Bleeding brakes and wrap up

This is my vacuum pump which I find very useful for checking vacuum advance units, distributor advance, etc.  This is the first time I have tried to use it to bleed brakes.  Seems like a good idea but for some reason I couldn’t suck the brake fluid from the master cylinder to the collection bottle – more later.

So back to using my old trusty bleeding system.  It worked fine on the rear wheels.  Bleeding the longest line first then the second longest and down to the shortest.

When it came to the front wheels it was a whole other story.  Each time I pushed fluid through the lines the lines would be full of fluid but after a short while huge bubbles would appear.  Time and time again I tried and every time it was the same.  No way there was that much air in the system.  So even though I was very careful installing the flexible brake lines and they are flange fittings at each end somehow air is getting in somewhere.  There was a small amount of brake fluid bleeding out of somewhere down the back of the backing plate.  I pulled a drum and the wheel cylinders seemed to be fine.

I loosened the brake flex hose at the frame mount then took the clip off which makes it easier to spin the flange nut off.

Before I removed the flex line from the wheel cylinder I removed the bleeder screw so I wouldn’t damage it.

New copper washers (the old one is on the left) and Leak Lock for the threads.  I  shouldn’ t need it with flange fittings but, anything to stop leaks.

While installing the flex hoses I realized where the air was leaking into the system.  The bleeder screws are quite loose in the wheel cylinder – not like the original units from Studebaker.  This stuff is replacement stock likely made off-shore and not to the original specs in all respects.

What was fooling me was that the air was coming out of the bleeder screw.  But, it wasn’t coming from the wheel cylinder but instead in past the bleeder screw threads and then out the bleeder screw.

I put some Leak Lock on the bleeder screw threads and when doing the bleed I only cracked the bleeder screw off its seat.  With all these precautions the bleed of the front brakes took no time at all.  Brakes done.  Time to take her off the stands and torque the wheels.

Awhile back I posted this shot of a rear arm rest from a ’56 Golden Hawk.  I just got it back from the upholstery shop.

Looking a whole lot nicer now. Up position.

And down position.

And installed.

Well that about wraps up my winter project on the ’54 Champion – Baby Blue.  It has been fun sharing my work with over 500 Studebaker fans daily.  I hope my project inspires some to tackle that project that has been waiting for some time.

I may start a project on our ’66 Commander next winter.  I’m not sure.  It’s a big project starting with rear fender replacement and trunk repair.  Check in next fall around October and I’ll have updates then.  Now it time to get the Studebakers back on the road for all to enjoy.

And now in the words of the song by Bob Dylan…

It’s All Over Now Baby Blue

Getting to the end

Front end up and tires in place for the initial brake adjustment.

Pulling down on the tool rotates the star wheel in the proper direction to expand the shoes out to the drum.  The right hand threads on the right side work their way out.  On the left side the left hand threads do the same thing which allows the same tool movement for both  sides.  Just make sure you don’t mix up the left and right star wheels.

Back to my plastic sheets.  A little Jig-a-loo on the sheets and …

then putting the two halves together.  Jig-a-loo is a non-residue lubricant that was suggested for the slides in our vinyl windows as it doesn’t leave oil behind to catch dust.  I find it useful from time to time in the shop.

Maybe you have already guessed what I’m up to.  Here one sandwich is under the tire.

I then lowered the car onto the plastic sheets.

Turning or moving the front wheels to set the initial alignment is much easier when the tires aren’t gripping the floor.

I have already set the king pins to the rear and out for a positive caster and a bit of camber.  Here I’m using the string method to get the front wheels going straight ahead.  I’m not going to worry about the toe in as it’s a short distance to the alignment shop.

As per the service manual you need a 1/2″ block on the front sidewall of the rear tire to allow for the narrower rear end.

Next I used a small pipe wrench to turn the tie rods until the string just touched the sidewall at the rear of the tire – the steering wheel is in the straight-ahead position.

both sides done and I’m ready to go to the alignment shop as soon as I tighten the tie rod clamps, lower the car and torque the wheel studs.

