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53-54 C/K Grill Surround Project Update - January 2017

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  • 53-54 C/K Grill Surround Project Update - January 2017

    It’s been a while since I visited here…and even longer since I’ve posted. I’m still busy playing with cars. I haven’t done a Studebaker in a long time, but have a soft spot in my heart for them. I still hang out with some long time Studebaker friends and miss the ones I haven’t seen in a while.

    A couple of years ago, I introduced a project that my good friend Javier Villanueva was working on…that of reproducing the grill surrounds for 53 and 54 C/K’s. The status of the project started with post #27 on this thread…

    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...rill+surrounds

    I updated the project shortly after that when we sold off a few of the preproduction prototypes…

    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...ight=surrounds

    Javier grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area but lives now in Central Mexico. He earns his living as an engineer on a 370 foot fishing boat based in Seattle but operating primarily In the Bering Sea. Here’s his boat and here we both are just before he left for Alaska this week.





    He is only home about 4-5 months out of the year. When home, he spends as much time as possible with his family, but also runs 3 other businesses. He owns five 53 Studebaker coupes and hardtops as well as a few other collector cars.

    In spite of this schedule, Javier has continued research and work on the project. He has learned a lot about mold making, foundries, alloys, and chrome plating, primarily through establishing professional contacts in the various disciplines and through actual experimentation. He has become quite the expert on the process end to end. Javier realizes that this project is probably not a money maker. His interest in Studebakers and solving the puzzle of producing a low volume, but needed part at an acceptable price is driving the project. His hope is to break even and to have some fun and gain some knowledge in the process. If that happens, other items like tail light housings, grill bars, under windshield and top of door trim might be possible.

    Producing the surrounds is not something that can be contracted out turn key with an expectation of the high quality product and price point that is required. Each step has to be researched with the process partners selected individually and carefully monitored in order to obtain the desired results. Here’s where the project stands now.

    Javier found the mold maker that is right for this project. The person selected has over 40 years in the mold making business. The molds are made directly from Studebaker blue prints, but of course adjusted for shrinkage depending on the alloy to be used and other factors. The final mold is still an iterative process. Pre production prototypes are carefully measured against the blueprints and fitted to one of Javier’s Starliners to insure the production molds are perfect. Even when this process is complete, each production surround will be fitted to a jig to double check measurements.

    Javier is personally controlling the foundry process. He was not able to locate a foundry that is up to the quality standards that he demands at the price point that is needed. Javier is cooperating with a good friend in his town that also needs foundry products in order to share the equipment costs. The surrounds will be cast in an alloy of aluminum that has been selected for strength and it’s ability to be properly plated.

    After several failed experiments with chromers who SAID they could do what was needed, Javier found one that had the expertise to actually do so. The surrounds are show chrome triple plated (several coats of copper, then nickel and chrome). This plater has extensive experience with plating aluminum. He was instrumental in specifying the alloy that would plate properly. It is a third generation family business that also has expertise in pot metal restoration.

    The plated surrounds will have the holes for the mounting studs drilled and tapped, the large through bolt hole drilled and countersunk, and the inside cove painted the proper argent silver.

    Javier will essentially be ready for production when he returns home in early April. He realizes, however, that starting the production process is not a slam dunk. It will still require some pre production experimentation in order to insure the first items shipped are perfect and the process is repeatable. He is cautiously optimistic that he can ship the first surrounds in late May just before his next trip, but that could easily slide until he returns again in September. He is in no hurry just to put something out there if it is not to his high standards. He will not take orders until he has shippable product.

    His target price point is $700 for a pair of finished surrounds, not including packaging and shipping (maybe $50 or so more per pair). He will be offering the option of an unplated set for a target price of $450. This option may be best for those who want to paint, polish, or powder coat the surrounds. They are also for those who want to fit the surrounds to their car before the plating process. We discovered in this thread…

    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...ight=surrounds

    …that there was a wide range of grill fit quality on cars being restored as well as cars right off the production line in 1953. The good, stock surrounds for the Kart Hauler ended up fitting nicely, but only after many hours of working with and modifying the various sheet metal parts that make up the front end of a C/K.

