Big Enos is my 1949 2R16-55 that I have owned since July of 2008. I wanted something to drive in the local Christmas, Easter and 4th of July Parades and he fits those needs perfectly. He was located a few miles from Jackson, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains when I located him. The folks I purchased him from had picked it up at a garage sale 12 years earlier. They drove it very little, really just 5-6 times a year around their pasture, so he spent most of the previous 12 years parked in their barn under a cover. The previous owner who they got him from had done the paint and the mechanical restoration, and he did great work. Prior to this owner it was one of five Studebaker trucks working at a winery in the Livermore Valley of CA.
He was in ready to drive condition when we arrived to pick him up. Brakes, clutch, transmission, rear-end, cooling system and fuel system all checked out as ready for the 132 mile trip home. The tires have a bit of age checking, but nothing to be overly concerned about for the trip. I made a mental note that I was looking at a rather large bill for tires, tubes and mounting at some point soon. My plan was to drive it 35 miles down from the hills and then pull over when I was within 100 miles of my home, and then call AAA Auto for my free tow the rest of the way home. I saw this as an attractive alternative to driving it on US Hwy 5 which averages 80 MRP through the central valley of CA. even I knew that the four speed and 6.66 single speed rear would have a hard time breaking 50 MPH without tearing the Commander Six into several pieces.
So my son and I depart for the 35 mile drop from the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Stockton, CA. I've got the windows down so I can hear the brakes, gears and rear-end as I coast down the mountain. Everything sounded good and I was amazed at how quickly your speed picks up in a 1½ ton truck coasting down a pretty fair grade. The brakes worked well, I could find the gears and there were no weird noises coming from the chassis or rear-end. My son is behind me in another car and he calls to say that no smoke or fluids are being thrown off the truck...also I reached a top speed of 52 MPH. We reach Hwy 5 and I decide to take it to the next exit before calling for the tow. In the next six miles I average just under 45 MPH, the Commander Six is thumping along without skipping a beat, I ran it as hard as I would ever push a piece of 60 year old iron.
So we pull off the highway and I make the call for the tow, of course it's not every day they get a call to tow a 49 1½ ton Stude. I tell them to send a wide bed because it's got dual rear wheels. While waiting we grab some lunch and experience a constant stream of "who owns the Stude", and "is it for sale". No offers met my minimum so it got loaded up and trucked 84 miles to home. Upon its unloading my wife says "it's big", I remind her that it's better than the 28 year old blonde mid-life crisis I could have had. She hasn't said a word about the truck since.
Most of the work that I have done has been purely cosmetic. The flatbed had been replaced with diamond plate steel many years ago. It was in perfect shape so I kept it, but I wanted something a bit more "old school" so I made up the bed rails from some douglas fir that was clear coated for protection. The interior got new wind lace, headliner, seat cover and carpet since there are no big truck floor mats currently available. Other than a tune-up and oil change mechanically the truck is as I received it. Being a "farm truck" its pretty bare bones, no heater. Has the original Commander Six (as numbered to the truck) with a rebuilder's tag pinned to the block, so at some point in the last 60 years the engine was rebuilt. It runs strong, brakes, shifts and drives good and doesn't make any funny noises. It does have a brake booster that's not listed on the factory order so it may have been added at some point.
These pictures are of Big Enos in the local 2009 Easter Parade. He was a big hit; we could continually hear younger folks ask their parents, what's a Studebaker? Well now they know.