend come over today and help me try to adjust the Land Cruiser's trunk lid. It has never shut or fit right. After multiple attempts, we determined that the trunk lid is warped out of shape. Still, I did improve the closing action with some oil, and she is all cleaned up now.|
|June 1, 2006 - My car club, the Tidewater Region AACA, sponsored a National Eastern Spring Meet May 13th, and I entered the Studebaker just to have her on the field. After all, most of the cars have more in their paint jobs than I have in my whole car! So imagine my surprise when the Land Cruiser brought home a Second Junior National Award! That is the second highest award the car could possibly get, and is based on points, not comparison. As you might expect, I was VERY happy. She still needs a lot of detailing, but looks like I definitely have a good start! Due to a mix-up with the awards, I just got my trophy in the mail today.|
|March 4, 2006 - The Land Cruiser got a chance to stretch her legs in a car club run down to Coinjock, NC. The linkage fix took care of her woes - she ran flawlessly up and back, as expected. I also changed her oil and filter - a messy job involving a turkey baster... (Canister oil filter)|
|March 1, 2006 - Like most of my other cars, the Studebaker has been mostly ignored for the past few months. However, I thought she was ready to go at any time. That is, until last Friday morning, when I decided to take her out in preparation for an old car tour on Saturday. No dice - she would not fire. I worked on her after I got home that night until 11 - fuel was getting to the carb, and I put in new plugs and checked the points. Nothing. So I took the Seville on the car run. Tonight it was warm enough to tinker again, so I put in new points and condenser. Nothing. Swapping out coils did nothing, either. I was checking for fuel again, this time leaning over further than usual, and saw that the choke butterfly linkage (circled in the photo) had come loose! The butterfly was held tightly closed at all times, which had kept the car from getting any air. A new cotter pin and some time to let the gas evaporate, and she fired up and ran fine! Just one of those oddball things.|
|November 6, 2005 - Took the Studebaker on our annual car club Fall Tour. This year, we went to Murphresboro NC and had a great time. The car did great, and got a lot of admirers. At one private auto collection we visited, the owner asked if she was for sale - I definitely said 'NO!' A slight gas smell turned out to be some seepage at the mechanical fuel pump. I got some hose and routed around it, as I am using the electric pump anyway. Solved the smell!|
|October 28, 2005 - Got
the cast off yesterday, and attacked the Studebaker clock this morning.
Makes a big difference having two working hands! The old clock came
out pretty easy - as you can see by the side-by-side photo at top, it had
gotten pretty dirty over the years. However, the new clock's glass
was dirty inside and out, so I had to disassemble it to clean things up
before I installed it.
Happily, once I got it all hooked up, the clock started right up and has been keeping perfect time. Having the old clock rebuilt would have cost $80 plus postage, and I'd still have had a dirty, faded face and dials. The NOS clock off eBay cost a good bit less, and has new appearance. One thing for sure - as the clock repair guy said - "that's the biggest damn clock they EVER put in a car!"
Took the Studebaker to the car club Chili Cookoff this afternoon. Driving a stick-shift car is also something better accomplished with two working hands!
|October 24, 2005 - No
progress on any of my projects - the cast should come off this Friday,
hopefully in time to get the visor back on for the TRAACA's Fall Tour next
weekend. However, I did get an NOS clock for the car off eBay, and it
arrived today. It looks beautiful - just hope it runs. Even if
it needs a bit of work, both my clocks are faded, with pitted chrome rings.
This looks perfect!
Shouldn't have to do much to the Studebaker to get her ready. The visor isn't a necessity, and even the clock is just a fun thing. I'm going to have Dad and gal-friend Jeanie along for the tour - plenty of room in the Land Cruiser. She fires right up every time and has been a joy to drive. Hmmm - I should really try to get the new emblems on the hubcaps - now THAT is a priority item!
|October 5, 2005 - A
mishap on the Centaur scooter ended up with my left wrist in a cast, which
has put a real damper on car activities. However, I did manage to pick
up some nice wheel cover emblem stickers for the Studebaker's hub caps off
of eBay. They are very thin vinyl, and look like paint when applied.
Each piece is separate, and they have to be carefully applied with tweezers.
