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Ben's '61 Lark

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  • Ben's '61 Lark

    My son Ben bought his first car, a '61 lark, last fall. More about the purchase here in our intro.



    We are starting to do some minor work on the car here and there, so I thought I'd post a "build" thread of sorts, to house a running chronicle of the project.

    A quick update on where we are now with the car...

    Last fall after getting the car home, we had some issues with the fuel system... Checked all the simple stuff like fuel filter, vented gas cap, etc. Put the car away for winter before figuring out the problem.

    Got the car out this spring, and drove it around a bit. Was running ok, but went through the carb anyway, to see if there was anything obvious that was causing the stalling last winter. Didn't find anyting...

    The old generator wasn't charging much. I opened the hood to check it out, and when I turned on the key, it let the smoke out of itself... Instead of trying to find another one or get the old one rebuilt, I replaced it with a Mopar alternator. Works great, keeps the new battery charged.

    We drove the car on occasion, less than a mile or so each time. It runs, but not well. I think the carb needs more help than I can give it, the engine surges, and stumbles. Driving it one evening, I discovered that the tail lights and one brake light weren't working.

    We sorted out the inoperable tail lights last week, which turned out to be a quick fix. The wire to the tail lights was plugged into the wrong spot on the head light switch...

    With all of the lights now working, we decided to venture forth on Saturday to run an errand to the auto parts store that is about 6 miles away. The car is still on ancient bias ply tires, so we took it slow on back roads, cruising along at about 20mph. The car did great, all things considered. We made it to the parts place without issue, got the stuff we needed, and headed back home. About half way home though, it started running crappy, eventually cutting out completely here and there. I was able to keep it running enough to make it a block from home, when it just wouldn't run at all. We pushed it the last block, and let it sit for the afternoon.

    This is the first time we have driven the car for more than a mile. I want to drive it around a bit to determine what it is going to need to be a reliable daily for my son... The list is getting longer...
    It seemed that the stalling issue had disappeared, but then again, we didn't drive it more than around the block a few times.

    After this weekend's adventure, it seems to me that it is vapor locking. After sitting long enough to cool down, it runs fine until it gets warm again. The engine temps don't seem over normal operating temps.=. Other than cleaning the carb, haven't yet done anything with the fuel system. Going to check the fuel pump pressure, check the fuel lines to see if they are too close to the hot stuff, etc. The car already has a cheap electric fuel pump at the tank, but I'm not sure if it is doing anything. Might also add a return line to the tank.

    The car came with a trunk full of spare parts and new rubber seals. This weekend we installed the new rubber on the driver's door. Next will be the passenger front door, and the trunk.

    Working on finishing up a Willys Wagon project for my oldest son, so the Lark project will be little bits at a time for now.

    More to come...

    Pete

  • #2
    I am happy to see that the Lark is back out after the long winter. I am sorry to hear about the generator, I had that darn thing rebuilt twice at a few $$$ a piece. I had been told before that an alternator was probably a better choice, but I didn't have the funds at the time. That carb. may also be cursed, as that was also rebuilt but sound like you might be having some problems there. I am glad to hear that at the weather striping worked out for you. I will be keeping track on your progress. Haven't had too much time to be able to get on the forum lately.... or to work on anything for that matter.
    1947 Studebaker M-5
    1946 Studebaker M-5
    1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser
    1961 Studebaker Lark 4-dr. Sedan
    1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser

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    • #3
      Does the car still have OLD gas in it? that could be a problem.
      Neil Thornton

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rockinhawk View Post
        Does the car still have OLD gas in it? that could be a problem.
        Not sure how old the gas was that was in the car when we bought it, but added about a half tank of new gas last fall. Now that gas is old too...

        I'm sure this is contributing somewhat to the way it runs. I've never had a carb like this before, so I need to get my head around it. It is running very rich at my elevation, 5,500-6,500'. Just need to find some time and $ to get after it.

        Considering a Weber carb swap too. I just put one on my '60 Willys flathead 6-226, and it made a world of difference. Too many projects at the moment, gotta get ahead of a couple of them...

