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Newbie (1951 Champion) Questions -- Brakes

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  • Newbie (1951 Champion) Questions -- Brakes

    Hello all. I am a brand new SDCforum member and proud owner (for the past 9 days) -- 1951 Champion. I have some issues that i am trying to work through, the most troubling is my inexperience in this realm. I am a young member looking for help to learn about my new obsession. The newest issue is that upon arriving home on Saturday after a nice long ride is that the brake pedal was suddenly very soft. I didn't think too much of it as I suspected that maybe this was the first real miles this car has gotten in many years. However, later that night the brake pedal offered no resistance. Leaking under the car. I have read various threads on here and have concluded that the brake fluid is leaking, that it is not the silicone type but rather the alcohol type which removes paint -- i have been careful on that issue. I have talked to a mechanic who was prepared to inspect the vehicle and work on a starter issue which i have been battling without success. This mechanic does not work on brakes. His recommendation was to add brake fluid. DOT5.1 sounds appropriate from what I have read. I have ordered a shop manual but it has not arrived. I cannot find online any instructional information about where/how to add brake fluid.

    Questions: Should I attempt to add brake fluid? How/where?

    My thought is that I add brake fluid and drive it to a place that can evaluate the issue. It seems maybe that there is a leak and the levels/pressures have dropped to a point of being inoperable. Adding fluid may be a temporary fix and then fixing the leak the next issue. Truth be told, if I can get the brakes working I can then take it to the mechanic I know to address the starter issue then to a place to look at the brakes. If I could find a mechanic who could address all issues that would be better, but I can't reliably drive the car now because getting it started is a real chore.

    Next Question: I am in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Does anyone know of a place in CR that would be good for studebaker work?

    Thank you in advance. I will take pictures tonight so that I can share those.

  • #2
    As important as starting a car seems - the ability to stop it is even more important.

    The master cylinder (this is a reservoir that holds the brake fluid that is pumped out to the brakes so they can do their thing) on your particular car is not going to be found under the hood. It you follow the brake pedal you will notice it goes down through the floor - that is the location of the master cylinder. Under the carpet/floormat there is a rubber plug that gives you access to the top of the MC. Before you start adding any fluid - I would find out where it is leaking.

    Easiest thing to do is look for wet spots on the ground where the car is sitting. Drops on the ground are a dead give-away and with a Studebaker there are probably a lot of them... Do not forget to check the back side of each tire at the bottom as well. If a wheel cylinder is leaking it will start to drip down the bottom of the wheel/tire. Each of the front wheels has a rubber flex line that channels brake fluid to the wheels as well as a single line to the rear axle for both rear brakes. Then there is the master cylinder (under the driver's feet floor board) and possible a hill-holder if the car has one.

    Once you find a wet spot then you have found a leak (there could be more...) and then you can start on things that need to be rebuilt/replaced. If you are not confident in these kinds of repairs yourself, find a reliable mechanic nearby you can roll-back it to.
    Last edited by 62champ; 06-12-2012, 02:10 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't know anything about Dot 5.1 Brake Fluid, it must be something new in the last couple years. But keep in mind that almost all of us have been using Dot 3 Regular Brake fluid forever with only the normal issues with moisture and rust developing over many years and no other problems. I would not spend the extra money for something that is not needed.

      The newer high temp. Dot 4 can also be used, and as you read here Dot 5 is the best, but requires all (4) new or very clean wheel Cylinders, Master Cylinder, Brake hoses (3) and sometime steel lines. This may later end up to be your best choice if it needs a full brake restoration, but for now add the Dot 3, find the leak and replace the faulty unit or units.

      All of the Parts are available at the the Studebaker Vendors at: studebakervendors.com
      StudeRich
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner

      Comment


      • #4
        There is an SDC chapter based around Cedar Rapids, the SDC International meet was there a few years back. Members of the local club will be able to give you advice on repairs and maybe someone in the club can actually help you with them. If someone from there does not post here, a link to the contact information for most chapters is on the SDC main website page.
        sigpic

        "In the heart of Arkansas."
        Searcy, Arkansas
        1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
        1952 2R pickup

        Comment


        • #5
          The most likely place for the fluid to leak is from the wheel cylinders. And usually from the rear wheel cylinders, probably because they are the hardest ones to reach.

