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51 Champion spring swap: how long will it take?

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  • Frame / Springs: 51 Champion spring swap: how long will it take?

    Finally getting down to some real work! The 6 cyl has been removed and I am switching to heavier springs on the 51 Champion in anticipation of the 259. Given mid-level mechanical skills, how long should this take? I always am optimistic and under-estimate time for a job.
    '57 Silver Hawk
    '57 Golden Hawk
    '51 Champion

  • #2
    Don't be in a hurry, take your time. Assuming the engine mounts are good and you are installing an engine and transmission, if you have help, a couple of hours, if not maybe an hour, or more, depending. You'll need a hoist or a cherry picker.

    With help I pulled one engine, indicated the new bell-housing and reinstalled the whole thing in less than 8 hours. That included pulling the front bumper and grill section from a '55 sedan.

    Oh Poo. I gave you information on Engine Swap, not Spring.....sorry. Springs take as long as they take.
    Last edited by Tom Bredehoft; 04-07-2012, 08:20 AM. Reason: Correct misconception.


    • #3
      Many people are not good at estimating time. At least you are aware of your shortcoming in that regard.

      How do you plan to remove/replace the front springs? Will you release the inner lower A arms, like the shop manual says, or will you release the outer lower a arm at the king pins?

      if you have any interest in honing your estimating skills, try this: estimate any job, keep track of the actual time, and compare the two. If the actual time is consistently higher than your estimate, let's just say 40% for sake of discussion, then in the future you can do this. Whatever you estimate, add 40%. Eventually you will be able to make more accurate estimates.

      Most people are not interested in honing their skills like this, however.

      Here's a funny little story. I spent many years as a project manager in the capital equipment and semiconductor industry. I would put together a plan for how long a project would take. When I presented the schedule to the managers, they all, to a man exclaimed that it could not possibly take that long and forced me to cut the time estimate to something they would accept.

      When the project was finally complete, it always came in at my original estimate. Only now, I was in trouble because it came in over my "revised" estimate. They never remembered forcing the estimate. That's one reason I retired at 56.
      Last edited by RadioRoy; 04-06-2012, 05:33 PM.
      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


      • #4
        Appreciate the wisdom and insights! I feel like I've got my big brothers helping me out! As for removal, I was going to lower the arms. Thanks! I'll let you know how it goes.
        '57 Silver Hawk
        '57 Golden Hawk
        '51 Champion


        • #5
          With your arms down, a spring swap should take till summer. (there's a joke there somewhere)................


          • #6
            Are you sure you need heavier springs? Does anyone know the weight of 6 cylinder and weight of 259 V8, does he need heavier springs or lighter ones.
            I did a quick check and a six cylinder weight is 672 lbs plus bolt on items. the 259 weights 650 lbs plus bolt on items you may not need different springs based on weight only.
            Have you ever change coil springs before? Are you going to do any front end service or repairs ? now might be a good time. If you have never changed coil springs it is not a difficult task but it is DANGEROUS.
            Try to find a helper preferably someone with experience. Read a manual prior to starting.Watch some video about spring removal too. Have the right tools and 2 good jacks is a must , strong safety chains- - Jack stands.... be careful.
            Last edited by K-Hawk; 04-08-2012, 01:02 AM.


            • #7
              Studebaker used heavier springs on V8 cars not just for a bit of the added weight of the engine, The V8 cars had bigger axles, bigger brakes, bigger frames, More cooling capacity, all adding up to more weight all the way around.

              The bigger springs function is not only to hold the car up, but maintains the starting, stopping, and turning while driving. Yes- the bigger springs is the right way to do the swap.

              Removing the lightweight springs is not all that difficult, putting in the new ones can be a chore, be carefull. When I go to remove springs that are shot, or no longer needed, I heat them up until they smush and they are way less dangerous when they are smaller!


              • #8
                Last week I removed the springs from a parts car, a 60 Lark 4 door (V-8). I used a spring compressor tool from Autozone & removed by way of the lower A-arm mount to the crossmember. Even with the correct tool it was dangerous. Studebaker springs are looong so that even with the compressor, they still came out with pressure. My car had no engine or front end sheet metal so access wasnt a problem but the tool could have used a longer shaft to handle the long length of the spring. If I had to install these springs I would use some threaded rod & install them one by one in place of the lower control arm bolts, then compress the spring & loosen the threaded rods a little at a time to slowly release the preasure.
                59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
                60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
                61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
                62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
                62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
                62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
                63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
                63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
                64 Zip Van
                66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
                66 Cruiser V-8 auto


                • #9
                  Gary, Glad to see you are starting on the old gal. I actually have some slow time at work for a few weeks. Give me a shout when you get ready and I will come annoy you while you work anyway. If I can lay hand to them I have a nice set of compressers you are welcome to use. I will be moving stuff around in the next few weeks and have a bunch of stuff here you will want. Steve


                  • #10
                    This is why I am so glad that I chose to work on Studes!! Great advice and all around and it is appreciated! Steve, I'll take you up on the help. I'll call you later this week to see when we can do it together. Since you'll be there to help, we can switch the brakes, swap the engine, do the body work and get her into the paint booth that day as well! We can even post some pictures!
                    '57 Silver Hawk
                    '57 Golden Hawk
                    '51 Champion


                    • #11
                      If one does not have a torch would cutting the springs be a good way to remove compression? Using using a grinder with a cutting wheel.


                      • #12
                        K Hawk - you can do that if you fear nothing and have cat like reflexes! DOn't overthink what I was saying. It is a slow, safe process that reduces the risk. Even MAPP gas works., you do not have to use an Oxy ACCY torch.

                        Cut with a saw or grinder and it will scare the crap out of a gunnery seargent when it goes 'off' and is not 'safe' like were talking about. heat kills springs. Heat it , jack it up, it is no longer a spring. it only takes 600- 1200 degrees in a few spots to kill a spring.