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1928 Studebaker President race car AUSTRALIA

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Hi All

This build thread is to illustrate my challenges and progress as I advance through the build of my Studebaker president.

I am from Australia, Victoria.  I am a drafts person and hope to bring my ability of technical sketching and 3D modelling to assist the design and construction process.  

This is the oldest car i have ever worked on.   My previous automotive experience has been restoring and modifying 1960's Holden, Japanese motorbikes and British motorbikes (Triumph)

I welcome discussion and advice along the way as it is all a big learning curve for me.

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First step before starting anything on the car was to set up a table.

My assembly area is on a gentle slope so needed the ability to level the frame. I did this by using threaded mounting points for minor adjustments.

I also work in a single garage so needed to wheel it and out to be able to stand back and check the proportions.  I used heavy duty braked castors and also made the legs adjustable with pins for significant adjustments


I made it short allowing me to to fit the the front & rear end without any obstructions.

I was also cautious to ensure I had clearance for access to the engine, gearbox and tail shaft.



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With the car secure on the table I took the opportunity to start my mock up and start checking proportions.

This will help me determine if I take the ambitious task to shorten the frame.


Shortening has its challenges as the rails are tapered in from front to back.

The profile is not a straight C profile either.


I have made rough cutouts representing the radiator and firewall that i can shuffle forwards and back to get proportions right and also legroom! 

The engine has already been positioned backwards several inches.


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Being such a long frame i endeavour to use really big wheels to help proportionally.

My thoughts are if i have bigger wheels i may not have to shorten the frame.


I was kindly offered these solid disk wheels.


I think they would look great polished and nickle plated.




Edited by Andy Copeland
Grammer fix (see edit history)
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With clear side profile photos i was able to crudely draw the frame and wheels to scale so i can start playing with proportions.

I dont like the bulbous shape of the 1930 Indy 500 cars.  I am considering developing a shape and style cues similar to 1920's and earlier styled European cars like the Bugatti type 35 and the 1932 ALFA ROMEO MONZA.


As the Studebaker has a long wheelbase I have referenced a favourite car of mine is the 1917 Fiat Botafogo which has similar proportions.

This will act as my base for now and i will tweak the lines from there through hand sketches 


Below i have drawn the frame and wheels & engine roughly to correct scale with the fiat body over.  I have then made further tweaks to the body lines.


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Nice work.  I also have a Studebaker project on the back burner.  My car will have a shorter wheelbase.  More in keeping with the theme of the early 30's Indy Junk Class cars.  I will also be using 20" Buffalo wire wheels on this project.   I am clipping my frame so I do not have to deal with the heavy overhang behind the rear axle.  Keep going....


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The solid disk wheels looked great and a point of difference but I did want to go to a larger diameter if I had the opportunity to. 


I am now fortunate to have three  budd #3 25” wire wheels in great condition but they came without centre hubs.


These wire wheels appear to be commonly used on studebaker light 6’s exported to Australia so I managed to track down some spares. 


I purchased two smaller diameter wheels and 8 centre hubs all with threaded caps to suit.  Then intention is to try find another 25” rim to complete the set.  Alternatively follow the costly route to build a new wheel. 


the message here is if you have a 25” budd wheel I’m looking to buy or trade!! 



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Hello Andy,  Could you turn around one of your Budd wire wheels and show us the back or drive side of the wheel center?  I would also like to see a picture of one of your drive hubs that will mate up to your wire wheels.  I am not familiar with the Budd style wheel.


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You need to get into contact with Gary Ash Of Massachusetts, USA. He is building a similar project, and can help you along. He has a website on his Studebaker Indy Car build. Do a google search and you should find him. Listen to his advice, he KNOWS what he is doing, good luck, Ed.


studegarage.com is his web site.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Here are some pictures.  I have managed to get quite the selection of hubs in a short amount of time.  Hope these  pictures help you understand the budd wheels Al


Craig, I have plenty of hubs for now thankyou for the offer.  it’s a complete wheel I need for now.


Ed, yes I have already extensively read his website and posts here as well.






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Edinmass, you are too kind! 


I've been reading here with interest.  Those Budd hubs look strong enough to carry a big truck.  No delicate Rudge splines there!  How much does a hub and cap weigh?  The caps appear to have a locking mechanism to keep them from unwinding by engaging the the teeth at the outer end of the hub, yes?


It's good to see another Studebaker speedster project.  Getting the engine rebuilt will be a challenge, but the internal parts in your photos didn't look too bad.  What is the engine serial number?

