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Thread: Transtar frame swap?

  1. #1
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    Transtar frame swap?

    Hey all! I'm brand new to the forum, but it seems that there is a wealth of knowledge here, so forgive me if this has already been addressed in previous posts, but...

    I have a 1956 Studebaker Transtar 3/4 Ton Longbed Pickup truck that I am in the process of fixing up. I have all of the original parts that came on the truck from factory, but due to a number of reasons, I am planning on removing the body components (cab, fenders, etc...) and would like to swap them on to a rolling chassis of another truck (in order to have more modern luxuries like an alternator, disc brakes, etc...)

    Has anyone had any experience with this type of conversion? I keep hearing that a Chevy S10 frame will work, but...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Golden Hawk Member DEEPNHOCK's Avatar
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    You can bolt an alternator on in an afternoon.
    A frame swap takes longer.
    You can add Turner disc brakes in a weekend.
    A frame swap takes longer.
    You can add power windows in a weekend.
    A frame swap takes longer.
    You can read magazines all day long to get ideas.
    A frame swap takes longer.

    Your truck.
    Your decision.
    More attention will be paid to an all Studebaker truck than a hybrid.Have fun with your Stude, and welcome to the forum!
    Jeff[8D]


    quote:Originally posted by ian006

    Hey all! I'm brand new to the forum, but it seems that there is a wealth of knowledge here, so forgive me if this has already been addressed in previous posts, but...

    I have a 1956 Studebaker Transtar 3/4 Ton Longbed Pickup truck that I am in the process of fixing up. I have all of the original parts that came on the truck from factory, but due to a number of reasons, I am planning on removing the body components (cab, fenders, etc...) and would like to swap them on to a rolling chassis of another truck (in order to have more modern luxuries like an alternator, disc brakes, etc...)

    Has anyone had any experience with this type of conversion? I keep hearing that a Chevy S10 frame will work, but...

    Thanks!

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback Jeff!

    I'm keeping all of the original factory parts so that I can restore them properly over time. The truck has sat for about 30 years and had only 80,000 original miles on it when it was parked, so it's got a healthy bit of work to get it together. However, I would like to enjoy the classic Stude style in the mean time.

    I agree with you entirely, though. There's nothing like the real thing (when it's done correctly).

  4. #4
    President Member Swifster's Avatar
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    Jeff speaks the truth. What you think is missing is easily available without the S-10.

    Jeff and I both like hot rods so don't take this that we only want restored vehicles here. That isn't the case. But we've seen enough bad conversions that started with an S-10 to fill a guide book of what not to do. I personally wish all S-10's would be scrapped.

    Parts are readily available for just about all post-war Studebakers and this includes hop-up parts. I was originally just going to toss a SBC and a T-5 in my Daytona, and have now decided to run Stude power (289 V8). The cars and trucks can be lowered. Disc brakes can be added and the engines have some good vintage hot rod parts available for both the V8 and 6 cylinder. Jeff has a SBC in his CE (Coupe Express pick up).

    Take a look around the forum and the main website for tech on various Stude stuff. Check out some of the vendors websites and see what is truely available for your truck without changing it's character. As Jeff said, your truck and your money.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tom - Mulberry, FL

    1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2125.60)

    1964 Studebaker Commander 170-1V, 3-speed w/OD (Cost to Date: $623.67)


  5. #5
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    The s10 has a pretty narrow track. But the Stude cab is mounted in only three areas, with another mount for the radiator support in one place centered; so the swap should be fairly easy. It's a big deal to swap front suspension, rearend, engine and trans; one step at a time. My 61 ranchero might be almost ready for a bronco frame since the wheelbsase is the same. I would look into a ford ranger II since that stepside bed is a great match to the stude. That would save you the trouble of restoring your stude bed plus fabbing all the bed mounts. Find one with the right wheelbase and go from there. A very important secondary measurement is a comparison of the relationship between the firewall and the front axle centerline. That is, if you intend to run the engine and trans that are already in the newer truck. That ford injected 4.0 V6 with an a4ld would make for a sweet cruiser. If you wouldn't run the ford motor, then wheelbase is the only consideration. Measure from the front of the bed to the front axle centerline to see if the stude cab would be compatible.

