I was at a car show this past labor Day...the last, and saw a very strange car everyone was hanging around. It was an early fifties Morse Minor 4-door! Now as strange as it might seem it got me to thinking as I looked over the car. This is something different I thought. Tubbed with Mickey Thompson Sportsmen tires and a 8-71 blower sitting so high in the tube chassis it was even with the roof line. The owner, an older guy, talked for over an hour about making street rods out of old junker classics. Hmmmmmm!
Now I am not one to copy so I quickly put the Morse Minor out of my mind when I saw how much they were on E-bay. While searching, I found it, and a theme started forming after countless hours of researching the car. A 1953 Studebaker Starlight Coupe. A coupe being a post car with door frames and small rear swing-out windows. A Hardtop being more collectible but the Coupe has a HUGE racing history at Bonneville that continues to this day.
The car was located in Omaha, a good 10 hrs from here. I loaded the family up in the dually with trailer in tow we were off to NE. The car was a native Kansas car until it was put down in 1980...so the tag said on the Kansas plate in the trunk still on the bumper. The car looked pretty cool but after further inspection it was a wreck. Not less than three owners have had their hands on it all with different ideas and it showed. The worst being the floors cut out as well as the rocker panels. Rust was mostly the reason but now the body was so weak it could no longer support the doors. Most of the interior and exterior trim had long parted ways with the body shell. I did mention cheap right? Here is where I come in to the picture........owner number 4.
The body was just resting on the frame
which in hind sight, I am glad it didn't shift too much in the trailer
and end up rubbing the inside walls. I put together a frame fixture using some of the I-beam I had from building my Countach frame. It has been laying around for some 10yrs. Too heavy to just haul to the curb so I tucked it away for just this occasion. I welded some uprights to it and put some casters under it. Getting too old to be working on my knees anymore. It also serves as a flat surface to build the frame on.
A couple of neighbors on all four corners and we lifted the shell onto its new frame. It gives a good working height but almost doesn't clear my garage door. I didn't factor that in.
You can see from these pictures just how
gutted the interior is. Wow! What did I get myself into after
taking a closer look? I saw the look in my neighbors eyes just as he said "You have more ambition than I do". How hard could it be? I at least I have something to work with right? "You will never get those doors to line up".
It has been a few days now and my plan on how to hang the doors
started to take shape. The doors are all too heavy to even think about
hanging them with all of the glass and regulators still in place. I
decided to strip them down to just the shells and my wife started the
bolts into the hinge while I asked, "Don't take too long this doors is
heavy"! Yes, friends I got the look, but all kidding aside she helped
even through the aligning process. I asked one of my neighbors who had
worked 30 years in the body business, "Are these old cars fit and
finish this poor"? Pointing to the huge gap between the quarter and the
door. "You might have to shim that up a little but yeah they don't fit
like my new SS Camaro. I played for hours using a 3/16 shim to check the
gaps. I need the doors to be placed properly to use them as a guide for
attaching the new rocker panels. At some point it will have to be good
Since the car will have a full 2x3 tube chassis, I thought it best to run tubing in the rocker panel creating a perimeter frame. It will help keep the door openings in place and tie everything together. It just so happens the rocker panel hides the tubing completely. Nothing worse than seeing a frame running underneath. It will allow the car to sit lower too. I have decided to not rubber mount the body like full frame cars were in the day and mount it solid. It worked well on the Countach.
At this point I guess it would be fitting to share what I have in store for the Stude. I just wanted the body to be rigid again and not have to worry about if it had warped completely out of shape. I did have some doubts until I saw the door gaps coming in with a little twisting and pulling the sides together with a come-along. Some cross bracing will be added but not until I have the frame design figured out. I don't want to add it and then have to cut it out again.
As promised, here is the vision. It will be black, low to the ground, slight rake, de-chromed just enough to not lose its classic look, huge rear tires, probably Hoosier Pro Street 29.0x18.5x15's, narrowed 9" tubbed but I will not go with the drag car look and have skinny front tires. I will run a 26x10.0x15. Here is where I will part from the current Pro Touring theme and run 15's. I just don't really care for the look of 18/20's on an old classic like a 53 Stude. It will not do 1G on the skid pad either. I might consider running air ride on the front so I can have the slammed look but still make it into a parking lot...something of an issue for the Countach. The wheels I have not quite nailed down other than they will be a classic design, perhaps a American Torq Thruster with satin 5 spokes or Salt Flat style. Both are available in 15x14 for a price ! It will have a full frame which I think you already know with a very narrow 24" width in the rear and somewhere in the 30" range in the front. 4 link in the rear and IRS rack and pinion in the front. The actual front suspension I will go with is still up in the air. I will add a full 10 pt roll cage to tie to the frame both front and rear. The front fenders were so rusted I will be running fiberglass instead of coming up with some big coin for clean original ones. I think I saw one on e-bay for $900...well it is still for sale. Probably go with a fiberglass hood too but no hood scoop!
To recap. It will be a mix of old school, low rider, pro touring and a little drag car for good measure. I think a Hot Rod might sum it up. Drop me a line and tell me what you think! I forgot to mention the drive train...next time....(teaser) "Does it have a Hemi! OK but what kind?
I had a 426 street Hemi back in the early 90's but sold it to finance the Lamborghini project. That was before Chrysler decided to reintroduce them. I timed that right. Anyway I have always wanted a Hemi car and after researching the 53 Stude, I found it was a very popular engine swap to put a 331/354/392 Chrysler Hemi into the Stude engine bay.
The early Hemi is making a big comeback with the interest in the rat rod scene and us old hot rodders. I wasn't a hard sell at all. With a little searching, I found one very reasonable in MI. The gentlemen had 11 of them and was getting out of the business and selling his stock of old engines to finance his retirement. I have a 354 on layway for $1200 and will pick it up sometime this winter. It is a std bore 354 out of a 1956 Imperial. Now I could have gone with the more popular 392 but they are expensive and a 354 looks the same on the outside. A half inch more deck height on the 392 is hardly noticeable.
With all the popularity comes all of the speed equipment out of the wood work and new technology like EFI fuel injection in the old Hilborn units and Weber throttle bodies converted to EFI. The internet is full of everything a guy could wish for in an early Hemi right down to the Moon Eyes aluminum finned valve covers or 3 deuces on a Weiand intake manifold.
