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37 engine tech help

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  • 37 engine tech help

    Hi all I am new here so please bear with me if I seem to muttle along. I am helping a young fella who inherited a 37 coupe from his deceased grandfather. Car sat in a barn since 1956. The motor is at the engine builder now. We found out why grandpa parked her in the barn..........couple very loose rods...........had to have been super noisey.

    I was hoping someone could help me with what options are available to rebuild this motor. Parts prices seem to be thru the roof for the 37 and back motors. Price qoute to just redo the rods was $580. Pistons are expensive too. 38 parts are cheap by comparison.

    Will 1938 pistons work in the 37 motor?
    Any good place to have rods machined for insert bearings?
    Where is the best source for engine parts?
    Any cool upgrades or tricks?

    Thanks in advance for any help. I have been a old car guy all my life. Erik.....the owner of this car would like to keep everything as original as possible. I plan to help him restore this car back to its original condition. I'm a body and paint guy with very little internal engine experience. I'm an old ford guy and need as much help with stude tech as I an get. Thanks again Steve

  • #2
    Jerry Kurtz would probably know as much as anyone about those engines, especially if it's a Dictator. He has a 37 Dictator sedan and Coupe, also a 37 Coupe Express and a 37 President and, until recently, owned a machine shop.

    Jerry Kurtz
    5009 Bull Rd.
    Dover, Pa 17315-1726
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"


    • #3
      I think a engine swap to a later Commander six might be the answer. I'm pretty sure the block is the same and you should be able top use all the 37 engine accessories. I'm not sure I'm correct, so wait for someone more knowledgeable than I to speak up. The poured rod bearing are something you want to get away from.

      64 Commander 2 dr.
      64 Daytona HT
      63 R2 4 speed GT Hawk (Black) #2
      63 Avanti R1
      63 Daytona convert
      63 Lark 2 door
      63 Lark 2 door #2
      62 Daytona HT/ 4 speed
      62 Lark 2 door
      62 GT Hawk 4 speed
      60 Lark HT
      60 Hawk
      59 3E truck
      52 Starliner
      51 Commander

      JDP Maryland


      • #4
        You can switch to a later Commander 245 engine very easily.
        Everything from the 37 engine will change over.
        The nice thing about the later engines is that they use shell bearings and will allow driving at todays highway speeds.
        The only exterior difference is the location of the motor number on the block.
        You will have to re-pin the bellhousing after aligning it with the crank though.
        If you wish to use the original carburetor you will have to open the main jet one drill size.
        Otherwise it will run on the lean side.


        • #5
          Thanks for the info. The move up to 38 and newer motor sound like the way to go here. Now I need to find a good place to post a want ad for a rebuildable engine...or maybe theres a good runner out there somewhere. Steve


          • #6
            Yes we have a wore out and broken 37 motor with those babbit bearings. In my search for the newer motors what years will work the easiest or best? 1938 to ? I see engine parts offered up in a group from 1938 to 1956. Is the 245 the only canidate? How many years were the 245 produced? Were the six bangers close to the same all those years? Sorry for all the questions but I am paying attention and our goal on this cool old coupe is to keep the original look everywhere without breaking the bank. Steve


            • #7
              There were two variants of what we commonly refer to as the "Big Six" or "Commander Six". There's the 226 version and the 245 version. You could sub either one as they're externally the same for all intent and purpose. Either one offers more power than what was in that '37 and, of course, more and cheaper parts to select from.[^]
              The 226 was used in Commander cars from '38 thru '48 and various trucks thru 1950 and the 245 was used in Commander cars in '49 & '50 and again, in various model trucks from '50 thru 1960.

              Miscreant adrift in
              the BerStuda Triangle

              1957 Transtar 1/2ton
              1960 Larkvertible V8
              1958 Provincial wagon
              1953 Commander coupe

              No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


              • #8
                I have used a 57 Transtar 245.
                I belive the Commander or Big 6 was used up to the 60's.
                But I could be wrong.
                Over 6000 miles so far on mine with no problem.
                And this does include freeway driving.
                The three speed with overdrive makes this possible.
                Everything appears stock.


                • #9
                  My 1941 Commander has about 35,000 miles on a rebuilt 226 engine, .30 over with Egge pistons and insert rods. It's 3spd/OD. I'm comfortable with it at 60/65, but it will and has gone faster too.

                  When the car came to me the original block had been rebuilt with the later insert rods, but due to a leaky head gasket (not torqued and retorqued I'd bet), the block got steam heated and cracked across the #5 exhaust valve seat heading toward the cylinder. I was gonna find a 245 to rebuild until I fell into a rebuildable 226 out of another '41 Commander. Karma huh?

                  Essentially we rebuilt the good block, bored just enough to clean up for new pistons, together with the insert rods, and other stray pieces from the bad block.

                  Note that the 245 has bigger main journals than the 226, so you can't just swap cranks. Also,note that the 226 does not use a rear crankshaft seal, and the 245 does. Mine uses about one quart of oil in 1000 miles. I figure that's a fair trade for not having to worry about rear crank seals.