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1952 Champion Convertible Questions

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  • 1952 Champion Convertible Questions

    So after a long wait, my 52 finally arrived. I am very happy with it but it but of course has a few minor issues. I am hoping my online Studebaker friends can help me.

    Car History As I know it: Car had an off body restoration. I believe the owner was actively participating in the restoration where he could, he then passed away and his son decided to sell the car to a classic car dealer in which I purchased it. The Code on the firewall indicates it is a 1952 Champion Convertible. Engine is an inline 6 170cc, transmission is 3 on the tree with OD. Paint is 8/10 , interior is 9/10.

    Here are its small issues:

    1. The dash clock does not work, pulled it off the dash to find what looks like a brand new Borg clock with a little original instruction manual hidden behind the clock along with two wires that were not connected to anything, a red wire with a fuse and what appears to be a U shaped under screw head electrical end and a black wire that appears to be a male insert electrical end. When I peer under that dash I don't see anywhere for these wires to go and was hoping someone could give me some insight to how I should wire this. (Electrical system appears to be the original 6v Positive ground.)

    2. The Convertible top does not have any of the electrical nor hardware components for the electrical operation of putting the top up and down. Are these missing or was it an extra Factory add on to have the electric top. All framework on the convertible functions well and work fine to manually lower and close!

    3. The car starts hard when cold, this morning it was 30 out and she just about wouldn't start. Starter sounds and acts strong so I don't believe this to be the issue, I have an owners manual and followed the cold starting procedure by depressed the pedal once to engage automatic choke and when it wouldn't start pushed pedal to the floor and tried to start and it took multiple attempts at this to finally get it to fire up, it starts great warm. I know it can do better because my dad's 52 champion starts on command cold.

    4. The Engine (I6 170cc) seems to miss a little here and there through the RPM Band, this may be related to it starting hard, Im not sure on that. My Dad was helping me adjust Idle screw on carb because it wouldn't stay running at an idle and when he reached across the spark plugs he touched the top of one of the rubber spark plug wire tops and it shocked him, maybe also related to all of this, all spark plug wires etc. look newer and in great condition. Any Ideas?

    5. Windshield Wipers do not work, looks like previous owner put a new wiper motor in, wiring looks good, but when I turn to know its completely dead, Im thinking a fuse and wondering where it is located?

    6. It has a single backup light that does not function, wiring looks to be done on it at restoration, also wondering if its a fuse but all other lights and blinkers work?

    My highlight of the day was it's very cherry Radio (I believe it was the top of the line radio Studebaker offered at the time) was not functioning, took it out and found out it was just a blown fuse and it works perfectly now, I can pick up a great oldies station here in Rural Montana that fits driving the car perfectly. So far Im really enjoying driving the car, bad timing on getting it in Nov. on taking the top down in Montana lol, but it drives great shifts excellent and other then the before mention little issues, it everything I hoped it to be! Any Help is greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    3). It may be possible that the carb needs a rebuild and that gas may be leaking out of the bowl.

    5). I would think that a ‘52 Champion may have come with vacuum wipers rather than electric ones. It might be that someone attempted an upgrade and never finished the task.

    Comment


    • MontanaRed
      MontanaRed commented
      Editing a comment
      I know my dad's 52 starlight champion is electric wipers

    • Hallabutt
      Hallabutt commented
      Editing a comment
      Electric wipers were a no cost option on the 1951 Champion and I presume the same for 1952.

  • #3
    I can't address all your questions but, the male bullet connector on the clock should go to the headlight switch to illuminate the clock when the head or park lights are on, and the backup light should also only work when the head or park lights are on.
    The fused wire from the clock should go to constant power from the ignition switch. The clock itself is not an electric clock. It is an "electrically wound clock." When the clock spring winds down, a set of points in the clock sends an instant charge to rewind the spring. This happens every five minutes or so. If you listen, you can hear the tiny zap. And you can also hear the tic-tic-tic of the escapement, just as you would in any manually wound clock.

