Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

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Impressive build. I hope to stop by some day and see it in person. I know of a mag in Maine I have been trying to buy for 5 years. It came off a Pierce eight in 1936. The car had a dual spark plug set up, the mag and a Mallory distributor. Custom manifolds also..... very cool. From playing around with vintage straight eight's with good carburation and manifolds just under 200 hp is workable. You got to spin them VERY fast! I think I would use modern piston/ ring packages along with new modern rods. It will run the build price up a little bit but is worth it not to put a hole in the block if you suffer oil / rod failure issues. Good luck. Ed

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I was working on the support frame for the cockpit skin. I think the originals were made from 1"x1"x1/8" angle iron, bent to a 6" radius for the front parts and 8" radius for the one that supports the dash. I couldn't find anyone locally that could bend angle iron "leg in". One specialty shop in Chicago quoted me $600 to make three fairly simple pieces. On the suggestions from one of the local metal shops, I wound up plasma cutting the curves out of 1/8" flat plate, then bending 1"x1/8" flat bar to fit the outside of the shape. A little welding and I have 1x1x1/8 angle iron with exactly the right curvature. I was lucky that the parts didn't warp when I welded the pieces together, but I used some heavy weights to hold them flat on the garage floor while I welded. A nice steel welding table would help, but I don't have one. I may just have to get a 24"x24"x1/4" flat plate and set it on some saw horses so I don't have to crawl on the floor to do this stuff! I did buy a Harbor Freight pyramid roll. I had hoped to roll the full 1x1x1/8 angle with it, but it would take more horsepower than my arms can provide to get the 6" radius bends. It did work fine bending the 1x1/8 flat stock to a smooth radius.

Two identical "hoops" get bolted together back-to-back to hold the firewall and support the back of the hood and the front of the cockpit. On the original cars, there seems to be a stainless steel fender welt seated between the hoops to separate the cockpit skin from the hood. I found some stainless welt with a cloth leg at Bob Drake, a supplier of early Ford V8 parts - looks like just the right stuff, easy to bend, shouldn't kink.

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Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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Nice work Gary, I had to take a few weeks off due to us moving. I hate packing !! Its unreal how much stuff you can put in a three bedroom house. I hope to get back to the car week after next. I'm probably going to build my cowl piece somewhat like you did. thanks. That remindes me I need to charge my camera

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I spent the last couple of days machining some parts for the front spring hangers, the ones at the front tips of the frame rails. The guy who built my chassis had made a set, but they turned out to be not wide enough for my 2" springs. I had been fortunate a couple of years ago to receive two cast parts that were spares for an original Indy car. I really wanted to use them to include their DNA, as it were, in the car, but they really didn't fit the frame rails and my bolts for the spring eyes are much larger diameter (3/4"). So, I copied the shape of the casting and made four ogive-shaped pieces for the ends of the tubes that hold the spring eyes. I've got to get some short pieces of drawn-over-mandrel 2" o.d. x .188" wall tube to get thick wall tube. I don't want black iron water pipe from Home Depot.

I started with 2" long pieces of 2" diameter cold-rolled steel bar to make a pair of the end pieces. I had bought a small Harbor Freight 7"x10" lathe for jobs like this. Well, maybe there is a way to swing a 7" diameter part on the lathe bed, but the chuck that came with the lathe would have a tough time gripping anything over 3" o.d. Maybe you can grip the i.d. of larger parts using the alternate set of lathe jaws. I soon discovered that it doesn't have enough horsepower to make a cut deeper than .010-.020" or it jams and blows the fuse. So, it took me about three days to machine the four end caps at .010" per cut. In the end, the parts came out OK, finish was acceptable, and accuracy was good, like better than +/- 0.005". My advice would be that if you want a lathe, spend more money than the HF unit, and get something that will handle larger steel parts. If you are making miniature brass cannons or other tiny parts in aluminum or brass, the HF lathe is OK for the money, and it's better than not having any lathe. Also, be sure to buy some carbide lathe bits or you'll spend a lot of time re-sharpening the tool steel bits. I found that all of the bits benefitted from being stoned with an aluminum oxide bar to dress the edges - they cut a lot better.