I tried the best spare cap I had (There are 5 sets of decals) and was very
pleased with the results. I've tried painting the emblems, but haven't
had luck getting clean edges. These look nice, and are supposed to
last longer than paint. We'll see!
Also had the Studebaker out for my AACA club's 50th anniversary car show on September 24th. As always, the car was very popular, and drove perfect.
|September 3, 2005 - I have been driving the car occasionally, but took her out for her first real run today. The HVPR AACA held their annual meet today, and I rolled the Studebaker over. It was a 40-mile trip with traffic moving along at about 75. Of course, the Land Cruiser handled the speed and distance with no complaints at all. This wasn't a judged show, but she got plenty of attention. I'm trying to decide if I like the car better with or without the visor. It's a nice option, but it does cut into visibility. And Becky, my first Studebaker, didn't have one. We'll see.|
|July 21, 2005 - After searching around for some replacement material, I finally took the old visor support rod to Gerlof Welding, a hundred-year-old family business in the area. They are going to repair and the stainless tube and polish it out for me. Should be done early next week.|
|May 21, 2005 - FIRST
PLACE! The Land Cruiser got a 3rd place trophy last year in the
state-wide ODMA meet - this year the paint, chrome, and rubber, plus a lot
of other work, combined to bring home a First Junior award, the highest
award I could get!
Still a bunch of things left to do, but overall, the car looks and runs great. I have to make a trip to Philbates Auto Salvage in West Point VA to pick up another windshield reveal molding. I warped the stainless trim when I pulled it - you have to CUT it out, not pull it.
Oh, well - live and learn. The back molding is in now for the first time since it had the interior work done in Omaha. I also have to make a new center support for the visor - when putting it all back together, I discovered that the rod was breaking apart due to metal fatigue!
|May 14, 2005 - Spent the weekend doing detail work on the car for the show this weekend. The painted nose ring got installed (some people like the exposed chrome, but it looks funny to me), and I painted and detailed the trunk and installed a new seal and correct trunk mat. The new nameplates mentioned below turned out to have the mounting tabs in the wrong places - happily, I was able to clean and reuse the old ones, and SA Studebaker is giving me a full refund. Repro parts sometimes fit, sometimes they don't. Anyway, I may get more done this week, but the car will be fine if I don't.|
|May 12, 2005 - Just a week from the ODMA show, and I got the last pieces in for the car today. My "Land Cruiser' side scripts were both held on with wire, the the trunk seal that came with the car was the wrong stuff. So I ordered new items from Stephen Allen's Studebaker Parts - I hope to finish the trunk and get the outside cleaned up Saturday, and do some cleaning on the inside Sunday. I still need to paint window sills and replace modern hose clamps, etc. Not all will be done in time, but while she won't be perfect, boy, does she look good!|
|May 8, 2005 - Mike picked me up at the house this morning a little before 7 AM - talk about above and beyond the call of duty! We went over to the shop and installed the new windshield. Good thing he helped me - this one actually loads from inside the car, and is held in place by a bottom channel and the surround moldings. The outer gasket lip has to be 'roped' over the body lip - something I have done, but it took both of us to get this one in. It makes a big difference - the old windshield was pitted, and had bad wiper streaks on the passenger side. I spent the rest of the day putting in the wiper towers, more trim, and putting in new fender welting on the back fenders - that's the black bead that goes between the body and fenders.|
|A mess to put in, but it looks nice. I also sanded the nose ring, visor halves, and the rear valance, all of which still need to be painted. I ordered the new 'Land Cruiser' nameplates from Steven Allan's Friday - they should be here in a few days. Next, I install the door rubber and paint the trunk (it was never more than primer from the factory!). Also, the windshield and back glass both have stainless trim that has to be worked on - that could be a pain, but I have two sets to work with.|
