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Thread: My new Studebaker

  1. #1
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    My new Studebaker

    Hello everyone, I'm new to the Studebaker world. I bought a 1959 Lark VIII on 4/8 from Charlestown, Indiana. Looks like it was always an Indiana car, it has a dealer badge on the rear from "Snider Indianapolis".

    The story goes that a barn and it's contents were bought at an estate type sale by folks that ran a large flea market, the car was in the back corner of the barn covered in an inch of dust. It hasn't been plated since 1988 and it appears to be all complete and in fair shape for it's age. It came with a small plastic bag with the owners manual, accessories brochure, a bottle of touch up paint, and some receipts from the late 1970's for a battery, light bulb, etc.

    The engine is stuck at the moment, but I removed all the spark plugs and have been soaking the cylinders with a mix of transmission fluid and PB blaster since Saturday when I got it home. The crankcase was full of clean looking oil, and the radiator was full of antifreeze. I pulled a valve cover just to see what it looked like inside.... I was amazed at how clean it was. The picture is immediately after the cover came off. Fingers crossed!

    Glad to have found this website!

    Lee

    00909_j4v2yFojcLt_600x450.jpg00c0c_23VuQfYyyoW_600x450.jpgIMG_0488.JPG00Z0Z_fbEnt2FiV5c_600x450.jpgIMG_0485.JPG
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    Hello Lee,

    Welcome aboard! Looks like you have a nice first Studebaker! You will find many on this forum will provide very useful information for you during your restoration efforts. You will also find it advantageous to explore the various other sections of this forum. I am sure several other members will be around soon to welcome you and point you into the right direction for parts and advice. Again, welcome and congratulations on your new purchase!
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  3. #3
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    Welcome! Nice car,even has AC

  4. #4
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    more pictures
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    President Member Lou Van Anne's Avatar
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    Welcome...you're going to have some fun...and spend some money, lots of money, in the process.
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  6. #6
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    The picture of the floor mat.... can someone tell me if that's a Studebaker emblem of some type or is that a generic emblem on an aftermarket floor mat.

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    Last edited by chief915ky; 04-13-2017 at 07:34 PM.

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    Floormat is aftermarket-------- typical. An Indiana car that still has a floor to put a mat on ---------amazing. I drove a 1959 Lark many miles. Agile, economical, rugged. I loved that little car. I sold it in a moment of poor judgement, and missed
    buying it back. Twice. Hopefully that won't happen a third time. Go ahead, spend money and fix it up. You won't get it back on resale, but its better than pissing it away on lottery tickets. Have fun and drive the wheels off'n it.

    JT

  8. #8
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oilnsteel View Post
    Floormat is aftermarket-------- typical. An Indiana car that still has a floor to put a mat on ---------amazing. I drove a 1959 Lark many miles. Agile, economical, rugged. I loved that little car. I sold it in a moment of poor judgement, and missed
    buying it back. Twice. Hopefully that won't happen a third time. Go ahead, spend money and fix it up. You won't get it back on resale, but its better than pissing it away on lottery tickets. Have fun and drive the wheels off'n it.

    JT
    Thanks, I plan on it!

  9. #9
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    Take a look under the floor mats and see what's under there.....when I see a barn find car with snow tires still on..... I get a queasy feeling. By all means, keep this group informed... I suspect you will need us..... GL-lots of good help here...