I still have to get the DOM tube from Metals Depot or some other on-line place. My local steel shop doesn't carry it. I'll cut the tubes to length, machine out about 180 degrees of the tube, and weld the caps on. Then I have to align the tubes on the "paws" of the spring hangers and weld it all together. If you look in the first photo of my previous post, you'll see the front spring hangers and cross bar (wrapped in protective paper - they were chromed) on an original car under construction in 1932.

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Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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I've drooled longingly over those Chinese knockoff lathes but have yet to buy one ( up here it's Princess Auto instead of Harbor Freight, but looks like the same junk). I've been watching the auctions for something old enough and big enough to be good, but not totally worn out from being in an industrial setting. So far it looks like everyone else has the same idea and the premium units get bid up quite high. Also have to watch the voltage and type of power they were run on ( single phase as opposed to 3 phase electricity), there's some strange ones out there.

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We just got back from a trip to England, touring through the Cornwall, Devon, and Cotswolds areas. On our last day, we stopped to visit Motor Wheel Service in Slough, near Heathrow Airport. They have just finished building a set of wire wheels for me, will ship them this week. I would have brought them home on the plane but excess baggage charges are really expensive. We met with Gary Gardner, the sales guy, and Dan, one of the technicians. They build lots of new wire wheels, mostly for older MG's, Bentleys, Jaguars, etc., which have splined hubs and knock-off spinners. Their supply chain is set up well enough that it is cheaper to buy new wheels from them than rebuild the old ones, but they do that, too. They bring in bare rims and wheel centers, punch and dimple the holes, cut the spokes to length and roll the threads, then lace the wheels, true them, and apply powder coat finish. Chromed and stainless wheels are also available, and they supply tires like Blockley racing tires. They also have splined hubs for a lot of cars, though not my project, as well as spinners. It's a very well-run shop, highly recommended if you want excellent quality wire wheels. Their web site is at www.mwsint.com.

I can hardly wait for the UPS guy to deliver my wheels!

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Excellent project. Many of us dream of such a fun project.

Just found the thread. I wonder a little about the web stiffeners at the chassis cut. Every structural web stiffener I have seen has a fillet weld all round (leg length equal to plate thickness) with no spot welds through holes. The welds transfer shear mainly and weld length is what counts. The rounded corners are good to avoid stress concentrations. There are two usual failure modes: tearing and buckling. Buckling will be initiated in the compression flange (usually the top one in your case) and tearing is more likely at a weld or stress concentration, usually in tension. Buckling can be prevented with a thicker flange and by a gusset perpendicular to the web and flanges, welded to each flange and the web. Tension can be reduced by converting to shear by welding on a stiffener such as you have on the web.

In NZ we have rules about Low Volume Vehicles such as this and it would need to be certified by an appropriate professional engineer to be allowed on a road. Is there a similar situation there?

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Spinneyhill, I'm comfortable now that weld cracks, buckling, and tearing will not be a problem for the repairs I made. I normally use a maximum of 1/4 to 1/3 of the yield stress as the maximum allowable level in the steel, and there is enough moment in the chassis cross-section that the car will never be close to that, even so. The back section of the chassis rails support about 1/8 of the unsprung weight or 225 lb/102 kg. How many g do you think can be generated when the car hits a big bump? I'm used to designing pressure vessels 3-12 meters in diameter and 5-30 meters high, as well as complex mechanisms, have been doing this for almost 50 years. I'm from the school that says, "If in doubt, use more steel!"

Fortunately, we don't need to have a PE sign off on a design for car chassis, even for 1-offs, at least not in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The most difficult part is going through the Registry of Motor Vehicles inspection by the State Police - they are principally looking for stolen cars and cars built with stolen parts. My claim is I merely replicated a design that was manufactured in 1932, and I will have a serial number plate from a Studebaker car built in 1932 but has been disassembled and scrapped in a way that didn't result in a destruction record on any databases. My car will incorporate parts from the original vehicle, and I have bills of sale for all of the major parts. In recent years, most states in the U.S. have eased rules about kit cars, specials, etc. so that this is now permitted.

