1963 DODGE M37B1 REBUILD, REPOWER, UPGRADE
By: Charles Talbert, M Series Rebuild LLC
“BUDD” is owned by Doug and Kelli Crickey of Dawsonville, GA. It has been an exciting project from the start as Doug made an early decision to go with a Cummins Diesel QSB4.5 all electronic engine. We gave him a choice of the older 4BTA Cummins or the newer all electronic QSB engine. This was the first all electronic Cummins we had installed into a military application. I must say I have been impressed by the electronic Cummins every step of the way. Looking back now that it’s finished, it’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder why we weren’t using all electronic engines long before now. The 4BTA engine we have used for years is no longer offered as a new engine by Cummins as of January 2010, they no longer meet current EPA guidelines, so in order to install a brand new engine, we were forced to change over to the all electronic EPA compliant versions. It is becoming more popular as our next major project, a 1956 civilian Dodge Power Wagon will be getting the same engine upgrade.
A Special Project
This was a special project in a number of ways; first of all Doug and Kelli are special friends, it was a privilege to be chosen to build their dream project. They put much thought into exactly how they wanted the truck; from the high gloss version of the original 24087 olive drab color shade, the black wrinkle powder coat that went on the cab interior, inside the bed, and on the running boards, to the burgundy wheel rims. They also gave us a lot of lead way in the mechanical design and build. It was a pleasure being able to build a truck that we felt was of superior design and construction while giving them what they wanted in appearance and great handling characteristics.
A little history on “BUDD”
We first dealt with this truck in 1994. It was at that time owned by AB Linn, Inc of Salisbury, NC. It was purchased from AB by Craig Hollingsworth of Charlotte, NC. We did a mechanical rebuild of all the major components for Craig in the fall of ’94. He enjoyed the truck as a hobby and pleasure vehicle for only a short while before selling it to Doug and Kelli. Craig had retained records of the work that was done by M Series Rebuild and passed them on to Doug when he purchased the truck. Interested in the truck’s history and M37’s in general; Doug contacted me in time, we became friends almost immediately. We had something in common; we loved to talk trucks and possibilities of what they can become. “BUDD” has truly become “something special” for us here at M Series and the Crickey’s. By the way, you might be wondering how this Dodge came to be known as “BUDD”; the original wheel rims used on these vintage Dodge trucks were BUDD rims as the logo is clearly stamped into the rim centers. Kelli spotted this soon after they purchased the truck, thus the name “BUDD”.
We approached the project in the typical M Series fashion by disassembling totally, (till there were no more bolts left to remove). Every piece was cleaned and etched, frame and frame components were powder coated in gloss black. The new reproduction bed floor from John at Mid West Military, inside surfaces of the bed components, inside of the cab, and the running boards were done in black wrinkle finish powder coat. Body parts were repaired as needed, primed, painted, wet sanded and buffed to high gloss here in house. I mentioned the paint previously, our supplier is BASF; we sent them a sample swatch of 24087 semi-gloss asking that they turn this shade into a full gloss urethane formula so our supplying jobber could custom mix it for this project. The outcome, absolute color shade match with outstanding gloss. As with any show quality paint job, MANY hours of labor are certain, the folks at BASF and our supplier, Jenkins Auto and Industrial at Rockingham, NC certainly made it go easier and faster.
In the engine bay
A brand new Cummins 160 horsepower QSB4.5 all electronic diesel engine was installed. It offers approximately 20% higher torque than the older Cummins engines. The common rail fuel system and electronic fuel pedal is super sensitive, almost vibration free as it idles, and is much quieter than its mechanical predecessor, the 4BTA.
The Cummins is backed up by a Spicer fully synchronized 5-speed over drive transmission. We build all our transmissions in house with upgrades; they are capable of standing all the Cummins can dish out without issues when we are finished with them. Low speed off road creeping better than the original, on highway speeds of 75 MPH +, and turning all the RPM’s you want is not an issue for this gear box. This unit runs Royal Purple 40 weight synthetic oil, which results in much cooler oil temps in summer conditions, and is a free flowing lubricant that is far better at start up, especially in cold temps plus eliminating the stiffness in shifting caused by thick oil in cold weather. We love the results we have gotten using Royal Purple oils in gear boxes. A PTO offering 2-speeds forward plus reverse is transmission mounted and drives the fully rebuilt original Braden LU4 front winch.