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Hi Gary - it was great following your build! 


My engines are:

FB 2518 - Engine with all internals that came with the chassis. I will most likely use this but it has very rusty water jackets.  A hot tank clean and intrusive inspection will determine my next steps. 




FE 13407 spare empty dummy block I bought for $1.  This is in great condition and could be a candidate to use if needed. I’m yet to investigate interchangeability from FB to FE engines.




i will have some questions for you in the new year about new replacement engine parts (egge).  I do know I need to find a new crank fibre gear as mine has a chipped tooth.


For those interested in side water jacket plates

I might be making tooling to reproduce the water plates as mine is badly corroded.


Good to hear your thoughts on the hubs.

i still need to find some President front brake drums so I can determine how I will best fit the front hubs.  Do you know of any? Or possibly new light trucks that have the same Internal diameter that could be cut and modified?


At this early stage I anticipate using the rear hubs that bolt to the brake drum.  This will require filling existing holes & redrilling to match the original stud pattern.


yes, the hubs do have a spring locking mechanism.  The serated profile let’s the tooth lift and click into the notches as you tighten.  To loosen you lift the locking tooth held down by a spring.  This is great however I do love the racey look of Nock offs which may lead to a simple modification of my caps. 


The weights are:

Cap = 1kg

Front non braked hub = 3.2kg

Rear axle braked hub = 4.65kg


Please excuse the metric.




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Faxon Auto Literature reprints the 1928-1928.5 Parts Book for $49 USD (plus a lot of postage to you!) which covers your FB engine and most of the other mechanical bits you have.  See http://www.faxonautoliterature.com/1928-19285-Studebaker-President-Eight-Parts-Book-Reprint-P16676.aspx


They also reprint the 1929-40 parts book which covers the FE engine.  Both engines are 337 cu in displacement with 5 main bearings.  The blocks got upgraded in 1931 to 9 main bearings, engine serial numbers start with P.   I think most of the parts from the FB and FE engine should interchange, but I don't have that 1928-1928.5 parts book.


Your hubs are close to the weights of the Rudge-type hubs I had machined from 4140 steel bars.   Those Budd locks are an interesting solution to prevent the hub caps from moving.


The brakes are 15 inch diameter, don't know of modern drums that size.  Try the Studebaker Clubs in Australia for a source of spares because the drums would be extremely heavy to ship from the U.S.  My Antique Studebaker Club roster shows that John Grant in Carss Park NSW (Sydney) has at least two 1929 Presidents.


The water jackets rusted out on many of those engines, as well as on the smaller 250 cu in engines.  It might be easier and cheaper to just machine one out of bar stock, maybe even stainless, than to go through the process of making stamping tooling.  Maybe a good welder could put one together from stainless sheet and not have the welds show after finishing, but getting it to stay flat could be difficult.  Here are some photos of assembled FB/FE engines.  I suspect that the last photo shows a stainless cover since it is not painted.



1931 Studebaker engine right side.jpg

1931 Studebaker engine.jpg



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Did they really use wing nuts on the tappet covers?


That last one looks a bit  like aluminium colour. The corners are so sharp it almost looks to be cast. It certainly looks thick around the edges - no doubt to prevent wrinkling between the bolts as the cork gasket is compressed.

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I ran some quick calculations to compare making the water manifold cover out of 1008 sheet steel, 304 stainless steel, and 6061 aluminum.  An aluminum part would expand more with heat.  I don't know how much movement of the cover versus the block can be accommodated without getting leaks, but here are the calculated difference in the ~35 inch long cover.  Maybe the right kind of gasket would prevent leaks.  I assumed the cover was made to match the block at room temperature.


water manifold length 35 in 889 mm
temperature cold 70 °F 21.1 °C
temperature warm 180 °F 82.2 °C
temperature difference 110 °F 61.1 °C
Coefficients of thermal expansion        
Cast iron 5.8 x10-6 in/in/°F 10.4 x10-6 m/m/°C
Sheet steel, 1008 7 x10-6 in/in/°F 12.6 x10-6 m/m/°C
Stainless steel, 304 9.6 x10-6 in/in/°F 17.3 x10-6 m/m/°C
Aluminum, 6061 13 x10-6 in/in/°F 23.4 x10-6 m/m/°C
Growth in length, cold-to-hot        
Cast iron 0.022 in 0.565 mm
Sheet steel, 1008 0.027 in 0.685 mm
Stainless steel, 304 0.037 in 0.940 mm
Aluminum, 6061 0.050 in 1.271 mm
Difference, block to manifold        
Sheet steel, 1008 0.005 in 0.120 mm
Stainless steel, 304 0.015 in 0.375 mm
Aluminum, 6061 0.028 in 0.706 mm
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  • 1 month later...