        Pete

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        • #5
          I agree with Rockinhawk, the first things I thought of when I read about your problem were either water in the gas or old gas.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 61LaRk4dr View Post
            I am happy to see that the Lark is back out after the long winter. I am sorry to hear about the generator, I had that darn thing rebuilt twice at a few $$$ a piece. I had been told before that an alternator was probably a better choice, but I didn't have the funds at the time. That carb. may also be cursed, as that was also rebuilt but sound like you might be having some problems there. I am glad to hear that at the weather striping worked out for you. I will be keeping track on your progress. Haven't had too much time to be able to get on the forum lately.... or to work on anything for that matter.
            Hi Brian-

            Good to hear from you. The Lark is in good hands... Ben can't wait to dig deeper and sort out all the little things that it needs to make it a reliable daily. We live in a small Idaho mountain town, so it is a perfect first car for him to safely run around in. Everything he will be driving to is within ten miles of home. No freeways, or high speed roads to worry about. One of the first things we plan to do is to install three point seat belts.

            Here's a pic of Ben installing the cleaned-out carb-


            We've done a few other little things, like fixing a coolant leak, adjusted the heater shut-off valve, etc.

            I spent quite a bit of time fixing and re-fixing the 12v generator on my Willys wagon, and eventually replaced it with an alternator. Money well spent, so I just skipped ahead to the alternator for the Lark. Less expensive than a full rebuild of the generator, and better performance. The mopar alternators look old-timey too, so it looks at home under the hood.

            This is the one that I put on my Willys, used the same one on the Lark-


            Quick question, the radio doesn't do anything when turned on... Checked the fuse, and it is good. Was the radio working at some point? There is no antenna, but it should still come on without it I would think.

            Pete

            Comment


            • #7
              Hello,

              Pictures look good. I had no doubt that she was in good hands, already doing more than I could. Sure as rain, the radio worked before I ended up selling the antenna for other projects months before I considered selling the Lark. Does the dial light turn on? I wasn't able to get any reception once the antenna was removed, but the radio did work for what stations were available on the AM. The other radio that was sent with the car was the old one that didn't seem to work, which is why it was replaced with the current unit.
              1947 Studebaker M-5
              1946 Studebaker M-5
              1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser
              1961 Studebaker Lark 4-dr. Sedan
              1951 Studebaker Land Cruiser

              Comment


              • #8
                You can ruin the power supply of the Radio without the proper 10 OHM speaker resistance and Antenna, I don't know about your Speaker of course.

                That Red Cable where the Alternator is connected on the Solenoid, appears to be the Starter Cable since it is on the right side and goes rearward and the Batt. Cable should be going Forward.
                Of course it would not charge if it is.

                If the Alt. is connected on the proper Battery Cable side, the charge would not read on the Ammeter if it has an aftermarket Ammeter.
                Last edited by StudeRich; 06-02-2015, 10:47 PM.
                StudeRich
                Second Generation Stude Driver,
                Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                Comment


                • #9
                  Proud NON-CASO

                  I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

                  If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

                  GOD BLESS AMERICA

                  Ephesians 6:10-17
                  Romans 15:13
                  Deuteronomy 31:6
                  Proverbs 28:1

                  Illegitimi non carborundum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It maybe that you have an unvented gas cap.
                    That was the problem on my friend's Lark.
                    It would run fine for a few minutes and than stalled.
                    When he removed the gas cap to pour in more gas because he thought he run out of gas , heard a whoosh.
                    Turn out he had a replacement gas cap and the fuel pump sucked a vacuum on the tank and fuel flow stopped.
                    Try it with the cap removed for a test.
                    Robert Kapteyn

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                      You can ruin the power supply of the Radio without the proper 10 OHM speaker resistance and Antenna, I don't know about your Speaker of course.

                      That Red Cable where the Alternator is connected on the Solenoid, appears to be the Starter Cable since it is on the right side and goes rearward and the Batt. Cable should be going Forward.
                      Of course it would not charge if it is.

                      If the Alt. is connected on the proper Battery Cable side, the charge would not read on the Ammeter if it has an aftermarket Ammeter.
                      This photo of the alternator is on my '60 Willys, and the alternator is connected to the battery cable post on the solenoid... Been there for a couple of years now, working fine.