We built the original NP200 case back to new specs in1994, so we went inside to be sure all was still proper and found the unit to be in excellent condition as we expected since new bearings were used and set up specs were adhered too closely. As added insurance, we replaced all the oil seals this time. These cases are practically bullet proof if set up and maintained correctly. It is common knowledge that NP200’s tend to run slightly on the warm side as far as oil temp goes. We set out to help that cause as much as we could on this one. The case only holds 2 ½ quarts of oil, this small amount of fluid is part of the reason for the higher operating temps. With Doug’s go ahead signal, we fabricated an auxiliary oil tank that would more than double the systems oil capacity, (an extra 3 quarts). We incorporated a 12- volt thermostatically controlled oil pump, an oil filter with a spin-on element, and oil cooler with a thermostatically controlled electric cooling fan. All the added equipment is mounted so it is below the full oil level in the case; this keeps the system from over filling the case oil level as the oil circulates. 2 three way ball valves are incorporated into the system; this was done so the system could be filled by the electric pump drawing oil from a container. With 1 valve mounted on the pump intake port and a hose on 1 valve port that can be submerged into a container of oil is used for filling. The other valve is mounted on the cooler core oil outlet port, and has a hose that can be dropped into an empty container. With both valves switched to the open ended positions, a manual override switch to control the pump is activated; this draws oil from the container, it is routed through the pump, to the filter, to the auxiliary oil tank, to the transfer case, to the oil cooler, and out the hose dropped into a clean container. When flow appears at the end of the line, the system is filled; 7 quarts total. Shutting down the pump via the manual switch and switching valve positions causes the pump now to draw oil from the cooler outlet port circulating it through the system as the thermostats activate the pump and cooler fan on temperature demands. Pilot lights on the instrument panel advise when the pump and cooler fan are activated. An oil temp gauge for monitoring the system temp is also on the panel.
It is fairly typical for oil temps to exceed 200 degrees in these cases running 90 weight gear lube when ambient temps are high. I drove this truck over 300 miles in testing, some days ambient temps exceeded 100 degrees; it typically took a 20 mile trip at 60 MPH to get the oil hot enough to activate the cooling system. This is a much slower temp rise than we normally see, I can only attribute that to the 40 weight Royal Purple oil; it is a proven fact that synthetic oils run far cooler than conventional petroleum oils do. Less heat means less friction between the mating parts of the unit, less friction means a better lubricated, longer lasting component. I did not have opportunity to test the truck in cold weather, but have been assured of operator feed back when the weather turns cooler; that data will be interesting also. Royal Purple products work! Once the system was activated, the typical oil temp cooled back to around 165 degrees quickly and stayed there. Having the auxiliary tank located in front of the transfer case away from heat so the oil has a chance to slow down and cool somewhat before reentering the case has no doubt been a big plus. The entire system is completely enclosed by an expanded metal enclosure to protect the system from physical damage. Bottom side screens are easily removed for servicing.
4.89 gearing with new bearings were installed in 1994, we added our pinion seal upgrade kits this time around and put the units back in.
We did a dual circuit air boosted brake system, literally, almost only looking at the pedal gets immediate attention. This thing has a 4 wheel disc braking system that is second to none. Doug had requested a horn that was outstanding; immediately I thought air horn and a small electric compressor as an air supply. As I gave it more thought, it dawned on me to order the Cummins with an air compressor. A deuce and a half air storage tank was installed on the frame cross member behind the cab. That feeds air to the horn and the brake boosters. A separate booster was used for each axle circuit; fluid pressure activates the air flow at the boosters which sends boosted fluid pressure to the calipers of the disc system. The amount of braking ability and ease of pedal application is outstanding. We also incorporated an air line with a quick coupler located at the rear frame cross member so that a hose can be plugged in accessing 120 PSI for operating an impact wrench, airing up tires, blowing out the bed or cab, inflating the air mattress, whatever. A spring loaded air tank drain valve with activation cable located at the left front bed corner next to the driver’s door makes draining accumulated moisture from the tank quick and easy.
The steering system is a full power Saginaw hydraulic unit utilizing a direct shaft driven Vickers P10 pump piggy backed off the engine air compressor. A primary port furnishes 3 gallons per minute for the steering gear box function. A secondary pump circuit port was used to route excess oil flow through a spin-on filter and an oil cooler mounted just beneath the radiator and behind the winch. The cooler is shielded by a custom built expanded metal shield. The fluid reservoir is located under the hood near the top of the firewall above the steering column; the reservoir was custom designed and built in house. The system oil capacity is 5 quarts, extra fluid capacity, synthetic oil, and adding a cooler in the circuit keeps the operating temp about 30 degrees cooler than the typical power steering system. Reservoir drain is accessible from under the left front fender to facilitate easy fluid changes.
