Installing carpets

This isn’t about work on a Studebaker, but the problems can be common. I installed carpets in the ’54 some years ago and they worked out really well. No real wrinkles and just a little less than perfect fit in the rear footwells which has improved over time and use. I believe I bought them from Rene Harger. He is still in operation and advertises in Turning Wheels.

Problem I’m into right now is removal of big wrinkles in the truck carpet I’m trying to install. The carpet was formed well enough over the trans hump and in the front floor areas, but to each side of the seat there are large wrinkles from the carpet trying to lay over curves going in different directions. Above is the left and right sides. One as bad as the other.

After doing some reading online I found that steaming the carpet does work sometimes. So I borrowed the wife’s clothing steamer to give it a try.

I gave them three or four good steamings and then put weight over them each time and let the carpet cool. The weights are bags of sandblasting media. Forms well over the hump.

Success was so-so at best. Still have wrinkles, but not so big. This will have to do and hopefully the seat overhang will hide the worst of it. There is also a chance that summer heat from driving will help it all to fit better.

I think the steam idea is good, but for wrinkles in flat areas or maybe in an effort to stretch the carpet to fit into the floor contours.

Heads maybe this week.

So in the meantime I thought it would be a good idea to build a backup water pump to keep in the trunk of the ’66 Commander which is to receive the JT transplant. The kit I have has been around a long time and as a result there is rust. The pump to be rebuilt is at the top.

After clean up in the sandblasting cabinet or on the wire wheel, things look a whole lot better – not good as new but still serviceable. The bearing spun easily and smoothly and didn’t seem to have suffered . At this point I visited a friend who has a sturdy bench press.

We disassembled the pump and cleaned the housing. Sadly the surface around the center hole is in bad shape. It really needs to be mirror smooth to provide a good sealing surface for the impeller ring seal.

This is the impeller with it’s black sealing ring. Only about an 1/8″ of sealing surface has to do the job.

I had two other pumps on hand. One is of the same design. Rather than go to my friend again I decided to try to use a large puller to push out the water pump bearing. Worked a charm. I’ll have to wait and see if I distorted the housing in the process. It really didn’t take much pressure to get it started and once started it pushed out easily.

The bearing surface on this pump housing was a whole lot better. Far from perfect, but it looked like I might be able to hand polish the surface. I started with 600 grit to remove enough metal to clear the pits. I then used 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 & crocus cloth to bring it to a reasonable surface. I had to do a number of redos of fine paper and crocus. Finally I rubbed some red buffing compound on crocus cloth and used that to get a nice shine. Not all the scratches have been removed. I figure that the fine scratches might not matter in the short term. This is an emergency pump to be kept in the trunk. There are still pits in the face, but not on the area where the sealing ring fits. To do the sanding I could have used a sheet of glass with paper taped to it. I have a sheet of 1/8″ steel on my workbench so I decided to use that. First I ran over it with a razor blade to remove any bits that might be stuck to it. I taped my sheets of sandpaper to it and then used two hands to rub the housing back an forth, keeping the surface flat on the sandpaper. If I wanted to build a full time pump I would go to a machine shop and have this surface polished to a mirror shine before installing a kit.

Now back to more waiting and working on the Dodge truck carpet install.

Still no heads #2

I was digging out a gas tank for a customer and I came across and early Studebaker 4 bbl high rise manifold. As you can see it is much higher than the later 4 bbl units. I was planning on using a high rise 2 bbl intake and carb, but now that I have found this I’m not sure which way to go. The center divider is solid as in the R1 intake manifolds which Jim Pepper says give a crisper response over those with an open space in the center divider.

Here is the R1 AFB sitting atop the high rise with an added 1/2″ spacer to boot. One problem I will have is that this linkage does not accommodate a transmission with a cable throttle linkage and I plan on using the ’66 cable actuated transmission from the ’66 Commander. A little welding will be needed to fix a bracket to the bottom of the throttle shaft linkage.

Before I go ahead with a carb rebuild I need to know if there is a lot of wear on the throttle shaft. If it’s too bad then I’ll opt for a rebuilt unit or an Edelbrock replacement if the prices are close. My dial showed about .003 of play which is about the thickness of a sheet of newsprint. Of course the .003 is actually .0015 all the way around. Looking at some forum responses on AFB rebuilds, one person found that he had .011 of play in the shaft of a newly rebuilt carb. So I’m thinking I can rebuild this one at home. I built one some years ago for our R1 Avanti and it worked out well.