  10. #10
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    Lee-- Several times over the years I have been able to successfully free a stuck engine by soaking the cylinders as you are doing, but by using a 50/50 mixture of ATF and Acetone, and then, as you look under the car, many of the Flight-O-Matic transmissions have about a 3/4" hole in the bottom of the bellhousing. if yours doesn't have one, you can drill one. Using a sturdy screwdriver, use the edge of that hole to pry your screwdriver against one of the teeth of the ring gear. First go a tiny bit one way, then the other way. If it moves at all, go a little bit further each time, back and forth. You can apply pretty tremendous force this way that you could not do by using the front bolt, for example.
    Recently used this method on a 1967 Jaguar that had been sitting 20 years. Got it running and driving just fine. And Man, it was REALLY stuck hard. Was a stick-shift, and even had tried dragging it in high gear and the tires would skid.
    Of course, I wouldn't worry about trying this, because if this doesn't get it, that engine is going to have to come out anyway!
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  11. #11
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drrotor View Post
    Lee-- Several times over the years I have been able to successfully free a stuck engine by soaking the cylinders as you are doing, but by using a 50/50 mixture of ATF and Acetone, and then, as you look under the car, many of the Flight-O-Matic transmissions have about a 3/4" hole in the bottom of the bellhousing. if yours doesn't have one, you can drill one. Using a sturdy screwdriver, use the edge of that hole to pry your screwdriver against one of the teeth of the ring gear. First go a tiny bit one way, then the other way. If it moves at all, go a little bit further each time, back and forth. You can apply pretty tremendous force this way that you could not do by using the front bolt, for example.
    Recently used this method on a 1967 Jaguar that had been sitting 20 years. Got it running and driving just fine. And Man, it was REALLY stuck hard. Was a stick-shift, and even had tried dragging it in high gear and the tires would skid.
    Of course, I wouldn't worry about trying this, because if this doesn't get it, that engine is going to have to come out anyway!
    Thanks for the advice.... I read the ATF/Acetone trick somewhere and that's what I've been soaking it with for the last 3 days. I've been bumping the starter a few times every couple hours, I read that somewhere too lol. So far it hasn't budged, but I'm still hopeful. I do have the hole in the bottom of the bellhousing that you mentioned, I will try the screwdriver. I put a dot of paint on the balancer where the pointer is pointing now, that way I can tell if it's moved at all.
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

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    V8, auto trans, A/C. That is a nice ride. Is that a factory or aftermarket A/C unit?
    Perry
    \'50 Business Champ,
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  13. #13
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fpstude View Post
    V8, auto trans, A/C. That is a nice ride. Is that a factory or aftermarket A/C unit?
    Thank you very much.... I'm not sure on the A/C, I suspect it's an aftermarket unit..... but it's old either way lol.

    IMG_0494.JPGIMG_0495.JPG
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

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    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on a nice find. We of course encourage you to join the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC). The annual membership will be recovered many times from the good articles in the monthly Turning Wheels publication and the opportunity to participate in SDC events. Speaking of which, the International Meet is in South Bend, IN May 3-6. This will be a great opportunity to see hundreds of Studebakers (no doubt several similar to yours), meet lots of Stude Folks, and wander a great swap meet to find the things you need for your car.
    Pat Dilling
    Olivehurst, CA
    Custom '53 Starlight aka STU COOL


    LS1 Engine Swap Journal: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/jour...ournalid=33611

  15. #15
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Dilling View Post
    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on a nice find.
    Thank you very much!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Dilling View Post
    We of course encourage you to join the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC).
    Already done

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Dilling View Post
    Speaking of which, the International Meet is in South Bend, IN May 3-6. This will be a great opportunity to see hundreds of Studebakers (no doubt several similar to yours), meet lots of Stude Folks, and wander a great swap meet to find the things you need for your car.
    I will try to make it up there, it's only about 300 miles from me.
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

  16. #16
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    Great find

    Nice car- I drove a Lark 4 door for several years!

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    Lee dont get discouraged, when you are done you'll have less in the Studebaker than if you bought a new car plus it's a lot cooler ride. I don't go into a restoration to make money I do it to preserve another great car.

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    It looks like a Tecumseh cast iron compressor rather than a York aluminum. Sears evaporator.
    Perry
    \'50 Business Champ,
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    \'60 Lark Convertible,
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  19. #19
    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Congrats on your new toy!

    I do not recommend using a screwdriver on the flywheel ring gear. I have broken two teeth, on two different occasions that way. They snap off much easier than you'd think. Once a tooth is chipped, the ring gear will have to be replaced.

    The safest way to put leverage on turnover it to remove the oil pan (it will need to be removed to reseal anyway) and insert something round, i.e. socket extension(s) into one of the holes drilled in the crankshaft counter balancers. Those holes are usually about 5/8" diameter and 1"-2" deep. You can string several 1/2" drive socket extensions together, or use a piece of round stock about 24"-36" long. With the bar, you can easily rock it back and forth, use plenty of torque, and not have to worry about chipping or breaking anything. The flywheel teeth will not take 10 percent of the torque that's doable here, without breaking.
    Good Luck !