Job is pretty well complete except…. I forgot to bleed the brakes, rats!


Power Steering wrap up

Drained as much of the PS fluid that I could and filled with Type F ATF. I then turned the wheel back and forth from stop to stop until bubbles stopped coming up in the resevoir.  I then ran the engine to warm it up and then connected the PS and ran it at about 750 RPM and turned the wheel back and forth a couple of times and shut off the engine. This is what the oil looked like.  I assumed that this came from the remainder of the PS fluid in the system.  I used a spoon and skimmed off the foam and repeated the process.

For the next couple of times bubbles continued to rise in the reservoir – see the roundish patch on the left.  I skimmed this off as it rose until the bubbles stopped.

Finally after a few more tries the foaming stopped and the fluid looked nice and clear.  There may be a small amount of PS fluid still in the system but, hopefully that won’t cause any problems.  It is a bit darker that the photo shows as the camera used the flash.  Topped it up and put on the lid.  Keen to try it out but I have a couple more things to do before then: bleed the brakes and set the initial alignment. Then I’ll be able to take my first test drive. Progress is a bit slower now as it’s spring chore time as you all know.

Trials & Tribulations

Problems occur in threes right?  Well I’m a good example!

Thinking about the start I thought it might be a good idea to disengage the PS pump so that it wouldn’t get started at 1500 rpms from a cold start. I removed the belt completely from the engine.  I have an electric fuel pump with an oil pressure cut off and with a bypass button to prime the carbs.  I primed …and primed but, she didn’t want to catch. Unusual as this engine starts really well.  Problem #1 the car is on jack stands and the rear is down a bit.  Since I forgot that I parked it with little fuel in the tank now I needed some gas to immerse the fuel pickup tube in the tank.  Off to the local garage – 15 minutes away for us in the country – for some premium gas.  When I did my engine rebuild I attempted to up the compression to 9 to 1 but, it seems I got a little more than expected and now I have detonation issues unless I use premium.

The engine started right up and I had good oil pressure.  I checked under the car for leaks and at that point there were none noticeable.  I stepped the throttle down and let it continue to warm up.  I went to check the oil pressure at the dash and it was just above zero.  Now Studebakers don’t have good oil pressure at idle but this was a bit too low.  Shut off the engine immediately.  A peek under the engine told the story.  Problem #2.

The culprit was an old problem and not one that you usually associate with spin on oil filters.  I always check my ’66 Commander which has the old canister type filter to be sure I have the old oil seal out. For some reason I didn’t twig that the old oil seal didn’t come out with the old spin on oil filter.  When was the last time a oil seal didn’t come out with the new style filters???

Cleaned up the mess of oil and ZDDP, put in new oil and ZDDP.  Started the engine up and all is well.  I ran it until it warmed up and dropped to a slow idle.  Those flatheads are so sweet at idle.

OK, fit the PS belt back on and tension it properly.  Start the engine at slow idle.  All seemed good and no squirting power steering fluid.  Turn the wheels left and right – all OK.  I was a bit concerned that I might have switched the lines to the ram.  I assume I wouldn’t be able to turn the wheel if that was the case.  Turned the wheels a couple of more times and the pump starts to whine – what now!

No leaks so I take off the reservoir cover and it looks like a bowl of soap suds – Problem #3 for the day.

Off to the wonderful world of the internet and specifically the Studebaker forum – great source of information.  Turns out that the foam may be caused by using ‘proper’ power steering fluid. Studebaker PS pumps like automatic trans fluid – Type F being the best.  Checking my records I see that I used Type F ATF in my Avanti PS setup a few years back.  Too bad my memory didn’t go back that far.

So I will now drain all the PS fluid out and replace it with Type F.  I’ll then start the car and circulate the new fluid.  I’ll then drain that out and refill again with the Type F.

Getting ready to start ‘er up

Things are starting to get crowded in front of the engine.  In fact the upper rad hose wants to touch the PS pump pulley.  The PS pump mount and the pump itself are going to block air flow from the flex fan somewhat.  Still there is way more open area in the engine compartment than if it was stuffed with a Studebaker wide V eight.

