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Can you help ID this air unit? It's in a 1954 Studebaker 3R 6-12 pickup

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  • Cool/Heat: Can you help ID this air unit? It's in a 1954 Studebaker 3R 6-12 pickup

    I need my fellow Studebaker owners help on this one. My newly acquired 1954 Studebaker 3R 6-12 pickup came with an air unit that I don't know how to operate.

    There are no controls on the dash for this unit, but it looks wired and should be operational. It says "Harrison" on the front, but there's no other identifiable information.

    Can anyone help me out?

    I posted four pictures here:

    Thank you, as always.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Could be an aftermarket heater. Does it have in/out water hoses in the back going to the engine?

    jack vines


    • #3

      It's apparently a 6 volt model Harrison Heater. Here's a refurbished one on eBay.

      I still need to figure out how to turn it on. :-)



      • #4
        It looks like a typical aftermarket heater of the period. Controls are about as simple as it gets. You should have a couple of hoses under the hood that connects the heater to the engine's water system. One of the hoses should be connected to a manual valve. The valve can be either a simple hand (knob) operated type, or cable operated from a "pull" handle installed somewhere on your dash. The motor should be wired to a switch on your dash with an inline fuse for circuit protection. It is a very simple circuit with the heater chassis bolted to your firewall serving as the ground.
        John Clary
        Greer, SC

        SDC member since 1975


        • #5
          Wow, thanks John. I'll do some investigating.


          • #6
            You ought to be able to follow the wire from the fan motor to the switch. Harrison was/is a GM division and used to produce a wide variety of aftermarket heating systems for many cars.
            Skip Lackie


            • #7
              This is known as a firewall heater. It has hot water circulating in it all the time. The only control is a power switch for the fan. Many companies made heaters like this. I have one in my 50 Commander that came from an old Chevrolet. I repainted it and put a Studebaker emblem where the Chevy emblem used to be.

              There were more options on the upscale versions. Some had defroster boxes that fed the big hoses going to the vents under the windshield.

              You directed the air flow by turning the doors and controlled the air flow by the fan speed. The fan speed control usually had a variable resistor or a rheostat on it.
              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


              • #8
                Thanks Skip, RadioRoy.

                I found the hoses and the on/off pull knob. The unit sounds a bit crunchy when I first start it up, but seems to be working. I assume that this is the defroster box on the right (see image link)?


                Excuse my ignorance. I'm just so used to working on the Champion 6 without a Climatizer or a firewall heater (it has an under-seat heater).


                • #9
                  I don't know what that silver box is, but I doubt that it's part of a defroster. A power supply for a radio or some other electronic device, perhaps? I can't read the lettering on the box.

                  As Roy noted, any defroster would have hoses or ducts that would direct air to the windshield vents. On the C-cab trucks, the entry point for the defroster air is a rectangular hole on the engine side of the firewall, right above the big hole where the factory heater box sat. If you want a working heater/defroster setup for your truck, you might be better off buying the correct accessory heater from someone who has a used one for sale. Four different heater designs were used between 1949 and 1964, but the type used in the 3R models was the most common. You should be able to sell your Harrison firewall heater to someone with a GM car from the 30s or 40s, as it would be "correct" and appropriate for them. I suspect your firewall heater spent the first years of its life in one of those cars, and was moved to your truck by someone who was too cheap to pay for a genuine Studebaker heater. Firewall heaters were pretty well passe by 1954.

                  Somewhere in my stash I have an NOS 6-volt Harrison defroster blower, that would have been used with firewall heaters that had two round air outputs for defroster ducts. But I don't see any such ducts on your heater.

                  BTW, if your motor sounds crunchy and you decide to keep the firewall heater on your truck, I would recommend that you take it apart enough to tell if the noise is the fan scraping against the heater body, or the motor itself. If it's the motor that's making unpleasant noises, it won't live long. A few drops of oil on the bearings at each end of the armature might be all it needs. These are not complicated devices and are easily disassembled and reassembled.
                  Skip Lackie


                  • #10
                    Have not been able to find a knob for the climatizer on/off/speed control "Knob Missing" for my 49 in progress 2R5. The switch looks to be a bit unique in how it works/turns and would rather not replace the original switch. Any suggestions?


                    • #11
                      It depends on whether you have heater type A, B, or C. As a 49, your truck should have a type A, but a later one could have been installed later, or the parts switched around. The early trucks got the same switch as used on some 1940s cars, so those knobs should work, though they may look differently. If your fan switch has a hollow tube with a slot cut into it, the knob you need is #677914X1. The knob has a ridge inside it that slides into that slot. I don''t believe anyone is reproducing it right now, but I think SI did in years past.
                      Skip Lackie


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by robchhi View Post
                        Have not been able to find a knob for the Climatizer on/off/speed control "Knob Missing" for my 49 in progress 2R5. The switch looks to be a bit unique in how it works/turns and would rather not replace the original switch. Any suggestions?
                        They LOOK like these Hat shaped type. These Climatizer Knobs are hard to see here, but "on the outside" all of the knobs look like these, but probably with different Shaft openings and of course markings.


                        Click image for larger version

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                        Second Generation Stude Driver,
                        Proud '54 Starliner Owner


                        • #13
                          I shoulda noted that most of us have parts books for our Studebakers, as most of the parts vendors use the original factory part numbers -- and the parts books are very well illustrated. If you don't have a parts book, they are readily available on both paper and CD. In the meantime, if you describe your heater a bit (fan motor inside box? "S" emblem on the front of the box?), maybe I can tell you which type you have. I checked my stash, and I don't have any extra fan switch knobs.
                          Skip Lackie


                          • #14
                            Note: Images like the one posted by Rich are great and helpful.
                            Skip, thanks, have I think...all the manuals to include CD. Could not find online at SI or SA but probably need to call. I believe my Climatizer is Type A - motor inside w/S. I removed it /refinished it and wow, its working. Put it back in yesterday.

                            Just need that Air Knob. Also based on image above I will be looking for the light knob which has been replaced w/a shinny almond colored knob.

                            Skip, really do appreciate your help! Hope DC is good, I'm originally from Baltimore - now in Denver for grandkids sleep overs but miss the East Coast.

                            Thanks, Happy Thanksgiving!


                            • #15
                              Not all of SI's parts are listed in their on-line inventory. Sometimes it's better to call, especially for low-demand parts.

                              I found a used light switch knob in my stash. If you want it, PM me your mailing address.
                              Skip Lackie