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Excellent. I wasn't sure of your background and am impressed with your ability with CAD (another dream of mine, for use with 3D printing some day). I suppose the axle coming up at speed onto the spring bumper will be an important part of the loading too. Your more-or-less full height web stiffener will help deal with that, as will the wee plates holding the end of the cross member. My engineering mechanics are a bit rusty to work out the loads on the chassis.

Interesting that they used two angles back to back for the cowl shape rather than a T shape. I suppose it reflects the sections available and what they could cheaply fabricate in the factory.

Keep up the good work! It is an interesting project.

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I just got some photos of the splined hubs in production. The basic machine work is done, hogging a 40 lb, 6.5" diameter blank of 4140 steel into an 8 or 9 lb finished shape. The splining will be done next week and the mounting holes drilled. The two-eared spinners have a coarse thread, 8 threads per inch, to lock the wheel centers in place. The markings in the photos are in Chinese, because that's where the work is being done. They show the left hand thread for the right side of the car and vice versa. There are also some small plugs that go in the outer ends for grease seals. I couldn't find a shop in the U.S. that wanted to do the work and had the capability to cut the splines. Soon, I'll be able to put the hubs on the axles and slide the wire wheels on! I still need to buy tires - 6.00/6.50-18 in the front, 7.00-18 in the back. I'm planning on the new Excelsior radials that look like old bias ply tires.

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Hello Gary, I am envious and happy for you of the progress you are making with your Stude. You will end up with a very solid car. Do you have any additional information regarding the light blue Studebaker racer (pictures posted elsewhere)? Can you tell what type wheel is on that car? Are they more like the spline drive from a Jag. or dental drive like a Buffalo? I have been modifying a set of Jag. XK-140 wheels and hubs onto another British make and having fun with it.

Alan

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Alan, I posted some pictures of the blue racer under Boojoe's 1927 Studebaker speedster build thread. The car was built from scratch in Argentina a couple of years ago, made to look like a 1926-style car. It has a later straight-8 engine (1928-29). The wheels were also made in Argentina by a company there. They have pretty good prices, but building wheels with splined Rudge-type 72 mm size centers was a problem for them at the time I wanted to order the wheels. The smaller sizes were in stock. The car is currently in Switzerland, I think. It had a transmission problem, but they found another one to use.

Were your Jag wheels 62 mm or 52 mm size? Motor Wheel Service has a wide range of wire wheels to fit Jaguars and other British cars, as well as splined hubs.

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What a wonderful project, LOVE IT...

My now deceased brother restored the 1952 number 16 Indy Offy that in 53 Art Cross drove to 2nd. I showed it at Pebble Beach in 2001. It was the Smith Special, also known as Springfield Welding sponsored car.

Loving this build.

Wishing you the best,

Dale in Indy

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The wire wheel bits are coming together, at last. The four wire wheels arrived here from England, just a few days shipping time via UPS Express Saver. Now I need to order the 6.00/6.50-18 tires for the front and the 7.00-18 ones for the rear. They'll be mounted with race tubes having brass stems. The hubs are nearly complete now, just need final anti-corrosion treatment, then they'll be on the plane from China. These turned out to be very difficult parts to make, special spline-cutting tooling required, and electrical discharge machining (EDM) for the countersunk holes for the lug nuts in the rear hub assemblies that couldn't be reached by conventional cutters. The knock-off spinners are getting their final polish, laser engraved labels, and chrome plating. Real wire wheels with custom splined hubs are not for the faint of heart!

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Nice work, Hopefully Chinese and English parts will go together. How about your motor, what are you using? Joey

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We're sure the parts will go together because I sent an extra wheel center to China to be used as a gauge to check the fit of the splines. It was also used to assure that the spinners seated correctly and mated to the 10-degree taper on the outer end of the centers. Since the wheel centers were actually made in India to the original Dunlop drawings, that test piece will have traveled from India to England to Massachusetts to China and back to Massachusetts, all in the course of 3-4 months.

