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57 Stubie newbie in need of sage wisdom

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  • 57 Stubie newbie in need of sage wisdom


    I am a new Studebaker owner. Well, my family and me are new. We bought a '57 Studebaker Champion. We purchased it off of ebay from a guy in Arizona. So far we love it and we knew it was going to need some work and TLC. It's in pretty good condition but we need to get a few things taken care of. We have spent $2500 on it so far just getting it up to basic running condition, new brakes, emergency brake, tires, etc. But we're still having a trouble. Especially when it goes around corners, it tends to die. Is this a common thing that this model does or is there something we need to look into?

    Also, it really hates to start. We always have to tinker with it. It seems like it's worse when it rains. It's like something is getting wet and needs to dry out before it will start. If we keep tinkering, it will eventually start. We can drive it fine, but then going around a corner it stalls out and has to be restarted. My husband and I are thinking it might be that it's low on gas and the gas guage isn't reading properly. We're going to get it filled up again tomorrow to see if this might be the case. Either that or possibly needs a completely rebuilt carburetor ...? Dunno.

    One other thing we have noticed is that it will go no faster than about 48 - 50 mph. It has the original engine in it. Is this really how slow they were? I'm now beginning to wonder if we didn't just buy ourselves a lovely ice money pit.

    It was supposed to be a car for our son. My husband thought it would be a great car they could bond over while getting it into running shape. Well now this stuff just doesn't seem to be working and hubby is seeing the money flying away over the horizon on a car that still won't get us from point A to point B.

    I really hate to just turn around and sell it so soon after we bought it. It's beautiful and we want to enjoy it ... but not at the expense of going broke in the process. We just want to get some basic things done so my son can get in it and run around town a little and do errands. Then as time goes by we can get it fixed up more and more.

    Does anyone out there have any good wisdom to impart on me?


    || Life has a way of making the forseeable that which never happens, and the unforseeable that which your life becomes. ||
    ~Viggo Mortensen / Appaloosa

  • #2
    problems while cornering definitely sounds like carburetor, I would rebuild it, you can do this yourself with a carb kit from your FLAPS and a can of carb cleaner (get the thing that looks like a paint can with a little basket inside to dip the disassembled pieces in to clean them, save the aerosol stuff for final cleaning) while you're at it you might as well kit the fuel pump as well, the diaphragms do not age well, get an all new fuel system while you're at it. Might as well replace all the rubber fuel hoses with new as well. Modern fuel and old rubber don't mix! Don't worry, this isn't going to cost a lot of money, probably less than $100 unless you have to buy some tools (can't imagine you would, unless you have *nothing* - you just need basic sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers and possibly an old toothbrush or two) use a small brownie pan to keep all the little tiny pieces from getting lost when you disassemble the carb.

    Problems starting may or may not be related. I would start with the carburetor and then see if you still have a problem. If you do, have you done a basic tune-up (new plugs, wires, cap, rotor, points, condensor?) hard starting when wet can often be simple water getting through a crack in the distributor cap, or old wire insulation that has tiny cracks in it. If you see a lot of arcing and sparking with the hood up at night when you mist some water over the plug wires it's definitely time for new ones. If you do the tuneup yourself, you might want to pull the distributor completely out of the engine and examine it for worn bushings, sloppy weights, broken springs etc. as all will cause the car to not run as well as it should. (there've been posts on the forums before about this, if you can't find them post back and I'm sure someone will respond)

    Have you cleaned the bowl and filter on the fuel pump?

    Dark horse guess would be rust or varnish in the fuel tank clogging things up. Might need to have the tank boiled out and sealed, but I'd start with the carb.

    Also make sure that the steel fuel line running from the rear of the car to the front does not have any pinholes in it, that line has suction on it from the fuel pump so it will only leak if the engine is not running, sucking air reduces fuel volume to the engine and will cause issues.

