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Thread: Kingpin to ball joint suspension conversion?

  1. #1
    Speedster Member pbrown's Avatar
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    Kingpin to ball joint suspension conversion?

    I haven't even bought my first Studebaker, and here I am looking for upgrades!

    I understand that disc brakes are a worthwhile change, but I was looking at the Ford sites and I saw people converting not just their brakes, but also converting their suspension from Kingpin to ball joint.

    The Fords had a kit, but I wonder if anyone here has ever done such to a Hawk? (and to show my newbie status, I'll follow that up with "All Hawks did use kingpins, didn't they?")

    Phillip

  2. #2
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Yes, Phil; all Studebakers to the end had king-pin front suspension.

    The closest thing you could come to making such a swap would be to use one of the whole assemblies offered by Rene Harger at Slick Street Stuff in Knoxville TN. That's pretty extreme, but I don't know of anyone making a retrofit conversion to ball joints using your existing front suspension components (A-frames, etc.).

    Unless there are extenuating circumstances, like you are building an intentionally-modified car (nothing wrong with that, BTW), it is usually best to retain the Studebaker king pins and just rebuild the front suspension accordingly. BP
    Panem et Circenses

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbrown View Post
    I haven't even bought my first Studebaker, and here I am looking for upgrades!

    I understand that disc brakes are a worthwhile change, but I was looking at the Ford sites and I saw people converting not just their brakes, but also converting their suspension from Kingpin to ball joint.

    The Fords had a kit, but I wonder if anyone here has ever done such to a Hawk? (and to show my newbie status, I'll follow that up with "All Hawks did use kingpins, didn't they?")

    Phillip
    Let me suggest that you read and consider the data in this post. http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...rt-suspension)

    Do a search for more before you run off on this quest. Not suggesting you don't do it but go into it knowing your options and available data.

    Bob
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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    If they have been properly installed and maintained, Studebaker king pins will easily outlast ball joints and are stronger. I suppose you could tackle a ball joint conversion "because you can", but I doubt it that in itself would result in making the car handle any better.

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    and like beating a dead horse: make sure you jot down somewhere in the owners' manual or at least in the glove box what you actually change on the vehicle. A friend of mine just bought a slightly modified 58' Country Sedan out of Indiana..... A nice car, but with a later Ford front end. Now he needs front springs, and the PO stated that he cut down the front coils to get a better profile. BTW, he said, I dropped in a later small block Ford engine w/o fuel injection. So... a new and different front spindle, brakes and suspension and a newer engine.....He's wondering what front springs to install ....

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    We have a '65 Wagonaire up here in Washington that someone cut the ends of the "A" Arms off and welded on some GM Chevelle I think "A" Arm ends with the 20,000 mile (if you are lucky) Ball Joints and Air bags, just a useless undriveable piece of junk, it will have to be converted back to make it drive straight, turn correctly and get normal tire wear etc.

    Your Car your money, but not what I would do.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner



  7. #7
    President Member 53k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 63 R2 Hawk View Post
    If they have been properly installed and maintained, Studebaker king pins will easily outlast ball joints and are stronger. I suppose you could tackle a ball joint conversion "because you can", but I doubt it that in itself would result in making the car handle any better.
    I couldn't agree more. I have never seen a Studebaker alongside the road with a front wheel assembly hanging off the car from a broken kingpin front, but I have seen plenty of ball-joint cars with that problem.

    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
    '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, '53 Commander Starliner, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

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    Speedster Member pbrown's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips ! I now have the 59 Silver Hawk in my garage, and I now know that it drives like a bus! So, if we forget the kingpin conversion, do I need to also live with it "as is"? Or are there other things in the steering that I could change to make it more of a "modern feeling" car?
    Phillip Brown Tampa, Fl



    1959 Silver Hawk Tahiti Coral with 64 289 and FOM, Turner Discs
    (2) 1957 Silver Hawks that I am trying to combine into one usable vehicle

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    Better shocks, larger anti-sway bars (frt & RR), modern perf. tires with a slightly wider wheel rim, along with the existing stock suspension parts swapped to put them in good condition...all go toward a fairly nice handling old car.
    Will it corner with a new Camaro or Mustang...no, but will it, "out corner" a stock/original Hawk...yes.

    Just the anti-sway bars and stiffer shocks will be the main contributors toward better handling...but it ALL counts and needs to be done. Even modifying the springs to lower the car an inch or three.

    Mike

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    Think about adding factory power steering to Your Hawk, Even with the front suspension in good condition...some V8 Studebakers really need it!

  11. #11
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    Studebakers in good shape do not "Drive Like a Bus" or Truck. If you want bad, try driving a '49-'54 Chevy some time!

    You have several options to improve the drivability of your Car:

    Number ONE, do I remember correctly that this Silver Hawk WAS a 6 Cyl.?
    If so that could mean a 6 Cyl. Type Steering Gear for a lighter front end.

    If it is a "C" body Coupe BEFORE 59S-8777 it has a lighter weight Ross TYPE TL Gearbox than AFTER that Serial which used the V8 Box, Type SL.

