Studebaker Stories


Three of Four is Hard to Find

By Ronald Crampton

I have an affinity for Studebaker Starliner cars.

As a young man of fourteen (14) or fifteen (15), I was working weekends and summers for my uncle Bud at his shop outside Shelton, WA.  He was a wonderful instructor, with many federal, military and local citations for his contributions to trucks, jeeps and the lot, during the 1940s to 1950s.

After hours we were talking of the old man in the community whom was part time state employed to cut the grass along the roads with his small tractor with a side sickle cutter.

The next day this fellow stopped in to purchase some oil and five gallons of fuel for the tractor. he and I engaged in a Studebaker conversation based on his observation of my 1957 Silver Hawk sitting on the side of the lot. He began to tell me of his one and only negative story of Studebaker and he added, he would never buy another again. Of course, i responded with, why not what had happened to make him feel this way?

He began: Well, it all started in 1952, he and his wife had decided they would purchase a new car in the next year 1953. Their research of quality vehicles, brought them to the local Studebaker store. They ended up with this nice 1953 Champion, 6 Cylinder, three speed with overdrive four door with as may options possible. They drove their great purchased car for some time until it reached about five thousand (5,000) miles. One morning he jumped into the family car headed to work. While riding down the highway, he noticed a vibration. On completing of his trip, he call over a friend he work with and was a good mechanic, asking him where he thought this vibration was comming from. Well, after work, he asked his friend to follow him to the Studebaker garage where he would leave it then get a ride home. The friend gave him a bunch of the normal, and we have all heard the razzing of Studebaker, horsasment on dropped him off. After many days and several trips to the dealership, he was told he need a new engine and of course it was out of warrentee. The cost was almost as much as the whole cars was worth and parked the car in 1954.

I asked him if he still had the car and he responded with he still had the P.O.S. And finished, that if I wanted the vibrating junker, come and get it out of his lean to. I thought, at the time lean to? After we had closed the shop we adventured to this mans home to see he had built this small carport with concrete floor, rolled down the windows a small portion to exchange the air and there it sat, from 1953 until 1967. My uncle informed me, that if I was unable to get this project to run and or, it was going to the wrecking yard before I had left at the end of the summer. We agreed and we towed the 53 Stude with a title back to the shop. Next day I attacked the green moss and all from the outside of the car. Did not wish to lay over the fenders and get my cloths all green. It cleaned up and even had a minor gloss to the paint.  Now to see if I would start, run  and what of this vibration. Was it a broken chunk of flywheel, a broken piston, bent hydro locked rod or something simple as a crack distributor cap, something the shop had missed.  I worked a little that night and the next day which was my only day off, trying to get this thing running once again. Oil in the cylinders, new ignition and of course a new battery, the thing finally started up. The smoke rolled for miles and ten minutes. Meanwhile, hearing the old thing finally start, my uncle Bud come waltzing out to see this old rig run. An no the vibration not gone, it was there with a vengeance. It was so fierce, it scared me and I shut it off in fear it was to shake out onto the ground. Kicking off the choke manually, it ran very well, but had this amazing vibration. Uncle bud walked away shaking his head and exclaiming, "Good Luck"

The next day was a work day and the problem haunted me all day. At breaks I would look it up in the manuals and call the local machine and repair shops. No one had a clue, everything I had tried was what they would have tried.

I put it aside and forgot about it for about a week, we were exceptionally busy and I returned to it my next day off. So it was setting there running so nicely, I thought this is just baffling, and started to feel bad for the Studebaker Shop. If we all were not able to see something, what an experience.

My uncle was there and I  was leaning on the right fender pondering the situation, when in disgust, I told him to just turn it off and we would call the yard to come and get the thing.

As the engine came to a halt, the sun rays were coming in a the correct angle, and behind all the radiator shield and all was the culprit. There it was a four(4) bladed fan with only three(3) blades. Bud tells me I need a new fan and he would call and find one. Out of frustration and to see if it would remedy the dilemma, I simply bent, fatigued the metal and removed the opposite blade and started the old girl up.

Sat in a twelve(12) year like new car with only five thousand(5000) miles at the age of fifteen(15). It just ran perfectly and of course no vibration at all.

A few days later, the old man pulled in and inquired of the old Stude. I was almost embarrassed to inform him of what I had discovered. Told him of getting it running and of that dreaded vibration, but did not wish to hurt his feelings over the repair. Before I had to leave for home, at the end of the summer, I told Bud I would be back to pick up the Stude after I got the license and insurance transferred into my name. That week a Studebaker enthusiast saw it sitting on the corner of the shop lot, stopped in to see if it were for sale. Well, everything is for sale, for the correct price. My uncle negotiated a price and Bud sent me a check in the mail.

One of my many Studebaker stories, but a favorite of mine based on my great relation with my, great, Uncle Bud.

 

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