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82 Avanti Steering Issues, Fuel Smells, and more

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  • Steering: 82 Avanti Steering Issues, Fuel Smells, and more

    So I've had my Avanti II now since Thanksgiving and been putting plenty of miles on it. I love this car. I can't go anywhere without getting lots of looks and compliments.

    However, like any older car it had slowly crept up with some issues that while not prohibitive are certainly not to be ignored. I'm decent with a wrench, but I lack the ability to diagnose the root causes of problems at times. For that I'm hoping some of you can shed some light. Below are the issues and associated details.

    Car Details:
    • 1982 Avanti II, 305 sbc, 200r4, Rochester 4-bb electronic choke carb, 57,700 original miles, been in Illinois since 1982 until recently
    • Well taken care of (I have detailed service bills from 1983 onward)
    • Car sat in a garage for the past 8ish years only being driven once or twice a year for 2-10 miles total


    1). Steering Wheel Pull
    Symptoms:
    • Steering wheel turns to the right when I take my hands off the wheel
    • Turning right takes substantially less force than turning to the left
    • After turning right the steering wheel will NOT recenter however when I turn left the steering wheel recenters just fine

    Important details:
    • Control Valve was rebuilt in the early 90s
    • With the car off there is not excessive play in the steering wheel itself
    • Brake booster appears to have a small leak as there is fluid of some type that has coated the steering gearbox below
    • Recently had new tired put on the car (cannot confirm if the problem was there before doing that), however I switched the left/right front tires and it still pulls right.
    • I've greased all of the steering components (including king pins) and that didn't change anything.

    To me this seems like its not just an alignment issue although after I replace the shocks with newer bilsteins I will have the alignment done.
    Any ideas as to the root cause? I hate to simply rebuild the whole system without know exactly what I am trying to fix.

    2). Fuel Smell
    Symptoms:
    • Holy petrol smells batman! When the car sits even for a short bit (like 5-10 mins) the cockpit just fills with fuel smells like crazy and it seems like over the past few months it has gotten progressively worse

    Important details:
    • I've removed the rear seats and taken a look at the tank. There were no apparent cracks, or rusty spots, however I didn't take the tank out to closely examine the backside.
    • Original rubber hoses (I'm guessing this is part of it and will replace these, where can I buy these from?)
    • When I first got the car I couldn't fill the tank up at full pump speed otherwise fuel would back up the filler neck and spit out onto the car (and me). That seems to have gone away after a few months now, but I still fill up with great trepidation.
    • My garage also smells like fuel when the car sits
    • The car takes a long time to crank (maybe related to the carb fuel bowl?)


    3). Takes a long time to start after sitting and other potentially carb related issues
    Symptoms:
    • After the car sits in the garage (e.g. overnight) it takes a good 15 seconds of cranking with pedal pumping to start up
    • Once its started it idles more or less smoothly
    • If you go to drive the car right away the engine bogs when you press on the throttle (even a little bit) as if it wasn't getting enough fuel or air (could this be power piston related?)

    Important details:
    • Original electronic rochester 4bbl qjets carb
    • Original mechanical fuel pump
    • Original GM distributor on the 305 sbc
    • Charging system works perfectly plus a fairly brand new battery

    Any ideas? I feel like both of these issues are carb related although I keep reading that these electronic Qjets are very reliable as long as they are maintained (what needs maintaining on them?) Again I bought a carb rebuild kit, but hate to go through and rebuild a whole component without having an idea of what I'm actually fixing in the first place.

    Thank you for any input or advice. Also while I'm here can anyone recommend a mechanic around the Houston area that is familiar with Avantis/Studebakers?

    Cheers,

    CR

  • #2
    1 - Before you get into replacing/rebuilding everything, take the car to a good suspension/alignment shop. Ask around for ones that do Studebakers by talking to the Stude chapter in your area or call local shops and ask them if they know Studes. Your suspension is the same as the earlier Studebakers. They will tell you what's happening up front and what needs to be done. Solving problems from a distance is specious at best and steering is rather important.

    2 - As far as the gas smell, I'd be prepared to replace all the rubber hoses with alcohol resistant EFI gas line. The boot on the filler neck should also be replaced. With the tank out you can see all the hoses including the nest on top of the tank.

    You can see that the tank isn't that difficult to remove so the time is now to pull it and be sure it isn't leaking. When I bought my 83 about three years ago the hoses were brittle and leaking. One note on tank removal, the bottom fitting must be removed to the allow the tank to be lifted out. Put a 1/4 NPT plug in it to keep the last of the gas from leaking out. You can drain the tank by removing the plug in the gas line under the passengers door.

    The carb issue I'll leave to those that know more than I.

    Welcome and keep asking, Bob
    Last edited by sweetolbob; 02-11-2014, 12:28 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      You might have one or more power steering hoses collapsing internally. The whole power steering system may require rebuilding is another possibility.

      You might have a binding brake caliper in the front, though probably not likely from your description.

      The power booster may not be bad...the fluid could be from the master cylinder and dripping down from where they mate. Clean them both well and see where it's coming from. Keep an eye on the master cylinder and see if it's losing fluid. Sometimes it leaks back into the booster.

      I'm not sure of that year Avanti but it might have a charcoal canister designed to absorb gasoline fumes to keep them from polluting the air. If the filter is clogged it can put out a lot of fumes.

      Quadrajets are excellent carbs it takes someone who knows and understands them to rebuild and work with them...not just any tech. Most techs now are not familiar with a carb and only know how to connect a computer to a car's computer to determine a problem.

