Springs & shocks

New Gabriel shocks that will fit the new bottom spring plate. New mounting bolt in place as well. One of the old shock mounts was just about rotted off so good that new ones are going in.

Shocks mounted to the body. A chore getting up into the frame cross member that holds the upper shock.

Shackle back in place with the spring attached.

New spring in place. A bit tricky getting the front in place. They fit in different locations depending on the side. The left goes in the upper holes and the right in the lower holes or vice versa – something to watch when replacing springs. The rope kept the rear end from falling off to one side.

Base plate installed with the old U bolts. They took the 65 ft lbs of torque just fine. New rubbers above and below the spring. Shocks in place.

The stands have been moved from the frame to the rear axle. This loads the spring as it the wheels were on and the car on the ground. I can now torque the spring and shackle bolts to the required 55 ft lbs and the rubber in the three bushings of each spring will be in a neutral position.

Next will be the fitting of the rear anti-sway bar. Should be interesting trying to get it on the frame in the correct location as the frame doesn’t appear to be pre-drilled.

Painting and more hiccups

Painting up all the bits and pieces to mount the new springs. Scrape, clean, sandblast, one coat of rust primer and two coats of satin black rust paint – some boring!

Frame scraped, wire brushed and cleaned with paint thinner. Ready for a coat of paintable liquid undercoating.

Looking a lot better with a coat of undercoating.

New spring pads to replace old units. Should be 4 old ones but two must have been dropped along the way. When I got the car it had lowering blocks so it was messed with at one time. These will need about 1/8″ cut from each side so that the u bolts will sit close enough the the spring to fit into the bottom plate.

Shock mount hiccup. I’m planning on installing a rear stabilizer bar. The shock plates turned out to be different. Actually the shocks on the ’66 Commander are of a different configuration than those used on the earlier ’63 Lark from which I saved the rear sway bar. Now I need to find two new shocks and the mounting hardware to fit to the new spring mount.

Spring pain

This is the setup I used to extract the bushings from the frame. It is a length of grade 5 threaded rod. I have welded nut on the end to keep it from turning as I screw another nut up against a 1″ deep socket. The threaded rod takes an 11/16″ nut and just fits in the bushing. The tool on the end of the wrench is a tool extender I picked up from Lee Valley. It is magnetized to hold onto the wrench and give about an extra 8″ in length.

On the inside of the frame is a 5/8″ socket with another nut behind it. The socket is slightly smaller than the outside of the bushing. By turning the nut and holding the rod from turning the bushing should be pushed out into the 1″ socket. Good concept, but I ended up stripping nuts or stretching the rod. The bushing was seized tight. Being on the drivers side it got lots of salt and snow over its 56 odd years

I decided to try and pull out the center of the bushing as a first step. Here it is starting to come out. I used a small drill to try and cut out as much of the vulcanized rubber. Actually many drills as they tended to break easily. The drill and bit were too long for the opening between the body and the frame and I couldn’t drill straight for a lot of the way around.

It took three good tries to get it out. Each time I would cut off the exposed center piece and drill as much of the rubber out as I could. I borrowed a right angle drill from a fellow Studebuddy which saved on drills 🙂

Once the center was out (the last of the rubber came out too) I used a sawsall to cut the outer casing to relieve the stress. I didn’t get it cut all the way. I was trying not to cut too far into the frame hole. With that done the 5/8″ socket pulled it out easily. I did have problems with the socket being a tad too big and not flat at the end pushing the bushing so I mounted it on my drill and spun it against the grinder wheel to get the right size and I also flattened the end.

Happily the second bushing came out as it should. It is seen above in the photo.

A slightly modified device to install the new bushings. The 5/8″ trimmed and flattened socket will push the bushing in place. I opted to also use a flat washer to be sure I was pushing evenly on the outer bushing casing. The big nut on the left is to allow the inner busing casing to extend beyond the frame.

Whew! Finally the two new frame bushings are in place.

Time to clean the frame and all the bits before installing the new springs.

New trunk corner – on to the springs.

New trunk corner patch in place. Held solid by the frame mounting bolt that is in the circular opening and lots of rivets. It will raise the rest of the floor pan by the thickness of the metal patch which is about 1/16″. It won’t be noticeable after the seam seal is on and everything coated with paintable undercoating. I will be cutting and fitting carpeting to the floor and trunk sides to cover all the repairs.

Before mounting the left rear fender I need to replace the springs. More easily done with the fenders off.

The four U bolt nuts. These are fine thread and I have soaked them in penetrating oil.

I don’t often get to use my air gun, this will make the removal of the U bolt nuts easier.

It removed the U bolt nuts and the shackle nuts with ease at about 150 lbs air pressure.

More parts to clean, sand blast and paint. If I have new U bolts I’ll use them, but otherwise I’ll use the old ones as long as they can come up to the proper torque.

Old springs out and new springs ready to go in. New bushings are fitted to the the new springs. I will also use new spring pads.

Now for the hard part – replacing the bushings in the frame. These have been in place for almost 60 years and are seized tight. I will try to get them out using a grade 5 threaded rod with a small socket to push the busing out and a large socket on the opposite side to receive the bushing as it slips out.