As you can see the PS belt is close up the the flex fan’s wide blades.  Also  the PS belt is riding just under the water pump pulley (out of sight) so we’ll have to see how that works out with the engine running.  The alternator is a Prestolite 35 amp unit that was used on the early Avanti models.  It was a spare I had for our Avanti back when we owned one.

This is our Avanti a few years after we won it in the Keystone Chapters Studebaker draw in 2002.  That’ll never happen again!

This shot was taken the day I drove the Avanti to the new owners home at the head of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.  The list of improvements and major maintenance work I did are too long to report here but, I did install PS and do over the front end in that car also.

Two years later this is what the Avanti looked like.  The new owner was rear ended and the car slewed into the ditch and rolled.  The drive had his lap belt on but still suffered a broken leg and loss of teeth.  He credits the Avanti standard feature roll bar with saving his life.

The back is no prettier either.  The frame on the drivers side is buckled forward from the force of the hit.

Getting back to the project at hand – the upper fan shroud is now in place and the rad hose bracket is holding the hose above the PS Pulley nicely.

Torquing down the A arms

But before I go to the A arms I had to finish the bearings on the left front. When I ordered the new bearings the salesperson thought I said bearing and not bearings so I ended up with one set.  A bit of a delay and not it’s time to install the second set.

I bought some nice new left hand lug nuts for drum.  I don’ t have left hand taps and dies to clean up the old studs and nuts so I bought new nuts which spin on quite well.

I didn’t show a photo of the grease seal in my earlier post.  I naturally pressed it down until it stopped on the bearing cup.  It just didn’t look right so I decided to leave it stuck up about 1/16″ this time.  The old seal was also up by about that amount.  The seal seems to seat a whole lot easier.  On the opposite side the sealing lip is tight against the cone lip and I think that is not going to be good for sealing.  The seals are cheap at $7 so I’ll buy another and put it in the other side a bit later before I torque down the wheels.

Now on to torquing the A arms.  Baby Blue is on jack stands at the rear axle.  These blocks keep the car about level with the weight fully on the front suspension.

This gives me just enough height to work on the lower A arm end bolts.  It calls for 65 lbs torque.  Easy as pie doing the rear bolts.  They’re in the open with plenty of room to swing the torque wrench. I like to use jack stands or at least leave the jack just touching for safety.  A school chum from my elementary days, Gordie Campbell, was crushed under a car before he was twenty.  Not a nice way to go – such a waste.

The front bolts are more of a problem.  They’re in behind an indent in the radiator support.  I tightened the bolts with a regular wrench until they were seated.  That left just enough room to fit a 3/8″ short socket on the bolt.  From there I needed a short wobble extension to clear the bottom of the radiator support.  I attached it to the 1/2″ torque wrench with a 12′ to 3/8″ adapter.  A bit of a setup but it got the job done.

I bought a set of wobble wrenches from Princess Auto – Chinese of course.  They seem good enough for the hobbyist.  I’ve found them handy a number of times in tight spaces.

The upper A arms call for 35 lbs torque.  Here you can just see the socket on the end bolt.  This is over the fender in the engine compartment.  I used a smaller inch pound torque wrench (set at 420 in. lbs – 12 X 35) which was easier to use in the  tight spaces.

Getting at the front bolts in the upper A arms is quite easy.  Here I’m working on the right side from between the tire and the frame.  Again with the inch pound torque wrench.

Just a note about the tires.  I replaced my earlier 205 75R15 Broadway Classics with these Toyo tires.  The Classics had a nice 1″ whitewall.  Unfortunately they don’t seem to be available in Canada any more.  I dug around a bit looking for anything with a whitewall that was bigger than a pinstripe.  I came across these but, I couldn’t get the 205 75R15 size.  These are 215 70R15 and they are about the same diameter as the 205 75 series so my speedometer should work OK. The whitewall is only 3/4″ but is still presentable I think.  I wouldn’t want these tire if I didn’t have PS.  Even the earlier skinnier 75 series were a bear to turn in a tight parking situation.  That was a big part of why I wanted to install PS.

