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Increasing HP on the 1950 Flat Head Six

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  • #61
    Originally posted by jclary View Post
    The 185 six in my '55 truck is very tired since my last refresh about 39 years ago. To increase power, I'm thinking about adding two more cylinders. (259/289).
    This is about the smartest move you can do. A 259 V8 will add improved performance, improved gas mileage, improved drivability and overall, a better car/truck to enjoy.
    It will probably end up being a cheaper change to make in the long run as well. Rebuilding a flat head 6 to gain any performance is going to be a daunting task with todays prices for rebuild parts and machining. A stock 259 will run circles around any flat 6 you put in there and do it waaay cheaper and be much more fun to drive.
    I do have experience with the flat 6 performance too. I ran a turbo on a flat 6 for awhile and had fun with it, but I would not recommend it for a daily driver.
    But, your car, your money.


    • #62
      Originally posted by mbstude View Post
      There's a local '50 Champion running a 185.
      Found a picture.


      • #63
        Originally posted by garyash View Post
        I dug through my bookshelf and pulled out a couple of old books put together by Dick Datson about 1990 from material he previously published in his newsletters. Back in the old days, Dick was very into modified Studebakers and eventually into turbocharging big time. Along the way, though, Dick became unhappy with SDC folks and parted company. His books collected a lot of information put together by many Studebaker owners about parts interchanges, maintenance, and modifications. I have "Studebaker Technical Tips" and "The Studebaker Extreme Duty Engine" but I don't have his "169-185 Studebaker Six Cylinder Engine Book". Anyone interested in modified Studebaker engines should look for copies of these at swap meets or on Ebay. I'm not sure if Dick is still around. It would be good to reprint the books, but it isn't likely that permission would be forthcoming.

        Anyway, Dick did cover a lot of things that can be done to the Champ 6, as well as the V8s. He especially liked adding a turbocharger to the Champ 6, like a Garrett TO3 from a Chrysler 2.2 or 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine or other small import engine. These seem to add a lot to low end torque and horsepower, especially at 5 psi or more of boost but 2-3 psi is enough. You can stay with the standard valve sizes (use stainless valves, though) and compression in the 7.0-8.0 range. Add about 300-400 cfm of carburetor (small 4-barrel?) and dual exhausts. Egge offers pistons up to 0.100" oversize as a standard product for the Champ 6. Jerry Kurtz recommends Arias forged pistons for serious engines, and they can probably make them to any size, but 0.060" is as far as one should go without risking cylinder wall failure or blown head gaskets.

        If you don't go the turbo route, then upping the compression to 8.3-8.5, two carbs, a cam, and dual exhausts will get 90% of what can be had. This should give 65-75 hp at 2000 rpm and 125-135 hp at 4000 rpm. If you want to wind it up to 5000-6000 rpm (at your risk!), use 400-500 cfm of carb and a bigger inlet valve, but idle may be tricky. The old sprint cars using Champ engines wound them up tight, but they weren't driving them on the street.
        I contacted Dick a few years back and asked him about the six cylinder book and he told me that the best information was in the Extreme Duty book, which I already had. He said he was not going to publish the six cylinder book again.

        For anyone not familiar with what is in there it is well worth reading for the six cylinder owner.

        I know some had problems with Dick, or vise versa, but I always appreciated his willingness to gather information and get it out. Having lived in Australia most of my life it was the only resource for me with modifications and acceptable parts swaps. I know people who owned Studebakers that independently made some of the same modifications but to have all these put together made it easy to own and drive a Studebaker, as a daily driver. Believe me living in the Australian outback is not where you want to be with a car that was unreliable or hard to repair. Having such a resource made the difference. Some of the later ideas were beyond the everyday driver and some I even wouldn't contemplate but pushing the envelope was what was going on and I, for one, am glad he did it.

        We do the same type of stuff with the forum. We have ideas and share the information. Some work out well and some ideas never see the light of day. We share parts the we find work and some myths are debunked. It is a modern version but a little harder to track all that has been written. I book is easier to refer to than a search.