51 Pacemaker Resurrection

Well, introductions were made a couple a days ago, and people expressed interest in what would be the project car at hand. 

First, a little background:  I started looking for a Hudson back when I lived in Michigan.  The salt ate the hell out of the Monobilt body/frame (as you all know), and the old "integrity test" was to jack up a rear corner and see if the doors would open and close.  I looked at a bunch - some looked okay, but none passed the test.  

In the early 90's, I had a chance to visit Bill Albright, and he had a nice blue 51 he was willing to sell for $3500.  My kids were small and money was tight, so I ended up with an Opel Ascona for $900, but that's a different story.  Great car, BTW - and I LOVED the fact it was completely rust free!

Fast forward a bunch of years.  I'm back living in CA, and began the search for a Stepdown.  There were some seriously crappy cars out there - and the lowest prices started at $900-1000 for an incomplete shell of a car.  Cars so badly sunbaked you had no idea what color they were originally from the outside.  

The search was widened, and there was indeed a huge price gap between crusty field cars and something marginally presentable.  Not that I mind crusty field cars; I'm just averse to spending over $1000 on a shell.  

Then, I mention the need for a Hudson as my next project to the guy buying the hot rod.  The hot rod wasn't in great shape when I got it - just a rolling crusty shell and some fabrication.  Anyway, I finally have pictures to share! 
Chrome appears to be there and reasonably straight; bezels and hood ornament are missing.  

Driver's side glass is cracked.  that will have to be sourced.  Body appears straight and the paint (what's left) is original, not a repaint.  

Backside.  That's a '63 plate, and it doesn't appear to have had a '64 sticker on it.  I'm fairly certain this was a CA car for most, if not all, of its life.  

The interior is what I'd expect for a sunbaked car.  Steering wheel, speedometer need replacing and all the chrome will have to be replated.  The nice thing is I have a specific plan for the interior, and starting with nothing is well...good!




The 232 appears intact and unmolested.  I have no idea if it's free or not, but considering it still has its oil bath air cleaner, there's a good chance it will turn over.  If so, a little penetrating oil on the valve stems and it may light off - but I'm probably being optimistic.  

I'm getting it from a guy who's in his mid 70's, and had planned to put a Cadillac 500 Eldorado drivetrain in it (!?).  I'm not a fan of anything other than a Hudson engine in a Hudson, so it makes me feel good to know this one will be returned to the road with a period correct driveline.  It may be the 232, it may be a 308, or....

Anyway, it shows up next weekend now.  Slight delay, and that's fine - I have other projects to tend to!  Wish me luck! 

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Comments

  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,757Expert Adviser
    Thanks for sharing your car... I have had many Hudsons during my lifetime... over 50 years have come and gone since I had the first.  Today I am a "SHORT HOOD GUY"  a sister car to yours ... albeit a 1953 Wasp that looked very similar to your car when recovered from a NM auto graveyard in the 1970s.   It shares space with a 1954 Wasp 2 door sedan ( Club Sedan) and a 1954 Super Wasp Club Sedan. The 1954 Wasp and 1953 Wasp were daily drivers for me during my pre-retirement years.   I too lived on California and the 1953 accompanied our family there and back home to Texas after four years.  


     Good luck with your car!
  • Glowplug said:
    Thanks for sharing your car... I have had many Hudsons during my lifetime... over 50 years have come and gone since I had the first.  Today I am a "SHORT HOOD GUY"  a sister car to yours ... albeit a 1953 Wasp that looked very similar to your car when recovered from a NM auto graveyard in the 1970s.   It shares space with a 1954 Wasp 2 door sedan ( Club Sedan) and a 1954 Super Wasp Club Sedan. The 1954 Wasp and 1953 Wasp were daily drivers for me during my pre-retirement years.   I too lived on California and the 1953 accompanied our family there and back home to Texas after four years.  


     Good luck with your car!
    Thanks!  Sounds like I'm in good company!  I do like the stubby hood look of the Pacemakers and the Wasps; I think the overall proportions are more attractive.  the other pluses are it fits better in the garage, and it's 200# lighter than a Hornet!  
     
  • KdancyKdancy Posts: 2,367Senior Contributor
    edited September 5
    Glowplug said:
    Thanks for sharing your car... I have had many Hudsons during my lifetime... over 50 years have come and gone since I had the first.  Today I am a "SHORT HOOD GUY"  a sister car to yours ... albeit a 1953 Wasp that looked very similar to your car when recovered from a NM auto graveyard in the 1970s.   It shares space with a 1954 Wasp 2 door sedan ( Club Sedan) and a 1954 Super Wasp Club Sedan. The 1954 Wasp and 1953 Wasp were daily drivers for me during my pre-retirement years.   I too lived on California and the 1953 accompanied our family there and back home to Texas after four years.  


