Learned or Lost - Hudson Mechanical Skills -

BigSkyBigSky Posts: 328Senior Contributor
As many of you know I have been struggling to get with my old 1937 Hudson Coupe running correctly & back on the road.  I have learned a lot, mostly the hard way, and progress is very slow at best.  

A friend who lives in town is a retired SAE Mechanic & Hudson Expert at 77 years old.  He is probably in better shape than I am at 25 years younger.   However, he is such a good mechanic on old cars he’s in high demand & getting him to find time to help me is very difficult.  Sometimes he can only get over once or twice a year.  Now that I am faced with a valve job and re-ringing of pistons and the subsequent work around these things, I once again find myself at a loss for knowledge.  So where or how can I learn how to do these things to my Hudson?  Are there videos or detailed instructions with photos?

Yes, there are a handful of really skilled people who can work on Hudson’s currently  but what happens when they are gone?  How will the knowledge & actually skills be passed on?   I have a mechanical procedural manual but it assumes the reader is already a skilled mechanic.  While I can do a lot of basic things, I certainly don’t have the skills to just go do the things I need to do to my Hudson.  So how can one gain the knowledge & skills?

If if anyone has ideas outside of indentured servantry, please share them. 


  • keithfullmeryahoocomkeithfullmeryahoocom Posts: 370Expert Adviser
    Good post!  I'm watching.

  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,575Senior Contributor
    Do you get the W.T.N.?
  • MikeSheridanMikeSheridan Posts: 82Member
    Big Sky - I don't know how old you are, so I don't know how much time you have to learn. I started back in the '50's. My dad would take me and my brother along to the junkyard to buy parts. The owner would give us a junk part for free to take home and "work" on. We would take apart the starter, generator, carb, fuel pump etc he would give us. I was maybe 7 or 8 at the time. Later I figured out that I better learn how to put the parts back together, so I started doing that. This is back at a time when you could really repair things - put a new diaphragm in a fuel pump, rebuild a carburetor etc. Later, I worked on our family cars since we couldn't afford expensive shops. Still later I worked at a service station where we had 4 or 5 mechanics who had done the work their whole lives. I was lucky enough to learn from them. So, 50 years of trial and error and learning as you go.

    I applaud your desire to learn. However, you are not going to increase your skills enough to do this rebuild. The exception would be if you have a local vo-tech school and can go learn and get help doing it there. You simply must find one of these guys with the knowledge and experience and have it done. It will cost you a lot more to do it yourself and make an error that lunches the engine. Yes it is going to cost too much, take too long and be inconvenient.  Bite the bullet and get on with it. I can tell you a war story about not finding an out of round connecting rod and getting to do and engine twice. Too long to type here. Look me up in the roster and call. 
  • ValVal Posts: 746Member
    edited March 16
    BigSky, take Mikes advice, and while your desire to learn is commendable this would be the thing and or way you want to learn. While I do not know your mechanical skill or background I do know that I want to and will shadow Doug Wildrick on an engine rebuild so that I can have a good understanding. I have the mechanical background as I built and repaired jet engines  for 30 years. Maybe you would want to shadow your mechanic there when he does work. It could give a basic idea of what is what.

     I think you can find valve job for flathead side vale engines  videos on you tube. I seem to have seen that sometime back. But the rebuild of the engine? Listen to Mike please. But if you contact the good Dr Doug I'm sure he would give you good written detail of what you want. He has me when I am stumped. 
  • barrysweet52barrysweet52 Posts: 428Expert Adviser
    Some things we can do and some things we cant. Know your limitations. Most of us dont have a machine shop to grind cranks and pour white metal etc, so some of our work has to be done by others.  You will be surprised just how much you can do by talking to others and reading up. Its a good feeling to be able to say - I did that.
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,765Senior Contributor
    This is one of the reasons I have long asked for "An out of the Archives" section in the WTN.  Back when I joined in '85, many of the old timers that either worked for Hudson or one of their dealers wrote articles about various problems and fixes.  These days Geoff is about the only one that does such things now and he cannot cover all the questions our members have.  I am also in the Studebaker club and their magazine has a section called the Cooperator that takes questions from members and they are answered by skilled Studebaker members in print.  Such a section would be great for the WTN.  Anymore except for Geoff, the Passing Lane, and classifieds, the magazine is a collection of chapter news and photos.
  • Ric West INRic West IN Posts: 451Senior Contributor
    Totally agree with Dan's comments. As a member since the mid 60's Much good info printed in the WTN over the years.  Especially appreciated the spotlight on specific years with factory info and pictures that Jack Miller printed for us,
  • ValVal Posts: 746Member
    I too agree with Dan's comments as it would be so nice to have that technical advice when needed. I'm sure BigSky would like it as well. It would be of great help. To all of us!
  • cchancelcchancel Posts: 58Member
    If the HET club compiled those tech articles into a publication for purchase they might find quite a few willing buyers. Especially if it includes the older articles that are unobtainium for most of us.
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,678Expert Adviser
    These comments reflect the realization that there are nuggets as well as hard knocks learned processes and procedures that anyone who maintains a classic car learns.  This lead me to take the initiative to build an online presence that would provide FREE access to information about Hudson’s. This website has been online since 1998! I have invested many hours and dollars collecting information and placing it on my site.  Alex Burr and I exchanged information in the “early days” when scanners were just becoming affordable for hobbiests.  In my information library is a nearly complete set of WTNs and this provides me access to
    all of the tech articles previously published.  All this and a nickle is an investment without return if the person using it has limited desire or emotion to immerse themselves into learning how their cars function.  Do not believe that I am being sarcastic or derogatory.  I have owned, driven and maintained more than 100 Hudson’s since 1963 when the 1st Drivers license was issued to me.  Daily drivers and garage queens, field cars and mouse motels, I loved and worked on all.  In this life I called on and visited every manner of HETER.  My good friend and hudson whisperer Bernie Siegfried was in his 70s when I meet him.  My friend shared his time talent and the products of his engineering. There were the naysayers and the owners who drove their clapped out Stepdowns everyday. My point- I grew up in a family who very seldom owned NEW ANYTHING!  My life was fix and repair almost all the time.  I have made many mistakes and stand tall on
    them.  If you do not try you will not succeed.  Using the brain we were given coupled with a bit of experience each can become a great caregiver to the vehicles we chose to hold.  So, as Bernie said...you are only as good as your last mistake.  Move on and look carefully at the small picture because; the big picture is a puzzle made up of small pictures.  

