I ordered the leaf spring bushings from Studebaker International for a reasonable $3 each (there are 6 bushings for each front leaf spring assembly) and they arrived fairly quickly.
Changing out the drivers side spring bushings and the rear ones on the front passenger side spring was fairly uneventful – actually I couldn’t believe how easily the fasteners came undone: lots of parts on my westy were more stubborn than anything on the Studebaker so far.
The passenger side front spring perch was another story though: it took a while before I decided the best approach was to get the entire assembly (there are only 2 pieces to it) from the parts truck as not only was there that giant bolt in place of the stud but the part of the perch that was riveted to the truck frame was pretty bent and 1/2 broken off of the frame (one rivet was completely broken and the the other 2 hanging on loosely).
On the parts-truck the spring perch in question was solidly affixed to the frame so I had to grind off the heads of 3 rivets and then drill out 2 of them to get the perch off. That went pretty smoothly.
Removing the already partly-off spring perch on the good truck was a bit more challenging as I had to drill out the “blind” center rivet so I could put a bolt in its place and at some point the rivet started to spin. Ended up using a small chisel to mangle it enough so it wouldn’t spin anymore and I could finish drilling it out.
You can see how bent the original spring perch was. (I gave the replacement parts a sandblast and paint.)
Now ‘Clem’ (as the previous owner named the truck, named after one of the Studebaker brothers) has brand new front leaf spring bushings and a now solid spring perch so I am very interested to get him out on the road to see if the shaking at around 30 MPH is gone but… I really need to fix the off-idle hesitation as it is bad enough to seriously affect driveability. Plus it would be good to get the headlights functional too and bleed the brakes before embarking on a trip back to the big city of Vancouver.
One thing I can’t imagine is what sort of accident would have resulted in partly ripping off that spring perch without doing any other apparent damage. Maybe I’ll see if the guy I bought the truck from has the phone number of the farmer in Alberta he got the truck from…
I am planning to use the old Studebaker truck to move some stuff in the next month or so and I want to deal with the worn front leaf spring bushings first as the truck gets the shakes at around 30 MPH.
I checked Studebaker International and saw that leaf spring bushings for the front of my M16 are available and inexpensive.
Then I had a look at the truck to see if it looked like it was going to be a relatively simple job to change them… or not.
Most of the bushings are so worn they pretty much might as well not be there at all.
It appears that at some point in the past the front passenger side spring mounting hardware broke and somebody (likely the farmer in Alberta who owned the truck for a long time) put a big bolt in place to secure the front of the leaf spring to the mount.
This is the drivers side front spring mount: old but factory original.
This is the same thing on the passenger side: “fixed” with a big old square headed bolt.
Looks like a bit of metal repair will be needed to get that back to stock.
While I was looking at the leaf springs, I noticed that the heavy-duty bumper, which I am planning to replace with an actual Studebaker bumper, is welded to the frame. Oh well, the saga begins…
I got the westy back from werke1.com and it is home now. I am planning on getting it appraised as now with the body work on top of all the mechanical work I did fairly recently (engine swap, rebuilt transaxle and front diff, rebuild suspension, etc.) I have a fair bit of money sunk into this thing. I sure hope I never need an insurance claim but if I do, I want to be prepared.
Anyone know a good appraiser for vangons in the Vancouver or Victoria areas of BC?
Note: I asked Barry (werke1) not to do any work on the bumpers as I wanted to limit the scope of the work to structural rust repairs and nothing solely cosmetic. Hopefully within the next few years I can replace these fibreglass bumpers with new steel ones from Burley Motor Sports. I am very interested to see what his new ones will be like. In the mean time, I did get a quart of bumper paint so maybe this summer I can make the required repairs to the bumpers (fix numerous small dings) and give them a coat of paint so at least the front bumper will match those new looking grilles.
Oh – I said the scope of the job was structural rust repairs but there was a little more to it than that: the DOKA lower grille was broken so I found a replacement and asked Barry to paint both DOKA grilles and figured I might as well get the westy grilles done at the same time. (economy of scale you know 🙂 ) … and the DOKA bumpers were very rusty so Barry had them blasted and powder coated.
DOKA – rusty rear bumper
All the spots that had rust repairs done are now getting prepped for paint. I am looking forward to getting the westy back although I think from now on westy will be a 3 season vehicle (it almost was already as it makes me cringe to drive it on salted roads). Many years ago I did a total restoration on an early bronco and then proceeded to drive it to ski hills many times each ski season and after 10 or 12 years of that it needed a total body restoration again. Westy’s main purpose will be taking us on camping trips for years to come so keeping it off the road when the roads are salted seems like the best plan.
The main goal of the bodywork currently being done on blue westy (our ’91 orly blue syncro westy) is to get rid of rust that would slowly progress and eat away our van, as opposed to making the van cosmetically beautiful. Unfortunately, it seems there was somewhat more rust than I anticipated so Barry at Werke1 has plenty to do. He really is a master craftsman when it comes to this sort of work though and with his extensive knowledge of vanagons and his high standards, I can’t think of a better place for our westy to be getting these body repairs.
As you can see by the examples below, this turned into a significant job…
and this was the area that required the most extensive surgery…
Driver side front wheel well: my previous “body work” to keep mud from going into the rust holes…
the patient looks bad…scalpel please…
rust extended up to inside the drivers door…
…and down to the bottom,
that’s better, I think the patient will live…
side note: that POR 15 caliper paint I put on a few years ago still looks perfect.
Many places might have done a ‘grind and fill’ job here and, although the van will look more or less the same as it did, I know it has been fixed properly and should last for many years.
Body work on the blue westy is progressing nicely. The new front panel is in place and Barry (www.werke1.com) found a few additional rust spots when he took the windshield out so those will be welded up.
I am so happy to have the van in good hands for this sort of work. After all the effort I put into the drive-line and suspension I don’t want the van to rust away.
No posts for a looong time as we moved in September and are still getting settled into our one room cabin.
Blue westy (the ’91 syncro) has been a bit neglected lately and was forced to be a daily driver for a couple of months too, shuttling kids from here to there, etc. but that neglect has now ended as Barry at Werke1 (about the only person I trust to do bodywork on the westy) finally made space in his schedule to do some rust repair work. We had been on Barry’s waiting list for must be close to two years but now the van is in his shop so that is great news.
The first owner of the van had hit a deer a long time ago and the repair job wasn’t done in a way that would last so the front end was getting pretty rusty.
rust behind front bumper
Barry is now fixing that rust as well as smaller rust issues in a number of other spots like these ones:
blue westy at Werke1 Automotive
With the mechanical issues all taken care of when I rebuilt pretty much everything, and now the body work being dealt with, the only things remaining to do will be things like installing the Propex heater and rain fly I bought years ago and I suppose there will always be more things to get for the van… like an awning… but, this is a big step forward.
PS – I had previously posted about the Dexter trailer brakes that arrived from the FLAPS (friendly local auto parts store) with grease stains on the brake shoe material – well, I got in contact with a manager at Dexter , sent him some pictures of the brake shoes in question and he said I should definitely return them and get ones with no grease soaked into the shoe lining. I did that and got the 4 brake assemblies all installed and they worked perfectly. That 28 foot trailer is now my workshop.
Shop Trailer before I bought it