The wiring harness for both the Cummins electronic control module, and the general truck/lighting functions were custom built in house. Switches were upgraded; the original type 3-lever light switch was used per Doug’s spec. A fully enclosed circuit breaker box houses breakers for all circuits. Original type lighting was maintained with upgraded bulb type halogen headlamps and military composite lighting. A back up alarm and back up lights are activated when the transmission shifts into reverse. High mount brake light, 4 corner clearance lights and a cargo bed light were also added for safety and convenience. The hi-lo beam switch was moved from the floor to the handle on the turn signal switch to be more like the daily driver vehicles Doug and Kelli are accustomed to. Courtesy lights are on both left and right kick panels and are activated when the doors are opened. Dash instruments are Datcon “Smart” gauges. Warning and shutdown lights are incorporated into each gauge. The Cummins electrical system has the traditional 3 light warning system on the panel, consisting of wait-to-start, warning, and shutdown lamps, along with an on board engine diagnostic switch that enables the operator to check engine fault codes right from the panel immediately without having to utilize a separate code reader. This eliminates trips to a service outlet where a code reader could be accessed to troubleshoot engine faults. This simple feature is money in the owner’s pocket in saved service cost. Connectors are also in place for a typical 9-pin code reader plug and the 2-pin triangular plug for lap top access at the Cummins Dealer’s service facility.
Is all electronic an installation labor cost savings? Here is just one good example of that; the older 4BTA engines required mechanical fuel pedal linkage be designed, built, and put in place between the fuel pedal and the injector pump control lever. A hand throttle required another linkage system and further complicated the issue. On the electronic engine with the rheostat type fuel pedal assembly, 6 wires are required for operation; it’s also very simple to add a hand throttle control or even cruise control. Estimated time savings here is about a day, it’s far less complicated to build and plug in a small wiring harness than to build and install dependable mechanical linkage systems. Linkage systems are also prone to normal wear over time. I can’t say enough about how well I like the all electronic engines; once we learned how this system is designed and operates, it is so simple you wonder why you didn’t go to it years ago. I had definite concerns about how I might like it in the beginning as I’m pretty much old school; question answered, I LOVE IT. After all we might as well love it; it is the future for sure.
Our local upholstery guy, Vince, of Vince Clark Upholstery here in Norwood came through with flying colors again. He replaced the seat springs with firm foam covering that with a premium quality black marine vinyl.
We cut and installed black perforated vinyl foam backed insulation on the interior firewall and custom floor mats with sound deadening foam backing.
Once again we have used our favorite Yokohama radials, LT315-75R16 Geolander M/T. These are still the best tire we have found that fits the original rims well and are easy to balance. They perform great in off road applications as well as on highway. Yokohama has figured out how to make a tire round, I can’t say that for several other well known brands we have tried over the years.
Outside vendors we depend on.
I can’t thank these folks enough; they do a great job for us.
- Brother’s Precision Tool, Albemarle, NC, custom machining, both CNC and manual operations.
- Vince Clark Upholstery, Norwood, NC, custom upholstery.
- McBride Custom Coatings, Biscoe, NC, sand blasting, plastic media blasting, glass bead blasting, powder coating, ceramic hot coating and related services.
- CarQuest, Ritchie Auto Parts, Norwood, NC, auto parts and supplies
- NAPA, Butch’s Auto Parts, Oakboro, NC, auto parts and supplies
- Atlan-Tec, Automotive and industrial distributor of Royal Purple synthetic lubricants
- Jenkins Auto & Industrial Supply, Inc, Rockingham, NC, BASF Coatings paint products, Baldwin filters, Parker hose assemblies and fittings
- Gilmore Global Instruments, Houston, Texas, Datcon instrumentation and accessories, full service dealer with a dependable technical support branch
- NSI, Inc, (Nickels Speedometer & Instrument) Greensboro, NC, custom instrumentation, repairs / rebuild service. These folks turn your old original power wagon gauges into new dependable instruments while maintaining the exact original appearance, they sell quality.
June 25, 2010, a very special day. After a short session to explain how everything functions and a test drive for Doug, we loaded the truck on Doug’s trailer and got it all tied down secure. He and Kelli headed out for Roanoke, VA to attend the 2010 Star City Motor Madness Cruise-in and Rally.
At the Rally
On June 26, at the show, Doug was honored by a visit from the Speed Channel’s host of “My Classic Car”, Dennis Gage who requested an interview, one of only 5 chosen out of nearly 500 entries in the show. Doug graciously agreed, the episode featuring the interview will air on “My Classic Car” some time in late winter or early spring of 2011. We’ll be anxiously watching for that one. See Photos
This was a great surprise and quite an honor for the Crickey’s and M Series Rebuild. I think it’s safe to say that Dennis made Doug & Kelli’s day.
Check here to see project photo's