          The fluid leaks onto the shoes and then the shoes grab and then, with very light pedal pressure, that wheel locks up. It can be very exciting, so be prepared. When you rebuild the cylinders, you can probably clean the brake parts with Simple Green. If the old shoes still have sufficient lining on them, that lining is better than the stuff you can buy today.

          Do not attempt to remove the rear drums with the kind of puller that goes around the back side of the drum. That will break the drum and you will have to find newer ones. The pullers that work act on the wheel studs.

          Do not remove the internal self adjusters and throw them away because the mechanic does not understand them. If he does so, the brakes cannot be adjusted properly.

          Buy a shop manual and at least buy the chassis parts manual. They will serve you quite well in the upcoming adventure.

          Lots of good advice here on the forum. Welcome to the world of Studebakers! A bullet-nose is a great place to start.

          Don't rush into taking everything apart. It's a hundred times easier to take something apart than to put it pack together again. Many fine cars have been lost in this way.

          Don't be too eager to redesign the car. Studebakers may be a bit different than Fords and Chevys in some areas, but in many cases they are better. Spend some time and research what you have. It's a very good, very reliable car if you know how to fix it.

          And nothing else on the road looks like it either!
          Last edited by RadioRoy; 06-12-2012, 06:20 PM.
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            You definitely need someone in your area to steer you to service providers familiar with Studebakers. Much of it is simple mechanics, familiar to anyone involved in auto maintenance for more than thirty years; not rocket science.
            Make contact with members of your local SDC chapter.
            Find them here:
            http://www.studebakerdriversclub.com/lc_IA.asp
            "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.
            sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you all for the replies. After reading the above and pondering the issue I decided not to attempt to add brake fluid but rather leave it to pros. I had a flatbed pick her up this am and take her to the shop. The shop called and they're gonna take a look, bleed it out, fix the leak, and put in DOT3. It is Midas but they seemed to know what they were doing. They will take the tires off and take a look at the whole brake system. Anything in particular I should say/do/seek assurance from the shop about? Sounds like they got a kick out of having a mystery studebaker arrive without its owner or instructions (the guy I had talked to must have been gone). Gotta love peoples' reaction to studes. Despite having more contact with mechanics and auto supply shops in the last 7 days than I have my whole life, I am glad I took the plunge.

              Comment


              • #8
                Do not attempt to remove the rear drums with the kind of puller that goes around the back side of the drum. That will break the drum and you will have to find newer ones. The pullers that actually work attach to the wheel studs.

                Do not remove the internal self adjusters and throw them away because the mechanic does not understand them. If he does so, the brakes cannot be adjusted properly.
                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Call Midas and tell them we can supply the shop manual pages to cover the procedures on these brakes.
                  Don't let them guess.
                  "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.
                  sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    UPDATES: I have talked to Midas quite a few times and they have had her up on the lift for 3 days now. Starter needs to be rebuilt/replaced they think. They have contacted a Des Moines SDC club member to provide/rebuild that. As to the brake problem they found a problem with the hill holder assembly. They can't find a replacement part and say it needs to be rebuilt. A guy who has (I am told) 30 years of experience working on Studebakers is coming over from Dewitt today to look at it.

                    Midas has been great. They took the lead on looking for NOS parts and making calls. They contacted Studebaker International for parts (which didn't have the hill holder assembly) before I even suggested it. They knew about the issues raised in Roy's message above re rear drums and puller issues.

                    Any suggestions on the rebuild versus replace question? Is replacing the starter a normal thing or should I press them on this issue?

                    Thanks, all.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Replacing the starter is not unusual. There are shops the specialize in starter and generator rebuilding. What is unusual, however, is the starter rebuilding shops doing a good job. They may have to replace the starter a few times to get a good one. But you might get lucky and get a good one the first time around. Be sure that the starter has the correct bolts holding it to the bell housing. they are thicker and serve as a centering device.

                      It sounds like you have found a good shop, where the mechanics are knowledgeable and are actually interested in fixing your car. Back 40 years ago when I started out in Studebakers, the shops mostly looked down their nose at them (and me) and were very indifferent to the quality of their work.

