Well the TurboStude has finally made it to Vermont and will embark on its journey with Steve. It took some doing, but left Minnesota at 10 PM on a humid, dark night waving goodbye to a chorus of tree frogs and mosquitos… Steve continues the narrative from this point……
TurboStude, the Sequel
Chapter 1, Day 1
I’ve done something very unlike me. I’ve bought a hotrod. My first ever car that I don’t need. And I did it without seeing it in person. Or, for that matter, without EVER having seen a Studebaker Champion Bulletnose Coupe in person. After a summer of trucking delays and frustration, I’m about to meet it.
First impression: I love the look of this thing. It’s delightfully small (for a 1950 American automobile), sporty looking, sits pretty square on the trailer……….
I’m most concerned about the body and frame. Here in Vermont, cars this age are almost always patched up, even nice ones. Once it’s unloaded, I spend a couple hours just looking. It’s not rotten, not wrecked. Everything except the drivers door works well enough, and when that door is closed, it fits in the frame pretty well. I’ll be able to fix that. The underside is very dry. It won’t survive even summers in Vermont very long like that. I’ll need a plan to protect it.
I’m officially happy with my purchase. I can work with this. Mechanicals don’t really concern me. Keeping a turbocharged flathead is the goal, but I’m less opposed to a typical sbc drop-in than Mr. Meyers was. Make all the bellybutton jokes you want, there’s a reason it’s a popular swap.
So, compression, fuel, spark,………let’s start to see what the powerplant has to offer. Mr. Meyers had told me that he’d put oil in the cylinders recently, so I decided not to do a compression test and gum up my gauge. That’ll come later.
Fuel. It took some looking to find the fuel pump, and the switch to run it. With a battery hooked up, I could hear it run, but no fuel at the carb, which I had disconnected. Found that the line from the tank to the pump was plugged, so I fabricated a temporary one into a can. Quickly got a nice supply of clean gas. Hooked the carb back up, hit the switch and heard the carb fill. Looked around and in it, no leaks!
Could it be that the float valves aren’t all gummed up?
No coolant is visible in the radiator, but not planning to start it yet, so I let that slide.
Does the starter work? Yup! I’ve worked on antique pulling tractors, and am familiar with the sound of a 6 volt starter on 12. Spins great.
Spark? Hooked up a timing light and pointed it at the windshield. Key on, starter, nothing! Got out the test light, power at the coil. Popped off the distributor cap and found a big green mess on the points. Cleaned them, poorly, snapped the rotor and cap back on and back to the dash to see if it’s igniting now. Key on, hit the starter……..and it FUCKIN’ STARTED. Not popped, spit, or tried. STARTED, ran, settled into a smooth idle immediately. I flicked on the fuel pump and stood dumbfounded for half a minute. Coming to my senses, I headed to look at the oil pressure gauge, and noticed gas pouring out from under the car. The fuel return line has been gnawed off.
Enough for tonight. I sat and nursed a beer, holding hands with my wife and looking at until dark. It’s been a very good day!