|May 7, 2005 - Mike's friend (and now mine) Allen showed up Thursday with a new (to him) enclosed trailer and gave the Studebaker a ride to the paint shop. Mike had spent time taking out the little dings and dents, and getting the rust repair done on the dogleg. He spent a lot of time matching paint, going through about 8 mixes before he got the Shenandoah Green just right. And the old paint was of poor quality, which meant he had to upgrade to urethane to get a good finish. He rolled the car out into the sun this morning, so I saw the car as pictured on the left when I pulled up at noon. It was exciting to see her finally in paint, but even more fun putting all the shiny bits back on. Thanks to careful removing and bagging, reassembly was easy. I polished and waxed each piece as I installed it. I also had some new rubber seals and bumpers. Though I got a late start, I had the car mostly together when we shut down at 5. However, the last big job is tomorrow morning - Mike and I are putting in the new windshield! Once that is done, I can bring her home and do the detail work that's left. Still a lot of cleaning and touchup on the engine bay, plus the interior windowsills need to be pulled and painted. And of course, all the new door and trunk rubber. However, she'll be ready for ODMA, our big local show on the 21st!|
|April 21, 2005 - With all the little stuff taken care of, it's time to look at that right rear dogleg. Mike has a pretty simple procedure - the claw end of a hammer beating the weak metal and old bondo out. Can't say I didn't wince a bit, but it has to be done. Also had to pull the rear valance panel, which was pretty badly battered. However, with a little help from Mike, I had it looking... OK, OK. He took it from me before I ruined it and beat it back into reasonable shape. Once the dogleg is repaired, the car gets packed up in a trailer and taken to the shop for sealer, paint, and clear coat.|
|April 19, 2005 - Work continues on the Studebaker. Mike has been busy sanding and fixing the few dings. I came over and loosened the rear fenders tonight so we can replace the beading after the car is painted, and got her up in the air to make working on the lower half easier. Mike is expecting to have her in primer in a week, and do the color coat soon afterwards. Most of the prep work is done now - just the minor rust in the right dogleg to fix, and a couple of dings on the trunk lid. The previous paint job had very little prep - took a lot of sanding to get rid of swirl marks and gouges left from 20 years ago!|
|April 14, 2005 - I forgot to take the camera with me tonight, so no pictures. But Mike and I spent the evening getting the car ready for paint. He sandblasted and painted the rubber channels for the doors and trunk last weekend while I was in Charlotte NC for the big Auto Fair. After helping Mike tape the car off, I scuffed all the edges and seams while Mike took care of small dings and dents. The car is amazingly straight considering the age - most of the dings are so small I don't even see them at first. Happily, Mike has a keen eye and makes sure to catch them all. He'll finish up the body work and put her in primer this weekend. Then he'll sand her down for the color coat. A friend of his has volunteered the use of a closed trailer to get her to his shop for the clear coat, which will be applied in his spray booth. Right now, it looks like I may have the car put together in time for the Old Dominion Meet coming in May - gonna be close, though!|
|March 26, 2005 - WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?! Yes, the pictures above show the same car - the left was taken about 10:30 this morning, the one on the right was taken about 3 p.m. Amazing what a few hours can do, isn't it? After much agonizing, I finally came to the conclusion that I had to repaint the Studebaker rather than try touching it up. For those who have just seen the car in these photos, it seems like overkill - she looks terrific from any distance. But once you move closer, the flaws begin to appear. There were scrapes and scratches all over the 20 year-old paint, and some first bubbles of rust in a few places. By the time we tried to 'touchup' all the problem areas, we'd pretty much have a repaint anyway. Look at the collage below for some examples. So I went over to Mike's Body Works this morning with toolbox and gritted teeth, and stripped the old girl for paint.|
|Here she is at Mike's house, where the body prep will be done over the next few weeks. I'll pull the door handles when it is time for final paint. We'll be sandblasting the weather-stripping channels and trunk to remove surface rust, then sand the rest of the car smooth. The paint has a lot of orange peel and wasn't prepped very well - Mike will make sure all that is taken care of. I'll be doing as much as I can to reduce cost. Happily, the car is amazingly sound, even under the trim. One dogleg has rust starting, but the rest is solid as the day she was built. I even disassembled the sun visor! I'll take the in-between time to polish the chrome and order in what few rubber and trim pieces I don't already have. Stay tuned for updates!|