  20. #20
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    I'm starting to get a little discouraged on the engine breaking loose..... I've been religiously soaking the cylinders with a 50/50 mix of ATF and Acetone for 10 days now. I pulled all the plugs and filled each cylinder until its level with the bottom of the spark plug holes. I bump the starter a several times 4 or 5 times a day, I try to rock the flywheel one way or the other with a small pry bar on the flyweel teeth at least once a day, usually twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, and I've also tried the socket and breaker bar on the front of the crank....... but nothing yet. It doesn't seem to move any more than it did 10 days ago. I refill the cylinders everyday, whatever small amount has soaked past the rings or disappeared.

    The strange thing is..... my neighbor came over and I had him bump the key while I watched a dot that I had put on the balancer with a paint marker.... When he bumps the key, I can see the balancer rotate just a little....maybe 50 thousands of an inch, and then relax back to its original position when he lets off the key.... It's definately noticeable movement. However, it will not move at all manually, with either the prybar on the flyweel or the breaker bar on the crank. I feel sure that I'm putting PLENTY of force on it to move it the 50 thousands or so that it moves with the starter.... but nothing, no movement at all, its as solid as a rock.

    That seems odd to me.... why would it move noticeably with the starter, but not with manual force.
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

  21. #21
    Golden Hawk Member StudeRich's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Well one very BAD thought comes to mind, the Crankshaft is broken. This would not happen often with a Forged Iron Crank, but it has happened.

    I am sure someone can come up with better guesses, I hope.

    Maybe Acetone and ATF or Marvel Mystery Oil and more time will help.
    I use a short piece of flexible, small plastic tubing on the end of my old style Pump Oil Can and put the hose at the inboard side of the Cylinders to make sure it flows all the way around.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner




  22. #22
    Speedster Member nwi-region-rat's Avatar
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    ALLSTATE....that is a SEARS installed A/C unit.....Sears branded a lot of auto stuff ALLSTATE.

  23. #23
    Speedster Member pinehurstbob's Avatar
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    Years ago my 259 was stuck from sitting and when I finally broke it loose, I bent 2 push rods as there were 2 valves stuck. It is relatively easy to remove the valve covers and tap on each valve to ensure that this is not your problem. Just 1 more thing to try and if I am right, you wont be looking for new push rod(s). Let us know how you make out.
    Bob
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  24. #24
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    This always a good time to suggest the present owner keep an eye out for a replacement engine. Over the past few weeks there have been a few good engines FS on a few sites.....Right now your good energy/outlook is fading I believe because you may be expecting results too soon. Let things sit for a few weeks and give it a break. Not a bad time to locate the right hub puller and start inspecting the brakes. Read "inspect". Don't go buying parts yet until you know what you need.....Stay positive inspecting system by system...GL

  25. #25
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinehurstbob View Post
    Years ago my 259 was stuck from sitting and when I finally broke it loose, I bent 2 push rods as there were 2 valves stuck. It is relatively easy to remove the valve covers and tap on each valve to ensure that this is not your problem. Just 1 more thing to try and if I am right, you wont be looking for new push rod(s). Let us know how you make out.
    Bob
    Thanks Bob, I'll definitely take a look at that!
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

  26. #26
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackb View Post
    Right now your good energy/outlook is fading I believe because you may be expecting results too soon. Let things sit for a few weeks and give it a break. Not a bad time to locate the right hub puller and start inspecting the brakes. Read "inspect". Don't go buying parts yet until you know what you need.....Stay positive inspecting system by system...GL
    You're probably right..... I know 10 days isn't long, considering it's apparently been sitting for almost 30 years! I guess I'm just anxious lol, thanks for the advice.

    You mention a hub puller to get into the brakes?
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

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    You will need a "special" hub puller for the rear brake inspection and rear axle service usually done whenever you "open up" the brakes. This puller is "not" a "drum" puller !!! DO a search for the correct tool on this forum. Get back here for some help when you've located the puller.

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    Remove both valve covers and get a piece of brass bar stock. Place the barstock on each of the valve stem tips and wack it with a two pound hamer/sledge. If any of the valves move but does not return to starting position, remove both heads. The engine will have to be disassembled anyway.

