View Full Version : And last but not least - On the Road with Grace - Day 5

07-11-2010, 11:55 PM
July 11th, 2010 Ė Day 5

So here I am with the laptop sitting on the floor of the Turner guest room with Bob snoring away. The two Turner hounds have poked their way past the door to greet me and get some attention, and Iím still trying to figure out whatís going on with Grace. Iíd say, ďMan, this is getting old,Ē but now Iím getting mad (not the right word, but this early on a Sunday morning, I donít know what the right one is). Iím going to find out why Grace isnít charging Ė with the help of anyone willing to Ė if itís the last thing I do. (Well, maybe not the last thing, but you get the idea.) Iím not going to let this beat me. Here are Graceís symptoms:

The ammeter will show a charge or not almost randomly, but I think itís not random at all because:
At idle, usually the system will charge.
If weíre running slowly Ė like around a low speed bend in the road, the ammeter will go from zero (the middle) to charge and remain there until our speed increases to about 30 MPH,
But sometimes sheíll continue to charge well beyond 30, maybe up to 50 or 60.
At these higher speeds, the ammeter needle will swing wildly and erratically from heavy charge to heavy discharge.
Tapping on the voltage regulator will often get a positive response on the ammeter; out on the highway, Iíve deliberately driven over the shoulder rumble strips to put a heavy vibration in the chassis which will often lead to charging.
All of the above.
None of the above.
Hot starting has also been an issue. It may be that Iíve simply forgotten how to properly start a carbureted car Ė pump the gas pedal once to set the choke and then crank away. But it may be more than that. When I reassembled Grace, one of the few things I didnít renew was the starter motor. If itís not broke, donít fix it. But even with a fully charged battery, if the engine is hot, the starter will often turn the engine over only with groaning effort. (Low battery warning on the laptop; letís take a break.)

(11:25 PM Ė Day 5)

Bob and I are at a Holiday Inn in Richmond, Indiana tonight. Weíre on our way home to Pennsylvania. We didnít get to Indy, and it didnít matter; today was the best day of our road trip. We spent the day with Jim and Jody Turner. Theyíre family now.

Okay, you gave us the early morning report; whatís with the rest of the day that you passed up on the Indianapolis Speedway and its museum? Through the partially open door that the Turner hounds didnít close after they said good morning to me, I saw Jody go downstairs. That made it officially okay for me to go downstairs, too, instead of sitting cross-legged on the floor with my feet going to sleep from lack of circulation. I can see that Jody is going to make French toast. Jim is in the kitchen, too. ďDid you sleep well,Ē he asks. ďWith my brother?!?Ē Thus begins the day.

We sit around the table talking until well after Noon. Are we going to get to Indy? It doesnít matter; weíre having too good a time with good conversation. I donít even recall when we finally went back to the hotel where we left Grace to see if sheíd start. Jim packed a coil, a distributor, and other things in the back of his truck in case they were needed. Remember, last night Grace absolutely refused to fire, so we had to park her in one of the few vacant spots at the hotel. So give her a try, Jim says. Turn the key pump once on the gas pedal, and she starts just like that. Go figure. Jim hooks a meter up to the battery Ė six volts. The ammeter indicates charging is occurring. I shut the engine off, and he attaches meter leads to the regulator. I crank her up again Ė no problem. Six point four volts registers on the dial Ė just what the cutout relay closing voltage is supposed to be. Go figure. Could it be a bad ammeter? I have another one at home, so Iíll switch the one in the car with that one. I shut her off again, and we begin to talk Ė to cogitate on what Graceís problem might really be. It seems that the charging system is working even when the ammeter on the dash isnít registering anything. But since earlier in the trip, when the ammeter indicated no charging, thatís actually what was happening, so Iím hesitant to start believing that I can ignore the ammeter completely. Our conversation gradually drifts away from Grace, Studebakers, and cars in general.

Bob and I finally left the hotel at 5 PM. Grace is purring like a kitten. From Indianapolis Bob estimates that itís at least 600 miles back to Hummelstown Ė a minimum of a ten hour drive. So the speedway and museum are definitely out for Monday; there just arenít enough hours in the day or enough energy in this 61-year-old body to put in ten hours behind the wheel after four or six hours at Indy. After gassing up, we head for home.

