PDA

View Full Version : Is a 232 worth saving?



new53
10-04-2005, 07:55 PM
I have a 53 hardtop under a slow restoration and I'm planning my future steps. The engine is a numbers matching 232 with 93K miles, with an automatic transmission. It runs well, but it's probably worth rebuilding since it will be out of the car during the resto. I've been advised that if I want a daily driver with any kind of performance I should set aside the 232. They say the 232 can't be bored out larger without new pistons that are impossible to find, the heads for the 232 are no good, the manifolds are too restrictive, parts are hard to find, and forget about any kind of supercharger on a 232. Beyond that the original auto-trans is too expensive to repair, and any conversion to 12 volts presents a starter problem.

I want a decent performer, a driver - not a street rod, and I like the idea of the car as an original.

So, the big question - is it possible to get alittle more umph out of the 232, without opening a pandora's box of problems? I've been told to set the 232 and the transmission aside for the next owner and find a post '55 259 or 289 with a later automatic. Bolt it all in and it will look original. So I decided to ask the experts, What is the real story?

Also is it possible to add a/c or a supercharger (VS57 or SN60) without overheating problems?

Thanks for any advice.

G. Howes

whacker
10-04-2005, 08:34 PM
New53, somebody has filled you full of beans! That 232 block may very well be the best block Studebaker ever cast! It is exactly the same as the later 224, 259, and 289 block right up to the conversion to full flow. The only difference of any consequence is the diameter of the lifters, which are a little larger, so they are not interchangeable. The lifter bores can be sleeved down to use the SBC lifters if you are going for maximum performance, if you just want a nice street driver you can leave them just the way they are. The heads are restrictive, however the newer 259 heads will fit with no modification if you also use the 259 exhaust manifolds. The block can be bored as large as you want to bore it, as large as any of the later blocks. The 232 crank is a direct interchange with the 259 crank - the only difference is (readily available) 259 pistons. The stock cam is the same as the stock 259 cam, and you can get it reground to Avanti profile if you want to run a supercharger. I have not run a supercharger myself, however I have heard reports of them running great on a stock 259. If you want a bigger displacement, you can put a 289 crank and pistons in with no problem. The 232 2 barrel intake manifold is the best 2 barrel manifold you can use, because of the ram effect of the longer, straighter runners. In the bigger bores you do need to grind and gasket match the manifold to realise the improvements. If you want to go to a four barrel, try to find a 1955 President intake. They are taller and flow about the best of the stock 4 barrels. If you want to be cool, you can mount and run any number of early Cadillac V8 intakes, which are a close enough match for most work. Really they are just for looks, as the 1955 President will out flow most of them. Where are you located? If you do decide to toss that 232 block I could be interested if I don't have to ship it very far!

rockne10
10-04-2005, 08:49 PM
The 232 is not hard to get parts for.
In 1951 the 232 with it's two barrelStromberg won three NASCAR races.
I have a 51 and a 53. I haven't had either past 90 mph. Mainly because I don't trust bias tires on old rims. I've cruised for hours in excess of 75.

If what you're looking for is quicker acceleration why not consider going to a manual transmission?

Having said that,I will also admit to having installed a 289 into a 53 coupe and converting to 12 volt with automatic and twin traction, but only because it was all newly rebuilt, sitting here doing nothing and the 232 was wet and tired. I will keep the orignal running gear in case someone in the future wants to return to original numbers.

Rebuild what you have or rebuild what you'd like to have. It's only money and you'll be happy with either.

new53
10-04-2005, 09:41 PM
Thanks for the advice. I'd be happy just to keep the engine and carb setup as is. The former owner did put a home-built dual exhaust system on it, but didn't make any other mods. I haven't been comfortable driving it anywhere but in town since the front end bushings are all 52 years old. The car is now off the road as it gets renovated. The only complaint I've heard about the 232 is the acceleration. I thought an old supercharger would be a fun addition, and a burst of acceleration power. When I started asking about the supercharger, I started getting advise that the 232 was not worth restoring. If the supercharger is more trouble than it's worth, maybe I'll just stick with a smooth-running finely-tuned rebuilt 232.

Any problems with overheating after installing an a/c unit?


