Tight fit for the PS ram cylinder

This is the ram cylinder.  All set and ready to install.  If only the frame was pre-drilled for the mount.  I installed a similar PS system in an Avanti and the frame was already pre-drilled at the factory which made the ram install a lot easier.

Here’s a shot of the area where the ram has to be installed.  The bottom of the rad frame is on the left and the front cross member is on the right.  The big spiral electrical cover about in the center is a result of my elimination of the spaghetti connections on the fan shroud.  It will have to be relocated.  Maybe hung from the bottom of the fan shroud.  Just to the right you can see the fuel line curving around the cross member.

While digging around on the web for some help locating the ram mount on the frame I came across this photo of an installed ram on what I believe is a Lark.  You can see that the ram is squeezed between the sway bar mount and the front cross member.  Since I planned to also upgrade the front sway bar to the newer setup this might help in fitting the ram.

Here’s my left sway bar bracket from a donated unit out of a late model GT Hawk


Here’s a shot of the body mount bolts I will use to install the left bracket.  The front bolt is just ahead of the electrical wire cover and the rear will be the left of the two in the center of the photo.

I have test mounted the bracket using a new longer grade 5 bolt to replace the shorter rear most bolt. The front bolt was long enough.  As you can see the space between the mount and the front cross member is quite narrow – it isn’t as bad as the photo makes it but you get the idea.  As it turns out the fuel line is also in the way and will have to be re-bent  to open up the area for the ram.

I test mounted the ram and the fuel line is definitely a problem.  Next I’ll remove the front section of the fuel line and try to bend it so that it is out of the way of the ram.

Off to our Atlantic Canada Chapter AGM tomorrow so I it may be a couple of days before I can get back to the project.

I’ll be glad to hear any comments.  Just click on the heading at the top and a comment box will appear at the bottom of the item.


Pitman arm joy & A arm issues


As things turned out The pitman arm that correctly fits the Saginaw S box’s shaft placed the arm too far forward when the steering wheel was at the center point.  The reach rod is shown sitting on top of the control valve which is where it ended up with the bellcrank in the center position – no way it was going to fit the control valve.  I puzzled this for some time.  If only I could move the pitman arm back to the vertical position ( the photo doesn’t show the forward position very well.)  With four alignment bumps the pitman arm would go too far back if I moved it to the next slot – 90 degrees.  I looked at the old pitman arm again.  Well I had one of those light bulb moments where I said to myself – what was I thinking or better said, how could I be so stupid!  When I had tried the arm I had reversed it and I was trying to fit the narrow side on the pitman arm shaft.  So of course when I tried the correct side it slipped right on.
Now without the alignment bumps the pitman arm could be rotated back to the vertical position which allowed the reach rod to fit and the bellcrank to be in the center spot.  What a relief!  There must be some differences between the later steering Saginaw S boxes on Hawks equipped with PS.  All Hawk style bodies use the same reach rod and bellcrank setup.  I was fortunate to have a pitman arm without the alignment bumps that fit and allowed me to move the arm rearward.

Here’s a shot of the control valve apart. It seems to get easier each time I do a reassembly.  Especially when all the parts are clean.

Here’s the control valve in place with the pitman arm slightly back and the reach rod in place.




And here is the bellcrank in the correct position with the reach rod test fitted.  All that remains now is to torque everything into place.  Then it’s on to fitting the ram.  The ’54s didn’t use a ram type of PS so the frame isn’t drilled for the ram mounting bracket.


While I was trying to figure out the PS problem I thought I’d disassemble the A arms  and scrape off some gunge.  A bit fiddly getting the bushings out after all these years.  At this point the cross shafts should just slip out of the A arm – not going to happen!

With the shaft pushed all to one side you can see there is no way it was going to slip out of the A arm.  That was the left side.  I switched to the right side and cleaned it up to see if it’s shaft would slip out.  Yes it would – just.


When I matched up the arms there was almost a 1/4″ difference.


With the port-a-power I was able to bring the A arms back to where the shafts could be removed.  It was a bit touchy to spread the arms and not damage the bushing holes.

Here’s a shot of the underside of the right lower A arm.  You can see where the flange has been bent over almost flat.


Here’s the spring seat of the left side.  I have straightened a bend somewhat – it was over enough to sung up to the spring.

Here’s a shot of the underside of the left A arm.  I have also straightened a number of bends along the lower flange.



I found this flyer behind the back seat.  Seems that a previous owner was in the business of selling hides and maybe trapping.  I can only wonder if the car was taken off-road and maybe hit some rocks along the way.  Further evidence of this was a badly bent cross member under the trans when I got the car.  I had to replace that so that the clutch linkage could work properly.

This is the back of the flyer.








Well enough for now.  Time to tackle the PS ram installation.

PS – If you would like to leave me a comment or advise just click on the heading above and you will go to a page with a comments box.

PS control valve & pitman arm – phooey!

