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51 Champion Speedometer problems

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  • 51 Champion Speedometer problems

    The speedometer cable on my 51 was disconnected when I bought it, so to see if it worked I hooked it up and went for a test drive. Well it kind of works, it goes up and reads about the right speed, but it won't come back down when I stop. Any Ideas?

  • #2
    quote:Originally posted by cwinston

    The speedometer cable on my 51 was disconnected when I bought it, so to see if it worked I hooked it up and went for a test drive. Well it kind of works, it goes up and reads about the right speed, but it won't come back down when I stop. Any Ideas?
    Relax, it's just in a time warp, and it has lot of catching up to do

    Seriously, I'd be thinking the lubricant on the needle pivot has become gummy, or perhaps something is in a bind inside. I think I actually have a spare '51 speedo in my parts stash, but it will be a few weeeks until I can go look for it.

    I don't think it's too hard to remove the speedometer head from the cluster. Take it out, and gently move the pointer by hand and see if you can find the binding point. I expect the hairspring is good, or else the speedo would peg right out at normal speed. Try a little WD40 at the point where the needle pivot fits in its bearing on the dial side. The rear pivot of the needle is in the rotating magnet assembly, and if THAT pivot were binding, the needle would fly up and crash against the top end peg.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    • #3
      I've restored more than a few old speedos (but no studebakers) but they all were made pretty similar I think. Gordr is right about the lube becoming gummy. Oil will turn to varnish in a few decades. But I don't recommend WD-40, although that will temporarily fix the problem. It is best to disassemble the speedo, and if you have never done it before, you might try a junk speedo to practice on. To remove the needle many old speedo's required gently turning the needle to the left or right while pulling, as just pulling straight won't remove it on most old speedo's. Once it is disassembled and cleaned, oil it with synthetic clock oil (about $25!) or Super Lube makes a good synthetic lube for about $4. Grease goes on the gears and oil goes in the needle pivot. Generally the odometer's didn't need lube.

      Or you can send it away for restoration, or take it to a speedo shop. In my experience, the restorers want about $400 for a complete, gorgeous restoration, while the speedo shops want about $100 for a cleaning, calibrating and oiling. But I always did mine myself. It's not hard, if you are good with small parts.

      To calibrate it, generally there is an MPH which the speedo reads when the cable RPM is 1000 RPM. I don't know what that MPH is for your car, but maybe someone here knows the number. To re-calibrate it, find the anchor for the needle spring and rotate it just a tiny bit so that it either puts more pull or less pull on the needle, depending on whether the speedo reads slow or fast. How's that? Clear as mud? It's not hard--if you can get an old junk speedo to practice one you will be way ahead.

      1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
      1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
      1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
      1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
      Robert Rausch

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      • #4
        I have an NOS metric speedo from a 55 Stude. I want to re-calibrate it so that it's digits are accurate in miles per hour. I've been told it's easy to do - for one hundred bucks![}]

        But still - think how impressive it would look to have a 180MPH speedo in a 55 President sedan![:0]

        Miscreant at large.

        1957 Transtar 1/2ton
        1960 Larkvertible V8
        1958 Provincial wagon
        1953 Commander coupe
        1957 President 2-dr
        1955 President State
        1951 Champion Biz cpe
        1963 Daytona project FS
        No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

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        • #5
          quote:Originally posted by rrausch


          To calibrate it, generally there is an MPH which the speedo reads when the cable RPM is 1000 RPM. I don't know what that MPH is for your car, but maybe someone here knows the number.
          I believe all post war Studebakers are 60 MPH @ 1000 RPM's. How do you calibrate the speedo?

          -Dick-
          Dick Steinkamp
          Bellingham, WA

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          • #6
            Thanks for the input, I thought it may just be gummed up. I haven't rebuilt a spedo before, but I have put a water flow meter back together. (It's amazing how many gears are in one of those, It's even more amazing how far they roll across a parking lot in winter![:0])

            Mr. Biggs, wouldn't a 180MPH speedo in a 55 sedan be a bit of false advertising? That is unless you could actually get your sedan to do 180! Personally I'll settle for 60 in my 51. I just don't pull out in traffic unless I have plenty of room to get there!

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            • #7
              Must be a 170. My 51 232 doesn't shift in to third gear until it hits 72 mph.
              "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.
              sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

              Comment


              • #8
                Dick, there is an anchor on the end of the needle spring that anchors the spring to the shaft of the speedo needle. The spring is what determines how far the needle will move as the RPM's of the cable increase. The tighter the spring is, the less the needle will move as the cable is turning. Make sense? So if the input speed of the cable is 1000 rpm, and the needle shows 50 mph you know the spring is too tight and you will have to loosen the spring anchor a tiny bit. If the speedo shows 70 mph at 1000 rpm you know the spring is too loose. It's not hard if you are handy with small parts, and you have a steady 1000 rpm source.

                1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
                1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
                1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
                1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
                Robert Rausch

                Comment


                • #9
                  Does it matter which direction the RPM source turns? Will something break If I get it wrong the first time?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    quote:Originally posted by rrausch

                    Dick, there is an anchor on the end of the needle spring that anchors the spring to the shaft of the speedo needle. The spring is what determines how far the needle will move as the RPM's of the cable increase. The tighter the spring is, the less the needle will move as the cable is turning. Make sense? So if the input speed of the cable is 1000 rpm, and the needle shows 50 mph you know the spring is too tight and you will have to loosen the spring anchor a tiny bit. If the speedo shows 70 mph at 1000 rpm you know the spring is too loose. It's not hard if you are handy with small parts, and you have a steady 1000 rpm source.

                    1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
                    1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
                    Thanks! Makes perfect sense. Since I'm all thumbs, it may be a little difficult for me however.

                    -Dick-
                    Dick Steinkamp
                    Bellingham, WA

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quote:Originally posted by cwinston

                      Does it matter which direction the RPM source turns? Will something break If I get it wrong the first time?
                      Turning it backwards won't hurt anything. The needle will TRY to go below zero, but there is a peg there to prevent that, and the force that is actually developed by the rotating magnet is very small, anyway.

                      BTW, when I spoke of using WD40 in my prior post, I was thinking more of using it as a mild solvent to loosen up the gummed OEM lube. And yes, the speedo should be out of the dash to do that.

                      Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
                      Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I finally have the speedometer out of the Champion. What looks wrong is that the needle shaft doesn't reach the rear pivot socket, this causes the shaft to bind on the front pivot bushing.

                        If I turn the speedo face down so the shaft is straight up and down, the speedo returns to 0 the way it should.

                        My guess is that someone before me has had this speedo apart and didn't put a shim or washer back in when they reasembled it.

                        So I could use a recomendation of a good speedo shop. Any suggestions? I don't have one near my home.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks to the info in this topic I was able repair the speedo in my 64 Champ. The needle was jumping but a clean and lube seems to have fixed it. I was also able to clean the numbers in the odometer. Be very careful of the numbers on the dial face. Mine were extremely fragile and I have lost part of the 0 at 0 mph.

                          Don Wilson
                          53 Commander Hardtop
                          64 Champ 1/2 ton
                          WA state
                          Don Wilson, Centralia, WA

                          40 Champion 4 door*
                          50 Champion 2 door*
                          53 Commander K Auto*
                          53 Commander K overdrive*
                          55 President Speedster
                          62 GT 4Speed*
                          63 Avanti R1*
                          64 Champ 1/2 ton

                          * Formerly owned

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