The engine is a long way off but it is fun to plan for the future. The transmission was going to be a 4 or 5 speed but changed my mind after realizing I want this to be a daily driver if I choose. It will run on pump gas. Again a big contrast from the Countach which is racing gas only. My Countach is a lot of work to drive with the hard clutch and no power at all. Both hands on the wheel kind of thing. Don't take it wrong. I love to drive it but there are times I wish I just had a car to jump in a turn of the key and go. Maybe even turn on a radio...that would be novel. Automatic it is...... Back to work!
I have been rearranging my shop for the winter and have not worked on the Stude too much. I managed to push the body off its frame fixture while moving it to its winter location. Not a safe situation so I decided I better change a few things. I mounted the firewall with a tube frame to the frame fixture to hold the front in position and at the height I need to start building the frame rails under it. The back was leveled up with wooden blocks for now until the trunk floor is removed. At that point the front frame rails will be in and will have something to clamp to. Right now the body is literally floating over the frame fixture.
I did manage to get the rocker panel sills in and got the doors aligned for the second time!
I have some time off for Christmas and I thought maybe I would have something to show my Dad while he is here visiting. I put some front frame rails I fabricated out of the same 2x3 tubing and added a 7" kickup to have a real nice and low 6" ride height. I decided after a little measuring the Studebaker was never made to stuff a 29" tall tire under it. The rear wheel wells will touch the rear window and still have about 2" of clearance at the 6" ride height. I think I will have to air bag the car to get the ride height I want at a show but still be able to drive home. You will notice I have already taken into consideration the car will ride low with my reverse drive shaft cross member. I don't want anything dragging on the ground so I can run the car as low as I can. The body is starting to get a little rigid now and the doors don't sag when you open them. I also added a rear tube inside the trunk to give a little more strength and a point to attach the rear frame rails. See how much the curve the Studebaker has to it? What a beautiful design but it has its challenges when trying to modify it but it will be well worth it in the end. Until then Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well Christmas is behind us and hosting the event at our house this year was fun to have the family here to share the new project with my Father and my brother-in-law. A couple of Blue Moons and off to the garage we went. I popped in the CD of the "Big Sounds of Drags" (2001) and we almost missed the Christmas feast after talking too much about the Stude. Here is what the big fuss was all about.
Christmas was murder on the pocket book. I would like to have start putting a rear end under the car but lacking the funds causes me to be rethink my next move. The car came with a 10pt roll cage but I had not given it much thought about installing it. It would give the frame a lot more rigidity which being a street car is not a bad thing. It does for the most part give up the back seat. My kids will be grown up by the time I finish this so what is the point? No back seat it is...I am undecided about the side bars to climb over to get in and out. It is not a race car so again I say what's the point. It was ordered for a 53 Studebaker coupe and it shows. The angle between the door frame and windshield post was spot on. From the side of the car you can not see the roll bars at all. Just the way I like it.
I did notice the back half became very rigid...so I will now remove the trunk floor. I guess it was the right move after all.
I finally was able to cut the rest of the trunk floor out. It sure looks different. I used my angle head grinder with a 3" hard stone. Slow going really but my baby, The Bull, rests right next to the Studebaker and I don't want sparks from a cutting torch to set the garage a blaze. I built some wheel well tubs out of 16ga cold roll and used a tig welder to fuse the seams together. I spent a few hours getting them to fit to the remaining trunk side walls. The beauty of the Studebaker is its removable quarters...makes this job very easy. Now you get an idea of the size of the rear tires and how close the rear body line touches the top.
My wife Eileen caught me on a test drive! I was trying out the seats I have chosen from a 1964 Galaxie XL 500. I was raised in the back seat of my dad's Galaxie and have a fond memory of the back of those exact seats. I found them in a junkyard of all places hidden in the back of a newer car. $100 for the pair..you never know what you might find. I make a point to visit my two favorite junk yards whenever I can. I enjoy just walking through for ideas. I also have located 7 different Studebakers for parts. E-bay is still the best source for those hard to find parts, but I never leave out the idea of local sources for certain things.
I had the good fortune to have a neighbor with a mig welder and he let me use his Argon CO2 mix gas bottle (C25). I have only been able to tack things together using the flux core wire with my new welder. It works OK but I didn't want to make complete welds with it. The rental for the bottle is over $200 bucks here in WI...I don't know it that is the case elsewhere. My tig welder is fine for somethings. I built with Bull with it but you get spoiled with the speed of a mig welder at work. Besides it uses pure Argon so that wasn't going to work either. Quick use of the saber saw and the bottle slide right into my Rubber Maid cart like it was made for it.
The Hobart 187 220v welder couldn't have welded any better. I tried a few welds with it and I was amazed. I spent the rest of the day looking for welds to make when I ran out of things to weld...back to work.
Being on a budget gets tough sometimes and causes me to work out of the natural order of things like adapting the rear bumper to the new frame rails. Something that didn't need to be done now but it doesn't cost anything. I welded up a 1" sq. frame to be attached by the bumper bolts. It worked out great and was very light!
I also finished up the wheel well tubs and will leave the center open for working on the rear axle and the four link setup. I will need a very narrow housing with the big tires I will be using. I think next I will mock up the rear tires in cardboard to find the center of the axle and fabricate something to locate the housing properly. I feel a road trip coming on to pick up the Hemi!!!!
Well a lot has happened in two weeks. The Hemi is still on "lay-a-way". I decided I would work on somethings that needed to be done instead of making a road trip. The weather has been bitter cool and a trip to MI. wasn't going to happen.
I worked on the mock-up of the rear wheel and rear end location. The wheel wells are complete and the tire size works perfect 29x18x15. Making up a solid model on the computer helps a lot. This was more of a visual exercise that anything else. I located the cardboard mock-up centered in the wheel well so I now have my rear end center line. It was located at its lowest point with the air bag exhausted....."In the weeds look"!
Next I finished up the last of the rust repair in the cowl bottoms which allowed me to remove the firewall. It will be replaced with a new flat one setting vertical instead of sloping forward to give the Hemi all the room I can. It will fit the stock engine compartment fine but the bottom was rotted and all of those extra holes to plug, so why not. It never hurts to have a lot of room for an elephant with its distributor in the rear beside, I don't have long legs any how!!
