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Modern Pistons & Rods

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  • Modern Pistons & Rods

    My name is David and after a 35-year hiatus from Studebakers I'm back in again. I don't plan to post often, and show my ignorance, but here's what I need at present:

    Does anyone have the original factory blueprint for bore alignment on the 289 engine.

    A relative owns Racing Engine Components out of Weslaco, Texas. As a little side project we are working to fit modern pistons into the Studebaker 289. Go to and type in Modular Pistons, and I think you will find a pleasant surprise.

    Problem is these require a little longer connecting rod than stock. So, REC is looking into manufacturing a set of steel affordable hypo rods. If you are interested please let us know.

    Why these pistons? Recently, I pulled apart my 289 and found the stock dished piston to weigh 472.6 grams, with the wristpin to weigh an additional 141.1 grams and that does not include the pinch bolt and rings. That makes for a pretty hefty piston setup. In addition some of the newer pistons use new high-tech thin rings, which translate into instant and free horsepower. And some of these pistons are quite affordable.

    Meanwhile, you might go to and take a look around. They specialize in motorcycle stuff, but are constandly developing things for other venues using Cobalt CAD Software. Have a project in mind give them a call.

  • #2
    I think you need to post this over at:

    I think those guys will be real interested in this!


    • #3
      Thanks to the Ford 4.6 Mod Motor there is a great selection of modern pistons and rings in Stude friendly sizes. If you are getting new connecting rods in the process you might as well offset grind the crankshaft journals to a 1.88" Honda size and add a little stroke to the engine. Custom con rods with 1.88" journal size will not be any more expensive than custom con rods with a Stude journal size.


      New Stude guy! Long time hot rodder
      '63 Avanti R2 4 speed with interesting plans


      • #4
        Hi, goreekid,

        Thanks for the update. If Racing Engine Components out of Weslaco, Texas comes in with good custom Studebaker rods for less than $1,000 a set, several of us definitely would be interested.

        Just for discussions sake; light pistons probably aren't a cost-effective goal in and of themselves. They will probably end up costing $2K for the pistons, rods and rings. The OEM weight pistons only become a liability as the RPMs go over 6,500 and thus begin to overstress the OEM rods.

        If a Studebaker engine is being designed to make real power going up over 6,500 rpms and be worth the investment in the stronger rods and lighter pistons, it will need $2K worth of head porting and another $2K in roller camshaft and lifters, $450 for roller rocker arms, about $200 for lighter valves, $150 for beehive springs, a $450 custom intake manifold, and the list goes on.

        thnx, jv.



        • #5
          Well, all this is great to hear, David! But, it would be great if your friends over there at Racing Engine Components could also produce a series of camshafts ground from new cores for Studebaker engines. The end result of that project would be the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail, if you will, of Studedom.


          • #6
            I'm not sure what constitutes "modern" pistons and rods, but when I rebuilt my '64 Avanti R-2 I got new manufacture hypereutetic cupped pistons which used original rods from Ted Harbit. He sold out to Fairborn Studebaker, The owner, Phil Harris sells all kinds of performance products for Studebakers.


            Paul Johnson
            '53 Commander Starliner (since 1966)
            '64 Daytona Wagonaire (original owner)
            '64 Daytona Convertible (2006)
            Museum R-4 engine
            Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
            '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine


            • #7
              Packard and Challenger make great statements.

              "Current" components ARE easilly, currently available.
              I've got light weight, thin ring, current material pistons for the Stude engine I'm currently building.
              Rods....lighter and stronger rods I got from Crower fit the bill just right.

              Heads..I do my own port work.

              Cams..................we are all stuck with 3 or 4 flat tappet cams to choose from, unless we want to spend about 1000 bucks to go roller cam parts.

              On the other hand......good to see someone making an effort to try their own way for an archaic engine combination.

              Have fun, let us know how things work out.



              • #8
                If you go with piston and rod assemblies that are considerably lighter than stock, you'll want to rebalance the crank to match them won't you?


                • #9
                  Sorry, guys! I thought I was on the Studebaker Tech (Racing) Chat room - Ha!

                  Anyway, here's a little bit of my history, in 1970 I was 17 years old and my dad helped me buy a beautiful 53-Commander for $350.00. Imagine! Being young and having the need for speed I ended up with a parted out 61-Hawk. Imagine again! Anyway, we reworked the engine, moved everything over (including 4-speed, dash & wireing) and did a few performance things to it. Somewhere along the way a 3.07 TT was put in and this turned out to be a real road hog. The car regularly saw 5-grand on the tech with a best of 5,600 one evening going into Valley Mills Texas. I'll let you figure out how fast that is...

                  Anyway, I now have a 64-Cruiser (yes, 4-doors and all) and I know the performance potential of this old car!

                  A word of thanks to all of you who have contributed to the various Chat Room topics for I've learned a lot.

                  Sill, does anybody have the factory blue print for bore alignment on Stude V8 engines?




                  • #10

                    Wondering what the request for bore location measurements are for?

                    Your best bet (in my opinion!) is to use a sonic tester and move the cylinders around as required. Side to side movement makes no difference at all to power, bearing, wrist pin or piston life. See the Buick and Chevy V-6's. Just don't move it too much.
                    You can gain a little.."into cylinder flow" by moving the cylinders a little to unshroud the intake valve!!!!

                    As far as changing the 90 degree angle off the crank centerline....I don't think you want to mess with that! Unless of course your'e messing with the crank....180 degree, flat crank?



                    • #11

                      When I tore down my 289 (and this was the first time it had been torn down 75-K miles) most of the pistons looked good except one. It showed abnormal wear in the center of the lower skirt. This could be caused by a number of things including improper bore alignment. With the factory blueprints a good machinest might be able to correct this problem upon rebore.

                      Kelley Roberts of REC works with super high performance motorcycle engines and is a stickler for geting bore jobs done properly. He's gonna help me, hopefully, with my rebore and 5-angle valve job.

                      If you would like to talk with him about this stuff his website needs updating (956) 975-7207 or




                      • #12

                        The situation (skuffed skirt) you are refering to may or may not (probably not) caused by an out of dimension cylinder location.

                        But in any I mentioned in a prior post....that particular dimension need not be a big deal. To be needs to come "EXACTLY" off of the center line of the crankshaft (main bore), no matter where the main bore center is.

                        Your machinist needs to have the proper "automotive" boring equipment to do this right. I would "NOT" depend on measuring things when you have 7 other cylinders that are still "on center" with the crank center line. There is only one center line in your block, the cylinder centers must be "90 degrees" off of that point, top to the bottom, of all of the cylinders.

                        Use automotive boring equipment, not the free boring method for boring a bike cylinder.

                        A motorcycle cylinder is a free item from the crankshaft location, so the dimensions "do" need to be known, and from a single starting point. None of the current bike engines I can think of (maybe one!) that don't have seperate cylinders from the "block" or crank case.

                        As I've sorta matter how good your shop may be...I would "NOT" recommend free boring (not centered off the crank) your cylinders.
                        In this respect...the reworking of a bike and a car engine have major different requirements.
                        I work on and drive both and have for....a while!

                        Be carefull, be very carefull.