    To the best of my knowledge no '52 convertibles left the factory without the motor to raise and lower the top. Someone might correct me.

    The wipers should have a circuit breaker mounted ON the wiper switch under the dash, not a fuse.

    Verify you have a correct heavy duty battery cable capable of carrying the larger amperage required by the 6-volt system.
    Brad Johnson,
    SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight. '53 Commander Starlight
    '56 Sky Hawk in process

    Comment


    • Hallabutt
      Hallabutt commented
      Editing a comment
      You should be able to use small jumper cables and a 6V battery, to check the clock's operation. Attach one wire to the clock's wire end(s) or the case if there is only one wire, to the case itself, and you should be able to hear the clock mechanism as it winds.

  • #4
    Originally posted by Guido View Post
    I would think that a ‘52 Champion may have come with vacuum wipers rather than electric ones.
    Both were available; the electric wipers could have been ordered on any model, but probably only a single speed, as in my '51 Commander.

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

    Comment


    • #5
      The fuses probably blew when someone used 12 Volt negative ground
      jumper cables to try and start there car at the classic car dealer you bought the car from.

      Comment


      • #6
        My 52 Commander Convertible had, (when I acquired it) all the necessary electric top parts needed to raise & lower the top. I "think" the Champions had vacuum wipers, and the Commanders had electric wipers, but, I could be wrong on that.
        "We can't all be Heroes, Some us just need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by" Will Rogers

        We will provide the curb for you to stand on and clap!


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        Comment


        • #7
          The starting issue may just be that the choke is not properly adjusted.
          Gary L.
          Wappinger, NY

          SDC member since 1968
          Studebaker enthusiast much longer

          Comment


          • #8
            The top originally had power top mechanism, but as you said it works fine manually. I recently rewired a friend’s ‘47 Commander convertible, and I ended up removing the switch, circuit breaker and wiring for the top, as the motor and related parts were removed many years ago, and they’ve been raising/lowering the top manually and like it just fine!

            Comment


            • #9
              There is underneath the back seat cushion an electric motor that has 2 cables that wind up a screw drive on both sides that raise and lower the top. No hydraulics involved, they have been know to sit for years and with a fresh battery in the car work without problems.

              My 52 Commander, which was in pace car colors, sat outside in Northern California for years and spent one winter in Minnesota. After I got the engine free, I hooked up a battery, flipped the lever switch on the left side of the bottom of the dash and the top worked! I had to replace a couple of brackets in the top frame work but it worked great.

              Bob Miles
              1952 Commander paced the Indy 500

              Comment


              • #10
                As Bob pointed out, convertible Studebakers through 1952 utilized a motor and screw drive system to raise and lower the top.
                There were no convertibles after the '52 model year until the 1960 models came out, and those employed a hydraulic pump and lift cylinders.
                Brad Johnson,
                SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight. '53 Commander Starlight
                '56 Sky Hawk in process

                Comment


                • #11
                  Step number one: only use non-ethanol gas. You probably knew this. Damage to carbs using ethanol gas can be profound. Past that, it causes stumbling, dying, rough idle, dieseling, vapor lock, and more.

                  The clock gets a little jolt of electricity and that keeps it running for a little while up until the point where it needs another jolt. If it is not working do NOT spray it with WD40 or indiscriminately spray oil everywhere (attracts dust and abrasives). You have to lube pivot points only with a special super lightweight oil made for clocks using a piece of wire with a flared end. Best bet is to find to find a local clock hobbyist and talk him into getting it working. My father-in-law was one of those people. He had about 3000 clocks.

