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  • Other: General Safety Questions

    This is my first restoration, so bear with any stupid questions. My goal is a mild restoration with the upgrades being safety related only. A full frame off is a possibility as the frame needs some repair, but the car definitely needs a new color.

    I am assuming these old cars are chock full of nasty chemicals, like asbestos, lead, cadmium, benzene, etc, but where though? I figure the firewall and brakes are loaded with asbestos. I don't want to be excessively paranoid and wear safety equipment all the time.

    Possible safety upgrades:
    Seat belts - no brainer
    Electrical - Is it best replace the wiring harness or can you put in a megafuse only on the old system?
    Brakes - The current system works great, but the single cylinder is an awful design concept. What are the best options for improving brake safety?
    Firewall - What modernization can be done?
    Is there anything else I am missing?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    To: Biggie,------What model year is the vehicle that You are speaking of?

    Comment


    • #3
      Brakes. Single cylinder is safe....just replace all the brake lines and slave cylinders with new ones. They lasted this long, they'll do it again. Yes, double master cylinders are 'safer', but only necessary if a line or cylinder fails.

      Get new wheels and radial tires. The new wheels will take the side loads the radials exert and the radials are far better handling that bias ply tires.

      Comment


      • #4
        1955 President Hardtop 6H K5

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        • #5
          To: Biggie,-----OK...if You're really going to be 'out there' in it....Convert the electrics to 12 Volts.

          Comment


          • #6
            A very well done disc brake conversion is available here:

            http://www.turnerbrake.com/

            If you're planning on driving it frequently in traffic that would be a good start.

            On my car, I went with a kit from Julianos for shoulder harnesses:

            http://www.julianos.com/3_point_belt_bench.html

            With shoulder harnesses, I decided that I would feel safer with head rests. In that light, I purchased a set of bucket seats out of a 64 GT Hawk and found a pair of elusive head rests for them. There are other options--I've seen (on the web) some headrests that slip over the top of the seat that could be used with the original seats.

            There's a thread (here) about adapting an astro van steering box to a Stude. This might make it easy to adapt a collapsible steering column out of a later model (or aftermarket) car. I think with a bit of care and careful selection, it would be possible to find one that matches the look and feel of the "chest spears" that came with our cars.

            Modern wheels and radial tires have been mentioned and are a good safety move as well.

            Those are the changes I've done (or considering, in the case of the Astro van steering) to make my car safer.
            Dave Nevin
            Corvallis, OR
            1953 Champion Deluxe Coupe
            Stud-e-venture blog

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            • #7
              Making an old car as crash-proof or as survivable as a new one is an impossible goal and a slippery slope when begun. What is an acceptable risk for some is paralizingly terrifying to another.

              Some here are adamant no one should be driving with a single piston master cylinder. I, Tom B. and others have been doing it for fifty years and don't worry about it if we know the entire brake system has been rebuilt with new components and the fluid level is checked regularly.

              Bottom line, I knew one SDCer who bought a '49 Champion convertible and had a great summer giving all the grandchildren rides around the suburbs in it. A next-door-neighbor-best-friend wanted to go along. Her mother went safety nazi about no seatbelts, no airbags, no roof. "That thing's a death trap. My daughter isn't riding in it and you're risking your children's lives."

              The SDCer at great expense installed seatbelts, dual master cylinder, disc brakes, radial tires, but the grandchildren still aren't allowed to ride down to the ice cream parlor. Your results may vary.

              jack vines
              PackardV8

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              • #8
                Originally posted by PackardV8 View Post
                Making an old car as crash-proof or as survivable as a new one is an impossible goal and a slippery slope when begun. What is an acceptable risk for some is paralizingly terrifying to another.<<<jack vines
                A truer statement has never been posted to this Forum!!! How about making it a "STICKY"???

                Comment


                • #9
                  "I am assuming these old cars are chock full of nasty chemicals, like asbestos, lead, cadmium, benzene, etc, but where though? I figure the firewall and brakes are loaded with asbestos. I don't want to be excessively paranoid and wear safety equipment all the time.

                  Possible safety upgrades:
                  Seat belts - no brainer
                  Electrical - Is it best replace the wiring harness or can you put in a megafuse only on the old system?
                  Brakes - The current system works great, but the single cylinder is an awful design concept. What are the best options for improving brake safety?
                  Firewall - What modernization can be done?
                  Is there anything else I am missing? "

                  No benzene. There might be benzene in some products used for cleaning or refinishing, but you should be wearing a respirator if using toxic chemicals. No asbestos in firewall; it's just a sheet of body steel. The padding on the inside is jute, and rubber.

                  Lead and cadmium: found in the battery. Lead solder on wiring connections, Cadmium plating on many steel parts. Harmless unless the metal salts are ingested, or vapors inhaled (think welding on cad-plated steel).

