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Thread: New Dog Hauler - '55 Commander Conestoga

  1. #1
    Golden Hawk Member
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    New Dog Hauler - '55 Commander Conestoga

    Picked up in Oklahoma and on its way. Here's a teaser for the time being.

    I've always been a sucker for the early wagons. Tough to resist one with factory paint still on it.

    Last edited by mbstude; 11-19-2017 at 01:49 PM.

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    Golden Hawk Member rockne10's Avatar
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    And that's one of the green colors I don't object to.
    Looking forward to more details!

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    image.jpgLucky dogs! Mine love riding in Studebakers too, if all my vehicles are parked together they will all choose the Hawk to line up for a ride!!
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    President Member 53commander's Avatar
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    Thanks for the teaser Matt, cant wait to see the whole thing

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    Matt, at least tell Us what Year 54 ? 55 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mbstude View Post
    Picked up in Oklahoma and on its way. Here's a teaser for the time being.

    I've always been a sucker for the early wagons. Tough to resist one with factory paint still on it.

    Joseph R. Zeiger

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    Silver Hawk Member 52-fan's Avatar
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    Was that car from the Tulsa area?


    "In the heart of Arkansas."
    Searcy, Arkansas
    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
    1952 2R pickup

  7. #7
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    Yep, it came from Tulsa. I bought it off of Bob Whiten. Second series '55 Commander, 259 with DG auto (if I do keep it long term, I'll do an overdrive swap). I think it may also be a Vernon built car, but I haven't dug into that too deep.

    It showed up this morning. The original paint is oxidized all over, but I went over a small area with polishing compound and it shined up like factory paint usually does. I'll get it cleaned up and detailed, and as one of the guys I work with says, "It's good enough for who it belongs to.”

    Engine seems to be a strong runner. Good oil pressure and sounds healthy. I have a WCFB at a friend's shop getting a rebuild for a 4 barrel swap, and have all the parts gathered to mount it. Have a Turner dual master setup ready to go. Lots of work ahead, but it should be fun.

    Last edited by mbstude; 02-22-2018 at 05:59 AM.

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    President Member 62champ's Avatar
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    Looks like a beauty - and this post is not complete until there is an actual photo with a canine (or multiples) actually going for a ride...

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    NIce wagon! Congrats!
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 62champ View Post
    Looks like a beauty - and this post is not complete until there is an actual photo with a canine (or multiples) actually going for a ride...
    The dog has ridden in plenty of Studebakers; even a few laps around the South Bend Proving Ground track in an R2 Hawk. She's 10 years old this month, so I figured I'd get an appropriate Studebaker dog hauler to celebrate.


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    Nice wagon, Matt. It should make a nice ride.

    Bob
    , ,

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    Looks really nice, I was hoping it be a 55. You sure do come up with some nice finds Matt.
    Joseph R. Zeiger

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    If your wagon's S/N starts with 83 it is a South Bend assembled car, 88 for Vernon and 89 for Hamilton.
    Gary L.
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    If your wagon's S/N starts with 83 it is a South Bend assembled car, 88 for Vernon and 89 for Hamilton.
    It’s a Vernon car then.

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    Will you be adding back-up lights?
    KURTRUK
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    President Member ddub's Avatar
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    I have a friend who would say "It might be too good for you."
    Very nice.
    Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

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    * Formerly owned

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbstude View Post
    It’s a Vernon car then.
    There were less than 8000 1955 Commanders assembled in Vernon. There probably were very few of those that were wagons. The appropriate Fred K. Fox article probably has the breakdown.

    There were 11,685 1955 wagons out of 133,827 1955 cars. With the same ratio, which might not be valid, there would be 699 Vernon wagons.
    Gary L.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtruk View Post
    Will you be adding back-up lights?
    Probably not, those always looked like an afterthought on the Conestogas.

    I bought the digital Turning Wheels archive. I’ll have to dig up the Fred Fox article.

  19. #19
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    Gave it a bath and got started on polishing the paint. We'll see how it looks tomorrow after that part is done. Fiddled with the carb enough so it would stay running and drove it around the yard. Brakes are next on the list.


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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    Looks good!
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    Polished and waxed the paint and got it nice enough for me. The V in the grille was broken, so I swapped it for a nice used one, and installed NOS taillight and front parking light lenses.