|March 13, 2005 - Did I say AFTER the new paintwork? Well, I had a pretty day and that rear bumper was in the way in my office. And the new taillight rims just didn't look right on the entertainment center. So I got them on the car. It's a little easier to see the spotting and pitting in the taillight rim (left), but the rear bumper had scrapes and rust as well. Also found that the taillight lenses were dirty inside. (Ironic note - I passed up a pair of spares yesterday - now I wish I had gotten them! Is the seller still checking the web page?) I cleaned everything, added foil reflectors to the tan (!) painted taillight backings to further brighten the taillights, and used new stainless screws. The old girl keeps getting better and better!|
|March 12, 2005 - I drove the Studebaker to the TRAACA's annual swap meet this morning - it was 6 a.m., so I STILL couldn't see the front bumper. By the time I finished helping park cars, the sun was high and the bumper was sparkling! While the old bumper looked OK in pictures, it was much sadder in real life. The new chrome is a vast improvement, and I am very pleased. The back bumper goes on when I get the paintwork done - SOON, I hope. Anyway, the car ran perfect, and drew a lot of attention at the event - we parked her along with some other club member 'Collectibles' along the front of the swap meet site. There were actually 1951 Studebaker parts at the swap meet, and even more amazing - I did NOT buy any of them - I had everything at least twice over.|
|March 7, 2005 - With all these new parts and a 70-degree day, I had to put something on. So I got the new front bumper and guards bolted up, installed the new horn button, and gave the car a bath. The Studebaker is going to be parked outside my car club's swap meet on Saturday, and with weather looking grim for the rest of the week, it was now or never. Unfortunately, I had to finish the job in the dark, so I only have an idea of what it looks like. I'll get photos Saturday.|
|March 5, 2005 - YORK SWAP MEET! After hearing that it was definitely worth a go, I made the 300-mile trek to York, PA for the National Studebaker Swap Meet. As you might guess from the photos, I spent more than time there. The single biggest expense, and best savings, was the windshield. Mine has bad wiper scratching on the passenger side - $295 new, and I saved $100 shipping. The next, however, is shown at center and right - a new horn button. I worried myself for a couple of hours over spending $100 on a piece of plastic, then decided that if it was worth that much worry, it was worth buying. The rest is mostly practical: from left to right (sort of) - windshield gasket, rear main seal, correct radiator cap, fender welting, front wheel bearing seals, new carburetor choke, used locking gas cap, taillight gaskets, the horn button, 1951-only body parts catalog, front license plate bracket, spare headlight circuit breaker, hood bumpers, light knob, main body wiring grommet, clutch release bearing, door main and bottom seals.|
|February 26, 2005 - Made the trek to Raleigh today to pick up the new bumpers from Bumper Boyz . They look great! I took the Studebaker's front bumper off last night and gave them that and the part's car's rear bumper in exchange. Now it's time to get the paint work taken care of. I am going to the big Studebaker Swap Meet in York, PA next weekend, and may be bringing back more goodies.|
|February 11, 2005 -
Between weather, work, and family, progress has been slow on the cars in
general. I've been getting in new pieces and parts, but haven't had
time to do anything with them. However, I got off early today, and
found the latest goodie for the Studebaker waiting in my front door - the
factory 'No-Mar' gasoline door guard (AC2116)! According to the 1951
Studebaker Motoring Accessories catalog, "This striking ornament has a
two-fold function. It adds sparkling beauty to the exterior lines of
the car and protects car finishes against scuffing by gas nozzles."
Well, of course I had to rush out and install it right away! As you can see in the photos at right, it makes a stunning difference! How did I ever live without it? That success sparked me into grabbing the rechromed horn ring which I just picked up Tuesday. A few turns of the screwdriver, and it was in place as well (below, left). I paid a lot to have it done in show chrome, but it's the shiny part I see the most.
And then there was the hood cable. Someone had installed an aftermarket item in the past, and I'd bought a correct one from SA Studebaker Parts some months ago. I had to dig through the boxes in the laundry room to locate it, but the new cable went on easily (below, right) and looks much better. Oh, and it turns out that the Overdrive lockout works fine - I thought it was stuck!
