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  • new member with 57 Commander

    Hello all, I'm brand new here so bear with me. I recently bot a 57, 4-dr Commander with v-8 and manual transmission from a friend's father's estate. It's been stored for years, on blocks, on a concrete floor. I have moved it to another location and it's free. I have a clear title but no keys. I've read a little bit here and understand if I can find the build sheet, it will have the key numbers. Another friend suggested I pull the back seat and sometimes a build sheet is there. And I have read on this forum than sometimes other Studebaker keys may work. So, how should I proceed? I need the keys to see if motor will turn over. If I pull the back seat, what is the procedures for that age car? I'd like to NOT have to pull the ignition switch if possible. I assume I should pull the plugs and add some lubricant, as a first step. Any suggestions and help would be much appreciated. I owned a 65 Imperial driver so have has some experience with the big older ones.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum, and the wonderful world of Studebakers.

    Studebakers are well designed, so do not fall into the trap of trying to redesign them with parts from other brands of cars.

    The production order is not under the back seat. That's more of a General Motors thing, or maybe MoPar.

    You can bump the starter with a small piece of wire with an alligator clip on one end. Clip the clip to the positive battery terminal and touch the other end to one of the small studs on the starter solenoid.

    You can order the production order from the Studebaker national museum in South Bend, Indiana.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
    10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
    10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
    4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
    5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
    56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
    60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible


    • #3
      Welcome to the SDC and to the SDC Forum Jerry!
      Looks like I type TOO slow, Roy beat me by THREE Minutes.

      To start and run it, all you need is a Auto Theft 101 Kit!

      Two 16 Ga. Alligator Clip Jumper wires, one to connect from the Battery Cable connected, Forward Stud on the Solenoid to the Coil Plus (+) Terminal.
      Of course the points will be getting a full 12 Volts, so don't run it too long unless you use the INPUT Side of the Ignition Resister instead of the Coil for Ignition.

      And one to temporally connect from the Battery Plus Post to the small "S" Terminal on the Solenoid after making sure a Rear Wheel is Blocked and the Trans. is in Neutral, for Cranking.

      Of course you can also put a couple ounces of Marvel Mystery Oil or ATF at the TOP (Inboard) Side of each Cylinder and soak a few hours or overnight first and then use the Starting (Cranking) method above only without the Ignition circuit to Lube up the Cylinders.

      The chances of finding a matching Ignition Switch Key are several Thousand to one, little chance of that happening, it Only works on the Glove Box & Trunk 4 Cut Key Locks.

      If the Door locks are still original to the car AND the Ignition Lock, you can take a door lock to a Locksmith and get it keyed. Later (or Before) you can buy the correct looking original Studebaker design Keys from a Studebaker Vendor to have Cut to the Locksmith one.

      I am sure you know that you will need to connect a Hose from a Gas Can to the Fuel Pump and prime the Carb. to start it with fresh Fuel on a long stored Car.

      New CORRECT Studebaker Parts, Studebaker Chassis and Body Parts Catalogs and Shop Manuals here:

      Production Orders can be purchased here:
      Last edited by StudeRich; 03-10-2021, 11:56 AM.
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner


      • #4
        And remember to address your brakes before being urged to drive. It is better to have a car with good brakes that won't run, than a car that will run but has no brakes. Better no go than no whoa.

        And here's an article worth reading while you are letting the Marvel Mystery Oil soak in to the cylinders.
        "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

        Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
        Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
        '33 Rockne 10,
        '51 Commander Starlight,
        '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
        '56 Sky Hawk


        • #5
          Welcome to the SDC club! Keep your hands and feet in at all times and hold on. If you’re like many of us, it’s the first of many Studebakers that will follow you home. Like some others have stated, you can contact the Studebaker Museum to purchase a build sheet. As soon as you pay, and while you have them on the phone, I would request the key number and get a couple of keys made. I hope she turns over and starts up for you. Enjoy the Studebaker and keep us updated at the SDC.
          1963 Studebaker GT Hawk R1 63V-33867
          1964 Studebaker Avanti R1 R-5364
          1970 Avanti II RQA-0385
          1981 Avanti II RQB-3304


          • #6
            while you're at it post a picture!


