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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A 1951 Studebaker that has been in the family since new is up for grabs. I may pass on it, I may restore it, I may try and convert it to electric...I'm very new to Studebakers, and they seem to have gone through many changes around this time, so I'm just trying to figure out what might be possible...

Does anyone know of any conversions that have been done? I'm very interested in whether the transmission was kept, or if someone figured out how to put something like a Tesla motor in the rear. The car is body-on-frame, but a Tesla rear subframe is way too wide in track, and I'm not sure how I would fit a motor in something like a Miata or BMW subframe without having to re-engineer the suspension. Ditching the transmission leaves more room for batteries, and since I'm aiming to build a long-distance road tripper, this might matter materially.

I'm hoping someone will come out with a live axle with an electric motor in place of a diff, but they only seem to exist for heavy industry or direct-to-OEM sales...

 

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The Lexus transmission is huge, though. I think it would stick out into the engine bay significantly more than, say, a Hyper9 equivalent attached to the factory 3spd gearbox.
 

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Closest I can think of is Icon's Merc...that was pretty much keeping the body and building a new chassis for it. Tesla modules stuffed everywhere, and the Stude is a smaller car if I'm not mistaken. The big bucks way to do it. Then again, one in good shape doesn't deserve a half-assed low-budget conversion.

The X-frame (I think cars of that era had those), if it has one, may complicate a tunnel solution and hacking up the tunnel to get more width is sacrilege if the floor isn't rusted out.

I'd see about transplanting a Ford Ranger EV rear end into it...

My dad had one before my time. He said it was a total POS, and traded it for a Dodge, but I always liked the weird look of them. PM me if you take a pass and it needs a home.
 

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I'm hoping someone will come out with a live axle with an electric motor in place of a diff, but they only seem to exist for heavy industry or direct-to-OEM sales...
The Mitsubishi Outlander has a motor in the diff, and has seen a huge amount of development over on the OpenInverter forums, along with many accessories. The Inverter is last piece of puzzle to be hijacked, but, all the other major components have been CAN hijacked, apparently because it doesn't use any encryption on the CAN messages? Something like that.

Anyway, charger, heater, AC... all have known CAN control and guys have working vehicles with them.

And if the GS450H motor/trans is too intimidating for you, it's baby brother the 300IS might be better suited. That's Damien's next project, and, he's already got it spinning on a bench (pretty much immediately).
 

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Ford's Ranger EV has the classic alternative to mounting a motor on the axle beam or converting to independent suspension: a de Dion suspension. A de Dion is a beam axle combined with a final drive unit (which can be an EV drive unit) that is mounted to the frame, with jointed axle half-shafts.

The drive unit doesn't need to be especially designed for use with a de Dion, but it is necessary to fit the axle beam (which moves with suspension travel) around the drive unit, so dimensions are important. The Ranger used a coaxial drive unit configuration which can be handy for compact packaging, and there are now coaxial units available from the Bolt, Mach E (including under the Eluminator name), and other EVs.

To build a de Dion, basically one fabricates a beam that goes around the drive unit, has mounting points for the springs and locating elements (which can mean just leaf springs and shocks), and mounts hub and bearing carriers on the ends.

One member here (CanadaLT28, if I recall the username correctly) considered building a custom de Dion setup to use a Leaf drive unit in a VW truck, but in the end decided to adapt an independent suspension from another VW model.
 

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a de Dion suspension. A de Dion is a beam axle combined with a final drive unit (which can be an EV drive unit) that is mounted to the frame, with jointed axle half-shafts.
Hmm.

So here's a beam axle or "live" axle going over a bump. The red is both structural/rigid, and inside it it's also powered and spinning the wheels. The wheels are always perpendicular to the axle, and the differential is unsprung and disconnected from the car body:
Rectangle Window Font Tints and shades Triangle


Here's a De Dion axle. The red now is only the powered axle, and its angle relative to the wheels can change, so it needs u-joints at either end of each shaft (or CV axles). The new blue shaft is the structural/rigid component that is locked perpendicularly to the wheels. The differential can now be mounted directly to the body and is suspended:
Rectangle Flag Font Pattern Circle


So, the De Dion just separates the powered and unpowered parts of the axle into separate components (or, rather, doesn't force one to be inside the other). It's not independent, you still tilt the whole rear axle from tire to tire whenever you go over a bump on one side.

The blue beam doesn't have to go above, it could go behind, or below (or, if powered by a motorized diff instead of a driveshaft, even in front).

Or, in 3d form, here's for example, what the beam axle in my car looks like (well, this plus a track rod, and, a torque tube instead of solid pivots, but that's not as popular of a design):
Tool Auto part Font Plastic Composite material



And here is what it would look like as a De Dion suspension:
Recreation Nonbuilding structure Font Toy Pipe

So to convert a beam axle to being able to use an Outlander motor, you'd keep the wheel hubs, CV axles, and motorized diff out of the Outlander, and then have to add that U-shaped beam around the back of the hubs and to hold them rigidly together. And maybe add in the other suspension connections depending on what you're using. (Using separate coils and shocks vs. Macphersons doesn't matter, or leafs, or whatever). Or maybe you'd steal a De Dion suspension out of an existing car, and then chop its CV axles (keep the outside) and merge them with the Outlander's CV axles (keep the inside).

