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  • Autobody Archeology

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    When I first saw my '51 in photos it looked pretty good, but on closer inspection, it seems that the man who owned it painted and did all of the body work himself (the 50 year old brushed on tractor paint was falling off everywhere.
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    Though the car is SUPER damn solid, (for Illinois at least) it has had some work done to it.
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    One thing I can tell you about Mr. Harry Wood (Why do I find that name so funny) is that he really liked to smear on that bondo. The drivers door is was skinned by bondo ranging from 1/8 in to almost 3/4 inch.
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    Another thing I can tell you about him is that he knew how to braze, but still liked to smear on the filler.
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    I also found what might be a bullet hole in the door that was filled with lead.
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    Another thing I'll say is that he definitely didn't paint the car. I bet his wife did since she even painted the engine bay, and somehow didn't over paint onto anything.
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    Anyways, I don't want to restore this car, but just make it look presentable.
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    Last edited by jjester6000; 09-24-2020, 04:55 PM.

  • #2
    Jack,

    I'm glad you are with us. I'm interested to know how you intend to continue with the project? Since the battery is hooked up, I presume that the car runs. Does it drive as well? It looks like your car would benefit from some better body panels. How are the floors?

    Bill

    Comment


    • #3
      There's more than one way to look at what you are finding with this car. Although it may seem not to be the best quality, it might very well be the best previous owners were able to do, either for budget or skill reasons. However, they apparently loved it enough to preserve it long enough for you to find it and now you have an opportunity to preserve it even better.

      As you peel back the underlying issues, (as I did in the late 1980s & early 1990s on my '48 Business coupe), you can look for rust & rot between the front fenders & A-pillars. Often, there is serious rust around the fender vent door flanges. You might even have to fabricate new body to frame attachment boxes where the body bolts to the frame upfront. (I had to.) Those rubber gravel deflectors attached to your rear fenders may be hiding a fist-size hole rusted through the fenders. Besides protecting your paint from rock chips...those deflectors become rust incubators to the sheet metal behind them. It will give you an opportunity to learn how to fabricate and weld compound curve pieces to repair the damage. There are likely other interesting challenges and issues you will discover as you continue to explore. Let us know, as many of us have been down the same path with our own Autobody Archeology adventures.

      Of all the Studebaker cars produced, I believe it is the "Bullet Nose" Studebakers that have imprinted the word "STUDEBAKER" in the mind of the public. I have been taking various Studebaker vehicles to cruise-ins and shows for over four decades. I have often had comments from folks who know nothing about the Studebaker story being unaware that they made cars that were not bullet nose by design? When I drive my truck, I have often heard the comment, "I didn't know they made trucks!" When I drive my 1948 Business Coupe, I hear questions like, "Did you change the front?"

      However, I can not recall anyone who didn't instantly recognize a bullet nose as being a Studebaker. So...depending on how much you enjoy a challenge, you have the youth, energy, and real opportunity to accept the challenge, learn the skills, and preserve one of the true icons of automobile design. All the best to you and I look forward to how you work it out.
      John Clary
      Greer, SC

      SDC member since 1975

      Comment


      • #4
        My newly purchased Wagonaire has the same problem. It’s a decent car with a lot of really bad, old bodywork. The doors and tailgate are rusty and sculpted out of bondo, while the rest of the car is as solid as any I’ve seen. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        While it’s tempting to blow the car apart and replace the bad sheetmetal, I figure that not every Studebaker needs a slick paint job. I’ll redo the interior and the mechanicals and make a fun driver out of it. If it gets dinged in a parking lot.. Who cares?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mbstude View Post
          My newly purchased Wagonaire has the same problem. It’s a decent car with a lot of really bad, old bodywork. The doors and tailgate are rusty and sculpted out of bondo, while the rest of the car is as solid as any I’ve seen. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          While it’s tempting to blow the car apart and replace the bad sheetmetal, I figure that not every Studebaker needs a slick paint job. I’ll redo the interior and the mechanicals and make a fun driver out of it. If it gets dinged in a parking lot.. Who cares?
          I do not intend to blow the car apart at all, I think I am going to get all the filler out, patch the rust holes, and get paint blended up that matches the tractor paint and touch it up. Maybe I'll restore it one day, but for now I want it to look decent going down the road.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Hallabutt View Post
            Jack,

            I'm glad you are with us. I'm interested to know how you intend to continue with the project? Since the battery is hooked up, I presume that the car runs. Does it drive as well? It looks like your car would benefit from some better body panels. How are the floors?

            Bill
            I got the car running and driving after 35 years of sitting in a barn. I just finished fixing the brakes, so all I need to do now is get some different tires.

            The floors are perfect, no rust at all, also the original gas tank and fuel lines are even fine. It also has the Automatic Drive, and that somehow still works.

