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Thread: '63 Avanti Conversion to TH700r4

  1. #1
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    '63 Avanti Conversion to TH700r4

    Pulled the engine on the Avanti to re-seal it, and at the same time, install the conversion to a TH700R4 transmission. I bought the kit for this conversion about 8 years ago, and also purchased a starter to go with it at the same time. The instructions say to use a starter made for an '88-'89 Ford Ranger, with 2.8L V-6 engine, so that is what I bought. I fine it does not fit in the hole provided in the adaptor plate, it is about 1/4" too big. Also, one bolt hole is not in the correct place. Since I bought the starter so long ago, I just ordered another one, thinking I had messed up that order years ago. Not so, the new one I just got is just like the first one I bought, and does not fit in the hole.

    I found instructions with the adaptor kit showed the name of "Meyers Studebaker Parts" (could not find the receipt), so I called them. Also, the instructions talked about an aluminum adaptor plate, and the one provided is made of steel. They gave me the part # for the starter they use, and it interchanges with what I bought. They also said that someone else had copied their adaptor, and sold it with their instructions, making it hard to tell if what I have is from them or from someone else. There is a decal on the steel plate that say's something like "Tec Products", or something like that, I don't have it near me at the moment to check.

    So, does anyone have any knowledge of what I am dealing with, and what starter might fit this thing. The flange on the starter(s) that I bought is about 4", whereas the hole is only about 3 3/4" in size. (The adaptor plate has a centering plate bolted and pined to it, that will center the trans to the engine, so that is not a problem.)

    By the way, this car has about 68k miles on it, and the condition of the engine is perplexing, to say the least. I don't think it has ever been apart before, and inside, it is clean as a whistle. However, the felt front crank seal is almost non-existent (I'll replace with a real seal), and the half circle gasket at the bottom of the timing cover, has pulled away from the block on both sides, leaving about a 1/4" hole directly into the sump area. No wonder it leaked like a sieve. All over gaskets seem fine and dry (but I'll replace all anyway). The rear main seal MAY be leaking, it's hard to tell with all the oil mess under there, so I plan to replace it as well.

    Any information on the correct starter to use will be greatly appreciated. Oh, and any recommendations on installing rack and pinion steering are also appreciated. (Maybe an electric rack, and get rid of the leaking PS pump?)
    Corley

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    Dave Levesque (steeltech) also sold a 700R4 adapter for Studebaker V8's. You might Google around and see what you can find.

    As far as the R&P. Google can be your friend here also. There has been a wealth of discussion on this and the AOAI site about exactly this modification. The Executive summary is: Don't just try it without a fair bit of knowledge of steering geometry.

    As an aside, Google is still the best way to search this site.

    Bob
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    President Member swvalcon's Avatar
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    I was thinking somewhere that I saw something on those adapters about a 300 ford six starter. If you have a local parts store that the counterman is the friendly type maybe you could take the adapter with you and have him check some ford starters to see which one fits. Just a thought.

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetolbob View Post
    Dave Levesque (steeltech) also sold a 700R4 adapter for Studebaker V8's. You might Google around and see what you can find.

    Bob
    Bob,

    Thanks for the info, I just went out to the shop, and sure enough, this adapter is from Steeltech, not Myers. Still, I don't know what to do about this starter issue, given the one specified in the Myers instructions (the only instructions supplied), does not work with the Steeltech plate. I will try calling Steeltech tomorrow and see what they say.

    As to rack and pinion, that is not the only way to accomplish assist without all those nasty hoses and leaking parts, there are electric assist deallies that go in the steering column. Most hide under the dash, but some are integral to the rack. It would take a different column to do one under the dash, but it could be done I suppose. So, what do you think about that idea? It takes a little electronic module to use most of the off the shelf units, but they are not cost prohibitive at all.

    I do happen to have a couple of the Citation racks for rear steer on the shelf that have the center tie rod connections, which I see some folks have used. (Rear steer meaning the tie rods are behind the front suspension, not in front of it like Mustang, for example.) I doubt one of those would be too hard to install, and if you keep the height of the center tie rod ends where the old Studebaker tie rods attached, you would not affect bump steer from stock. I'd still have a couple hoses and a pump though. This stuff is not new to me, I am well experienced with front suspensions. Many things are trial and error, front suspensions are mostly about geometry and it's reaction through various arcs. You are correct though, it's not for the inexperienced or one who is not willing to educate themselves. I just don't like the drag link assist stuff...