  6. #6
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    quote: so the swap should be fairly easy.
    Fairly easy for a experienced and accomplished shadetree such as yourself. However, Jeff and Tom are correct to err on the side of caution in recommending a frame swap without firsthand knowledge of ian006's capabilities.

    Just for the sake of conversation, if ian006 brought you his C-cab, how much would you charge him to give him a completed Ford Ranger swap?

    thnx, jack vines

    PackardV8

  7. #7
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    I have owned stock and resto-mod Studebaker pickups. The resto-mods had Camaro/Trans Am front clips. I have never even seen one done on an S-10 frame. I have seen them done on full size Chevy/GMC frames. These were neat conversions.

    To drive, the modified pickups were much nicer to live with (ind. susp., ps, pdb, A/C, etc.). Stock is nice because it is all Studebaker and as built.

    I do not know your experience level. A task like a frame swap is not as simple as it appears at first glance. Many projects get dropped mid-way. Your truck - do what you want.

    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't assume that any person doesn't have the ability to make a frame swap. I know it would be a lot easier than swapping in all of the individual components, that's a fact. And the originator of this thread is assumed to have the abilities mentioned by he; himself. All is required is a lot of measuring before committing to a particular marque. Some of you guys are johnny on the spot with "DON'T DO IT!!!" Instead of actually helping with what it's going to take to make it happen. All we have to fear is fear itself....

  9. #9
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    The reason some of us recommend careful and prudent investigation of all the steps involved is we've seen more failed than successful frame conversions - here's an example currently on craigslist:


    1950 Studebaker truck - $400 (spokane)
    I have everything for the cab fenders hood all interior parts. NO TITLE you can get one I have just lost intrest. I was putting it on a chevy 4x4 frame. Call if interested [u]http://spokane.craigslist.org/pts/1295584792.html</u>

    As always, his money, his truck, his decision.

    thnx, jack vines

    PackardV8

  10. #10
    Golden Hawk Member DEEPNHOCK's Avatar
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    I am in agreement with you on one point.
    Never assume one does not have the talent, or ability.
    I love good work.
    But the original post listed some very, very basic items to justify a very major undertaking.
    Swapping an entire frame to improve brakes and an alternator is very quesionable.
    Can it be done? Sure. Anything can be done.
    But the end result is really what counts.
    I preach constantly to do good work.
    Junkyard swaps can be great.... But they take talent, and mostly...experience.
    I don't want to see any more stalled or failed Stude swap projects...
    But that is just me....
    Jeff[8D]


    quote:Originally posted by buddymander

    I wouldn't assume that any person doesn't have the ability to make a frame swap. I know it would be a lot easier than swapping in all of the individual components, that's a fact. And the originator of this thread is assumed to have the abilities mentioned by he; himself. All is required is a lot of measuring before committing to a particular marque. Some of you guys are johnny on the spot with "DON'T DO IT!!!" Instead of actually helping with what it's going to take to make it happen. All we have to fear is fear itself....

  11. #11
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    We ARE going to see more stalled and failed Stude projects; just a matter of time. It's NOT just YOU. But I would like to see more frame swaps in the interest of putting MORE Studes back on the road; no matter what the power. I know from experience that it's a lot easier to swap frames than all that stuff individually, so I'm for promoting the search for just the right one for each type and model of Studebaker. When I got my 49 R it was on a 73 cutlass frame; "Cuz it was the same wheelbase". It was also a mess. But it WAS at least another Stude that was on the road instead of on the road to the crusher. Since I can appreciate the look of the Ranger II stepside bed on the R truck, I've been wondering if there is a Ranger II that would adapt itself easily to the dimensions of the Fifties series truck.

