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Trans swap.

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  • Transmission / Overdrive: Trans swap.

    Any one interested in swapping a Ford Toploader in to a Studebaker? I am in the process of doing this and will supply any information you need. Parts, mods, etc... The Studebaker and Ford transmission bolt patterns are the same so why not use them? A few mods and it's yours.

    A guy down the road machined the flywheel and bearing retainer for a reasonable price and that was the most expensive part.

    I have a few more things to set up and will take photos for better understanding of this simple swap. You can have the strongest 4speed transmission from an OEM and an overdrive if you want. You will have to use a floor shift and I will have the dimensions for a Lark and this can be modified for a Hawk if needed.

    I am working on a bracket for an easy bolt on clutch mechanism. This will be some fun and I will have it worked out soon. When it's done it will be so much fun to drive. I had one back in Australia, so it was a little different, if you know what I mean, but to drive a Stude V8 with a great hard shifting transmission is what driving is all about. Slam it, punch it, and give it what you want and it is not the engine or transmission that will let you down. Add a 44 and you have to find the next thing. If you like to drive your Stude then eliminating the weak points is a natural process.

    I am trying to use all easy to obtain parts so I'm sorry to the Studebaker vendors that want to make a living from genuine parts. I'm not tring to rob you. I'm trying to give Stude owners who want more than what the factory offered. If Studebaker still owed my car then it would be up to them but they don't. I wanted to drive my Lark and shift at speed and know that I was the weakest link, not the drive train.
    Last edited by Skybolt; 03-26-2011, 12:54 PM.

  • #2
    GREAT info. I have thought about this conversion, but never really got into it.
    How about details, and follow up tech on this. I may never do it, but I betcha
    there are those here that would appreciate it. NOW, years of toploader, details
    on pilot, details on mainshaft length, details on front bearing retainer machining.


    • #3
      The flywheel is machined out only a few thou so the 17mm ID rear alternator bearing will press fit with about a thou interference. The outer of the bearing retainer from the transmission needs to be turned down a few thou, also, to fit the Stude bell-housing. I supplied both bearing and bell housing to the machinist so he could check the dimensions for himself so I would not get disappointed if I gave him the wrong dimensions and it did not fit. The manual transmission bell-housing from a Stude V8 has the same bolt pattern as mid 60's through 80's Ford transmissions. One can also do this conversion with a Ford three speed from the same years if you want a fully synchronized transmission that allows you to use your column shift. The input shaft length does not reach the pilot bearing in the crank but this is an easy fix by using the press in bearing in the flywheel, as mentioned earlier. Many Toploaders are $300-1500 these days but once the conversion is done you will not want to change it. The wide ratio is best for all around driving but if you want to race then the close ratio is the one to get. I have opted for the lower strength, but not weak, overdrive version to match the ratios that are in my car at the moment. Cost was $100 but it took many years to find one for this price close to home so I did not have to pay for shipping. This will give me a stronger transmission with synchronizing for first. The shifting properties of the Toploader, especially with a Hurst shifter, are wonderful. Race versions are available but at a cost. A standard pressure plate is used but a Ford clutch plate of the right spline and diameter is used. The throw out bearing I used is from the same car or truck as the transmission but to fit the Stude mechanism I used a six cylinder bearing collar release spring and a Stude truck bearing collar plate. I will have more photos and details later but this was just a quick description. The only snag I ran into was the version I chose did not have the twin bolt pattern common on the standard version of the Toploader. What I did was once I had the bearing retainer machined to fit the bell-housing I returned the retainer to the transmission and fitted it up to the bell-housing and transfer punched the bolt holes. To drill the holes I disassembled the transmission so I could place the empty main case on the drill press. Only the version I chose has this lack of hole set up. After the holes were drilled I had to grind some clearance for the bolt heads. This is not a problem as it is a similar situation like the Stude two and four barrel intake manifolds. They use the same casting but the bolt pads are machined for a specific application. Just search my photo files occasionally and I will be adding more detailed shots.


      • #4
        Would the shift lever of the Ford overdrive transmission fit through the existing hole in the tunnel as used by the T-10 transmission? Or would it be necessary to cut a new hole in the tunnel/floor?
        In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.


        • #5
          We just put a T5 in the R2 Lark clone. Got the adaptor set up from Fairborn Studebaker. It had a pilot bearing, throw out bearing, steel nose cone, and a machined adaptor plate. Just a bolt in. Had to modify the transmission hump. Jim


          • #6
            Thanks for the how-to on the Ford top loader and it will be a way to go for some. Yer car, yer money, yer decision. Here's another take on it.

            I wanted to drive my Lark and shift at speed and know that I was the weakest link, not the drive train.
            1. I've had more than forty years of experience with the Ford top loader 4-speed and agree it's the best factory 4-speed ever.

            2. The OEM Studebaker Borg-Warner T10 4-speed is not a weak link. The guys who've been drag racing the Pure Stock Studes for years don't break them. The T10 is also usually less expensive than the early top loaders. The later less-expensive top loaders aren't as strong as the T10.

            3. If one wants an overdrive, it takes about the same effort and cost to install a Borg-Warner T5 or other Tremec variant of the 5-speed and it is a much more modern solution to the problem.

            4. Again, your car and your decision, but IMHO the Ford 4-speed doesn't do anything enough better than the Borg-Warner 4-speed and 5-speed to choose it over them. Your results may vary.

            jack vines