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Technical Studebaker Lark Project

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Miloburnz, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    Hi all , this is my first post so here goes. Just over a year ago i came across a 1960 Studebaker Lark for sale half hour drive from where i live which was an extraordinary find considering i live on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean, i liked the look of the Lark so i bought it and set it aside as i was still restoring another car thats now finished so i am starting to look at what i can do with it.
    The Lark was last on the road in 73, although i pulled it out of a field it must have spent the best part of the last 4 decades indoors as it is very solid and the interiors great condition considering its age.
    Originally a flathead 6 it had no engine when i bought it so i thought the obvious route to take was hot rod it, this made the gearbox and axle obsolete if i wanted more HP!
    I have a Mopar 318 drive train with a Dana 35 axle that i going to fit and i also want to lower it a couple of inches.
    First issue i am looking at is the original rear axle is 58 1/4" WMS and the Dana 35 is 60 1/2" WMS, the Lark front measurement is 59 1/4" WMS so was designed with one inch track width difference.
    The obvious solution is shorten the rear axle but seems like a lot of work for two inches, also i need to upgrade the front brakes and overhaul the front suspension anyway so what options are there to widen the front track.
    Pondering on what is the best way to go with this so any advice welcome.
    Cheers IMG_5022.JPG
     
  2. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 1,606

    rustydusty
    Member

    I had a '62 Lark with a 327 and a th350. Really fun car! Can't answer your question, but it looks like a great start...
     
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  3. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 2,701

    partsdawg
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Minnesota

    Look for a Dana44 for the Lark. They were available and can be found with 3.55 gears. Add the finned brake drums and your good to go.
     
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  4. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,304

    bchctybob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I don’t know what you are planning to do to that 318 but unless you’re going to beat on it severely the Lark rear end should suffice, at least for the time being. Then go looking for a Ford Explorer or some other stronger and more serviceable rear end.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  5. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    Not so common in Spain, the dana 35 i have has finned brake drums and a LSD.
     
  6. vtx1800
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,049

    vtx1800
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

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  7. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 1,225

    lumpy 63
    Member

    I got my front disc brake brackets from Hotrodsandbrakes, pretty inexpensive and worked well. Also Turner brakes sells master cylinder mounting hardware and front brake kits. The obvious problem with the wider rear is you cant put much of a wheel on it. MikeVV on here is a great source of knowledge
     
  8. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    I have the whole matching drive train of 318 Magnum, 46RH OD trans, drive shaft and Dana 35 with LSD all in good working condition i don't really want to bother renovating the Dana 27 Lark axle as Lark V8's had Dana 44. Ford Explorers in Spain not very common whereas there's lots of Jeeps here with Dana 35's.
     
  9. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    I have some 6" rims with 195/60 tires that i put on so i could move it and there's still space to go wider, i'll have to check the offset on them.
     
  10. No need to widen the front track. Huge amount of work for no reason.
    Front track width almost never matches rear track with, and never really needs to match.
    Dono if mid 60s Mustang rears are scarce there also but they fit well. I used a 67 stang' 9 inch in my Avanti, and a 67 Torino under my Hawk. (I snapped a couple tapered axle dana44s, but Im a rough driver with 4 spds)

    There are different models of more recent Ford 8.8s that have the same track width if you dont mind looking them up.
    Dont forget to change the front coil springs to v8 springs. Stude 6s were very light for their size, so 6cyl front springs will crush right down when you stuff in a v8.
    Those front spindles are used from the early 50s on thru the 1984 Avantis, so you can fit any disc brake kit advertised for any of those years or car models.
    If you have trouble tracking down steering play, just keep in mind that even the smallest amount of tiny play in the center pivot of the steering bellcrank (bearing or bushing tucked inside the front crossmember), will always translate to a large feeling of large steering play at the ends of those long levers. Always keep that center pivot in good shape if you dont like lots of play in the wheel.
    There is a hard to find grease fitting at the very middle of the rear of the front crossmember that is almost always covered in dirt or grease. It is important to find it and keep it lubed.



    WHY BE ORDINARY ?
     
  11. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    Very limited with axle choices as i am in Spain thats why i was considering shortening the Dana 35. I looked into the front coil springs as i will change them regardless but as the Studebaker V8 is a lot heavier than a Mopar small block not sure how it would sit if i got new Studebaker V8 springs. It's going to have to have power steering to get through the tight winding streets in European towns and a must for parallel parking, rack and pinion will tidy things up as that bell crank system looks over complicated, i was looking at it last week and there's loads of play in it so i guess it was last driven like that which probably accounts for the front end damage.
     