|It wasn't all fluff and show, though. I also installed the new voltage regulator I've had since the old one stuck on my during the car club Fall Tour. I picked up NOS gauges on eBay, and am sending the clock out to be reworked. And she goes to the paint shop in a few weeks! Not a huge amount of progress, but things are moving along!|
|January 7, 2005 - It's amazing what you can do with some elbow grease and whitewall cleaner. The speedometer on the right started out looking almost identical to the one on the left. I cleaned and repainted the center emblem and polished the trim ring - and yes, there is glass in the clean unit. The shop said the head was really gummed up, but in excellent shape. In a lot of ways, this is better than a NOS part, as the NOS grease is usually just as dried up as the stuff from a used unit. This is actually the $5 speedometer from eBay, as the original one below had a bad needle.|
|January 6, 2005 - Finally pulled the speedometer out - I drove her to work yesterday and passed a State Police radar site - the old girl rolls along rather nicely, and I'd just as soon not get a ticket for speeding AND improper equipment. Anyway, one problem with these Studebaker gauges is the numbering - they use luminous paint for a 'black light' effect. I picked up two spare speedometers, and all of the dial faces were dirty. I took the $5 eBay speedometer and gently cleaned the face with whitewall cleaner, fully expecting to get bare metal instead of clean paint. However, both the 'junk' speedometer and the car's actual speedometer (right) cleaned up very nicely. I took the picture before I had cleaned the 0-30 side, so you can get an idea of the improvement. I tested it in the garage, and the numbers are much brighter now. I am taking the speedometer to a shop tomorrow to be cleaned and repaired as needed.|
|January 3, 2005 - Starting off the new year with CHROME! Lovely smooth chrome. Very few things will quicken a car guy's pulse than the sight of good shiny stuff! I picked up all of these pieces from the same person - two direct and one on eBay. He is planning to have another headlight door available in a few months - I'll be waiting anxiously! On the plus side, I have one very good headlight ring, so I don't actually have to have one. All that is left is the bumpers from BumperBoyz in April!|
|December 28, 2004 - The horn ring got dropped off for replating - $175!! I could have gone cheaper, but Royal Silver puts out beautiful work and I do have to look at the horn ring more than any other piece of chrome on the car. I saved big time buying parts on eBay - got a rechromed headlight ring and both taillight trim rings for about $200 - considering the plater wanted $250 to do one of my headlight rings, I am very happy. The clutch disk that I got earlier turned out to be wrong, though the clutch cover was correct. Happily, I picked up a new and correct clutch disk for only $14, including shipping!|
|December 12, 2004 - Lots of new things coming in for the Studebaker. Mechanically, I have a new clutch set and brake shoes for front and rear, and an original turn signal setup. I picked up a set of new front and rear bumper guards, which of course means I have to get new bumpers. A new voltage regulator arrived yesterday. I have new window channels and vent seals, and the window sills will be refinished. Once the clutch and brakes are done, she goes to Mike's Body Works for paint touchup. In the meantime, I'll be getting the headlight and taillight rims replated, along with the horn ring. Everything should be done in time for the big Old Dominion Car show in early May.|
|November 28, 2004 - The Studebaker ran great on the trip, though I did run into some electrical woes. After a flawless day Saturday, I got up Sunday morning to a low battery. We jumped it and the generator charged like mad, but when we tried to start it next time there wasn't enough power to light the dome light! I figured it had to be the battery, and was able to find an Advance Auto on the way to the next stop. Swapping batteries was quick and easy, and the car was doing great. However, when we got to Tommy's Restaurant in Reedsville (photo at right) the voltmeter jumped to full discharge when I turned the ignition off. Some poking revealed a sticking voltage regulator. After whacking it once, the voltmeter went back to normal and the car had no further problems. I picked up the old battery on the way back - it will make a good spare!|
|November 11, 2004 - Just got the car done in time for the tour this weekend - took some work to get the new valve cover gaskets to seal up, but the valves are adjusted and the covers and air cleaner are painted. Topped up the rear axle and tried cleaning and relubing the speedometer cable to cure noise in the speedometer. No luck - looks like it comes out for a rebuild when we get back. However, the car is running great and ready for the tour.|
