Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

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I have only recently come across your posts. What an amazing project. Not for the faint hearted! I spent yesterday and this morning reading the posts right from the beginning. I have  thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Mike

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A Studebaker guy went to visit our friend Jerry near York, PA, and got a few photos of the engine rebuild.  Boy, it sure looks great to me.  Almost done with this part of the project.  Jerry is a meticulous guy and has addressed even the most minor details of the engine rebuild.

 

 

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For the head, having never seen the CC from a Studebaker, how does it look? Just looking at the deck, you should be able to get a nice bit of quench over the top of the piston. Will you have any work done to the block to "improve" things?

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I have thought long and hard about hopping up the engine and settled on adding carburetors and shaving the head.  Stock hp was 115 at 3600 rpm with one Stromberg EE-1 2-barrel carb.  Boring 0.030" helps by adding 5 cubic inches to the original 250 cu in.  The aluminum head had a measured combustion chamber volume of 75 cm3 or 4.58 in3 .  Shaving the head by about 0.060" will cut the volume to about 4.0 in3 but the head gasket thickness will bring it back to 4.58 in3 .  With 3.093" bore and 4.25" stroke, the piston displacement is 31.93 in3 .  So, (4.58+31.93)/4.58 = 7.97:1 compression.  No problem for a 9 main bearing engine.  All the rods got new ARP high-strength bolts, and all the rotating parts were balanced.  The generator was rewound for 12 volts, negative ground, and I'll use the dual point distributor with a good coil and solid wires.  Electrical radio noise won't be an issue, ha ha.

 

The intake valve is very close to the exhaust valve, so it wasn't practical to increase the valve size.  Having decided on shaving the head, it wasn't realistic to also increase the valve lift.  Computer modeling showed that more lift didn't make much difference anyway.  Flatheads just don't breathe all that well - a few psi of supercharger boost would make a BIG difference, but it's not original.  The stock cam profile turned out to be about the best for a broad band of torque from low to high rpm with hp increasing with rpm.  The cam timing is 15-49/54-10 with 0.343" lift.  Increasing duration might have added more top end hp but would hurt normal driveability.  I'm thinking redline will be 4000-4400 rpm but won't go there often.  There will be four Stromberg EX-23 carbs, each good for about 150-200 cfm, so there is more than enough carburetion.   Synchronizing the carbs will be a lot of work.  If all goes well, it should make about 200 hp at 4000 rpm and 250 lb-ft of torque from 2500-4000 rpm, enough for a car weighing less than 2500 lbs loaded.

 

The engine modeling was done with my ancient "Dyno 2000" software from 1999 designed to run on Windows 98.  To run it now, I had to install a VMware "virtual machine" on my Windows 10 computer and then install Windows XP and the Dyno 2000 software.  I've been unwilling to give up some of my favorite 20-30 year old software, but then I do drive Studebakers...    

Indy engine dyno model-as built.jpg

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Gary

Curious to know where Jerry's shop is located.

I normally visit the York area several times a year, and would like to stop for a tour.

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Wray Schelin at ProShaper made a YouTube video to advertise his coach building classes using my Indy car replica as an example.  As it happens, I'll be at his shop this coming weekend to try to finish up the tail and seating.

 

Wray used some of the images generated from my 3D CAD model plus a bunch of shots as the project has progressed.  Here's the video:

 

 

 