  12. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,983

    Mike VV
    Member
    from SoCal

    Milo -

    Looks like a fun project.

    1. Make sure that you "have" or can get a "rear...sump oil pan (and pickup) for your 318. A front or center oil sump assembly will not work.
    Also, as I recall from a guy that did instal a Chrysler wedge into a Stude, said, it's a tight fit, front to rear. He can be found on the "Studebaker Racing" site. Do an accurate set of measurements to make sure the short Lark engine bay will allow the 318's length. From the back to the fan flange...firewall to radiator.
    https://www.racingstudebakers.com/foo/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2342

    Main site -
    https://www.racingstudebakers.com/foo/index.php

    2. A wider rear axle in the back will present wheel/tire fitment problems. The 2+ inches will make it VERY difficult to find wheels that fit the car without the tires rubbing the fenders. You'd either have to have wheels made, or cut big holes in the fenders so the tires can stick out of the fenders. NOT an option..!?
    A Dana 44 out of a later Stude will have the correct width AND...flanged axles. Yes, as has been mentioned, the tapered axles are a weak point. It's a plenty strong assembly past that.
    Or...most any assembly can be narrowed to fit. Sticking with the OEM width (OR, about 1-1/2"
    narrower) is your easiest and best option to my way of thinking. If you go slightly narrower, you'll have a better choice of wheels too.
    The tire/wheel fit in a Studebaker is a tight fit. Use caution with what you do.

    Check "Studebaker International" for many body, interior and chassis parts. There are also other outlets around for parts, mostly in the US. For body and chassis parts though SI is the place I'd go first.
    The Stude front suspension, while unconventional is very tough, it will withstand plenty of abuse, more than most. Just rebuild it as required (see Stude Int.). Also, keep it well lubed for ease of steering effort.

    Have fun.

    Mike

    P.s. - I see that you just posted.
    DO NOT try to install a R&P for the steering. It's probably MUCH more work than you think ...to get it even close to correct. And "close" to correct is all that you will get. MANY have tried, no one has improved in the Stude steering. You may have to raise the engine slightly, and/or modify the oil pan to keep the bell crank.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  13. cool...factory Stude front disk are not hard to find - I have more than I will ever use.....
     
  14. lo-buk
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 280

    lo-buk
    Member
    from kcmo

    We put a 76 maverick 8-inch rear end in my sons 60 lark wagon in just a few hours. Fits good and got a good gear for hiway driving.
     
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  15. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    Thanks for the link, this is the first time i can actually read a thread on that forum as i usually get blocked on the site for been in Europe i guess, i did chat before with Nox on the Studebaker forum.
    1. I already have a 318/904 from a 60's Dodge in place and it fits ok without the sump pan but starter is close to the steering gear. I also have a Magnum with a truck sump pan that is a good running engine with an overdrive 46 RH which i measure to be the same and maybe easier fit as it has a smaller starter on the opposite side. The 318/904 needs a total rebuild.
    2. So best option for me would be to narrow the axle as trying to source another axle in Europe to fit with the same PCD is going to be difficult and expensive. Would going narrower 1-1/2" have any handling benefit on the Studebaker as it already has a 1" track width difference? Whats unconventional about the suspension?
    The bell crank steering looks over engineered to me but i will really need power steering, 80% of the time its parallel parking here and tight turns in the streets. What is the problem with R&P steering? Lots of cars have it retrofitted, just looked easier than fitting a power steering box on the Lark
     
  16. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 3,852

    southcross2631
    Member

    I drive by really nice 4 door Lark all the time . It's setting with the rear end on jack stands . Has been for over a year. When I finish my current project might stop and ask if it's for sale to make me a nice cruiser.
     
  17. Flamed48
    Joined: Apr 19, 2011
    Posts: 668

    Flamed48
    Member

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  18. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 680

    finn
    Member

    Didn’t Volvo use a Dana 44 for a number of years? They should be readily available in Spain.
     
  19. ...fix the rearend problem...
    fas 116.jpg
     
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  20. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,576

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    @Miloburnz .....nice find. I have a ‘60 Lark Hardtop, though equipped with the 259 V8.

    The Dana 35 you have is undoubtedly stronger than the Dana 25 or 27 now in your Lark, but given the width issues, there are better choices if you have access. A good choice would be a Ford 8.8” from a Ranger pickup. There are two widths, 56.5” and 58.5”, depending on year model. The ‘90s era are the wider. They also came with two different brake diameters, 9” and 10”. The advantage of the Ranger axle vs the oft recommended Explorer is two fold. The Explorer is 59.5” wide and has a heavier duty axle housing and axle shafts, which are overkill in your Lark. Except for width, the Ranger 8.8” is essentially the same as Mustang 5.0 and would be plenty strong for your application. There are other choices in older Ford 8” axles that are very close in width to your needs. Being in the European market, you might investigate Toyota pickup rear axles. The five lug models are 4.5” bolt circle like the Studebaker.

