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Front Suspension (Again)

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  • Front Suspension (Again)

    Being new to the Studebaker game...please bear with me on a couple of questions and information. This has been asked many times in the archives...but is there any new info?

    Subject vehicle is a 1953 Commander Starlight Coupe with no engine/trans destined for Pro Touring (just driving)

    Besides the obvious clearance issues on the stock steering box and strange bellcrank steering, does anyone have good photos of engine conversions that they did. SBC, Mopar, Ford, etc. I have done many fabrications and am not concerned about doing the work...just up for ideas and suggestions. I am a Mopar guy and have many original restored cars, so I already know about the importance of numbers matching original (don't mess with it) thoughts. Does anyone make a prefab motor mount setup for conversions?

    I recently decided to do the 53 Stude due to the "light years" ahead styling and the desire to move from the 60's to the 50's. All the early 50's Mopars are somewhat lacking in style. Simply put, nothing beats the 53-54-55-56-57 Studes for style.

    I will install a Mopar, SBC, or Ford due to parts availability on the road.

    I have no further info on the Phantom Front Suspension,
    as there is nothing current (Website is in changeover) and can find no one who has done this. Fatman is surely an option as is the Nova/Camaro subframe. The bottom line is this....there is no reason that I can find to spend $2000-$2500 on something that is no better than what I have...except header and block clearance. The suspension certainly appears to be solid and the geometry is very good as designed.

    Disc brakes are easily obtained. As Dick has stated...cut the coils a half turn and go for lowering. The only issue I see is clearance on the bellcrank and steering box.

    Thoughts on what you have done and photos would be great. I am listening to everyone on here. Special thanks to Klif and his 55 Speedster for the photos he provided. What a nice car!

    I am not into spending money...with no return, and the subframe changeover does not appear to give me anything. Let me hear from any and all.

    Long thread...but thanks for the time and space.

  • #2
    Since your not affraid of fabrication...

    Do what I did. Got a used Vette all aluminum front suspension, some steel tubing and "melded" it all together into a C4 (in my case) Lark/Corvette front end. No more bellcrank in the way, no header clearance problems, lighten up the front end a little, good brakes, highly adjustable, easy to get parts (anywhere!).

    Check it out here if you like - http://public.fotki.com/-Mike-/

    Click on the 60 Lark.

    There's one option for you..

    Mike

    Comment


    • #3
      Very, very, nice Mike. Extremely clean. Thank you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Mike,
        Where did you get the curved rectangular tubing you used for the frame pieces?
        Jeff[8D]


        quote:Originally posted by Mike Van Veghten

        Since your not affraid of fabrication...

        Do what I did. Got a used Vette all aluminum front suspension, some steel tubing and "melded" it all together into a C4 (in my case) Lark/Corvette front end. No more bellcrank in the way, no header clearance problems, lighten up the front end a little, good brakes, highly adjustable, easy to get parts (anywhere!).

        Check it out here if you like - http://public.fotki.com/-Mike-/

        Click on the 60 Lark.

        There's one option for you..

        Mike


        DEEPNHOCK at Gmail.com
        Brooklet, Georgia
        '37 Coupe Express (never ending project)
        '37 Coupe Express Trailer (project)
        '61 Hawk (project)
        http://community.webshots.com/user/deepnhock

        HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

        Jeff


        Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



        Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

        Comment


        • #5
          Gotcha - Your car, your choice. BUT - I take issue with your rationale about "parts availablity on the road".

          Let's say your touring in your BrandX-powered 53. Oops! - it dies. Damned fuel pump anyway! So, let's say you're someplace off to the side of the road where you can work on the car (if not, we're talking tow truck and a place to work on it). Now - you're gonna hope it broke down at an hour that parts places are open and hope you can find a way to get to the nearest one (and back) with the replacement part. (And this could apply to the fuel pump, water pump, blown hose of some sort, crapped out ignition part, etc..
          Compare that to having a spare fuel pump, water pump, rad hoses and belts (even points and such - assuming you didn't do the smart thing and convert the Stude engine to electronic stuff) all in a shoebox or canvas pouch stashed in one corner of the trunk. With a few simple wrenches and screwdrivers to do the replacement with. Which approach is gonna have you tulin' down the road faster?[?]

          NOW - you wanna talk slung rod or stripped timing gear - you're gonna be down for a time either way! Nah, the parts availablity slant is bogus.
          I understand this might be a moot point given the car in question comes without an engine or trans, but I only ask that you don't defend NOT going with the Stude engine because you're worried about being stranded in nowheresville without a paddle.

          On TOP of that - ask here about some of the sagas we've taken part of via this forum. We've RUSHED to the aid of stranded Stude drivers across the contintent, and that's NO exaggeration or one-time thing! There was one fella we helped to get from LA to NY with MANY, MANY assists along the way. This is because there's a network of willing and helpful Stude nuts that I don't think ANY other club can match from what I've seen.
          SBC, Ford, Mopar makes - yeah, map your trip according to NAPA locations, but with a Studebaker - figure on getting where you're going without any holdups![^]

          Miscreant adrift in
          the BerStuda Triangle!!

