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Trans-Canada Pilgrimage in a 53 2 R 11, Pilgrim

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  • Trans-Canada Pilgrimage in a 53 2 R 11, Pilgrim

    I would like to introduce myself. I've been over at the truck talk forum for the past year or so, more on that later.

    When I was in high school in the early 1970's I came up with a plan to drive an old pick em up truck across Canada as far north as I could get and still go west to east or east to west. I grew up in Illinois and Michigan. I'm a pretty adventurous soul, walked alone across Michigan when I was 19 etc. I never did make that pilgrimage. Fast forward to 2017, my mother was in the decline from dementia. In one of our discussion about the good old days she asked me if I ever made that Canada journey. She went on to say that since I was her power of attorney and executor she would leave me some money and she wanted me to buy that truck and make the journey.

    Both of my parents grew up in South Bend Mishawaka, Indiana. So it was a natural to choose a Studebaker. My mother past in January of 2018 and I found a long bed 2 R 11 a month later. It was located in Connecticut so the plan was to fly out to Hartford pick up the pick up and drive north. That was without prior windshield or seat time mind you! I've been driving stock original VW Beetles and mostly Buses my entire life, so driving slow is nothing new! Pilgrim, the 1953 2 R 11 is in pretty good shape but at 350 miles and into southern Maine. The fiber timing gear wore out and the distributor stopped turning. It took awhile to diagnose this and in the mean time. I decided wisely to ship it home, all the way to California so that I could get that windshield and seat time. After a trip up the hill on a hot day a rod bearing slipped and scored the crank- I live at almost 7,000 in altitude. Pilgrim's original block is being restored with new pistons. In the mean time I have been gathering a traveling kit to include a Caravan top. I will be [posting updates and progress as it happens here from now on.

    I used to post on the Studebaker Truck Talk website. Just before the lockdown I had to get a new laptop and logging on to the site became a lesson in futility. The site has also recently increased the use of ads and presently between the header at the top and the ads at the bottom I only have a pertinent screen view of about 1/4 of the full screen. I would like to express my appreciation for help to those on that site especially, Skiplackie and Roger List both of whom I suspect are active here, as well.

    i'm now going to attempt to post some pics of Pilgrim. a link to the Studebaker Truck Talk topic on the pilgrimage and a link to my blog for those who might be interested.

    Pilgrim pics from Connecticut

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    Engine pull in California:

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    The site doesn't want to upload my blog for some reason?

    Progress on Caravan top,thanks to SkipLackie

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    I am considering adding a single drivers side step to Pilgrim to make getting in and out of the bed easier as I plan to camp in it. Has anyone had exp
    Last edited by 53 pilgrim; 07-22-2020, 10:08 AM.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum! Cool that you have an adventurous side. Having been on the Dalton Highway, I can relate. You trip across Canada sounds good and I hope you do it. I've been wanting to do the Trans Lab myself, so I look forward to your installments when you go for it. In your down time, read Steinbeck's "Travels With Charlie".


    • #3
      Welcome to forum.
      I love your truck. '53's are my favorite.
      Jerry Forrester
      Forrester's Chrome
      Douglasville, Georgia

      See all of Buttercup's pictures at


      • #4
        That will be a fun ride.

        The one requirement I'd have for a long road trip is the overdrive transmission.

        jack vines


        • #5
          I agree with Jack Vines that overdrive is a necessity for your trip. I owned a 1949 2R5 for 14 years. It did not have overdrive. At 50 m.p.h., the engine was starting to scream, "Don't be cruel."