|November 7, 2004 - I've been driving the car off and on, but haven't done anything to it since July. However, that is about to change. I put in the reworked radiator today, and hope to get the valves adjusted, new valve cover gaskets and paint, and a replaced trunk hinge before next weekend, when I take her on the TRAACA Fall Tour. Nothing she needs, just nice to have done. When I get back, she goes into the paint shop for touch-up work and I am sending a lot of chrome out to be redone. I have gotten new vent window rubber, glass channel, and some other parts to get her back in top shape. Nothing too fancy, just dressing her up a bit. Oh, and I got a factory turn signal setup, so I won't have to use hand signals!|
|July 19, 2004 - The parts car has gone to the crusher. Rest assured there wasn't much usable on it. The 65K drivetrain is in my garage, along with boxes full of every door latch, switch, and other parts I could scrounge. I saved the ID and chassis plates for old time's sake. It's great to have the driveway space back!|
|July 9, 2004 - Been busy stripping the parts Studebaker - I have run out of room and had to get rid of it. You can just make out the resemblance of the two cars - they started out virtually identical some 53 years ago! The parts car even has fewer miles, but was too far gone to salvage. I yanked the engine and tranny, and all the attachments. Most of the sheet metal is too far gone to bother with. With luck, I'll get the hulk towed off this weekend.|
|May 29. 2004 - Took the Studebaker to Smithfield, VA today for the Studebaker Driver's Club Southeastern Regional Meet. It was a beautiful day, and the car ran flawlessly. She checked out at 18 mpg on the run to Staunton, and seems to be maintaining that level. I have joined the National SDC, and was able to join the local chapter at the meet. The Land Cruiser made a very good impression, getting quite a lot of compliments on her appearance, and her smooth, quiet engine. I may be a bit biased, but I think she was one of the prettiest cars there. The SDC folks were really nice, and I look forward to getting to know them better.|
|On July 3, 1951, John and
Clara L. Bahr of Osmond, NE, drove to Al Lundstrom Motors, the local
Studebaker dealer, in their 1941 Ford. They were farmers, and no doubt had
looked carefully at the cars out on the market.
The Champion 6-cylinder was known to be rugged and economical, and would have been the obvious choice. However, the car that caught their eye was a pale green 1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser – the manufacturer’s top of the line ‘luxury’ model.
|The Land Cruiser was a
long-wheelbase sedan with suicide doors and the more refined version of
Studebaker’s ‘bullet-nose’ styling. It also had Studebaker’s all-new OHV V-8
engine, one of the most advanced engines available from any car maker.
This particular car was equipped with the optional overdrive transmission, ‘wet’ air cleaner, windshield visor, Climatizer heater, wide-whitewall tires, and full wheel covers. It had been built on March 20th, and shipped by rail to Lundstrom Motors on June 18th.
|Salesman Clayton McClain
wrote up the deal, which allowed $400 trade-in for the Bahr’s ten year-old
Ford. They paid the balance of $1950 in cash. The selling price of $2,350
included a spare tire and tube, and 15 gallons of gasoline.
The Bahrs kept the upscale sedan for nearly 30 years, and even then, it stayed in the family. On January 27, 1980, they gave the Land Cruiser to son Orville J. Bahr, also in Osmond, as a gift. Orville ended up parking the car in his barn, where it remained surrounded by hay bales until his death in 1987.
Daughter Glenda and her husband brought the car to Omaha shortly afterwards. They had it repainted the original Shenandoah Green in 1990 by Bob Mulder and Son in Omaha, putting only a few hundred miles on the car over the next seven years.
|Glenda sold the car to Andrew
Wieger, a bar owner in Millard, NE in August of 1997. He had the gas tank
boiled out, but did little other work other than replacing some hoses and
other minor pieces.
On November 16, 1998, John E. Waddell and friend Dewey Haviland bought the Studebaker from the bar owner, who was moving out of state. John explained, “Osmond is my family's home town and I knew Orville Bahr and his wife, Audree. I also knew the man who worked for Al Lundstrom and sold the car. The dealership still stands in Osmond, but of course has gone through many owners and is now a body shop.”
By this time, the original interior was coming apart and the car needed some mechanical attention. John remembers, “When we bought the car we scraped an incredible amount of compacted mud from the undercarriage of the car. The mud really preserved the underside of the car and it truly was a country farm car. We changed out hoses, and did other routine maintenance work.”
The ‘routine work’ included rebuilding the front suspension, replacing the water pump, hoses, new timing gears, and many other small repairs to electrical and fuel systems.
|By the time they were done,
almost every operating system on the Studebaker had been cleaned, repaired, and/or
adjusted. After more than a year of tinkering, all that was left were the
ten-year-old paint was still quite good, so they dropped the car off at Dr.
Vinyl, an upholstery shop in Papillion, NE for a complete new interior in
the original style.