The original pitman arm is on the left.  It appears to be the same as the PS arm but, it is a few thousandths larger.  Also it has four aligning bumps that fit into slots in the pitman arm shaft.  The steering box in the ’54 is a Saginaw type S.  That box, or a version of it was also used in the ’59-’60 V8 models with PS.  So I needed a pitman arm from one of those models.  Happily I found one of those in my box of PS parts I have collected over the years from Gary Payne’s salvage yard (see more about the salvage yard below).

This is the new donor pitman arm I marked the alignment bump that is visible

This is the pitman arm I tried to use.  It has even teeth all around.



All I need do now is disassemble the used unit, clean and paint the arm and I’ll be back in business.

Looking ahead I need to clean up parts for the front end rebuild.  64 years of grunge on the A arms.  Not the fun part of restoration work but, it has to be done.  Scraping, bushing removal, de-greasing, sand blasting and finally paint and installation of new bushings.  The work will be worth it all if the squeaking stops and only the rumble of the exhaust can be heard when Baby Blue drives onto the show & shine fields.

Gary Payne’s Salvage yard

Here’s the old house at Dorchester Cape, New Brunswick.  Gary stored parts in the old house, when it was in better shape.  One room had cranks and other heavy iron, one had chrome trim, another sheet metal, another brakes, etc.  He sold parts for all makes but he had a special place for Studebakers. In the mid-’70s when Studebaker dealers were switching to other brands he purchased remaining Studebaker inventories from a number of dealerships in the Maritimes and northeastern US.   He also made a number of trips to buy car loads of parts from SASCO in South Bend.

He sold NOS parts and salvage parts up until 2000.  The yard was the only place to get local Studebaker parts.


By then the salvage cars were sunk into the ground and the exposure to the elements had destroyed much of interiors and body sheet metal.


A little while later Gary sold the remains of his inventory to me as buyers had pretty well dried up.  My plan was to put the inventory on the web and sell to Studebaker lovers everywhere.


By 2012 all that remained in Gary’s salvage yard was his Studebakers.  He decided that it was time to clear the  yard and put the land up for sale.


It was sad to see them go.  Don Preiss and me quickly collected all we could while the crushers were at work.  A number of parts and a few engines and transmissions were all we could save.  There were still many many parts that could have been saved but, it was impossible to save it all and to leave the cars to deteriorate further in the outdoors would ruin whatever was left.  The salvage yard is now gone and there have been a number of times that it would have been nice to return to the salvage yard for a needed part.

Gary helped Studebaker owners for over 25 years.  He is a valued member of the local Studebaker Club – the Atlantic Canada Chapter – and he remains our best source of Studebaker repair and maintenance information.

PS pump test install & bellcrank check

With the alternator and bracket in place it was time to check the PS pump’s fit.  It looks like the belt is touching the fan pulley but, with a bit of tension it clears the pulley by about 1/4″.  It will remain to be seen if that is enough with the engine running.  Hopefully the belt will run fairly smoothly without too much vibration up and down.  This is how the pump mounts on the ’56-’58 sedans so it wasn’t too much of a surprise to find it fitted well.  The crank pulley fits in place of the front plate between the harmonic damper and the crank bolt.

I figure that the pump will take off about 5 hp which should balance out with the 5 hp gain from the flex fan.  I have yet to install a full dual exhaust system and I may have to if I find the drain too much.  Gotta be able to cruise up hills and have power when I kick Baby Blue out of overdrive at 50 mph.

Well things are going well now.  So on to the bellcrank and bellcrank arm.  I didn’t do much with the bellcrank as I rebuilt it about 15 years ago and I’ve put less than 20k on the car.  I replaced the Torrington bearings and it has been greased regularly.  The only thing I did find is that there was a smidgen of play up and down.  So I removed the nut to check the shims.  I found two in place.  One thinner (2-3 thousandths) than the other.  So I removed the thin one and re-tightened.  Play was gone and the crank turned freely.  Things still going OK.  Now for the bellcrank arm.

I can’t be sure where I got the arm and it didn’t have a number on it.  It may well have been from a Lark that I stripped at Gary Payne’s salvage yard when he was closing down.  In any event, my luck held out and the bellcrank easily clears the pan with lots of room for the tie rod end studs and nuts.

Next it’s time to test fit the pitman arm and PS control valve.  Here’s a shot of the painted setup.  It of course was cleaned, checked and re-assembled with new seals.  It also is from a ’62-’63 Lark.  The body was quite pitted but, the casting is thick and I don’t expect any leakage.  I can’t say the same for the PS ram piston from the same car.  When I applied pressure from a port-a-power, to remove the seal,  it sprung a leak from one of the deep rust pits.  There was too many pits to try welding a patch and I was able to buy another used unit that was in better shape.  Don Preiss and I figured out the easy way to get the seals out of a PS ram using a port-a-power.  We cobbled up some fittings to allow the port-a-power to pressure one of the two ram lines.  We picked the line that drove the rod back into the cylinder and blocked the other ram line.  Works a charm.  Very little pressure needed to pop out the seal.