    Noted is the fact that everyone suggested using an oil based soaking. Such has zero in common with the cause of corrosion which is oxygen usually presented in the form of water vapor, hence the common denominator is water, not oil!

    Place that engine in a barrel of pure H2O and it will become free.

    As an example, I removed many artifacts on sunken ships some twenty or more years underwater in salt water with ease as bolts/nuts and even doors moved freely...

  29. #29
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    Nice unmolested Lark!....Best of luck with it!

  30. #30
    Champion Member chief915ky's Avatar
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    Just wanted to post an update..... I haven't made much progress yet. I've continued the soaking the cylinders, keeping them full to the bottom of the plug holes, and bumping the starter a couple times a day. It still hasn't moved at all according to the mark I put on the crank pulley. I've soaked with ATF/Acetone, PB blaster, and Kroil. I removed the valve covers and checked for stuck valves in the way that pinehurstbob recommended. 4 of them would stick open when I tapped them. I lubed them through the valve spring and onto the valve stem and, after a few taps with the hammer and punch, they freed up and spring closed again like they should.

    I'm starting to think about passing the Stude onto someone else honestly.

    Here's my current line of thinking.....

    The engine being stuck this bad for this long tells me that it's going to need to be disassembled and rebuilt most likely.... Even if it did free up sooner or later, it's going to need something after sitting all these years....Rings, all the gaskets and seals, etc. If I'm going to pull the engine to reseal it, I might as well disassemble it and inspect parts. If I'm going to pull it and disassemble it, I might as well put new parts in while I'm there..... down the rabbit hole we go. The labor part, other than machine work, isn't a problem. I am a retired mechanic and have everything I need at home to do the work. However, rebuilding the 259 is going to be quite a bit of expense in parts. At the end of all that time and expense, I have a rough 4 door Lark.

    Option 2 - I can "resto mod" the car and swap in a different, more modern, drive train. This option is also going to get into expense..... The cost of buying another drive train, whatever repairs it needs, and then the parts expense for getting it in the car and everything working properly in a 59 Lark. At the end of that road, is it worth the time, trouble, and expense to have a modern drive train in a 59 Lark 4 door?

    Option 3 - Maybe, by continuing the soaking and bumping, it will eventually suddenly break free. It will turn over fine after a little tinkering and the "stuck engine" will be a story for the scrap book. I will spend a couple hundred dollars on a tune-up, carb kit, hoses and belts, etc and the car will start up and run good. At that point, I'd keep the car.....


    What are your thoughts? Supposing I did decide to put it back on the market, what is a ballpark value to ask for it?
    Lee
    1959 Lark VIII

  31. #31
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Lee, a couple of comments and thoughts:

    Think some more about the suggestion jackb made about looking for a known decent running engine, preferably one that came from a car with auto trans so you don't have to pull the pan to change the bolts on the end of the crankshaft that holds the flex plate on. If you can get the bellhousing from that same engine, that is a plus. Beat the bushes on this forum, your local SDC chapter, the Studebaker Swap Page, etc and you will turn one up eventually.

    If you are wanting to move onto another project right away, the best thing to do probably is pass it on to someone else. But if you have some time, start looking for a decent running decent priced engine and keep soaking yours.

    Despite what some on this forum may tell you , the resto-mod option is a good one also. A smallblock Chevy is the easiest fit; Studebaker actually used them in '65 and '66. But the cost and complexity goes up dramatically. Nothing that can't be worked thru, but a lot of little details.

    You have to figure out what is best for you (your car, your money, your choice). But if you did find a decent used engine, to at least get the car running and driving........then you can decide what you want to do longer term. You may decide to resto-mod it, or put it back more towards original, or even pass it on.

    Keep us informed!
    Paul
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

  32. #32
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    Also, please register your car with the 59 Lark Registry both here and on the SDC website contact information (Do a search on this forum for "59 Lark Registry" and read a couple posts....I placed links in at least one of them recently)

    If you decide to keep it and keep the 259, it will be a fun car to drive. They get around well.

    jackb knows his stuff on Stude engines.
    StudeRich knows his stuff on the 59/60 Larks

    There are many others, but these two have proven helpful for me.