     Good luck with your car!
    Thanks!  Sounds like I'm in good company!  I do like the stubby hood look of the Pacemakers and the Wasps; I think the overall proportions are more attractive.  the other pluses are it fits better in the garage, and it's 200# lighter than a Hornet!  
     
     Sometime back, I looked up the weight difference between a 53 Wasp coupe and a 53 Hornet coupe. Both equipped with Hydramatics. The curb weight (tank of gas, water and oil.
      There was only 80lbs difference in the weight.  I was surprised that Hudson would make a short wheel base version with only that much weight difference. 
     (This is found in the General Technical Policies and Information Bulletin. Date 2-2-53

    __looks like you have a very good shell to start with, that is half the battle!
  • Well - it's here!  The buyer of my hot rod delivered the Pacemaker yesterday!  It is reasonably complete, and I'll be doing an evaluation today to assess overall condition and begin to ask questions.  

    This thread will be the main thread for progress.  It is a bit of a time capsule, as it appears to have minimal modifications since new.  Interestingly, it does have Supermatic Drive, and a spare trans in the trunk.  
  • Well, a topside evaluation has been performed.  It's better than I thought.  
    The car (which doesn't have a name yet) hasn't been touched in quite some time, aside from the previous owner's attempts to do things to it.  I found these in the remains of the glovebox: 
    Three different styles of Autolite A7's.  arranged from oldest to newest.  I'm guessing by the brass top on the far left that it's an original plug.  The other surprise was this: 
    The overdrive solenoid appears to be connected as well, along with a considerable amount of linkage on the throttle.  I have to believe (based on the number of wires not terminated) that it stopped working a while ago.  Without going under the car, I won't know.  That's for later.  Engine was very complete, and I was able to roll it over by hand!  YAY!
    Someone tried to get it lit a while back, as evidenced by a fresher fuel pump and a replaced water pump.  Hooked up a 6V battery to the pushbutton solenoid, and had to bypass the relay to get the starter to spin.  Spin it did, but the Bendix didn't engage.  I'll try 12V to see if a faster spin will do the trick.  Suspect all these bits will have to come out and be freshened. Meanwhile, the interior is a hot mess.  

    At the same time, this indicates no one has opened the doors in ages, much less sat in it. Question - The gauge surround appears to be painted with chrome accents.  Is this correct for a Pacemaker?

    While it's decayed, it is all there, which helps with patterning.  Someone put some very odd blue herringbone vinyl over the cloth at some point.  It's both tasteless and tacky.

    The important starting point, however, is the body is super solid.  There's some pinholing in the passenger rear door, and on both quarter panels above the outer frame rail.  
    The single biggest hole is GARGANTUAN, tho!  Of course, there's lots more rust on the backside, and we all know it. 
    The previous owner decided he'd make a "rat rod" out of it, and spray bombed this quarter panel and a third of the trunk.  Old cars and beer are great, but not at the same time.  At least I was able to get it before he ripped the subframe out to install a Cadillac 500.  Ugh! 

    Decided to give one side a quick bath to see what lay underneath decades of crud - and this is what came out.  Compare it to the top photo for contrast!
    The rockers are rock solid; the car passed the "jack up one corner and open/close doors" test.  Someone spraybombed the car in spots as the paint began to fade many years ago, but it's never had a full repaint.  It's a helluva start to a resurrection!  
  • LanceLance Posts: 795Member
    The dash is the correct one for the Pacemaker. The speedo and clock dials were flat silk screened affairs unlike the LWB cousins.
  • Lance said:
    The dash is the correct one for the Pacemaker. The speedo and clock dials were flat silk screened affairs unlike the LWB cousins.

    I'm okay with that - curious about the finish of the surround.  On the LWB cars, it's chrome; this appears to be painted with chrome accents.  Is that correct? 

  • LanceLance Posts: 795Member
    Yep. It's kinda dull. You have to remember Pacemaker was the economy model.  Hudson made these cars pretty much bare bones. Decent cars but no frills.
  • Lance said:
    Yep. It's kinda dull. You have to remember Pacemaker was the economy model.  Hudson made these cars pretty much bare bones. Decent cars but no frills.
    Yes, I'm aware.  I like the short hood proportion better than the LWB's.  I think it looks neater; I can always do trim upgrades here and there as needed.  I also like the laxk of exterior brightwork.  Still have to get grille and bumpers rechromed, though.  