    50 MPH is not normal, Champions are pretty underpowered IMHO (although I've been accused of having a warped, power-loving mentality) but you should be able to keep up with highway traffic (eventually.)

    If you solve the stalling problem and give the car a tuneup but the car is still slow, might want to run a compression check on it to make sure the engine isn't just slap wore out before going too nuts on it.

    good luck


    55 Commander Starlight
    55 Commander Starlight


    • #3
      Hi, KC,

      Welcome to the forum. There's loads of information available by using the search function.

      I'm a newbie too, but have learned a couple of things by reading the posts of the experienced guys. When your car dies, is it always on left turns? After it dies, does it start right up again? I understand that some of the carburetors of that vintage, if not properly tuned, would starve for gas on left turns. Don't ask me to explain the physics of it. That might be the first place to look for that problem.

      Your car should definitely go faster than 50. What engine is in the car? What does it sound and feel like at top speed?

      It seems like your first order of business is a carburetor adjustment. Hope some of the other guys can chime in here.




      • #4
        Find a local Studebaker Club. Talk to them and find a good Studebaker mechanic have him look at it. A a good [u]Studebaker</u> mechanic can save you a lot of money. Bob

        55pres- Cascade Chapter Oregon


        • #5
          I'm not a mechanic but I can share what I've learned about
          Studebakers over the last 40 years.
          No it shouldn't die going around corners, and no Studebakers
          are not money pits. Most of us that drive them are somewhat
          cheap at times so we wouldn't waste our money on them.

          My Dad bought a new one in 1964. The distributor cap cracked
          and it was hard to start. He would have to take the cap off
          in cold and/or wet weather and bring it in the house to warm it up.
          I think he would put it in Mom's oven, I don't remeber for sure.
          I would have been in the 4th or 5th grade at that time. Why ddin't
          he just buy a new cap? Couldn't afford one!

          I had a '64 one time that had been in a flood. It would run
          but would loose power. The gas line from the tank to the engine
          had pin holes in it from rusting through and was sucking air.
          I went to NAPA and bought enough fuel hose to run from the tank
          to the engine and put that on. Problem solved.

          I Had a '62 GT Hawk that was hard to keep running. The pipe
          that the fuel hose attached to at the tank had plugged up with
          rust and it was barely getting any fuel. I dropped the tank,
          cleaned it out, poured in some gas tank sealer and let it dry
          thoroughly. I then cleaned out the pipe going into the tank.
          Problem solved. (The sealer even sealed up some pin holes it had)

          Your car sounds like a 6 cylinder if it will only go that fast.
          You have to make sure the overdrive on the transmission is working
          to get anymore speed out of it. You'll need access to a shop
          manual and follow the troubleshooting guide step-by-step.
          Seems rather complicated, just remember that complications are
          nothing more than a compilation of simplicities. You just
          have to take it one step at a time.

          I always install a fuel filter in the gas line before it goes
          into the carburetor and sometimes a second one between the tank
          and the fuel pump. You may need to clean out the carb.

          Hope this helps in some small way. Welcome to the forum.
          I'm sure that others with far more knowledge than me will
          soon be answering your questions. What they'll need to know
          is what Model is it? What engine does it have? (6cylinder or 8)
          and what transmission does it have? (automatic or 3 spd)
          If it has a 3spd trans they'll need to know if it has overdrive or not.



          • #6
            Hey guys,

            Thanks for all the answers. I'm SpasticLizard's husband, the guy who bought the Champion. Actually, it's a '56 2-door, NOT a '57. Body-wise and interior are in GREAT shape. Supposedly it's a ONE-OWNER car. I have the original title from 1956. One thing my wife didn't tell you is that we had the ignition changed over to electronic ignition. The stalling out seems to happen when cornering either direction.

            I appreciate all the great advice and the first things I'll do is to check into rebuilding the carburetor and replacing the fuel pump. I'll be checking back here often. Thanks again!


