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Projects 53 COOP (Studebaker) gets a major makeover

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Irishjr, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. Phil-
    Boy do I ever need to get going!
    Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have been consulting on design of wastewater treatment equipment for the company I used to work for back in Ohio. We have two projects for a plant in Canada that have been eating up a lot of my time.


    On the bright side, the $$ have been rollling in and that buys a lot of car parts (plus a new roof, encapsulating the crawl space, paving my driveway, etc......
    Then there's the maintenance on my other cars. With 26 COOP, 333 COOP, 40 COOP, my wife's Solara, and my 4 Runner all seeming to need something fixed, I just been fallin' behind on 53 COOP.

    I am happy to announce that all of my cars are back on the road except the Stude. Now it's time to get something done on the 'Baker.

    I am rigging a fixture to hold the wheel mounting surgace in the right spot relative to the frame so I can modify the ends of the uppper and lower control arms for ball joints and Camaro dropped spindles...

    I promise I will be posting soon!
    Peanut 1959, brEad, loudbang and 7 others like this.
  2. Well, boys and girls, I am finallly back on the Studebaker. I have been feeling 'Baker deprivation......

    While I haven't finished the exhaust system, I decided it was time to hit the front suspension. Being a stubborn Irishman, I just won't take the easy road and do an aftermarket swap, when I can do a re-design in place, by switching the trunnions and king pins to ball joints with '67-'69 Camaro (rear steer) dropped spindles and disc brakes.

    So first I made a dual pattern 5x4-1/2 and 5x4-3/4 mounting plate out of #10 ga. steel. This will hold the drum or disc in the right place when I connect the spindle to the upper and lower control arm and maintain the stock tread width and camber:


    Then I removed the shock absorber and replaced it with a 1/2" threaded rod with nuts top and bottom, jacked the lower control arm up to just off the lift pads, and tightened the nuts to hold the suspension at normal ride height. I recorded the distance from the lower shock mounting surface to the end of the threaded rod (9") to be able to hold the lower control arm at the original position prior to the modification. This will also allow me to lower the car by changing the distance whatever amount I choose. I probably will only lower it 1-inch, so that will mean changin the 9" to 8" on the rod.


    Then I laid lines on the floor to establich the centerline of the chassis and a paralel line for the face of the wheel mounting pointing straight ahead:


    I tightened the brake shoe against the drum to prevent rotation and dropped plumb bobs at front and back of the mounting plate to align the plate with the line on the floor. I did this with the top of the plate level, so the caster did not affect the tilt of the plate (camber), and then marked the center of the spindle (at the wheel mounting surface) on the floor, as well.


    Then I proceeded to construct a rigid support for the mounting plate, to hold its position while I modified the control arms:



    This allow me to remove the Studebaker spring (temporarily), drum, and spindle and hold the Camaro rotor and spindle in the correct position for the conversion to ball joints.



    So the last picture shows the rotor in place and the control arms removed for cleaing up.

    It also shows the my garage needs some cleaning up. Sorry about the mess.....

    I'll be posting more progress in a few days.
  3. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 14,736

    from KCMO

    Looking forward to following along :)
    lothiandon1940 and loudbang like this.
  4. Thanks for the latest update.
    lothiandon1940, jim snow and loudbang like this.
  5. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 40,169


    I like the way you work. :)
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  6. I also like your method and technique, looking forward to seeing the modified arms. I suppose you have some old GM arms that you are cutting and adapting to the base of the Studebaker arms?
    loudbang likes this.
  7. Old control arms? Not really, although my 40 Ford has a '69 Camaro subframe, that I welded in back in 1979. So I have that as a reference. (although I narrowed both upper and lower control arms back in 2010, when I channeled the car and installed dropped spindles).

    Actually I will construct the brackets to mount the ball joints:

    Here's a picture of the lower arm in place with the spindle and rotor on my fixture and the ball joint pressed into an aftermarket sleeve that I will welt to the bracket.


