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  • Engine: Swapping V8 cylinder heads

    A friend has a '52 Commander with the original engine and the car now needs a valve job. He has some Studebaker cylinder heads that he thinks are from a later model (I'm not certain what model since the friend is in Australia and I can't inspect the heads). What significant differences (if any) are there that would deter him from swapping the later heads to the 232" Thanks in advance.
    Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
    '53 Commander Starliner (Finally running and driving, but still in process)
    '56 Golden Hawk (3 speed/overdrive, Power steering - Running, but not yet driving)
    '62 GT Hawk (4 speed, A/C, Power steering - running and DRIVING!)

  • #2
    I know it has been done before and there would be more than just a head change if one was to do it. The intake manifold has different size ports and probably a few other small things that I can't recall just now. I know if one was to lay the head gaskets together there are some water passages that don't line up to well. Apart from those issues I know it has been done. Len.

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    • #3
      Do a search on the forum regarding swapping heads onto a 232 and you should get good information. I believe the exhaust manifolds are different as well as the intake manifold.
      \"Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat...a Studebaker!\"

      51 Land Cruiser (Elsie)
      Jim Mann
      Victoria, B.C.
      Canada

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      • #4
        I am running later heads on my 51 232. I used the stock intake, but later exhaust manifolds. Some say that the valves will hit the side of the cylinder bore, and they might, but on my conversion they did not. Those heads have been the car since 2004. I have driven it maybe 7000 miles in that sime frame with no issues.
        1962 Champ

        51 Commander 4 door

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kurt View Post
          I am running later heads on my 51 232. I used the stock intake, but later exhaust manifolds. Some say that the valves will hit the side of the cylinder bore, and they might, but on my conversion they did not. Those heads have been the car since 2004. I have driven it maybe 7000 miles in that sime frame with no issues.
          That could have been the manifold issue I was thinking about. I Don't have a 232 any more to compare pieces but now I remember the exhausts manifolds were rather small.

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          • #6
            Wouldn't putting later heads on a 232" also lower the already too low compression?

            Since I don't use the 232" heads on anything, my charts don't have C/R or combustion chamber CC measures for them.

            FWIW, compression ratio is not determined solely by the head chamber CC, but also by piston dish and/or distance piston is below deck and head gasket thickness.

            Bottom line - does anyone have specs for 232" combustion chamber CC and piston-to-deck height?

            jack vines
            PackardV8

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            • #7
              I would stick with the 232 heads.

              We run later (555) heads on our 232-based race engine. There could be some valve clearance concerns if you want to run the even-bigger R3 valves -- you might need to eyebrow the bores for clearance. I don't think that's necessary as even the stock 259/289 valves provide plenty of valve area for a 232. We managed to get our compression up to 12.2 to 1 so it CAN be done but it really isn't cheap. Unless you spend an awful lot of money you are not going to get neck snapping performance out of a 232.

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              • #8
                Bob, I was getting 16 second ET's and 86 MPH in a quarter out of a 232 back in 68.
                Jack, I sent a piece of 232 head to Tom C. for testing. Maybe you can get him to tell you what the CC's were on it. I have sent all mine to China. Couldn't give them away.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Alan View Post
                  Bob, I was getting 16 second ET's and 86 MPH in a quarter out of a 232 back in 68.
                  Jack, I sent a piece of 232 head to Tom C. for testing. Maybe you can get him to tell you what the CC's were on it. I have sent all mine to China. Couldn't give them away.
                  Alan is being a bit modest. His 232" and the one Studebaker sold have little in common.

                  We run later (555) heads on our 232-based race engine.
                  Bob's Bonneville 183" has only the block in common with the original; everything else is custom.

                  I will say the 232" was by far the strongest block Stude ever made. It may still hold a record for most weight for least displacement.

                  jack vines
                  PackardV8

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                  • #10
                    I know a Guy up here in Washington that I was able to help out by finding him an Engine for sale. He solved the "original Looking" 232 issue very nicely and got a HP boost as a bonus.

                    He used a good complete 259, with the 4 Bolt valve covers, removed the Aluminum Timing Gear Cover and swapped in the original 232 "Tin" Cover, added the Fuel Pump Push Rod, 232 Oil Filler Pipe, and top mounted Fuel Pump, and now he has a 259 that looks exactly like a 232 but goes like a 259!
                    It even has a "dialed-in" '55 Converter Housing and a DG-250 Detroit Gear 3 Band Studebaker Automatic behind it.

                    It is in a '54 Starlight Coupe and is mostly all original except some Mag Wheels, looks and runs just Great, sounds very good with Duals and Glass Packs and the stock looking '57 Stromberg WW rear draft Top, 2 Brl. Carb.
                    StudeRich
                    Second Generation Stude Driver,
                    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                    • #11
                      After all this discussion (and thanks to everyone for the info), are we likely to gain or lose performance (or stay the same) with the later heads? We're not doing the swap (if we do it at all) to gain performance, we just happen to have the later heads and can do a valve job on them without disabling the car, then do a quick swap and be back on the road. I WILL find out the casting numbers on the "new" heads in case that makes a significant difference. Thanks again!
                      Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
                      '53 Commander Starliner (Finally running and driving, but still in process)
                      '56 Golden Hawk (3 speed/overdrive, Power steering - Running, but not yet driving)
                      '62 GT Hawk (4 speed, A/C, Power steering - running and DRIVING!)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kurt View Post
                        I am running later heads on my 51 232. I used the stock intake, but later exhaust manifolds. Some say that the valves will hit the side of the cylinder bore, and they might, but on my conversion they did not. Those heads have been the car since 2004. I have driven it maybe 7000 miles in that sime frame with no issues.
                        Your response is enlightening! I would have guessed that there could be a valve/cylinder wall issue. But as Your 7,000 miles has proven...That Ain't So! (Were Your engine's cylinders bored at all?)

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                        • #13
                          [UOTE=brngarage;770849]After all this discussion (and thanks to everyone for the info), are we likely to gain or lose performance (or stay the same) with the later heads? We're not doing the swap (if we do it at all) to gain performance, we just happen to have the later heads and can do a valve job on them without disabling the car, then do a quick swap and be back on the road. I WILL find out the casting numbers on the "new" heads in case that makes a significant difference. Thanks again![/QUOTE]

                          Yes, if one swapped on the later/larger intake and exhaust manifolds and milled the surfaces enough to maintain the compression. (What the compression change would be hasn't been determined yet in this discusson.) then there would be a noticeable performance increase, via better breathing.

                          No, if the compression dropped and the 232" intake and exhausts were used, performance and fuel economy would decrease.

                          Maybe, wait until someone who knows weighs in with 232" combustion chamber volume.

                          jack vines
                          PackardV8

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                          • #14
                            Bottom line - does anyone have specs for 232" combustion chamber CC and piston-to-deck height?

                            jack vines[/QUOTE]

                            I don't recall the exact head cc's on the 232 but I do remember the total cc's for 7.0 compression on the 232 is 79.4 cc's.
                            And I remember the piston deck was .109" so this accounts for about 16 cc's and the head gasket would be about 7 cc's so that would leave 56.4 cc's for the head.

                            Ted

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                            • #15
                              I did not notice any real difference in performance. I used them because I had a set of heads that had been rebuilt. The originals needed work, and this was the CASO way to get the car up and running.
                              1962 Champ

                              51 Commander 4 door

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