          Your trip across Canada should be most enjoyable. In 2019, Karen and I drove from Moncton, New Brunswick to Tofino and Victoria, British Columbia and back, a 17,250 km (10,718 mile), 55-day trip, with our modern car (2014 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel). There was less than 1,700 km of road on which we drove in both directions. The previous year, we drove from Moncton to L'Anse-aux-Meadows and Cape Spear, Newfoundland --- 5,600 km (3,480 miles) and 14 days. These were two amazing trips!
          Bill Jarvis


          • #6
            Originally posted by Topper2011 View Post
            Welcome to the forum! Cool that you have an adventurous side. Having been on the Dalton Highway, I can relate. You trip across Canada sounds good and I hope you do it. I've been wanting to do the Trans Lab myself, so I look forward to your installments when you go for it. In your down time, read Steinbeck's "Travels With Charlie".

            Ah yes, "Travels with Charlie", already read but maybe 30 years ago. It was after reading, "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins that I walked across Michigan, west to east lower peninsula.

            I've already been on the overdrive issue. I'm committed to the four on the floor. Yes it drives like a tractor. Again used to 40 hp VW engines here. I've put slightly taller tires in the rear and I'm considering a Dana 60 rear end.

            Back when I was in H.S. I considered dirt roads doable- I'm older and wiser now opting for pavement as much as possible. I spend late nights on Google maps traveling routes virtually.
            Last edited by 53 pilgrim; 07-22-2020, 02:42 PM.


            • #7
              I agree with the others, get an overdrive. Easier since you have a two wheel drive. I had a 56 Willys pickup and 50mph was about as hard as I pushed it. I was able to find a T90/D18 with the BW overdrive. That made it comfortable enough for 60-65mph. Still rode like a tractor, even though I pulled three leaves out of every leaf spring.


              • #8
                Sounds like a great adventure, finding the best highways will be easy.....we only have one going east - west.
                I've driven it, so if you need some 'vision' do not hesitate to ask.
                Bill Foy
                1000 Islands, Ontario
                1953 Starlight Coupe


                • #9
                  My brother used to live in Hartford CT and if you were able to drive successfully there, you should be able to drive anywhere in the world. Canada driving should be a cake walk compared to Connecticut. I like your truck and your planned adventure.


                  • #10
                    Planning on avoiding the bigger cities as much as possible so highways are not always in the plan. A paved road will be good enough at 50 mph. I have time on my side.

                    Avoiding Toronto and Montreal but will likely take in Quebec City. On the first run the only place I faced challenging traffic was about 25 miles west of Boston.
                    Last edited by 53 pilgrim; 07-23-2020, 04:54 AM.


                    • #11
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                      When I was a kid you could buy boxes of Wheaties cereal and there would be a license plate meant for your bike in the box. They happened to have chosen 1953! Pilgrim was delivered to South Dakota, worked on a farm for many years before being sold to another farmer in Minnesota. From there he was shipped to Connecticut before being driven through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Finallt residing in California presently.


                      • #12
                        Cool truck! The trip sounds like a ton of fun...have you set a departure date? Mrs. Junior and I do a lot of international travel but for now that has come to an end...we were in Colombia and had to come home early because of the pandemic. I think a similar road trip may be in the cards now...just have to convince her that air travel is not happening anytime soon. Cheers, junior
                        1954 C5 Hamilton car.


                        • #13
                          There are some places where you either must keep up with traffic, or be a serious hazard to yourself and others. I am thinking particularly of two-lane sections of British Columbia highway 1, with a very high volume of heavy truck traffic on steep mountain grades; and two-lane sections of Ontario highways 11 and 17 between the Manitoba border and Thunder Bay; and part of Quebec highways 85/185 between Riviere-du-Loup and the New Brunswick border.

                          On our travel across Canada we often took secondary highways for better scenery and less traffic.
                          Bill Jarvis


                          • #14
                            When do you plan to do this trip? Next year, at least, I hope.

                            Currently, the only way they'll let you into Canada is if you are proceeding non-stop to Alaska, with the exception of meals and accommodation. Some US residents have been fined $1000 (CDN) for sightseeing in Banff, on their way to AK.



                            • #15
                              +1 on Quebec City. We were just there last October.

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                              A very cool place.