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Thread: 57 Commander in garage for 38 years

  1. #1
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    57 Commander in garage for 38 years

    a6.jpga5.jpga1.jpga3.jpga2.jpgPhoto12151432.jpgPhoto12151431.jpgOur first Studebaker besides the rusty front fenders and lack of rear window the car appears solid underneath and the interior is not too bad, actually pretty nice.
    Can't wait to get it to our shop and start working.
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all,
    Jay

  2. #2
    President Member 53commander's Avatar
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    Great find congratulations! Welcome to the forum.

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    Silver Hawk Member Bob Andrews's Avatar
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    How lucky that somebody kept it inside, and you found it before it was pushed outside to rapidly deteriorate. Good find!
    Proud NON-CASO

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    The backglass will need to come from a 56 or 57 only 2 or 4 door sedan. They're out there. While appearing similar, 1955 is different, as is 1958.
    Last edited by kurtruk; 12-26-2014 at 12:16 AM.
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  5. #5
    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Great find! Hopefully no cats or rodents got in through the rear window.

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    Here are some photos moving the car to the shopPhoto12271226.jpgPhoto12271236.jpgPhoto12271236_1.jpgPhoto12271317.jpgPhoto12261407.jpgPhoto12271707.jpg Photo12271718.jpgThe car is in the shop. I have no keys and thought I would get into the trunk by way of the rear seat but there is a heavy paper panel that is fastened on the trunk side of the rear-shelf support and it is in such nice shape I don't want to damage it. I didn't have enough time to do anything serious, I didn't lift the hood yet since it got to the shop. I vacuumed up the rear glass pieces and did a quick cleaning of the interior looking for keys. Today I get out my collection of ground down hacksaw blades to try and pick the trunk lock.Photo12271606.jpg This is the only key I found, I should have written the number on the key while at the shop but didn't, will get that today, anyhow does this key look like anything a 57 Studebaker key should look. My shop and computer are about 4 miles apart, it is frustrating when I get to either place and discover I forgot something.
    Thanks and I wish everyone a blessed and happy New Year.
    jay

  7. #7
    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Since that key says GAS on it, I'd say that's a clue that it's for a locking gas cap. However, it may still work in your trunk lock. I have found the trunk locks used on 57-64 Hawks to be extremely easy to pick. I often substitute one key for another in opening either of the 62 or 63 GT's trunks here; I can open them with the ignition keys, glove compartment keys, or trunk keys. Try any key you have for the Stude, and jiggle it a bit in the lock. Unless the lock is disconnected from the linkage inside the trunk, you'll probably be able to pick it. I'd start with that gas cap key.

  8. #8
    President Member Nox's Avatar
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    I don't know how it's supposed to be on a -57 but my cardboard piece is in front of the steel that's behind the rear seat, seems practical to me too...
    & even thou it's a 4-door sedan just as yours it's a -55 & ofcourse the clamps/clips are on the front side.

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    Nice find. I am really starting to like the 56-58's. I never paid much mind to them before. Maybe one in my future someday...

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone I got the trunk open in about a minute by picking it and found the fourth hubcap and jack and spare but no keys. There is no locking gas cap I was thinking that the blank needed for whatever key was being cut happened to have GAS stamped on it. I've seen Mack trucks with keys stamped Briggs & Stratton. I tried a few old Chrysler product keys in the ignition but those blanks must be very different as none would begin to go in.
    Yesterday I only played around with some polish, we had a wedding to attend last night and didn't want to mess the hands up too bad. Today the puller comes out to see what lurks behind the drumsPhoto12311209.jpgPhoto12311451.jpgPhoto12311459.jpgPhoto12311459_1.jpg I used the 38 year-old masking tape as a divider of what was polished and what wasn'tPhoto12311458.jpgIt isn't looking too bad, My intentions are only to make it presentable and driveable.Photo12271637.jpgHere is a photo of the paper panel I didn't want to damage.

