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  • Engine: Engine rebuild budget question, for a 259

    My wife are trying to budget for our 259 rebuild. I know there is no exact answer, but really would like an estimated budget for the engine. I'm pretty sure I can do the assembly. I have friends who have re-assembled engines before.

    I know the engine is a Heavy Duty, if that matters. The heads look ok to me, but the exhaust valve seats are pretty pitted. Also, looking at the cylinder bores, I can feel just a tiny difference from the very top of the bore, to the rest of the bore. Like its just barely narrower.

    I have no idea what the crankshaft or cam are like.

    Is there a ballpark estimate as to what it would cost to have the block and heads checked for cracks, resurfacing the heads, re-doing the valve seats, boring out the block? Maybe something else we should be considering?

    If someone had an estimate for a total rebuild, machine shop work and parts, and doing the work themselves, I would appreciate that too. Again, I know there are a million variables, but just looking for an average machine shop cost, and average total rebuild cost.

    We are not looking for a high performance engine, just a good average engine.

    Thanks for your help,
    Mike
    Mike and Dawn

    '61 Champ

  • #2
    Depending on local labor rate, expect $1,000 - $1,500 for machine shop. Allow about $2,000 for parts. $3,500 would be a good estimate.
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    • #3
      I'm assuming that you can still get NOS 259 cranks cheaper than you can turn one.

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      • #4
        Rebuilt mine 7 years ago and used Fairborne Studebaker (Phil Harris) for parts. The 3500 figure looks reasonable to me.
        Bob
        Welland Ontario
        60 Lark Convertible
        64 Daytona
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        "They were meant to be driven ... so keep on cruizin"

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        • #5
          Yes, $3500 is a good round number for a stock 259" rebuild with all new wear parts. Complete disassemble, all threaded plugs and soft plugs removed from the block, heads and rocker arms, hot tank cleaned and then shot blasted, all holes bottom tapped, all threaded fasteners chased. If the machine shop is as good as they should be, the result will be better than is was from the factory. FWIW, we line hone the main bores, square deck the block, surface the heads and install hard exhaust seats and positive valve stem seals. New valves, guides, springs, pistons, rings, bearings; reground crankshaft, camshaft, lifters, rocker arms, connecting rods. Balance all the parts and reassemble.

          Yes, even never having done it before, it's possible to re-assemble one's own Studebaker V8. Just have a Studebaker Shop Manual in hand while disassembling and look carefully at how it comes apart. You do have a gear puller?

          No, don't assume a NOS crankshaft is a drop-in. They were salvaged from the scrap yard sixty years ago and have been kicked around from one shelf to another. Those which stayed east of the Rockies may have surface rust. They usually need at least a polishing of the journals.

          Maybe listen to both sides. The CASOs will be along, saying the valve guides can be knurled, valves reground and springs can be reused. They'll say just hone the cylinders, clean the pistons and put in new rings. Just clean and polish the crankshaft and install new bearings. It's possible to have a decent running engine for less than $1,000 and a lot of sweat equity. There is also the very good chance a first timer will overlook some very crucial areas.

          Your money, your engine, your decision.

          jack vines
          PackardV8

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          • #6
            In the Dec. "TW", Ted Jensen has a '63 259 remanufactured long block available for immediate shipping. You might contact him about price and consider this option.
            Gary L.
            Wappinger, NY

            SDC member since 1968
            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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            • #7
              I guess it depends on what you are planning to do with the truck. If it's going to be a regular driver or one you plan to drive long distance you might want to go through it completely like jack listed off. And spend the $3500. If it's just something you are going to put around town in and take to cruise ins and such not far from home. I would clean it up good, pull all freeze plugs, lap the valves, install new valve stem seals. Pull the oil pan and check the crank and rods bearings with plastigauge. If they are in spec put it back together with a new gasket set and see how it runs. Probably less than $500 if everything checks out. I would invest in a pertronix ignition system or the Electronic distributer sold on ebay.

              I have found several 289 and 259 running engines listed on Craigslist lately from $850 to $1900. These are all east of the Mississippi though but may be some in your area too.

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              • #8
                Depending on what you replace, 2 grand is about right for the parts depending on quality and completeness of what is provided. Here is the link you asked for.
                https://www.ebay.com/itm/303407022848

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jwitt View Post
                  I guess it depends on what you are planning to do with the truck. If it's going to be a regular driver or one you plan to drive long distance you might want to go through it completely like jack listed off. And spend the $3500.
                  Agree. It bears repeating, my suggestions are not solicitations for business. We're now eight months out on quoting any new builds.

