Ten years after I started the restoration of my 1950 Studebaker Commander it is time to start a new project. Last September I bought a 1955 Studebaker President Speedster through Ebay and just before this weekend it finally arrived at my workshop. I am planning to re-activate the blog so I hope you guys will enjoy my adventures as much as I do. The first inspection showed not too many disappointments.
The Corona virus was still a faraway thing when the Interclassics Maastricht 2020 was held. One of the major classic car events in Europe was held with the them “Epic designs from the past” with on the poster the nose of a 1950 Commander.
Time certainly flies. It has been over four years since I wrote the last message and a lot has happened. Obviously the car was almost ready in April so on may 17th I took her to the RDW* inspection station (*Like MOT)
The paperwork seemed to be the most important part of the inspection and once that was found to be correct the car was inspected thoroughly. Inside, Outside, Electrical, Engine, Suspension, Brakes, … all of it. I felt really honoured that no fault, zero, nada was found except that there was no frame number. I gladly accepted the compliments and explained that 1950 Studebakers have no frame numbers. I had no choice. I had to make up a frame number and he had to stamp it in the frame. Well I Thought that the serial number was a proper number so that is how the car is registered now.
A friends daughter had her sweet sixteen party and I had the honour to drive the girls around. All six of them easily fitted in.
De Telegraaf, a national newspaper called for a combination of a full page article in the Saturday edition, a two page article in the car magazine the publish and a YouTube clip on their channel
My grandson is a becoming a real petrolhead. His father is in the car wholesale business, his grandfather is fixing old cars so what can you expect. He came to help me for a while and is almost ready for his own Studebaker. No this are not the new shoes, we’ll come to that later.
One of the scariest steps in the project was the installation of the windows, especially the curved rear windows. Since I had never done a thing like this and I thought the windows were too precious to crack I invited a specialist. Marcel Beumer (seen on his back in the rear while packing his things) of AutoGlaz did a marvelous job. Both front and both rear windows were placed well within two hours.
Another major step: A full set of brand new tires, the new shoes. Radials to improve the ride. The old ones were cracked and falling apart and needed replacement. I found the new ones at a place called Classic Tire in Aalsmeer that happened to be run by Kees Jongejan, an old primary school mate that I had lost track of for more than 50 years. It was good to meet him again and I am quite pleased with the result.
After installing the tires I did some more work on the interior. and even the light is working now!
And the righthand doors are ready, except for the armrests. They look terrible and I still have to fix them.
After that I started on the left front door and ruined the window run. I bent it in the wrong place, tried to bend it back and found out that it it dies not bend back without wrinkling the stainless steel edges. Since I had the exact length, and nothing to spare I am now looking for a new lenght that at least looks the same. Wish me luck.
And just today I installed the rear bumper.
It is slowly beginning to look like a car.
This week the car came back to the nest. The trick is now to find all the parts in the multitude of boxes, filled with even more plastic bags with even more parts. Fortunately I categorized it all. It is not one big pile of parts.
When I shipped the 1941 President I loaded it with many interior parts for this car. One of these was the headliner. It is quite a trick to install it right, without any wrinkles and with the right tension. It took me a full day and this is the result.
Today I finished fixing the horn buttton. It was scratched, the paint was partly gone and the rest was discolored. It took me a while to remove the rests of the old paint with a mild paint stripper, a load of cotton swabs and a lot of care. I sanded the inside with small pieces of sand paper 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 and finally 2500 untill all the scratches and pits from the paint remover were gone. After polishing the inside and outside I went to find the right colors of paint in the form of touch up pencils. Ultra small paint brushes and more care did the rest.
I am quite happy with the result.
I finished the seat covers and I have to say: Ernie Loga of Loga Enterprises did an excellent Job. They fit beautifully. Unfortunately as soon as I installed the seats I noticed a nasty error. The fabric of the seat was inverted compared to the back rest. Since I had ordered the stuff more than two years ago I was not sure if I stood any chance with Ernie. I did, carefully, mail him with the story and my disappointment. Within two hours I had a reply that he will make a new set for me. Incredible! And even though I will have to do the backrests again I am still extremely happy and very pleased with the super service of Ernie. I can certainly recommend him if you need upholstery for your Studebaker.
In the mean time word had gone around that I have done the interior of this second car after the 1941 President. Some people even talked positively about it so shortly after I was asked to help with the seat of a 1964 Chevvy Impala. A nice car with a bland beige fabric on the seats.With the brother of the owner I started to install new foam and the bright red covers on a Saturday morning and planned to finish it before Beer O’clock. We first did the rear backrest: Nice fit. Then the rear seat: Nice fit. The front backrest is a bit of a challenge because it is a front-and-back-in-one-piece. We had to slide it over the frame and new foam and pull it down. Quite a job if you want enough foam to make it tight but again: Nice fit. Now is it an epidemic or is it standard practice to send wrong seat covers? When we were about ten or fifteen Hog Rings into installing the front seat I noticed that id did not fit at all. Big wrinkles, too much fabric here and not enough there. We had to put back the old cover to make the car usable. Next afternoon I found out that we had two back seat covers. Let’s see if Chevvy guys are as friendly as Studebaker guys and also send the new cover without problems.
The steering wheel of my ’50 Commander was completely ruined when I took it out. Unfortunately good ones are hard to find. I found a 1952 steering wheel. Damaged, cracked in several places and quite different but it fits. I drilled out the cracks, filled it with epoxy filler, sanded it until it was back in shape. A few layers of paint and a clear coat and it looks new again. A temporary solution which, I am afraid’will have to last a while.
The foam did arrive and what a wrap it was! The size of two adult men stuck together. Instead of asking if I could open the main door he just started to push it through the small entry door of the office. Since we were at the inside all we saw was just a mountain of foam trying to squeeze itself through the door. After what seemed like 10 minutes the pile retreated and a guy stuck his head through the door asking if there was another door for number 17. Duh. A garage!
The rear backrest was first. I started with a new burlap cover over the steel springs. On that a 5 cm (2″) layer of foam and a 2 cm (13/16″) of Fiberfill. All glued together lightly to make sure it will not slide out of position once the cover is on it. On top of that goes the seat cover that I ordered about two years ago. It fits like a glove and the hog rings went on smoothly. All I need is three buttons to finish it off but I am not so sure if I will install these. Any pointers on why I should install these buttons are welcome.
The same procedure (more or less) for the rear seat although I have to reopen it a bit to install some foam round the corners. On the pic you can see the spring frame push through the seat cover.
The front seats are installed on a moving frame so the seat can be adjusted. Yesterday I took the cushions off, took the covers off and got the roller running again. Time to clean up the frame and paint it but for that you need the paint! I will paint it in the original color which is the color I used for the top of the dashboard, a dark silver/anthracite metallic. I knew I had the can somewhere but after two hours of going through each and every box I still could not find it. Now the little paint that I lost was not so much the problem but the fact that I lost the sticker with the paint code worried me quite a bit. This morning I found it, to my surprise, with the household paints.
The floor of the car is like an oil drum. It sound great in a specific frequency. This week I covered the floor with sticky rubber mats to dampen this sound. On to of that I added a 9 mm heavy under carpet to absorb the rest of the noise. Since I have the roof already soh dproofed the interior, even with the windows still out , is like an oases. The seats cusions were worn and the steel springs rusted so I removed the cloth, cleaned the steel springs and paited it.