    Right now, this starter deal is stopping progress.
    Corley

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swvalcon View Post
    I was thinking somewhere that I saw something on those adapters about a 300 ford six starter. If you have a local parts store that the counterman is the friendly type maybe you could take the adapter with you and have him check some ford starters to see which one fits. Just a thought.
    I don't know about your area, but parts men (or women) in our area are mostly not car people, and not talented enough to research much of anything. Also, it's all on the computer, and the old books don't exist under the counter any longer. It is really disgusting to find they know NOTHING. (It is a hot button for me.)

    I'll see what I can find on a Ford 300 6 cylinder starter... Thanks.
    Corley

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    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Not to be sarcastic, but I recommend throwing the Steal Tech kit away, and buying one from Phil Harris, at Fairborn Studebakers. You will have a much more pleasant experience with the conversion, and likely still come out several dollars ahead. The Steal Tech kit will only bring you grief and frustration. Phil's is the best there is, and competitively priced!

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    Steeltech has not been in the Stude performance business for many years now. And yes, the Steeltech GM transmission adapter was a crudely cut steel plate; the parts were not the precision we expect today. However, let's give Dave Lavesque credit for making Stude performance stuff available back when few others were.

    I bought one of his adapter kits twenty years ago and had the same problem our OP has; the recommended starter just didn't fit. Been so many years I can't remember what we ended up using, but I'll look under the Avanti and see if any nomenclature is available.

    jack vines
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    Corley

    It looks like Jack V. can possibly help you out with starter.

    As far as the citation racks, I like your thoughts on the electric power steering concept. Fantomworks put one in an Avanti II on their show but even better, Jerry Forrester (forum name) on the forum has done one from available OEM parts and posted here on the forum. You can search his posts on the topic and in them you will find other references to electric steering. I'd be going that way also if I hadn't already rebuilt my entire steering setup in my 74 Avanti.

    Bob
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    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    I had one of the StealTech gizmos about 10 years ago, and gave it away. It came with the starter and pretty sure it was FoMoCo. Can call later and ask the guy to take a look at the starter. If he has not thrown it all away.

  10. #10
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeHall View Post
    Not to be sarcastic, but I recommend throwing the Steal Tech kit away, and buying one from Phil Harris, at Fairborn Studebakers. You will have a much more pleasant experience with the conversion, and likely still come out several dollars ahead. The Steal Tech kit will only bring you grief and frustration. Phil's is the best there is, and competitively priced!
    Joe,
    You may not be sharing some information that I need. The SteelTech adaptor is a bit crude I suppose, but really, it is just a piece of metal sitting between the engine and trans, so I don't understand "yet" what is so terrible about it. If you have some factual information on what is so bad about it and not just here say, I would sure like to know about it. It seems to have everything needed to align it, and once bolted up, I don't see anything that would make it so awful. You seem pretty sure it is junk, can you please elucidate on that feeling? So far, the only thing I see wrong with it is that the starter hole is obviously for some different starter than the instructions say it is for. This one already has the hole for installing the converter bolts, as I understand it, that was missing on some really early ones. It is not fancy, but who cares about that, it just sits there out of sight anyway. Facts man, let's have the facts. :~)

    PS The Myers instructions I have don't mention drilling and pinning the adaptor to the block. I would think that would be really important to do... (Apparently, SteelTech didn't write any instructions, just sent out the Myers instruction sheet.)