            I intend to knock the rest of the bondo out, hammer and dolly the door a bit, (not trying to restore it) patch the rest of the rust holes, and have Sherwin William's blend me up an enamel to match the tractor paint (So I can touch it up).

            Maybe ome day I'll try sanding all the tractor paint off and getting back to the original paint (I am a fan of that blue patina look).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jclary View Post
              There's more than one way to look at what you are finding with this car. Although it may seem not to be the best quality, it might very well be the best previous owners were able to do, either for budget or skill reasons. However, they apparently loved it enough to preserve it long enough for you to find it and now you have an opportunity to preserve it even better.

              As you peel back the underlying issues, (as I did in the late 1980s & early 1990s on my '48 Business coupe), you can look for rust & rot between the front fenders & A-pillars. Often, there is serious rust around the fender vent door flanges. You might even have to fabricate new body to frame attachment boxes where the body bolts to the frame upfront. (I had to.) Those rubber gravel deflectors attached to your rear fenders may be hiding a fist-size hole rusted through the fenders. Besides protecting your paint from rock chips...those deflectors become rust incubators to the sheet metal behind them. It will give you an opportunity to learn how to fabricate and weld compound curve pieces to repair the damage. There are likely other interesting challenges and issues you will discover as you continue to explore. Let us know, as many of us have been down the same path with our own Autobody Archeology adventures.

              Of all the Studebaker cars produced, I believe it is the "Bullet Nose" Studebakers that have imprinted the word "STUDEBAKER" in the mind of the public. I have been taking various Studebaker vehicles to cruise-ins and shows for over four decades. I have often had comments from folks who know nothing about the Studebaker story being unaware that they made cars that were not bullet nose by design? When I drive my truck, I have often heard the comment, "I didn't know they made trucks!" When I drive my 1948 Business Coupe, I hear questions like, "Did you change the front?"

              However, I can not recall anyone who didn't instantly recognize a bullet nose as being a Studebaker. So...depending on how much you enjoy a challenge, you have the youth, energy, and real opportunity to accept the challenge, learn the skills, and preserve one of the true icons of automobile design. All the best to you and I look forward to how you work it out.
              I'd have to say that the guy loved the car, he owned it from new and drove it until his death in 1987. It sat in a barn for about 33 years, and is super solid for Illinois.

              If it hadn't been under that cover, I don't think that paint would have survived as well as it did.

              I am no stranger to tractor paint and crappy bodywork, since I've painted several cars with tractor paint myself (with a siphon feed paint gun, not a brush).
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              I want to preserve the originality, but I don't want to restore it. I bought the car with the intention of driving it, so that's is what I'm going to do.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think we all have to remember these were old cars back in the day when they were five years old if in used car lot they were back row specials . I remember my dad bought a 1951 Henry J in 1958 for forty bucks put steel floor in it painted and drove it as work car till 1963 . Lots of thrifty people back then wanted to spend the least amount of money for a car to drive . When in later 1960's when a lot of young guys were working in steel mills here would buy nice new muscle car to drive around in a beater piece to go to and from work to save good car for after work and fun. Studebakers were in same group then when they were old used cars value was next to nothing. Most new car dealer in this area had back row of used and abused cars for cheap. We use to go look at them and sales man would give you keys and set of jumpers to see if it would start if you wanted to look . I bought 1963 Corvair Spyder with a bad clutch from Olds dealer for $200 in 1970 to save my Buick Stage 1 from winter driving

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good for you! More then one way to enjoy a car. Today in my world everything is too much-too many cars, too little money, too little room, all of the cars too good to commit to upgrading, and I'm too old. When I was your age I would have done what you are planning-good luck.

                  Bill

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just about any car that has evidence of a DYI paint job is almost always hidding something under that paint.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jjester6000 View Post

                      I do not intend to blow the car apart at all, I think I am going to get all the filler out, patch the rust holes, and get paint blended up that matches the tractor paint and touch it up. Maybe I'll restore it one day, but for now I want it to look decent going down the road.
                      Sounds like a good plan!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ditto on the "Good Plan". Many cars get blown apart. with good intentions of a total restore, but end up getting sold as parts or worse yet scrapped. Looks like a great car, and I expect that you will have a lot of driving it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I finished getting the bondo out of the door, and now going to start patching the rust holes.
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                          Also, experimented around with scotchbrighting the paint and buffing it out, and I'm surprised on how nice it is cleaning up.
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                          With shiny paint, and my new 6.70-15 bias plys, this will turns some heads at my local cars and coffee (partly because I haven't seen any other studebakers there before)
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                          • #14
                            Looks like good progress. Are you going to leave the bullet hole? You may want to stack the tires whitewall to whitewall or put cardboard between them. In not very much time the whitewalls will discolor stacked like that.
                            _______________
                            http://stude.vonadatech.com
                            https://jeepster.vonadatech.com

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