Blog over de restauratie van mijn '50 Studebaker Commander


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.



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.


3 years, 8 month and 15 days later



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.

Winter time

The time of the year to step into the shed, close the door and work for hours of tiny little items. Well that’s what I’ve been doing the last few month. Cleaning the old nuts, bolts and washers. Still there is quite some progress to report.


IMG-20141110-WA0001After the body was blasted and painted in epoxy 20141027_161507I started repairing the thin spots. Door openings and the edge of the trunk were thin and in some spots rusted away so the had to be replaced. The rear doors had a series of small holes where the gravel deflectors had been and on the “bubble”. New pieces had to be formed on the English wheel, welded in place and tinned until the original shape was back. I still have the right rear door to go.

The front door were better and only needed some new parts in the bottom.


20141228_131636When it is really too cold in the garage I resort to my slightly warmer shed and work on the smaller parts. Clean, blast, sand, prime, fill,sand again and, when all is done, paint in the right color. Here one of the fans and a duct of the ventilation system, both is Semi Gloss Black.

I painted the inside of the body, the bottom and the firewall in “Midnight Blue”, an original 1950 Studebaker color than I selected for the exterior. A beautiful dark blue that really makes the chrome stand out. Much better than the original ‘Plaza Grey’, a color that is suitable for coffins and the Eifel Tower

Yesterday I started preparations for the joining of the body and the frame as you can see on the last two pictures.












It’s been too long

OK, it really has been too long but I have an excuse. All of a sudden an other love came into my life. I found a 1941 President and I could not let it go. It took me a year and a bit to get her up and running to my standard but here she is:




I took her to the Le Mans Classic race and back without missing a beat. A wonderful 2000 miles road trip with my sons Bas and Tom

Road trip to Le Mans Classic 2014

All said and done I’m now finally back to work on the 1950 Commander. This summer I already started cleaning, straightening and preparing the fenders and the doors. The fenders are ready and the doors still need some welding. Today the body was blasted and came out pretty well. A few thin spots where I’ll have to weld her but mainly a solid body.






Bas from Automaxx

Bas Schoonhoven from AutoMax

A 1950 exhaust pipe is not readily available in the Netherlands. Fortunately there are places where I can have one custom made. Bas Schoonhoven from AutoMax in Utrecht did a perfect job copying the old pipes.

The new exhaust fitted readily and look good on the  Chassis.