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Another 3-day session at Pro Shaper with Wray Schelin got a lot more done on the body.  Here are lots of photos.  Wray is fanatical about getting the shape of the tail section just right, with curvature matched to large, radius-defining "sweeps".  When I made the wire form for the tail, I didn't have detailed measurements from an original, just photos and a few overall dimensions, so I didn't get the form to the best shape.  A lot of correction was needed.  This requires a lot of hand hammering to stretch and shrink the metal.  The process leaves the surfaces a little lumpy, so one would normally use the English wheel or a planishing hammer to smooth it out again without changing the shape.  Because the tail is very long and not very open on the bottom, the tail won't fit on even Wray's biggest wheeling machine or planisher - so he built a new planishing device.  Using the pneumatic head and anvil from a standard planisher, he made a big U-shaped frame from some scrap steel tube.  As it turned out fairly heavy, he eventually brought over the gantry frame, a chain fall, bungee cord, and nylon sling to support it while he pushed it back and forth.  Every once in a while, he'd spray blue Dykem all over the surface, run a body file very lightly over the surface to highlight the low spots, gently pound them out from the bottom, and planish some more.  This is a tedious process, but Wray is a patient man.  This work is way beyond my skill level.

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Wray with long planisher

 

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Planisher hung from gantry

 

While Wray worked the tail, I kept going on the seating area.  This is a very complex structure with the driver's seat a few inches forward of the passenger/riding mechanic.  Copying the original cars, I riveted in the seat bottoms.  I'm not sure why they did this at Pop Dreyer's shop in the 1930s, maybe because butt welds might have been prone to cracking in that area.  To get the assembly right, the seat backs needed to be fitted more tightly to the wire form "buck", so I covered several areas with black Magic Marker, then heated the area with the acetylene torch until the ink burned off.  The torch has to be kept moving because the aluminum will melt in short order if it gets too hot.

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Annealing the seat back

 

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Leather-covered wood corking tool, hammer, and Magic Marker

 

At that point, the 0.062" thick aluminum is soft enough to stretch it easily with a wood "corking tool" and a big hammer without leaving dents.  Where the metal had to go around a corner, I annealed the edge and hammered it over the 1/4" steel rods of the form, leaving just a narrow lip.  Folks, you cannot do this kind of work on a wood buck!

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Forming the lips for weld joints

 

With lots of trimming and grinding, the pieces were gradually fitted together with minimal gaps.  The final seam to be welded, joining the two seats together and the upper seat back, ran a zig-zag path over the surfaces.  Master-welder Wray then TIGed the joint together using an Everlast 210EXT AC/DC welder, a great machine .  I'll need to spend a few hours grinding down the weld beads to make the seams disappear.   

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Aligning the seam to be welded

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The seats riveted and welded together

 

Oh, and I just got an email from Jerry that my engine is done and ready to be picked up.  It's a good day!

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Gary, Nice work for both your and Wray.  It is a blessing to have a skilled fellow leading your progress in such a way that you are ending up with a very nice, smooth and correctly proportioned duplicate of a Studebaker Indy race car.  You certainly are giving us all something to dream/daydream about!

Al

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Just for comparison, here is what one of the original Indy car seating areas looks like.  Seat belts are, of course, a modern addition.

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Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Good work.  You are getting to the point of seeing the near end and a running car.

Al

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Looks great........impressive coachwork.

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My wife and I made the 400-mile trip to the York, PA area to pick up the finished engine from Jerry Kurtz.  It was great to see it done and painted.  We used Jerry's engine hoist to pick it up and put it into my little utility trailer, then we lashed it down and blocked the wooden cradle in to keep it from moving.  We were fortunate that we got two good-weather days for travel down and back, only had a few snow flurries on the way home though driving through the New York metro area at rush hour with a trailer was no fun.  We had managed a stop at Dietrich's Meats in Krumsville, PA, off I-78, to stock up on smoked pork chops, scrapple, Lebanon bologna, and other tasty things my doctor would prefer that I don't eat.

 

Today, I lifted the engine out of the trailer with my hoist and put it in the car with the help of my long-suffering wife.  Fortunately, though I had completely disassembled the chassis for painting and reassembled it while the engine was being worked on, all 12 holes in the engine support plates lined up with the holes in the four chassis mounts.  Not bad, considering there is no rubber and no adjustment.  Once the transmission and driveshaft are in, I can focus on the clutch linkage and pedal and start assembling the linkage for the four Stromberg EX-23 carbs.  I'm tired after two long days on the road and a day muscling the heavy engine around, might be time for  a martini. 