    PS/2 I see I errored earlier when I had it in my mind that this starter hole is 3 3/4" in diameter, it is actually 3 3/8" in diameter. Sorry...
    Corley

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    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corley View Post
    Joe,
    You may not be sharing some information that I need. The SteelTech adaptor is a bit crude I suppose, but really, it is just a piece of metal sitting between the engine and trans, so I don't understand "yet" what is so terrible about it. If you have some factual information on what is so bad about it and not just here say, I would sure like to know about it. It seems to have everything needed to align it, and once bolted up, I don't see anything that would make it so awful. You seem pretty sure it is junk, can you please elucidate on that feeling? So far, the only thing I see wrong with it is that the starter hole is obviously for some different starter than the instructions say it is for. This one already has the hole for installing the converter bolts, as I understand it, that was missing on some really early ones. It is not fancy, but who cares about that, it just sits there out of sight anyway. Facts man, let's have the facts. :~)

    PS The Myers instructions I have don't mention drilling and pinning the adaptor to the block. I would think that would be really important to do... (Apparently, SteelTech didn't write any instructions, just sent out the Myers instruction sheet.)

    PS/2 I see I errored earlier when I had it in my mind that this starter hole is 3 3/4" in diameter, it is actually 3 3/8" in diameter. Sorry...
    In all fairness, I did not give the StealTech kit a chance. I had bought it a few years prior from someone else who had not gotten round to using it. By the time I got serious about installing a GM tranny in a Hawk, other kits had came on the market. By then, I had read of others' bad experiences with the ST adapter. In looking at my own ST kit, I could see what they were talking about. Also, in comparing the ST to others, it was so crude I simply gave it away to my bro-in-law, who may still have it laying around. That is the short version.

    Yours may work perfectly well. Hopefully you will let us know later, after you have completed the job.
    Last edited by JoeHall; 05-01-2017 at 07:10 AM.

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Well crap, this sucks! Tried to contact SteelTech, but their phone # is disconnected. Also, I found an email address, but it is also dead. Perhaps that means they are now out of business. So, I'm still looking for starter information.

    The starter hole is 3 3/8" in diameter, and it is NOT a Ford 2.8L V-6 starter. I have 2 of those now, so I'm pretty sure about that. Have not checked the Ford 300 starter that someone suggested yet. Another thing that I have NOT tried is to see if the original Stude starter would work, just thought of that, I suppose I better check that next. The flex plate is a 168 tooth Chevy with a welded on crank adaptor/spacer.

    Worse case, I suppose I can mount the adaptor and flex plate on the engine, and make something work, but gear depth, teeth mesh, all that stuff needs to be pretty much spot on, so if the right thing is out there, that is the way to go. I've actually made a couple adaptor plates for SOB swaps in the past, and cobbled up a bell housing on a jeep to Ford v-6 engine, so I can do it, but I find that as I get older (76 now), I don't like those fiddly things as much as I once did. But I do have lathes, mill, etc. in my shop if I need to do it... Those machines don't get much use now days.

    Still pondering why that engine had those 3 big oil leak holes in the front of it??? Almost seems like it could have been built that way, but maybe gasket / felt shrinkage??? It has sat unused most of it's life. I've noted that the gasket sealer Studebaker used everywhere is still somewhat flexible and pliable though. I installed new soft plugs in it when I got the car about 15 years ago as they were rusted through and leaking, and they all rusted through again, so I'm putting brass plugs in this time. Flushed a lot of rust out of the block, both then and now.

    More investigation on the electric power steering has revealed that one can purchase a controller on eBay for about $60-$70, and an electric steering unit from a Saturn Vue/Ion/Pontiac Torrent, for a little over $100. The install is not too difficult, and there appears to be room under the Avanti dash for it. Of course one has to cut the column, so it is not trivial, but it's not really rocket science either. I may just go that way. I'd then get rid of the PS pump, reach arm valve, servo cylinder, 4 hoses, and keep the original gear, lever, etc., and not affect the geometry at all. (Have to modify the reach rod, or find a non-PS rod. Didn't see a new one on the SI site, but maybe someone sells one.) The amount of assist is then adjustable via a potentiometer, from no assist to more than you would like. That nasty ebrake under the dash is in an unfortunate spot, but I think I could work around it pretty easily. The idea interests me a lot...

    Right now, my problem is this starter. Any other ideas are welcomed! Anyone that has installed the SteelTech adapter, do you still have any information laying around on it?
    Corley

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    Corley, Are you sure the hole for the starter is 3.375"? The stock Stude is 3.500" and the Ford is metric at 4.077".

