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Champion 6 performance question

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  • Champion 6 performance question

    Greetings All,
    I have a quick 3-part question for any 6-cylinder gurus out there...
    1. I'm rebuilding a 54 Champion, and the head has a casting # of 199697, and no machined-in number in sight. What is the Comp Ratio of this head?
    2. I have a 1547738 head from a 59 Lark (8:1). Can I use it on this engine to increase performance? I have a dual carb setup, and split exhaust, that will help....
    3. The valve seats are ok, is it recommended to install hardened seats anyway to prevent cracking?

    Thanks for any information,
    Larry B. [?]

  • #2

    Sorry...don't know much about the heads and numbers.

    As far as the seats, it's not really a cracking problem, it's an erosion and recession problem. The lead provided a lubrication and a slight cushion for when the valve closes.
    That being said...if you're going to drive the car much...yes install hard seats in the exhaust ports. The intake runs cooler and cleaner so they're not needed there.
    In the 6+ years I've owned my Lark (V-8), the intakes only needed adjusting once, the exhaust on the other hand, with stock seats.....requires diligent maintenance. It's my daily driver that mostly gets driven only on weekends and to the store. A motor cycle takes me to work and home.

    Hard exhaust seats...yes.


    • #3
      I hope Mike doesn't mind if I disagree with him. And my opinion isn't a lonely one. Hardened seats in a Stude or Rambler engine are not a necessity. Especially since most of them are gonna experience hobby status most the time - but EVEN as a daily driver, there's no need for the extra expense involved.
      Yeah - yeah. The "guru" at your local machine shops will SWEAR you're headed for trouble if you opt out on them when you have your heads done. Hogwash. Most machine shops summarily cover their butts with every old engine that comes thru because it covers their rear and it puts money in the Til. Most haven't seen a Stude engine in so long that they couldn't tell it from a sewing machine.[xx(] And back when the occassional Stude DID come through their shops, leaded gas served to protect the valve seats of lessor engines from the BIG 3. But Stude and Rambler used a higher nickel content alloy to cast the engine parts from. This equates to little to no erosion of the valve seats.
      I'm NOT gonna name-drop on this forum without the consent of those I might mention, but some of the most prominent names in Studebaker technical knowledge are of the same mind.
      Heck, I did a valve job on my Transtar's heads (actualy, the engine that's in it came from a wrecked '64 Cruiser) when I first installed that engine in 1989. It DID have a burnt exhaust valve, but nothing was so wrong with the seats that they couldn't be cut in normal fashion.
      In '96, when I was rebuilding the truck from it's being totalled in a wreck, I decided to pull the engine down and see what it looked like. I'd not inspected it when I took it from the Cruiser in the wrecking yard in '89, so I had no idea what shape the lower end was in. Turns out it was in really nice shape. I simply honed the cylinders and installed new rings. The heads needed nothing in the way of rework!(And I had driven the daylights out of the truck since I'd first put it on the road in '89) I took them apart and there was only a bit of carbon buildup to clean out. Other'n that, new seals (be silly not to put new one's in at that point!) and they were good to go.[^]
      Once the truck was back together, I drove it to South Bend and back and I've driven it all over the place since. All it's time with me, it's hauled other Studebakers (on heavy trailers) from distant points (over mountain ranges in some cases), it's snarled up those mountains and lugged thru rough terrain, pulled other cars and even a tractor out of a jam - and I've adjusted the valves maybe twice since '96. I really, honestly can't say how many miles I've put on this truck since it's been mine. I drove it a long time with an inoperative speedometer and then finally changed to another used speedo, so I'm only guessing when I say I've maybe put 150K on it (maybe more!) - using unleaded gasoline - and never have had a seat erosion problem.
      I've got a Stude V8 in my garage that was doing duty in a 3ton truck that was loaded with 1/4 & 3/4" steel plate in the make-up of it's bed. The gearbox/rear axle combo made the thing struggle between 3rd & 4th gear. It got lugged so much that it cracked a piston. But valve seat erosion wasn't evident on teardown. Yes - it ran on unleaded.[}]
      I've heard of a seat coming loose in a Stude - and the resultant damage wasn't purdy. But I've yet to SEE eroded seats from a Stude V8 (and the 6s were made of the same metal.)
      I've got 3 fresh Stude V8s on stand here (All slated for projects)and none of them have hardened seats installed. I'm not worried about having to eat my words. Of course, your engine - your choice.
      Again, Mike. Not trying to be confrontational here. Just one of my pet peeves that novice guys are given the advice of dire consequences when it just isn't true.

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


      • #4
        I agree with Mr. Biggs, I had my 49 Commander 6 rebuilt due to spun bearing created by a previous owner trying to get it on the road with a oil pan full of sluge and grit. When the machine shop looked at the seats he said they should clean up just fine and he said that most of the old flathead 6's he did, he never put seats in if they didn't have them to start with. The valves however were toast and the recession occurred in the valve itself. This is the way it should be. The valve is supposed to be the wear item, not the seat or guides. It seems that the independent manufactures had this figured out. The difference between Studebaker and the Big 3 was the Engineer made the Engineering decisions at Stude, the accountant's did at the Big 3. I would say that makes all the difference.

        Restore it, don't replace it.Keep the Studebaker reproduction industry going