Studebaker Corporate Publications - Service Bulletins
By Richard Quinn

From the very earliest days of automobile production, Studebaker recognized the wisdom
of the statement "service what you sell."

Operating under the belief that a satisfied customer was a repeat customer, the
corporation was one of the first to establish a first rate service department with branches
 in every major U.S. city.

In the early teens, Studebaker urged its dealers to provide driving instructions to first time
buyers and to acquaint them with elementary instructions on servicing their vehicles.
Each new car came with a comprehensive owner's manual called an "Instruction Book"
which, according to the preface (1912 issue), would "guide you in successfully solving
every problem you face in your new capacity as a Studebaker owner." These Instruction
Books amounted to what we might refer to today as a small shop manual. My copy of the
1912 EMF "30" manual for example is 58 pages in length and carries numerous detailed

In December 1914, Studebaker inaugurated a new publication called Studebaker Service -
Service Helps for Studebaker Owners
. It was mailed on a monthly basis and was free of
charge to new purchasers or to others whose names were provided to the service
department by the dealers. The publication was 6"x 9” in size and usually four pages in
length. Subjects addressed would include everything from focusing headlights and proper
lubrication to adjustment of spring shackles and care of the cone clutch. This handy little
bulletin was distributed at least through August 1917. My personal collection contains 26
different issues, but there may have been more.

Besides the direct contact with Studebaker owners, the company also had an obligation to
communicate directly with its worldwide dealer network. To this end, they began as early
as 1915 to issue periodic service department letters. The earliest example I have in my
collection is dated December 18, 1915 and it is number 63, so it is possible they may have
begun as early as 1913. These letters were printed on white 8 1/2" x 11" sheets and
generally covered a single topic (i.e. oiling of lower generator bearing, 1916 and series 17
models, 3-25-16). These periodic bulletins represented the principal form of service
communication from factory to dealer through December 1925.

In January 1926, the Corporation issued its first Service Bulletin (Note: The publication
was referred to as Studebaker Service until January 1939 when the name was changed to
Service Bulletin). Modest in proportion at first (8 1/2" x 11 " with 4 pages), it would grow
into the shop manuals of the '30s with over 100 pages. (i.e. Service Bulletin 75A, the
1935 Shop Manual, was 144 pages!) The objectives of this new publication were set forth
in Volume 1 No.1 as follows:

1. SHOP HINTS: General conduct of your service department - short cuts in performing
service work – arrangement of shop – organizing the work – methods of eliminating
wasted effort – and other means by which you can reduce overhead and increase profit.
2. SPECIAL TOOLS: As these come to our attention, we will in turn pass them on
to you through these pages.
3. SYSTEMS: This covers not only systems for the actual handling of jobs, but also
simple ways of keeping track of the work, cost, and payment.
4. PARTS AND CLAIMS: How to handle them.
5. SERVICE ADVERTISING: Letters and advertisements, which you can profitably use
in securing more service work.
6. CHANGES: Heretofore changes in parts and car design have been sent to you in letter
form. In the future, these changes will be incorporated in this publication.

The force behind the Service Bulletin idea was Don O. Wilson, who had begun his career
at Studebaker in Detroit in 1912. In 1924 he was transferred to South Bend with a title of
manager of the Factory Service Department. He inaugurated a factory service school for
mechanics in the 1920s and also developed correspondence courses for men who could
not make the trip to South Bend. In addition, he sent out a fleet of service school trucks
 that were equipped with the latest in modern tools and equipment. These were driven
throughout the U.S. and Canada by a top rate mechanics that would stop at dealerships to
give demonstrations and answer service related inquiries. Wilson's leadership during his
20 years at the helm helped make the Studebaker Service Department one of the most
progressive in the industry.

The Service Bulletins were originally intended to be a monthly publication, though this
schedule was not strictly observed. A bulletin in the late '20s simply said it would be
"issued at fairly regular intervals," which indeed it was through 1962.

Each dealer received two copies of the bulletin (additional copies sent on request), which
between the mid 1920s and mid 1930s averaged twenty pages in length. Each issue was
81/2" x 11," printed on excellent quality enameled paper (through #77A) and well
illustrated. We are not sure what the other car companies were providing in the service
education during the '20s, but the July 1928 Bulletin (#27A) states, "no other
manufacturer sends out a publication that can be compared to this magazine." Though this
view may have been somewhat biased, there can be little doubt that it was one of the
finest in its field.

The amount and variety of information in the bulletins were enormous. (See the box
 below for a complete inventory of all 1926 to 1962 bulletins.) It would be a nearly
impossible task to assemble a complete collection covering the model years, vehicles,
1926 - 62 (Service Bulletins Vol. 1, No.1 of January 1926 to #368 of October 1962). A
more realistic goal, however, would be to try to locate those which are pertinent to their
particular vehicles.

For example, if one owned a 1950 model car, they would need to find the August 1949
Bulletin #227 and each succeeding issue through about December 1950, #246. Of course,
model years do not always coincide with calendar years, so on the accompanying chart I
have starred the first bulletin that would have information on the ensuing model year.

Much of the information contained in the bulletins cannot be found in the shop or service
manuals and as such, is invaluable for the person who performs his own service work. A
single service tip gleaned from a Service Bulletin could easily save hours of time and/or a
considerable amount of money.

If one were looking for a specific reference in the bulletins, it would be wise to get a copy
of one of the Service Bulletin indices that pertains to their year and model of vehicle. I
believe there were 19 published during the 36 years they were issued (See Service
Bulletin Indices ___).

I believe my collection of 368 issues covering the period 1926-1962 is complete. I also
have numerous duplicates. If anyone is interested in getting photocopies of the bulletins
or indices, contact the Webmaster with a specific request.


Studebaker Service was published from
1914 thru 1917 and sent to Studebaker owners.
Each issue measured 6 X 9” and most contained four pages.

Early owners manuals were quite comprehensive and included
detailed service operations as well as lots of illustrations. This
manual for the 1912 EMF was 60 pages in length, had 27
illustrations and included a fold out oiling chart. Size was 5 5/8 X 8 ½.”

The Studebaker Service Department began distributing these
bulletins in the early teens. They were printed on standard 81/2 X 11”
paper and generally confined to a single page.This particular bulletin
from May 16, 1918 includes a complete list of serial and engine
numbers for all Studebaker, EMF and Flanders cars built from 1910 to 1918.

Studebaker began distributing the Service Bulletins (referred to as
Studebaker Service
thru 1939) in January 1926. Each issue was 8 ½ X 11”
and contained an issue number. This issue is dated Feb 1927 and has a
number 15A. It is 16 pages in length and promotes the use of the companies
new eight volume Service Library.

The person responsible for all of the many innovations
including the Service Bulletins and Service schools etc.
was Don O. Wilson shown here with wrench in hand tending to a
1929 President cabriolet.

In order to be able to access specific service information on a particular year and model
an index is required. Here is a listing of some of those provided during the 36-year run
of the publication. Copies are available upon request.

Here is a complete inventory of all 362 issues
along with the dates, numbers and pages.