Rounding that corner to where my car is actually being put together again seems a little bit like turning that last curve of a race, when it’s the home stretch and you can finally see the finish. Months have been spent on this rebuild, easily twice the time I’d originally imagined. I’ve had setbacks and roadblocks. I’ve missed car shows, events, and more than a few weekends that I wish I could’ve just been lazy. I remember my first fear when I started dismantling my Studebaker was that it would never come back together again… a little bit like Humpty Dumpty.

So you can imagine my excitement once my engine was completely together again…a far cry from the way it was when we started. Good gracious look at that dirty beast when it came out of the car! If you haven’t been following along on Operation Stude I’ve: completely cleaned, dismantled, and painted the block and headers, replaced the main engine bearings, piston bearings and piston rings, honed the cylinders, had the heads checked and machined, put in new freeze plugs, replaced the intake manifold and carburetor with better-chosen Edelbrock equipment, and finally, installed a Lokar cable shifter (that install story is still coming!) Being my first engine rebuild, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

When it came time to hook my rebuilt Small Block Chevy (SBC) up to the engine hoist and remove it from the stand, I could hardly believe it…was this Humpty Dumpty really going to go back together again?!? Depending upon what engine and car you’re working with, physically installing an engine can be an easy 15 minute job or a very tight squeeze taking up hours. The SBC and 700R4 transmission are a pretty good fit for Stude, so this job doesn’t fare on the super-difficult side of the scale but as a V-8 it’s not a quick drop in the pond either.

The last minute challenge to this task was a parts chase to find new motor mounts for my hot rod set-up. I don’t know what was originally used, but it’s not for a Studebaker nor for a SBC. In the world of auto parts stores where workers look everything up via computer by year, make, and model and seldom have much knowledge – I was supremely thankful for a local parts shop that is able to operate old school. C & C Auto Parts on Anaheim Blvd. in Long Beach has catalogs available to peruse and knowledgeable staff to help you find what you need (it now goes by another name, Factory Auto Parts I think, but is the same great business.) I brought in my old mount to compare and we looked through pictures and pulled parts from the shelf until we found something that would work – it turns out 1955-1964 Ford Truck Front Upper engine mounts do the trick!

With the parts procurred and engine on the hoist, we lowered it to the ground in order to hook the 700R4 transmission back to it. If it can fit in the car together, it’s much easier to do this here rather than wedging up a transmission separately from underneath (although I’m well acquainted with this job, as this is Stude’s 3rd trans).

While it’s been out, Ethan gave my transmission some TLC. Leading up to this engine rebuild, I’d been having a huge trans leak. Two bolt holes in the transmission housing which the pan connects with were compromised – one with a broken off bolt and the other with a fine crack running through the housing. Ethan extracted and re-tapped the one hole then JB-welded the other as best as possible. Putting everything back together along with a fresh filter, we’re hoping and praying this helps the leak issue.

Once the trans and engine were mated and properly torqued, up it went!

With Ethan and I working together, we slowly and carefully hoisted the engine into place. A small amount forward and lower each time, until bit by bit the transmission had slid into its place under the car. We used a jack on the transmission shaft, once it was down there, to keep it from scraping the ground and to help even out the angle of the engine. Keeping an eye on clearances is the most important part of this job, anticipate where the engine is headed next and make sure it has the room to go there. Without needing too much persuasion…

Studie had her heart back!

How-to-Engine-Install-finished-grease-girlI can’t being to describe the satisfaction, accomplishment, and relief of seeing this engine back in it’s place. This SBC engine install was an easy task compared to all the waiting – I’m getting mighty anxious to have my little Studebaker back on the road…I guess I’d better keep on workin’!


5 Responses

  1. Arielle

    I can only imagine how happy you are. I’m still waiting on one last (and I hope it’s one last) wire harness for Athena. Eventually I’ll be able to start her without being afraid of starting a huge fire because of all the exposed wiring.

  2. JP Kalishek

    Today’s auto parts shops (The chains especially) are a bit like many “mechanics” … they plug stuff into a computer and stick parts into the works, hoping that fixes the issue. I have a 98 Nissan p/u. It was periodically spitting out a code for the vapor canister check valve. The valve opens to suck the fuel vapor from the charcoal canister to control emissions. As I live in a county close enough to Dallas/Ft Worth, I have to have an emissions test to get my inspection sticker and this code, of course sets off the Check Engine light, and occurs the just about the time I need to get my yearly inspection.
    None of the shops had the part, and the one who could order it wanted $129 for a small lump of plastic and metal.
    Looking at how it is supposed to work, I figured I could test it to see if the solenoid was still working or is the valve had an issue. I ended up dismantling the thing (The factory says it is not serviceable, but it is if you look close enough) and finding a small bit of the carbon had escaped the canister and was holding it open. A year later the same thing happened. Seems a screen or something in the canister is going bad.
    I re-rebuilt the solenoid and put some fuel filters in the lines to keep trash out of the valve. End of issue.
    Both times I had it checked and found what it was the parts guys said it was not fixable.

    My old car preference is the 73-76 Dodge Colt (I’m odd …. I know). I had a 73 with the 2 liter that was only used for a two year period, and the water pump died. Guess what? No One had that pump. I was working at the jobber house and every place we dealt with had no listing. Finally I found Pep Boys had it listed, and I ordered it (Egad! I had to pay retail!) and it took a week to come in …. and was of course, Wrong.
    I ended up going to a buddy’s shop, pressing the bearings out of a new pump, and pressing them into my precious, seemingly one of a kind, pump body. The Pep Boys one got returned, the old bearing and seal were stuffed into the one from work and sent back as a core.
    Later, I learned I likely could get a factory replacement from Mitsubishi through their fork lift trucks dealers. Forks tend to use older engines for years after the cars were long gone (our 2004 model Toyota at work uses a 70’s Corona engine).
    If some jerk hadn’t killed my beloved Colt, I’d still be driving it, and getting it’s water pumps from a Fork Lift place.

    Another time, I helped a buddy rebuild the front suspension of his IMCA/UMP Modified. He had a list of Moog part numbers that were needed and the part counter worker had no clue how to get me what I needed … back and forth with me telling him if they didn’t use Moog numbers on their part we needed a catalog to cross the numbers. “But what kind of car is it?” I finally told him ” Look, it’s a 91 Dirtworks using a 73 Chevelle frame with Grenada rotors on Pinto spindles using unknown year Dodge ball joints and who knows what tie rod ends”.
    *Deer In Headlight*
    Finally, the young lady who managed the place came over and she and I showed the kid how to look stuff up in a catalog.
    outside of my co-worker and an old fella in New Orleans, she, and the older lady who also was a manager at that place were the best parts people I had to deal with. The old guy was one of those who looked at something from across the room and said “Well that is the wrong part for that year Road Runner. It is a 69, not a 72, and the part number is [insert a long number here], and that is back on the fifth set of shelves on the third shelf up”
    Hard to find those guys today.

    Sorry for the long ramble (~_^)

    Y’all take care.

      • JP Kalishek

        I almost bought one of that generation. My old neighbour had one of those (“71) in white.
        The one I looked at was actually a Plymouth Cricket brought down from Canada.
        I guess I need to get some money saved and get something Colt, RWD Mitsu built .. I’d even love a Sapporo or the Challenger.

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