I made some cardboard templates for the missing cowl sides and tacked in the new sheet metal. From there I was able to measure for the firewall and make it all in one piece right to the floor. I think it looks a little bare right now but once the brake booster and all of the others things that normally get mounted, it should look fine.
I took my rusted out fenders which will be replaced with fiberglass down the road and cut out the inner fender wells for the ease of handling them and mocking up the front end. Looks like the front frame rails are going to be fine and luck has it the front radiator support laid right on the top of the frame. I am using the front grill support to keep the fenders placed where they need to be and can now mock up the wheel placement just like the back. I can now see why everyone loves the 53 coupe. The body lines are awesome and really likes good with some big tires and low to the ground.
My goal is to have this a roller by summer and I am on track. The wheel and tires will be the expensive part of that equation.
I mocked up the front wheel using the Mustang II front hub to hub dimension of 56.5" and 2" drop spindles. I believe the 15" front wheel looks good but I think the tire being only 24" tall looks small in the wheel well. Might have to go with a 26". These came with the car even though I am not a big fan of the Rodlite wheels they serve their purpose for now. The front "skinnies" are starting to grow on me as the hot rod is starting to take on the early gasser look. Like I stated earlier a true hot rodder can change this vision as the car goes through the design phase up to and including the whole theme...Right??
My father came down for the weekend and we ended up in the garage again. His opinion was..."These fenders are salvageable". We discussed the method we would use to repair them for an hour and concluded yes they could be saved and I took it under advisement. As with the Countach, I am not a big fan of fiberglass either. They never seem to look straight even after block sanding. They look good and straight until they cure in a hot summer day. My rear wing on the Countach was flat for a year until a hot day in Sturgis. It has never looked the same. That wing had cured prior to painting on a black driveway for 3 days at 140 degs. That was 4 years ago! I am getting off topic...
My dad on his trip down brought a Ford 9" complete rear end for use on the Stude. Now this to me is worth mentioning. My Dad is 80yrs old. He pulled this rear end out of one of his cars by himself and loaded it into his truck! Old hot rodders never die!
I cut off the axle tubes and sand blasted everything in preparation to be shortened to 35" flange to flange. Maybe next time we can see some progress in that area.
Well, the camera was indisposed for a while and I didn't have pictures to post of the rear end shortening process. It went very well with making bushings for both the center section and the bearing ends. I ran a 2" polished shaft through the bushings to align everything to be welded. I welded everything on the tubes first, bag mounts and 3-link mounts and welded that to the housing. I then welded the bearing ends last with the shaft in place. It remained very straight after cooling so much so the shaft pulled right out without much effort even though I only had .005" clearance between the bushings and the shaft. The only thing left was to mount the 3-link under the car to see if my design was going to work. Reminds me of a 18 wheeler rear end with the air bag mounts under the frame rails and being so short. Looks like everything will work. It is currently mounted at its extreme lowered level...bags exhausted and the ride height at 6" explains why the 3-link bars are at a quite an angle. At normal ride height they will run pretty level. The adjust ability of the 3-link bars can be used to get the pinion angle correct and the axle centered in the chassis.
The only thing left would be to add a track bar to keep the rear end centered. Someday I hope to have some wheels under there instead of cardboard!!! On to the front suspension.
I have spent some time trying to figure out the best way of centering the rear end. The 3 link system only keeps the rear end from movement fore and aft but not side to side. I have two choices, one would be to use a watts linkage which is probably the best or a panhard rod or sometimes called a track rod bar. With the very short rear end and things getting a little cramped, I went with the panhard rod. Nothing more than a triangular bar with rod ends running from the frame at the front to the rear end somewhere. By adjusting its length forces the rear end to move left or right. The idea is to not cause binding as the rear end goes through its travel. Since I ran it over the driveshaft I checked to make sure it wasn't going to be a problem. Close but no cigar.
I had joined the Studebaker club this past summer.While at one of there first meetings I sighted a 53 Coupe like mine. I heard from the old timers the doors never closed very well and made quite a noise when they did. Sure enough a very clean example but the door sounded terrible. We have made some real progress in the quietness in new car doors these days.
I have been working on my own idea of fitting an aftermarket latch used throughout the custom car industry for years called a Bear Claw double latch. The only problem is they don't make one for the Stude with using its outside door handles. Most go for the saved door look by eliminating the handles all together and replacing them with solenoids. I like the classic look so I decided to use part of the old latch and retro fit it to the new one. I only had to give up the idea of locking the door because I used the top of the release mechanism where the lock went to be activated by the push button lever. I was never one for locking my doors anyway. Glass has never been much of a theft deterrent. I think you can see the lever I made to take the push button forward action and a well placed pivot point hits the release lever opening the door. I can't take credit of the idea but I improved on it by using the same mounting plate system to screw right back into its original location. I only need to countersink the mounting plate to finish it up and attach the inside door release rod. The doors now close rock solid. Might need some upholstery and door seals to really appreciate the improvement ...or is that the reason new car doors sound so quiet....hmmmm.
I have been keeping my eyes open for some cheap
clean fenders since I bought the car but those two words don't go
together until this past week. I had the opportunity to get two pretty clean fenders for the Studebaker. I had the idea of going with fiberglass ones only because steel ones are few and far between. Like I had said earlier I joined the Studebaker club and it is starting to pay off. Between two members, each had one right and one left. The right was almost flawless except for the crushed in front. The left will need a little work but nothing to the extent I would be facing with my current ones as the picture shows. The rot is from the rear edge or pinch weld, top to bottom and going forward into the vent which is a total loss.
I figure since I was finishing up the rear end I thought I would just change direction and work on the fenders. Here are the pictures of what the right one looked like. I decided the front could have been repaired but it was also missing the grill surround. It would have been more work to remove it from my fender than to section the front off mine and graft it onto the new one. At first it seemed a little rash but as I thought about it my front was near perfect and it solved both problems. The damaged area was stretched when someone tried to repair it. The picture doesn't show how bad it really was but the belt line on the side was creased and would have been hard to make it look right.
Using my hood as a gauge and some pinstripe on the crown it became apparent this was the right thing to do. An afternoons work and I had it tacked up ready for welding. Fitting the two together with no gap was 95% of the work. I think I did a pretty good job. I will finish weld it a little at a time so I not warp my hard work.! One down one more to go.!
I finished welded the fender using the lowest heat possible and the warpage was very minimal. Moving around and never welding more than a half inch at a time.
