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grease and the Studebaker front end

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  • Steering: grease and the Studebaker front end

    Food for thought...

    I recently installed a set of Turner disks on my latest purchaes, a '63 Lark and while it was in the air I checked the front suspension for play and found the left side about ready to fall off. After rumaging thru my parts I located an old rebuilt kingpin and knuckle set and new upper and lower pins and bushings. I pulled the old parts off and replaced them before finishing the brake job. Here are a couple of pictures of what I found. I can't believe the fellow I bought the car from declared it to be road worthy when I asked.

    A number of years ago, decades actually, my good friend Duncan MacDonald told me about greasing a Studebaker front end. He was a travelling salesman, loved his Studebakers and used only GT Hawks or Wagonaires as his transportation. He stated that after driving in any sort of really wet conditions, such as during hard rains or in the spring melt off, you should get the grease gun out ASAP after shutting down and lube all the steering rods and suspension parts. He actually said to don a raincoat and hat since you might even find water squirting out of the boots as you go along. I have followed his advice on all my own cars and never had a problem.

    After finding the suspension on my most recent purchase in such poor condition I can see in graphic detail what can happen if the grease gun is ignored. Not good!

    The bell crank and kingpins are prone to allowing water into the lube areas because they are NOT sealed against the elements. The thrust bearing in the kingpin is not a sealed bearing. When lubed you should see grease starting to ooze out of it. The tie rod end boots and power steering boots are OK when new but they degrade with age and no longer act as a seal. In all there are at least 18 grease points on a power steering car.


    I know this might sound excessive but unless you have new grease boots installed you will probably notice that the old boots are actually curled up and out which will act to direct the water spray into the grease holding areas. I will be replacing all the old boots on my car as I get a chance. I have already started this process on my Avanti.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Stude norm, that is the worst wear i'v seen and i live in the country! now how much do you spread the "A" frame ends before you install the screw in bushings. if a new bushing wouldnt take grease i would back out the bushing till i could get grease in then re-tighten. am i on the right track??? Doofus

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    • #3
      PS There is a grease on the market called "Liquid O ring". it tends to seal out water and crud, Doofus

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      • #4
        Looks like more than just a lack of lubrication there. It's also important to observe where the grease comes out when lubing the kingpins. If it comes out the bottom of the kingpin, the lower seal is bad and allows the grease to flow out there instead of going into the upper part of the kingpin where it needs to go. It doesn't take long before the bushing wears excessively and causes loose steering.

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        • #5
          Looks like it was burnt up with grease

          When I get a "new" Stude, I do not assume anything, and front end rebuild is usually done same time as the brakes. Cannot recall ever getting one that did not need at least something in the front end. I have gotten lucky a couple of times and only needed 'A' arm bushings, but usually they need much more.

          Once gone through though, I grease the king pins and upper & lower pivot pins every 5000 miles; the bell crank, tie rods, clutch shaft, drive shaft, etc., every 10,000 miles. This is OK due to modern roads, versus 1950s-60s roads that gave the suspension much more of a work out.

          I never worry about water getting into the components, because grease is present in the critical areas to repel water.
          Last edited by JoeHall; 12-10-2014, 05:19 PM.

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          • #6
            Very true Norm. I found on my 59 wagon the nut for the pinch bolt on the center pivot was 1/4 of a turn from coming off completely! The suspension was so encrusted with mud none of it had been lubed in who knows how long. As far as the tie rod boots I try to replace them with polyurethane boots. They last much longer & are the same as you find on either a Chevy or Ford. Remember too that when these cars were made the recommended interval was every 1000 miles unlike the cars of today where you may not even find a grease fitting. I noticed yesterday that it didn't matter if it was a stick shift or automatic, that there was a grease fitting on the steering column inside of the engine compartment, right by the backup light switch. Just another reason why we all should go over the shop manual from time to time & make sure we are doing things when we are supposed to.
            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
              I totally forgot about the steering column grease point. That brings the total for a power steering Lark type up to at least 19... Having a hoist in the garage makes this job a whole lot easier.

              I haven't had a Studebaker registered for almost 10 years. In August 2013 I found a nice '63 Avanti that absolutely had my name on it so I purchased it and here I am, back in the game. One kind of gets out of the swing of daily maintenance, Studebaker style, when you only drive cars that have been built in the last 5 to 10 years or so.

              I have included a photo of how the grease should look after lubing the steering knuckle. Nice and even at the top around the thrust bearing and nothing out of the bottom of the kingpin, as noted in post 4.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by StudeNorm; 12-11-2014, 06:07 AM. Reason: photo added

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              • #8
                Way back in the day I worked after school in a old time Sinclair station. My job besides being a gas jockey, was the lube rack. I remember my boss Herman, had a lube chart on every car we serviced. He would watch me grease a car and call out the fitting count. We had a few customers who drove Studebakers and they were among the highest on grease fittings along with the Hudsons we took care of. The older Studebakers had grease fittings everywhere, rear leaf springs, brake cables, water pump, clutch shafts, pedals pivots, everywhere!
                sigpic1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan

                "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer"
                Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle
                "I have a great memory for forgetting things" Number 1 son, Lee Chan

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