    A dreary day Had to put them away wet Dec 6 2011.jpgHere are some of our other cars, all drivers, but I seem to be more excited about getting the Studebaker on the road than any of the previous cars.
    ya.jpgz.jpgzaa.jpgThis is what some elbow grease did for a 48 Chrysler
    Happy new Year,
    Jay

  11. #11
    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    Hi Jay, thanks for posting the photos of your 57. Too bad the rear window was broken. If the windshield were broken instead I'd give you one.
    Wish my Packard was found in a garage instead of sitting in a junk yard since 1971! Maybe it would have had paint still on it and would've cleaned up as nice as your Studebaker will!
    1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

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    I know what you meanas purchased Jan. 05.JPGPhoto05291300.jpgthis car sat in a yard for 25 years. Our only car with fresh paint and that is only the body the roof is original. Previous owner paid $2700.00 in 1978 I paid $600.00 in 2005. He bought it with no place to store it out of the weather.
    Jay

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    Very interesting, very original Stude!.....That rust over the headlamps is a look that brings back memories of when these cars were in everyday use on the roads of New England!.....Good luck with it!

  14. #14
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    Removed four brake drums, drained engine and transmission fluids, and found the neat tag fastened to passenger side of the front seatPhoto01011235_1.jpg Also cleaned a little bit of the rear seatPhoto12271630.jpgPhoto01011400.jpgPhoto01011401.jpg I tried to take a photo of a service sticker on the door post but it is too fuzzy to post but this car was serviced and was probably sold by C. F. Hahn and Sons which was a Studebaker dealership in Lehighton, PA. This is the dealership from which a 56 Studebaker Skyhawk, most likely the lowest mileage most original Skyhawk on the Planet was sold. The car was sold at auction from Jim Thorpe PA a few years ago a one owner car, it sold for about $13,000, I had $18,000 but quit bidding, I always wonder if I had enough to get it.
    Anyone know where the car ended up, it was black and white with 3 speed and overdrive.
    I worked with the fellow that bought it new, every now and then Mr. Hahn would show up at work with an offer to buy the car. One time a salesman brought a brand new Dodge Ramcharger offering to trade, the offer was met with a chuckle.Photo01011227.jpg

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    President Member ndynis's Avatar
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    Great thread. Please keep up the posting with pictures. I hope you are going to share what you use to do the polishing and upholstery cleaning other than a lot of elbow grease!!!
    Congratulations on a great find.
    Nick

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    wow! I too find this model compelling. Those fins and that incredible dash. Sure says fifties in a cool way! Awesome find...T.J.

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    Went to the auto store for fluids and asked them ask the computer what might be available for a 57 Studebaker Commander.
    I had a transmission pan gasket the next morning, they had a master cylinder in stock, and the wheel cylinders and brake hoses will be there tomorrow. Today it is supposed to be in low 50's F tomorrow in the 20's that is winter in PA.
    Draining the converter I learned One should mark the front pulley or dampener in order to quickly turn the engine 180 degrees. Having distributed a quart of ATF between the eight cylinders before turning by way of a screwdriver through the bellhosing hole, ATF was raining from above and also from the converter, so I didn't really turn the engine the 180 degrees quickly, it was more like wait until the deluge stops then start turning. I did a quick cleaning of the dashboard the other day and it is beeyouteefull. My Father and I shampooed carpets way back and some no matter how hard you tried there just wasn't a noticeable difference, others gave a great feeling of accomplishment when the colors would become bright again, Resurrecting autos that have been forgotten gives me that same feeling.
    Photo01031122.jpgPhoto01031122_1.jpgPhoto01031123.jpgThese photos aren't too good light overhead lights were very cold and dim. Does anyone reproduce the front floor mat or the trunk mat. The trunk mat was intact until I breathed on it and it shattered like a piece of glass.
    The paint on the hood is going to be the toughest to get nice, I am thinking flat black with a "Ramcharger Hood Scoop" and a big Stromberg two barrel sticking through the hood, just kidding, but I did think it.
    Gotta hang up the suit and put the work clothes on and get something done, Jan. 8th I'm scheduled to have a new Grandson, he will be our fourth grandchild, all boys. I'm hoping one of them is going to have the car bug and I kinda hope it's street cars and not racecars as I spent too many hours repairing wrecked stockcars.
    Jay

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    Congrats Lucky Dog-a terrific find and it looks as though it is now in the right hands. Your resto work is superb. My '57 Clipper wagon was also intended to be only presentable and driveable. Unfortunately that was about $10,000.00 ago. I have no regrets and I'm sure it will be stunning when I'm finished. Already the stainless and fresh superb paint makes it a real standout.