I turned my attention to the hood with its gaping hole. A hood scoop project gone array from its previous owner. I am not a hood scoop guy as I had said earlier in the project but it seem to be a shame to not try and fix it. Long story short I was reading another online build when the owner graphed a classic hood scoop from a sixties car. It looked better than the old hood ever did and looked period correct. Maybe this was my answer, but what kind. I have only seen cowl hoods on Studes and have become blinded and have not been thinking out of the box. A subtle rise with a width about 20" and about 27" long would cover the hole.
Also being a Ford guy I started looking at classic Ford hoods of the late fifties when it hit me. A 58-60 Ford Thunderbird. It was classic and had the center crown like like the Stude, but would it look right?
A quick trip to my local junk yard netted not one but four possible hoods. How much you ask? How about $40!!! I took some quick measurements to confirm it would work and I carried it to my truck 200 yards away. They don't make them like they used to!
Back at home and an hour later I had a clean scoop to lay on the Stude hood to see if I had made a mistake. The curve was right down the hood but it was about 2" too wide were the hood started to drop off. I decided to shorten its length as much as I dare at the rear to help with this problem. With a little flexing of the scoop it flushed out.
After I was convinced it would work I give it a long hard look as to how to welded it in. A Stude hood has no under bracing at all which leads to a big problem when welding open unsupported metal. I decided to flange the edge of the scoop to offer some rigidity and trying to get away from a butt weld. Using a hand panel flange pliers, I worked around the edge of the scoop. I then transferred its outline onto the Stude hood and cut it out taking much care to stay inside the lines. A little black duct tape and its ready for paint....... I will weld it up next time. It looks like it belongs there with a little work and $40.
A lot has been going on with the Studebaker in a lot of areas. I have acquired the driver's side fender from a 55 and have a few trim holes I will have to plug but other than that it is pretty clean and seems to fit better than the old one. I lucked out finding steel fenders instead of fiberglass ones. You know my thoughts on fiberglass...
I have been working on the front end just bolting things up to see how they fit. I also wanted to see how the hood scoop fit the rest of the body. What do think?
I also started working on the lower valance and bumper. The valance was a two piece unit that was spot welded together. It made it impossible to repair the way it was. The bottom was all flattened out and pushed in the front about 2". I decided to drill the spot welds out and work on the separate pieces. I had my doubts it would ever look right but it slowly came back the way it was...it think it was. I welded up the spot weld holes and test fit it. It is still a little rough on the lower front where the metal was torn but I will address that later. Kind of a neat piece really the way air is brought into the radiator. Doesn't look like something from the fifties.
The last was the bumper. From the first couple of pictures you can see the problem. The bumper is bent in the center and doesn't follow the upper valance at all nor the drivers side fender. I didn't want any gaps and fit nice and tight like a modern car does. That is going to require some cutting! keeping things equal I cut the bumper right in the center so it will now have a crown just like the upper valance. I sense a theme here. I clamped it in place and tacked it up. It will be finished welded with a support rod tacked in to keep the bumper from shrinking and loosing some width. They will be chromed someday but not any time soon.
I have been away for a while. My daughter has been in the hospital and my focus has been on her and our family. I will get back to the Stude soon.......
Well the household is back to normal so I thought I would venture back into the garage now with my daughters troubles are behind us.
The Stude was just where I left it only a little more rusty. It has been very humid here in WI for the last month and it shows. I will have to get a dehumidifier in here someday.
I tried one of the Lambo's tires on for size just to get back into the swing of things.
Yep, a 26x14x15 looks small as I thought it would. A 29x17x15 I believe will be more fitting.
You may not know this but I have been selling Mustang II cross members on E-bay and decided to hang my prototype in between the frame rails. If you are looking for a nice well built unit cheaper than anyone else on E-bay, that would be me. If you would like one drop me a line. ($169 + shipping)
I had earlier decided where the front tire need to be and had marked the frame stub with a center punch. I hung a plumb bob down and measured from the rear crossmember to that point. I had my little helper make sure I was doing it right by the look on her face I think she thinking about it!. I did the same on the other side to make sure it was parallel with the rear end. This is the most important part where you don't want to make a mistake. Using a bar clamp I clamped it to the frame rails. All it needs is the spring towers mounted which are being modified for air bags as we speak.
I have been working on the front suspension adapting air bags to the spring towers instead of coil springs. The bags have an installed height a little less than the springs so an new mount need to be made to bolt the bags to. After they were welded in I did a little measuring for the Hemi. Hmmm. I might have to notch the fire wall if I can't extend the front of the block over the crossmember. Hemi's run a rear sump pan will help some. I will have to mock up the block with the heads, valve covers, headers, and oil pan to make sure.
I am in need of some control arms to put everything together. I am looking for a used set on E-bay but so far I have not had much luck.
I mocked the hemi in the engine bay and found it would have to sit too high to clear the crossmember and would loose a lot of hood clearance. I want the car to sit low in the front so the whole package is starting to be a tight squeeze. I decided to cut the firewall out I had already replaced and start over. The new firewall is now four inches moved back. I will loose some room under the dash which I am sure will cause some other problems down the road. I have seen this engine swap before but they must use the stock Studebaker crossmember which sits very low in the frame unlike my mustang II.
The engine fits a lot better with plenty of clearance for the rear distributor removal and the front exhaust port isn't all over the shock tower. The engine setback will help with weight balance in a better handling car by not being so nose heavy. Those old hemis are one of the heaviest V8s ever made.
It may not look like I have done much but a lot of planning is taking place. A little set back occurred when my narrowed rear end was stolen. Just left outside to let the paint dry at my work for a few minutes. I have come to grips I was just careless to think no one would steal it.
Moving on the engine mock up is complete and working on making the tilt front end. It will have a all steel front end that tilts so the engine can be worked on and viewed nicely. I also choose my front wheels to see what they will look like. 1960's Supreme wheels that were very popular with the Low Riders of the day. The back will have matching 14" wide with black spokes!
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Good news!!! My Dad found another rear end for me in a junkyard. I hear it will be here for Christmas. I guess we will doing another one...only better this time.
I had a few days off so after all the festivities I was able to get out in the garage. I continued on the tilt front end and have made some progress. The radiator support was replaced for a beefer unit with some steel tubing. This will serve as a back bone for the support the front end will need. It will all pivot on 3/4" rod ends for adjusting the front end to maintain the gaps correctly.