Sun Yellow is going to look just fine I think. Once the paint has had some time to cure I’ll add a couple of coats of clear to protect it some.

Now where are those heads!

More on the sound deadener I’m using on the Dodge truck. This is the stuff that I bought from Amazon.

The 50 sq feet comes in individual sheets. The grille marks makes it easier to cut a straight line. I bought the roller at the same time from Amazon.

I didn’t bother to butt fit each sheet. If it came close that was OK. The sheets are quite thin and the roller pretty well flattens down the seams. The dimples in the sheets flatten out and allow some stretch. No problem pushing it down into the floor ridges. I used rolled sound deadener on the ’54. It worked fine, but I found this size of individual sheets easier to work with.

I’ll contact the engine shop tomorrow and hopefully they will have some good news on the heads.

Still no heads!

What to do? What to do? Well I spent some of my time working on the floor of the Dodge. I couldn’t just put down sound deadening sheets without first sanding, priming and painting any rusty spots. I’ll finish painting with satin black rust paint and then let it cure well before sticking down sheets of sound deadener.

I needed to move the ’54 to get the seat out of the Dodge so I could work on the floor. Good to have the ’54 up and running for the season. Just had to adjust the passenger door striker a little – seems that even with the car supported under the rear axle and the front a-arms the body it still bent a bit from its natural position on all four wheels.

Finished sanding the valve covers and built a couple of stands for painting.

I taped off the insides so I wouldn’t get any overspray when I painted the edges and gasket channel. The original paint is still good inside. I didn’t want to add paint that might peel off and get into the return oil.

All primed in. I will add a bit more primer to cover the filler you can see on the top side. All ready for some ‘sun yellow’ paint.

One bit at a time

The distributor is all together and ready except for the Mallory electronics. The engine is to go into our ’66 Commander which no has the Thunderbolt 283 with a Delco distributor. I’ve installed the Mallory unit in the Thunderbolt to get even firing. When the swap occurs the Mallory parts will be transferred to this Delco window unit.

Valve covers all sanded and a second coat of body putty is drying. Hoping for some warmer weather so I can get the valve covers painted. I plan on 3 or 4 coats of paint then lots of time for the paint to cure.

Lots of bits & pieces to do

A little body filler to smooth off the grinding marks.

Here I’m using my bench vise to press out the alignment pins. It is very unlikely that the alignment pins will match up on a new block. I will have to dial-in the bellhousing to the new block and drill and fit new pins.

A coat of POR 15 and the bellhousing looks as good as new. I just brush it on with a small stiffer disposable brush.

It’s been quite a few days since I put the pan gaskets in place so I thought I’d do the final torque on the bolts. I had hoped that leaving the gaskets with their Permatex gasket sealer for awhile would stop the gaskets from squeezing out. As you can see they still pushed out. The seal may be fine and that’s my hope. The gaskets squeezed out on my 185 Champion project, but so far no leaks. Next time I think I’ll just run a fine bead of red gasket maker on the pan side and torque the bolts right away.

In the midst of building the Delco distributor. The body is all painted up and I’m installing the components. Here I’m in the process of setting the play between the gear and the housing. It calls for as little as .390″ and .065″. .065 seems an awful lot of play – almost 1/16″. That movement will show up between the rotor & cap contacts, on the cam and points contact and on the cam gear. I will try to set the play closer to the low end.

Next – still waiting on the heads so more work on bits and pieces

More cleaning and painting

I’m not fussy about Studebaker’s method of holding the spark plug wires. So I have ground off the center clip and will use some aftermarket units.

Sandblasted and ready for some body filler, sanding, priming and paint as soon as it is warm enough to use spray cans. I’ve got some sun yellow Rust-oleum that will closely match the original Studebaker colour.

I’m not going to use the original Prestolite distributor. This is the base off a Delco window distributor from a ’60 V8 Lark. Sandblasted and primed.

Time to clean up the bellhousing. Bulky and difficult to scrape off the old caked grime before putting it in the sandblasting cabinet. I take off all the old grease as it will mess up my blasting media.

Sandblasted and ready to go back into the parts cleaner.

Next, more painting and clean up while I await my heads.

Not your usual high end valve spring tester!

I found 7 new #188645 valve springs but that left me 9 short. So I decided to check out the old springs to see if any where good enough to use. To do that I needed to check the pressure at a specific spring height. Not having the correct tool I improvised. Since this isn’t a race engine I don’t need to have everything exactly to spec. This is my rinky-dink setup to check spring pressure.

