Diesel World

1663 STUDE­BAKER 2-TON DIESEL TRAC­TOR

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At the dawn of the 1960s, most of the smaller in­de­pen­dent Amer­i­can auto and truck man­u­fac­tur­ers had faded away un­der the sear­ing light of “The Big Three,” Gen­eral Mo­tors, Ford Mo­tor Com­pany and Chrysler Cor­po­ra­tion. Stude­baker was way older than any of them but was grimly hang­ing on to it’s tiny sliv­ers of the car and truck mar­kets.

Stude­baker was founded in 1852, in­cor­po­rated as the Stude­baker Brothers Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany in 1868 and was a very well known and re­spected man­u­fac­turer of horse drawn wag­ons, car­riages of all types and tack well into the 20th cen­tury. Their in­volve­ment in mo­tor ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­ture started in 1897, when they ex­per­i­mented with elec­tric ve­hi­cles. They started build­ing gas pow­ered cars in 1904, floun­dered a bit with ill-ad­vised col­lab­o­ra­tions with Gar­ford and E-M-F, fi­nally set­ting down in 1911 with their own Stude­baker brand. Though their horse-drawn equip­ment was a big money maker in World War I, Stude­baker ex­ecs saw the writ­ing on the wall and ceased the pro­duc­tion of wag­ons and horse tack in 1919.

From World War I into the ‘30s, Stude­baker was one of the lead­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers and at points was one of the pin­na­cles of au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy. It was in the 1930s that Stude­baker’s in­volve­ment with diesel power be­gan. By 1937, Stude­baker had a full line of trucks into the medium duty range up to 3-ton ca­pac­ity and they of­fered a 2-ton model J20D with a Her­cules DJXB diesel. That con­tin­ued for 1938 with the K20D. The mar­ket in­ter­est in diesels was lim­ited at this time, but Stude­baker con­tin­ued of­fer­ing a smat­ter­ing of diesel prod­ucts well into the 1950s, espe­cially for ex­port mar­kets, most of which used Perkins diesels.

By the early 1950s, Stude­baker was in deep fi­nan­cial distress and merged with Packard to be­come Stude­bak­er­packard. This shal­lowed the steep fi­nan­cial dive but the com­pany was still headed for the ground. By 1960, after more cor­po­rate reshuf­fling, the com­pany was hold­ing it’s own and the man­agers of the truck di­vi­sion de­cided the time was ripe to in­tro­duce diesels into their medium-duty lines. They went diesel shop­ping and set­tled on the re­cently in­tro­duced Detroit Diesel 53 Se­ries as a good fit for their Transtar truck lines.

The first ex­per­i­men­tal in­stal­la­tions of the GM 4-53 took place late in 1960 and into 1961. As these things go, it was a fairly easy up­date and the Stude­baker sales depart­ment an­nounced the new line of trucks in April of ‘61. The first pro­duc­tion diesels rolled off the line in June of ‘61, though there was some ini­tial con­fu­sion on whether they were ‘61s or ‘62s. For those ‘62 mod­els, only the 212 ci, 130 hp 4-53 was of­fered in the 2-ton E45A and E45E (19,500 lbs GVW and 23,000 lbs GVW).

For ‘63, the lineup was ex­panded to in­tro­duce a 159ci, 97 hp 3-53 into the E15 (1-ton dually) and E25 (1-1/5-ton dually). The E35A (1-1/2-ton HD) and E35C (2-ton light) got the 4-53 and E-45A and C mod­els were un­changed. Added were the 96BBC op­tion trucks, which were all 2-ton fifth-wheel trac­tors. They fea­tured a flat nose that short­ened the truck by 10.5 inches. This was de­signed to al­low the truck to tow 40 foot semi-trail­ers and stay within the le­gal to­tal length limit of the day. This lineup stayed the same into that fate­ful last year for Stude­baker,1964.

