A little help for your project  -  Taken from various sources


56j Front Fender Adjustment by Gary Capwell
I thought I'd give that question in our newsletter about adjusting 56J front fenders a go! The front fenders on a 56J can be adjusted...if they aren't rusted on! The probable cause of the body man's assumption that the fenders are welded in place is that, unlike most newer cars ,the inner fenders are part of the fender (and ARE spot welded to the outer skin). One fender can be shimmed up, or the spacing washers can be removed as needed to lower the fender - this is the front fender mount area at the frame above the bumper brackets - of course, the fender must be loosened completely-front and rear to accomplish this! Also the rear of the front fenders have elongated mounting holes for minor up and down adjustment.

Between these two adjustment areas the angle and level for the front fender is quite widely adjustable, don't forget to loosen the inner fender to firewall three bolts!!! I believe the shop manual shows all this, but of course the body man probably doesn't have one. Take him the book next time!


Brake Information - General From the Shop Manual
  The primary shoe is the shorter one and goes on the forward side. The secondary shoe is the longer and goes on the rearward side.
  The anchor block must be mounted correctly. There are two means of checking the installation; the curved side must contact the primary shoe and the arrow must point toward the primary shoe.

Adjusting Brakes by Ross Hiller   ( from the Florida Packard Club newsletter, The Packard Courier October 2004.)

   This tip is for cars with hydraulic brakes only.  When adjusting brakes, loosen the handbrake adjustment at the equalizer (at the center of the "X" in the frame) until the cables are quite slack. In fact, push, them into their sheathes as far as you can. This insures that the rear brake shoes are not being held apart by the parking brake mechanism. Now, adjust the rear brakes using the star wheel. I recommend tightening the star wheel (pull up on the end of your adjusting tool) until the wheel can no longer be turned. This settles the shoes firmly against their anchors. Then, back the star wheels off about 10 clicks or so till there is no appreciable drag on the drum.
   After adjusting both rear wheels, readjust the hand. brake mechanism:

  1.    Pull the handbrake out about 3 clicks.
  2.    Tighten the equalizer until you cannot turn the rear drums .with your hands.
  3.    Release the handbrake and make sure there is not excessive drag at the rear wheels.

   Adjusting the brakes in this way will let the rear shoes have full contact. with the drum. and will let them have the self-energizing "servo" action they were designed for. This will result in lighter pedal pressure, less brake fade. and longer lining life. Most complaints about "push and pray" brakes can be solved in this way.
   If your car has one of those little cable shortening gizmos on the handbrake cable, I can guarantee the brakes are not adjusted properly. I have not yet seen a case where the cables were stretched and needed such a thing. I have however put about a dozen of them in the trash after adjusting the brakes properly.

Silicone Brake Fluid & Stoplight Switch Fix By Bill Cathcart

When I restored my 1960 Lark in 1985, I put silicone fluid in the brake system. To date, I  have had no problem except for a brake light  switch failure.  My switch failed about twice a year. It would require more and more pressure to light the stoplights until they would not work at all. If you use silicone fluid in your Studebaker, you know that this is an ongoing problem.

How do you solve this problem? I solved it by changing over to a mechanical switch-an easy conversion if your pedals come up through the floor. Go to your local NAPA store and buy an Echlin SL-128 switch. This is a spring loaded switch that will follow the brake pedal as it goes down lighting the lights.

To install the switch, remove the pedal cover under the left front fender, locate the switch in a  position so it will follow the brake pedal down without the switch lever coming off the brake arm, mark the two holes and drill through the floorboard (remember to remove the mat).

I believe the switch takes 8-32 screws. Have someone hold the switch in position and install the two screws from inside, extend the wires to the new switch, now replace the rubber pedal stop between the pedal and the floor with a slightly thicker piece, and readjust the master cylinder rod about a 11/16th of an inch shorter. Test for proper operation and reinstall the pedal  cover and your brake light problems are over.


Cooling System Tip By Randy Rundle (From The Alternator Gazette - Fifth Avenue Garage)
  There are two things you can do to benefit most any vintage cooling system. The first is to run straight distilled water in the cooling system during the summer months, with no antifreeze, and a pind of rust inhibitor/water pump lubricant. Water is the best dispersant of heat there is. This simple trick is good for a twenty degree drop in engine temperature.
  Next up, pressurize your cooling system and add an overflow coolant tank. Five pounds is enough. The five pounds of pressure will raise the boiling point of your engine cooland to 227 degrees. The pressure will also create enough vacuum in the cooling system to draw the overflow coolant back into the radiator as the engine cools.
Checking Your Antifreeze
by Jerry Kurtz  (From Keystone Region Chapter-Keystone Keynotes April 2001)
   If you're like most of us, we open the radiator cap, look to see if the fluid is green, the right number of balls float in our tester, and there isn't too much brown stuff floating around. We then consider the radiator serviced and put the cap back on.
Permanent antifreeze is permanent in name only. In reality antifreeze needs to be changed periodically like we change other fluids in our car. Antifreeze has a life of approximately 3 years, however the inhibitors don't last that long so it really is a good idea to change it annually.
   An accurate test to determine the viability of your antifreeze is to attach the positive lead from a digital volt-ohm meter to the metal part of the radiator, then center the negative lead into the coolant itself. A voltage reading of 0.2 or less is very good. A reading of 0.5 should be considered borderline, while anything over 0.7 is unacceptable.
   If your coolant fails this test the coolant system should be drained and flushed and fresh antifreeze should be added.
   There is a new generation of "lifetime" antifreezes being promoted. Do not mix these with the ethylene glycol antifreeze that has been in use for the last sixty years, as they are not compatible. I do not recommend using lifetime antifreeze in collector cars. I understand that it will seep everywhere, including into the cylinder areas, in cars not assembled with the newer rubber bonded steel gaskets.