                  Originally posted by jwitt View Post
                  If it's just something you are going to put around town in and take to cruise ins and such not far from home. I would clean it up good, pull all freeze plugs, lap the valves, install new valve stem seals. Pull the oil pan and check the crank and rods bearings with plastigauge. If they are in spec put it back together with a new gasket set and see how it runs. Probably less than $500 if everything checks out. I would invest in a pertronix ignition system or the Electronic distributer sold on ebay.
                  Agree, sort of. Everyone's standards are different, but once inside a "running-when-pulled" core, there's usually more bad than good to be found. In dozens of engines over the past several years, we haven't pulled down a single one we'd send back out with just new valve stem seals. The valve-to-guide clearance is usually over the limit, so knurling is the minimum required. The valve stems are usually worn and it's rare they haven't been faced to the minimum already. Once crankshaft out of dozens was usable without turning. Yes, they'll run, but it comes down to the labor. If the owner is doing it himself and is willing to take as long as necessary to clean up used parts, then go for it. Taking it to a shop won't work for a CASO. The shop will have the same labor invested in disassembling , cleaning and checking it over, regardless of the parts and machine time which follows.

                  Originally posted by jwitt View Post
                  I have found several 289 and 259 running engines listed on Craigslist lately from $850 to $1900. These are all east of the Mississippi though but may be some in your area too.
                  Pull a rocker cover to get a general indication of the level of maintenance it had and also run a compression check.

                  jack vines
                  PackardV8

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jwitt View Post
                    I guess it depends on what you are planning to do with the truck. If it's going to be a regular driver or one you plan to drive long distance you might want to go through it completely like jack listed off. And spend the $3500. If it's just something you are going to put around town in and take to cruise ins and such not far from home. I would clean it up good, pull all freeze plugs, lap the valves, install new valve stem seals. Pull the oil pan and check the crank and rods bearings with plastigauge. If they are in spec put it back together with a new gasket set and see how it runs. Probably less than $500 if everything checks out. I would invest in a pertronix ignition system or the Electronic distributer sold on ebay.

                    I have found several 289 and 259 running engines listed on Craigslist lately from $850 to $1900. These are all east of the Mississippi though but may be some in your area too.
                    Did you forget to mention new rings?

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                    • #11
                      You left out the most important piece of information... How many verifiable miles on the current engine?

                      If over the lower end of 100K or under, a simple overhaul should do it. Such would include new, (NOS if possible), bearings for the crank, a new set of rings, (chrome recommended), and regarding the heads, replace the seats and valves and possibly the guides.

                      This is my opinion but I've done such to several engines and they all turned out fine...

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                      • #12
                        measure, measure measure. There are a whole lot of folks who can turn a $500 refurbishment into a $3000 "overhaul. If it is within specs you do not need to bore it; the manual tells you how to check it. The machine shop will nearly always tell you the cylinders must be bored because they'll make money by doing that to Oh, I mean for, you. Ditto the crank. For goodness sake don't ever use chrome rings; you'll be very old before they seat --if ever. You seldom need to replace seats, guides. Intake valves can often be reused but lately I've replaced a lot of exhaust valves. If it only needs $500 worth of fix IT WILL NOT RUN ANY BETTER IF YOU SPEND $3000 OR $4000 ON IT!!!!! Studebaker engines wear out very slowly.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jeffry Cassel View Post
                          measure, measure measure. There are a whole lot of folks who can turn a $500 refurbishment into a $3000 "overhaul. If it is within specs you do not need to bore it; the manual tells you how to check it. The machine shop will nearly always tell you the cylinders must be bored because they'll make money by doing that to Oh, I mean for, you. Ditto the crank. For goodness sake don't ever use chrome rings; you'll be very old before they seat --if ever. You seldom need to replace seats, guides. Intake valves can often be reused but lately I've replaced a lot of exhaust valves. If it only needs $500 worth of fix IT WILL NOT RUN ANY BETTER IF YOU SPEND $3000 OR $4000 ON IT!!!!! Studebaker engines wear out very slowly.
                          No problem with chrome rings, I always use them on 259/289 and have never had a problem with seating. Just use a coarser final hone, i.e. 240 (IIRC), and they will seat in 2000-3000 miles. I use moly rings in 352s though; they use the same rings as early GM350, so we can take advantage of later technology. For moly rings, use a 400 hone. Cast iron rings wear out too soon, lucky to get 60,000 before they start smoking and burning oil.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JoeHall View Post
                            Cast iron rings wear out too soon, lucky to get 60,000 before they start smoking and burning oil.
                            This question got me to thinking: I wonder what percentage of Studebaker engines being rebuilt today will ever see 60,000 miles of use, even over the next 40 years? I bet that percentage is very very small.

                            not necessarily seeing your point is invalid, I’m just wondering if it applies.
                            Proud NON-CASO

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                            • #15
                              My experience has been a bit different. On a "Rebuild" with fresh New bores with New Pistons, I do as Studebaker did; install the Premium Set with Chrome Top Rings.

                              However, on a Re-Ring (Overhaul), Standard Iron Rings seem to be the "Normal" Ring of choice, and they have worked for me several times and lasted fine.
                              StudeRich
                              Second Generation Stude Driver,
                              Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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