Power steering bracket & alternator install

   Here’s a shot of the bracket for the power steering pump.  It is originally for a ’56 to ’58 185 Sedan.  I thought at first that it would simply bolt on using the two outside front head bolts – no chance.  It would not clear the water pump.  A quick check  of the parts book showed that for sedans with PS the two mounting bolts were special studs.  These are rare little items I’m sure.  I checked my own inventory and a couple of other sources and then decided that I would have to make my own studs.  In the end I used a couple of grade 5 (three bars on the bolt head) to fashion two new studs.  It was a bit tough threading the grade 5 bolts.  I had to taper the tops on a grinder before the tap would start.  Once started I used a 18″ power bar and 1″ socket to do the work – the hand threader bar would have been hard to say the least.  Even with the bar and lots of thread cutting oil (Rapid Thread works real good if you can find it) there was lots of resistance to the cutting action.  I did manage to purchase off-the-shelf studs from a local parts shop but, they began to stretch at 40 lbs torque.  The head needs about 50 lbs torque and the new grade 5 bolts worked fine.  The original Studebaker bolts for the head were grade 5.

The next task was to fit the alternator.   this is the original bracket that I used to install a Prestolite alternator when I converted the ’54 to 12 Volts. Unfortunately there was no way a fat alternator was going to fit under a PS bracket that was designed for a 12 Volt generator setup.  I was unwilling to go with a 12 volt generator and so I checked with friend Don Preiss and he dug out a small Honda unit to test fit.  No go at all since the mounting ears were only a little narrower than the chunky Prestolite.

Another option was to try and use the original generator bracket from the ’54’s 170 motor. The bracket would only work if I modified the engine mount.  Hard to see but I had to cut out a portion from the front and drill a hole in the rear.  This was necessary to run a 3/8″ rod through the bracket to mount the much narrower alternator bracket.

Not only did the alternator fit but it just about matched up with the adjustment slot in the PS bracket.  I needed to do a couple of things to make it all happen.  I had to make up a bushing for the alternator to accommodate the smaller 3/8″ mounting rod.  To do this I drilled out a piece of 7/16 fuel line which worked very well.  Next I had to add spacers to the PS bracket to raise it enough for the alternator adjustment bolt to fit the PS bracket slot.  Even though I didn’t want to modify the PS I still had to grind off about 1/16″ from the slot top to make things fit just so. Finally I had to shim the alternator forward a bit to line up with the fan pulley.

I expect more issues as I go along but, I’ll tackle them one at a time – hopefully I won’t run into a ‘show stopper’.


’54 Winter Project

My project for the ’54 this winter is threefold – add power steering w/quick steering arms, overhaul the front suspension and instill 11″ drum front brakes to replace the original 10″ units.  I had planned to install 10′ rear drum brakes to replace the original 9″ units but, I don’t think I will have time before the driving season and spring chores start.

The first step was to remove the whole front suspension and steering setup.  The front end has been squeaking for years and always embarrassing when driving onto the field at car shows.  Also, when parking in tight spaces the manual steering was a bear even though it was very easy for normal driving and parking.  But years are catching up with me and the ‘armstrong power steering’ isn’t what it used to be.  Another bugaboo was the stopping.  I overhauled the front 10′ brakes including new drums but, still it was not easy to stop and there was no way I could lock the wheels.  I was just passable until I installed a dual master cylinder set up from Turner Brakes.  After that for some reason it became harder to stop. Our ’66 Commander has 11″ brakes and without power brakes it is a charm to stop even with the heavier V8 engine.  So hopes are that the 11″ brakes on the ’54 will do the trick.   Here’s a shot of the dual M/C setup.  Not too hard to plumb with the new nickle alloy brake lines. The leads going over the top lead to a HH unit.

The HH only works on the rear brakes unfortunately because of the dual master cylinder – you can only plumb into one of the 2 output lines from the M/C.

But back to the task at hand.

Here I have cleaned up as best as possible and painted with two coats of Tremclad satin rust paint.

The next step will be to install the power steering setup.

What I’m starting with

Over the past couple of years I built a ’57 185 Champion for my ’54.  I had rebuilt the ’54’s 170 a few years back and it ran really well but, the 85 HP didn’t do it on steep hills or if passing was needed.  So I built a 185 with a higher compression ’59 head, a street cam, hardened valve seats, relieved valves, dual carbs and a split exhaust.  I ended up with a bit over 9 to 1 compression so I have to run high test gas to eliminate pinging.  Other than that everything runs sweet and I have plenty of power for hills and passing.

Graham’s Studebaker Blog – Beginning

Hi all

I’m beginning a blog to track my modifications and repairs to my Studebakers – a ’54 Champion Starliner & a ’66 Commander.

Hope you find it interesting.

This blogging is all new to me so I may be a bit slow starting.


This our ’54 Champion Starliner.  It is considered a boy and is named “Baby Blue” – taken from Bob Dylan’s ‘It’s all over now Baby Blue” with hints of ‘Tangled up in blue’


This is Harold.  He is a survivor of Moncton origin.  The ’66’s first owner was Harold Strugnell who was a member of the earlier Studebaker Club – The Maritime Chapter.  We purchased Harold from now deceased Darrell Cosman and we have enjoyed driving it for the past 10 years or so.  A very dependable Studebaker V8 automatic.  Katherine and me both find it a pleasure to drive.  Soon time for some improvements.