Friday, November 20, 2015

700R4 Crossmember

I purchased an early chevy truck crossmember kit  for the stude. I wanted a unit with a 2" drop simply for exhaust pipe clearance. I don't like dealing with powder coated components when fabricating but the price was right, and I can grind off the PC.

A lot to consider in this step, measure, measure and measure again. Then cut!

Te first step was to locate the output shaft in the center of the original x-member. The original center passage is centered between the frame rails regardless of Studebaker's right and left offsets.

Measure AND optically locate the trans.

Notice that I am holding the rear of the engine/trans with a heavy ratchet strap. We know that the Stude frame is flexible, are we distorting it with the strap?? Yes we are! I placed a stand under the trans and removed the load from the strap and the frame expanded 3/8" (wow). The original stude transmission cross member would have prevented this, but it will not fit without modification (later step).

Measure, measure, make no assumptions with my Studebaker. 

I cleaned and modified the mounts in the kit (nice radius that matches the frame rail) and re-drilled for me. Mocked up with two bolts through the frame flange and one through the frame with a supporting tube. The front bolt actually replaced one rivet in the body mount support plate. This mount is offset to the rear matching the new xmember.

I may be loosing it but I always try to template before cutting (thanks, Dad). This is a top view template of the xmember. It proved its value as it pointed out cut angles and 1/4" offset in the mount location that I did not see.

Measure, measure, trim template, and then throw the sacred chicken bones on the floor and CUT IT!!

One extra trim for angle, and tacked in place. 

This xmember setup is nice since it sits in a tapered portion of the frame and simply slides out to the rear for future service.

We be done!

I have 1/2" of spacers between the trans mount and the crossmember at this time. The trans can move up and down as the drive shaft and carburetor orientations require as we move along.

The rear axle assembly is absolutely centered on the leaf springs. The pinion is of course offset to the passenger side. Studetest # 17 is the fact that the wheels are not equidistant from the fenders or the frame??? No answer to this one. Today I am going to shift the axle assembly 1/2" to the driver side.

I have no other answer to this. The original axle is also centered so I guess the offset was factory??

I will check the wheels first to be sure they are identical, and then move the mounts. The spring mounts are not welded to the housing yet pending drive line angle requirements.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Wonderful

After 55 years of fooling with these junks, I just spent the best $40 on a tool in a long, longlong time!

No more manhandling a 652 lb. engine and trans assembly with chain locations and strong arm tactics. If you don't have one of the levelers, get one....they are the wonderful!

The good were the spacers. I will not have to lower the shroud as they specified nor did I have to cut the mounting pads to clear the engine mounts.
On initial installation loading, I have 7/8" !!!!!! clearance between the 8" harmonic balancer and the steering bellcrank with only 3/4" of machined polyethylene spacer. It will probably be slightly less when tightened and settled. 

Click to enlarge any photo.

The leveler tilts and levels the load as necessary, I never touched the firewall.

At the point above, I learned that the blank fuel pump mount casting hit the original mount come the sawsall!! 

About five minutes later, 1/2' of the pad was on the floor with my sacred chicken bones. I will box in and weld the gap when its up in the air. No stopping now!

The motor is level and straight and the 700R pan seems to be level with the bottom of the frame when the output shaft is aligned nicely with the center crossmember. I'm just mocked up at this point and a transmission support xmember will be next. There seems to be plenty of room for lines and linkage as well as ample floor clearance.
I must admit that the specified mount location was correct and I was wrong. I ended up using the front hole set instead of the rear as I expected. Moving the mounting hole forward did allow for the 1 3/4" lower section of the early ford mount under the mounting pad.

Things are looking good but what if I didn't have a spacer prepped ahead of time, about a 4 hour delay.

Friday, November 13, 2015

SBC Engine Mounts

The Studebaker/SBC engine mounts that we purchase are not Studebaker specific. These are actually universal mounts to off set the Chevy engine 2" or 3 1/4" rearward in stock or roundy-round cars (racing). Will they work??? yes. 
One might find the instructions a little vague at best. 

These are 9/16" slots for 1/2" bolts. The rear holes are a 2" setback and the fronts are for 3 1/4" set back.

Using the original Stude mount (1" tall, 3/8" stems) leaves a lot of slop in the assembly.

I have experience in ripping the older style mounts in half under heavy load so original mounts are not used here.

 The early Ford style mount is the same height and thru bolt mounted for a much stronger cushion assembly. These are sold as sets for a very reasonable price. They ship these with the wrong size and style of bolts. Discard the 7/16" and use 1/2" as they were designed for. A     1 3/16" hole is required for the correct interlocking installation.          
The engine mounts that I purchased require a minimum 19 1/2" width between the center of the mounting holes. Center your layout in the chassis. No right/left offset. 

Click on pictures for full view

The black rear location is as provided in the instructions (kinda). The red hole location is what I think I need. The yellow location is the 3 1/4" setback hole (front). 
My location should give me 1" clearance behind the GM HEI distributor and is 1 3/8" forward of the recommended mounting. It is also the recommended engine location if I used the front pair of holes. Clear as mud right?? If I mount in the 2" offset holes, the engine is forward of their recommendation but if I used the 3 1/4" holes, the engine is actually where they recommended.

