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  • Rear Axle: Gear or axle swap?

    I haven't been out on the road in our '49 2R5 yet and don't know what the gear ratio in the original rear axle is, but I'm wondering about an upgrade(?) How hard will it be, and what sources might have higher gears for the original rear?
    Or, I already have a complete rear assy from a late 70s or early 80s Chevy 2wd truck. Should I just swap the complete Chevy rear into the Studebaker? I haven't compared the widths yet. I know the wheel bolt pattern is the same. I also haven't checked the gear ratio in the Chevy but the truck had an automatic trans.
    What do you all think?
    thom

  • #2
    Take it on the road first. Do you plan on driving cross country? Or will the truck be used for around town use and parades? If something is working, why go to the point of changing things just for the sake of change? Are you prepared to upgrade the front brakes to match the chebby brakes in the rear?

    Studebaker Truck differentials, regardless of year, are all low axle ratios. In my travels in Studebaker land, the highest I have found is 4.09. If you go to a higher ratio, with the 170 the engine will be working so hard just to get the truck moving. The champion 170 likes and needs revs to move any vehicle. If you want a better performing truck, go out and buy a new truck.

    Bob Miles
    Don't mess with a Studebaker to try and make it perform like a new vehicle

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    • #3
      The swap that will make the truck the most useful is to install an overdrive transmission.
      RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.


      10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
      4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
      5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon

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      • #4
        I changed mine to a 3.73. It allowed me to go 50 or 55mph and did not seem to strain its 6 cyl motor.

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        • #5
          I agree with Roy, if it does not have one, get overdrive transmission. The overdrive will reduce effective gear ratio by about 30%.
          78 Avanti RQB 2792
          64 Avanti R1 R5408
          63 Avanti R1 R4551
          63 Avanti R1 R2281
          62 GT Hawk V15949
          56 GH 6032504
          56 GH 6032588
          55 Speedster 7160047
          55 Speedster 7165279

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 6hk71400 View Post
            Take it on the road first. Do you plan on driving cross country? Or will the truck be used for around town use and parades? If something is working, why go to the point of changing things just for the sake of change? Are you prepared to upgrade the front brakes to match the chebby brakes in the rear?

            Studebaker Truck differentials, regardless of year, are all low axle ratios. In my travels in Studebaker land, the highest I have found is 4.09. If you go to a higher ratio, with the 170 the engine will be working so hard just to get the truck moving. The champion 170 likes and needs revs to move any vehicle. If you want a better performing truck, go out and buy a new truck.

            Bob Miles
            Don't mess with a Studebaker to try and make it perform like a new vehicle
            Thanks, good advice I'm sure. Somewhat of an attitude, but good advice . Thank you.
            Last edited by thom; 03-26-2022, 11:19 AM.
            thom

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            • Rafe Hollister
              Rafe Hollister commented
              Editing a comment
              I second the attitude and also the advice. My hawk has 259, 3.73, 3spd manual and OD. I would think it would still work great with half the horsepower.

          • #7
            While I was underneath to bleed the rear brakes I checked the tag on the rear differential. It is 4.81. After the brake bleed, I drove it . It sure does run good, but the gearing is low. There will be no interstate driving in it.
            thom

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            • #8
              Originally posted by thom View Post
              While I was underneath to bleed the rear brakes I checked the tag on the rear differential. It is 4.81. After the brake bleed, I drove it . It sure does run good, but the gearing is low. There will be no interstate driving in it.
              That one's a great candidate for overdrive, which will allow you the same as a 3.37 final drive in 2nd and 3rd gear. That will net you five usable speeds (though, depending on the gearing in your transmission, 2nd overdrive and straight 3rd are sometimes fairly close to each other). Still, it's a great upgrade that allows you to have deep gears for getting rolling, plus taller ones for cruising out on the highway.
              Whirling dervish of misinformation.

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              • #9
                Yeah,. I'd like to install an overdrive but I need to figure out what all I would need. Where can I get the info?
                thom

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by thom View Post
                  Yeah,. I'd like to install an overdrive but I need to figure out what all I would need. Where can I get the info?
                  From the truck Parts Manual. It will tell you what parts are required, and give you the Studebaker part numbers ( which all the Stude parts vendors go by). The Studebaker vendors carry hardcopy reprints of the Parts Manual, and may have them digitally on a CD also.
                  Paul
                  Winston-Salem, NC
                  Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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                  • 6hk71400
                    6hk71400 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Paul, you posted what I was typing before I could. That's okay. We all want to help fellow new Studebaker owners

                • #11
                  Great that you have driven the truck and now have a feel for it. If you have a shop manual and or parts manual, that will give you all the information you need. Parts vendors, listed on this web site like to have the parts numbers to fill an order for all you need. Once you have the overdrive working, you will find as others have echoed on the great thing overdrive is. My final car has overdrive; my first car had it too.

                  Bob Miles
                  Overdrive saves you miles per gallon and engine wear per miles--Borg Warner sales slogan

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                  • #12
                    Just accept that it's a farm truck, and little more than a farm implement. It's in its turf when puttering around on a farm, or along rural roads at 35-40 MPH. If you try to get much more out of it, you'll need to upgrade everything related. If you increase speed capability, you also need to improve brakes, suspension, steering and everything else related. It is what it is, and does very well, when used as it was designed to be used.

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                    • #13
                      Yeah, I've decided it's fine as is. If we want to go on a road trip we can drive our other Studebaker truck, the '55 with the 4.3 Chevy , automatic and 2.76 rear gears.
                      Now when we go to the local cruisein(s) I will drive one and my wife can drive the other.
                      thom

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                      • Hallabutt
                        Hallabutt commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Having a car for every occasion is a godsend!

                    • #14
                      The cheapest thing to give better highway performance is to put in a taller rear end. 4.81 is a crawler gear.
                      Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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                      • #15
                        I've had the same problem with my 1950 Truck. A Dana 41 rear axle is installed
                        I decided to change the differential ratio from 4.82 to 4.09.
                        In combination with my 289 V8 and the T86 manual transmission with OD it have a ratio of 2.86. I guess this is the best and cheapest way for more highway comfort
                        I bought a full rebuild kit for the rear axle from Stephen Allen including a NOS differential carrier and all bearings and seals.
                        When I receive it in a few weeks (it's a long way to Germany ), I will remove the rear axle from my Truck and overhaul it

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