      The parts you need should be available from vendors like Myer's Studebaker, Studebaker International, Nostalgic Motors and maybe a few others.
      Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

      Comment


      • #4
        The starting issue is usually related to today's fuel. The answer is usually a supplemental electric pump back by the tank.

        One problem you may encounter trying to rebuild the carburetor yourself is the old pot metal can become actually porous and leak a bit through the body. While an expert reman is a big dollar hit, you may be better off to paying to have it done. They can replate it to seal any porosity.

        Originality is important to some, but one of the several real Q-Jet experts could advise you as to the possibility of swapping your electric whiz-bang for an earlier version. Some are of the opinion the earlier carbs worked better and had fewer problems.

        Same with the distributor. The 1970 or so advance curve worked much better than the mid-'70-80s. GM was trying to cheap out and meet emissions standards with stone-age technology. Driveability, performance and fuel economy all suffered until they gave up and went with electronics.

        jack vines.
        PackardV8

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the responses

          @Gunslinger: I've had the brake calipers off the repack the front wheel bearings and I didn't find any binding there, although good thought. If the hoses are collapsing internally can you see that from the outside? I've inspected them and they don't seem to brittle. I know one or two of them were replaced over the years based on repair receipts. I suppose a full rebuild would probably not hurt. I like fixing things myself because its always a learning experience.

          As for the charcoal canister, yes it does have one (made by rochester). Should you regularly replace those filters?

          @PackardV8 are there any how-to's on installing this supplement electric pump back by the tank? Would this then replace the mechanical fuel pump up front? It's just one of those things you hate to have to be there in the parking lot with this beautiful car that always sounds like its having trouble starting.

          You advice on the carb has inspired me to at least stop by a local carb shop and see what they have to say. Maybe if I rebuild it myself they can at least resurface and seal the metal parts.

          Of course the funny thing is that I'm currently building a new engine for it, a L31 Vortec 350 roller cam motor (currently debating 350 vs 383), so it will get a new carb once that engine is finished, but I'd like to have it running nicely now plus like I said I'm a lifetime student so I always jump at the opportunity to learn something new.

          Comment


          • #6
            Since you had the calipers off to repack the wheel bearings did you make sure the calipers were aligned properly when you reassembled them? They have special washers that locate the caliper so that it mates square with the rotor. If not, it could cause a bind, in your case the right side & create a pull. Alignments or a complete grease job will not correct this.
            59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
            60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
            61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
            62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
            62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
            62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
            63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
            63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
            64 Zip Van
            66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
            66 Cruiser V-8 auto

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            • #7
              @Warren Webb - Yup! I had read enough stories at that point of people forgetting to count I made sure to do that.

              Also if the brake were binding would that explain why it was easier to turn the wheel to that side? Just curious because it seems like that would be a tell-tale sign for something that I'm just not aware of. If the Left turn hose were failings would that affect the ability of the steering wheel to center after a right turn?

              Comment


              • #8
                I had the tank in my 76 removed, cleaned out and coated as well as all the baffle spot welds soldered over. When the tank went back in, the fuel lines were replaced with new rubber lines as well as the rubber connecting sleeve joining the filler neck with the tank. After the tank was re-installed, I sealed the rear seat back panel and coated the whole floor and interior with Fat Mat. All of the above helped to eliminate the gasoline odors my wife was always complaining about when riding in the car.
                sigpic[SIGPIC]

                Comment


                • #9
                  My ideas -
                  1) fuel smell and hard starting - You have a small leak in a fuel line, either solid or rubber line.
                  2) steering - The steering system was not properly centered, maybe when the control valve was rebuilt. This would cause different action in each direction.
                  Gary L.
                  Wappinger, NY

                  SDC member since 1968
                  Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I replaced the rubber fuel line going into the carb and this fixed a similar problem on my Avanti. I also replaced the charcoal canister, which has to be replaced as a unit. My understanding is that the fumes after engine shutdown get removed by the charcoal canister.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @ed gray where did you find a replacement canister? Do you know the part number?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The canister may be GM...does it have any numbers on it that can be cross-referenced?
                        Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't recall where I got it. I just did a web search looking for a 1980 Camaro unit, which is typically what works on a similar year Avanti II. I took an IPhone picture so I could compare it with the picture on the unit on the web. Look for the number of hose connections and where they are. I typically start looking on RockAuto's site and go elsewhere if I can't find it.

                          The unit I bought was exactly the same as the original, except that the new unit had the hose connections labelled. The labels were helpful as I have a 1980 CA emissions car and the number of hose connections is large and often some unintended hoses often come off while working on the car.

                          My experience is that lots of parts suppliers are walking away from dealing in rare parts so there are sales that are good deals, but the parts will be gone for the future. I just replaced the EGR valve for this reason.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The canister has the following number on it: 17087209 KP. This is for the 1980 vintage car I have.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If the part has GM numbers on it, go to a GM parts counter and see if it's still available. If it's an obsolete part (which it likely is), they're connected to every GM dealer nationwide and can search for a dealer that still has them on their shelves. When I needed an a/c idle compensator for a '78 Corvette, it was long discontinued but found a dealer that had two on their shelf. The parts retailed for $90 each but the parts manager told be if I bought both I could have them for $20 each just so he could clear his shelf of them. I bought them both, installed one and sold the other on Ebay for $60.

                              In the late 1980's I needed a gas tank float and the local Ford dealer found one at a far away dealer NOS at a discount for me. It cost less than a used one I could have purchased elsewhere.

                              Never overlook the dealers for obsolete items you might be able to pick up cheaply. No dealer wants "dead" merchandise in inventory.
                              Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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