                      Pete

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If I remember right, the previous owner said he had cleaned and sealed the tank. Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't more crud in there since then...

                        I was thinking about replacing the coil, I had the same issue with an old coil on my '50 Plymouth when I first bought it. I think I have another new coil in my garage somewhere, I'll dig it out and give it a try.

                        Originally posted by rkapteyn View Post
                        It maybe that you have an unvented gas cap.
                        That was the problem on my friend's Lark.
                        It would run fine for a few minutes and than stalled.
                        When he removed the gas cap to pour in more gas because he thought he run out of gas , heard a whoosh.
                        Turn out he had a replacement gas cap and the fuel pump sucked a vacuum on the tank and fuel flow stopped.
                        Try it with the cap removed for a test.
                        Robert Kapteyn
                        This was the first thing I checked, the first time this happened. I thought it had run out of fuel, but sitting at the gas station after topping off the tank, and it wouldn't start, I knew it wasn't out. I pulled the gas cap and tried to run it without the cap, and it didn't change anything. The cap looks like it is a vented cap, so I don't think that is the issue.

                        The coil may be a likely culprit, since the first time this happened it was only about 20 degrees outside... I had let the car run in the driveway for some time, trying to get the thermostat to open to check the coolant for frost protection. Then drove it to the gas station, where it crapped out. Towed it home, and an hour or so later, it ran fine.

                        Pete

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 61LaRk4dr View Post
                          Hello,

                          Pictures look good. I had no doubt that she was in good hands, already doing more than I could. Sure as rain, the radio worked before I ended up selling the antenna for other projects months before I considered selling the Lark. Does the dial light turn on? I wasn't able to get any reception once the antenna was removed, but the radio did work for what stations were available on the AM. The other radio that was sent with the car was the old one that didn't seem to work, which is why it was replaced with the current unit.
                          Planning to pull the radio out and see if we can figure out why it isn't powering up. When turned on, nothing happens, no lights or sound.

                          Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                          You can ruin the power supply of the Radio without the proper 10 OHM speaker resistance and Antenna, I don't know about your Speaker of course.
                          It has a factory speaker in the center of the dash... Don't know if it works or not.

                          Pete

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Spent a few minutes tinkering with the lark yesterday...

                            We decided to drive the Lark to school yesterday morning, for Ben's last day of middle school and commencement ceremony. It ran ok on the way there, all of 1/4 mile or so from home. I parked the car, went inside for about an hour. Afterwards, came out and fired it up to head back home, and it started fine, ran as usual for about a block, and then crapped out again. Instead of fighting it to get home, I left it parked on the side of the road for the day, and headed of to work in my daily. After work, I went back for the car, it started right up, and made it about two more blocks, then died again. I was able to nurse it home the remaining two blocks, so we didn't have to get out a strap and tow it.

                            Once home, I pulled the coil and replaced it with a new one I had on hand.

                            I also changed out the fuel filter, and while at it, checked the fuel pump pressure. It would maintain 4.5-5 lbs pressure. Anyone know what it is supposed to be? I was thinking it should be more like 7-8 lbs of pressure.
                            The old fuel filter was a clear plastic unit, and it didn't fill with fuel, and looked empty when it wouldn't run. When it was running, it was maybe half full of fuel. I thought maybe the fuel pump was going bad, not pulling enough fuel from the tank, which is why I tested the pressure.

                            I did noticed that the pump neck, right near the pivot pin for the pump lever arm, has two weep holes, one on each side. These holes have a small amount of oil coming from them. Wondering if the pump diaphram is weak, or bad. Might just pick up a new pump for good measure, I don't know how old this pump is, or what kind of fuel it has seen in the past.

                            After changing the coil and fuel filter, I drove it around the block once, headed for another loop, and it crapped again in front of my house. Parked it for the night, and called it a day.

                            It is clearly running out of fuel, so I'm thinking it must be the pump, or something plugging the line in the tank. The first episode yesterday, the car had barely warmed up, and had been sitting for an hour after parking at the school, making it only a block before dying. I don't think it was warm enough to be a vapor lock.

                            Pete
                            Last edited by blueskies; 06-05-2015, 04:48 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Is the gas cap vented? 4-5 lb is good for a pump. Good luck.

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