            • #7
              don't replace the fuel pump! rebuild the original one. New production Airtex pumps are... not so good. Get a kit from a Stude parts vendor or "the cellar" for about the same $$, keep your engine looking original, and more reliable and less likely to leak all over the place. Also make sure the heat shield is in place. not that that is causing your problem but if it's not there it will cause problems with vapor lock down the road.

              If you don't want to have the downtime of rebuilding the fuel pump that's on the car now, buy a used one from Tom Karkiewcz or someone else that sells used parts and rebuild that one.

              As for the ignition being converted to elecronic - if you just replaced the points with a Pertronix module or similar, and you still have the original distributor body, the bushings/weights/etc. still need to be checked for proper operation. The thing's over 50 years old, after all - even the best stuff wears out eventually.


              55 Commander Starlight
              55 Commander Starlight


              • #8
                You didn't specify where you live, but you should be able to find a local chapter of the drivers club. I'm sure that there are members locally that can help you. I would recommend spending the money for the shop manual for your car as it will contain the information that you need to repair your car yourself. Meanwhile get the carb rebuilt, replace any worn ignition components and check the compression as low compression in one or more of the cylinders will cause loss of power and a rough running engine. I'm located just south of Los Angeles, if I can be of help to you, let me know. Bud


                • #9
                  He's in Sharpsburg Georgia Anybody close to him to help out? Shoot I don't even know where that is

                  Mabel 1949 Champion
                  Hawk 1957 Silverhawk
                  Gus 1958 Transtar
                  The Prez 1955 President State
                  Blu 1957 Golden Hawk
                  Daisy 1954 Commander Regal Coupe
                  Mabel 1949 Champion
                  Hawk 1957 Silverhawk
                  Gus 1958 Transtar
                  The Prez 1955 President State
                  Blu 1957 Golden Hawk
                  Daisy 1954 Regal Commander Starlight Coupe


                  • #10
                    He's a bit south of Atlanta, which puts them in the realm of the North Georgia Chapter (my old chapter). There's several members on this forum, ROADRACELARK (Dan Miller) being one of them. There's LOTS of great tech-heads in that chapter. Someone ought to be able to offer assistance.

                    1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                    1963 Cruiser
                    1960 Larkvertible V8
                    1958 Provincial wagon
                    1953 Commander coupe
                    1957 President two door

                    No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


                    • #11
                      Well it looks like spasticlizard and I are similar except you can put your car on the road. I am a LONG way off from that. We are both NEW to Studebaker country and the forum. I really enjoy reading the comments most days. I think I am going to join the local chapter maybe it will let me know if someone is in Louisville KY and can give me some more guidance. Don


                      • #12
                        Yes, we're in Sharpsburg, GA which is about 30 miles sw of Atlanta. GREAT stuff here and I'll be checking in regularly and giving you all updates. I'll try to find a local Studie club and if you guys know of one close and can give me contact info... great!

                        First things first; we'll be rebuilding the carburetor soon and I'll report back.

                        Thanks again everyone!


                        • #13
                          In case anyone is wondering, here are a few shots:


                          • #14
                            Likely, she (car not wife) just needs to be used a bit. I had similar issues with my 1962 Lark, had it serviced by my Toyota dealer and it would still occasionally stall. Once I had driven it say for 100 miles or so it was OK. Just like people, no exercise for a while and things stiffen up.

                            Have fun with your car.

                            John Clements
                            Avantilover, your South Australian Studebaker lover!!!
                            Lockleys South Australia
                            John Clements
                            Christchurch, New Zealand


                            • #15
                              spasticlizard and WhatYes,
                              Welcome to the Forum. I'm about 60-70 miles north from you and would be glad to help in any way I can. We have a very active chapter here, come take a look-see.
                              I tried to e-mail you through the forum, but I don't know if it made it, unless you have not listed your e-mail address yet. We're all here to help! Make sure you join the SDC....the best money ever spent

                              Dan Miller
                              Auburn, GA

                              Road Racers turn left AND right.