View Full Version : 51 Commander motor removal

11-24-2013, 09:44 PM
Greetings all. New to forum.

As a young 'un back in the 40's and early 50's I'd hand wrenches to dad as he "shade tree' worked on his old cars and trucks as needed. Remember him pulling a motor from something thanks to a large limb on a large tree and a chain hoist.

Fast forward about 60 years and I "think" this old retired desk jockey wants to pull a V8 motor from a 51 Commander. If I do, late next spring, I'll probably be using a chain hoist hanging from some 4 x 6 verticals and a 4 x 6 cross beam out in the side yard.

Any clues as to what's involved in removing such engine after I remove the hood and radiator? I'm particularly interested in how to attach a lifting chain or web slings or whatever to the engine. And, of course, much more.

Thanks for any and all advice - even the "don't even try it" advice.


11-24-2013, 10:23 PM
I'd buy an engine hoist since 1951-64 Stude V8's are heavy and I really don't trust beams although with 4" x 6" ones you should be OK. Another thing to buy is a factory manual for your car; our advertisers sell them.

11-24-2013, 11:19 PM
Thanks, 1962larksedan aka Studeless at the moment.

I do have the original Shop, Chassis Parts and Body Parts manuals. Have also ordered the CD version of manuals.

Can anyone comment on "heavy" regarding the engine. If the engine is complete, up to the air breather, what is the approx weight?



11-24-2013, 11:31 PM
Thanks, 1962larksedan aka Studeless at the moment.

I do have the original Shop, Chassis Parts and Body Parts manuals. Have also ordered the CD version of manuals.

Can anyone comment on "heavy" regarding the engine. If the engine is complete, up to the air breather, what is the approx weight?



I pull them nose high, tranny and all with a chain to the lift that allows me to tilt level as I roll the car back and out from under. Maybe 800-900 pound total.

11-24-2013, 11:56 PM
I imagine you could rent an engine hoist for a one time use. Certainly safer than an "A" frame or shade tree hoist.

11-25-2013, 12:13 AM
I've never seen an engine hoist up close and personal. Have viewed photos of them. Wondered at the 72" or so lift heighth. Wondered if that short hdy ram could lift 72" from the top of the auto body or was that from floor or whatever? Have seen them advertised $399 - $499 or some such. Is that what is being talked about?

Will cost me $100 - $200 to get "A" frame wooden beams in place, purchase chain hoist, etc.; so it's not really a money consideration. Maybe I need to learn more about engine hoists since I'm not rushing out to pull the engine anytime soon???

11-25-2013, 11:28 AM
72" has to be from the floor. Get a good quality engine hoist, not cheap junk, about the cost of the chain hoist set up. Sell it when your done.

Check the ton rating with the arm extended, can't do much when retracted except move engine around.

11-25-2013, 12:31 PM

There are a couple of shots in my post from both mine and Bill's use of a hoist installing an engine/trans assembly in an Avanti. While your combo is heavier by a couple of hundred pounds I'll bet our overall length is probably longer than yours. We are installing but the end result installing or removal is getting the assembly into the air high enough to roll the car around and not the hoist. The real secret is heavy enough chains and brackets/bolts to take the weight even if it moves during the operation.


It would be a lot easier to pull the front sheet metal but not necessary as you can see.

Good luck, Bob

11-25-2013, 01:23 PM
I don't know how nice your facilities are, or why you are pulling the engine. I mainly have a pole barn with lousy uneven flooring. I have lifted engines out by using makeshift overhead contraptions, and one of those cantilevered engine hoist. My suggestion is to pull up a chair next to your car and study it for a few moments. Your hood is held on by four bolts. Two per side at the hinges. There are two long hood springs. No big deal to remove them. Your fenders are held on by three bolts to the "A" pillars and some smaller bolts for the inner fenders. There are a few bolts at the radiator shroud. None of this is a huge deal when you consider the components individually. When removing sheet-metal, take care to protect painted surfaces. Place cloth between the cowl and hood edges, because it will drop down onto the body, once off the hinges. Just plan your moves, clear your path, and use common sense. Like eating a bowl of cereal one spoonful at a time...removing these components make the engine work much easier.

It also gives you an opportunity to check for any hidden rust cancer between the fender flange and A pillar. Once you remove the fender, you can safely keep up with the bolts by hand threading them back into the holes, or use zip-lock bags with a note for each group of fasteners detailing where they go. If you are impatient, rip parts off, and chunk the nuts, bolts, and washers in a bucket...then you'll have problems.

You can wrap the fenders, and painted parts in old discarded blankets, (cheap mover's blankets from Harbor Freight) and set them aside. With the doghouse, radiator, and radiator support out of the way...engine removal, installation, and opportunities to freshen up the engine bay is unrestricted. Whether you use an engine lift, or overhead hoist, buy one of those "load-leveler" tools that will allow you to tweak the balance of the engine as you begin to remove it. Money well spent.

This is my suggestion, which, I confess, I don't always follow. You have to always be alert for that wire or cable you forgot to disconnect, before you grab a part and start to hurry across the shop. Like, the hood release cable attached to the front air dam, or the headlight pigtail before removing the front fender, etc.

11-25-2013, 03:02 PM
I pulled the whole front end off my 37 Dictator to remove the engine since I was going to paint everything anyway. I believe that my hoist and leveler both came from Harbor Freight at a cost of around $180. My pictures are of installing the engine but the process is the same. I used a front and rear head bolt to fasten the chain. I removed the shifter from the transmission to make clearing the firewall easier (37 had floor shift). From lifting the engine off its stand to having it on its mounts in the engine bay only took about 10 minutes. Be safe, take your time and never get under the engine while it is suspended.

11-25-2013, 03:23 PM
I can recommend removing the front clip, front fenders, grill and Radiator, all as one assembly. It makes life so much easier, and it's not all that hard.

11-25-2013, 04:17 PM
I would remove the front clip if you plan to remove the tran with the motor. You may be better off finding a young guy that works at a shop during the day and does side line work at home at night, You may find he will pull the motor and put it back in for what the hoist will cost you. Plus all you have to do is sit there and drink a beer while he doing all the hard work.

11-25-2013, 05:53 PM
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q239/dpson/Studebaker%20Lark%20Engine%20Swap/1962LarkEngineSwap057.jpg (http://s137.photobucket.com/user/dpson/media/Studebaker%20Lark%20Engine%20Swap/1962LarkEngineSwap057.jpg.html)

You can also use an engine hoist to pull the front clip, as I did on my Lark, without having to take it all apart.

BTW a "helper" or two are needed to keep things from bumping into other things as you run the hoist.

11-25-2013, 06:17 PM
Dan, I love that picture of your complete doghouse hanging on that lift. Much better than the time I was helping a buddy remove the one from his '59. We each chose a side and proceeded to unbolt. somehow, we both managed to take the opposing final "magic" bolt out at the same time. KABANG!!! :eek::lol:The front grille, and both fenders flew apart at the same time.:o Hollywood couldn't have done a better special effects comedy skit. The Three Stooges would have been proud.:)

11-25-2013, 06:24 PM
As I'm getting 60ish I find I don't have the strength that I had when I was 30ish and anything to lighten the load is a big help.

11-25-2013, 07:13 PM
Thanks very much to everyone. Great comments and great "demo" photos. I'm printing out the thread for reference should I give further thought to - taking out this engine and trans next spring - just for the "fun" of it???