G. Howes

DilloCrafter
10-04-2005, 11:14 PM
I'm glad there's such knowledgeable advice to be found on this forum. And I'm glad to see someone beside myself keeping the original "small" engine in their Studebaker. I opted to rebuild a 185.6 cu. in. six to put into my '55 truck, which already has a tired six of that size (got the second one on eBay in a weak moment, but at least it also is from a 55 truck).

Like yourself, I want to increase the power in a nostalgic way, so I'll be having all the 50's style hot rod modifications done that Bill Cathcart talks about in his website articles (http://www.cathcartsstudebaker.com/articles.htm). These modifications supposedly could increase the factory rated 92 h.p. (or 101 h.p., depending on which chart you consult) by 40-45%. I think a truck driving on the road nowadays does need to be at least as powerful as my little Toyota Corolla, don't you agree?

And as for air conditioning, I asked Ray Fitchthorn if he thought my six could handle the extra strain of an A/C compressor, and he certainly thought it could, with the newer Sanden compressors that are a lighter load than the old York ones.

1955 1/2 Ton Pickup

whacker
10-04-2005, 11:58 PM
To address some of your other concerns, the 6 volt starter should work just fine on 12 volts. After you have the machine shop hot tank your block and do the machine work and before you assemble the engine, take it outside on an engine stand and clean it out, taking special care with the cooling passages. Be sure to remove the two pipe plugs at the rear corners of the block. If you need to, use a coat hanger wire to dig around up in the cooling passages to be sure they are clean. Get some cheapo bore brushes and scrub out the piston bores real good. I like to use Tide, but other detergents will also do a good job. Clean out the oil passages that run behind the bores the length of the block. Dry it real well with good quality paper towels, then spray it down with a light coat of WD-40 inside and out. Before you reassemble the radiator to the engine, take it to a good radiator shop and have them check it out. If it can be boiled out and reused, you are lucky. You may have to have it rodded out if it is really corroded inside. If you do all these things, you should be good for air conditioning. I'm not real up on the automatic transmission, as my preference is the 3 speed with overdrive.

Kdancy
10-05-2005, 07:51 AM
I have an R1 block that I stripped and put on an engine stand. It took me close to an hour with a steam cleaner to get all the rust and crud blasted out of the passages. It taught me a lesson the next time I build an engine, to be sure these water passages are completely clean.

53commander HDTP
53 Champion HDTP
61 Cursed Purple Hawk
64 Champ long bed V8
64 GT

Kdancy
10-05-2005, 07:52 AM
Wonder what kind of mileage a Stude 232 would get with fuel injection and electronic ignition with overdrive trans?

53commander HDTP
53 Champion HDTP
61 Cursed Purple Hawk
64 Champ long bed V8
64 GT

Roscomacaw
10-05-2005, 12:17 PM
I think you'll find the 232 to be a right sprightly performer. As whacker says, the later heads would be an instant upgrade and it would take a truly sharp-eyed Stude guy to spot the change. Further, you could also adapt a low-CFM 4bbl to give you even more zip.
Any stock blower that Stude used is gonna be a problem on your 53 because of hood clearance. This isn't to say it CAN'T be overcome but you'll need to do some serious fabrication work to mount the blower in a different place from the stock mountings.[}:)]
Another thing to consider would be to acquire a '55 vintage tranny like yours. The 55 vintage V8 automatic that Stude used was designed to start out in 1st gear whereas yours starts out in second.
Later automatics were a totally different unit so employing one of them would require alot of changes. And at that, only SOME of the '56 issue of these later automatics started out in 1st gear. This makes them pretty tough to find.;)

Miscreant at large.

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President 2-dr
1955 President State
1951 Champion Biz cpe
1963 Daytona project FS

new53
10-05-2005, 11:10 PM
Thanks for all the great feedback. If anyone knows any good stude engine rebuilders within a days drive from Denver let me know. I'll ask around at the local chapters. I'll look into later heads, but a strong rebuild may suit me fine. I think I'll keep the original automatic, although it's a slow starter.

