A handy little tool

As you can see I have changed the main photo at the top of the blog.  This is the ’66 Commander that will get the new engine.  It will also be getting new rear fenders and rockers, but that will be a later blog.

An old mechanic friend who is now in a nursing home (and sadly, suffering from alzheimers) gave me this tool when he helped me check  a 170 a number of years ago to see if the bore was over the limit top-to-bottom.  I finally remembered that this tool would also measure my actual bore size. It consists of the dial attached to an arm and plate to slide up and down the cylinder, various lengths of tips for the dial gauge, a tool to set the basic width to be measured and a set of feeler gauges.

This part of the tool is made up of plugs of various sizes which can combined give you a base width for setting the dial gauge.  I combined the plugs to come up with 1/16″ over3.5″ which just happens to be the exact size of a standard Studebaker V8 engine bore – 3.5625″.


I then added a rod length to the gauge which was just enough to allow for expansion beyond the standard cylinder diameter.  I then set the gauge on the measuring rod between the two uprights (the one of the left is hidden behind the gauge mount) and set the needle to zero.

I had earlier cleaned the bores out just enough to remove the majority of the surface rust. I slipped the tool into the bore and found that the cylinders are about .040″ oversize for a total cylinder diameter size of 3.6065″. The pistons are 3.6025″ which leaves a difference of  .004″ or .002″ all around between the piston and the bore – my tool and my actual measuring ability may result in some variance.  All the cylinders read the same and of course there was virtually no difference between the top and bottom of each one.

The Studebaker service manual says to check with a .002 feeler gauge. They use a long gauge that fits the full length between the piston and the cylinder wall.  I don’ have one so I made do with a standard one of about 4″.  The manual says it should take 8 – 12 lbs to pull the gauge out.  I don’t know what their gauges were made of but I doubt that my feeler could handle that amount of pull without breaking. When I did pull the feeler out it took a noticeable pull so I’m hoping things should be fine.  I still have to do a final hone which will clean out the last of the rust stains, but shouldn’t remove any significant metal from the walls.

Next will be cleaning out the lifter bores and checking the lifter fit.







More on the basic block

The engine was definitely bored and from what I can see with my simple gauge is that it is .040 over.

Original Equipment Quality

With a long history of producing engine components dating back to the early 1900’s Hepolite is well known for engine parts for many classic British vehicles, many of whom were supplied as OE with Hepolite branded pistons, rings & bearings.

The Hepolite range consists of pistons for many classic British vehicles, all of which are manufactured to the original specification. With interest in classic vehicles at an all-time high and values increasing, it makes sense to repair these vehicles with the same quality of parts as when they left the factory, therefore helping keep the value of the vehicle.

This set of Hepolite Aluminum Pistons are .040 over for a total piston size of 3.5625 plus .040 = 3.6025. So my cylinder bores should be about .002 over the piston size (3.6045) if it is all going to work as is.  I will need to use a tool to properly measure the bore size.

In the meantime I tested a piston in a bore.  It was snug fit but there was still wiggle room.  So I inserted a .002 feeler gauge in with the piston and it made the fit tight – or so it seems.  I want to do a proper measure to be sure all is within specs. That will happen a bit later.

The main bearing caps look ugly but they’re not as bad as they look in the photo.  I plan to sand blast the outsides of the caps first.  I’ll then install them in the block and using the cylinder hone and lots of solvent lubricant I’ll carefully hone each just enough to clear out the ‘patina’ of rust in the bearing seats.

This is a poor photo, but you should be able to just make out the surface rusting in the lifter bores.  I plan to use a small 2 stone wheel cylinder hone to once again just clean out the rust from each bore.  I did test fit one of the valve lifters from the JT engine and the fit seems tight. Strangely I have yet to find the lifter bore clearance specs in the Studebaker repair manual.  I’m digging online but no luck so far.

A shot  of the shelf in the background with all the JT components.  Lots of work to ready those parts!

Here is an interesting intake I picked up in my travels.  It is a highrise two barrel with a Stromberg WW carb.  Likely used on the early V8s.  I’m not sure if I’ll go with the original JT Carter AFB on a flat intake or go for just a 2 bbl on a highrise.  If I could find a larger 2 bbl carb that would fit on the original intake base I might go for that.  Unfortunately a Holley 2bbl won’t fit without some serious machining.  Jim Pepper says “The R1 intake does not have slots in the plenum divider so throttle response should remain somewhat crisp”  He later comments that a 1/2″ to 1″ spacer under the carb will help with fuel flow and reduce separation of the air and fuel as it bends at the floor of the intake.  Decisions, decisions….

OK time to start the R1 engine


This is the block I plan to use to re-create JT1841.  It sat around for years and was believed to have been bored.

I’m trying to find out if the casting number is the same as that on the original JT engine.

Hard to see but it reads VCH324 – 259 made in Canada in the month of August 1963 and the 24th made.  Jim Pepper tells me that there is no reason not to use this full flow block to re-create a JT 289.

The bores were surface rusted throughout.  I used a Lisle cylinder hone to clear out the rust to see if there was any serious pitting.  I used lots of washer solvent in the process and didn’t clean any more than was necessary to check everything out.  My simple dial calipers showed that the bores were maybe .002 under 3.6″.

And so the fun begins!









A new beginning

Time to start the winter projects.  The one big benefit of living in a country where you can’t enjoy driving for 5 or so months and you can focus on repairs and improvements to your favourite rides.

This year I’m doing the doors on the ’54 Champion.  I have new door trim boards land will be transferring the old vinyl to them.  I will also be replacing the front door seal.  It got destroyed when I positioned the door too far forward and it crushed the upper part of the seals.  I may attempt to install a new style radio but, that may not happen.

Second, I am starting the build on a 289 V8 using components from a ’63 Jet Thrust engine.  The JT block was destroyed so now I’m going to use a later model 259 bare block to put together a new JT 1841

My third project has nothing to do with Studebakers unfortunately.  I have a ’74 Dodge half ton that has been repainted and needs it’s trim re-installed.  I won’t be covering that on this blog.

Hope you find it interesting.