I also started playing with the exhaust exits in the front fender. It will exit in the portion that will stay as the front end tilts forward. The Stude has a very curved fender bottom so it will never pass the doors as it tilts forward. You have to split the fenders on the same plane as the pivot point. I will french the openings a little so it gives it that finished look. I have room for a full 24" x 4" round muffler off the block hugger headers so it shouldn't be too obnoxious. Too late now!!!!!!!
I tied the radiator support to the frame of the bumper at the pivot point to bring it all together as one unit. It is bolt together so the front end can be taken apart for painting and body work. Better than a solid one piece unit. I still have the hood to bolt to the fenders to give it even more strength. It will be then opened with gas springs instead of my wife holding it up for me. Bless her heart for coming out in the cold and being a trooper! The ceiling of the garage keeps it from opening all the way to a full 90 degs.
I scored a set of rear tires off E-bay for $200. Mickey Thompson Sportsmans 29x18.5-15.
New they go for over $600 for the pair and these still have the nubbies on them. They fit just like they were intended. Now I think you get the idea! I wish I had some rims to mount them on for a better look but I will have to use my imagination for now. My littlest one has an idea, lets put them in her room for a play house until then. Wouldn't be the first time the house smelled like rubber!!!!!!!!
I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and New Year by spending time with your families.
My Dad and Mom came down and delivered a new 9" Ford rear end housing for me.
While they were down I asked my Dad to help push the Studebaker out and get a real good look at the function on the tilt front end with (2) 100lbs. struts added. You never know for sure until you try them. You don't want it to be so light it lifts by itself and to hard to overcome the struts to close it. I think I picked the right ones!
I took a little time off and helped my 9 yr. old on her science fair project and spent some quality time on my book.
Back to the Stude. I worked on the lower part of the fender where the exhaust will exit. I am getting a little flak on that its illegal. OK so what is the point. I will get into it more when it is time to build the headers and my idea in making it quiet. The bottoms were welded up with a top plate so the front fenders has something to rest on and gives it that finished look when open. Remember once the front end is open everything that is normally hidden is pretty much for everyone to see.
I tried to show some of the tacking and welding to give you an idea how well the Hobart works on the lowest setting. I have little to no warping and I move around the part letting an inch or so cool before I start again. Yeah it takes time but well worth it.
I have been working on a lot of different things lately with my new goal in mind of having the Stude on the ground this spring. I had been working on the tilt front end and want to get that finished up. I think you might remember i had some rust on the drivers side fender to take care of. Those long welder clamps come in handy!
I even got the lower valance in place to see if I had any clearance issue when it opened. I had to do a lot of trimming as the bumper kept hitting it as it opened. I welded the tops up to give it a finished look when the front end is open and also give it a little support since it is no longer fastened to the fenders. You can't tell by looking at the front or sides it is no longer attached because it is hidden by the bumper. it think it turned out pretty good and will aid the radiator air flow.
I found a transmission on craiglist for $75. A stripped out GM 700R4 OD I will use as a mockup for the cross member and trans tunnel (future project). Since it is just a case it is a mere 20 lbs and easy to work with. I have my rear end to narrow so that is my next project. I will not report anything about that as you know it is my second go around.
I have a lot of projects in the works. The rear end is ready to shorten so I put the tires and rims under the rear to double check my 35" flange to flange still holds true. Plenty of room for those 18.5 Mickeys. The front control arms are on for the Mustang II crossmember. I decided to go with the 5/8" shorter units after I found out the front rotors that up grade the brakes to 11" are Granada units and space the wheel out farther than the standard 56.5" Mustang II platform. I was already pushing the limit on the front track width as it was. They just clear the spring tower. I mated the 700R4 to the Hemi and working on the floor design. The trans mount and tunnel for the console all look like they will work perfectly. I mated a B&M QuickSilver shifter to the Galaxie console so it looks like it belongs and again I have plenty of room. My goal is still to have the car on the ground by June. The Stude has a mean stance and will only get better sitting in the driveway!!!!!!!!!!
I had a few unexpected changes in my life over the last past month. I started a new job with a defense contract mfg. right in my back yard. No more 500 miles per week driving to the North side of Milwaukee. With that said, I had a rear end to finish up which I was doing at my last employer. I didn't want to bring the fixture home so I knocked it out before I left. I think it looks as good if not better than the last one. Also didn't take as long the second time. Funny how that works. The Mickey Thompson's fit just like I thought. I also ordered a 82-88 Thunderbird power rack and pinion which is an upgrade over the manual Mustang unit. All I need is some tie rods to finish it up. It give me a chance to see how to snake the steering shaft between the headers and the motor mounts. It is a very tight squeeze but with some universals it looks like it just might work.
I got out in the garage this morning while it rained this fine Memorial Weekend. I picked up a set of Sanders block headers instead of making my own but am modifying them with a 5" collector which is formed out of a very tight 90 deg elbow. That will give me 18" of muffler to work with. I can't finish them up because my car is on the frame jig and they will run 1" below the frame rails. It wasn't my first choice as I don't like anything under the frame rails for the "in the weeds look" but my suspension in the front will never allow that much travel anyways I found out. With a little imagination you get the idea.
I mocked up the motor mounts which I think I noted will be a solid mount to the frame. Again the exhaust through the front fender will not allow much engine rock. I did that on the Lambo and I wasn't sorry I did that. Although I will run a rubber trans mount.
I was able to snake the rack steering shaft through there just barely with the tight fitting headers. Another reason I opted not to make my own this time.
I also bought a Trans Dapt 3" trans crossmember and ready to drill the mounting holes.
Not bad for a mornings work if I say so myself.
Time sure does fly by. It has been a long time since I worked on the Studebaker. I had no idea so many people cared. I think I received more e-mail about where the Studebaker went than about the Bull being put up for sale. Kind of a shame really as my family could benefit from its sale..enough about that. The Studebaker is back in the garage and I am kind of sorting where I was the last time I worked on it. I made a quick adapter to mock up the engine to transmission out of 3/4" aluminum so I could bolt them together thanks to my work and a Flow water jet.. I will order the real thing later from Speedway Motors ($500 early Hemi to 700R4). I ordered motor mounts today off E-bay ($79) and will finalize the location of the engine and transmission so I can finish up the trans tunnel and remaining floor next time I post pics. I will have some time off during Christmas to New Years where I should have that pretty well under way..... Welcome back!!!!