                      The hill holder is usually quite reliable, but has kind of a reputation of being hard to rebuild without leaking, or so I have heard. If worse comes to worse, you can bypass the hill holder, but that may not be necessary.

                      If the car sat unused for many years, rebuilding or replacing the wheel cylinders is a good idea.

                      Other things to check that will add to the car's ultimate reliability... repack the wheel bearings on the front and shoot grease into the outer rear ones.

                      Replace the flexible oil hose on the top back of the engine that feeds the oil pressure gauge. It makes a mess when it bursts under pressure and empties the crankcase very quickly, and may blow up the engine. The Studebaker vendors have them with the correct fittings on them.

                      Replace the flexible fuel line that goes from the inner front fender to the steel fuel line to the carburetor. They can crack invisibly without leaking fuel and then the fuel pump sucks air and starves the carburetor.

                      Grease ALL of the fittings on the front suspension, including the two that always get missed: the one on the center crank, right under the engine, and the one on the bell housing where the clutch linkage goes through the bell housing. Grease the one under the hood, at the bottom of the steering column, where the shift levers come out of the column. That will help make the shifting easier.

                      In fact, grease and oil everything if it moves.

                      Fill up the steering box. I like to use STP for that.

                      Check the level of fluid in the transmission at BOTH points. Use GL-1, or straight 40 wt engine oil. Do NOT use GL-4 or GL-5 with anti friction additives. The additives will attack the synchronizers and cause the car to shift less smoothly.

                      Buy the shop manual and the chassis parts manual and read them. Learn all you can and have fun with less break downs.
                      Last edited by RadioRoy; 06-15-2012, 02:45 PM.
                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Word is that I need a new 6v generator. When they charge it up it starts w/o trouble. Brand new battery, so, something is draining it. The guy I bought it from had put in a new wiring harness (Whitney - sp?) and he put a separate switch in to activate the overdrive. That is the only thing I can think of here. So, I need a new generator and Studebaker International wants us to mail the one I have to them. Is that normal? I am thinking what I need is to just buy a NOS generator, take it to Midas, and get this show back on the road. Thoughts?

                        Next issue is the Hill Holder Assembly. Can't find one to buy. The guy here can get a kit and rebuild it or we can bypass it. Thoughts?

                        Roy -- Thanks again. You are full of information and I really appreciate your input. I now have the Shop Manual and Parts Catalog.

                        Picture is now my avatar and same is in my profile. Will try to add more this weekend.

                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So... the starter is OK?

                          It's a slippery slope, between the generator and the voltage regulator, as to which is killing which, when one dies.

                          There are tests to tell if the generator is bad. They involve grounding the field terminal when the car is running, but these mechanics ought to know that. The generator is the same as a Plymouth and Dodge, so they should not be that hard to find.

                          BTW, the battery in your car is POSITIVE GROUND. If the battery is hooked up wrong, it could have an adverse affect on the voltage regulator.

                          But before applying the shot gun approach (replacing everything you can think of) the best thing to do is figure out what is wrong. It's a basic tenant of troubleshooting that many folks don't take the time to do.

                          Is the battery not being charged when the car is running?
                          Or is something discharging the battery when the car is not running?
                          two different problems with two different fixes.

                          The hill holders are usually trouble free if they have not been messed with. I have heard that it is difficult to rebuild them without having them leak afterwards, but have no experience with that, as i was smart enough to leave mine alone. Since yours is leaking already, what have you got to lose? the worst than can happen is that you end up bypassing it with a piece of brake line. But whatever you do, don't take it out and throw it away. If you cannot fix it now, maybe you or somebody can fix it sometime in the future.
                          Last edited by RadioRoy; 06-15-2012, 05:08 PM.
                          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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would try an alcohol flush on the hill holder. There is little to go wrong and they do have the reputation of leaking after a rebuild. If it doesn't cure the problem, bypass it.
                            "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.
                            sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              also, check your ground wires and maybe run an extra from the engine to the frame...
                              Kerry. SDC Member #A012596W. ENCSDC member.

                              '51 Champion Business Coupe - (Tom's Car). Purchased 11/2012.

                              '40 Champion. sold 10/11. '63 Avanti R-1384. sold 12/10.

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