          1957 Transtar 1/2ton
          1960 Larkvertible V8
          1958 Provincial wagon
          1953 Commander coupe
          No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

          Comment


          • #6
            Jeff,

            The Art Morrison chassis guys did it for me.


            Gotcha,

            Thanks


            I know Mr. B. Still, I stand by my statement. Any Chevy or GM dealer MAY...not have Stude suspension parts, neither does the local corner auto parts shop...wana know how I know?


            Mike

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, let's be realistic here, Mike. Sure enough - anything CAN happen out on the road. But a well-prepared car (like one you've just completely rebuilt and HOPEFULLY worked the "bugs" out of before you set out for the opposite coast) shouldn't present any catastrophic failures unless it's been done wrong to start with. What Stude suspension parts do you see failing on a well-refurbed car? Shearing pins, failing A-arms, bushing shedding their innards?
              Harkening back to my favorite example for this - the guy who confidently crowed that he was gonna be ready for anything because he was gonna dump the antique Stude iron for a NorthStar drivetrain - his backup plan depends on the local GM shop being even WILLING, let alone ABLE to take his hermaphroditic conglomeration in and first, diagnose it - and second, repair it. That doesn't sound like an advantage to me, BUT THEN.... I'd be under the hood, cranking my own wrenches instead of trusting to some 65-buck-an-hour "technician".
              And that's another thing... if you're not willing and able to wrench for yourself (and even if you ARE but won't have the convenience of your own, vast array of tools and shop to use), you're gonna be at the mercy of the shops in the area which most of won't even let you bring a Studebaker into their shop because they fear it's gonna be a time-sponge that's gonna clog up their facilities and cause them woes if they have to stand behind work on something they regard as having just arrived from Mars!


              Miscreant adrift in
              the BerStuda Triangle!!

              1957 Transtar 1/2ton
              1960 Larkvertible V8
              1958 Provincial wagon
              1953 Commander coupe
              No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

              Comment


              • #8
                Let me add that I'm not just trying to be contrary for contrary's sake. Proabaly improvement's CAN be instituted, but I believe the consensus of those who've had experience with these cars is that it's tough to make REAL "driveability" upgrades over what they came with after about the mid-fifties. Disc brakes is probably, hands down, the best "upgrade" bucks you can spend. Anything beyond that and the gain is neligible OR - if it's truly a remarkable advance - it's awfully expensive.
                Take a good, tough design (made of metal Toyotas can only dream of!)- keep it well-maintained and drive it within it's envelope of ability and it should last you a long, long time.
                Honestly, I drive the CRAP outta my Stock Transtar and I treat it to a quart of oil once it's leaked enough to where it's shy about showing itself on the dipstick. Hot, I got MAYBE 30lbs oil pressure at 60 MPH - been that way for YEARS. Don't know when to quit. I've got a freshened engine for it but I can't seem to find time or reason since this tortured motor doesn't seem to know I treat it badly.
                And yet come the endless hints that if you wanna chance a venture across town, you'd better get some parts NAPA can get you in a day or two. It just doesn't wash against those of us who have years and years of experience with these vehicles. You can't approach them with a Camaro mindset. Thankfully, Camaros they're not.

                gotcha, I'm NOT picking on you. I don't mean to come across like I am. I truly hope you stick around and keep us up to speed on what you do to your 53.
                It's just that having driven these cars and trucks as DAILY transport for 33 years, I feel qualified to dispell the notion that you can't trust a stock one for cross-country driving because you risk being stranded.
                There were ALL sorts of stock Studes that drove from all over the continent to Omaha last month... and then drove BACK to where they'd come from without a hitch.

                Miscreant adrift in
                the BerStuda Triangle!!

                1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                1960 Larkvertible V8
                1958 Provincial wagon
                1953 Commander coupe
                No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very well said, Biggs!![^] We've been hearing that "parts availability" BS as an excuse for not having a "real" engine for far too long ! Most of us could easily site many times where any other make of car would not have allowed us to do what we have accompolished with our original Stude powered Studes!![^] Like to name only one: a dependable gear drive camshaft! Yeah, I know people have broken even those, but they were not in good shape to start with! [:0]
                  Rich.

                  StudeRich
                  Studebakers Northwest
                  Ferndale, WA
                  StudeRich
                  Second Generation Stude Driver,
                  Proud '54 Starliner Owner

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Mr. Biggs...I certainly understand your feelings on the Studebaker engine, but I am not going to use one. I have been doing Mopars for about 40 years now and was just as passionate about keeping a Mopar a Mopar, as you and many of the people on this forum are about keeping a Studebaker a Studebaker. I did realize about 10 years ago that it really does not make any difference. It is about the hobby, the cars, the enjoyment, and personal taste. We could discuss the "part availability" issue forever. I can carry a canvas bag of any brand of parts in the trunk and most old car guys will pull over and help an old car guy of any brand.

                    If anyone would like to weigh in on the front suspension issue....please do. Thanks for the photos Mike....great looking Lark Wagon.