 

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Gary, the engine, and Jerry in PA.

 

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The chassis ready for the engine.

 

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Lowering the engine into the chassis.

 

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Engine installed.

 

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Engine compartment.

 

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Ok Gary.......

You are now the talk of the net with your new rebuilt Pres. engine in place and ready for the dressing.  Body is mostly complete.  You should surely have your steam built up to finish this Indy Race car!

Al

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Not a lot to report this week, though I put in quite a few hours.   I got a couple of blank-off plates made for the breather (which interfered with the firewall) and for the original mechanical fuel pump.  A replacement valve spring cover and breather tube are on the way.  I'm going to use an electric fuel pump near the tank instead of the mechanical one which mounted on the side of the block.  Jerry Kurtz supplied me with an original oil filter housing that he has modified to accept a modern screw-in oil filter (NAPA 1040).  He didn't have a mounting bracket available so I cobbled one out of 14 gauge (0.075" thick) hot-rolled sheet metal. 

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Original 1937 Studebaker President engine with oil filter.

 

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Modern NAPA filter for modified oil filter housing.

 

My local steel supply shop, General Supply and Metals in New Bedford, MA, has almost anything you want in steel or aluminum sheet, rod, bar, tube, I-beams, etc. as well as tools, bits, drills, etc.  They are not cheap, not fast, but they have the stuff I need.  This may be the last place on earth that records orders long hand on a scrap of paper, sends it up a miniature dumb waiter to an upstairs office (they took out the pneumatic tubes a few years ago) for pricing, and then sends customers out to the cutting floor with the paper scrap to order the pieces.  Only once the bill is paid will the shop guy cut the metal and bring the pieces to the front.  It looks like the 1930s (or 1830s) in the warehouse and cutting rooms, was frosty on the cold day I went there.  But, I got exactly what I needed, everyone was friendly and helpful, it was just older than antediluvian.

 

Once I got the metal in hand, I had to saw out the pieces with a hand-held jig saw, hand-file to form the details, and roll the straps to the required radius on my 24" 3-in-1 sheet metal machine.  Some of the bends for the main bracket got bent in the machine, the rest I hand-hammered in a vise.  In the end, I wound up with a pretty good replica of an original oil filter mount.  Now, I just need to paint it and install the filter and oil lines.

 

One of the consequences of having spent so much time with Wray Schelin at Pro Shaper building the aluminum body is that I now focus deeply on details of metal forming.  It takes a little longer, but is very satisfying when the task is done.

 

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Replica oil filter mount.

 

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 Filter housing in brackets.

 

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Rear of oil filter in new bracket.

 

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I received the breather tube and valve spring cover plate that the tube mounts on.  Studebaker moved the breather from the back of the block to the side cover in 1938 for some reason, but that worked out for me, as the tube and its mount would have been an inch into the firewall in the rear position.  The bad news was that the tube I received had collided with something in its lifetime and now had a significant bend and a kink in it.  Oh, well, beggars can't be choosers, at least I had the tube and cover I needed.  I soaked the pieces in Simple Green for a few days to remove the ancient grease, found that the tube had been brazed in some old repair.

 

After watching a few YouTube videos about fixing bent tubes, I heated the kinked area to anneal it and tried driving a 1" heavy steel pipe up the tube.  It did start to push the kink out, but caught and folded some of the metal forward and tore a small hole.  As the kink was about 8" up the tube, I couldn't manage to dolly it from the inside by poking things up the tube.  Facing reality, I drilled a 5/16 hole on the opposite side and used a 1/4" steel rod to tap out the kink pretty well.  The heavy steel pipe was then driven into the tube to straighten the bend, and I lightly hammered around it to straighten the tube and make it (mostly) round again.  As there was still a slight bend in the tube, I ran it through my HF tube roller with just enough pressure to straighten it.  A straight edge laid along the tube now showed only a gap of about 1/32", close enough for government work, as we used to say.  I welded up the holes and ground it down with my small angle grinder.  It will still need some filler and sanding before painting, but it will work OK.