  12. #12
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    Oh, and, I am assuming that the thread originator is actually looking for more than just an alternator and disc brakes...He seems a lot more intelligent than to go to all that trouble for just those items. I believe he wants power steering, IFS, sway bars, higher geared rearend, easily obtainable replacement parts, and MAYBE fuel injection and automatic overdrive. But that's just ME.

  13. #13
    Golden Hawk Member DEEPNHOCK's Avatar
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    OK.. Help him out.
    I will too.
    Jeff[8D]


    quote:Originally posted by buddymander

    Oh, and, I am assuming that the thread originator is actually looking for more than just an alternator and disc brakes...He seems a lot more intelligent than to go to all that trouble for just those items. I believe he wants power steering, IFS, sway bars, higher geared rearend, easily obtainable replacement parts, and MAYBE fuel injection and automatic overdrive. But that's just ME.

  14. #14
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    At the Internationl meet in Spokane there was a red Stude truck with a gm Typhoon or Syclone drivetrain, and I actually think it was in fact a total frame swap. It appeared to be well done, the only thing I personally didn't care for was using the stock gm alloy wheels as I think it made the truck too modern looking on the outside. Regardless, it was a well done Stude, still on the road, modern steering, brakes, etc, and a rocket in disguise. I'm thinking the owner is probably in the SDC, and must be able to provide you with some insight as what to do or not to do.

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    First off, I'd like to thank EVERYONE for the quick feedback. It's obvious that there is a lot of appreciate and passion for Studes (in nearly any capacity) here, and all comments are well received.

    Buddymander, you are correct in thinking that I would like to have more than just disc brakes and an alternator. IFS, swaybars, ps, A/c, etc.. are all points of interest that I would love to have, while still having the classic Stude appearance.

    I suppose this thread should have more appropriately been directed towards our hotrod community that are familiar with what existing modern truck frames most easily (though I understand that "most easily" does not mean "no difficulty"") will afford me the opportunity to make this swap. I will absolutely take a closer look at the Ranger II that was suggested, but as for my experience level...

    I am having the swap done by a professional vintage car restoration/custom hotrod shop local to me here in Atlanta, Ga. Though I'm great with a wrench, I'm not so fantastic with a welding torch. I have already COMPLETELY deconstructed the truck to have the cab, doors, and other body components media blasted and epoxy sealed, and do not currently know what my wheelbase is (I brought them the original frame to have it blasted and powder coated); anyone know a good reference site for the wheelbase of a '56 Transtar 2E12 3/4 Ton? I think that is what will make the first difference (though certainly not the last) in finding a truck that will work for this swap.

    Thoughts?

  16. #16
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    122 inch wheelbase

    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  17. #17
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    I see where some S10's have a 122.9 wheelbase. I'm not so sure a Studebaker truck with a 122" wheelbase really looks right. Sometimes they seem a little short; like the rear wheels are too far forward. Can someone post pics of the rear wheel well on one of these? I bet the track of an S10 is too narrow.

  18. #18
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    Unless my old memory is failing me, and that is indeed a strong possibility, I believe that one of the reasons that S-10 frames are used for a lot of chassis swaps is the existance of a nice straight section of frame rail.

    If that's the case, then wheel base is a modest concern compared to the other issues involved with the frame swap.

    If you decide to go ahead with the swap, please keep us updated on the progress with pictures.

    I for one would like to see the end result.

    I see you are going to have the swap done but don't forget to check the HAMB and RRR for more ideas.

    Good Luck

    Bob


  19. #19
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    It's hard to match up the three most important things--wheelbase, track width, and engine placement. That's why it's simpler for some fabbers to use the original frame and go with camaro or aerostar or whatever for the front and then just cut the brackets off the original rearend and weld them onto the new one. The only body mount needed for the camaro switch is the radiator support; and none for the aerostar. I've even see a lot of guys use the original motor mounts with the camaro, but that drops your motor down into nowhere land. Most truck pans are a lot higher than the bottom of the frame.

