King pins and other bits

The king pin in the center is a new 1551414. I don’t have the matching pin for a set and I can’t find 1551415 on the major Stude vendor websites. I have kept it over the years as an example for machine shops to sleeve damaged units. I measured the sizing of the upper thrust bearing surface, the bushing surface next down and the lower bearing surface. The sizing on the new unit is 1.250″ for the top bushing and bearing surfaces and 1.125 for the lower bearing surface. The used set shown on either side of the sample are not far off at 1.2495 and 1.125 (barely noticeable wear). However one pin has pitting damage in the bushing area.

Here are the king pins removed from the ’66. They have been cleaned and sandblasted. I have decided to go with the originals. They have .005 wear at the top and next to nothing at the bottom. The top bushing fits quite snugly and will be more so once squeezed into the spindle.

More tedious work cleaning, sandblasting and painting the small parts. All part of the job and so must be done. Many of the small parts I’ll install and paint after.

Getting the sand blasting done one piece at a time – more boring work! I’m not doing the spindle tie rod arms as I will be installing the quick steering arms when I get them.

Scrape, soak and clean

I find scraping parts is best done this way. Keeps most of the caked on crud off the bench. My favourite tool is an old paring knife. For all the scraping I’ve done it still has a bit of an edge! For curves and corners it works great.

These lower a arms are the worst. I found it is best to remove the zerks before taking out the bushings. For those not familiar, the zerk is a tapered pin that holds the knuckle to the lower pin – see a couple of photos down.

These took the most time. As each part was scrapped I immersed it in the parts washer fluid and left it until the next part was scrapped. The remaining grease came off easily in most cases.

a few of the small parts cleaned up. The Zerks are the two pins at the bottom. The taper is just noticeable on the right one. I cleaned up the pins to compare to the used ones I have. Hopefully it will show that my used parts are OK.

All the scraping and cleaning is done – except for all the nuts, bolts, etc. Next they will go to the sand blaster to clear off any loose rust. I’ll be using Tremclad rust paint for some of the parts and gravel guard for others. I also cleaned up the old king pins to check against my good used units.

In the meantime my order has gone it to Studebaker Intl for some replacement parts and a few other bits of fun stuff.

Tear down complete

Left side all done except for the upper A arm. There will be some frame cleaning and painting needed.

Taking the lower A arms off isn’t too bad once you get the right tools! the 5/8″ frame bolts are a bit big and it is impossible to get a box end wrench on some of them. I have a 5/8″ socket that I had ground off a few thousandths for another job and it came in handy here. Ditto getting a ratchet or power bar in place so I used this setup. With that on top and an impact wrench they came off easily.

Here’s something I haven’t seen before. They are shims that fit between the A arm inner shaft mounting ears and the frame. I found two beneath the left frame (both bolts) and one on the right. It appears that these will allow for more king pin positive caster. Not surprising as I’ve had trouble in the past getting enough positive caster. I even have a shop tool to bend the king pins to adjust the camber or caster when not enough adjustment was built in the upper A arm pin and bushings.

Here I’ve marked the upper A arm pin and arm to get them back in the same place. It is possible to install the pin upside down which will alter the king pin camber.

I’ve also marked all the parts from the left side with three dots. I’d like to replace everything in its original location.

Right side ready to loosen the lower A arm and remove the spring. No dropping the spring this time 🙂

Once again I took a photo to get the spring squeezed right before installation. I have also marked the top of springs with dots in the shape of a ‘T’ to get them back in the same way.

Tear down complete. Lots to scrape, clean and paint before re-assembly! As usual I’ve bagged all the bolts etc and marked what they came off on the bag. Much easier than spending time trying to figure out what bolt goes where when it may be a month or more before I do the install.

Tear down part 4

I have a set of Gabriel shocks (#800694) which fit ’57 to ’66 models. I could use the old shock rubbers as they are not too bad, but I think I’ll try to get some new ones. I’ll reuse the rubber retainers, nuts and pal nuts. I’ve only seen pal nuts on connecting rod bolts so it was a surprise to find them on the top of the shocks. I imagine the shocks are as they came from the factory. The Commander only had 40k miles on the odometer when I got it.

I loosened the lower king pin nut till it was flush with the bottom of the king pin and then gave the bottom of the king pin a smack. It moved up out of the lower knuckle easily, but not all the way. Everything is floppy by this time, so not easy to drive the king pin up out of the knuckle. Looking for a puller I found that my pitman arm puller worked nicely to push the king pin free of the lower knuckle

After removal of the king pin and spindle I needed to lower the A arm to get the spring out. the A arm bolt tension on the bushings kept the arm from being pressed down. So I removed one bolt and when I broke the second blot free the arm dropped to the floor and the spring bounced across the floor. Fortunately the spring compressor held. If for some reason it didn’t the energy released by the spring could have done some real damage! I’ll be sure and support the A arm when I do the other side.

This photo will be used to position the compressor when I re-compress the spring for installation. Unfortunately my new vice isn’t deep enough to grab the spring in this position for removal of the compressor. I managed to get it done by mounting the spring on an angle. I’ll need to use a bigger vice to re-compress the springs.

The spring number is stamped on the edge of the flattened bottom and top coils. The number is 526122 which I was happy to find is a HD unit for the ’66 V8 Models. This likely explains why the heavier Studebaker motor with AC & PS didn’t lower the front significantly. The springs will be sand blasted and painted before installation. I will also use new spring pads on the bottom. The ’66 Commander doesn’t call for upper pads.

I’d be happy to hear any comments or suggestions. I can be reached at

Tear down part 3

Sway bar disconnected and left in place. Hopefully it won’t get in the way too much. I try to disconnect as little as possible when doing repairs. There is enough to do in the repairs themselves without adding unnecessary work.