  • I've shopped for some parts to refresh the ignition system and redo the braking system, along with some misc parts here and there.  Rock Auto carries a moderate amount of stuff for Stepdowns - mostly tune up and braking system stuff.  There's 23 line items on the order for a total of 238.00.  The most expensive item is a $43.00 master cylinder.  

  • KdancyKdancy Posts: 2,367Senior Contributor
    "There's some pinholing in the passenger rear door, and on both quarter panels above the outer frame rail.  "
     better pull both quarters and check behind. Regardless what the "frame" test showed, my guess is that you have rust on the outer frame rails. Much better to take care of it now.


  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited September 17
    Kdancy said:
    "There's some pinholing in the passenger rear door, and on both quarter panels above the outer frame rail.  "
     better pull both quarters and check behind. Regardless what the "frame" test showed, my guess is that you have rust on the outer frame rails. Much better to take care of it now.


    I plan on it.  The front floor pans are rusted as well, but in typical CA fashion, it's from the inside out.  After growing up in MI and looking at both restored and unrestored Hudsons, it's nice to have something that has some measure of structural integrity. Pinholes mean lots of rust on the backside.  Still, there's enough to work with and pretty impressive for a nearly 70 year old car with no rustproofing.  

    My back isn't the best these days, so every panel that can be removed will, and will be worked on at a more comfortable position.  
  • 1954Hudson1954Hudson Posts: 133Member
    Where in Mich do you live ?


  • Where in Mich do you live ?
    I used to live in MI.  Grew up in what is now Farmington Hills, moved to Milford after marrying, then was all over the country before ending up in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  If you do a search on the HET member roster, you'll see me both as a past member and a current member with two different addresses.  

    I was in outside sales early on, which gave me the opportunity to hang out with Jack Miller at lunchtime when in the Ann Arbor area.  He tried to sell me a Pacemaker out of his side lot years ago - lots of trim missing, and the body was rusty.  It's ironic I ended up with a Pacemaker, as I was dead set on a Hornet back then.  
  • Ken U-TxKen U-Tx Posts: 3,686Senior Contributor
    I have seen many repainted and partially restored Stepdowns with the rust bubbles and pinholes in the door bottoms......The cause was that when the owners replaced the lower sponge rubber reproduction weatherstrip, they had neglected to cut out the notches at the two drains, one at front, and one at rear of each door. The new rubber would then block the drains and water getting past the felt cat-whiskers would accumulate in the door bottoms and rust the door bottoms from the inside out. Also when the old cat whiskers were deteriorated, much dirt and leaves would accumulate in the door bottoms, and bits of the tar paper lining inside of the doors would fall off. This debris would block the drain holes, and slow the drying process, accelerating the rusting process.
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  • Ken U-Tx said:
    I have seen many repainted and partially restored Stepdowns with the rust bubbles and pinholes in the door bottoms......The cause was that when the owners replaced the lower sponge rubber reproduction weatherstrip, they had neglected to cut out the notches at the two drains, one at front, and one at rear of each door. The new rubber would then block the drains and water getting past the felt cat-whiskers would accumulate in the door bottoms and rust the door bottoms from the inside out. Also when the old cat whiskers were deteriorated, much dirt and leaves would accumulate in the door bottoms, and bits of the tar paper lining inside of the doors would fall off. This debris would block the drain holes, and slow the drying process, accelerating the rusting process.
    Thanks!  This is why it's so critical to clean all of this out!  One door at a time.  There's so much to do! 
  • Engine(s) update: 

    1. 232 - It runs reasonably well. It's quiet and the compression continues to go up as it runs.  I'll be tying in the fuel pump and an aux tank shortly so as to  give it a bit more run time in the car.  I may go so far as to fix the brakes and take the car for a short spin before tearing it all down for its restoration. It's downside is it will need some sort of rebuild, and after it's all bolted back together - it's still a 232.    

    2. 254 straight 8 - the guy who has it has a logbook from the estate of the original owner stating the engine taken apart and inspected and was in excellent shape when taken out - a good 50 years ago.  It was put up properly and has been stored inside since then.  His asking price is $500, but since he's had it for sale for a year and this is the last of his Hudson stuff (he had three other engines and a ton of parts) I'm betting he'd willingly take a little less. The engine bay of the Pacemaker was measured, and with a little surgery to move the radiator forward and down a bit, the 8 appears to be a bolt in proposition.  An 8 in a Pacemaker (with a few tweaks) would be both unusual and cool. 

    3. 308 Twin H - I know of a hot rod shop that's going to build a '53 Hornet with a modern driveline.  The car is rustier than mine, so I passed on it when offered.  The driveline is a stock Twin H complete from air cleaners to exhaust manifold - and runs.  It smokes, though, so it needs ministration.  I've made an agreement with the owner to work for him to get some projects off the ground in exchange for the driveline, which includes a Dual Range Hydramatic.  This engine even has the aluminum high compression head, although the condition is unknown.  

