1953 frame stiffening suggestions

I am working on restoring a 1953 Commander Hardtop Coupe. I have heard the frame on this car referred to as the "flexi-flier" and so I wondered if
anyone had any experience in stiffening the frame on these cars. I am planning on a V8 with about 200 HP and an automatic OD transmission. I plan to keep the stock rear end which is a 4.55. Since I have the body off, now is the time to work on the frame. I have seen several people that have worked on this vintage of Studebaker and the frame mods range from adding a straight cross member or 2, to much more involved "X" frames. Some of them seemed like extreme overkill. Any recommendations will be appreciated.
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StuartDBaker wrote:

you may be able to add the "batwing" crossmember that was used on 54-up cars, not sure how difficult this is, someone was asking about it at SB but I didn't know how to advise him.
nate
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it is a piece of cake. the 54+ frame crossmember bolts right on. but i have to say i have been fooling around with 53 and 54 c/k cars for over 45 years and i am under the opinion that a lot of the so called frame issues were only issues back in the mid 50's because the quality of the roads were so awful then. imho a structurally sound [with good hog troughs] 53 is fine for the roads of today and is very little different than the later model cks. if that doesn't sway you and if you are bound and determined to strengten the existing frame and assuming you have rotten torque boxes [hog troughs] on your hard top you might want to add your frame rails on the outside of your existing frame rails [running parallel with the existing rails].a couple of frame cross members connecting the two is an excellent replacement for the usually rusted out sheet metal member. either way have fun. ed
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it is a piece of cake. the 54+ frame crossmember bolts right on. but i have to say i have been fooling around with 53 and 54 c/k cars for over 45 years and i am under the opinion that a lot of the so called frame issues were only issues back in the mid 50's because the quality of the roads were so awful then. imho a structurally sound [with good hog troughs] 53 is fine for the roads of today and is very little different than the later model cks. if that doesn't sway you and if you are bound and determined to strengten the existing frame and assuming you have rotten torque boxes [hog troughs] on your hard top you might want to add your frame rails on the outside of your existing frame rails [running parallel with the existing rails].a couple of frame cross members connecting the two is an excellent replacement for the usually rusted out sheet metal member. either way have fun. ed
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If you think todays roads are good, you obviously don't live where I do. Imagine farm quality two lane black top that is now smack dab in the middle of one of the highest growth areas in the nation. Dig the roads up put sewer water etc in then temprarily repave them. Tear them up again in six months and so on.................... The orange construction cone is now considered the state tree.
Back to the subject, if I had the body off of any CK car I'd do something to strengthen it. Just go jack up one side and see how much your door alignment has moved. These cars are some of the most beautiful designed cars ever conceived IMHO, however the frames suck!! Russ Arizona
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200hp needs nothing. You'll break that diff before you tear up the frame. Besides, a 'restoration' would be all stock, with no additions or modifications. Jeff
"StuartDBaker" wrote...

***
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I have an excellent "batwing" crossmember $150.00 + shipping.
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On my 53 coupe (not hard top) I added gussets at the existing cross braces and added the bat wing cross brace from a 62 GT and welded in new sections of floor then fiberglassed the floor. and I have no flex that I have noticed. You can jack up any corner of the car and the doors open and close normally. My car was a Champion but had a Stude V8 for the last 20 years. I have a 289 4 speed from a Hawk. I also have 3/4 mile of washboard road to my place. I am sure part of my good luck with out frame flex is because it is a coupe. But I also think that the flexing frame has been blown out of proportion. I also have a 53 Champion coupe that had a Buick nailhead in it for many years and hot rodded around Tucson. I have looked it over very well and it has no frame cracks and also no modification to the frame not even the 54 up Bat wing. I am working on a friends 53 coupe that has had Cadillac engine in it for at least 20 years and was asked to check the frame for cracks while I have it here. It also has no modification to the frame no cracks and no complaint of flexing frame. These have been my experiences I am sure others will have had different experiences.
--
Jerry Kaiser (Studeblu)
64 One Ton
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I've heard that fiberglassing the floors adds a serious amount of rigidity to the frame.
On your 54 coupe with the 4sp, are you running a two piece drive shaft. If not did you have to cut thru the portion that the carrier bearing mounted to on the orginingal fram cross member?? I'm doing a 54 coupe with the 289 4sp going to run a one piece shaft. I've heard that that section has to be removed. Thanks
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Yes I had to cut the bottom out of that cross member to run a one piece drive shaft. I also added one leaf in the rear springs. Not sure if it would be needed if the springs weren't sacked out some.
--
Jerry Kaiser (Studeblu)
64 One Ton
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On Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 4:24:29 PM UTC-5, rustynutgarage wrote:

I'm about to do just that to a '55 Prez State sedan that is TX rust free. The added benefit is a substantial reduction in road noise as well..
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replying to Jerry, twoprimo wrote: I too am building a '53 coupe with 401 Nailhead & SP400 transplant! I would love to compare notes with you, please feel free to contact me : snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com
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StuartDBaker wrote:

Since modifying the frame physically will render the vehicle as modified, I would suggest a couple of layers of fiberglass on the entire tub instead..
JT
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I would add an endorsement for fiberglassing the floor pan using thick fabmat and epoxy resin. The body and frame work together, and stiffining the body is as effective as stiffining the frame-maybe better. I was very impressed with the results on my '53 Champion Starliner years ago, and used the same process more recently with the '53 convertible. Basically, you build a second layer throughout the floor and as far up as possible on the firewall and even into the trunk. In addition to stiffining the body, it insulates from heat and road noise. People riding in my Starliner are always impressed with how quiet and solid it feels. S2DSteve
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Jeez, I'm going to have to stop reading the newsgroup. You guys just make more work for me.
Frank Starr 55 C
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Interesting Steve.. how much total did this procedure cost? Also, perhaps you can point us towards some sources for the goods (I know, I'm a a shameful car newbie)..
thanks! p
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It's been a while, but it seems like somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 for materials. I got a 5 gal can of resin, but didn't use it all, and it seems like somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 yards of the mat (this is very heavy 1/2" weave, not that light stuff you see in hardware stores). Check with boat repair shops for the materials.
S2DSteve
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On Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 1:00:51 PM UTC-5, StuartDBaker wrote:

Though kind of late... The best way to stiffen a non X-frame is to simply put a couple layers of fiberglas on the floor including the trunk floor. Not only will it stiffen the whole assembly, (frame/body), such will substantially reduce road noise.
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