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Can a bellhousing swap be done without removing the engine from the car?

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  • Transmission / Overdrive: Can a bellhousing swap be done without removing the engine from the car?

    I have a 1964 Daytona with a 259 and a Flight-O-Matic w/out overdrive, and I'm going to be installing a wide ratio T10 4 speed. I think I finally have all of the parts I'll need, including the correct bellhousing. I'm hoping it can be installed without removing the engine, but it seems like I may have a tough time getting to all of the bolts if I don't.

    So, can a bellhousing swap be done without removing the engine from the car?

    Thanks, Roman

  • #2
    Theoretically, yes.

    In practice, no.

    Maybe, read the Shop Manual. On the Studebakers, any time a bell housing is changed, the replacement unit must be dial-indicated to confirm the center hole is concentric with the crankshaft. Sometimes, everything lines up within tolerance. When it doesn't, follow the procedure in the Shop Manual. Failure to do so can lead to dragging clutch disc, vibration and/or transmission input bearing failure.

    jack vines


    • #3
      The bellhousing bolts are easy and you can access them with long extensions. It's the rest of what has to be done that is a bear to do with the engine in the car.

      Since you are swapping from an automatic to a manual, the oil pan and rear main cap will also have to be removed to change out the shorter crank bolts to the longer ones for the flywheel. Yes, this can be done with the engine in the car but it's much harder to do.

      Also, you will have to dial indicate in the bellhousing and drill/ream for larger bellhousing locating dowels. This is very very hard to do with the engine in the car - did it once on a GT Hawk and swore I would never do it again. And that was with the car on a lift.

      The answer to your question is yes, you can do this with the engine in the car. But I sure wouldn't recommend it.
      Last edited by r1lark; 12-27-2017, 06:45 AM.
      Winston-Salem, NC
      Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at:


      • #4
        My '61 Hawk has a plate in the floor to get at the upper bolts for the bell. I don't know if the Lark types have that. You can indicate the new bell with the motor in the car if you have the right setup. It's a little tight, but you can do it. repining the the bell can be difficult, but it can be done. at least on a Hawk!- Jim


        • #5
          Yes. Pull propeller shaft and disconnect everything from transmission. Don't forget to drain it and the torque converter. Pull trans. You will need a trans jack for this. (Mine is a cheap Harbor Freight one but it works OK) Got to remove crossmember too, but that's obvious. Unbolt trans and slide it back ( I'm sure you have secured the engine sinc the rear mounts must be removed. Best way is with engine hoist so you can wiggle it around-don't drop it! You can remove bellhousing and torque converter. First real problem is that the bolts that attach flex plate are too short for the flywheel; the engine oil pan needs to be removed so that the CORRECT bolts can be inserted. You absolutely must DIAL INDICATE the bell housing to the engine. You'll need over size dowel pins once you have it adjusted correctly. Put it together with a clutch centering tool such as an old input shaft . You will need clutch, clutch linkeage, speedo gear and maybe a new speedo shaft, drive shaft, shift linkeage(Hurst) This project will take all winter if you are lucky. Don't throw anything away cause in a year or two you'll be sick of rowing the car and want the auto back. If you want the auto to perform better drain it and torque converter, change filter and replace fluid with Valvolene type FA. This will give less slip and it will move shift point up Maybe you could find a powershift tans: that'd be an easy swap. Never heard of a "wide ratio" T-10. If you have such a beast it would be much better suited to a squared Studebaker V8 than the close ratio T-10. Good luck! Pulling the whole works out is probably easier. You can do most of the work on an engine table instead of under the car laying in oil with dirt and grime in your ears, eyes, and hair.


          • #6
            Think of the trouble to remove the engine/bell/tranny. Then multiply that trouble by about four if you try to do the project in the car.


            • #7
              Thanks for the perspectives, guys. A lot of the fun of owning this car has been learning how to get it (and keep it) running. This transmission swap is definitely going to be a stretch for me, but I'm looking forward to really digging in and doing it.

              Jeffry, the ratios in my T10 are 2.54, 1.89, 1.51, and 1:1, rather than 2.20, 1.66, 1.31, and 1:1. I've heard that referred to as the "wide ratio" version. Maybe mine's the standard ratio and the other is really a close ratio? Not sure. It'll be used with a TT Dana 44 rear end with a 3.73:1 ratio.

              I'm planning on selling the automatic transmission specific parts I pull off of it to help pay for the project. It all really adds up. The throw on the shifter is 10", which is longer than my modern cars, but I think it'll be fine. This Daytona is the first car I've ever bought with an automatic transmission. It's just not my thing.


              • #8
                I just swapped automatics and torque converter in my Lark, and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I made an engine cradle out of wood as shown in the shop manual, and I had this on top of a smaller hydraulic jack for adjusting. BUT if you are swapping bell housings/manual to automatic etc. it would be way easier in the long run to pull the engine/bell housing to, accomplish your project.


                • #9
                  I've not worked on a '64, but on the '50s cars, removing the engine is really simplified by first removing the hood, grill and front fenders. The last three as one unit.


                  • #10
                    And the radiator!