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Rebuild or not to rebuild

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  • Engine: Rebuild or not to rebuild

    I probably know the answer already, but I’ll ask it anyway. I’ve owned my Studebaker 51 Land Cruiser for more than a decade. I’ve never driven it. The engine has not started in a good many years. I cranked it over when I first bought it in 2008 but I had to back away from it because all the water pored out of my engine due to a bad water pump. I’ve replaced the water pump since then, but after looking at the sludge on my rocker arms I’m debating whether a complete engine rebuild is in order. It will take more time and money I know, but it is Studebaker and killing a great engine like this is not likely. What would you do?

  • #2
    I think I would clean up the rockers, inside the rocker shaft, add fresh oil, and run it. See what the oil pressure looks like, and any smoke from exhaust. Then do a cold compression check. This should tell you some about the condition of your engine. I just started a 259, after sitting 26 years, and it seems quite useable. It may need valve seals, front and rear main seals, and some cleaning.

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    • #3
      You will have to penetrating Oil the Cylinders, Free it up and Oil the Valves and check for any stuck to the Guides.

      Then you can run it and find out it's condition.
      StudeRich
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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      • #4
        How many miles on the car? Is the motor stuck? What are your plans for the car?

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        • #5
          If your not driving it there's no need to rebuild the engine. Start driving it then fix what needs to be fixed.

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          • #6
            I was hoping everyone would say to do the necessary things, and drive it. My plans for the car is to drive my dream car that I’ve always wanted, and considering I’ve never driven the car yet, or better yet, have never driven a Studebaker- I wanted my first experience to be in a Bullet nose Land Cruiser. Thanks everyone for the advice, I’ve done most of what you spoke about already except cleaning the rockers and inside the rods. Have to make sure the oil is getting up to my heads. Thanks. Hope to be driving it soon!

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            • #7
              Oh yeah, the miles. Don’t know. It says 66,000 if you believe that number.

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              • #8
                That engine would have a draft tube, some draft tubes have a curly-cate in the bottom held in place with a pin and a breather cap with the same material in side. Assuming that the 66K is original and it seems plausible, engines of that age will become loose and some oil vapor will leak past the rings and contaminate the breather filter. This condition will not get better over time and will adversely affect the breathing system of the engine, this will lead to oil sludge everywhere and contribute to additional wear on moving parts. Check the breathing systems and assure they are free and clear.

                With the points closed you can open them with a screwdriver and there should be a good healthy blues park, with the distributor in place and number one near TDC remove the spark plug and with ign on turn over past TDC and there should be a healthy blue spark at the plug. Even if the carb is dried up a small amount of fuel down the throat will still fire it for a moment. And then go from there. I wouldn't spent too much time trying to get it to run with 66K on the engine it is due for an internal inspection and cleaning. Rebuilding has a variety of definitions and to each his/her own.
                To a "backyard" mechanic polishing a crankshaft and replacing the bearing shells is a rebuild, however to a machinist that would be unacceptable. Honing cylinders and replacing rings could be determined a rebuild, where as to an engine rebuilder re-boring and new pistons would be the only way to go, there are many depending factors. The most important issue is lubrication, crankshaft oil galleys must be clear as well as the rocker shafts. An engine will run a long time with proper lube and breathing when these get contaminated engine life is shortened substantially.

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                • #9
                  GlennM, since you are worried about oil getting to the heads, before you install the rocker assy's crank the engine over with fresh oil in the pan. it will force the old oil out of the galley's that feed the rockers. if you left the pushrods in place an old towel folded and placed over the ends will help keep them in place. if you examine the rocker shaft hold down bolt holes closely you will see an angled hole off to the side on 2 of them. this is where the oil comes up to the rockers. Luck Doofus

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                  • #10
                    I am no expert but I would just emphasize to not skip the suggested cleaning out of the rocker shaft and making sure the valves are all free.....they seem to love to stick on a Studie.

                    Have fun!
                    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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