Got a light?

Sometimes it’s the little things in life…like the cigarette lighter, in this instance.

I don’t smoke, and while there’s little evidence the previous owner of my ’85 Avanti did, the lighter never worked right, the lid never closed properly and the ash receptacle was rusty and nasty.

The ash receptacle was easy enough – a call to Studebaker International and a replacement part was sent out right away and fit and look great. So great, it made the pitted surrounding area look like crap. Rather than buy another – I’m not even sure if they are available – I disassembled it by removing the lighter assembly and the ash receptacle. Then I sprayed it several coats of black plasti-dip, masking off what I didn’t want to have to clean off later.

The lighter assembly was trashed – lots of corrosion and crud. A test light showed that it had intermittent connectivity and cleaning it with a wire brush just made things worse as more and more of the metal disintegrated. Since I didn’t really want the lighter part anyway, just a working receptacle that I could stick a USB adapter into for my phone, etc.,  it didn’t really matter much to me what I ended up with so long as it fit and functioned.

A trip down to the road to my local O’Reilly Auto Parts and I quickly found exactly what I was looking for – Custom Accessories #10213 – virtually identical to the original part which made it install, connect and appear just like the one I removed, only this one functions great. I did replace the included incandescent bulb with a red LED which was easily done.

avanti lighter2

 

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Adding a center console armrest

I love me a good center console armrest. The Avanti didn’t come with one, but an enterprising owner who must feel the same way that I do came up with a solution.

Boy, the car sure was dirty when I took those photos! Anyway, this is some sort of imported car console that the seller modifies slightly and fabs up a special bracket. I got mine from him in the velour material as he acquired it and then had my local trim shop re-upholster it in a blue that looked close. The flash in these photos really makes the blue look brighter than in it is real life.

Flips up and out of the way as shown in the third image when necessary but also rests nicely on the raised brake handle when parked, too. Little coin holder inside, and a small access hole at the back for snaking your phone charger/AUX cable through.

To get yours, email Charlie at “northeastavanti(at)aol.com” and he can set you up with one. Installation – no drilling required – was straightforward and all hardware is included along with photos and instructions.I highly recommend it.

Blaupunkt Sacramento

blaupunkt

 

The original stereo in my ’85 Avanti was a Blaupunkt Sacramento that was apparently discarded and swapped for an AM/FM/Cassette Pioneer head unit and new rear speakers in November 1998 by the original owner. Having a soft spot for keeping the visible things “period correct” but wanting something a little more modern, I did some research into my options.

I discovered a guy in California (sadly now passed away and shop closed) who had an “old school” stereo repair place and he offered a service to completely go through a stereo and integrate an unobtrusive and otherwise invisible AUX input, which would allow me to use my iPhone via the headphone jack. He advised that he had no schematics or parts list for the Sacramento, and said that would speed the job up and make it less expensive.

First order of business was to find another Sacramento head unit. Easiest place to do this was to just search on eBay – and though they weren’t very common, one would pop up every month or so. Eventually I found one that looked to be in good physical condition, all connectors still attached, complete with knobs/faceplate and reported as “working when removed”.

Next up was a set of schematics – a bit easier to find after a trip to http://www.stereomanuals.com – $24 and a week or so later, I had a VERY nice quality reproduction of the original service/schematic/parts manual for the Sacramento. I made a copy for my stereo repair/service guy and sent it and the stereo off for him to work his magic. I’m still scanning this manual so that it’s as clean as can be. In the meantime, I’ve had a request for a PDF of the original operating instructions for the Sacramento – you can download it here (14mb).

My stereo guy ended up doing a major overhaul  on this “working when removed” head unit to include:

  • Tape drive motor and motor servo
  • All rubber parts replace
  • Donor display from a Blaupunkt CR-3001 as mine had a bad segment
  • Tape audio had a bad head cable and an intermittent AR switch
  • General clean, lube and adjust

Adding the AUX input is done by interrupting the first audio stage of the radio with impedance matching and switching circuit.