No luck at all with the threaded rod method.. In the end I used a smaller socket to try and remove the inner part of the bushing, but the rubber still grips after all these years. Best I could do was get it out about a 1/3 of the way. Tried twisting it to break the rubber bond, but now luck with that. What to do next?????

Trunk corner repair part III

Patches cut out and test fitted.

I like this product from Carquest. Goes on with a brush and will take paint once dry.

Patching area coated

Patches coated. The large patch has an L shape that fits behind the inside trunk patch between it and the body for a good secure corner.

Underside of the inside trunk patch.

Patches in place. Arm a bit stiff after putting is so many rivets, but I want the result to as strong as the original. These are all steel rivets so corrosion won’t occur from two different metals as happens with aluminum rivets..

Trunk corner repair part 2 plus…

Parts getting painted with the new trunk corner on the right. I normally give each part three coats: one primer and two colour coats. I’m using CTC Tremclad rust paint. That way I don’t have to remove all the surface rust. Just the top flaky stuff. One more coat for the corner patch and it’ll be ready to install.

Bottom edge on the left side also needs attention. The spot welds held up but the areas in between rusted away.

Patch test fitted with a hole to mount the fender brace. Galvanized steel.

Good time to remove the undercoating that was under the original patch panel. The line of holes is what is being covered by the patch in the photo above. The garage floor can be seen through the trunk on the left where the rusted metal has been removed for the new patch now being painted.

Scraping away the old undercoating in the trunk revealed another hole to be patched. It was hidden behind a glob of undercoating. Shouldn’t be too too hard to fix.

Next will be the install of the two patches and the rear corner panel.

Trunk corner repairs

Starting repairs on the back end. This is the drivers side and that side always seems to get more salt damage than the passenger side. I used some small patches to fix the damage to the upper corner. The bottom corner and lower edge will also need patches, but before that can happen…

The inside trunk damage is nasty. A chunk of the floor will need to be replaced before the corner repairs can be done.

Using my trusty and dangerous electric zip cut I’ve cut out the bad section. A bit tricky as the top right cut passes over the gas tank. Also lots of sparks. The gas cap is in place and the vent tube has been blocked. There is no fuel smell in the area.

This is a brand new original factory complete trunk pan. I picked it up at an SDC international meet some years back as I knew I would need it one day to repair the trunk. A pity to cut it but…

…cut it I did. Here’s the patch panel laid over the hole. I will actually slip it under the cut out so that the trunk floor is resting on top of the panel. The patch panel includes the corner support which is bolted to the frame.. there is about a 1/2″ over lap between the patch and the rest of the floor panel.

Next – instead of watching the paint dry I’ll do some other patching.

Left inner wheel well and backwards

Working my way up the inner fender. Putting enough metal behind the fender flange to allow for screw attachment later. Not pretty, but the metal overlaps to shed the water down and away.

Using black asphalt under coating to seal everything up. I’ll add the finishing coat once the fender is attached.

Some of the patches needed quite a bit of shaping and cutting to fit snugly. This is the top piece for the left wheel well.

Off to the back to start the patching there. Lots of fiddly bits of galvanized steel.

Between times parts need to be cleaned, sandblasted and painted before the time comes to do the install. Don’t want to be held up waiting for paint to dry!

Repairs continue

Top body damage where the fender attaches.

New top plate to give something for the fender to attach to – instead of bolting the fender to the front edge I’ll be using screws to attach to the patch panels. Upper center is one of the L shaped patches for the attachment of the fender top at the front.

the second L shaped patch for the top fender attachment. Not too many rivets as the fender will be pulling out on the patch.

Damage on the lower end of the body.

Time to put the fender in place to check fitment. I then put the door back on.

With the fender in place it appeared that I needed to remove a chunk from the back of the rocker panel where if fits under the rear fender to get it to fit high enough for the rocker to along the edge of the floor pan.

But once the door was back on the rocker panel needed to be lowered to fit under the door. Thankfully I didn’t throw out the piece I had removed. Now it’s welded back in place.

With the fender in place it’s a good time to fit the inner fender patches. Asphalt undercoating behind the patch.

First patch in place. I’m using some stainless steel I have for the patch. The next patch will fit over the bottom one to help keep water from getting behind. I will screw the front flange of the fender to the patches. The flange is visible on the left of the photo. I will coat the stainless in Pro Form brush on rubberized undercoating to keep it from standing out.

Decisions, decisions…

Just doesn’t seem right to scrap one of the last of the Studebakers. It is a Canadian model and one of only 2045 built in the Hamilton plant. So the decision has been made to plunge on ahead unless something along the way brings it all to a stop.

First things first. Starting at the front and working back. I’ve placed an L shaped patch panel of galvanized steel behind the rocker panel mounting flange. Held in tight and riveted in place using steel rivets.

Ditto for the back. serious loss at the rear, but doable I believe. I’ve left any good metal in place so that I have a pattern to work from.

Onward after this – one step at a time. Fortunately all the work on the right side will help me in doing the left.