About 3 years ago my dad and I bought 2 Dodge M37s from his place of work (Maryland School for the Blind). He saw them making his rounds around campus and asked the maintenance guys about them. After convincing my mom it was a good decesion (she still has doubts) we paid $500 for both of them with titles. They were bought from the government at auction and parked outside for 20 years. One was driven very little untill the clutch went up so it was parked for good. After a year of finishing my CJ7 I got the one towed to my house I sold the other one for $700. Shortly there after I devised a plan for the build. Here are soe pics of the two trucks at the School and the one at my house.
We found them like this:
On my parking pad:
Not so good pic of me in it:
I knew I wanted to do an engine swap because my pest efforts could not get the 230 to fire. So I did some research on the web and discovered that the V8 conversion is not what I wanted because the only engine I could find much on was the 318 which in my mind would not be worth the effort. Then I came across a diesel conversion that sounded excellent. I found the website www.garbee.net/~cabell/ which proved to be an excellent resource for the swap. I also posted a thread on the Power Wagon Adviser Forums (http://powerwagonadvertiser.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6625) which got some great responces and has some real good info from some really great people.
I decided on the Cummins 4BT engine. It is basicallt the 5.9 liter used in Dodge pickups but with 2 less cylinders. It was used in Grumman Step vans Made by Ford and Chevy and makes pretty decent power for a relatively small displacement engine. It can be mated to a plethora of trannies made by the big three. The three that stuck out are the NV4500 from Dodge, the SM465 from GM and the ZF S5-42 from Ford. The NV4500 was too long for my application because of the slip yolk and the fact that I am reusing my divorced case. The choice for me is between the Zf and the SM465. I am leaning toward the ZF but It might be difficult to find in my neck of the woods. It has the overdrive built in and was used behind diesel engines so it will be plenty strong. The SM465 will require the use of a Ranger Oversrive unit from Advanced Adapters. As of right now I have no idea what tranny is going in it.
When I started the hunt for the 4BT I looked on eBay and on DoveBid.com. All of the vans on eBay were too far away and the engines seemed to be pretty expensive. I eventually found the ideal van on Dovebid. It is a '79 with 124,000 miles. I paid about $2500 for the van, tags and title fees (Titled in MD as Historic). The description read "Lot# 1015 4BT GMTH400, 124,736 miles. Trucks runs, and is in Good Condition. Various misc repairs needed. Contact: Darren Patnode (609)xxx-xxxx."
Here are the pictures that accompanied the description:
I drove 4 hours up to Burlington on Wednesday Aug 1st to get it. The maintenance guy was a character. This truck was his baby and he was so proud of it. He told me its history which I will spare you from and gave me some fuel additive. I also got to meet a tow truck driver who had bought annother van from the location also a character. After bleeding the Master cylinder and fixing some questionable taillight wiring with even more questionable taillight wiring we were off. The van drove flawlessly at 55 mph all the way home. There was one Depends moment when I got passed by a semi doing about 70. The whole truck got cought up in the wind and moved like it was on ice. That aside the drive was not that bad other than the heat. I picked the hottest day in August to get it and quickly found the vans are not built for comfort. It actually runs well enough to help me move all my crap to Deleware for college. Here are some pictures in the lot of my condo.
Next to my Dads WJ:
Here is the top secret master plan:
I am going to pick up my tranny tomorrow. I found a 2wd diesel ZF S5-42 in a junkyard for $650. I will post pics of the tranny as soon as I can. I start technical school on monday and my free time is going to severely decrease.
Here are teh pics of the tranny. I will need a Cummins Flywheel, clutch and starter from a 1994 and up 5.9 cummins truck. I am leaning towards a ZOOM clutch from NAPA because I get a large Discount through School. I am also going to buy an adapter from fordcumins.com that will mate my engine to the tranny. When i picked up the tranny i had them pull the pedal assembely so I convert to hanging pedals. I am planning to use the hydroboost brake system off the Frito Truck and a stock F250 clutch setup.
I got the engine out yesterday. With some smooth talking I was able to get permission to do it in my condos parking lot. It took about 6 hours to get out but I also pulled the enitre wiring harness in that time. It was very easy to get out. All it took was a bacic set of hand tools and some skill. Here are pics of it sitting in the trick. There is an access panel in the middle of the cab that unbolts and allows access to the back of the engine and the tranny.
Here are the pictures of how the engine comes out of the truck. We set up the hoist through the door and got going. The hooks on the Cummins made it easy but we did run into a few problems, some of our own doing. First we lifted this heave engine on cardboard so as not to make a mess in the parking lot. Long story short the weight of the engine caused the casters to not only sink through the cardboard but also the asphalt below. We just backed my dads F150 up to it and used a comealong to get it free. The two other dillemas were that the E-Brake must be disconnected in order to clear the trannys tailshaft and the drivers seat must be refoved because when turning the engone to get out of the door the front hits it.
I finally got the power wagon to my storage shed and have begun to tear it apart. Here are some pictures of it right after I pulled the motor (Which is for sale). Soon I will tear into the brakes and front suspension. I am uging the hydroboost system from the Frito Truck with new wheel cylinders and custom tubing. The front springs need 3 leaves added to them to lift it enough to clear the oil pan of the Cummins. I am using rear springs from an M37 to build the lift. Here are the latest pics.
I just got done building the springs. I took the stock springs apart and added 3 leaves from the rear pack of an M37 ambulance. You can kind of see what leaves I used in the pics. It worked out real well as far as clips and retainers go. The one leaf i added had retainers on it that can be bent over and the stock M37 one will work with a little massaging. I am using Grade 8 bolts as center bolts just rounding off the heads. The last pic shows what must be done for the oil pan to clear the diff. The lift will hopefully be around 2, 2.5" and i will deal with the pan once I build my mounts.>>>>>>
I apologize for gramatical and spelling errors, I went to public school. I will continue to post more pictures as I progress through the transformaion.