So here we are on the last leg of our 40th anniversary road trip. Our primary goals were to go to Millers at Milwaukee and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We didnít get to see either, nor will we stop at the Air Force Museum. After all of our planning, thatís got to be a letdown, right? Heck no. Places can be seen any time. Race cars are just machines that, at the risk of starting an argument, will always be there. Itís the people who are important Ė Ron Bush, Ed Costell, George Turpening, and his son, George III outside Toledo; Andy Beckman, Courtney Meyers, the Chinese tourists, and the fellow whose dad worked for Studebaker in South Bend; Eldon Hostetler in Shipshewana; the servers in the restaurants and desk clerks at the hotels all along our way; and especially Jim and Jody Turner, who opened their door to us. We came as strangers; we left as friends. Thank you, everyone for the best road trip a couple of semi-old guys could have.

07-12-2010, 12:28 AM
Brings a George Harrison song to mind.....(one of my favorites)

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there" (a Lewis Carroll quote put to song..)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-aW9ji3YNc&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-aW9ji3YNc&feature=related)

Sometimes you just have to let go and let it flow....

Anne F. Goodman
07-12-2010, 12:30 AM
Fantastic story thank you for taking us along for the ride.

07-12-2010, 12:31 AM
Alan, Glad to hear your positive outlook despite the setbacks. Sounds like the Turners are the first class people their reputation has led me to believe. I dont remember, did you replace the generator earlier in life when Grace first exhibited charging problems? I am just thinking a generator is basically a motor running in reverse. Could your field coils be grounding intermititently (sp) ? It would seem that it would display symtoms similar of a starter with the same problem ie: its dead, tap it or shock it several times and it works. You are basically shocking it when you tap on the regulator or shaking it hard enough to break contact when you run over the rumble strips. My SWAG. Steve

07-12-2010, 12:55 AM
I had a 53 chevy pickup that I had problems with the charging system I took off the generator and regulator off my 46 and put it on my 53 and that didn't work but the set worked on my 46 that came off the 53 ? so I changed them back and the charging system then worked again on my 53 both worked on the 46 ??? I'm a old hand at polarizing so that wasn't the problem, But I had problems from time to time with that 53 and the parts were never to blame tried remote ground straps and all. I know how these things can drive you crazy.

My Wife got to go to Indy last year, she brought me back a t-shirt :>)

Bob Andrews
07-12-2010, 04:39 AM
Excellent report. Can't wait to see the whole works (with pictures) in TW!

07-12-2010, 06:11 AM
Thank you, all. I'd list your names, but I'm afraid I'd miss someone, and that wouldn't be right. You are all a part of my extended family, and I hope to someday meet all of you whom I've not yet met. You have taken your precious time to either comment on Bob's and my adventure or to offer your own insights into the problems we have encountered. As much as we all like Studebakers, it is you and people like those we met along our way who are the most important. I feel priviledged to have come to know all of you in some way or other.

07-12-2010, 08:20 AM
I have to bow to you. THAT was a story!! Well written, thorough and suspenseful. Left us hanging, every day. Do you write soap-operas? :D


07-12-2010, 08:30 AM
How far is Hummelstown from Pittsburgh?

There is an electric shop in McKeesport--Auto World Electric- that has a supply of freshly rebuilt 6 volt generators and starters that were left over from a closeout years ago
A couple days a week their resident 6 volt expert wanders in and works on 'old stuff' and he knows his poop
The guy sold me a 4 pole starter for my '55 for i think- about 85 bucks and that solved permanently my slow starting problems[ 4 poles are essentially GM housings with a Stude snout]

i'm not sure how he could check your generator - regulator problem off the car-- but his expertise might be worth a road trip or at least a phone call

07-12-2010, 10:53 AM
i'm not sure how he could check your generator - regulator problem off the car- Thats' the way they want them. together, off the car.

Your charging problem reminded me of one like it I had. Solved the problem by examining closely the brushes in the generator. The professional Studebaker people who had re-habbed my '53 had unknowingly wrapped one of the brush wires around part of the spring mechanism. As the brush wore, it made and lost contact, until I released the wire. It's run fine since.

07-13-2010, 12:37 AM
Thank you so much for sharing the adventure. Though it didn't turn out exactly what had been planned, still, this second trip seems to have been a lot of fun. I do hope you find out what's ailing Grace.

Thanks again for including us!:D