I placed the spring at about the center of the scale. The square block under it is the correct height for checking spring pressure =- 1-3/4″. I first tried the new springs and they all needed 130+ pounds to compress them down to 1-3/4″. Next I tried all the old springs. A few of them were down to about 110-115 lbs. Likely ones that had been compressed for years. The rest all came in above 130 lbs – even though their free standing height is shorter than the new springs.

All the springs have the same wire size of about .160″ (The standard duty springs are about .155″). The springs on the left and the one on the far right are the old springs. The others are a bit higher and are the new springs. Unless I hear otherwise I’m planning on using these springs for the rebuild.

Next, more cleaning and painting.


Head woes

The heads look really nice after the clean-up. A couple of combustion chambers got a bit of moisture damage (pitting) but they are all passable.

My camera isn’t too good are close up shots. If you look real hard you can just make out a crack line between the two valve seats. Bummer!

Fortunately I had another two heads from a GT Hawk 289. They are not quite as nice, but with any luck one will be OK. The builder says he’ll use the best of the two. The exhaust flanges on these heads will need planing. All the heads have some bad valve seats. I’ll have new seats installed where needed. I have decided not to install hardened valve seats in the exhaust ports and will instead add a bit of lead to the gas Whenever I fill up. I only go through 4 or 5 full tanks of gas over the summer.

Next – things to do while I await the head work.

Oil pan fun

Getting back to the engine. Head work next. The heads are out having a valve job and a cleanup.

Basic stuff to install the pan.

One thing I hate is having to undo stuff because I didn’t follow the correct sequence. I mounted the pan filler block too early. Fortunately I was able to get the gasket sealer to release the gasket with a little heat from a paint stripper gun. The manual says you can cut off the bottom of a timing cover gasket and use that if you tear the gasket when removing the pan block. That is just asking for leaks!

Next I installed some cut off bolts to guide the pan and to test fit the side gaskets.

Here is one of a couple of gasket holes that could cause grief later.

More woodworking tools that are handy in the garage. My wife bought these for me years ago when I thought I’d try carving. Maybe some day. For now they have proved very handy cutting out gaskets and fabric.

A little trimming and the hole looks a whole lot better. The gasket is fitting nicely in the rear main slot, but only after I trimmed the edge a tiny bit with an Exacto knife.

With the gaskets in place I tried to fit the pan block. Impossible to get the bolts in now that it has been raised 1/16″ by the gasket. The instructions in the service manual may have worked OK back in the day with pure cork gaskets, but with these composite units it is really hard to compress them at all.

I could have just cut the ends off the gaskets, but I figured if I did that then the pan block would be too low for the pan and the gasket over the pan block might not seal as well. So I marked the ends and put them in the vice overnight – using the softer padded jaw covers.

That did the trick. I was able to get the pan block bolts in place with reasonable pressure. At this point the side gaskets have been covered in sealant on the underside and fitted in place. You can see a tiny bit of red gasket maker where the pan block meets the side gasket. I use high temp sealant wherever there is a 90 degree joint that oil can find its way out.

Now for the end gaskets. Both were too long. The rear one I cut off small bits until I got a fit with a slight bulge at the top.

For the front seal I used the pan block to get the length right and to get the proper angle for where the gasket will meet the side gasket. Of course I did this before re-installing the pan block. I will put red sealant on the side gaskets where the front and rear gaskets will finally make contact with them.

The front and rear gaskets didn’t want to stay in the pan or on the block. I was able to leave the rear one balanced in the rear main groove, but the front one wouldn’t stay in place. So I slipped the pan on and let it rest on the rear seal then I slipped the front seal between the pan and the pan block and pressed down. I applied gasket sealant to the topside of the side gaskets ahead of time.

This did not look good. the front seal was making contact on this side but was up about a 1/4″ on the other side. Nothing left but to try (Yoda would not agree- hahaha!). So I put in a couple of longer bolts in the front holes and started to pull the pan down. As I did the seal moved down on the other side until it made contact just as the pan was bottoming out on the side gasket – whew!

I pulled down the front and back just snug then I put in the remaining pan bolts and tightened them from the center outwards. I tightened everything hand tight with a small screwdriver type handle and a 1/2″ socket. I will leave it all this way for a couple of days to let the gasket sealant set up so that when I do a final torque the side gaskets will stay in place and not try to squeeze out between the pan and the block. Now hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything that will need me to remove the pan.