I was able to get out in the garage over the holidays. I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Santa was kind enough to bring a few car parts for the Stude. The motor mounts came as well as some exhaust parts. The motor mounts just cleared the headers because I turned the mounting brackets upside down. The motor sits so low between the frame rails that it needed to be done that way to have something to weld to. The drivers side will need a little more clearance on the back flange. A grinder will make quick work of that. I decided to work out the exhaust since the car was in the air on jack stands now. I wanted to see if my concept of running 5" right off the header tubes would work. I will have a lot of work to merge the elbow to the tubes but with a little heat and a body pick, they will fit tight enough to weld up. Next time... I found some S.S. muffler deletes (diesel) that had expanded ends to slide over the 5" elbows. I think they will work nicely. They can be trimmed and the exhaust tip welded to the end as it exists out the fender. Future project will be to build some internal mufflers that will slide inside. They will be out of the S.S. perforated tubing with exhaust packing. I used to have fun packing superbike cans years ago so I don't see this being any different. I also see they have come a long way with different materials that don't burnout like the old fiberglass packing. Basically I will have a 18" collector muffler after it is all finished that can be packed as required for the right sound.
I decided to get back to work on the console and floor panels now that the headers are finished. I welded the crossmember up at each end and finished the installation by drilling 3/8 holes and bolting it in. With the transmission finally located , I laid the console in place and will use the steel inner as the top of my tunnel. The Galaxie console has a steel outer shell as well as a complete steel inner. I measured to get it level and centered between the door sills. I will use 16 ga steel to attach it to the flat portion of the flooring to finish it up. I ran out of welding wire so I will have to make a trip to Tractor Supply. Until next time.
A few more shots of the tunnel finished. The end was supported by 1.25" sq. tubing to give a little support for the tail end as it ties into the back side of the frame.
I intentionally left the outside flooring out until all of the inside work is done to let my legs stick through. I don't bend as well as I used to. I was looking to finish up a few things until I can acquire the brake booster pedal asm. and the steering column. I decided to finish up on the inside door release. A welded tab on the end of the stock release rod made it pretty simple to hook up to the bear claw door latch. Works just like it is supposed to.
I finally got enough together to buy the 8" dual brake booster, 1" GM master cylinder and hanging pedal assembly off E-bay ($176). I will be running disc brakes on both the front and rear. The trick was to mount it as to not have any issues with getting the big Hemi valve covers off and not be too far off the left side of the steering column. Room to do so left me with few options. Anyway they fit without hitting anything and needed a lot of bracing at the pedal assembly hanging on a very thin 16ga firewall. Nothing worse than a flexing brake pedal! I ran two braces to the cowl area and two braces to the underneath of the dash (not shown). All are bolt-in so the assembly could be removed if I wish. Solid pedal was the result. It also serves as a brace for the dash to the firewall which was removed when I moved the firewall back.
Testing the fit with my foot appears to give empty of room for my gas pedal. I should have that next week...E-bay again. I will be putting a vintage bass drum foot pedal as a gas pedal for $5. Kind of rat rod theme but given the idea a Moon gas pedal costs in the area of $60 I couldn't resist. It was pointed out to me that the big hot shoe look is cool but you have to lift your foot out of it because of the high sides making panic braking a little tricky on a street car. My wife noticed it first...OK you know where my head was at!
Here is a peek...
Here are couple of shots where I am thinking of using an old connecting rod as a column support. I mocked up my column out of a small diameter tube to determine placement and length. Looks to be about a 26" long column and a 5" drop using wire ties. I will show the finished project next time. Happy Easter everyone!
I ordered my steering column from Speedway Motors so I had a little time on my hands. It is spring here in WI so I opened the garage door and let a little fresh air in. I never finished the exhaust pipes so I welded one up to see how it looks. Just like I thought.....
I have been gone for a while taking care of a few things and have not had a chance to give an update on the Stude. I finally got the steering column mounted. The connecting rod idea didn't work. I wasn't thinking on the fact that rods are cast and don't weld very good. Probably wasn't one of my better ideas. So I just made one at work using a water jet out of a scrap piece of 1/2" and welded a mounting bracket to it. It bolts right where the original column did. I also made up a firewall mount with a piece of tubing that allowed the 1.75" column to side right into it. It will have a clamped welded to it to keep it in position; just extending out the firewall. Some 3/4" steering rod and a few universals will find their way to the power steering rack.... until next time.
Happy Fathers Day everyone. If you have not called your father, I suggest you do so. I think he would appreciate it. Nothing like telling your Dad you love him...Love ya Dad!
I got a little work done after the family went to church and an afternoon brunch. I knew the steering shaft was going to be a problem and it didn't disappoint. It almost hit the first tube of the headers , the frame rail and motor mount. I might have to re-think the motor mounts to solid. I wouldn't want engine torque to pinch the steering shaft. Anyway it does clear by using all of the 35 degree angle the second universal had to offer. Next would be to weld up the support rod bracket to the frame and clean that up a bit. I would have preferred to put it on the inside of the frame but the headers wouldn't allow it. Don't forget to spot the set screws into the steering shaft and use the locking nuts provided.
Well I changed my mind yet again. This time it is huge....yes that is a mocked-up
6-71 blower. I am just trying it on for size. Seems right at home on the old Hemi. it just needs a hole cut into my nice hood scoop!!!!!
Next time well will see how close the lower pulley comes in contact with the rack and pinion steering. It is going to be interesting.
I looked that it long and hard; with some measurements and a little bit of playing with the engine height, it looks like it would fit. I pulled the pin and went and bought a real blower manifold for $400 from Alky Digger on E-bay. It is a Cragar style and doesn't raise the blower but 3" or so. I didn't want the blower to stick too far out of the hood...too late.
I added an old style Surfer scoop from the 60"s used on a front engine dragster to top it off. Most guys go with the aluminum Hilborn 2x4's scoop but I couldn't do it. I wanted something different and period correct. The wide selection of blower pulleys let me run a 26T on the bottom and a 30T on the top giving me a -13% underdrive and clearance over the rack and pinion. I added a 55" blower belt and (2) V pulleys and the drive system is complete. Oh I went with the old swing style idler pulley setup too just like the old days.