As for the blower - Road and Track tested an early VS57 blower back in a 53 with a manual transmission. They cut 3 seconds off the 0-60 time and increased the top speed to 107mph, without losing anything in gas mileage - so they say. (They did recommend using low gear to start out when testing the automatic) The blower bracket, pulley, bonnet, and idler arm are around if you look hard enough. You need to side mount the blower instead of the Golden Hawk top-mounting. The big problem is side space. I'm not sure you can install an air conditioning unit, the alternator/generator, and a blower without packing the engine compartment too full - thus the overheating concern. (Plus the old blowers need all the extra components) To complicate the decision, Paradise Wheels makes an old looking SN60 unit with modern guts that doesn't need all the extra components - half the people think the modern stuff is garbage, and half think the old stuff is garbage. If I do end up with the blower, I'll post some photos.

G. Howes

Dick Steinkamp
10-05-2005, 11:46 PM
quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs


Any stock blower that Stude used is gonna be a problem on your 53 because of hood clearance. This isn't to say it CAN'T be overcome but you'll need to do some serious fabrication work to mount the blower in a different place from the stock mountings.[}:)]


Here's a couple of blown '53's that were at Spokane...

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=253c.jpg&.src=ph

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=b526.jpg&.src=ph

-Dick-

Dick Steinkamp
10-05-2005, 11:48 PM
quote:Originally posted by Dick Steinkamp


quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs


Any stock blower that Stude used is gonna be a problem on your 53 because of hood clearance. This isn't to say it CAN'T be overcome but you'll need to do some serious fabrication work to mount the blower in a different place from the stock mountings.[}:)]


Here's a couple of blown '53's that were at Spokane...

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=253c.jpg&.src=ph

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=b526.jpg&.src=ph

-Dick-


Sometimes that works for me, and sometimes it doesn't..

Here's the URL's
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=253c.jpg&.src=ph

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=deb6&.dnm=b526.jpg&.src=ph

-Dick-

Dick Steinkamp
10-06-2005, 10:44 AM
quote:

Here's a couple of blown '53's that were at Spokane...



Here's one more way to mount the blower (another '53 that was at Spokane)

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ddstnkmp/detail?.dir=d736&.dnm=d301.jpg&.src=ph

-Dick-

studegary
10-06-2005, 04:23 PM
Having built up several '53s in the past, I will add my experience to the good inputs that have already been given. As usual, Bob/MrBiggs and I agree. The conversion that I liked best in a '53 Starliner of mine was a '60s 259 with a '55 automatic (to get first gear start). I put a lot of the '53 items (intake manifold, carb., rocker arm covers, oil filter, generator, etc.) on the newer 259 so that it looked (to most) like a '53 engine. I also put a '57 Golden Hawk supercharged 289 engine in a '53 Starliner. I used a '55 automatic with that one also. The '57-'58 supercharger set up will not fit under the hood of a '53 Starliner without some modification, like dropping the engine mounts. Using your starter with 12 volts shouldn't be a problem. If you stay with six volts, go with a four field coil starter. I used to use a straight eight GM starter case with four field coils, but some people just add two more field coils to their Studebaker case.

BRUCESTUDE
10-06-2005, 11:31 PM
I'VE REBUILT 3 232'S IN THE PAST 4 YEARS,(2 '52'S AND A '51) ONE AN AUTO, AND 2 WERE WITH OD'S. ALL 3 HAD EXCELLENT ACCELERATION AFTER THEY WERE BROKEN IN. IN ALL 3, THE CAMS AND LIFTERS WERE REALLY WORN, BUT A CAM AND LIFTER GRIND WAS LESS THAN $100. ALL THE OTHER PARTS WERE AVAILABLE, THE EXCEPTION BEING THE PISTONS WERE A LITTLE SCARCE. I USED EGGE PARTS (NEW PISTONS) ON ONE REBUILD AN WAS PLEASED WITH THEIR PARTS.
ANYWAY, THE 232 IS A STOUT, HIGH REVVING ENGINE...KEEP IT!

whacker
10-06-2005, 11:56 PM
If you are taking the block to the machine shop anyway, and probably going to replace the pistons and rings anyway, why not have the bores opened up 3/16" and use readily available 259 pistons? That's what I did and I couldn't be happier with the result. It didn't cost much more and I now have a 259.

Bunzard
10-07-2005, 01:15 AM
new53,

I just had my 259 rebuilt--rebore, balanced etc.--at a small shop about 2 hours from your house. I'm still sorting out the 700R4 trans that I installed but the engine purrs. Contact me if you are interested. The shop is preparing now to rebuild and modify a flathead six for a Stude fan in Texas.