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    That dimension is with a tape measure, I should do the right thing and measure the hole with a caliper I suppose. Actually, after researching starters, I think it might be 88mm. In any case, it's not even close to either the Stude or Ford starters that I have. It does need an offset shaft, like a Ford, and non-semetrical bolt orientation like a Ford, so I'm pretty sure it is some version of Ford, but what, I don't know. Still need to check out the 300 that was suggested.

    All other suggestions welcomed!
    Corley

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    I believe the 300 ford 6 starter is correct albeit installed upside down. be very mindful of the converter fitting nicely in the hub. definitely pin any adapter plate. also, on the 700 they were frequently used with column shifters and the detent spring (tang) has a lot of tension. I had to bend the tang to be able to pull the shifter out of park without pulling so hard that it went all the way to 1st.

  16. #16
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Thanks, you are the second to suggest it should use the Ford 300 starter. I'll be going to the Auto parts store in the next couple days to check that against the adapter plate diameter. By the way, after measuring it, I find the hole is 84.5mm in size. Also, thanks for the tip on the detent tang. I plan to move it with the original Avanti floor shifter if possible to get the throw working correctly. Been away, and haven't had time to mess with it for a week or more.
    Corley

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeHall View Post
    In all fairness, I did not give the StealTech kit a chance. I had bought it a few years prior from someone else who had not gotten round to using it. By the time I got serious about installing a GM tranny in a Hawk, other kits had came on the market. By then, I had read of others' bad experiences with the ST adapter. In looking at my own ST kit, I could see what they were talking about. Also, in comparing the ST to others, it was so crude I simply gave it away to my bro-in-law, who may still have it laying around. That is the short version.

    Yours may work perfectly well. Hopefully you will let us know later, after you have completed the job.
    Joe, I'm starting to see where you got the impression that the Steel Tech adapter is not the best. I finally got the engine together, so started looking at the adapter, and I had to file out 3 of the 5 mount holes to make it bolt to the block. Not much, but still... I also had an unfinished weld on the trans side that had to be dressed. The next problem I encountered is that the sleeve between the crank and the flex plate requires longer allen head bolts, in the reverse direction from the originals. (Or I could stick the sleeve in the mill and cut areas for the bolt heads.) Wanting grade 8 bolts there, I'll see what is locally available before I do the mill fix. Can't just turn that sleeve down to provide bolt head room, because it also centers the flex plate. (I previously said the sleeve/crank adapter was welded to the flex plate, however it is not, it just bolts up, being sandwiched between the crank flange and flex plate.)

    These are minor annoyances, fiddly things that take a bit of time to resolve, (so far a couple hours), but won't affect the overall performance of the adaptor. I would not recommend it if someone asked and it were still available for purchase, when there are other possibly (probably) better kits available. Still, it is not a throw away, and should do the job...
    Corley

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    Ford made many different sizes (diameters) of starters. I have a friend that restores 65/66 Mustangs, he bought a rebuilt 65 small block V8 starter for one of his projects and it wouldn't fit so he returned it and swapped it for one with smaller diameter. If you take the starter to a local parts store they should be able to compare it to others (in stock) and find one the correct diameter. make sure you have measuring device to ensure that you're buying the correct starter.

    treblig

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bige View Post
    I believe the 300 ford 6 starter is correct albeit installed upside down. be very mindful of the converter fitting nicely in the hub. definitely pin any adapter plate. also, on the 700 they were frequently used with column shifters and the detent spring (tang) has a lot of tension. I had to bend the tang to be able to pull the shifter out of park without pulling so hard that it went all the way to 1st.
    After 2 hours in the best auto parts store around these parts, and with the help of an old school counterman, I have finally found a starter that fits in the hole, bolts in place using the pre-chilled holes, but alas, the snout is too short so the gears don't mesh. One thing is for sure, it is NOT a Ford starter. We tried every Ford starter known to man, but no joy. The one that fits the mount, is for a Jeep, with a Chevy v-6, 2.8L. We must have opened 25-30 boxes, but they have at least 50 more to try. They have a book with pictures, but no dimensions.

    Such is life...
    Corley

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