I am still looking for a pair of the original Blaupunkt 6×9 speaker grilles (color unimportant) like shown here:

blaupunkt speaker grille

Mine were removed and most likely discarded when the Pioneer speakers were fitted back in 1998 with the head unit. Please contact me if you have one or even two!

 

 

 

 

My first reproduction part for the Avanti!

I never knew that the two star-shaped knobs on the outside of the Recaro seats were supposed to have little plastic discs covering the nut holding the knob in place – until I found one in my ashtray.

knobs

The disc is marked on the inside with PEKALIT which now translates into “unobtainium” based on my research. I did run across some nice guys over at Benzworld.com who have a need for these discs also on the Recaro seats that were used in the 500-series cars from the mid-80s.

I first tried my “go to” guy for short run molded plastic parts, but these parts were so thin that he had a great deal of inconsistency in getting these made with a urethane mold. I tabled the idea for a year or so until I located a new supplier who could make a fairly low cost CAD drawing, aluminum mold and also cast the parts for me, as well.

 cad

mold

The finished parts came in today, and I couldn’t be happier with them. The worldwide, lifetime market for these is in the low hundreds, at best, but I am happy to have these parts and to also have them available for anyone else who has the need.

I made a little video on them here. They are available for purchase on Ebay at $3 each, which includes free shipping anywhere in the USA.

Window motors/regulators

Since I bought 4245 in late summer of 2012, it was plain that there was something wrong with the power windows. The drivers side would only go down haltingly and only go up with a lot of help by pulling on the glass itself. The passenger side was marginally better.

About the time I decided I would have to do something with it, issue #161 of the Avanti Owners Association magazine arrived at my door, with an excellent article on how to remove the windows, window regulator and get (almost) everything back in good order again. I say “almost” everything as a critical part of my problem (and easy to fix while you’re in there) was not covered in this article, which is what I’ll focus on here.

After removing the window regulator mechanism and window per the parts manual and following along with the aforementioned article, I noticed that window motors themselves seemed to be rather “gunked up” with old grease. I then removed the motors from the mechanisms (watch that winder spring!) and removed the cover that goes over the gears on the motor itself.

The gears appeared to  be in fairly good shape, but there were literally hundreds of small shards of plastic mixed in with the grease.  A bit of judicious searching on the web identified these shredded pieces as having been “impact absorbers” (for lack of a better term) nested inside the gear housing that, as I understand it,  act to soften the impact as the gears moved back and forth while going up and down.

gears3 gears1 gears2

Through more web searching, I was able to identify a replacement for just the gears and these little absorbers. This part crossed over to a number of different cars from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. I was able to obtain it from RockAuto under Cardone Part #8294 for $12.47.

gears4 gears5

Since I already had the window motors apart, replacement was easy – cleaning out the old grease and making sure I got each little bit of the former gears out was time-consuming, but not difficult. Occasionally I used some toothpicks to get into tight places.

Re-assembly was straightforward, and now the windows with this fix along with the rest of the maintenance performed as described in the AOAI article including cleaning and lubricating the tracks, regulators and replacing the outer wipe seal have made a phenomenal difference in how the windows perform. Up and down quickly, quietly and smoothly!

Build Sheets for 4245 (and 4238)

As I mentioned last year, when I first got the car the stereo bezel was in the glovebox (the original Blaupunkt Sacramento had been replaced with a Pioneer unit) and I found the number 4238 handwritten on what would be the “inside” or non-visible when installed side. I presumed that this was another RQB or last four of a different VIN.

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In the past several months, as I have removed more interior panels as part of repairing the window motors/regulators and fitting Dynamat to the car, I have found more instances of the “4238” number on the back sides of the door panels and “4237” on the back sides of the rear seat bottom and rear seat back.

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Earlier this year I bought the build sheets from Dan and Betty Booth at Nostalgic Motors in Wixom, Michigan. Along with what is the largest stock of NOS Avanti parts, they also have original build sheets of almost all the Avanti production up to 1985 (and factory inspection sheets for Studebaker Avantis, as well). They will kindly make a copy of build sheets for you for anywhere from $25 (for Studebaker Avantis) or $35 (for 1966-1985 Avantis). Is it steep for a piece of paper? Yes. John Hull, a former Avanti exec from the 80s/90s also has a less complete (I’m told) set of these, and I think his rate may be more reasonable. I went with the Nostalgic as John Hull did not have build sheets for either of these two cars, 4238 or 4245.