    Good luck and keep us posted with your pics.
    Bill

  19. #19
    President Member Scott's Avatar
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    From the first pictures it looks to me like that back window could not have been broken too long ago - certainly not 38 years ago. The top of the back seat is way too clean to have been uncovered in that garage for 38 years.

  20. #20
    Speedster Member 63avanti.'s Avatar
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    Nice job cleaning it up so far. It Looks like you found yourself a great car!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott View Post
    From the first pictures it looks to me like that back window could not have been broken too long ago - certainly not 38 years ago. The top of the back seat is way too clean to have been uncovered in that garage for 38 years.
    Scott they had taped plastic over the broken window and that must have been on the car for a while, it laid on the garage floor beside the car. The seat was very dusty I would smack it with my hand and make dust clouds, I rode in the car while we flat towed it to my shop and was tapping about on the front seat most of the wayPhoto12271317.jpgthe dust went right out the window. There was not much dust on the roof or trunk either the hood took the beating, had to do with the ceiling in the garage.
    Originally I was told the car was parked because of the window being broken but later was told that "He thinks something may have been wrong with the car" and it was parked behind their house then the window got broken. I believe they covered the window and let it sit outside for a short while before moving it inside but it could not have been for long.
    In Pennsylvania cars had to be inspected twice a year, this car was inspected on May 24, 1976 with the inspection running out in January 31, 1977. The mileage at time of inspection was 47,214 miles it now shows 52,834, so the car was driven quite a bit and I am thinking it may have been parked either due to the lack of a tailpipe(a 57 Studebaker tailpipe would have been tough to find for the "average Joe" back then, Muffler shops were not as plenty around here) or the rust above the headlights(inspection stations were tough on rust) especially visible rust.
    Big question, How does one remove 38 year old masking tape, it is hard as concrete, laughs at lacquer thinner, hot-soapy water did little. I got some vinegar but haven't tried it yet.
    Rather cold today but I might get the transmission pan installed, I am very glad I dropped that as the screen was loaded with "liver". I took a photo of one of the tubes inside the transmission it looks like someone was persuading it, there are no dents in the transmission pan.Photo01041409.jpgPhoto01041408.jpg
    Jay

  22. #22
    President Member Scott's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jay. That makes sense. I like the view out the rear window: nice and clear! Good luck with the car. I'm sure you'll keep us updated.

    I don't know about the masking tape. WD-40 does so much, you might give that a try.

  23. #23
    President Member EssexExport's Avatar
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    Always great seeing a ride come back to life.

    Here's something helpful with available parts, etc. vendors:


    http://www.studebakervendors.com/

  24. #24
    Speedster Member Jett289's Avatar
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    Very well done with reporting and pics .. Makes for a very interesting read .. Hope you continue . What a great find .. Thanks
    Love my Lark

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    Hello out there I haven't done much to the Studebaker due to the winter becoming like winter, but I removed the carburetor, distributor, fuel pump, valve covers and had them at home to work on. The carb, distributor, and fuel pump are ready to install, I need to paint the valve covers, what finish should they have.
    Before the snow hit I made a tool to turn the oil pump and pumped oil through the engine, I had removed the oil-pressure sending unit, the oil-filter cannister and lines and the oil-pressure relief valve. As I got clean oil I blocked up the openings starting with the pressure relief valve and ending with the oil filter port on the left front. Then I continued priming and turning the engine via the fan blade until I saw fresh oil at the rockers, while doing this an oil pressure gauge was showing about 50-55. I covered the valve train with newspapers and went home.
    I bought the production order sheet from the Studebaker Museum and got the key numbers for our car, I gave the numbers to a friend and he cut me keys, I was so excited I had to walk to the shop yesterday to try them and now have working keys, that's a load off the mind. I took the plug wires from the car apart, the wire is still good but the terminals were only crimped on and there was some evidence of corrosion, I used the boots and terminal ends over the only thing I soldered the ends on. Looking at the spark-plug boot can anyone tell if these are the original boots?
    Photo02171550.jpg Photo02171537.jpgPhoto02181454.jpg
    Thanks,
    Jay