The white dots are 19 1/2" apart and where I want them to be to have distributor clearance. Measure 10 times and drill once. I also throw sacred bones on the floor and read them for confirmation. 

Remember that the stude firewall distributor cavity is offset to the driver side and the chevy distributor is offset to the passenger side.

I was fortunate to inspect a '54 coupe with a chevy installed as my instructions specified. All was peachy except the harmonic balancer appeared to be 1/4" above the steering bellcrank. I want more clearance than that.

Kicking this around, I want more clearance on the bellcrank, If I space the mounts up 1", I won't need to lower the radiator shroud, and I will not have to trim and box the frame mounting pads since they then clear the engine mounts? This is the way I am going to go.

I am actually going up 7/8" with this 3/4' high density polyethylene spacer that is milled to the contour of the pad and counter bored to interlock with the lower insulator half and the upper metal cup plus one 1/8" stainless washer. The pad is interlocked but I added a 1/4-20 flathead machine screw as an additional locator.

All of this is "the plan" I will know soon if it all "comes together".

 This is the mount assembly interlocked in place. It looks tall but is actually only 3/4" taller than the original stude mount.

Now as ready as can be with the "plan".

The '93 chevy 350/700r4 is ready for a test fit. I'll let you know if the "plan" is valid.

Friday, October 23, 2015

53' to 63' Dash

The 53' dashboard was somewhat tweaked (I hope his knee healed well) and frankly, I could not visualize modifications and repair that would result in a dash that I liked.
There was a Studebaker meet here in Henderson and I went shopping. Not much there for me, but I did score a 63' fiberglass dash complete with the steel crossbar and brackets. 

The amazing part of this is that it bolts into the '53 Starlight perfectly. No changes in the cowl in 10 years.

With the dash pad (rag) removed, I have been cleaning and blocking the unit with 80 grit. There are a few imperfections and way to many holes, but this is going to be cool!

My instruments don't fit and I don't do radios so the concept is to overlay the dash with black walnut.

I found a supplier in Vegas and picked up a nice plank to fab the overlay. 

Everything is a project but this is not a bid job and I do have the time. The 34' Chevy is peeking out the garage door.

I really don't do much wood but with a piece as nice as this I think I can succeed. There is enough here to do this job twice.

Click on the pictures for a larger view.

This is a nicely figured piece!!

I hope to have an engine mount presentation in the next couple weeks to answer the questions I had before starting this project.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Steering Column

The Commander was a 3 spd o.d. and the column doesn't lend itself to the GM automatic. After a diligent search for an automatic column jacket that was closer than London, I decided to use an aftermarket column with shifter as I did in the Model A.

The Stude steered fine and the wheel position was very acceptable but no shifter and worn out turn signal switch. Basically this involves cutting the .762" steering shaft to 1 1/2' above the box and adapting the 1" DD column to it safely. 

I chose a Gearhead u'joint (clampable) #UJ012 (804548) 1"DD to 3/4" 36spline because of the clamp design and strength.

This is a HD joint that is a clamp on the splined end.

Removing the column jacket exposes the upper worm bearing and must be protected. A Nat 343185 seal fits perfect to the shaft and the internal bore of the worm gear retainer.

Now the fun begins, you must ream the internal splines (.720 I.D.) to the size of the unmachined shaft (.762).
My Machinist is 250 miles away I found an adjustable ream I had never used and 6 hours later with blisters and bloodletting we finally got to .757".
I know Dick will be amused but got'er done. Actually had to cut off the threaded nose of the ream as it was expanded since it bottomed on the internal u-joint.

I'm now close enough to emery the rough shaft to a final very tight fit. I actually wedged the joint open with a small chisel to the final fit.

The seal is installed and the final fit takes a while with the emery. A small groove is needed on the shaft for the 5/16" bolt to pass through the joint.

The seal is important, but I felt a second dust shield was necessary so after digging around in my junk box, I used a tie rod shipping protector on the 1.4" housing. Things will stay clean enough now.

Trimmed, bored, and internally cleaned its a drive-on primary shield for the housing. Looks a little strange but I'm satisfied.

Back on the car. this is going to work fine. When I am certain that all is well, I'll drill and tap a 12/24 set screw through the joint and one wall of the shaft (tube) and we'll be all peachy for safety.

I feel a 28" auto shift column will be fine and it will mount in the original Stude bracket. I'll have a shifter, late GM turn signal harness, genuine chrome with tilt.....what else do we need. It is also serviceable!!!! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Commander Progress

The Stude has been progressing slowly as a result of domestic work orders and other insignificant issues.
This one is going to take a while......

I preparation for the SBC installation, I cleaned up the firewall and welded up all of the unnecessary holes (by others). After priming and sanding I think it will be acceptable.

This is basecoat/clearcoat 
GM Tahoe Gold Mist. Not much gold ??? but kinda misty just the same.