  20. #20
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    If it were me the first thing I would do is to educate myself on the basics of how this is done at the least to not be at the mercy of the shop guys.

    My guess is trucks of this era have similar construction...here is a thread from the HAMB on 47-54 chev swaps,not xct but good basic walk through.

    Join the HAMB,Rat Rods Rule,Kill Billet,use the search..on HAMB I have some Stude truck swaps...These boards cater alot more to this type of thing.

    Another possibilty is to put a FatMan suspension on front,drop another rear and go that way. Depending on what the shop charges an even cheaper route is buy an older Camaro with good running gear,use the front and rear for the truck,prob get one with A/C too.

    Not meant as a knock but your best bet is to figure out what you want,what you have now and then ask an open ended question,many times you will get ideas you havent thought of..or at least I do. You can always state what you have thought of and rejected,just ignore the folks who ignore that.

    Hope you get it rollin' and post some pics !

  21. #21
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    This might be a possibility for the suspension issues:

    http://www.slickstreetstuff.com/

    Dan White
    64 R1 GT
    64 R2 GT

  22. #22
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    My friend Andy Millar put a 2R5 cab and box on an S-10 frame. He used the frame from an extended-cab S-10, IIRC. He did a very nice job of it, and the finished truck looks great. But it WAS a lot of work. He had do a lot of cutting and welding in the floor of the cab to make it fit the frame, and build frame brackets as well.

    So thoughtless of GM, not putting brackets on their frames to accommodate Studebaker cabs, eh?

    Jeff is right, the easy way to get an alternator and disc brakes is to add them to the stock frame and power train. You can add air conditioning, too, if you want. There is nothing "wrong" with the parallel-leaf front suspension. It IS a truck, after all. If you are just going to cruise it, you could remove a leaf or two from both front and rear springs to lower it a bit and soften the ride. Add decent radial tires, and maybe a front anti-sway bar, and you will be surprised at how nicely it will handle. And Jim Turner makes a disc brake kit, I believe.

    Your vehicle, your choice.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  23. #23
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    Ian, first be aware that opinions vary a lot on frame swaps as you can see. Personally , I am in the final stages of putting my 55 on a 87 Dodge Dakota 2wd chassis. I could only find a long bed Dakota so I had to cut 12" out of the Dodge frame. That was not a problem as the frame was put together at the factory by a overlap joint at about the middle. I simply "unlapped" the joint and cut off a foot then reconnected it.S10 and S15 frames are done the same way.The longer wheelbase frames may work for you without having to shorten it.The Dakota uses rack and pinion steering as opposed to a steering box on the S10.One problem with S10 frames and front clips is the steering box being located pretty far forward on the rail. I don't think that would be a issue on C-cab Studebakers however.Some swappers cut fenders and even grilles to clear the box , which looks terrible.The only thing I don't like about the Dakota swap is the cab and bed sits up high enough on the frame for some frame to show under the cab unless you do what I did to lower them. I cut the floor out of my bed and raised the floor 2" lowering the bed down over the frame.The cab sit down low enough to then line up with the bed. I cut about 6" off the back ends of the rails to allow the panel below the tailgate to clear the frame as it did on the Studebaker frame.The front cab mounts can be removed from the Studebaker frame and put on the Dodge frame.The front rails need to be cut from the Dodge and replaced with the ones from the old frame or new ones can be made from 4" channel. I am just a few days away fro the first drive and will let yuo know how it goes.Thom

    thom

  24. #24
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    Or you can just pick up some 2' X 5" 1/8" wall rectangular tube and make a custom frame. That's what I did using 73 cutlass front and the four link rear out of the same car.

  25. #25
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    Ian

    Just ran across this thread on the HAMB on my nightly cruise.

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/s...d.php?t=274702

    A lot of info on S-10 swaps.

    Bob


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