View Full Version : Frame repair suggestions?

12-03-2004, 09:04 AM
My 1966 Daytona V-8 has a weak frame where it steps up over the real axle and near the front rear spring hanger. Weak is probably incorrect, poor would be a better description. Boy this is sure a weak design point with no escape for the dirt or water to settle in this low point. My thought is to torch off the spring perch and build a 2 to 3 foot U-channel to go over the frame. Yes, I'll cut it and weld it to follow the arch over the axle. I will weld this in and then flip the frame and put a plate on the underside similar to the plate that was original. Then I would weld the spring perch back on. I understand the frame is 13 gauge and that was the material thickness I thought I would use. I tried the salvage yards for a frame or partial frame but most were like mine. Does anyone have a better and/or cheaper solution? Yo-dt

12-03-2004, 10:46 AM
I'm kinda surprized at your observations. Stude frames have known issues but most are with the front spring pockets and towers. You don't SAY that rust-out is what you're up against, but I kinda surmize that from what you do say.
There's good frames here in California that you could scavenge. Heck, I've got a great 63 Cruiser frame I'd like to find a home for. Beyond that, you're on your own. Keep us posted.[8D]

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12-03-2004, 02:31 PM
I gotta go with Bob on this one. I hate to say it but you've hit on one of the sorest of subjects, (and actually one of VERY few), that I have with Studebakers, the frames. The "top hat" type frame, used in Studebakers and Chevys both, is a fine, strong frame, IF the material used to make it is thick enough, (and unfortunately), when it's had limited exposure to the corrosive environments of salt used in snow states or salty ocean spray, not left to "ferment" on wet ground, or it hasn't been subjected on a fairly regular basis to relatively wet driving conditions. In short, it is highly prone to corrosion because of it's design, utilizing lots of small pockets inside it, poor drainage and no internal preventive coatings from the factory.

My experience with Stude frames, up here in NY, has been that I've had to hit a number of them, "over the head", or make them salvage, because of that single, most deciding factor, the frame being bad. I've found that you MUST use a good, stout screwdriver to poke hard at the frame to get a real picture of it's health. I've found that even when it looks good, it can be very bad. Because of it's design, ANY place where you discover the "brim" of the frame to be rusted out or weak, the frame Must be considered for major repair or replacement.

Also, you'll notice that there's very few holes put into the frame horizontally from the factory as any hole that is put through both vertical flanges without supporting or "bushing" the hole can easily weaken it. Finally, notice that the frame has many rivets and nearly all attachments to the frame are bolted on, that those bolts go through the lower brim and are precisely the same diameter as the hole which it is bolted through. The reasons are that this is the best, safest way to attach anything to the "top hat" type frame.

Am I saying that it's an inherently weak frame? No way.... Is it dangerous to drive an old Studebaker? No way, just like old Chevys, I know of no case where any Studebaker frame has EVER failed while being driven because of corrosion.... Are there areas that a fella should take a hard look at? Yes, in particular, as Bob points out, the front spring pockets and towers, (and as in ALL old cars), any rivets in the frame, the "dog legs", (the part of the frame just before it arches up in the wheel wells), the rear-most crossmember, and along the entire, lower length of the frame for pockets of corrosion. The thin lower panel, that is spot welded along the entire length of the frame, does almost nothing to strengthen the frame itself, (although it helps somewhat with lateral strength and to limit twisting forces), and it can be laboriously removed using the proper weld removal bit, and reattached, using the same spot welding technique.

One other consideration, the top hat frame is a very "live", or flexible type frame. It's been said that it is NOT recommended to repair the top hat type frame by welding. Due to the design and temper, (it derives strength via loading on the vertical rails and lower flange, plus it's inherent flexibility), any weld embrittles the metal around the weld, then as the frame flexes, it tends to crack at, or immediately adjacent to, the weld. In fact, according to car magazines I've read that were addressed to the early Chevy crowd, it was said that, "It's not if, it's when it will crack if welded.". Although the jury is still out on this issue, there have been many early Chevy and Stude frames welded and have given perfect service to this day.

I do believe that using the new welding technology, applied by a welding professional, it is safe to repair the top hat frame by welding. But, having said that, what is a reasonable amount of repair? I just don't think anyone has that knowledge. I think that if the amount of repair to a top hat type frame is significant, (both dog legs, more than two weak areas in the lower flange, or ANY time that there is any serious doubts, etc.), that a fella should seriously consider looking for a good replacement frame, period.

However, having said all THAT,

12-03-2004, 03:54 PM
Wow, I have been elevated from a low of having to fix the rusted frame to a high of only having to fix it in one place! Other then the three feet, or so, forward from the rise in the frame in front of the rear axle my frame and A-Arms are in near perfect condition. I attribute this "great" condition to having been in the Carolina's (now in Wisconsin) for most of it's life, with only 89,000 miles and lastly a Chevy V-8 spitting oil all over the front end during its 38 years of life. I met with a fabricator this afternood with specifications as to what I want made to fix the frame. Here is what I am going to get in a few weeks for $49.00. Two 30" U-Channels made out of 13 gauge steel that are 2 1/16 inch wide on the inside and channel sides 3 1/4 inch long. Also two 4 1/2 inch 13 gauge steel plates 40 inches long. If I would have read Sonny's and Micreant's replies before I met with the fabricator I could probably have eliminated the flat plates. Then again, with them in place if someone looks at my frame they will see nice flat steel. The caution comment from Sonny about welding on a Stude frame is probably correct but I am willing to take the risk of welding on it. I have watched expert welders weld semi truck frames when there was no other alternative. I may even recruit an expert welder friend but that may take the thrill out of doing it myself. You know, the more I get into this Stude the more I am enjoying it! A big part of the enjoyment of this hobby is this forum to ask questions.

12-03-2004, 04:38 PM
quote:Originally posted by yo-dt
................You know, the more I get into this Stude the more I am enjoying it! A big part of the enjoyment of this hobby is this forum to ask questions.

Sounds like you have a frame that'll be a pretty easy fix, cool! Also, you've hit upon one of the reasons I enjoy this forum too, the questions and answers. I learn a LOT of stuff myself! I do enjoy helping too, it takes such little effort, and in most cases it's rewarding for all involved. My sincerest wish is that we could get many more of the 13,000+ members here with us!

I LOVE this place! [:p]


12-05-2004, 10:55 AM

We're happy to help when it means one more Stude back in action. BTW, I saw the pics of that frame you're up against. WOW! I've never seen erosion like that on a Stude frame. Of course, being here in California, the only rusty Studes I see are ones that have spent too much time near the coast. And usually, they rust from the top, down.
Bring on the questions - we'll provide the answers!;)

Miscreant at large.