A great little tool to open tie rod ends. Much better than the ‘pickle fork’ I used to use. This unit doesn’t damage the protective rubber ball joint caps and it is better than hammering a pickle fork with a big hammer. Princess auto again 🙂

With everything still tight and in place I am loosening the bushings on the upper and lower outer pins. Just a turn or so to ease later removal.

My spring compressor. Another Princess Auto jem. I’ve used it a couple of times before and it works quite well. I remove the center threaded rod and get the coil grippers in place and then re-install the center rod. I’ve added a spacer to the bottom to keep the center rod nut below the lower A arm making it easier to access and to prevent it going so far above the upper gripper that it hits the shock mount in the frame.

Here is the spring compressed and ready for removal. The trick I found was to be sure and get the spring grippers as far up and as far down as possible. Even so it will just squeeze the spring enough for removal – and later replacement.

Part tear-down is always quick. Installation will take at least four times as long!

Tear down part 2

Found three more seals so OK there. Also found two NOS cork seals for the bottom of the king pins. They will need to be soaked in warm water for 15 or so minutes to soften and expand them to the original size. I’ll install them wet as they shrink back quickly if left to dry. In an earlier job I tried using rubber O rings instead. They fit well, but I couldn’t get the grease to ooze out past them – so not sure if the grease was getting to the bottom bushing and bearing. With the cork seals grease will get past them when it gets past the bottom bearing and bushing.

Shocks don’t look so good. One appears to be leaking and the rubber supports for the bottom brackets are disintegrating. Also the rubber stops that keep the upper A arm from traveling too far downward are also in bad shape.

Removing the bottom bolts was a breeze as Studebaker used good steel even in their bolts and the bolts are special made to fit in square holes. The uppers came off quite easily with vice grips to hold the top of the shock shaft from turning.

Checking the job parts

Found most of the parts. New bushings and bearings for the king pins. Two good used king pins – the machine shop said there was no need to sleeve them as the wear was minimal. I hope so. I ‘ll find out when they are in place. All new bushings for the upper and lower A arms. I had one new 531190 pin and I found a good used second. I’ll need some rubber seals for them. I found two good used 531192 pins. I replaced the bushings on each end with new ones I had. that will help make up some for any wear.

I’m missing a pair of lower king pin gaskets – I think I have a couple in my stash. I have to order two new flex brake hoses. At the same time I’ll order a set of quick steering arms for the front spindles. They will make the steering more responsive. I had good luck with them on my ’54 Champion w/PS. I’m going to stick with the existing springs. The car sits fairly level even though the 289 is a heavier engine – plus the addition of A/C. I’ll just need to order 2 new spring pads for the lower A Arms.

And so it begins

First to loosen all the wheel nuts – front and back. I will be rotating the wheels when they go back on the car. An extendable power bar from Princess Auto some years ago has proved to be a very useful tool.

My heavy duty jack stands. I need to use wooden bottom rests to keep them from digging into the wood floor ( I really needs to give the floors another coat of Old Pickup Blue!).

I use a wooden block between the jack pad and the underside of the steering bellcrank tower. I put it up to its full 20 inch height to get the most room to work. When the car rests on the front jack stands the weight of the engine, etc made it tip forward a bit.

This seemed a good place to put the Jack stands. Just behind the bat wing cross member. I put a piece of cardboard between the jack and the frame. I believe it removes some of the tendency of slippage from metal to metal contact.

Nicely perched on four jack stands.

Tools I use to remove brakes. Adjustable pliers to remove the dust cap and loosen the spindle nut. Needle nose pliers to remove the cotter pin and small vice grips to remove the springs. And a tub to hold all the parts.

Down to the backing plate. I will separate the wheel cylinder and hose from the backing plate as I intend on replacing the hoses with new ones and checking the wheel cylinder internals before putting it all back together. It is possible to remove the whole brake setup intact on the backing plate which would save time if it was a flat rate job.

Everything for the right front in a tub. Ditto for the left side.

Next I’ll continue with the sway bar, shock removal,tie rod detachment….

Bench cleared!

Time to stick the Alien tape to the cap window. I’ll use the alcohol to clean the window lip to ensure a good stick.

The rolls of Alien tape are only 10′ which is a bit short for one window. So I start the tape at one end of the lower edge so that there will not be any seams along the top edge. You can see how nicely it wraps around the corner even thought it is 1″ wide.

There is only a short strip left – between the scissors and the tape roll.

When done I have two strips of tape with backing from the top and bottom. I’ve rolled these up and saved for a job needing a narrow piece of double backing tape – waste not want not, but I end up with lots of bits I often forget about!

Second window fitted. This time I marked the cap at the top center point of the window and so was able to get the window in without assistance.

Window in without the inside trim on.

Looks much better with the inside trim in place 🙂

Cap window project complete!

Fully overhauled Duro K255 piston pump – done!

Bench cleared. Time to start the front end redo on the ’66 Commander 🙂 🙂 🙂

Pre-Stude work projects wrapping up!

Best laid plans…. I decided to buy some metal screening. The screening I did on the opposite side was damaged a tiny bit during the install of the inside trim strip. So I thought why not use metal. Well as it turns out when you push the spline in the window groove the sharp edge of the groove neatly cuts the stiffer screening. Oh well.

By now I’ve spent too much money on screening. So I checked my house stock and found I had some nice light colour nylon screening. Went in a charm – I’m getting used to fitting after so may tries. Being an amateur restorationist I find I am often doing things for the first time. And if it is at all complicated I have to go through a ‘learning curve’. Sadly after the job is done I’m unlikely to have to redo it and in time I forget the tricks learned.

Pump’s all together and has final priming. A coat of blue and it’s off the bench 😉