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gotcha
12-31-2006, 01:12 PM
I have a quick question on the solution to ride height on a 53 Commander Starlight Coupe with SBC, 700R4, and stock suspension.

I have this mocked up with the engine and trans (full weight) on the stock Commander frame and front suspension.

My question is this. The Commander front springs must be about 1000# each, as the car sit like a 4 wheel drive truck (okay...maybe not that bad).

* Do most people use the 6 cylinder or aftermarket springs if retaining the stock front suspension?

* If someone who has a similar setup with proper height and rake could give me a frame to floor measurement at the front of door sill to floor.

I have fought the temptation to cut it off and use the Fatman clip. I can successfully get around the steering box and header issue...but am really confused about how high this thing sits with the SBC. There is absolutely no compression in the springs. The Studebaker V-8 must weigh a ton. Any help appreciated. Thanks.
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bensauber
12-31-2006, 02:36 PM
I put a fatman clip on my 50 and fat man sent the springs for a 6 cyl for the combination with a SBC. Maybe that will help. I'm sure JDP can send you some 6 cyl springs. With the fat man clip you might have to change steering column and all. Studegary had a small block in his 54 you might ask him what he used. He doesn't have the 54 any more, but he would sure be the one to know.

36 dictator
48 starlite
50 starlite

PackardV8
12-31-2006, 02:55 PM
The Studebaker V8 does weigh a figurative ton - 695# ready to run. The SBC with iron heads usually comes in around 550# or 145# less. At first glance, that seems like a lot less, but it only represents a reduction of 7-8% of the total front end weight.

thnx jv.

PackardV8

Dick Steinkamp
12-31-2006, 03:22 PM
quote:Originally posted by gotcha

I have a quick question on the solution to ride height on a 53 Commander Starlight Coupe with SBC, 700R4, and stock suspension.



Do you have all the front sheet metal, etc. on the car? It will make a BIG difference if you don't.

The SBC is about 150-200 pounds lighter than the Stude V8. If your Stude was an automatic, that TH700 is quite a bit lighter than the cast iron bellhousing and automatic that was in it. If you're running tubular headers, an aluminum intake, aluminum alternator, the SBC is lighter still.

I have a Chevy in mine. T-10 4 speed, aluminum bell, aluminum flywheel, so it might actually be lighter than your automatic setup. IIRC, I cut my stock Commander front coils maybe 3/4ths of a turn.

Everybody's definition of "proper height and rake" is different. If your definition is similar to mine (see pic below) I can measure mine for you.



http://farm1.static.flickr.com/132/337488631_093fcbbeec_m.jpg
Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA

gotcha
12-31-2006, 03:57 PM
Thanks Dick...I have always liked the way your car sits. The car does not have the front sheet metal on...however I have placed two full size adults on the frame horns, and the coils moved about 1/2 inch. About 320 lbs. You can jump up and down on the frame at the front frame horns, and not move the coils or a-arms one inch. (no shocks attached) You would think it would go up and down like a yo-yo. There is no binding, it is simply like the coils are rigid. It is a small block with DZ crossram (aluminum) dual holleys, tubular Sanderson headers, AC, etc. so it is somewhat light. I used the people to replicate the sheet metal weight for reference. (high tech) If you could give me some measurements, it would sure help. Thanks for the responses. Bob

Tom B
12-31-2006, 07:52 PM
When I had my '53 coupe rebuilt, (232 V8, OD transmission) HD springs were installed and it sat 3 inches too high in front. I had a spring shop remove two inches from the springs and it sits just right. I'm not sure what it would take with a SBC, but probably more. The HD springs must have been not for the V8, but for heavy duty service, cop car or taxi.

Tom Bredehoft
'53 Commander Coupe
'60 Lark VI
'05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
All three Indiana built OD cars

Dick Steinkamp
12-31-2006, 08:05 PM
I'll measure for you, Bob. Tell me exactly what you'd like me to measure from.

Don't cut your springs until you have the car completed...shocks installed, water in radiator, etc. Drive it a little first. Let it "settle". Then cut...and cut conservatively. It is easy to take the spring out and cut again. Tougher to find another set of springs :(. I like to grind the spring kind of flat at the point I cut it so that it sits in the pocked a little better.



http://farm1.static.flickr.com/132/337488631_093fcbbeec_m.jpg
Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA

gotcha
12-31-2006, 08:47 PM
Thanks again to everyone for all the info. I sent you an email Dick. This was a barn car for about 40 years and is totally rust free, except for a slight spot in the passenger floor. The condition of the body was simply amazing. It was a 3 speed OD V-8, but I know it went through some "Old School" hot rodding. I know the only other two owners (no longer with us)....so now that I think about it, the springs might have been changed to "raise" the front end as was common in the late 50's and early to mid 60's. ( I know, as I was there and am guilty ) We may be closing in on the answer. I now think that these are not the originals, but I will pull them out and look at the numbers if available.