    The heater, defroster, wipers, horns, fuel and temp gauge are all inoperable. Charging system is not charging. Exhaust system is rusted out in a couple of places. Engine and transmission both need to be resealed and need new mounts. Control arm bushings and shocks are worn out. Brakes are dangerous.

    Should keep me busy for a while.





    Last edited by mbstude; 11-12-2017 at 05:10 PM.

  22. #22
    President Member 62champ's Avatar
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    Looks great Matt - even sitting still it is something else. Is the interior in good shape as well?

    To be in such good shape, did it just sit for an extended period of time to have so many things wrong with it?

    Best of luck and keep the photos coming - maybe even a video or two...

  23. #23
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    The interior is too nice to redo, but I did order new carpet to replace the rubber mat and I need to have the front seat reupholstered as it’s coming apart at the stitching.

    I don’t think it’s been driven in a few years, and was stored under a carport instead of an enclosed garage. I think it’s from lack of use more than anything.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbstude View Post
    The interior is too nice to redo, but I did order new carpet to replace the rubber mat and I need to have the front seat reupholstered as it’s coming apart at the stitching.

    I don’t think it’s been driven in a few years, and was stored under a carport instead of an enclosed garage. I think it’s from lack of use more than anything.
    I don't have any good information on your interior, other than what you just said. It seems like you could get a tailor/shoemaker (depending on material) to repair your interior, rather than to have it "reupholstered".
    Gary L.
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    I don't have any good information on your interior, other than what you just said. It seems like you could get a tailor/shoemaker (depending on material) to repair your interior, rather than to have it "reupholstered".
    The front seat is worn enough that I don't think it'd last too long if I tried to stitch it back together, and the foam is crumbling and falling out the bottom. There's a local upholstery shop that Stephen has used for his cars and they do nice work. They may not be able to match my seat material exactly, but I think they can get it close enough.

    Luckily, the rest of the interior is in pretty good shape.


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    Silver Hawk Member bezhawk's Avatar
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    auto - Gale avanti 3 copy.jpgYep, pups and Studes go good together.
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    Beautiful, Matt. One wonders if there aren't any better original '55 wagons out there. I sure haven't seen any!
    Bill Pressler
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    (formerly Greenville, PA)
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    All are in Australia now

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    Today seemed like a good day to adjust the valves. With just over 70K miles, they were a little noisier than they should be. I ended up pulling the rocker shafts, disassembled them and cleaned the insides with a bore brush and installed new end plugs, installed new valve stem seals, adjusted the valves, and finished it off with repainted valve covers and new decals.

    To be "correct", this engine should have silver valve covers and air filter assembly. Silver is my least favorite color, so those parts are getting painted black instead.

    Went ahead and put in new plugs and wires while I had them off. The oil pressure flex hose broke when I bumped it, so a new stainless one from Jim Turner replaced it.



    Last edited by mbstude; 11-18-2017 at 04:44 PM.

  29. #29
    President Member 62champ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbstude View Post
    The oil pressure flex hose broke when I bumped it, so a new stainless one from Jim Turner replaced it.
    Not sure why anyone would go with anything else - next innovation would be internal stainless with an "original" rubber exterior...

    Looking great.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by 62champ View Post
    Not sure why anyone would go with anything else - next innovation would be internal stainless with an "original" rubber exterior...

    Looking great.
    That's what Jim's are. Braided stainless with a black plastic coating. Looks original at first glance.

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    President Member tsenecal's Avatar
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    It's a good thing you bumped it while working on it vs hitting a bump later , and having it fail going down the road. Great looking car. I'm jealous.

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    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=mbstude;1083217]
    To be "correct", this engine should have silver valve covers and air filter assembly. Silver is my least favorite color, so those parts are getting painted black instrad.
    /QUOTE]
    Matt, welcome to the dark side. Next you'll be installing a belly button motor in it. <G>
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Forrester View Post
    Matt, welcome to the dark side. Next you'll be installing a belly button motor in it. <G>
    Nah, I like the Stude engines too much. And I might lose my key to the shop if I tried that.

    Replaced the front bumper this morning with a nicer used one. I think it's from a GT Hawk; has 6 bolt holes versus 10. Added a tag bracket and 1955 Alachua county (where I live) license plate that I found on ebay.