See my post from Feb. 23, 2014 on the previous page for notes on the 250 cu in straight 8 engine.

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Nice wheels........ bet they don't come cheap! I like your attention to detail on the build.

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Finally, the splined hubs are finished. After cutting the splines on the hubs, the knock-off spinners got polished and chromed. The are some screw-in caps for the ends that serve as grease retainers. We made these out of brass, no plating, laser-etched the Studebaker logo into them. I'll have to polish them now and then, but I think they'll look just fine. My buddy who got these made in China went more than the extra mile to get these done right, now I will really owe him many favors.

The front tires arrived here, the rear ones were back-ordered. I'm using the new Excelsior Stahl radials from Coker that look like bias ply tires. They are speed-rated for more than enough mph. The tubes are "racing" style ones with brass stems to prevent a shifting tube from cutting off the stem at a critical moment, required for participation in any vintage racing events.

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At long last, I finally managed to finish off a bunch of small but critical parts: rear spring mounts, shackles for front and rear springs, chassis cross-members, and the front spring mounts and crossbar. It was a little tricky to get the chassis bolted together with the springs in place because the springs have bronze bushings with no give anywhere. I was a little concerned about having welded all the parts together to keep everything square and perfectly aligned. However, it did go together. I got the front axle mounted with caster shim and rubber bumper, and the rear axle housing mounted with its shim (without the center section and axle shafts - much lighter to move). The NOS (from 1928) axle shafts got polished to remove a little shelf rust and will go in as soon as I fabricate the felt grease seals.

I pressed the new bearing cups into the front splined hubs and put old cones in temporarily. The 1963 Buick Riviera aluminum drums were mounted on the new front hubs, and the assemblies placed on the front spindles. Then the wire wheels were slid over the splines and spinners and brass hub caps put on. I'm still waiting for the arrival of the rear tires, due in a week or so. Then it will be a rolling chassis. I even put one of the firewall support hoops in place with a couple of C-clamps, just for fun. It's beginning to look like a car!

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That's starting to look like a great car... can't wait to see it done!

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I got the parts together to reassemble the rear axle. I had to make the felt grease seals by using some pieces of exhaust tubing with sharpened edges to die cut 1/4" felt sheet into some doughnuts. The differential assembly was rebuilt with new bearings, aligned, and the backlash adjusted by WCD Garage in Northborough, Mass. The assembly weighs 90 lbs, so there was no way I could pick it up, hold it with one hand, and insert the bolts. I maneuvered the engine hoist into place, attached a chain, and picked it up. Fortunately, it balanced nicely in the right orientation. I managed to get a couple of bolts started to take the weight, removed the chain, and put in the rest of the bolts. If I have to do this again, I'll make a couple of long studs to guide the flange into place and take the weight temporarily.

Next on the list is to press the tapered-bore axle shaft bearings onto the axle shafts. The shafts are big: 1.625" diameter with a 1:12 taper at the ends. According to the bearing manufacturers, I'm supposed to place the bearing on the taper and then drive it on tight. The recommendation for this size bearing is move it about .016-.020" up the taper, expanding the i.d. by about .0015". My plan is to put a big hose clamp on the axle just inside the bearing starting point so that I can get a stack of feeler gauges between them, say about .060". I can just get the axle shaft and a 6" piece of 1-1/2" iron pipe under my Harbor Freight hydraulic press. Pushing on the pipe should drive the inner race up the shaft and I can keep putting the feeler gauges in as I go. I sure hope this works!