It took nearly two years to complete the job, with the shop working on the car ‘as they could get to it.’ During this time, John became the sole owner. “I purchased Dewey's half of the car when he got Hudson Hornet-itis and needed the money!”
As often happens in the car hobby, John ended up with more Studebakers than he could handle. “I had owned 7 Studebakers at one time and was down to 5. My goal was to get down to two by this summer so I could get rid of my rented - and leaking - storage building and bring the remaining cars home.”
After some hard thought, John decided that the Land Cruiser would be one of the cars to go. On April 9, 2004, he listed it on eBay with a reasonable reserve and a tempting Buy It Now option.
As you have probably already guessed, this is where I enter the Studebaker’s story. My first car was a 1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser, and I had been looking for another one quite a while. I purchased a car earlier in the year, low mileage and complete, but very rough. The interior was shot, chrome was pitted, the back end of the car was rotten, the glass was fogging… well, you get the idea. I got her running well, but when I started adding up what it would cost to make even a rough driver out of the car, I realized I had made a mistake.
When I stumbled across the eBay listing for ‘1951 Studebaker: Land Cruiser’ I was rather surprised. The cars were relatively rare even new, and I had only seen one or two others for sale in many years. I looked at the ad out of curiosity, and was immediately hooked.
Some emails with John resulted in a lot more information and some photos that showed off the new interior and clean engine compartment. I looked at the bidding, and then at the Buy It Now price. Then I went outside and stared at the rough car and agonized for an hour - I DID NOT need another car.
|Like that has ever stopped
me? I went ahead and bought the Land Cruiser, and thanks to John's kindness,
was able to arrange depot-to-depot shipping to save money. Although
there were some anxious days waiting for the car, I got the call from the
Ashland Virginia depot on Sunday morning, May 9th. The Studebaker had
I hoodwinked best friend Chip into coming along to help me pick up some 'Studebaker parts' and took off with spare tires, oil, water, brake fluids... and a tow bar just in case. When we pulled in, Chip spotted the Land Cruiser and said "Look at that! This guy has some beautiful cars!"
As expected, he assumed I was here to snag parts from a junker hidden out back. I started checking the car out and said "What do you think of the 'parts'?" He just gave me a look. "Oh, riiiight." It took a bit of convincing before he believed me - but in short order, I had the plates on (John had overnighted the paperwork and I had the car titled, tagged, and insured two days after I bought it). The car started right up - and ran perfectly the entire 100 miles home, running smooth and cool even when we hit a traffic jam close to home. Remember - this was more than the car had been driven in 3 years!
|Not that there weren't some glitches - the radiator and the lower hose gave out while she was idling in front of the house - she had gotten me home before having problems. A very good sign. The parts car had a good radiator, and I got the hose at Advance (Thanks, Jack!). I had ordered new wide-whitewall tires from Universal Tire in Hershey PA (Highly recommended), and got those installed on extra rims. As expected, they really made a difference in the appearance of the car. I spent the next week and a half cleaning and making minor repairs - various lights didn't work, and the back end wiring was bad. Again, the parts car had everything I needed.|
| Up to now, I had kept
the car a secret from the car club I belong to. Our state-wide ODMA
show was May 21st, and on Friday, May 20th, I showed up for the caravan up
to Staunton, VA in the new 'baby.'
The car was a big hit - a lot of the club members thought I had somehow performed miracles with the $600 clunker - pretty much everyone was amazed that I had managed to keep the car a secret. As for the trip? The Stude sailed up to Staunton without a hiccup - 235 miles, including Afton Mountain, a very steep, long grade that makes trucks creep and lesser cars sweat. Not the Land Cruiser, however. She rolled up the mountain at 65 like it was a parking lot.
|It would be nice to say that
the car won the show, but in truth, she still has a lot of detail work
required. The door and trunk seals have to be installed, some chrome
needs replating, and I have to paint and detail the trunk and engine. Also, all the window sills have to be stripped and
painted. Still, she took a Class 3rd in points judging, which was
quite an accomplishment.
The return trip was just as smooth, and the car got better than 18 mpg despite rolling with traffic the whole way. While 500 miles may not sound like much to celebrate, it's more than the car has been driven in the past 30 years!
Stay tuned for more updates!
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