            • #7
              If it was mine I would order a build sheet immediately and while waiting for it to arrive do some clean-up and prep work like spraying lubricant in the cylinders and on the valve stems. The build sheet will show the original key codes which you can take to a locksmith (may take some looking for one that still has the old code books) and hopefully you will have a set of working keys.
              So.....if I'm 'pre-approved' why do you want me to fill out an application?


              • #8
                Thanks for the tips, I'm aware of the "hot wire" routine but hope to get some keys first. The title has the vin # with just 7 numbers---never seen that few before, is that correct? So, you think calling the museum for the build sheet key codes with that vin# is my best bet for the keys? I've got a pretty good keymaker in my town. I can post a pic once I clean it up and get a little more proud of what I bot---lol. (it is in pretty decent shape though)


                • #9
                  Get used to wrenching. Ignition switches are easy to swap. Keys, made by a 70 year old code for an obsolete car....Not easy. Any locksmith can create you a key. This is “what they do”. A key blank inserted and wiggled around will show slight marks from the first tumblers to contact it. File these marks in a tad, and keep doing the “wiggling”. As you create room for the first tumblers to contact, the next ones to hit will make those slight marks in turn. Working patiently with small files it’s not too hard to make a new working key. This method was told to me by an 88 year old retired mechanic.


                  • #10
                    Welcome to the Forum! I'd have your local locksmith make you a key. Did you get a new battery? Before you start the car, I'd follow the following steps:


                    • #11
                      I'm back with a few questions on the 57. I did get the ignition and trunk codes from the build sheet, and had a key made. The keymaker said it showed that both keys were the same even though the codes are different so I was skeptical. After spraying blaster fluid in all the locks, the key slipped into the ignition and door locks but would not open or turn in any. The key would not fit in the glovebox or trunk. The good news is that the glovebox is already unlocked and with removing two small screws, that lock can be removed. Should the key for the glovebox and trunk be the same?

                      I assume the door locks and the ignition would use the same key. If so, how tough is it to remove a door lock? The ignition is in the dash and looks to be a pain to remove.

                      Or, does anyone have a keymaker that I could contact that has the code book for this year of car?

                      I did spray Marvel oil in all the cylinders and after letting it sit, I was able to turn the crank shaft with a socket and bar, so that was encouraging.

                      I'd prefer not to hot wire so if I can get a key to work, I'm at least ready to try to turn the thing over.

                      This car has the oddest carburetor I've ever seen with the butterfly facing the rear of the intake. How do I prime that thing?

                      The aircleaner is mounted upside down, with the bolt on the bottom and is filled with oil, are they all like that?

                      You can probably tell, I'm not a Studebaker guy, but working on it. I'll stop for now and see if you have some answers for me. Thanks in advance.


                      • #12
                        Hello and welcome to the Forum. Removing the ignition is not so difficult, but it would be so much nicer and easier to have a key made. Sometimes takes a while to find someone to do it, but worth the time and effort. Worst case scenario is buying a replacement ignition switch with key from one of our vendors or on eBay and then swapping them out. I think that purchasing from one of our vendors is the better option because they would have a better idea as to knowing the correct part. I am not a vendor, but I have done business with several of our vendors over the years and never had a problem. Changing the subject, your Commander has an oil bath air cleaner. Studebaker used them in areas of the country thought to be overly dusty. In other areas, dry type air filters were used. My 53 Commander came with the oil bath type; works great. The dry types come up all the time on eBay and can also be obtained from some of our vendors. As for your carburetor: I suspect you have a Stromberg with rear-facing air horn. Priming with a squirt bottle or with a can of starting fluid should do the trick - only be careful to not spray onto the manifold. By the way - you have a very nice looking car. I have always really liked the styling of the 56,57,58 sedans.
                        Studebaker! If you're lucky enough to own one, you're lucky enough!!!


                        • #13
                          still waiting on that picture....

                          Is that a Stromberg Carb?