    And then the King Pins and upper and lower Outer PINS need to be in good shape and taking Grease.
    Inner "A" Arm bushings (Rubber and Steel) in very good condition.

    Probably the most important thing; the Alignment, not many Shops nowadays understand how to do this right, it will take some research to find the right Shop within a few hundred miles.

    Even Tire Air Pressure and Tire width have an impact.

    If it "wanders" all over the road it could be: Loose (worn) Steering Gear, worn Tie Rod Ends, Reach Rod, Loose Center Bellcrank Bearings, or lock Bolt, uneven left to Right side Caster, not enough Toe-in and more.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner



  12. #12
    Speedster Member pbrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StudeRich View Post
    Number ONE, do I remember correctly that this Silver Hawk WAS a 6 Cyl.?
    If so that could mean a 6 Cyl. Type Steering Gear for a lighter front end.

    If it is a "C" body Coupe BEFORE 59S-8777 it has a lighter weight Ross TYPE TL Gearbox than AFTER that Serial which used the V8 Box, Type SL.
    It is 59S-10856, so I guess it does have the V8 box even though it started as a 6. I'll do a forum search for how to add Power Steering.

    I'll also start looking at the parts you suggested to make sure they are all at their best.

    Thanks

    Phillip
    Phillip Brown Tampa, Fl



    1959 Silver Hawk Tahiti Coral with 64 289 and FOM, Turner Discs
    (2) 1957 Silver Hawks that I am trying to combine into one usable vehicle

  13. #13
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    Thats good advice above; when I got my 58 Hawk thats the first thing I noticed; how tough it was to
    steer. So I immediately thought about putting in power steering. But in the process of restorating the car,
    I made sure everthing up front was well lubricated and working well, including the steering box, which was
    almost empty. After that and new tires, I forgot about power steering. if you feel you still want to improve the
    steering after going through everything, adding power steering in an option, OR switching over to the Lark-type
    Saginaw recirculating ball steering box.

    Joe D.

  14. #14
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    Speaking of shocks; What do you guys use? I'll be doing that soon.
    1964 Gran turismo Hawk
    1954 Packard Pacific

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    I like KYB shocks on my GT, I bought the Gas A Just for mid 70s Camero and replaced the rear top mount and fabbed some cages for the front lower mounts. Got tired of buying the cheesy shocks they make for Studebakers, the Gas A Just gets firmer as the road/driving gets more aggressive but gives a smooth ride around town. Not sure if those will fit your car, but Bob Johnstone's website has lots of info on Stude shock cross references.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erik64 View Post
    Speaking of shocks; What do you guys use? I'll be doing that soon.
    This is Nate's interchange page. http://www.georgiastudebaker.com/Interchange.pdf I'm running KYB's on my Avanti, nice shocks.

    Bob
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    That center bell crank would be the first to rebuild. My 51 was hard to turn with the wheels off thr ground.
    7G-Q1 49 2R12 10G-F5 56B-D4 56B-F2
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    Start with a good thorough grease job.
    SPECIALLY the thrust bearing on the kingpin.
    Grease needs to come out the TOP of the bearing.
    Not just to the bottom of it.
    Do a search for all the ways people have come up with to do that.
    Heat, clamps around the bottom of the bearing, drill a hole and use a needle, etc, etc.
    Old grease gets hard and cakes up in the bearing.
    South Lompoc Studebaker

  19. #19
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    "Thanks for the tips ! I now have the 59 Silver Hawk in my garage, and I now know that it drives like a bus! So, if we forget the kingpin conversion, do I need to also live with it "as is"? Or are there other things in the steering that I could change to make it more of a "modern feeling" car?"

    "Start with a good thorough grease job.
    SPECIALLY the thrust bearing on the kingpin.
    Grease needs to come out the TOP of the bearing.
    Not just to the bottom of it.
    Do a search for all the ways people have come up with to do that.
    Heat, clamps around the bottom of the bearing, drill a hole and use a needle, etc, etc.
    Old grease gets hard and cakes up in the bearing."

    Try the above suggestions first. Thats not to say that some or much of the front suspension may be in need of rebuild, but for now, this will ease the steering and drivability of the car. Even if you focus on just the king pins, this will loosen up the steering and road feel considerably. Be careful with the torch if you're going to heat up the kingpins as a lot of stuff under there is flammable.

    My 54 Coupe has a Stude V8 and 4 speed and the steering feels light and is easy to parallel par using just my finger in the steering wheel. It does not have power steering and I would NOT recommend adding the original power steering to your car. That system is heavy, cumbersome and will make your under hood forays a nightmare when doing maintenance.
    sals54

  20. #20
    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    What Sal said!

    When I got my Lark, it drove, not just like a truck, but like a Mack AB! Everything needed replacement, and I replaced it all. Myself! And when I was done, the difference was astounding. Steering is light and pretty accurate (considering I'm running radials, have an undersize steering wheel, and oversize tires), even with the V8.