    While I was at it, I put on an NOS rear bumper and NOS taillight assemblies. The taillights are for a '53 sedan, but I like the little chrome bars on the lenses.

    Last edited by mbstude; 11-19-2017 at 04:31 PM.

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    Here's the build sheet. Everything matches up except for the power brakes; there's no sign of the car ever having a Hydrovac setup.


  35. #35
    President Member 62champ's Avatar
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    That Saginaw green must have been pretty popular in 1955 - 15 years ago, my cousin would have given you an early '55 Commander sedan that he had picked up for almost nothing because the previous owner was going to crush it. It was Saginaw green, 3 sp/OD, and something like 45K original miles. Eventually he traded it for some work on another of his Studebakers.

    I did not realize signal light were still an option in '55

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by 62champ View Post
    That Saginaw green must have been pretty popular in 1955 - 15 years ago, my cousin would have given you an early '55 Commander sedan that he had picked up for almost nothing because the previous owner was going to crush it. It was Saginaw green, 3 sp/OD, and something like 45K original miles. Eventually he traded it for some work on another of his Studebakers.

    I did not realize signal light were still an option in '55
    I'd like to have that today. A 3 speed overdrive swap is on the "someday" list.

  37. #37
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    Been busy the last couple of days and the box of new parts is getting lighter. No pictures, but none of this stuff is too exciting anyway.

    Things that have been done:

    New water pump, radiator hoses, thermostat, and fan belt.

    New transmission mounts and U-joints.

    Dual master cylinder conversion done, with Jim Turner's bracket and a new AMC master cylinder. New NiCopp lines front and rear.

    Should be able to get the shoes, wheel cylinders, and rubber lines replaced tomorrow, and the system bled and adjusted.

    The rebuilt WCFB should be in the mail to me early next week. Assuming there's no hangups on the brake job tomorrow, next weekend it may get a 4 barrel swap.
    Last edited by mbstude; 11-24-2017 at 06:23 PM.

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    Brakes are done. New shoes, wheel cylinders, and rubber lines all the way around. Someone not too long ago put 4 NOS brake drums on it, they still have the part number stenciled on the outside and looked brand new inside. The guy I bought the car from said he never did anything to it, so it must've been the owner before him. Either way.. A very pleasant surprise.

    Pulled the axle shafts, greased the bearings, and replaced the inner and outer grease seals. Did the same for the front wheel bearings.

    Got it all together, adjusted the shoes, and bled the air out just as the sun was setting. Drove it around the yard a bunch of times and did a lot of panic stops.. It stops straight, easy, and good enough to put your head through the windshield.

    That's it for this weekend.. More later.


  39. #39
    President Member 62champ's Avatar
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    So with the "new" drums, does that mean the disc conversion is on hold?

    The first thing my father did in 1961 with his '53 Commander Starlight and my Uncle did with his '52 Commander hardtop in 1958 (or so) was to go to a local wrecking yard and pull the brakes off '54 or later Stude's and replaced the originals on those two vehicles.

    Did you take the plunge and go Dot 5 or stay with the conventional?

    Keep up the great work and I am patiently saving up my data for a couple Youtube videos

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by 62champ View Post
    So with the "new" drums, does that mean the disc conversion is on hold?

    Did you take the plunge and go Dot 5 or stay with the conventional?
    While I think the pre-'54 car and half-ton truck brakes leave a bit to be desired.. I've always felt the 54-66 V8 car brakes were great, as long as everything is in good shape.

    A few months back, I bought the front disc and dual MC setup from Jim for a C-Cab truck. When I decided to mothball that project and hunt down a nice Conestoga, Jim was nice enough to swap the truck parts out for car parts. I had no plans to convert a car to discs, but since I'd already paid him, I asked him to send the parts instead of giving a refund.

    So, if anyone wants a car front disc brake setup (just the brackets and hardware, no rotors or calipers)... I'll make you a deal on it.

    I've never had a bad experience using Dot 3, so that's what I went with.

    I've been following your saga with your Champ truck. Good to see another Stude project being worked on, there aren't enough people posting project threads. Keep up the good work.
    Last edited by mbstude; 11-25-2017 at 09:02 PM.

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