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    I just ran across your thread today, nice car , and a great story. I too was interested in Mr Hahn's Sky Hawk. Sometime after it was sold at the estate auction, it was sold on ebay,the engine had been freed up, and i believe it was drivable at that time. Next it appeared as a featured auction car at the Carlisle PA Swap Meet. I believe it now is in the collection of the individual who started Ames Performance, which is one of the largest Pontiac Muscle Car parts suppliers. This collection consists mostly of original, low mileage, original paint vehicles, including the New 58 Chevy Cameo pickup from the Lambrecht Chevrolet Dealership Auction in Nebraska They are located in New Hampshire. I hope you find this of interest.

    Tom T

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    Thank you very much for that information, in reflecting it is good I didn't get the car, it would have 50,000 on the odometer by now and I would have had to drive it on a terribly rough road that leads to my shop, its better off where it is.
    Thanks,
    Jay

  28. #28
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    In a previous post I mention that I had keys cut from the numbers recorded on the Production order sheet, the keys were made using a key cutter and not a "key copier" that most people are familiar with.
    I just wanted to clarify as to how the keys were made, a friend has two different style key cutters and the books to cross reference the numbers to identify what blanks to use and the depth of the cut, there is a screw affair to advance the cutter for the correct spacing of the cuts or notches.
    Just thought I would get that information out there, I would presume most lock-smiths would have this capability.
    My other options were to remove the door lock or ignition lock and I didn't want to mess with the door panel as they never seem to go on as good as they were originally especially working with old clips and fiber door panels, and after I felt up under the dash as to what was involved with the ignition switch I didn't want to look.
    I feel it was worth the expense in getting the production order sheet, but get the shop manual first.
    Jay

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    Hello, i need to paint the valve covers for our 57 259, I searched and found a photo of trim333's car, very nice, and the valve covers look glossy. Is glossy the correct finish?
    Thanks,
    Jay

  30. #30
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckydog View Post
    Hello, i need to paint the valve covers for our 57 259, I searched and found a photo of trim333's car, very nice, and the valve covers look glossy. Is glossy the correct finish?
    Thanks, Jay
    Yes, Jay; it is.

    Be sure to save the original Sweepstakes 259 rocker arm "decals" if you can. If not, good reproductions are available from Studebaker International. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

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    Thank you, I'm hoping to find decals at York, and proper location for them, after seeing a nicely painted engine I may be getting some engine paint also.
    Can anyone tell me did I waste my time reusing the spark-plug boots, does the boot in my photo look like an original?
    Thanks,
    Jay

  32. #32
    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    Congrats on finding a Great car and knowing how to deal with an Old Stude.
    I have never seen a Stude. Newbie catch on so fast with almost no help from us at all... I am impressed.

    I am sure it has something to do with having all those old MoPars around, as you knew right away how to deal with those VW, Old MoPar, Jeep, Stude. tapered Axles!

    You did exactly the right thing with flushing and testing the Oil Circuits and lubing up the Engine for startup, good job!

    This is way beyond even what most of us Old Timers in Studebakers do, myself I usually Oil the Cylinders, spin up the Oil pump, check for Oil at all Rockers, give it a 180 turn, pump more Oil through it and call it good to Start.