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The axle shaft bearing installation fortunately went mostly as planned. I slipped the tapered-bore bearing on the shaft, placed a piece of 1-1/2" black iron pipe and a cap over the axle end resting on the inner race, and pushed with the hydraulic press. It was almost an anti-climax, as I didn't have to pump more than a single stroke to move the bearing about .020" along the shaft. I greased up the new bearings, inserted the inner felt seals, slid in the shafts, and mounted the hex-shaped end caps to push the bearings into place. Maybe the factory originally pushed the bearings on a little more or my NOS axle shafts were just a touch longer than the old ones, but I didn't have enough shims to get the .001-.006" free play in the shafts. I quickly drew up a CAD file, bought a roll of .005" steel shim stock, and had the laser-cutting shop down the road make some new shims. I would have cut them by hand from Mylar polyester sheets, but I wasn't sure how well they would stand up to heat and oil for the next 10-20 years or more. I wound up adding about .015" of shims to each side to get the free play I needed, but now I can just hear the click as the axle shaft moves in and out.

With the rear axle assembled, I mounted the 1960 Buick LeSabre backing plates and adaptors, cleaned up the 1965 Riviera 90-fin 12" aluminum drums and pressed them onto the new inner hubs. I'm using the same aluminum drums front and rear, but the rear shoes are narrower to help balance the braking correctly. I had obtained copies of the original manufacturing drawings for the 1928 hubs from the Studebaker National Museum, so the new hubs were the same depth and had the 1:12 taper to match the shafts. My buddy who had the parts made for me in China used wire EDM (electro-discharge machining) to cut the taper and 1/4" keyway. The outer splined hubs slipped over the five studs pressed through the inner hub and lug nuts hold the assemblies together. The lug nuts are hidden by the wire wheel centers.

The Coker Stahl radial tires got mounted on the wire wheels, 6.00-6.50/18 in the front and 7.00/18 in the rear. Each wheel and tire weighs about 55 lbs. The hubs and drums are heavy, too. Today, I was finally able to get all four wheels and tires installed. I lowered the chassis onto four Walmart bathroom scales and added up the weights: about 950 lbs for the frame rails, axles, springs, hubs, wheels, and tires. The bare frame weighed about 150 lbs, so there is about 800 lbs of unsprung weight. Maybe I should only count half of the weight of the springs as "unsprung", but there is still a lot of it. The engine and transmission will be very heavy, about 750 lbs with accessories, but the aluminum body will probably come in at about 200 lbs.

The highlight of today's work was finally putting the tires on the ground and rolling the car forward and backward in the garage. It feels good to have a "roller"! Now I have to get the radiator shell mounted and refine my FoamCore radiator model so I can get the radiator built.

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Looking very good Gary.

Those wheels look amazing !!

Be very careful as to who builds your radiator.

Will you be running at atmosphere?

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I'm thinking of using The Brass Works for the radiator [http://www.thebrassworks.net]. I think the 1930s cars ran with zero pressure on the cooling systems, but a 4 lb cap with a modern-type radiator should be OK. The real limit may be the packed seal on the water pump. The original Indy cars may have used a Ford AA truck radiator core about 2-5/8" thick, but they didn't have fans since they usually drove at 110-140 mph. I'm planning on a 3.5" thick, 4-row core, about 18" wide x 18" high, plus the tanks. I'll use a fan, as the current versions of the Studebaker Indy cars have, since it's more likely that I'll be running at (much) lower speeds. I have an old 2-row radiator from my 1948 Studebaker M5 truck that is almost exactly the right height and width, but it's a radiator for an 80 hp engine, not 200 hp, hence my plan for a thicker core. It almost fits the radiator shell for the Indy car, except for the side brackets. The guy at The Brass Works (Lee), said to send them a foam model of what I want rather than drawings with 100 dimensions. He just confirmed my theory that the best craftsmen are bright, visually oriented, not paper-and-pencil math wizards, and probably dyslexic. My radiator model is made out of 1/2" FoamCore put together will Elmer's Glue. I can easily rip it apart, shave it down or add parts, and put it back together. It's light enough to ship to California at low cost. Lee claims his guys can build anything they can see.

Here's a photo of one of the cars with the 1933-style body and radiator shell but having the smaller 250 cu in straight 8 engine as I am using. The photo was taken as Studebaker was preparing for the 1934 Indy race, but they went into receivership and didn't make the race in May. The picture shows the engine and radiator, same radiator as used 1931-33., but different grille shells and surrounds.

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Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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