... but at that point, is it really any more difficult to just adapt the whole IRS from the Outlander, which is superior in every way anyway?
 

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So here's a beam axle or "live" axle...
Even a de Dion is a beam axle, named for the beam which rigidly connects the hub carriers. A "live" axle has rotating shafts to drive the wheels, so a the back of a typical truck has a live beam axle, and the front of large trucks has a dead beam axle (no drive).

The blue beam doesn't have to go above, it could go behind, or below (or, if powered by a motorized diff instead of a driveshaft, even in front).

Or, in 3d form, here's for example, what the beam axle in my car looks like (well, this plus a track rod, and, a torque tube instead of solid pivots, but that's not as popular of a design):
... And maybe add in the other suspension connections depending on what you're using. (Using separate coils and shocks vs. Macphersons doesn't matter, or leafs, or whatever). Or maybe you'd steal a De Dion suspension out of an existing car, and then chop its CV axles (keep the outside) and merge them with the Outlander's CV axles (keep the inside).
True. A de Dion beam above the drive unit usually doesn't fit, and it's usually behind. With an electric drive unit having the motor ahead of the axle line (such as a Leaf), the beam behind the axle line would work; with the motor behind the axle line (most Tesla drive units) the beam could go in front. In the Ranger, if I recall correctly, it runs behind and below the axle line.

Or, in 3d form, here's for example, what the beam axle in my car looks like (well, this plus a track rod, and, a torque tube instead of solid pivots, but that's not as popular of a design):
... And maybe add in the other suspension connections depending on what you're using.
True. Of course a typical leaf-spring suspension consists of nothing but the beam, the leaf springs (on suitable hangers) and shock absorbers. That's why it is used: it's simple and therefore cheap. I assume that the 1951 Studebaker has leaf springs.
 

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Or maybe you'd steal a De Dion suspension out of an existing car, and then chop its CV axles (keep the outside) and merge them with the Outlander's CV axles (keep the inside).
The biggest problem with getting a de Dion setup from an existing car is that almost no one has used them for a couple of decades, and they were not common even then, so there are very few to salvage.

... but at that point, is it really any more difficult to just adapt the whole IRS from the Outlander, which is superior in every way anyway?
Since converting to a de Dion requires designing and building some sort of structure to support the drive unit, as well as the axle beam assembly, it could be argued that designing and building a subframe for the drive unit and an IRS salvaged from some suitable vehicle might be just as easy. Of course the obvious suspension source is the drive unit source.
 

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If I were going to convert a Studebaker I would one of Toyota/lexus hybrid rwd such as a GS450H transmisson this would leave the engine bay and trunk space for batteries
later floyd
I agree. Tremelune comments that it is huge, but I disagree. Guess it depends on what you compare it to. It is smaller in overall size than the Chrysler 727's in my Javelins.
 

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By coincidence, the coming EV version of the Mercedes G-Class addresses the issue of making an electric drive unit work with a beam rear axle by going to a de Dion, as we have discussed.

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It seems the Ranger EV is similar. The struggle at the moment seems to be finding a car with a similar track, the idea being to swap in an entire rear subframe to minimize fabrication and any hints of critical engineering...
 

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Interesting, but as well not exist: a wrecked G-class would fetch over $100k. Dual rear motor in a Studebaker?

Not just a similar track, but dealing with spring/strut mounts is going to be a PITA. Kevin Ericsson did a nice job on his, but any cutting into a classic car is more than measure twice...it's don't do it unless you don't care about its value, imo.
 

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To be clear, since I may not have been initially:
  • the EQG does not exist yet, and will not for a couple of years
  • even when the EQG exists, it will never be common and so will never be a good salvage source
  • even when EQG salvage parts exist, they will be unreasonably expensive
  • I cited the EQG only as an example of what can be built (and an illustration that a competent major auto manufacturer considers it the best solution for a specific situation), not as a source of parts
 

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The struggle at the moment seems to be finding a car with a similar track, the idea being to swap in an entire rear subframe to minimize fabrication and any hints of critical engineering...
I agree, but while the use of an entire suspension and drive unit complete with the subframe that holds it all together is appealing, and it has worked well in some projects, the potential issues with fit and required fabrication should be recognized. Even if the track dimension is compatible, interference between the suspension-drive-subframe assembly and the target vehicle's body and structure is likely and can cause critical issues.
 

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A 1951 Studebaker that has been in the family since new is up for grabs. I may pass on it, I may restore it, I may try and convert it to electric...I'm very new to Studebakers, and they seem to have gone through many changes around this time, so I'm just trying to figure out what might be possible...

Does anyone know of any conversions that have been done? I'm very interested in whether the transmission was kept, or if someone figured out how to put something like a Tesla motor in the rear. The car is body-on-frame, but a Tesla rear subframe is way too wide in track, and I'm not sure how I would fit a motor in something like a Miata or BMW subframe without having to re-engineer the suspension. Ditching the transmission leaves more room for batteries, and since I'm aiming to build a long-distance road tripper, this might matter materially.

I'm hoping someone will come out with a live axle with an electric motor in place of a diff, but they only seem to exist for heavy industry or direct-to-OEM sales...

I did my 1960 studebaker champ truck. I love it. However it ain’t cheap. Electricstudebaker.com.
 
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