Blog over de restauratie van mijn '50 Studebaker Commander

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Steering wheel

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. 20150804_154339The 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. 20150808_135612 20150808_135624The 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.20150819_172432 (1) 20150819_172447

 

Found it.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Now I could start to clean, sand and spraypaint the side covers. 20150718_200742And while I was at it I also took care of the window mouldings that will be painted in the same original color.20150718_200819

Soundproofing and upholstery 1

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.

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20150710_160445Next week I expect the new foam so standby for the next episode.

 

Engine start

Today it was time to start the engine for the first time after a complete overhaul. So I set the ignition statically, connected a battery, made sure the oil pressure indicator was connected, cranked the engine for a while until I had a proper oil pressure reading to make sure all the bearings were properly lubricated. This also primed the carburetor, I kept the original engine driven fuel pump in place. This is where the film starts. I was pleasantly surprised to get the engine running at the second attempt. The comment at the end was from one of the bystanders. He say “It runs well”

Let there be light.

My last report I was still working on the electrical wiring. turn signal

It is all in place now and connected, except for a few wires to the door switches. The lights are working, the car even has turn indicators now. Imagine that in the early fifties they were an option that had to be ordered separately. I had to install extra light fixtures in the rear lights to accommodate the lamps and change the parking light fixtures to fit the 5/21 Watt bulbs.

The overdrive electrical system is quite a complex setup. A relay, several switches, a governor and a solenoid, all wired together. It did not work. Eventually I found out that the OD relay coil was the problem. Jan Telkamp had a used one. This had the same problem. A third relay, of a slightly different type was working but I had to change the wiring setup to make it work. So now I will be driving my ’50 car with a ’55 relay. Originality down the drain so as soon as I can lay my hands on an original, working relay I’ll have to undo my modifications again.DSC_2882

By now the instrument panel is more or less in place. I’ll have to leave it open  since the wipers still have to be mounted. the have a vacuum motor that was leaking air on all sides and I still have to find the parts to fix it,

After that the brakes had to be bled and readjusted. I had done the initial setup when the body was still off the frame and that left me with a lot of travel before the brakes reacted. I am still not overly enthusiastic but I think the automatic adjustment will do the rest.

Today I started with the upholstery. Under the roof I glued the soundproofing material. Original material, quite heavy felt, but with modern fire resistant stuff in it. All of a sudden all the noises in the workshop are absorbed. Tomorrow I’ll start on the windlaces. A new nay, a new challege.

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Electrical wiring

After rejoining the body and frame I continued with several other body parts. It slowly starts to look like a regular car again.

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Now I am working on the electrical wiring. This proves to be more work than I expected. Figuring out which wire goes where is quite a job since the wires are not marked, only color coded and Studebaker uses the black wire a lot. For my President I ordered the wires from Donald Erickson of Lark Works. The wire ends were all numbered and the numbers corresponded with the supplied list. Excellent! For this car however I ordered a few years ago from Narrangansett Wiring. The loom seems to be good, it looks awesome, but it is a lot of work to confirm each and every wire before I connect it.

Never mind I’ll get there in the end.

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The heater thermostat needed a new seal before I could close the cooling system and the instrument panel needed a new coat of paint.

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3 years, 8 month and 15 days later

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Opstelling per eind mei 2011

Opstelling per eind mei 2011

DSCN9282Today I placed the body back on the frame with the invaluable help of Marco. It took me 3 years, 8 month and 15 days but it starts to look like a car again. Still there is a lot of work to be done but this is a major milestone. Since the steering column has to be installed first and the brake and clutch pedal are installed it takes a special move to slide the body over the steering column and pedals. Front end down, rear end up. slightly move the frame backwards a bit and lower the body a bit, frame backwards, body down etc. Then, with the body in place align it with the holes and insert the body bolts with the seals in place between the body and the frame.  Piece of cake but it took us the best of the day.

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