Good System Ground: By Randy Rundle (From The Alternator Gazette - Fifth Avenue Garage)
  One of the easiest improvements you can make to your vehicle's electrical system is to improve the system ground. To do this you need to move the battery ground cable so it goes directly from the negative post of the battery (negative ground system) to a starter mounting bolt. It was common practice (even from the factory) to connect the battery ground cable to either the motor or the frame. By doing this, part of you battery cranking power is lost trying to overcome the resistance along this indirect path. High resistance in the starting circuit results in a slow cranking engine, or one the doesn't start at all when it's hot.
Erratic charging:
by Fred Birdsell (From Western Lake Erie Chapter-The Driver's Seat)
   On 12-volt generator systems, the voltage regulators are very troublesome. Erratic charging is the least of the problem. In the worst case, points will stick, fusing the wiring into a very hot glow plug. We have had this happen with two of our Hawks. It's no fun replacing the wiring harness.
   Alternator cars are NOT immune. If a diode fails, a dead short can also occur. Because this happens VERY quickly, even a  battery cut-off switch will not prevent major damage. The best solution I am aware of, is to install a circuit breaker on the battery terminal of the voltage regulator. Ask NAPA for an Ecklin circuit breaker #CB 6379 (50 amp). The breaker will have two posts. Bolt one to the BATTERY post of the regulator, the other to the wire to that post.
   A second solution (less likely to cause a point deduction during show judging) is to install a fusible link in the wire connecting the starter solenoid to the ammeter (see your shop manual). The fusible link wire needs to be 4 gauges smaller than the ammeter wire.
   Take the wire off the "BAT" terminal of the regulator and attach it to the "AUX" terminal of the circuit breaker. Then make a new wire (of adequate gage, of course) to go between the "BAT" terminal of the circuit breaker and the "BAT" terminal of the regulator.

Headlight Switch Fix - By Gary Capwell (From 56J Only September 25, 1995)
Here is a solution to the problem; the headlight switch doesn't work....the cause being that the hard cardboard isolator plate is warped far enough to prevent the contacts from touching the back of the switch. I removed this isolator plate and traced its outline on an old plastic playing card, then used a paper hole punch to make the contact holes. The result is a new switch, but a whole lot cheaper and easier to get. To do this you need to bend the tangs up to remove the back, and do not turn the housing upside down (leave the back facing up). The isolator plate is directly under the back of switch. This is how I spent yesterday evening, as the lights would not work but the dash lights did. The longest time was spent pinpointing the switch as the source of the problem, the solution was simple enough that I plan on doing the same repair to the dash light switch in the near future, as it works, but requires a little jiggling to

Horn Wire & Power Steering by Gary Capwell (From 56J Only)
Repairing the horn wire in your power steering equipped 56J can be a real exercise in futility!...But here are a few things that are not in the Studebaker shop manual that you should take note of before attempting a repair.
1.) Remove your Ultramatic's shift selector indicator, it'll get broken if you don't!
2.) Remove your front seat bottom cushion after removing the steering wheel, grease stains are hard to get out!
3.) Plan on removing the entire steering shaft and column!
4.) Try to have a helper handy, especially when reassembling - to keep the column straight.
5.) Don't forget to reinstall the column to dash shims.

The most important aspect of this repair is to ensure that the column is straight, any angle causes the horn to short when the wheel is rotated, even if the wire is fine! Also, before tightening the clamp on the column cover (at gearbox) be sure that the brass brush contact is in the center of the hole! You can remove the steering shaft from the column cover without any trouble, but remember to set the cover down with the duffy plate hanging off the end of a table to keep from damaging it! These are things I learned the first, frustrating, time I tried to repair my horn wire! After learning these things, the second try (six months later) went quite smoothly and actually accomplished the repair! And no all those wires aren't the biggest hassle.