You likely noticed that the rims are not Studebaker.  Putting bigger radials on 5″ original Studebaker rims didn’t seem like a good idea.  I have heard of stress cracking  from the increased side load when radials corner.  I picked these up from Canadian Tire.  They are Chrysler rear wheel drive Dynasty 6″ rims.  Since I use full wheel covers they are fine for me but, if you want to use the small hub caps then they are not going to work.

Next on the list is filling the rad and checking for leaks.  When that is OK then I’ll fill the PS pump and check for leaks.  When that’s OK then it’s time to start the engine – and yet again check for leaks.  I think I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel!

Delays, delays, delays and getting projects done.


It would be nice to be able to finish this job but…

Funerals, spring chores ( I did manage to use the carpet cleaner to freshen up the seats in Baby Blue), etc are all keeping me from getting on with the job.

I only have to torque up the inner A arm shaft end bolts, set the alignment, add antifreeze and check for leaks, add PS fluid and check for leaks, start and warm up the engine and check for leaks and finally torque the wheel nuts and check air pressures.  Not a lot but everything takes time.  Still I am hopeful that I’ll be on the road before too long.

My way of doing project work:  I never seemed to have enough time to do anything until I changed my way of doing things.  A friend, Gary Payne, said  something to me like “progress is made by doing something every day”. With this in mind I changed my approach so that completion of anything wasn’t the goal but rather getting something done today was.  Three things happened.  First, I found it easier to get back to work on the project since I knew exactly where I stopped and what needed to be done next.  It used to be – OK I’ve finished this part what should I start next??? Now I might  stop after putting the bearings in one drum and pick up the next time with installing the bearings on the second drum. While I’m doing that I’m thinking of what I need to do after putting the bearings on both drums – install tires and set the car down to tighten the A arm shaft end bolts. Secondly, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the size of the project.  If I had thought too much about the project work to be done this winter on Baby Blue I would have fussed about getting the work done in time for the driving season let alone for early spring.  Thirdly, I’m actually getting project done on my Studebakers as well as around the house – I apply this approach to all my little work projects.

I’ll get back to some real work soon which is more interesting I”m sure than reading my rants!

Installation wrap-up

Time to install the wheel bearings. I scraped and cleaned the bottoming surface for the bearing cup – that’s the first lip down the hole.

This is a handy tool for fine cleaning. Recognize it?  It’s a dental scraper.  You can buy automotive scrapers like this but, I prefer to get them for free.  Each time I go to the dentist’s I ask for used scrapers.  They usually have a batch lying around.  My dentist actually has others besides me who ask for these neat tools.

Talking about specialty tools – I know there are proper jigs to install bearings.  I just have never gotten around to buying a set.  Maybe for next time.  I like to use a hardwood block and a moderate sized hammer.  The trick is to keep the bearing going in squarely and not allowing it to tip too much.  Once it gets going straight it seems to slip in easy enough – at least until the wood block hits the casting.

To finish seating the cup I use an old cup.  I have already ground off a skim from the outer surface on the grinding wheel so that it won’t seize inside the casting as it pushes the new cup home.

Seating the new cup with an old cup.

Same story for the outer cup. Here the old cup is about to seat the new cup.

Time to grease the new cones.  I used to do it by hand and it was always slow and messy.  I finally bought this little tool and I’m very happy with it.

You just slip the cone over the stem and then spin the top half down until it is snug on the bearing.  Put a tube of wheel bearing lube in the grease  gun and…

A few pumps and presto the grease squirts out the bottom of the cone.

The extra grease I smear around the cup.

The cone in place and extra lube applied.  I did miss a photo of the grease seal going in place unfortunately.  I used the same block of hardwood in the same manner as I did  with the new cups, being careful that it went in square.

Some extra grease to smear around on the outer cup.

Outer cone, washer and nut ready to be installed.