Studebaker wasn't real picky about the firewall and inner fenders, a multitude of wrinkles and 70/80 spot welds. Actually they were not picky about much of anything.

A little undercoating on the cowl sides and related trimming and we will be ready to install the SBC/trans.

The further I go, the more items need to be addressed. I needed another project tho'.....DIDN'T I ???

Sunday, June 28, 2015

No Tapered Axles !!

In a previous life, I had more than enough experience with Dana tapered axles. The 19 spline Dana 44 (4.55 ratio) with tapered axles was gone before I got it up on stands. It's now resting against the back wall until I can take it over to Russ's place and throw it in the dumpster. Nobody wants it enough to come and get it.

The Ford Ranger 8.8 is a well rated axle assembly for up to 350 HP and is the same width and bolt pattern as the Stude. I was fortunate to find an 8.8 axle with 3.08 gears and only 6k miles on the clock.
A nice assembly with the brakes cannibalized during shipping but they paid for that problem.

The 3.08 gear set will be fine for the street. The car will probably weigh in at about 2900lbs and a nice small block with a turbo 350 will move it just fine.

The spring leaves were polished, rebushed and restripped with plastic.

Yep 2" lowering blocks too!

I'll fab a set of traction bars when I get it clean enough to go in my shop.


The only thing stressful about these old Jewels is that they are filthy. One has to have a vision........ and a putty knife/wire brush supply.

This is one vision::
Very nice!!

The past few weeks I have been cleaning and scrubbing the underside of the Stude. As a plus, they never missed a lube job, nothing was dry and worn out after 62 years. In the minus column, the grease and dirt was 1/4" to 1/2" thick from the front to the back of the doors. I wanted to get the car steam cleaned, but that doesn't happen around here any more.
Add to this that a thin coat of tar was sprayed on the frame only prior to assembly. This coating has blended with the oil/grease and needs to be scrubbed off after the dirt is removed. A scrub brush and gallons of mineral 
spirits with a coarse rag supply.

I am now intimately knowledgeable of the stick welds and spot welds that hold my Jewel together.

Many days and black epoxy engine paint............

Click on an image for a better view.

I also cleaned, rebushed and resealed the entire front end prior to painting.
Yep, I cut the front coils at the same time. Of the hundreds of coils I have cut in my life, this is the first time ever on the ground. What a Pain in the tail.

All back together now and getting ready to prep the engine compartment for a mock up with a small block

Saturday, May 2, 2015

232" Big Block

I want to give you the straight scoop. At age 17, (1962!!!) I was driving Dad's 54' Commander back and forth to work in East L.A. whenever the Model A needed another transmission (12 times!). 
You had to shift it about 100 times to get to work. O.D, no O.D, free wheeling??? About as thrilling as as his Henry J but it had glasspacks.
Dick and I coerced Dad into picking up a 283 and a Powerglide on Ford Blvd. We trashed the 232/3spd and what a nice driving car now!

 On Monday, Chuck came by to help me get the hood off the Stude. I just don't see removing this by myself. 
We hung it in the garage next to the driver quality front seat (actually pretty nice). 
The hood won't be back on for at least a year so this is a very safe place to store it.

I was ready with the 232 and transmission completely disconnected so in about 15 minutes about 700lbs of Studebaker gold was out, wrapped in plastic and an old sheet. Sixty-two years of dirt/grease from the heads back.
 I have cleaned, re-bushed, and painted the rear springs and installed a 93' Ranger 8.8 rear axle assembly to replace the tapered axle Dana 44. I found a 3.08 ratio axle assembly with only 6k miles on it-like new. Should be a decent driver ratio with a Turbo 350.

Now comes the nasty part, scraping 62 years of crud off the under carriage back to the rear of the doors.

Interesting... under all those mounds of dirty grease are zircs. Some items have 2 and the steering knuckles have 6 on each side. No apparent wear other than the control arm bushings!
Disgusting work ahead...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

West Coast.......

We left at 0dark thirty Sunday to pick up a rust free '53 Commander with a fresh Title and an original vin tag. My trailer is frozen in a snowbank up north so Russ offered to loan me his as long as he could go along. 660 miles in one day, very few stops since we had roasted almonds and Girl Scout peanut butter cookies with Orange Gator Aid for lunch. 

Bob and his partner were the best people to buy from. They made sure I had everything that went with the car, and threw in extra goodies that I might need. Good people and they take cash without I.D.

I had to stay in the right lane of deteriorating freeways doing 69mph in a 55mph zone while the rest of the world went by at 80mph in a 65mph limit. The trailer was throwing concrete and asphalt at chuckholes.     

We loaded that afternoon a got the hell out of Dodge. This was Bob's recommendation in order that we miss the Monday morning traffic.

After 100 miles we got a room and dinner and crashed.

Leaving again in the dark, another 150 miles and a pit stop to watch the sun come up in the San Joaquin valley where they are doing agricultural stuff!!

Heading South in the dark on I-5 doing 66mph in the forever 55mph zone, I was passed slowly by the California Highway Patrol. I almost dropped my Egg McMuffin!!

Home safe and sound by 3:30 pm. A long 2 days!!