                  Asbestos: found in brake linings and clutch facing. Don't use compressed air to blow dust out of brakes or clutch housing. Aerosol brake cleaner, or soapy water, and wash drippings into the lawn or soil, where any asbestos will be incorporated into the soil and sequestered. Inhalation of airborne dust is a risk, especially if you are also a smoker. Safe to touch it, though.

                  Seat belts: easiest solution is lap belts, properly installed. Shoulder harness can be tricky on a hardtop. Lap belts may not be as "safe" as shoulder harness, but are a huge improvement over no belts at all.

                  The old harness is safe, if in good condition. But if fabric/rubber insulation is used, the rubber may have become hard and crumbly. Inspect it. If the wires look good, and feel normally supple, they should be OK. Wires under the hood, and in the wheel wells take the worst abuse. A megafuse could not hurt at all. The six-volt wiring harness will be fine for 12 volt service, if it is sound.

                  Brakes? What the others said.
                  Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No, that is simply one person's opinion. You happen to agree with it--and I respect that.

                    I too agree with the premise--new cars are much safer than we can ever make our old cars. Does this mean we shouldn't try to do some things to improve the safety of the cars we drive? That we should simply give up?

                    This said, I likely could, with a significant capital outlay, make a Studebaker as safe or safer to drive than the typical new car. It would involve putting in a full-race cage, the appropriate seats with 5 or 6-point harnesses and use of a hans device and helmet. It would probably even improve that flexible chassis under the car. Oh, and of course, a fuel cell and appropriate accessories would be helpful.

                    A blanket statement saying that it is an impossible goal is one that I don't feel is, if we're honest, an accurate one. But I will concede that at some point, the car will no longer be the type of vehicle that is desirable for the majority of us to own.

                    Of course, I'm pretty sure a full-race cage and seats might result in some point deductions in the stock classfications at an SDC meet.
                    Dave Nevin
                    Corvallis, OR
                    1953 Champion Deluxe Coupe
                    Stud-e-venture blog

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't mean to be contrarian, but I don't buy the "modern cars are safer" article of faith. From what I've experienced, it's not the car's equipment that keeps you safe, it's your skill as a driver and how seriously you take the job. In the vast majority of cases it takes two mistakes to make a collision -- one driver doing something stupid, and the other not prepared for the possibility of someone else doing something stupid. (Failing to maintain your car counts as something stupid.)

                      Can the best of us fall victim to someone else's stupidity? Of course. There are no guarantees in life. But faith in technology will as likely get you killed as not, too.

                      These are good, solid, well designed, well built vehicles with a strong track record of safety and reliability. I'll go with that, and I have. But I take driving very seriously, too, and in forty years of driving, most of it in what Click and Clack deride as "deathtraps," I've never been in a mishap more serious than a parking-lot fenderbender (knock wood).

                      Steven Ayres, Prescott AZ
                      58H-K7 660

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Your old car is only as safe as the nut behind the wheel.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gordr View Post
                          "........

                          No benzene. There might be benzene in some products used for cleaning or refinishing, but you should be wearing a respirator if using toxic chemicals. No asbestos in firewall; it's just a sheet of body steel. The padding on the inside is jute, and rubber.

                          Lead and cadmium: found in the battery. Lead solder on wiring connections, Cadmium plating on many steel parts. Harmless unless the metal salts are ingested, or vapors inhaled (think welding on cad-plated steel).

                          Asbestos: found in brake linings and clutch facing. Don't use compressed air to blow dust out of brakes or clutch housing. Aerosol brake cleaner, or soapy water, and wash drippings into the lawn or soil, where any asbestos will be incorporated into the soil and sequestered. Inhalation of airborne dust is a risk, especially if you are also a smoker. Safe to touch it, though.

                          Seat belts: easiest solution is lap belts, properly installed. Shoulder harness can be tricky on a hardtop. Lap belts may not be as "safe" as shoulder harness, but are a huge improvement over no belts at all.

                          The old harness is safe, if in good condition. But if fabric/rubber insulation is used, the rubber may have become hard and crumbly. Inspect it. If the wires look good, and feel normally supple, they should be OK. Wires under the hood, and in the wheel wells take the worst abuse. A megafuse could not hurt at all. The six-volt wiring harness will be fine for 12 volt service, if it is sound.
                          Thanks those are the answers I required! Bottomline, no need for excessive paranoia, just good common sense and err on the side of caution.

                          As to the brake question, my query was driven by the thought that someone in the last 50 yrs must have retrofitted a dual master cylinder for safety reasons on a Studebaker.


                          Yes, we can't control all the safety factors when you drive, but there are certainly a number of proactive, inexpensive changes an owner can implement to improve safety without sacrificing the designers original intent. My quest is the proverbial, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure regarding increasing the safety of my vehicle and more importantly its occupants.

                          Thanks for everyone's input.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Biggie,

                            Turner Brake sells a dual master cylinder conversion kit that works in the stock location.
                            Dave Nevin
                            Corvallis, OR
                            1953 Champion Deluxe Coupe
                            Stud-e-venture blog

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