N8N
01-01-2007, 09:42 AM
In a Stude engined car with everything stock, I like the HD springs, high ride height or no. The rate is higher enough than stock that it completely changes the way the car rides, for the better IMHO.

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

Dick Steinkamp
01-01-2007, 11:24 AM
quote:Originally posted by N8N

In a Stude engined car with everything stock, I like the HD springs, high ride height or no. The rate is higher enough than stock that it completely changes the way the car rides, for the better IMHO.



Cutting the springs (even the small amount I did) also seemed to increase the spring rate making the car ride just a tad stiffer and corner flatter...maybe the same as HD springs?



http://farm1.static.flickr.com/132/337488631_093fcbbeec_m.jpg
Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA

N8N
01-01-2007, 01:37 PM
Dick,

theoretically, it should increase the spring rate so that makes sense if you prefer a lower ride height. However there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything... use an abrasive wheel with coolant, grind the "tail" flat again, etc... you may know this stuff but others may not...

nate

--
55 Commander Starlight
http://home.comcast.net/~njnagel

John Kirchhoff
01-01-2007, 01:41 PM
Shortening the spring would increase the spring rate for the same amount of compression. A coil spring is nothing more than a torsion bar wrapped into a coil. The longer the length of wire in the spring, the less effort required to twist, i.e. compress it a given amount. I noticed the front spring I removed from my '62 Hawk parts car has about 1 fewer coils than that on the '60 Hawk. That and the slightly thicker wire diameter explains the heavier load rating of that spring and would also cause it to be stiffer throughout its travel.

Studebaker used variable rate springs for a while. Those springs are easy to spot because some of the coils are closer together than others. The difference is a single rate (also called constant rate) spring will require the same amount of weight to compress the spring throughout its travel. For example it may require 200 pounds to compress the first inch, 200 more for the second and 200 more for the third inch. A variable rate may require 100 pounds for the first inch, 150 more for the second and 200 more for the third and succceeding inches. Variable rate springs are very common on motorcycles and provide a soft ride over small bumps while helping to prevent bottoming on big ones. It appears Studebaler's variable rate springs were less than successful and just sagged that much faster.

Dick Steinkamp
01-01-2007, 03:23 PM
Here's some numbers on my Black Starliner...

1. Highest point of front wheel well to ground 25"
2. Highest point of rear wheel well to ground 24"
3. Bottom of the cast bracket under the front steering pivot on the front cross member (lowest point of this casting) to ground 6"
4. frame rail under the master cylinder to ground 5 3/4"
5. Front of the bracket on the frame under the front mount of the rear spring to ground 7 1/4"


Just for comparison, here's the same dimensions from my '63 Hawk (which I believe sits at stock or near stock ride height)

1. 27 1/2"
2. 25"
3. 9"
4. 8"
5. 8 3/4"

The Starliner has 205 70 15 tires in the front and 215 75 15 tires in the rear (a little "rubber rake")

The Hawk has 205 75 15's all around.

The bracket on the frame under the front mount of the rear spring is a little different on the two cars (spring repositioned somewhere between '54 and '63) so those measurements aren't apples to apples.


http://farm1.static.flickr.com/132/337488631_093fcbbeec_m.jpg
Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA

gotcha
01-01-2007, 10:52 PM
Thanks so much for the info, Dick. I am about 2 inches off all the way around. With the spring trim (3/4 coil) or replacement springs and correct tires, we will be a lot closer. I spent the day cleaning 50 years of crud/tar/undercoating/rocks/mud off the springs, knuckles, a-arms, spindles, etc. (also found 4 metal wedge spring risers on each spring) Duh!. I now have some movement and believe I can get the ride height where I need it. Thanks for all the info and the measurements. Body comes off this week, and frame to powdercoat. I will follow your advice and not cut anything until the car is finished and driven.

John Kirchhoff
01-02-2007, 06:57 PM
Yes Dick, thanks! That's exactly the information I've been wanting for a quite a while.