I think it looks pretty mean looking and goes better with the rest of the car. I can see a trend happening; to pull away for the daily driver I once thought I was building. I think it would have been boring away....
The wife said I have been neglecting my household duties lately.....I didn't know what she was talking about until I walked out of my garage today. Hmmmm. When did that happen? I might have to take a little time off from the Stude.
I was able to finish up what I started on the alternator and power steering mounting brackets. I used the real small 60 AMP unit from Denso and a GM Type II power steering pump that works well with the Ford Thunderbird rack. The adjustments were take up with 5/16" rod ends from a karting supply store...tie rods I think. They worked very well and were very inexpensive. Since the motor is going to be solid mounted, the brackets are welded to the frame directly. The belts from NAPA (Gates) worked perfectly with only one trip to the store. The string measurement does work.
On a more sombre note I will be off of this site for a while to take care of some personal things. Thank you for checking in and if God willing, I be back soon.
I was able to get out in the garage today and do a little work. I found a power steering tank ($10) at a swap meet last Sat. It was my first attempt at walking for any distance after the surgery. I think my Dad (he's 81) and I were both tired after 6 hrs. of walking. It was nice to spend some quality time together looking at car parts and remarking about the high price of everything......signs of old age I guess. My aluminum radiator was out of my price range for now.
I was able to use a 3" stainless band clamp as a nice way to bolt it to the firewall and out of the way. The bottom is the feed line 10AN and a return line 6AN. Speedway Motors have the adaptors to convert the 14/16 MM O-ring fittings to AN on the T-Bird rack.
I have been working on the trunk lid for some time now but it never seemed to workout right. The large wheel tubs take up to much room for any type of standard hinge so I thought. After two other attempts of of using the stock hinges moved inward failed, I looked elsewhere. I was looking at my Cadillac CTS (06) the other day and noticed my problem with the Studebaker trunk lid. It needed to lift straight up first to clear the large crown from binding at the rear cowl before it pivots forward. The Cadillac has a double pivot hinge that folds into a very small space and has the struts built in helps solve the weight of that big chunk of iron. $35 bucks off E-bay and some lasered parts and by the end of the day...problem solved. The struts are extra.....$38. The trunk lid opens very smoothly and stable even with a the narrower mounting points. Once the gas tank is built, the only reason to go into the trunk would be to put in gas or change out a battery. No spare or groceries in there!
My new radiator came via UPS today and I went to work figuring out how to mount it. The unit I purchase was a cross flow aluminum Chevy style radiator 19 x 25 ($118) fits nicely between my 26" wide frame rails. It has mounting lugs to screw in rubber insulators was a big help. I did notice the lower inlet was facing the rack & pinion boot at the height I wanted to mount it. I had a problem raising the radiator over the steering with such a low hood clearance so I had to go under the boot. It wasn't my best choice but the hose is still above the crossmember should I hit something heaven forbid. Some mounting brackets will have to be fabbed up and welded to the round tube frame to complete the mounting. Some silicone hoses as well as an aluminum 90 deg. elbow will complete the plumbing.
I have been away for a while. A sneak peak at what I have been up to. I will have a complete old school blower rebuild one day for you guys that might be interested in doing your own. Until then GOD bless!
I finished restoring the 63-64 Ford Galaxie console for the Studebaker. A job I have been wanting to do for a while. Not because I needed it right now, I just thought it would be fun to do. I have never restored one before. I think it turn out pretty nice. I sourced all of the missing pieces one at a time from E-bay. I only had a shell to start with and was missing just about everything. I did decide to fab the front console plate out of aluminum and used a 3M vinyl wrap instead of paint for durability. I also used Eastwood products exclusively as they never let me down. The black had just the right gloss and covered the white factory vinyl nicely. Although time will tell how well it holds up to wear.
It seems it is taking longer and longer between updates on the Stude. My cancer is taking its toll on me and my family. Not only physically but financially. We were hit very hard with high medical bills so the funds to continue this site is becoming harder and harder. With that said, I regret to say this will be my last post for awhile.
GOD bless to all that have enjoyed this build. Until next time GOD willing.
I know it is not much to share but I had good day and got out in the garage. I wanted to play with my idea of how to mount the front shocks. I knew my front supports from the roll cage need some stiffening after I saw some flexing jacking the car up with the heavy Hemi in place. It was time to add some additional support tubing. It also made a good point to mount the shocks to if I placed them right. Flexing gone and some awesome shock mounts out of some 3/16" mild steel. The front has the same travel as the back so I have a full 6" of travel with the air bags. They should work nicely.
By the last picture I see I need to modify the lower control arms to accept the air bag instead of the factory Mustang II coil spring mount. I got them real cheap instead of the ones made for air bags....
With the weather so cold here in WI, I have been working on some inside projects. I decided to go with the simple steering column without any wiring as you know for more of a hot rod look. I still wanted turn signals. I found an aftermarket add-on from the 50's made by Signal Stat on E-bay. Not a reproduction from China (plenty of those) but the real deal. A Signal Stat model 800 12 Volt 7 wire unit for $19. It had perfect chrome and the contacts were like new. The green light on the end of the stalk lights up when the signals are working.
I refurbished an old RAC tach I bought for $30. RAC was the cheap unit to compete with the Stewart Warner and Sun tachs of the day. Some of Sun Greenlines can get up around $500 now. A little out of my budget. Besides they require a tach transmitter to drive the signal for the tach. More modern units will run right off the coil like this RAC model of the early 60's. All it really needed was a complete teardown and cleaning. I tested it with a battery charger as a signal generator or 60HZ will equal 1800 RPM if used on a V8. Always check to see if they can be switched inside 4-6-8 cylinders. Some of the old ones do not. I lucked out on buying an untested tach but a good sign to look for is a free moving needle and the fact it rested at zero. There is an adjustment on most of the half sweep models at the base of the needle to calibrate it to zero. Some new texture paint on the cup and polish the plastic lens and it looks like new.
I used a 1 5/8" Harley exhaust clamp to mount both of them on the steering column
(1 3/4") instead of the usual hose clamp. I think it looks a lot nicer and a very sturdy mounting system. Not too bad for a $50 investment.