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lished sources, a to­tal of 702 Stude­baker diesel trucks in all weight classes were pro­duced from ‘61 through ‘64. Over­all, this was a per­fectly timed en­trance into the medium duty diesel mar­ket and the Stude with it’s re­li­able and proven Detroit could have been a con­tender had not Stude­baker one foot in the grave.

Stude­baker ex­pired by what might be called “the death of a thou­sand cuts.” Their sta­tus had looked up a bit by the late ‘50s and again in the early ‘60s, with new man­age­ment. Then the UAW strike of Jan­uary of ‘62 hap­pened and left them swing­ing for 38 days. The news me­dia be­gan (ap­par­ently in­ac­cu­rately) re­port­ing Stude­baker in­tended leav­ing the auto busi­ness, which be­came a self-ful­fill­ing proph­esy and im­me­di­ately killed a sales boost that had started after the strike. No­body wanted to be stuck with a car or truck from a de­funct man­u­fac­turer. That drove the fi­nal nails into Stude­baker’s cof­fin and U.S. pro­duc­tion ceased in 1964. Their Cana­dian fac­tory con­tin­ued build­ing cars into 1966 and they were sell­ing well to thrifty Canadians. The Gen­eral Prod­ucts Di­vi­sion, which built mostly De­fense Depart­ment equip­ment, was pur­chased by Kaiser-jeep, then Amer­i­can Mo­tors and even­tu­ally be­came AM Gen­eral.

This truck be­longs to Marv Dane, an Ohio hay and live­stock farmer, who bought the 8E45E-96BBC truck as a derelict in 2011 and spent a year and a half bring­ing it back to life. It’s the star of a small col­lec­tion of five Stude­baker trucks. Nicknamed Miss Levasy after a ghost town in Mis­souri, it’s won nu­mer­ous show awards, in­clud­ing Best of Show at the Gil­more Car Mu­seum 2018 truck show and four other first place awards in var­i­ous shows. It’s cur­rently one of four