    A complete Twin-H engine in exchange for labor sounds like the best deal of the bunch.  What do you think?
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 3,616Senior Contributor
    232 motor is the best motor for being virtually unburstable.  smooth runner, and free revving.  Uses same bearings as 308, so understressed.   254, smoothest engine Hudson ever built.  Quiet and flexible, but expensive to rebuild if you have to.   308, best performer, but also most prone to  head gasket problems, and not exactly  the smoothest running Hudson engine.  So the options are yours  to choose!
  • squirrelsquirrel Posts: 168Member
    The 308 is still a small engine, the others are tiny  :)  but what do I know, I just spent a week driving around with a blown 427

  • squirrel said:
    The 308 is still a small engine, the others are tiny  :)  but what do I know, I just spent a week driving around with a blown 427

    Slacker.  

  • Geoff said:
    232 motor is the best motor for being virtually unburstable.  smooth runner, and free revving.  Uses same bearings as 308, so understressed.   254, smoothest engine Hudson ever built.  Quiet and flexible, but expensive to rebuild if you have to.   308, best performer, but also most prone to  head gasket problems, and not exactly  the smoothest running Hudson engine.  So the options are yours  to choose!
    Well - I could get all of them and find out!  

    I need to do some motor math.  The 232 and the 262 share the same bore, but the 232 has a shorter stroke at 3.88".  Modern piston rings seal at 6500 RPM on a 4" stroke, so it should be possible to build a 232 which revs (and makes power) past 4200 RPM with modern pistons.  The shorter stroke means lower port velocities as well, which means a 232 built to a 7X spec would have slightly better breathing characteristics as well. What I don't know are the connecting rod lengths; I have to believe they're different from the 232 to the 262.  If so, then the longer 262 rods would be employed with a custom piston with the wrist pin higher on the slug so as to run a shorter skirt.  A theoretical build target would be 0.7 HP per cubic inch, which yields 160 HP - about the same as a Twin H 308, but it would have to twist up to 5000 RPM.  This is all hypothetical at this point, mind you.  
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,757Expert Adviser
    Chuck - same bore, same rods, different stroke.  232/262
  • cchancelcchancel Posts: 66Member
    edited September 18
    I believe the connecting rods were the same for the 232, 262, and 308.  It was the crankshafts and pistons varied between all three. The pin height is certainly different in the 232 and 262 pistons, otherwise the pistons could interchange between the engines because they are of the same std. bore diameter (3.5635").

    Dale Cooper sells a 3-ring piston for the 262 that appeared to me to have a shorter skirt than the stock 4-ring piston (I should have measured before I installed them and could be wrong).  Unfortunately, the 3-ring pistons have "piston slap" when the engine is cold. Once it warms up a bit the noise goes away.  It is a bit unnerving, but I hear the lower friction of the 3-ring pistons is good for an additional 10-20 hp. If I had to do it again, I would stick with the traditional 4-ring piston for smoother operation.
  • Glowplug said:
    Chuck - same bore, same rods, different stroke.  232/262
    Thanks!  I was hoping they were different. Was looking for a longer rod, but that would have been the 232.  So...If I found a 262 crank, I'd pick up 11 HP stock, but lose some spin factor. 

  • Glowplug said:
    It won't allow me to go there directly.  Is this in engines? 

  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,757Expert Adviser
    Sorry, yes it is in engines
  • 50C8DAN50C8DAN Posts: 1,794Senior Contributor
    I believe that Bernie Seigfreid, engineer at Hudson was circle track racing back in the 70s and they came down on his Hudson for winning too much so they put a restriction in the rules that limited the Cu In to 300, so he put I believe a 262 crank in a 308 block to meet the rules requirement and still was winning so they had to knock him out by limiting the years to 1960 and later engines and cars.
  • 54coupe54coupe Posts: 167Member
    The connecting rod length on a 308 is 8-1/8" center/center. I thought they all used the same rods, but I'm not positive.
  • 54coupe said:
    The connecting rod length on a 308 is 8-1/8" center/center. I thought they all used the same rods, but I'm not positive.
    54coupe said:
    The connecting rod length on a 308 is 8-1/8" center/center. I thought they all used the same rods, but I'm not positive.

    Thanks!  I was able to download the factory service manual from the HET Library and study it last night.  One rod for all engines - so the bottom end should support the 200-ish HP the race-prepped 7X engines made.  That's a long rod!  

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