I decided to play around with the blower some more. I never liked the short look of a 6-71 without its rear bearing plate. I also don't like the price of some of the vintage bearing plate replacements. I decided to retain the stock rear bearing plate and with the help of an old cover I bought off E-bay for $35. It was a fairly nice attempt to take a stock cover mill it down to the mounting bosses and weld in a 1/4" aluminum plate. I added the rear caps to access the rear bearings when needed. I little work to radius all the edges and a shot of EastWood Cast Iron Gray...I think you get the idea.
I looked at my scoop sitting on top of the carbs and it doesn't look right sitting that high in the air. I don't have the money to purchase an EFI injector as I would like so I got to thinking about a little bit of change. If I wanted to bring the scoop down over the carbs, one would have to go. The inline blower calculator at Holley puts a Hemi at 6500 RPM needing about 900 CFM. I could put a single 950 4150 Holley and drop the scoop right over it. There is enough room to allow air to enter once the choke plate is milled off.
As you know I am the King of cardboard/tape mock-up. Here is my thought. I could mill it out of 2" aluminum and almost hide the carb....Hmmmmm. Maybe added a fuel distribution block at the back to sneak the fuel into the carb and run Hilborn hoses to cover the sides were the carb base is visible???
It has been almost two months since I last posted. I have been feeling better and thank you for your prayers. GOD bless you all!
I am at the point where I am getting ready to get the car sandblasted. A lot of little things to finish up before I do that. You know all of the finish welding and the things that just never seem to be taken care of because they are not as fun???
One was the spring perches always hit the upper control arm. I opted for the 5/8 shorter arms and it has its problems. I just cut the corners of the towers off a little and problem solved. I moved the shock mount again for a better angle through the arc of the lower control arm. Not sure what I was thinking the first time. Tack first and check again I always say.
I finished up the floors and made some seat brackets out of 1/8" aluminum and bolted them to the floor. There is 1.5" sq. tubing running across the frame rails to give the seats something to bolt to instead of just thin sheet metal. They have the proper 2" laid back angle giving a nice feel and plenty of leg room.
I put the car on the floor for the last time to check the ride height. I have 5" all day long with the air bags inflated so it will ride as pictured. Exhausted, it will drop 4" or so for that in the weeds look.
The injector I was working on is still in the machining phase and should have something to show soon!!!
Well here it is. It is not complete but you get the idea. All that remains is to make up fuel lines instead of just vacuum hose, both sides, deck the top of the blower case to bring the injector down flush, modify the throttle arm on the carb to put it under the scoop and make a screen out of perforated metal to serve as a filter as well as block the view of the carb inside. What do you think?
I also found out my blower case is a very old design with the top flange being 6.25" wide giving me more real estate to work with. The injector is quite wide to keep all of the holley carb inside that I decided to go with a double throttle plate design or 8 ports injector much like the Crower Hercules unit.
When thinking about how to mount the scoop, it came to me to use two throttle shafts which are fake of course, to hold the scoop but serve to mount a linkage to giving it a little more realism. I could rig up something up to make them move with the throttle but If you are that close to notice you will already know it is fake. What do they call that looks good at 10 feet away? Maybe 5 LOL!
P.S. thank you NewT for the sat. spent in the shop making chips!
OK here's what is underneath. Again it is just mocked up for functionality and not the final product. Once the blower carb is purchased during the Hemi rebuild, things will be tidied up a bit.
I have always had a big thing for induction on an engine. The Studebaker is no exception. A simple 4-bbl for the ease of tuning with the look of mechanical injection.
I rolled the Studebaker out in the sun for one more time before it is off to the sandblaster.
Well life changes has not allowed me to get the chassis blasted just yet. I decided I would just forge ahead with some other projects and hopefully get to the blaster before cold weather sets in. The car is completely stripped down and the parts put away for winter projects.
The 53 Studebaker had no real outer wheel well tubs because the quarters where bolt on. Water and mud would pack up near the tail lights. I had some rust through in that area. Just some pin holes...so I thought. Once the filler was removed it was a lot worse. I removed all of the rusty metal, both on the body as well as the inner quarter panel. The panels are so close together the rust just traveled right into the trunk area. New metal was added leaving the body open so it can be sand blasted. I will get some paint in there before I close it up. It will never return in my life time......
The weather here in WI just took a turn for the worse. Hot enough to need the air conditioner during my last post to almost needing to use the fireplace in the morning. Yes, fall is on us in a hurry.
With that I re-evaluated my idea about sanding blasting the car because it would need to be painted immediately after blasting or it will start to flash rust. I decided to just metal prep each surface with a soft pad and 120 grit and paint as the weather permitted.
The trunk was finished in Eastwood's red oxide primer, seam sealed the joints, undercoated, and top coated with gray and black splatter paint. The interior was primed with red oxide as well and will be covered in a sound deadening mat. The underside will be primed in a two part urethane, seam sealed and undercoated. The exposed front portion of the frame is next with Eastwood's chassis black. The exterior body will have to wait....
GOD Bless everyone who sent the heart felt encouragement; dealing with my health and the trials we are facing. We are not alone in facing them....
I finished all of the chassis painting and wanted to share the results. I was very happy with the Eastwood chassis black. It dried hard and very shiny. The inside roll bar was a pain to get all the way around but the quality of the rattle cans from Eastwood are like using a spray gun. I guess that is why they cost so much. I will use it again on the rear end and front spindles.
The underside was seam sealed and top coated with spray on bed liner. The inner quarters and wheel wells done in rubberized undercoating.
Well the cool weather is upon us so the winter projects will start soon. I can start putting the car back together on a more permanent level as each component is finished. Until then GOD BLESS!!!!!!
I ordered a firewall insulation mat from Summit Racing. 48" x 72" x .375" with a foil backing on both sides for $39. It has a reinforced mesh added over the old stuff that would puncture and tear if you even touched it. It doesn't have the peel and stick like most do but a little 3M Super 77 and it will be stuck for the life of the car. I added some Q-pads underneath the isolation that my neighbor gave me. He said one or two stuck to a panel will deaden any vibration from the big Hemi only inches away. So I stuck the whole package of 6 on LOL!
I hired my daughter to tape the seams up with foil duct tape. She did a pretty good job don't you think? We will not have any roasting feet on those hot summer nights. The rest of the interior will get the standard 80mil sound deadening peel and stick stuff just to keep the road noise down. It also has an added benefit of lighten up the interior. I can now put the drop light away!