    I also have a 59 Lark with 259 and A/T. Mine sat in the garage for 31 years, but I turned it over every 10 years or so.

    Also, remove the drive belts if you haven't already. They just cause excess drag when trying to unstick.

    You may want to consider removing the intake manifold and the lifter cover and lubricate the lifters. Maybe pour your mixture down the push rods to lube the lifters.

    These engines have solid lifters and gear-driven timing on the cam.

    If you choose to change to SBC 350 with a 700R4, then the car will lose about 500 Lb. The assembled 259 weighs as much as a Chevy 454. The AT weighs about 300 LB as it is all cast iron.

    Right now, the value on the car is very low. Like $500-$1000 I'm guessing, as it would only be a parts car. It is a 4 door. So, Meh........ If it was in operable condition (running and driving, it's still only worth about $4000-$5000.

    In fully restored to original condition, it's about $12,000.

    So, do what you want with it. It's NOT about the value on these. It ain't a Tri-Five.........

    Mine's a 2DHTP, so not as many made and mine was in operable condition. I have put on or already purchased parts for the following:
    Wheel Cylinders (4)
    Master Cylinder
    All brake hoses
    Replaced rear axle
    Front Wheel Bearings and Seals
    Brake shoes all 4
    Front suspension bushings
    King Pin Rebuild Kit including kingpins, upper and lower joints
    Complete tie-rod assemblies
    Center steering pivot assembly
    Carburetor Kit
    Engine gasket rebuild kit (to seal it, not remove and replace heads0
    Transmission oil and filter
    Rebuilt driveshaft with new U-Joints and had it modified to accept the Dana 44 rear axle from a 64 Daytona
    New tires P205-65R-15 Uniroyal Tiger-Paw
    New fuel sending unit seals on gas tank (had gas tank glass-beaded and coated with POR-15)
    New front shocks
    Points
    Condenser
    Coil
    Cap
    Rotor
    Plug wires
    Spark Plugs
    Cleaned and lubricated vacuum advance plate and entire distributor
    Replaced Vacuum advance with used operable unit

    I have about $5000 in what I listed above. I'm sure there are ways to reduce expenses and shop around more, but I have been under time crunches to do what we wanted, so I bought most of my parts through Studebaker International. The cost listed above does NOT include my labor OR the cost of the car. I've owned this car for 36 years so far.

    We got ours running, brakes, and a rear axle and drove it 600 miles within 3 days. The rings were hanging up on the first leg of the trip, but after that, it loosened up.

    We did ours in multiple stages, and we are still working on it.

    We ran the Hot Rod Power Tour in it in 2016 and are hoping to do it again in 2017 (in a month)

    We drive it as much as possible and it's a LOT of fun. No one knows what it is and I frequently have groups of people at car shows pull away from the expensive well-done cars to go see what this strange car is in the parking lot.

    We now take pictures of people taking pictures of our car....... It's kinda fun!

    Good Luck! I hope you do what's right for YOU. Do NOT send it to the salvage yard or the crusher.
    Dis-Use on a Car is Worse Than Mis-Use...
    1959 Studebaker Lark VIII 2DHTP

  33. #33
    Speedster Member Noxnabaker's Avatar
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    I would get the engine out on a stand & lift the heads, but first I'd put hot(!) oilmix in the sparkplug holes & try next day.
    My own engine had been sitting longer than yours & it was stuck bigtime so after som weeks I took it out & THEN it suddenly was free...
    That was about 6 years ago, but when I decided to lift it out I also bought a Plymouth Volare to take the whole driveline of & so I did because the rear axle was done & the engine had loads of metal pieces in the oil.
    I know everybody goes on about chevy because it was what Studebaker could afford when they were in trouble, but I put a van/pick up oilpan on & it dropped right in place!
    (& now there's a 904 overdrive behind it too.)
    I've had many Chevy's & I love them but I've also had Buick, Cadillac, Ford, AMC, Mopar, IH... & so on & second (!) to Studebaker I think MoPar made the best mechanic stuff.
    But if I were you I'd keep trying to free that engine, then replace seals & gaskets!
    I have a soft spot for early Larks...
    Good Luck!

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