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 ??  ?? The ‘63 Stude­baker is no hanger queen. Though it isn’t “rode hard and put away wet” it does get plenty of ex­er­cise on Dane Farms, haul­ing hay and live­stock.
The ‘63 Stude­baker is no hanger queen. Though it isn’t “rode hard and put away wet” it does get plenty of ex­er­cise on Dane Farms, haul­ing hay and live­stock.
 ??  ?? The Detroit 4-53 two-stroke is mod­est in dis­place­ment but big in phys­i­cal size, tip­ping the scales at 1,095 pounds. At 212 cu­bic inches (from a 3.875 x 4.50 bore and stroke), the out­put var­ied ac­cord­ing to ap­pli­ca­tion. In the Stude­bak­ers, it was rated for 130 gross horse­power at 2800 rpm and 271 lbs-ft at 1500 rpm. Com­pres­sion ra­tio was 17:1. Con­sid­er­ing the 42,000 com­bined gross weight, gear­ing is para­mount. With a load, Marv re­ports he’s work­ing the levers con­stantly to keep the truck in the power band. Solo top speed is 72 mph, with the Jimmy scream­ing like a Ban­shee.
The Detroit 4-53 two-stroke is mod­est in dis­place­ment but big in phys­i­cal size, tip­ping the scales at 1,095 pounds. At 212 cu­bic inches (from a 3.875 x 4.50 bore and stroke), the out­put var­ied ac­cord­ing to ap­pli­ca­tion. In the Stude­bak­ers, it was rated for 130 gross horse­power at 2800 rpm and 271 lbs-ft at 1500 rpm. Com­pres­sion ra­tio was 17:1. Con­sid­er­ing the 42,000 com­bined gross weight, gear­ing is para­mount. With a load, Marv re­ports he’s work­ing the levers con­stantly to keep the truck in the power band. Solo top speed is 72 mph, with the Jimmy scream­ing like a Ban­shee.
 ??  ?? A stan­dard Transtar diesel, like Rick Mead­ows’ ‘62 shown here, looked more like the stan­dard Stude­baker truck of the given year. You can see the Kysor shut­ters be­hind the grill. This truck was also sold as a trac­tor.
A stan­dard Transtar diesel, like Rick Mead­ows’ ‘62 shown here, looked more like the stan­dard Stude­baker truck of the given year. You can see the Kysor shut­ters be­hind the grill. This truck was also sold as a trac­tor.
 ??  ?? The 96BBC truck, the “BBC” for “Bumper-to-back-of-cab,” was a re­vi­sion to the stan­dard Stude­baker front end that lobbed 10.5 inches from the length of the truck. After study­ing avail­able doc­u­ments, Marv es­ti­mates un­der 50 were built. All the diesel trucks had the ther­mo­stat­i­cally con­trolled Kysor shut­ters, though on the stan­dard Transtar they were be­hind the grille. This pre­vented over­cool­ing un­der light loads or cold weather
The 96BBC truck, the “BBC” for “Bumper-to-back-of-cab,” was a re­vi­sion to the stan­dard Stude­baker front end that lobbed 10.5 inches from the length of the truck. After study­ing avail­able doc­u­ments, Marv es­ti­mates un­der 50 were built. All the diesel trucks had the ther­mo­stat­i­cally con­trolled Kysor shut­ters, though on the stan­dard Transtar they were be­hind the grille. This pre­vented over­cool­ing un­der light loads or cold weather
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Marv Dane’s ‘63 Stude­baker E45E-96BBC trac­tor is rated for a 24,000 pound GVW, with a com­bined rat­ing of 42,000 pounds. The Detroit 4-53 is backed up by a Clark 5-speed with a di­rect 5th gear. The Rock­well 2-speed rear axle has a 5.41:1 high and a 7.44:1 low. Later in life, a Spicer three-speed over-di­rect-un­der split­ter was added. The bed and tool boxes are cus­tom. The truck was orig­i­nally painted Blue Mist Metal­lic but Marv had his paint and body guy, Zack Bran­dell, use a darker Ford Blue, which is the “fleet” color for much of his farm equip­ment.
Marv Dane’s ‘63 Stude­baker E45E-96BBC trac­tor is rated for a 24,000 pound GVW, with a com­bined rat­ing of 42,000 pounds. The Detroit 4-53 is backed up by a Clark 5-speed with a di­rect 5th gear. The Rock­well 2-speed rear axle has a 5.41:1 high and a 7.44:1 low. Later in life, a Spicer three-speed over-di­rect-un­der split­ter was added. The bed and tool boxes are cus­tom. The truck was orig­i­nally painted Blue Mist Metal­lic but Marv had his paint and body guy, Zack Bran­dell, use a darker Ford Blue, which is the “fleet” color for much of his farm equip­ment.
 ??  ?? A for­est of levers. Stude­baker diesel op­er­a­tors had a lot of di­rect con­trol of their trucks, but not much crea­ture com­fort. Marv’s truck doesn’t have it, but power steer­ing was an op­tion and air con­di­tion­ing was listed on the op­tions sheet, though only one truck was known to have it. The big Studes had the op­tion of hy­draulic or air brakes and Marv’s has air.
A for­est of levers. Stude­baker diesel op­er­a­tors had a lot of di­rect con­trol of their trucks, but not much crea­ture com­fort. Marv’s truck doesn’t have it, but power steer­ing was an op­tion and air con­di­tion­ing was listed on the op­tions sheet, though only one truck was known to have it. The big Studes had the op­tion of hy­draulic or air brakes and Marv’s has air.
 ??  ?? Date­line 2011: Dane’s Stude­baker (for­ward on the trailer) and an­other truck be­ing loaded for the ride home to a full restora­tion. No irony in the fact that the boom truck do­ing the load­ing is a WWII vin­tage Stude­baker 6x6 deuce­and-a-half.
Date­line 2011: Dane’s Stude­baker (for­ward on the trailer) and an­other truck be­ing loaded for the ride home to a full restora­tion. No irony in the fact that the boom truck do­ing the load­ing is a WWII vin­tage Stude­baker 6x6 deuce­and-a-half.

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