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I need Your Advice on Hopping up a Champion Six

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  • Engine: I need Your Advice on Hopping up a Champion Six

    I'm planning to build a Champion Six to replace the one that threw a rod in my 55 coupe. I've been perusing this forum and the internet generally, trying to gain knowledge about the possibilities.

    I've read about dual-carb set ups, and split exhaust manifolds, finned heads. It appears that all of those items are available, from a number of sources. One thing that I have not been able to find is any sort of domed pistons that would increase the compression ratio. I live at over 7000 feet above sea level, and I regularly drive over mountain passes that exceed 10,000 feet. At these altitudes I fear that leaving the stock low compression ratio will leave me with inadequate power.

    Does anyone know where I can find high-compression pistons for a Champion Six?

    I've also read a lot about Bill Cathcart, and I understand he is the king of Champion Six rebuilds. His website no longer works, and I have not been able to find contact information for him. Does anyone know how I can contact him?

  • #2
    Studebaker (and the aftermarket) used a 'milled head' to raise the comression, and not a 'pop-up' piston.
    Look for the right head part number and you won't need to have custom pistons made.
    But keep in mind that the lil' Champ six was never intended to be a screamer..
    Think about 'why' that rod in yours let go.........
    Jeff
    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

    Jeff


    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



    Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

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    • #3
      I bought one of the 8.0:1 Champion heads for my 185 overdrive for when the whole car gets re-done. Forget the part number offhand, but it can replace the 7.5 and 7.8 heads

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DEEPNHOCK View Post
        Studebaker (and the aftermarket) used a 'milled head' to raise the comression, and not a 'pop-up' piston.
        Look for the right head part number and you won't need to have custom pistons made.
        But keep in mind that the lil' Champ six was never intended to be a screamer..
        Think about 'why' that rod in yours let go.........
        Jeff
        I understand this, and I'm not looking for V-8 power. I'm just hoping that I can do something to boost horsepower up by enough to make up the loss caused by altitude. If I can gain 10 to 15 HP, I'd be happy.

        In my case, the rod let go because it apparently lost lubrication. The bad rod journal was cooked completely black, and the other five are still clean and shiny.

        Were the stock heads typically milled to boost compression? It would be easy enough to ask my machinist to mill my old head while it's right there in his shop. That would surely cost less than a new part.
        Last edited by Ted Preston; 08-22-2011, 05:32 PM.

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        • #5
          To be accurate...yes.
          The 'optinal' high altitude optional head offered by Stuebaker (OEM) was a high compression head (rather than a 'pop up' piston).


          Originally posted by Ted Preston View Post
          <snip>
          Were the stock heads typically milled to boost compression? It would be easy enough to ask my machinist to mill my old head while it's right there in his shop. That would surely cost less than a new part.
          HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

          Jeff


          Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



          Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

          Comment


          • #6
            So does anyone know how much I can mill off a standard 185 head to reproduce an 8.0 to 1 compression ratio? (I'll try to find part numbers and verify that I don't already have the optional high altitude head, but I suspect I do not. The original engine that threw a rod came from the coast in California, and the replacement I found came from Indianapolis.)

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            • #7
              I took a 169/170 1959 Champion engine, from a Lark, which is normally around 8.0:1 and had 0.100" shaved off it to raise the compression. It's the later Lark flathead you are looking for. If you turn it over and look at the combustion chamber it is much smaller than the earlier head. Then once the 0.100" is taken off the combustion chamber gets really small. I played around with different gas octane levels fearing I would had a detonation problem but with the right timing it worked well with regular. If the engine has an overbore the compression will also increase.
              It is harder to find the later head NOS than the earlier. I have an earlier low compression NOS head in reserve just in case I go ahead with the turbocharged engine. 7:1 would be ideal for such a project. If you want more reliable power for high altitude then fuel injection and turbocharging is the way to go. It's some work but the combination has been use for years in aircraft and at that altitude it makes a difference.

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              • #8
                Hey Ted,

                I have an aluminum head and dual cab intake for that but or course we've moved it from Laramie to Rapid. How did John's tour go? Wish we could have made it to that and Oburn's picnic.

                Take care,

                Rob

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by rayoung55 View Post
                  Hey Ted,

                  I have an aluminum head and dual cab intake for that but or course we've moved it from Laramie to Rapid. How did John's tour go? Wish we could have made it to that and Oburn's picnic.

                  Take care,

                  Rob
                  Hey Rob! John's tour was great fun. We started with nine cars leaving Laramie, and finished with six after lunch in Walden the second day. Good food, good company, a fantastic tour route, and an enjoyable, mild pace, considering the tour was half Porsches! I drove my 53 MG, which was the oldest car in the tour by more than a decade, driven by the youngest driver, also by more than a decade! The aging MG appreciated the slow pace, and ran beautifully both days.

                  Here's a photo from Gore Pass on day two, after the O'Byrnes and Carpenters dropped out:

                  Last edited by Ted Preston; 08-25-2011, 11:33 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ted Preston View Post
                    So does anyone know how much I can mill off a standard 185 head to reproduce an 8.0 to 1 compression ratio? (I'll try to find part numbers and verify that I don't already have the optional high altitude head, but I suspect I do not. The original engine that threw a rod came from the coast in California, and the replacement I found came from Indianapolis.)
                    http://www.carnut.com/specs/gen/stud50.html
                    The 55-56 185 had 7.5 compression for 101 hp; the 57-58 185 had 7.8 compression, again for 101 hp (??why no reported change with higher compression?) , and the later 59-60 170 flathead *using the 185 style block* (slightly higher deck height when they started using the 185 crank, than the old 54 and prior 169.5 flathead) had 8.0 compression for 90 hp. Car Specs lists it at 8.3 but this is a mistake I think. In the Chassis parks book it lists 1547738 (no longer available) @ 8.0 for 59, and 1549218 for 1960 @ 8.0, and to use the 1960 head for 1959 cars if needed, so it interchanges. ((The lower compression special export head 7.0 is part # 1548294 for 59-60--and Skybolt's suggestion about getting a 7.0:1 export head is a good idea)) I have a 1960 1549218 which I am putting on my 1957 185; I got it on Ebay. It will be bored out about to 30 over, so it will have around 194 cubic inches. I won't mill the head (or block)any unless it needs to be done to flatten them out, as the increase in cubic inches and the slight increase in compression will make it lively enough for what I need, especially with an overdrive transmission. My other 57 with the automatic is 30 over now, and it is sprightly enough for my needs
                    Last edited by Jim B PEI; 08-25-2011, 02:47 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Remember to look into the possibility of.."zero decking" the block.
                      This is dependant on the current clearace between the piston and the cylinder head at TDC (top dead center).

                      This does two positive things -

                      1. Gets rid of the large gap between the piston and the head at "top dead center" (TDC). There is always an amount of fuel in this dead space that does not burn properly...if at all.
                      The outcome...a loss of power and milage.
                      About .040" to .045" total, (max.) is a good, piston to head value to shoot for. This includes the head gasket thickness.

                      2. Provides an increase in static compression ratio.

                      Mike

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                      • #12
                        What I have seen done with the block on the flathead is to relieve the area from the valves to the bore. In the block. This gives the fuel mix more flow from the valves to the bore. Especially if the head is shaved. With the head taken down the area above the valves is still substantial but over the bore becomes smaller and the passage from the valves to the bore much smaller. To remedy this the area between the valves towards the bore was taken down 5/32" following the gasket as a guide. Any more and it gets to close to the top piston ring.

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