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Rings for Studebaker '50 Champion

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  • Rings for Studebaker '50 Champion

    Today I was told my straight 6, had low compression, both wet and dry. Dry #'s were more or less consistent in the range of 85-95 and wet (with oil) improved only slightly with one cylinder jumping up to 130, with the rest staying pretty much the same as dry.

    Is it most likely true about the rings?

    What can I expect to pay someone to redo the rings and also check the piston bearings?

    What would a well rebuilt 6 cost to swap for mine?


  • #2
    I had mine totally rebuilt for just under $3000. All new moving parts.

    Are your rings old/original or new? New a long time ago and engine not run since? If they are new or not run since installed, they may just be stuck "not" against the cylinder. That happened to me, but after 2 short runs of a mile or so, they popped and the engine performance went to totally normal.

    '50 Champion, 1 family owner


    • #3
      Well, if adding the oil for the "wet" compression test only worked in one cylinder, then you have trouble with more than the rings. Sounds like you have leaky or stuck valves in 5 of 6 cylinders, and worn rings on presumably all of them.

      Does the engine run at all? The compression test should be done on a warm engine, if at all possible. And it would never hurt to have another compression test done by another mechanic, or yourself.

      A lot depends upon the condition of the engine, how many miles are on it, and if it has been previously overhauled. Another factor to consider is what your intended future use of the car will be. It seems to me to be kind of excessive to throw a $3000 rebuild into a car that will only get driven locally to car shows on nice days, or used in the occasional wedding. But if you are planning a number of extended trips, and/or heavy daily use, that could make sense. Remember, that when these cars were current, factory policy was to do one or two overhauls (rings, valves, rod bearings) between major rebuilds (the whole 9 yards).

      Again, more information is helpful, and a repeat of the compression test is advisable, with a different operator using a different gage.

      Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
      Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


      • #4
        Bob and Gord,

        Thanks a million for your experience.

        I bought the car in 1997 from a guy in New Mexico who had restored it 'supposedly' at studebaker in the 70's in L.A. (not sure how plausible this is). At that time the car was not in wonderful mechanical condition although it drove but I was soon to realize it had a lot wrong mechanically. It was cosmetically beautiful though.

        I have driven it hundreds of miles each year since but this spring made up my mind to put it in its best shape within limits. As background, I had previously had carb, radiator, brakes, water pump, ignition wires etc overhauled and she was running well but not smooth enough.

        Over last winter and the spring, I had an old mechanic who has been at these cars for 60 years go at it. As a result, I needed rotor, points, spark plugs and timing as well as new fuel pump and she was better, much more reliable but on several hundred miles of driving, there was some oil usage, low oil pressure -although no overheating- transmission has overdrive and works well. Fuel economy was poor, like 2-15 mpg.

        I then came across a local antique car specialist who took a serious look at it because he
        ' didn't like the low oil pressure' which registered moderately low on the guage once the car was warm.

        He did compression tests of his own and I will get his numbers and let you know. I did see that they were as previously stated-low.

        He says there is no noise indicating the valves have issues but you guys must know more from the numbers.

        I will take my time before I agree to spend this 3000 or even half that until I know what is in store.

        I had plans of driving on several different 250-400 miles trips, around New England and now realize she is far from ready for this yet.

        I appreciate your help a great deal.



        • #5
          typo--12-15 mpg. Jim