After I taking a extended break I am now back into the studebaker.  I have now spent my time cleaning all diff brake and wheel components so I can assess the parts and plan the next move


This is is the first time using molasses and am very pleased with the results allowing 1 week to soak, blast with high pressure water and a wire brush.   Here are some before shots:





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My immediate challenge is to fit front brakes and modify to hydraulic.  


the car came with all brakes and rear drums but missing front drums.  I am having a very difficult time finding front drums to suit!


I was optimistic I would be able to find new truck drums close to size and machine to suit but have been unable to find anything close to the 13.6” internal diameter.


i am now considering buying large diameter hydraulic 1940’s  front truck drums and spindles.  

Option 1, fit the spindle to the studebaker axles

Option 2, modify the brake backing plate to suit the studebaker spindle. Gary Ash your pictures on this method are encouraging. 


Any recommendations for commonly avaliable big brakes.  I’m currently looking at chev maple leaf trucks & ford 2 tonne trucks.


or do you know of some studebaker president front drums and hubs?


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  • 1 month later...

I have been unable to find any studebaker president drums :(


i have purchased what what I think is a early (42) chev truck front end.  Anyone know what it’s specifically from.  The brakes are 5 lug with a internal id of 14”.  They are hydraulic two shoe.


I antisipate using everything except the axle and hubs. Using the king pin and some thicker bushes in the spindle it might fit the studebaker front end.








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  • 2 years later...

Hi Andy , my name is Frank and live in Sydney.


I’ve been referred to you after I posted a thread on the AACA Forum in relation to my purchase of a RHD 1929 Studebaker President 8 Roadster 131” .

The car has a FB Engine,  # FB 10336, and was wondering if you could offer any assistance in regards to the availability of suitably qualified people in Australia that could carry out mechanical work on it or information.


Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Regards, Frank 

PS I’m going to spend some time now going over your thread .



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  • 2 weeks later...


Hi Frank congratulations on your purchase do you mind me asking how much you paid?

I haven't really looked for any engine builders yet.   Where i can i'll do all other mechanical work myself.

If you go down the path of engine rebuilding I'd be very keen to know where you soured your engine parts.  I know i will need new pistons, rings, all new bearings, timing wheels and a distributor.

keep in touch!


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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi Andy, I am also building a special from a 1928 FB President.

It is bare bones no body. I have been working on it for 12 months now. I have converted the front springs to conventional shackle pins and bushes.

I will have to make a drag link using dodge Ram tie rod ends, they have the same taper.

Brakes will be converted to hydraulic because I am missing front perot arms. Using Nissan patrol rear cylinders with 8mm backing plate to centralize cylinder with shoes. A minor mod to shoes is required. 

I have the original wire wheels but will convert all studs to 14mm. 

Plan to fit T5 gear box and a small supercharger, see what happens. 

The motor is at the reconditioner now.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Andy, I'm making a race car too. Is a  president FE of 1929. Is the wheelbase of your victory 135 inches? Did you cut the chassis? I'm not going to cut it and I'm scared that I won't be proportional. 

How many inches did you run back the engine and gearbox?  Good luck with your project.  regards from Chile.

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  • 4 months later...

Hello all 

I have decided that this project should continue with someone else.  Dedicating time to my family and other interests come before this so it is for sale. 

included in the sale is all and everything relating to this project including spare parts and literature.  Only some pictured here in this thread


the price is $3500AUD ONO


Large parts are

Studebaker President chassis sandblasted and primed with id tag x1 (comes with chassis stand)

studebaker president 8 engines x2

studebaker 8 (later engine) x1

president gearbox disassembled x1

President diff disassembled and all bolts/parts individually bagged x1

later studebaker diff x 1

President front end including original brakes x1

chev brakes to suit front end x2

President steering column x1

Radiator x1


Wheels and hubs can be sold seperate upon negation. 


kind regards

Andy Copeland 

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Hi Andy , could you please give me a call when you have time To discuss the items .

I am currently restoring the Studebaker President Roadster 131wb.

I’m based in Sydney.
frank mob 0422991187



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