 

All these seemingly small items take hours to address, but that's the name of the game.

 

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The kinked breather tube.

 

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After driving the heavy steel pipe part way into the tube.

 

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A steel rod used to hammer the wrinkle through a hole in the opposite side.

 

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The wrinkle begins to come out.  It eventually got smoother with the steel pipe as a dolly inside.

 

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The breather tube after welding, grinding, and rolling.  Pretty straight!

 

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Another 3-day session at ProShaper working on tuning the tail surfaces and finishing the seats.  On the seats, I ground the welds almost flush, planished  them to level things out, and finally ground them smooth with 240 grit paper on a small orbital sander.  After trimming the excess material at the edges, I did a test fit of the seats into the opening in the tail.  A lot of work remains before they can be welded in.  The front edge of the seat bottoms got trimmed square and I riveted some 3/4 x 3/4 x .062" aluminum angle supports to the front edge and sides.  These will stiffen the seats as there is no steel framework under them.   I'm still not sure why the original cars had various pieces riveted on, but I'm doing it the same way.  With the seat area trimmed to about 1/4" larger than the wire form, I annealed the edges at the sides and hammered-and-dollied them over the 1/4" wire rods to make a 90 degree bend in preparation for eventually welding the seats to the outer tail skin.

 

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Seating area assembled, trimmed to size, and supports riveted in.

 

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Test fitting the seats into the tail section.  The tail will be trimmed to match the seating area edges and welded all around.

 

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Rolling the edges over for the future weld joint.

 

In what seems like an endless task, Wray and I spent many hours going over and over the tail surfaces.  Several "sweeps" were used to check the curvature front-to-back and side-to-side.  The sweeps are made from 1/8" aluminum plate cut to an exact radius.  The idea is to get the metal surface to match the sweep exactly, i.e. within 1/32" or better.  Running your fingers over the surface, you can feel very small bumps and depressions, and a sweep will rock on a high spot. 

 

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Testing the surface with a sweep.

 

For low spots, I climbed into the tail and held a dolly against the metal while Wray tapped with a hammer on the outside to bring up the level.  This works because the tapping stretches the metal, forcing it upwards.  We each had a small magnet so that Wray could place one on a spot outside, and my magnet on the inside would be attracted to the spot where I would place the dolly.  He'd call out, "Up a 1/2", forward 1/4", etc. so I could move the dolly to where he wanted to hit next.  Being inside the tail while Wray hammers is a good way to get deaf.  To move larger areas, we used his newly-developed portable planishing hammer and also his largest English wheel. 

 

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Wray's 35" deep portable planishing hammer.  He previously made a 51" deep version (hard to maneuver), plans on a 30" version.

 

A light coat of blue Dykem spray followed by a light pass with a straight sanding board highlights low and high spots.  The other technique we used was to gently heat a high spot and then quickly tap the area with a heavy steel slapper.  This shrinks the metal locally but also moves the surrounding areas a bit.  Eventually, we'll have the entire surface smooth to within a few thousandths of an inch.  This will greatly reduce the need for any Bondo or heavy primer before painting.  

 

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Quickly heating a small area for shrinking a high spot.  Note wire form for tail in background.

 

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Using the slapper on the heated area to bring down a high spot. 

 

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When the shape is right, the sweep fits with minimal gap.

 

 

seats in tail 1.jpg

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Are you keeping a running total of the hours spent at  ProShaper ?

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Keep track of the hours and dollars?  Leave evidence of my profligacy?  Not a good idea, Mike, my wife would want full quid pro quo.  I've told the adult children that I'm spending their inheritance now.

 

That said, I've been going to Wray's for about 2 years now, off and on, will still need a few (ha ha) more visits there to finish the body.

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