    As for steering system design, it is nearly identical to ‘49/‘54 Chevy passenger car layout.
    They share all the faults of the design. I have a ‘56 Studebaker Hawk with factory power steering (a massive Ross unit if I recall correctly) and it is the same used by GM on ‘54 Chevys, the few that had P/S anyway. Later Studebakers used a hydraulic ram assist P/S
    That was more compact and lighter in weight, but is not easily retrofitted to our Larks.

    However, a long time friend who is a master fabricator was hired to add P/S to a ‘53 Chevy and found that a Ford Ranger integral P/S box could be turned on it’s side to orient the pitman arm the same as the Chevy/Studebaker and fabricated mounting brackets to do that. Typical of cars of that era, the original steering column shaft has to be shortened and fitted with a ujoint or the column replaced with a newer unit. The key thing to understand is, the Ranger steering box has reverse rotation of the pitman arm that is essential to going in the direction you intend.

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  21. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,983

    Mike VV
    Member
    from SoCal

    #1. Good that it fits.
    #2. - Rear axle - No there will be no handling problem with a "slightly" narrow" axle. First, a narrow rear, vs. a wider front is a good thing for handling. Ever wonder why a childs trike tips over so easy ?
    Beside, when you fit proper fitting wheels, the track will NOT be 2+ narrower. Fit wheels that fit the car. You can now go to a 7" wide wheel. Better fit, better tires, looks MUCH better.

    #2. R&P - Have you driven the car yet ? The Lark is a light car. The Stude engine is a VERY heavy engine. The Chrysler engine is lighter than the Stude V-8. I drove my 59, 2dr. wagon, Lark, With the 259 V-8, for the better part of 10 years with...no power steering.
    Design wise, there is NO benefit to putting a R&P steering on a Stude chassis. As I noted, MANY have tried, most have failed, and the few that did finish the project, truly bastardized the steering to do it. Plus, you are concerned about the narrowed rear track...
    Putting a R&P on a Stude chassis makes a bad "bump steer" problem worse. Plus it mounts so far from the crossmember, they the mount will either be heavy or flimsy...or both..! You won't have room for you oil pan anymore either.
    "Bump Steer" read up on it. Again, the Stude chassis and a R&P are just not a good fit.
    On the other hand, if you want to cut the frame at the firewall and build another front suspension, then that another matter altogether. Here's what I did to my 1960 Lark, 2dr. wagon...
    https://public.fotki.com/-Mike-/60_lark/

    [​IMG]

    Note how the R&P AND the arms are in a straight line at ride height..! You cannot get that with a Stude chassis.

    Mike
     
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  22. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    When i first started looking for axles a year ago i found a couple of 90's Volvo's in the local salvage yard but they have Dana 30 with 5x108 bolt circle, i did buy the wheel set of one and filed out the bolt holes to fit just so i could move the Studebaker, the Spanish built Chrysler 80 uses Dana 30 but thats a 4 bolt wheel, problem is most european cars are only 2-2.5 litre so no big axle needed, maybe Volvo used the 44 on their biggest engine with towing package.
     
  23. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,947

    RichFox
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I used the Turner disk brake kit and thought it was the best thing I did to the car. Just a thought on Lark Stance
     

    Attached Files:

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  24. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    I have been looking at axles for the past year but hard to find any compatible or even close to what i want here in Europe. The plus side of the Dana is its 4.5 bolt circle and i have the drive shaft, trans and engine to go with it so only have to change the drive shaft length and axle width fit some spring perches and its done. Regardless of what axle i use i think i'll always have to modify something.
    Interesting what you say about the power steering, i never thought about putting the box on its side, what i was struggling with was trying to imagine a way around the original setup with the steering box sat on top of the frame but i guess any power steering box would work in any orientation so long as its reverse rotation. I did search for the Studebaker ram assist for some time but never found any for sale , there is a similar system made here thats a retrofit for the Spanish made Landrover but expensive at €1,100!
     
  25. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,576

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    @Miloburnz .....given the difficulty of finding an alternative axle, the Dana 35 is probably your best option. As for it’s width, narrowing it is not that complicated. Most axle housings have a ‘long side” and a “short side” axle, which typically may vary 2.5” to 3”. The method is to obtain a second short side axle shaft and shorten the wide side housing tube by the difference in axle length.

