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Studebaker Repair Lesson

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  • Studebaker Repair Lesson

    Here is one for the books. Next time your Studebaker developes a funny noise keep this in mind. It might not be anything you thought it was. I have been wrenching on Studebakers on and off for 50 years (I built my first engine a 299 V8 when I was 10 years old, with dads oversight of course) and this one stumpted me for two days. I drove the Studebaker Camper on Thursday morning and all was fine. That afternoon I went to go for a short trip and during the drive the engine developed a loud squeeking noise that changed with engine load. It sounded like a slipping belt so I drove it home. After checking the belt for tightness I took it off and the noise was still there. So I got out my stethoscope and starting trying to track down the noise. Here is a video of the noise:

    As you can hear it is a very sharp sound that changed with engine speed ect. I thought it might be a dry rocker arm as it sounded like a metal to metal sound. So I removed the rocker covers and checked everything in there and since I was in there I adjusted the lash. It was clear the problem was not is there. At one point I had my wife come out and listen to it as she has much better hearing than I do since my radiation treatments have caused severe hearing loss. She said it sounds like a slipping fan belt. I told her I thought it sounded like a reed instrument, like a gasket vibrating and making a whistling sound. So I checked the carb gasket with the stethoscope and then removed the carb to be sure. All looked good, so now where? I concluded that although I could not narrow it down to any one cylinder I thought it might be a wrist pin had come loose and was rubbing the cylinder wall.

    So I dropped the oil pan and checked all the wrist pins, torqued the wrist pins nuts (none were loose) checked the main and rod bearings, checked the oil pump, checked the distributor drive gears, checked the cam and lifters and cam bearings. Nothing! So I put it all back together and put fresh oil in it and started it up. The noise was still there. I then made the video you just watched and posted it on the Racing Studebakers site. A couple of guys made suggestions and the next day I jacked it back up and removed the starter to see if the flywheel and starter pinion gears were hitting. Nope. Checked the crankshaft end play, all good. So since it was jacked up I decided to run it and see if I could locate the noise from underneath the beast. As I was comparing each cylinder on the side of the block I noticed that from under the truck the noise was much louder and seemed to be coming from the passenger side. So I took the amplifier end off the stethoscope and started listening for air noises (remember me mentioning I thought it was a reed instrument noise) and when I got close to the exhaust flange area bingo a big exhaust leak. So I dropped the pipe and the gasket looked good? So a new gasket and started it up and the noise was still there. So I removed the exhaust manifold and there it was. The shim steel gasket between the heat riser and the manifold had blown out a 1" section and that was causing the noise. So I removed the heat riser and found it was also cracked at the shaft area so I eliminated the heat riser as it was stuck in the open position anyway and put it all back together. A big sigh of relief as the noise was gone. So a lesson learned, don't panic, go with your first instincts and don't forget to listen from under the vehicle also. I could have saved myself a lot of fun and frustration. Hope this helps someone down the road some day. Since my motto is "if you get through a day and you didn't learn anything new you are probably dead or were not paying attention, so check your pulse" I was definitely alive this weekend.

  • #2
    GOOD JOB. Now you also know that everything is good inside the mill. I hope you put in "good" oil and can enjoy the vehicle for many more miles!


    • #3
      Man, you've got me rackin' my fading memory banks now! I had the SAME sorta noise on my '57 Transtar some years back - but it wasn't a gasket or shim. I first thought it was the generator or maybe the water pump..... but the squealing persisted after the belts were off. Had me really scratchin' my head - like I am now to remember what it was that I found.
      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


      • #4
        Thank you