All that said, here are scans of the copies I received – I received a total of five copies as there were multiple, different sheets with my production number.

This is the Build Sheet for the VIN for which I found written on the backs of several parts of 4245.

This is one of the four copies I received for my car, 4245. Note that nothing appears to be selected, and the exterior color is a “Light Chestnut Metallic” and the interior “Creme”. Followers of this blog know that my car is light blue metallic with midnight blue interior.

Note

Virtually identical, save for the circled “line number” of 4245 and the misspelled word “CANCELL” written across the top.

Hmmm

Hmmm – yet another for 4245. This one says “Void 9/11/85”  – odd since my car shows a build date in the door jamb VIN plate of May 1985.

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Also, what appears to be the initials “R-something” – of “where are you know, Mr/Mrs/Ms R-something” – I’d sure like to ask you some questions!

Another?

Another? Yes, I’m afraid so. This one has a few things underlined, and then, of course, the giant “X” through the middle of the sheet.

hmm

Well, this helps – a bit. This is the build sheet for 4238, the number I found on the back of several of my panels. It’s build specification seems to match my car in every respect.

  • Paint Silver Blue Metallic 85 AMC 4L S-W 34-33874 – seems to match the touchup offered in this link and offically called Adriatic Blue by AMC. From an 85 AMC Encore (the Renault version was called the Alliance) – the Avanti is probably the best car this paint ever touched!
  • All seat, door, headliner, visors, etc trim is Midnight Blue Leather/Vinyl
  • Kick Panels and Carpets are “Navy” blue
  • Steering Wheel is wood
  • Dash and console panels are “Elm”

Note that this build sheet doesn’t have any options check off on it, either. 4245 does have the electric moonroof, came with wire wheels in the trunk, wood steering wheel, leather interior and wood trim package.

The absence of other details, like key codes, engine #, ship date, etc are disappointing, but not so much that I wish I hadn’t bought these. Knowing the correct paint code was worth it to me – plus I have all the service history and purchase documents from the original owner.

Now, for me, the next I had was what happened to 4238 – was it even ever built? A quick look at Bob Johnstone’s excellent registry skips right over it, from 4237 to 4240. So I then ran an “Autocheck” on the VIN and found that the car apparently was built and DOES still exist.

So the car has been registered annually in Mount Vernon, Georgia since 2002. But 4238 has never been listed as a member of the Avanti Owners Association International (AOAI) nor do they have any current or former members in Mount Vernon, Georgia.

autocheck4238

So in that regard, I’m still at a bit of dead-end. Mt. Vernon is a small town of about 2500 people, so if someone in this town owns an Avanti, it’s likely that it is well-known. I guess at some point if I’m ever in the area, I’ll cruise around and see if I can find it.

And the other car whose numbers I found on mine, #4237? That car is listed in Bob Johnstone’s aforementioned registry as owned by an AOAI member in Derby, KS with no other details. Next I’ll try to contact them.

1984/1985 Owners Manual

Finally got around to scanning and cleaning up a copy of the manual that came with RQB-4245. Technically a 1985 model, this copy has only “1984” references in it. One can imagine that a leftover 1984 book was used as they didn’t bother to reprint for 1985, what with all the other problems going on at the time.

I edited this version to remove all “model year” references, which makes it useful for 1984 and 1985 owners, but I don’t know enough about 1983 (and prior) years to know how relevant this will be for those cars.

For those that have access to a printer that will print two-sides, the blank pages are there so you can use the “Booklet” printing feature within Adobe Acrobat Reader to print it like an actual book, then fold and staple like the original was made. If you have an original manual, put it away and use this printed one in the car. You can always print another if it gets dirty/damaged.

Download it: 84-85OwnersManual