                    I would like to have input on front clip conversions vs. keeping it stock. I would like to keep the stock front end.

                    Thanks for keeping it lively.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Gotcha,

                      If you'r looking to keep the original suspension up front, there's really not much to discuss. Just get the new parts from one of the Stude guys, clean everything up well, put it all back together and drive it.

                      I'd bet that you're saying...but the steering....

                      Well yea...not as good as it could be. I wonder as I write this...has anyone converted a Stude to a "front steer", with the steering box ahead of the suspension. The frame horns would need stiffining/bracing. But I'd bet it could be completed easier and better thAn trying to [u]PROPERLY</u> install a R&P unit to a Stude suspension!
                      I've heard tell it can be done,...well...maybe so...maybe not... But I'll guarenty that it isn't easy...IF it is possible.

                      The tubular a-arms (Phantom) that are/were available...are nice looking, but don't really do much for bettering the overall geometry of the Stude suspension. And again, without directly seeing proof...the R&P doesn't get my juices flowing.

                      If you really want to get into bettering the Stude stuff....figure out a way to drop the frame tie down point of the upper control arm. While this can be done, it will take a lot of work. At least the way I thought of doing it! The other thing would be to come up with some sort of shaft (the a-arm to spindle shafts, upper AND lower) that will allow more adjustement for camber and caster.

                      Mike

                      P.s. thanks again for the vote, and I promise....no more about parts availibility no matter what the "proof" !!!

                      And just in case you're wondering...the way the front end is setup, most any current V-8 will drop in. I'm using motor plates, not side mounts. A 409 (or maybe a 383 that's done!) SB Chevy is the first to go in.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just gotta say, I've also driven Stude powered custom Studes, both pickups and sedans for 33 years and wouldn't consider any brand changes to the front end or engine. Never been let down or stranded in my many thousands of miles of driving, commuting, touring or whatever. Very comfortable, very reliable and always preventive maintenance done. (did the same with my many Chryco products previous to SDC days!) Love em both!

                        Brian

                        Brian K. Curtis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's my 2 cents...keep in mind 2 of my current Studebakers are non Studebaker powered.

                          If your sole criteria is dependability, you are far better off keeping your car as close to stock as possible. All those engine, drive train, and suspension parts are sturdy, proven over 15 years of so of production, dependable, easily serviced, and with plenty of availability. They all work together as designed. No "sorting out" to do in the first 5,000 miles or so of driving as is the case when you start replacing stock systems with brand X stuff.

                          I'd even go as far as to say that disk brake upgrades are not "no brainers". Unless all components are engineered to work together you are likely to have a vehicle that will take even longer to stop and could even be dangerous. Master cylinder has to displace the proper amount of fluid for chosen wheel cylinders and calipers...front and rear brakes can't overpower one end or the other, proportioning has to be dialed in, residual check valves have to be proper, etc. Studebaker used different brakes on the rear of their disk braked cars than on non disk brake cars...for a reason.

                          I have stock suspension, brakes and steering in my SBC powered '54 hardtop. It's actually quite good. Somebodys R and P setup MAY be better, but I really wonder if you'd tell the difference in normal, spirited driving.

                          If there are other criteria you may want to consider there would be other choices...especially if you enjoy fabrication and experimentation...but if your ONLY criteria is dependability, stock trumps a collection of brand X and/or aftermarket parts.



                          Dick Steinkamp
                          Bellingham, WA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Got, If you want to be different put in a 270-315-325 Dodge with the new Hot Heads. And Mike any modification of the Stude steering will make it worse. If you look at the steering on a 53 Corvette it looks like they stole it from Stude. Moving the steering arms in front of the axle will put the tie rods under the a-arms. The steering box would have to be modified to work backwards since when you turn the steering wheel right the car goes left. All of the Ackerman would be gone and the tires would wear funny. The spindles would have to be modified so that the steering arms go in with the taper the opposite way. The steering arms would have to be bent out for proper geometry since the center line of the tie rod and the C/L of the king pin pivot have to point to the C/L of the rear end. Which would mean that the rims would have to be changed to get the proper clearance to the tie rod ends which will throw off the scrub radius. Kind of a snow ball effect.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks to all so far. Understand the disc brake issue. I have converted a couple of my muscle cars. The right master cylinder with the right bore and the proportioning valve, etc. I have spent the weekend disassembling the car for the body off. I have measured, rechecked, tested, and have fabbed (mocked) up a couple of ideas on mounting both the SBC, Big Block Mopar, and Small Block Mopars with the stock supension/steering. The suspension and steering is strange, but actually appears to work very well. I think any rear sump pan engine will fit. Headers or manifolds will be the challenge on the driver's side. This is a driver...not a racer...and I will not be doing any road course work. Once I got the front clip off, things were easier to think through.

                              Another question....Who rebuilds or is there a kit for the manual Studebaker steering box?

                              The Older Dodge Hemis are neat Street Rod type engines and way cool. Very heavy and very expensive to build. Thanks for the thought.

                              Keep the info coming if you like and I will keep moving forward. Thanks to all.

                              Comment

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