    Have fun- work on your car today!
  • keithfullmeryahoocomkeithfullmeryahoocom Posts: 370Expert Adviser
    I would almost always rather do stuff myself than pay someone to do it, mainly because after I pay someone to do it, when it breaks, I don't have a clue how to fix it.  I usually ask a LOT of questions everywhere until I can find a source that seems to really satisfy my problem and sometimes it just never happens.   Don't know what the fix is, but I definitely see need. I have worked around these old cars many years now and I do know that there are somethings I can't do, but if I can find someone who has done it before, and has the time and inclination to walk me through it, there ain't much I won't try.   And if I learn how, I'm always happy to pay it forward...k
  • cchancelcchancel Posts: 58Member
    My hat is off to Ken for his wonderful website. I have used many bits/bytes of his compiled information to work on my car and donated a small amount to his cause (I would encourage others to do as well). 

    I think part of the hesitation to mess with these cars is the fear of breaking something and being unable to find a replacement part or a peer to help fix it. Only after 3 years of messing with my car, finding information (such as the website), figuring out what vendors have what type of part, etc. have I started to become comfortable digging in. My Hudson ownership started with an engine rebuild, so I received a crash course from the beginning. For some reason I found this more nerve racking than rebuilding a Pontiac V-8 or replacing a brake system on an old Chevy. I completely understand the hesitation.
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,765Senior Contributor
    What Ken has done is great and well needed.  As for the WTN, a number of years ago I was told what cchancel suggested that the club was going to print a tech book and did not want to put these articles in the WTN as the club could generate revenue selling the books. All fine and good but it never happened that way.  Ken along with Alex Burr did it on the side.  Still I believe a tech section in the WTN that would allow our members to ask specific questions to the experts would be very valuable, especially to new members that are lost in the Hudson world.  Questions like, my transmission will not go into overdrive, or not drop out of overdrive...........  Their questions may well help many others with similar problems but they don't know where to find the answers.  Let's face it the old timers are now pretty much all gone, and those of us that joined in the 80s and 90s are now the old timers!
  • KdancyKdancy Posts: 2,349Senior Contributor
    Since my teens, I have driven and shade tree mechanic'ed on Studebakers, VWs and Hudsons among other makes we owned and drove. I've suggested several times that it would be great to create an up to date Hudson Tech book similar to ones I have  on Studebaker.  "Some thoughts on restoring a Studebaker by Chuck Lampman" would be a good template. 
    The original manuals are defiantly  a big help and guide, but so much has changed in 50 years with machine shops and parts. Body work, paint and materials/tools have seen a big time change. 
     Ken Cates restoration site has been a lot of help but a lot more info is needed. 
     The Studebaker Drivers Club publication, Turning Wheels, has always had a really good tech section devoted to questions and answers. Our HET open forum is the closest thing I see to that. Just in recent years, a lot of Hudson knowledge has gone to the grave and part of it will disappear.  Would love to see and participate in a Hudson club tech book divided up into Mechanical, Body/paint and interior. I propose a start with the 48-54 models as they are probably the most owned and driven at this point. 

     Unless we want to see all these cars so called "updated" with small block chevies, there needs to be relative information to rebuild them to their former glory. 

    Maybe this can be done as a club project?

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