                  If you have an electric wiper motor you'll find there are two leads hanging off it. Try disconnecting those and hook the motor straight to the battery with jumper cables or heavy wire. You might want to disconnect the linkage first. If the motor runs you'll know the problem is somewhere else. As someone else mentioned, there is a circuit breaker, not a fuse, that is located right next to the wiper switch and is part of the assembly. You might want to turn the key and then get a voltmeter and make sure you have 6 volts on both sides of the circuit breaker. If that is OK you could next check that you are getting six volts out of the switch when you turn it on. It would surprise me to find that the switch was bad or sketchy. You can pick up a can of Deoxit D5 and there is a tiny hole you can spray the Deoxit into and work the switch back and forth. That will dissolve the corrosion off the contacts and will also lubricate them. It will feel much better. I collect vintage stereo equipment and Deoxit is the material of choice for all those switches, sliders , and knobs. That should really be in the toolkit for the automotive switches.

                  Hard starting. If the car hasn't been driven for weeks a little starter fluid spray might be in order. If it was driven recently I am going to agree with the person that suggested tiny carb choke plate adjustment. Easy to overdo. But maybe pumping the pedal a couple of times instead of just once will do it.

                  This is important and has to do with a known issue with gas pedals from 1947-52. Have someone press and hold the gas pedal all the way down. Then look in the carb and see if the throttle plates are fully open. The gas pedals from this era are thick corrugated metal and seem to look very sturdy. But the metal is actually very soft and pliable. Over time, and sometime a very short period of time they bend to become slightly banana shaped instead of flat. When that happens you can press the pedal all the way down, but the throttle may only be open halfway. I've had this happen on brand new NOS gas pedals. You can bend it back to straight again, but in my experience that only last a day or so. Personally, I think this is responsible for the reputation some Studes have for being gutless. This is easily solved by having a metal dealer cut a thick slab of stainless steel and bolting it on the back. Stainless is very stiff and inflexible. From the top it will still look pretty much like a stock pedal. In my case, it felt like the horsepower tripled. And I could actually go up hills. In fact, the car is now faster than hell.

                  The stock tube radio uses about 11 amps, which puts it in the class of a portable space heater, so try not to run it unless you are actually driving or you might drain the battery. 11 amps with a 6 volt battery is only 66 watts

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Good to hear from a fellow’52 owner! 92% of carburetor problems are electrical, meaning, IMHO, a good tune up is in order before tinkering with the carb. I had tough starts and rough idle. Gapped points, new wires, even a new coil helped. The biggest improvement was with a new condenser. Starts and runs good now. Oh, good opportunity to read your plugs when you replace them. Good times 🙂

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      All Positive Ground 6 Volt Systems work MUCH better with the heaviest Batt. and Ground Cables you can buy, Welding Wire 00 and add a ground directly from the Positive Batt. Post to Engine/Frame Ground location to the Starter Mounting Bolt and clean the surfaces.
                      StudeRich
                      Second Generation Stude Driver,
                      Proud '54 Starliner Owner
                      SDC Member Since 1967

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Backup light: You should be able to check to see if the wire to the light is hot (live) by using a simple test light probe. One thing that I found out the hard way 40 years ago is that the backup light is wired through the headlight switch.

                        When I restored my 1955 Speedster, during the 70's, one the most perplexing problems was the failure of the backup light to work. Bench testing showed that the lights were good, and the wiring seemed fine, but in spite of hours of trying everything that my limited understanding of the system would allow, I still had nothing. I was scheduled to show the car at a concourse event in Forest Grove Oregon and time had run out, I just gave up. I was just going to have to bite the bullet and take the deduction for a non-functional backup lights. As the car was being judged instructions were given to turn on the lights, the response was "everything ok, fog lights-ok." I was then instructed to put the car in reverse which I did. I waited for the dreaded response from the judge, but instead I heard the judge say "backup lights ok." What I had failed to realize that unlike a more modern car, the backup lights would not operate properly unless the lights were on. You should feel very fortunate to be able to use the social media. It sure is a god-send.
                        Last edited by Hallabutt; 09-16-2022, 10:19 AM.

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