    On the upper arm, GM used bolt-on ball joints, so I can add design brackets for the modification of the arm. Here are pics of the driver side which has the original spindle still in place. That spindle is quite abit taller than the Camaro spindle, as shown on the second picture, so the geopetry will be different. Under a bounce the camber will move more to the positive (out at the top), but I don't think it will be a problem, especially with radial tires. After all, the '69 Camaro had similar action as compared to the original Studebaker, whose indepenent front end was pretty primitive and not made for performance handling.

    Driver side:


    Passeneger side:

    kidcampbell71 and milwscruffy like this.
  8. blackbeard40
    Joined: May 25, 2009
    Posts: 39

    from maryland

    Man o man Jim you have taken on another gutsy mod

    Well, I can report that I think this is going to work out well. I have the upper and lower control arm mods tack welded in place and cut-her-loose so I can check the motion, and am pretty happy with where it is going:

    I had to procure a 2-3/8" hole saw and made a plate which will be welded to the sleeve that houses the lower ball joint



    I tacked it flush with the top of the sleeve and gradually removed metal until it fit whe end of the control arm that I had trimmed:


    I then added a gusset plate to hold it at the correct position temporarily:


    Similarly, I made a 1/4" thick mounting plate that the upper ball joint bolts to. This picture shows it in place with a couple of temporary gussets:


    Finally, it was time to remove the fixture mounting plate and check the motion:


    I have a little bit of trimming on the front top lip of the lower control arm to trim to give me full turn capability, but other than that, it has full bounce, rebound, and turn angle in both directions. As I said before, the extra, positive camber during bounce might be a concern, but I think I can live with it, since I will have radial tires on it.




    Oh, and by the way, I needed 19-1/2" long tie rods to match the geometry of the lower control arms. Camaro tie rods were about 2" too short, but Chevelle ends and sleeves were perfect. Just gotta make the adapter for the Grand Am R&P.

    I'll be baaack!
  10. So now it's time to make the upper control arm look like a functional upper control arm....

    As they say that a sculptor starts with a block of stone and removes all that doesn't look like whatever he is sculpting, I guess I just have to remove all that doesn't look like a functional upper control arm, but I can add stuff that DOES look like a functional upper control arm.

    The main thing is to keep stuff in the right alignment as I remove and add pieces parts:

    Before starting on the remodeling, I replaced the inner bushings, which was a PITA, as I learned what I had to do as I went along, but that's another story....

    So here's the starting point:


    First, I moved the curved and flanged part down and temporarily tacked a bent plate to hold the ball joint bolting plate while I cut away the one side:


    Then I rebuilt the side with the same gauge steel as the original:


    Added a flange down to the ball joint bolting plate:


    Then did the same to the other side:


    Then cut away the temporary plate at the center and filled in the top center:



    Next, I filled in the bottom center, at the same time whittling down the ball joint bolting plate as I went:


    I still have stiffener flanges to add around the bottom center of the hole. I'll add a picture after I finish it today.

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
    cfmvw, Lepus, oldengine and 8 others like this.
  11. A beautiful sculpture!
    jim snow and loudbang like this.
  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,920


    I've been poking my nose into my neighbor Craig's "throttle stop garage" and he is in the midst of a front suspension snafu. Chances are, he will post good solutions soon.
    loudbang likes this.
  13. I too have been following his build:

    I guess I avoided his number 1 mistake by knowing where a '67 Camaro was located to measure the length of the tie rods ;)
    loudbang likes this.
  14. Today, I completed the upper control arm and put the components back on the fixture on the car:


    Then, after a conversation about alignment adjustment mods with a buddy of mine, I added the feature of using shims like a normal car, rather than slotting the bolt holes as on so many MII kits. It turned out fairly simple. I rotated the inner pivot shaft 90 degrees and bolted a 1/4" bar with a total of (5) 1/8" shims on each bolt, and tack welded the bar to the top of the crossmember tower:


    Now I just have to do the lower control arm:


    I await delivery of rubber bumpers and spring seat cushions, then I can put it all together and get to the other side.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  15. Dago 88
    Joined: Mar 4, 2006
    Posts: 2,237

    Dago 88

    Love your work. ;)
    loudbang likes this.
  16. I'm back........