    Yes the Spark Plug Boots ARE original, however the Old rubber insulation is too old after 58 Years, to prevent spark loss, they may light up like a Christmas Tree at Night! It is best to get fresh New Packard 440 Copper or Radio Resistant Cables with fresh insulation custom made to fit out of the Box from a Stude. Vendor.
    Last edited by StudeRich; 02-24-2015 at 02:55 PM.
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  33. #33
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    Thank you StudRich, I was going to thank you a week or so ago when I was rebuilding the fuel pump I had already filed the fuel pump housing on the side opposite where the pump-arm pivot-pin plug is located looking for a parting line. I wasn't sure but figured a hole had to be drilled. I did a search for fuel pumps and found your post about drilling a hole and I wasn't using much of a punch and found out about getting it stuck.
    I had looked in quite a few books and they all say to remove the pivot pin but I could find no mention of drilling a hole.
    The flexible fuel line from the frame to the pump just about shattered (have a new one) but I have been handling the spark-plug boots and they are nice and pliable yet so I gotta use them, and I already have the wires ready. I will check it on a dark night maybe I'll have something to show the Grandsons.
    There are similarities with the chrysler products in greasing the rear axle bearings also.
    I shouldn't complain about winter here in PA when I see what others are getting but I am getting antsy to be able to work on the Commander.
    I just finished reading the book "More Than They Promised" and after giving the clean valve covers a good inspection I think Studebaker went out of business because it cost them so much just to make the valve covers. There are quite a few parts and welds involved there when compared most other valve covers.
    Thanks,
    Jay

  34. #34
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckydog View Post
    Thank you, I'm hoping to find decals at York, and proper location for them, after seeing a nicely painted engine I may be getting some engine paint also.
    Can anyone tell me did I waste my time reusing the spark-plug boots, does the boot in my photo look like an original?
    Thanks, Jay
    Jay, you might pre-order the decals from Studebaker International to bring them to York for you. That way, you know they'll be there and no shipping/handling charge if you pick them up in person at York. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

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    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  35. #35
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    Thanks for the advise I put an order in this morning.
    Jay

  36. #36
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    Jay,
    I just stumbled on your thread here.
    This is Joe Cocuzza from Stroudsburg,Pa.
    I know you are aware that I just recently was lucky enough to get 2 (1959 & 1960) Larks.
    I have not been able to do too much with them as winter has been tough and I cannot move the cars around until the snow clears.
    Anyway, nice car.
    BTW, Roger Dacey says hi and he will be at York on Saturday. I want to go but not sure if I'll make it

    Joe

  37. #37
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    6 2 and even, I'll be there.
    I have a bright red "Checkered Flag Fan Club" jacket I have never worn before because I will stand out in a crowd. Something I wasn't sure I wanted to happen during the years I raced.
    So if anyone sees a bald headed guy with a gray beard and red jacket it might be me unless everyone else decides on the same outfit.
    Jay
    Last edited by luckydog; 02-26-2015 at 12:13 PM.

  38. #38
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    Hello, This is a commander update. Ken delivered to me one rear window for the commander and I got a new rubber. Reading the shop manual on rear window showing the men with rubber mallets makes me wary. I am thinking about farming the installation out but worry about the experience of the shop with this type installation.
    The valve covers are painted, the valves all checked good, I need to get number one up to TDC and get the distributor in it's proper location. The fuel pump, carburetor, distributor and wires, water pump have to be installed and then we get a battery in there and see what happens
    I spent very little time on the rear seat using the can of cleaner shown(it is so old it had no "schpritz" and I had to poke a hole in the can, don't do this at home) a fingernail brush and a dull knife scraped sideways.
    The hubcaps are as good as i can get them and i let all those parts on the trunk hoping those guys that live in the tree and make cookies show up.
    Jay

  39. #39
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    You have turned a derelict into a prince of a car-congratulations on your progress.
    Bill

  40. #40
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    Thank you there is a lot of work ahead but it is mostly cleaning and replacing parts and now that the warmer weather is on the way hopefully work will progress at a faster rate. The polishing of the paint I do by hand to keep the air compressor silent so that takes a bit longer than it should but I don't pay myself.
    Jay

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