    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...ight=surrounds

    If the surrounds have to be “tweaked” to properly fit even after doing all you can with panel alignment, this is best done before the plating process. They can be returned to Javier for plating or done by a local plater if desired.

    Here are a few pictures of the latest preproduction surrounds. The car is one of Javier's Starliners…







    Dick Steinkamp
    Bellingham, WA

  • #2
    My guess, for the projected price folks will be lining up! those look great! you can't get a quality replate for the asking price, and no more pitting! good luck with the project...
    sigpicIt is an addiction!

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    • #3
      Dick
      You have not kept up to date.
      Did you make these for Classic enterprises?

      http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...80#post1032180

      Robert Kapteyn

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rkapteyn View Post
        Dick
        You have not kept up to date.
        Did you make these for Classic enterprises?

        http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...80#post1032180

        Robert Kapteyn
        Robert,
        Javier has no connection or relationship with the good people at Classic Enterprises. I understand they have undertaken a similar project.

        -Dick-
        Dick Steinkamp
        Bellingham, WA

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        • #5
          Has anyone ever investigated producing parts in graphite molds?

          Comment


          • #6
            What about casting blanks in the appropriate alloy of aluminum, and then finishing them in a 3-axis mill?
            Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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            • #7
              Good to see you, sir, as always. And thanks for your usual great background reporting ;-)
              Last edited by JGK 940; 01-10-2017, 10:55 PM. Reason: esplling

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              • #8
                So these, obviously, are not the same ones CE now has on offer. For some reason I had the idea they were the same project.
                Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

                40 Champion 4 door*
                50 Champion 2 door*
                53 Commander K Auto*
                53 Commander K overdrive*
                55 President Speedster
                62 GT 4Speed*
                63 Avanti R1*
                64 Champ 1/2 ton

                * Formerly owned

                Comment


                • #9
                  Dick, good to see you post. Those grilles look perfect.

                  There was a recent thread about the ones from Classic. They don't fit and all the ones that have been sold were recalled. They are also twice the price as what your friend is hoping to sell his for.

                  Let us know when they're available. Stephen Allen's Studebaker in Florida would probably be good for a set or two to put in stock.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm definitely good for a set, almost ordered them from Classic, glad I didn't.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Dick, really interesting to read your post here and thanks for sharing the story. After restoring my 56 Golden Hawk with new tail light units in 2012, I noticed later that year the chrome had already started to blister a bit and was really disappointed to see this happen; not least as the car had only been subjected to some light rain. The summer that year in the UK was horrendous with mostly rain, so my car spent most of the summer in the garage. I think I may have even bought some chrome parts of you for my car - I'm at work so can't check my spreadshett.

                      I wouldn't expect Javier to produce tail lights for the 56J if his cars are 1953-55, but do please keep posting on here as it's really interesting to read of others aiming to support owners keep their cars on the road.

                      I know when I did a limited production run of the infamous "S" exhaust piece for the '56 Golden Hawk (Packard 352" engine), I wasn't looking to make money from the project and in fact lost a few dollars for each unit I had pre-sold. At the end of the day, it was about trying to help other 56J owners keep their cars roadworthy and usable in future.

                      Please pass on my "Good Luck" to Javier with his endeavors - great to read about this project... as well as Lamont's at CE.
                      Richard
                      sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ddub View Post
                        So these, obviously, are not the same ones CE now has on offer. For some reason I had the idea they were the same project.
                        I made the same assumption too... Javier's parts look awesome! Keep us posted! cheers, junior
                        sigpic
                        1954 C5 Hamilton car.

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                        • #13
                          I would be interested in a pair when they become available.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JGK 940 View Post
                            Good to see you, sir, as always. And thanks for your usual great background reporting ;-)
                            Good to see you too, John! (and the front of your beautiful Stude)
                            Dick Steinkamp
                            Bellingham, WA

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mbstude View Post

                              Let us know when they're available. Stephen Allen's Studebaker in Florida would probably be good for a set or two to put in stock.
                              Hi, Matthew. I doubt if there will be enough room in the pricing to give resellers a discount. If not, there would be one price direct from Javier and a higher price from a reseller. That would probably not work well. I don't think the market is big enough for these that a wider distribution network is needed or desired. We'll see.
                              Dick Steinkamp
                              Bellingham, WA

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