    That series Dana axle use ‘C’ clips for axle shaft retention and the outer axle bearing is pressed into the housing. The axle shaft itself acts as the bearing’s inner race. So there is no actual modification of the shaft nor transfer of pressed on bearings, etc. Narrowing the axle tube is really quite easy and if for any reason you do not want to do that modification yourself, any decent machines shop will do fine.

    Even if the narrowed axle width is an inch or two less that the original axle, that is far easier to manage with wheel selection than being too wide.

    lastly, I think I have a few pics of the steering box conversion I mentioned previously. I will look for them and post if I find them.

    Ray
    1ECA1F2B-F393-4DB6-9ACB-68A1DA737056.jpeg
     
  26. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    No state to be driven yet, on the Studebaker forums they say its light steering compared to other cars of the same era but cannot imagine the missus been happy with no power assist as i promised her this was the car she could use as its more compact than my others. I must admit though you can go lock to lock quite easily parked.
    My original idea was a power steering assist but R&P seemed easier if i made a crossmember to mount it but at the moment i have an engine loosely fitted with no sump so cannot see how it would fit but it would sit quite low i imagine, i am familiar with bump steer and would not attempt to fit anything unless i was happy it was lined up to perfection as i am a marine engineer and fastidious when fitting anything especially on cars and motorcycles.
    I was looking at the Mustang front clips as it seemed a good option getting better suspension disc brakes and R&P steering all in one package but Fatman quoted me $1,790 just for the frame or 4k for everything so still not sure if its worth it for a cruiser . Is your Lark wagon front end one of custom built, looks like a lot of work, don't think i'll ever get to that stage with mine.
     
  27. Miloburnz
    Joined: Jan 27, 2020
    Posts: 22

    Miloburnz
    Member
    from Spain

    If the axle were shortened one side the drive shaft pinion would be offset, that is assuming its central now, looks to be but never measured it. Is this the norm when shortening an axle to have some offset on the pinion?
    Would love to see some photos of the steering conversion, i have a power box in my workshop, i'll have to see if it goes the right way and size it up.
    Cheers
     
  28. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,576

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Pinion offset is very common on a wide range of vehicles, 1.5" to 2" is the norm. In spite of some technical claims about it becoming a 'compound angle' when the driveshaft angles both downward and sideways, as long as the driveshaft is long enough to have a low operating angle, the u-joints do not seem affected. And, it quite possible that such axle housing narrowing may end up centering your pinion. I have already sized up my Lark for the Ranger 58.5" axle, which has a pinion offset, and I see no issue to be concerned about.

    As for the R&P steering and bump steer with otherwise stock Studebaker suspension, given the swept angle of the upper and lower A arms (and their pivot shafts), positioning an R&P unit in reasonable proximity to cross member and maintaining linkage geometry seems a considerable challenge.

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  29. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,576

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    C4285B5F-396B-4975-8043-507F56A4FFEB.png A3409A16-F810-499A-A26E-7C1BCE947874.png 8C7B2503-FE11-4655-B8F3-825DAEC20FCA.png D198E65C-7196-4059-A333-22F9FB8A9922.png 21189218-68C6-4585-A84C-CBCCE52B8324.jpeg

    @Miloburnz ...first two pics are of the stock ‘56 Stude Ross p/s unit in my Hawk. It is same unit used by GM in ‘54 Chevy passenger. Even the frame rails of the Chevy in that era were essentially the same configuration as Studebaker (so-called ‘top hat’ profile). The only difference I can find is the ‘clocking’ of the valve body on the upper side of the unit which only slightly affects the shape/routing of the metal tubes. I drove the Stude with this unit for some time and it drove okay. But it is a monstrosity in it’s bulk.

    The third pic is looking down to the Ranger box mounted onto the ‘53 Chevy chassis. You can see from this view that the length of the sector shaft in the Ranger box is short and keeps the unit compact and permits the pitman arm to occupy the same space/location as the original and without forcing the rest of the box outboard.

    The fourth pic shows key parts of the fabricated mounting brackets. What isn’t completely clear from this photo is the additional bolts on the underside attaching the mounting fixture to the box.

    The fifth pic indicates the routing of the pressure and return hydraulic lines.

    Hope this helps in your evaluation of potential solutions .......

    Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
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  30. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,983

    Mike VV
    Member
    from SoCal

    Yes, it is all made at home. I designed everything, made most everything and welded most everything. I even got yelled at by my doctor for working in the garage with five broken ribs at the time..!
    Check with Morrison for chassis parts too. They built the rear clip that you see in the pictures. I just installed that as a single unit.
    A good friend of mine and I built and installed the roll cage in his shop to tie everything together and obviously provide some crash protection while on the track.

    Have fun...

    Mike
     
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