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Converting Champ truck brake drums to Chevy
Bob Stehlik, Winchester, OR


One day as I was surfing the web and going through the articles on the Studebaker Forum. I ran across an article on changing the drums on the Champ truck from the stock drums to Chevy drums. Since a good set of truck drums are hard to find , the change would be a good idea. The article directed me to a web page that told me everything I would need. Well It didnít but it did give me most of the info and some nice pictures. I filed this away as something to remember. One day while talking to Jeff we discussed this topic and both agreed this would be something we would like to try. Sometime later Jeff called and said he had seen an ad for the Chevy drums that we would need. They were at Springfield Auto Wrecking for $15 each and they had four drums. Jeff had put two on hold and I should get the others. Since I was heading to Eugene in the next few day I stopped and bought all four of them. Now we had the drums and I had a set of rear hubs but no front hubs.

A short time latter Jeff and I took a trip up to John Lassaters for some parts and tried to buy a couple of front hubs. When I called to make sure John would be home I made a slight error. I told him about the hub and drum change and since he has all of the tools to do the work it would be easy for him to make up a kit to sell. Well when we tried to buy a set of front hubs John didnít want to sell them. I guess I should have waited to tell him why we needed the hubs after we had bought the hubs. More time passed while I worked on the truck. When the truck was ready for a test drive I found the brakes to be poor. They didnít stop! They would slow down but you really had to stand on them to get them to stop. I hadnít driven a champ truck for 10 years and my last truck had power brakes. I couldnít believe that this was the way they should be so I had Jeff drive it and sure enough I was right, the brakes should be better. Everything was new? Why? Well we went over all the things that it could be but it was obvious I needed to disassemble the brakes and find out what was going on. As it turned out there were a couple of things going on. First I noticed that the new linings were hitting mostly in the front and only a 3 inch area on the rear. New linings, old drums, no arching the linings in like the old days. Also, I had put the large shoe in the rear instead of in the front. I was lucky they even worked as well as they did. Change the linings arch to match the drum and remove the small shoe and replace with an older but good large shoe. All of the time I was doing this I was thinking that it sure would be nice if I had the Chevy conversion ready so I could swap everything out. Ok now the brakes should work. They did. Now I had to do the rear. It sure would be nice if I had the Chevy drum conversion ready.

That evening while thinking about pounding off the rear wheel hubs I made the decision to do the Chevy drum conversion. Bite the bullet, just do it. No more procrastinating. Do it. Well as it turned out it wasnít that easy. The one thing they donít tell you is which wheel stud to use. The machine work was the easy part. Which wheel stud will depend on what wheel you are going to use. I couldnít find any wheel stud that had a short enough shoulder. They all protruded above the surface of the hub. The Chevy drum has 1/2 inch stud holes and the stud shoulder on the standard Studebaker stud is 5/8 and sticks above the hub surface by 100 thousands or the thickness of a 5/8 washer or the thickness of the Chevy drum. So the Chevy drum stud holes will need to be opened to 5/8 so the drum will fit flat on the hub. They didnít say anything about that either! If you use a Studebaker or a steel wheel youíre all set. If you wish to use aftermarket wheels like I have you need longer studs. If you wish to use Spacers longer yet. If your hub holes are enlarged, a larger shouldered stud will be needed. Donít worry any good machine shop that press studs can get you the right stud. Just know what you need.

When the rear drums and hubs were finished I set to work changing the rear brakes and installing the new hubs and drums. I didnít mess up the rear brakes I had them on right? The front on backwards but the rears on right? Must have been a senior moment! The new hubs fit. The new drums were too tight. I Had to do a little adjusting then everything fit. Looks like the drum and hubs were made that way. They work too! I still needed a set of front hubs.

While I was working on the rear conversion Jeff reminded me that George West had bought the front and rear axels when he bought the Studebaker flat head 185 engine for his 46 champ. I called George but he was visiting his kids in Sacramento. I tried him again just before the February meeting and this time he was home. I asked him about the front hubs and he agreed to sell them to me, but I had to take the whole front axle. That was ok by me so now I had the front hubs I needed.

This time I knew what was needed and the machine shop also knew what to do. This time it only took two days and the drums and hubs were ready. I took them home and installed them with no problems. I took the Champ out for a test drive and it stops like a champ should.

The cost well itís not cheap. The machining cost $70. Pressing the studs $40. New studs $45. Drilling the drums $40. Drums $60 . 2 Hubs $30. Total for 4 hubs and drums $285. Four new fined drum, 20 new studs, drums that donít need to be beat off and I can check my brakes without pulling the hubs for under $300. That is Cheap! Now if you have to buy the drums at NAPA or some other flaps it will cost you more about $80 a drum more but if you have an in with a Flaps (friendly local parts store) or buy a used set it will be a little cheaper. Used drums run $25 each new $95.

$300, a lot of research, patience and taking the time to find the right parts pays off big. The cost of one new Studebaker fined drum for a car is $199.95. For a Champ truck itís unoptainium, N/A, in other words there are no new drums. So this is one Studebaker non-factory upgrade I would recommend. The Drum Conversion on the 62 Champ

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