    Today I modified the lower control arm:



    It's now back on the car in the fixture. I may add some gussets to strengthen the end of the lower arm, but at least it fits, clears, and I am happy with how it turned out.


    Next task is to attach the tie rod on this side and than switch to the driver's side.

    See ya......
    brEad, Shadow Creek, loudbang and 4 others like this.
  17. More sculpture.
    jim snow and loudbang like this.
  18. On the lower, maybe extend the top flange to the center line of the ball joint for a bit more strength ? They both look really good !
    loudbang likes this.
  19. I agree, but need clearance in a turn, so I want to consider the actual shape of the flange extension.
    loudbang likes this.
  20. Yep kinda figured that might be an issue, between turning and up and down movement clearances have a way of disappearing. Good luck and nice work.
    loudbang likes this.
  21. Once I get the tie rod hooked up, the R&P will determine how far I turn. Then I can determine the clearances under turn, bounce, and rebound.

    Which reminds me of a story. In 1963, I was a student at GMI, in Flint, and my Co-op was Chevrolet Engineering Center in Warren, MI. I was spending time in the experimental garages and working along side a suspension engineer on the soon-to-be-introduced Chevy Van. The guy was having trouble figuring out the brake hose routing under turn, bounce, and rebound. After a while, he said, "well let's see how Ford did it". They had a Ford Econoline Van parked right next to it! :):)
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
    sidevalve8ba, Graham08, cfmvw and 4 others like this.
  22. stude54ht
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 949

    from Spokane WA

    looking good.
    loudbang likes this.
  23. Today I worked out the tie rod mounting:

    With the Grand Am power R&P, 2 center threaded holes are used to attach an adapter to which the tie rods mount. The center moves side to side, rather than the more conventional tie rods that stick out the ends of the R&P. I used an L-2x2x1/4 welded to a 7/8" square bar. Each end of the bar is drilled and reamed with a 7-degree tapered reamer to take the rod ends. I found the center of the car and measured the offset of the 2 threaded holes (2-1/8"). The tie rods are just under 20" long, same as the distance from the ball joint to the inner pivot shaft of the lower control arm (that should minimize bump steer):


    That was it. Pretty simple. Tomorrow I will run it through the steer, bounce, and rebound, to make sure there are no interferences. It may be close to the end of the R&P under bounce and steer. If it hits, I may have to heat and bend the outer tie rod end shaft.

    For now, It works well lock-to-lock and it appears that I will have reduced the turning radius nicely, as compared to the stock Studebaker.



    Just for grins, here's how I had to do the heat and bend on 26 COOP's steering to get the ackerman to work right. I bought the rolling chassis with the tie rods out front, ar real no-no.



    Later, gater......
    brEad, loudbang, Shadow Creek and 3 others like this.
  24. Might just be the photos, but is the turning radius going to be a tight enough radius ?
    loudbang likes this.
  25. The first photo (right turn) wasn't against full turn. You pretty sharp!

    Actually, it will turn tighter than the stock '53, which was terrible!
    milwscruffy and loudbang like this.
  26. I'm making up for all the time I didn't pay attention in high school !
    loudbang, j hansen and Hnstray like this.
  27. I measured the angle off straight ahead, using a protractor and sighting down on the line on the floor. Inside turn 33 degrees, outside turn 30 degrees. Thank you Mr. Ackerman :)

    I removed the fixture, installed the brake line (fits perfectly to the Studebaker routing), and ran it thru the steer, bounce, rebound. Turned out I had to bend the tie rod ends slightly.


    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
  28. Jim, I'm so glad you are back in the garage!
    loudbang and jim snow like this.
  29. cfmvw
    Joined: Aug 24, 2015
    Posts: 951


    Almost would have been easier to build new control arms from scratch, but there is no denying yours are a work of art! Some very impressive engineering and fabrication went into those!
    loudbang likes this.
  30. Well, I guess there is always a fallback position.....cut it all out and put a MII assembly in its place........just not as much FUN!:confused::rolleyes:
    loudbang, cfmvw and milwscruffy like this.

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