 Electric Fuel Pump: By Randy Rundle (From The Alternator Gazette - Fifth Avenue Garage)
  Adding an electric fuel pump has almost become a necessity. The new RFG fuel evaporates very rapidly, especially in the summertime. You need a fuel pump that will pump alcohol, all fuel additives, and the RFG gasoline without failure. Also impoirant is to find a fuel pump that maintains the original fuel pump pressure, while increasing the volume of fuel delivered. Too much fuel pump pressure against the needle and seat in the carburetor will result in the carburetor flooding over. A gear driven fuel pump works much like the oil pump inside of the engine and maintains the stock fuel pump pressure while increasing the volume of fuel delivered. Geardriven electric fuel pumps are quiet, and a great way to overcome vapor lock, and increase the reliability of your fuel system.

Ultra 400 (TH400) Transmission Conversion: By Jack Nordstrom (56J ONLY issue 021)
  See the story  on this TH400 Conversion

Standard Transmission Gear Ratios:

Number of Forward Speeds
In First
In Second
In Third
In Overdrive
In Reverse

Ultramatic Transmission Gear Ratios:

Torque Converter
Max. 2.90 @ 1650 RPM
ºD - High
(Triangle to left of  D)
Torque Converter, High,
Automatically upshifting to
High Direct Drive
Dº - Drive
(Triangle to right of  D)
Torque Converter
Plus 1.82 Gear Ratio
Automatically upshifting to
High Direct Drive
L  - Low
Torque Converter
Plus 1.82 Gear Ratio
R - Reverse
Torque Converter
Plus 1.63 Gear Ratio


Checking The Ultramatic  Transmission Fluid Level: By Frank Ambrogio
I've always had a hard time reading the dipstick when I check the Transmission fluid level with the motor running. This is a trick I use.

Get a piece of rubber plastic tubing and cut it about 14 inches long
Make a mark at 1/4", 1/2", 1", 1-1/2" and 10"
Put your thumb and finger at the 10" mark and stick the long end into the filler tube, stopping when your thumb touches the filler opening.
Pull the tube out and check to see where the fluid level is.
1-1/2" = Full 1" = Add 1 Pint 1/2" = Add 2 Pints 1/4" = Low




Steering Wheel Adapter: By Jim Morgan (56J ONLY issue 021)
 Grant Steering Wheel adapters are available from Discount Auto Parts for 1956 Golden Hawks and other Studebakers. The adapter allows you to put an aftermarket, and smaller diameter, steering wheel on your car.
   56-66 Hawk/Lark    4291
   57-66 Other             4401
   63-65 Avanti            4286


WHEELS AND TIRES     What to put on

Our 1956 Golden Hawks came standard with 15"X5" wheels and 7:10-15 tires. The closest equivalent radial tires are P205/75R15, P215/75R15 and P225/75R15. The following table shows various specifications which I took from the Coker Tire Catalog:









5" - 7.5"



5.5" - 7.5"



6" - 8"

Diameter is the distance from the ground to the top of the tire. Rim Width is the size of the wheel itself (2nd # of the wheel size as 15X5)

Coker Tire indicates that the P215/75R15 size is the best match to the 710-15 tire. This presents a problem because the width of the wheel on our cars is 5". The recommended minimum wheel width for the P215/75R tire is 5.5". This leaves a couple of options.

     You can keep your original wheels and use a P205/75R15 tire.

     You can buy new wider wheels and use the P215/75R15 or P225/75R15 tire.

Many people have used wheels from full size Chrysler products. However, buying from a junk yard is a gamble. Unless you can arrange to have each wheel checked before you mount the tire, and return any that are bent or out of round, you are simply compounding the problem.

Bob Palma states that you can buy Nationl Wheel & Rim Association (NWRA) #40273, or Hayes #82552 wheels which will allow use of a P205 or P215 radial tire.

Option 3 is to simply put new 710-15 tires on your original wheels. They are still available from Coker tire and the cost is less than wide whitewall radial tires.

Tachometer Troubles: By Geoff Fors (56J ONLY issue 010)
  A member wrote that his tach would fall to zero above 1000 rpm and sometimes stay there for the rest of the time the engine was running. I had the same problem and discovered that the tach head, unlike most tachs, is not just a big meter but actually has a motor inside it which requires cleaning and lubrication of its bearings just like any other motor. The tach head motor apparently operates like a synchro motor as found in aircraft, and if the tach motor bearings are somewhat dry it isn't able to spin as easily above engine rpm of 1000 or so and it then lags behind the distributor signal enough to finally fall to zero. The tach motor is designed to stay in step with the distributor rotor and anything that interferes with this relationship will cause the tach motor to stop turning. If the idle of the engine is low enough, the tach needle may start working again when the engine is brought back to idle because the pulse lengths from the distributor sender are longer and provide the voltage necessary to get the tach motor started again from a dead stop. I am trying to find a suitable oil to use in the tach bearings. Some sort of clock oil or delicate instrument oil would probably be correct. For goodness' sake, I hope everyone knows by now not to use WD-40 in clocks or instruments ! A good shop which advertises tach repair in Hemmings may be able to help. If they aren't familiar with S-W "Pulsemotor Drive" tachs, though, look elsewhere.


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