A smear of grease for the spindle. Especially on the inside to help the seal slip onto it’s sealing surface.

Drum fitted, outer cone and washer in place ready for the castle nut.

Just about done.  I followed the Studebaker service manual’s procedure for tightening the nut.  Tighten until the bearings are binding on the hub then back off 1/6 of a turn or back to where the cotter pin can be fitted.  I like to put cotter pins in backwards so that they are easier to remove later if needed – and they often are!

Final install on the front end. Power steering, bigger sway bar with better mounts, new front end components and now new 11″ brakes in place.

Oh yes, here’s my plastic sheet cut up into 4 equal pieces of approximately 7-1/2″ X 13 1/3″

Next I will have to set the Champion down and torque the inner A arm clamping studs top and bottom.  From there I’ll need to set the alignment good enough to drive to the alignment shop.


Final brake assembly – finally.

The end of the never ending painting for the brakes.

This is the product I use for the brake assembly lubrication points.  I think it is likely better than white grease which I always used to use.

Re-assembly is just the reverse of disassembly.  This is for the right side.  The primary shoe (with the longer pad) is always to the front.  You can put the shoes on the car first but, I always found the lower spring a real bear to get in place later.  Oh yes, make sure you use the left hand thread adjuster on the left and the right on the right.  That way they will both expand when you pry upward with the brake adjuster tool.

This is on the left side.  The primary shoe’s clip is in place.

Now the secondary shoe’s clip is in place. and the wheel cylinder push rods are seated.  I used the brake lubricant on the shoe contact points on the backing plate, on the adjuster ends, on the wheel cylinder push rods and on the centering block at the top between the shoes.  There is a little arrow  on the centering block which should point to the front so that the curved side is facing the primary shoe.

The top springs are always a bit of a grunt.  I’m sure there is a special too for the job but, that’s something I don’t have.  I used to use a big screw driver to try and slip them over the post but it was hit and miss.  What seems to work not too bad is a small set of vice grips.  I grab the end of the hook close to the coils and …

… pull the end over the post.  Oh yes.  I had to take this spring back off because I forgot to put on the shoe retainer.  You can see it below.

Next was the install of the self adjuster.  The sequence is to install the post and bracket first. Then hook the top rod in the bracket and then snap the other end over the top post. Then hook the lower rod in the bracket and  pull up the adjuster arm on the bottom until the rod’s  lower loop slips into the slot on the adjuster arm.

Next will be the brake drums with new bearings.  This won’t happen for a day or two as the bearing I thought would fit didn’t.  New ones are on the way and I should be able to pick them up on Monday.


Wheel cylinder install – easy peezie

I didn’t say much about putting on the backing plates because it’s pretty straight forward.  That is except for trying to hold the nuts behind the plate while putting 30 lbs torque on the bolts.  The heads are recessed and it’s hard to hold a wrench on them and sockets don’t go in far enough to hold – not one of Studebakers better ideas!  Got her done finally with some thread lock on the bolts.  I use the stuff everywhere, even with lock washers in place.  Just an extra bit of security. I reduced the torque from 35 to 30 lbs to allow for the lubrication of the thread lock liquid.

I have spun  the wheel cylinder onto the end of the brake flex hose.  But before that…

I loosened the flare fitting at the top of the flex brake hose where it is fixed to the frame.  This will allow me to tighten the wheel cylinder onto the hose and then position the hose away from the frame.

Before tightening the hose to the wheel cylinder I removed the bleeder so it wouldn’t get damaged and bolted the wheel cylinder to the backing plate – the attaching nuts are just snug here.

With the hose tight and the wheel cylinder bolts tightened I re-installed the bleeder.

Without making any adjustments the brake hose wanted to hit the frame with the wheels turned.

By turning the flex brake line fitting where it is mounted to the frame at the top it was easy to move the brake hose away from the frame.  Then I tightened up the flare fitting.

And its job done – at least this part.  Believe it or not I’m still painting parts.  The self adjuster parts should be nice and dry for tomorrow’s assembly work.