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  • Frame / Springs: Harsh ride

    My '48 Commander convertible, recently put on the road as a Patina car", has a very harsh ride, noisy, rattles badly. What should I try, to fix this?

  • #2

    Rattles - Find out what's loose and tighten.
    Harsh ride - Check tires, bushings, shocks, springs.
    Noisy - Check exhaust system.

    If after doing that you're still not satisfied trade it in for a Lexus. No 70+ year old car will even approach the low level of NVH as a new car.

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    • #3
      Replace / rebuild whatever is broken / worn out.

      Driving a ‘47 Commander should be like riding down the road in a La-Z-Boy.

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      • #4
        On a '48 you are going to need to lubricate the 3 leaf springs. The rear springs should have grease fittings on the gaiters. Am not sure on the front one. That you may need to take apart, lube and put back. That will take care of a lot of harshness--right now the leaves cannot slide easily over each other. Also, you have lever shocks at all 4 corners and the chance of them all working well is very slim and the link bushings have probably perished. None of this is expensive, but it is time consuming. Then again after you are done it will be good for another 40 years or so.

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        • #5
          The shock absorbers may be set for too firm of a ride. There is an adjustment pointer on them. The shocks are designed to be rebuildable, but who knows who can do that these days?
          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

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          • #6
            For starters, how old and hard are the tires? Beyond tires, the comments above are good.
            Last edited by studegary; 12-27-2020, 05:04 PM. Reason: missing s
            Gary L.
            Wappinger, NY

            SDC member since 1968
            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
              The shock absorbers may be set for too firm of a ride. There is an adjustment pointer on them. The shocks are designed to be rebuildable, but who knows who can do that these days?
              https://www.applehydraulicsonline.com

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              • #8
                Worn shocks also will cause bouncy ride.
                Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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                • #9
                  On my '55 pickup, replacing the window cat whiskers, the window channels, and replacing the door weatherstrip and adjusting the door strikers, made a HUGE decrease in noise (window rattles and air noise, and door rattles).
                  Paul
                  Winston-Salem, NC
                  Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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                  • #10
                    Apple Hydraulics is the only name that comes to mind for rebuilding those shocks. It's not cheap, but should only need done every forty to fifty years. And, as Ross mentioned, you will also want to replace the bushings in those levers.
                    "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.
                    '33 Rockne 10,
                    '51 Commander Starlight,
                    '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
                    '56 Sky Hawk

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                    • #11
                      Good post, I'd start with the easy first. What is rattling? It may be hard to pinpoint driving alone, so maybe have a passenger determine if it's a poorly fitting door, window, glove box, or similar item. Once the interior rattle is fixed, is there still noise?
                      While the car is running and parked, you can use a 3 ft or so PVC pipe or cardboard tube as a "Stethoscope" to listen to parts of the engine (such as the generator) for unusual noise. Steer clear of the spinning fan and belts though. Is the noise level different when the car is moving than it is while running in Park?
                      Step on the bumper and see how much bounce the car's suspension has.
                      Good luck!

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                      • #12
                        Check the travel on the front end. Jump up and down (figuratively speaking) to judge the spring travel. Look also at the clearance between the top of the front tire and the inside fender well. Unless some front end work has been done over the last seventy years, I suspect that the transverse front springs have sagged. In which case the front end will have to be disassembled, springs, at the very least, lubed, or replaced or rearched. I know of no replacement springs that are available for a 1948 Commander. You might have some custom made or find good used ones, but rearching might be your least expensive and most expedient option. These are good front ends when maintained, but like any suspension if not maintained, they deteriorate. At some point the piper has to be paid.

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                        • #13
                          Repair and replace worn items, as needed, and about 20K later it'll ride and sound GREAT !!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Flashback View Post
                            Repair and replace worn items, as needed, and about 20K later it'll ride and sound GREAT !!
                            Are you serious?

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                            • #15
                              i tighten all the frame to body bolt and nuts and the ride got harsher, some where finger tight after 60 years and the ground got a better connection

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