The truck has been apart for more than 5 years now (early 2004). At times, progress has been rapid, but there were also periods when very little got done because of the all that other stuff that we call "life". In some cases, I struggled to locate the boxes where I had carefully stored the hundreds - or thousands - of parts. But, as the Studebaker Drivers Club international meet in Charlotte, North Carolina approaches in June 2004, I want to have the truck there - complete! So, the big push began. Things are finally coming together. My list of parts needed grows very short, and the assembly tasks are fewer. The crazy thing is that the smaller the detail, the longer it seems to take.
By December, 2003, the running boards were back from the paint shop. I put them in place and checked the alignment of things. You can see in the pictures above how the cab corners came out after all the work on them. [You can't imagine how difficult it is to take a picture of a black running board!] I also had to replace the lower 8 inches of the passenger side door and the bottom of the door, but that came out pretty smooth, as well. That was so much work that I had bought a door for the driver's side before the painting started. It also came from Vern Ediger in Halstead, Kansas, who had supplied the bed and other used sheet metal parts. He just wrapped it in one layer of bubble pack and a layer of cardboard and gave it to the FedEx people. The money saved on crating it paid for the shipping. It arrived without a dent in a couple of days. With the running boards placed loosely on the brackets, I mounted the rear fenders and filler panels below the bed. It took a little pulling, pushing, and gentle bending to get everything lined up and squared off. By Christmas, I was able to push the truck outside for some pictures and turn it around to have more room to work on the front end.
I used sheet metal screws to attach plastic tack strip around the door and windshield opening to attach the headliner and windlace. The windlace went in first with tacks and screws, then the headliner. The headliner kit came from SASCO, but I think it was made by Ernie Loga. It fit, but needed a little trimming around the edges. Better a little too big, though, than a little too small. The headliner, kick pads, and door panels are a good match to the tan paint that I had selected. I assembled the instruments into the dash, mounted the radio, and connected the dash end of the wiring harness while the dash was on the workbench. In retrospect, all of the wiper mechanism should have been in place first, but I'm still not sure how they did this in the factory. It helps to leave the glove box out of the dash until the wipers are in place and all the linkages connected and tested. It's also much easier to do the dash work with the windshield and the steering wheel out. The firewall pad should go in BEFORE the dash. In a number of cases, I wound up putting things out, discovering that I had the order wrong, and had to pull everything out again. After a while, you can get pretty good at this, but getting it right the first time is more pleasurable.
The Quad Duty heater caused me a lot of worry. I had purchased what was purported to be an official M5 heater at a swap meet. I spent a lot of time stripping it, fixing up the motor wiring, and getting the nameplate refinished. Then I discovered that my heater had outlets on the left side while the standard ones had outlets on the right. Same basic unit, just mirror image. I was trying to be "correct"! So, I bought another heater and refinished that, too. Now I had both a right and left handed heater, but which one to use? After chatting with Buzz Beckman, I discovered that the standard heater, when mounted in the center of the firewall, was in the way of the driver's feet. I had kind of suspected that. I wound up using the one with the left outlets and mounting it almost against the passenger side kickpad. That way, it's farther forward than mounting it on the firewall dimple in the center and well out of the way for both driver and passenger.
|I thought that I would polish up the heater nameplate before redoing the color, only to discover that it was brass with only a thin nickel plating on it - that I just removed! My local plater put the nickel back and I used a tiny artist's paint brush to fill in the depressed areas around the lettering. I am certainly not good enough to do this without painting over the edges, so I used a piece of a 1/4 inch dowel sharpened to a chisel edge to scrape off the extra paint once it was almost dry. The Krylon "Short Cuts" bottle of Red Pepper match the original color pretty well.|
In the process of reassembling the dash and heater, a downside of painting everything in pieces came to light. Everything got painted all over, and I have even put 3M electrical tape on the hidden surfaces that bolt together to stop squeaks and rusting. Of course, this means that there is no electrical contact between the pieces. I have had to run ground wires to the frame and dash from various things to be sure that the electrical circuits will work.
|The windows were also a challenge. Most of the glass was broken or missing when
I go the truck, so it was not useable as a pattern for new pieces. Vintage Glass in
Tolland, CT had the patterns to cut all of the glass exactly to size. I got some
rubbery glass-setting tape from LeBaron Bonney in Amesbury, Mass. and used that to mount
the door glass in the channels. The tape provides a good grip and very tight fit, so
a little persuasion with a mallet and wood block was needed to drive the channels onto the
glass, very carefully! I had removed the vent frame from the garnish moldings for
painting. The rubber seals were replaced with reproduction ones, riveted in place.
Then the latches and vent window needed to be reattached with small tubular rivets.
I found it easier to set the rivets by putting a small bearing ball on the end of
the rivet and squeezing the ball down with a Vise Grips to start spreading the tubular
end. Once it was spread a little, the ball was removed and Vise Grips were used to
tighten up the rivet. No hammering!
The door glass was lowered into the doors and attached to the regulators. The the assembled garnish molding and vent window was installed.
LeBaron Bonney supplies mostly Model A-1952 Ford parts, but they have a lot of general stuff for old cars. Their vinyl upholstery materials are excellent quality and have the look and feel of leather, and they have materials for re-doing the seat padding. They also carry 6 volt electric wiper motors which can be slightly modified to use in M trucks, if you want electric wipers. Their stainless flexible conduit set for '32-'34 Ford pickups can be used for the M5 taillight wiring.
Other accessories were purchased from a number of vendors. I found an NOS Signal-Stat turn signal controller on Ebay. Side mirrors on adjustable length arms, for the M-16 style mounts, came from a supplier of reproduction parts for old CJ2 Jeeps, as did the taillights (northstarwillys.com). The stainless steel headlight retainer rings appear to be the same as late 1970's Jeeps.
No one makes a reproduction of the M truck gas pedal, but there is a pedal available for the 1942 Commander and early 2R trucks (part #515114). It looks the same, though it's about an inch longer. Just drill a new set of mounting holes on the floor and hook it up to the linkage.
The bits and pieces of engine accessories, wiring, brackets, etc. are slowly going into place. The radiator is in, hoses in place. I refurbished an oil filter assembly, put on the right decals, and mounted that on the engine. Pretty soon, I will have enough of the assembly done to finally start up the engine and break it in a little. I want to do this before mounting all of the nose sheet metal because it is much easier to work with the nose off. It's amazing to think that the entire front of the nose sits on one bolt and spring under the radiator frame!
Work continues and the pressure builds to get it all done in time for the Charlotte meet. I plan to be there. Stop by to see me!