    I know you're anxious to improve things and get your car on the road! But take things logically. Lube everything; get the old grease out and new in. Make sure the steering box is full, and adjusted properly. Take it to a good alignment shop and get it pointed straight. If, after all of these low cost items have been done, you still have a hard time -- then rebuild. But there's no sense throwing dollars at it when a little patience and elbow grease will save you money and add to your satisfaction at having done the job all your ownself

    Clark in San Diego
    '63 Standard (F2) "Barney"
    http://studeblogger.blogspot.com

  21. #21
    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    One more thing about front-end lube: the factory recommended greasing the front suspension every 1000 miles. Likely yours hasn't been done for many times that. I bet you'll be astounded at the difference a good lube will make.

    Clark in San Diego
    '63 Standard (F2) "Barney"
    http://studeblogger.blogspot.com

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    Couple of ideas: There should be a minute amount of play in the bellcrank so it doesn't bind. There are thin shims that keep the nut from being tightened too much, causing tight steering. Check to make sure this isn't a problem. The bellcrank has a grease zerk inside a little hole in the rear of the front cross member, it is usually never found by the Iffy Lube zombies and may need some attention. For lube service, find a shop that can find the twenty-something grease zerks on Studebakers. Check for excessive kingpin looseness by raising the front wheels off the ground and shaking the tire at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock. If it moves more than 1/8", either kingpins or wheel bearings are bad. If grease comes out of the bottom of the kingpin, that means the seals (could be "O" rings or cork seals) are probably damaged or missing and need to be replaced, along with kingpin bearings/bushings. Have you checked your tire pressure?

  23. #23
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    All of the above plus replace the springs with NEW ones, not used. What happens is as these cars get older the front springs collapse somewhat. The front fender wheel opening should stand tall enough to get your fist, with your thumb on the top or bottom, to go between the edge of the fender opening and the tire tread with an original sized tire, if you can't then your springs have sagged. What happens then is the tire/wheel assy. instead of pivoting on the center(?) of the tread is 'plowing thru turns because the top of the tire/wheel is leaning in towards the center of the car and is usually wearing off the inside of the tire treads.

  24. #24
    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by autoradiotech View Post
    the tire/wheel assy. instead of pivoting on the center(?) of the tread is 'plowing thru turns because the top of the tire/wheel is leaning in towards the center of the car and is usually wearing off the inside of the tire treads.
    Right. Here's a pic of my front tire before the rebuild (which included new springs):



    You can easily see how splayed-out the front tires are; totally running on the inside edge.

    Here's how it looked after the rebuild, and front-end alignment:

    DSCN2054.jpg

    You can easily see the difference.

    Clark in San Diego
    '63 Standard (F2) "Barney"
    http://studeblogger.blogspot.com

  25. #25
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    Showbizkid...That's a pretty dramatic difference. Must 'feel' much better driving this Studebaker now!

  26. #26
    Speedster Member pbrown's Avatar
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    BTW, just to update...

    Thanks very much for all the excellent advice on this.

    I lubed everything and just left it pretty much as is (The exception is brakes - Turner discs and dual master)

    The car runs down the road nice and straight, and I have no problem with it at highway speeds (even at an occasional foray to 80mph)

    Thanks for talking me out of making wholesale changes - when properly adjusted and lubed, it is very acceptable!!

    Although I'm still thinking about power steering. My increased radial footprints make it a bear to turn at very low speeds! (i.e. parking)

    thanks again for all the input!
    Phillip Brown Tampa, Fl



    1959 Silver Hawk Tahiti Coral with 64 289 and FOM, Turner Discs
    (2) 1957 Silver Hawks that I am trying to combine into one usable vehicle

  27. #27
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    Maybe a trip or two to the gym...!
    Kidding, but it shouldn't be that difficult. My 59 Lark, 259, original iron trans., radial tires (no power steering) and a small steering wheel, I can steer it easilly enough, parallel parking etc.

    Just drive it more...get used to it. Stude power steering is an ugly snake pit of hoses.

    Mike

    P.s. - I'm 63.

  28. #28
    Speedster Member pbrown's Avatar
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    Actually I'm pretty OK with manual steering, but every time my wife watches me parking and vigorously yanking the big ol' wheel round many, many times to go lock to lock she says "you need to get power steering".

    If I could figure out an easy way to do it, it would be worth the dollars to make Mama happy! (and then maybe she would drive it too!)
    Phillip Brown Tampa, Fl



    1959 Silver Hawk Tahiti Coral with 64 289 and FOM, Turner Discs
    (2) 1957 Silver Hawks that I am trying to combine into one usable vehicle

  29. #29
    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    Just remember, don't try to turn the steering wheel while setting dead still. Always have the car moving when turning the wheel. No matter how slow it's moving as long as it's moving.

    Quote Originally Posted by pbrown View Post
    Actually I'm pretty OK with manual steering, but every time my wife watches me parking and vigorously yanking the big ol' wheel round many, many times to go lock to lock she says "you need to get power steering".

    If I could figure out an easy way to do it, it would be worth the dollars to make Mama happy! (and then maybe she would drive it too!)
    Jerry Forrester
    Forrester's Chrome
    Douglasville, Georgia


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