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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering to buy a 1947 Ford COE, an old hauler from a simpler time. I'm just starting up a new winery and need a truck to haul grapes from the vineyard to my facility, so I thought I might as well get a classy and iconic old rig to bring my brand some attention. The downside of any old or big rig is fuel economy and the impact on the environment. I'd like to swap in a diesel and install a Frybrid WVO system to boot.

The truck is all stock: flathead v8, four speed tranny with a two speed rear end. I'm new to diesels and new to swaps and don't plan on doing much work myself, but excited to learn how along the way. Before I buy anything I want to find out if the 4bt will fit under the cab and what kind of secondary mods I might have to do to the drivetrain. Has anyone ever converted over a COE?

My goal in the end is to end up with a showstopper big rig that costs pennies to run and easy to work on for around the same total project cost as a newer model f350 or 3500 might cost.

Am I crazy for wanting this? Is this going to turn into a money pit? Will the end result be reliable?

Thanks!
 

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I dont personally have any experience with 47 COE's but it sounds like a neat swap. I would think a 4bt would fit nicely. I would personnaly use something other than the original 4 speed however. I'd opt for a ZF 5speed. You could retain the original 2 speed rearend but Id reccomend having someone go thru it and check it all out. Repair anything in it that needs repaired. If you are having someone else do the swap for you, find someone reputable and reliable to do it. They should have experience doing this type of work. Someone who professionally builds street rods should be capable. You will end up with a bunch of money in it but that will vary depending on the original condition of the truck and just how far you plan on restoring it. Id budget a minimum of $10,000 JUST to have someone purchase the 4bt, and a ZF5 speed and get it all in and running. If done correctly mechanically, it should be as reliable as the sunrise................Good luck and it is a neat idea. Would make a very unique icon for your new venture..............
 

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BIG old trucks are EXTREMELY.....EXTREMELY expensive to restore but I'll over a few words of advice as its pertained to my truck (1947 Ford 1.5ton stakebed)

Plan on driving it on the highway? If so the rear axle will have to go. Your 2 speed axle ratio of 5.83 and 8.10 is simply to deep. (and no they don't make taller gears for it)

Plan on driving it on the highway? If so be advised your using 1947 brake technology..... plan accordingly (life insurance policy or roll cage)

Plan on driving it on the highway? If so be advised that the rims/tires technology on their is known as the 'widowmakers' and is simply NOT suitable to the side loads that 65 mph presents to a vehicle that heavy on a corner etc.

I combated this with a new late 80's chassis swap....... which turned into a monster but thats here nor there.....

If you plan on going nowhere above 40 mph your okay

hopefully its not too much of a shock but the gearing of a 1;1 transmission paired with a low rev diesel with a extremely low rear axle doesnt make for a speed demon...then trying to safely stop or steer it is another story....

Good luck and glad to see another large old-iron diesel build!
 

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Another option would be to get an Isuzu box truck and just swap over the cab and bed. They are already COE and have foreward controls, plus all the gearing is correct. This would be way less work and money and you will have a more modern drivetrain.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Any idea what the isuzu trucks are rated for weight? I would like to haul 2 to 3 tons if possible and end up with at least an 8x8 flatbed.
A modern drivetrain could also get me out of the widowmaker situation. As most of my vineyards are 60 to 120 miles away I would like to drive on the highway.
What are the advantages of the 6bt over a 4bt? Power? Torque? Reliability? Would one or the other be better for running WVO?
 

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What are the advantages of the 6bt over a 4bt? Power? Torque? Reliability? Would one or the other be better for running WVO?
Only power and torque...

Just an extra 2 cylinders....otherwise its the exact same motor with just 2 cylinders missing in line. reliability, WVO compatibility etc are all the same... (hell I bet 90-95% of the parts are the same except for anything length or cylinder # related (cam, crank, head gasket, inj pump)


If you were to look at just the front plane or back plane of a 4BT vs. a 6BT there is NO none zilch difference.


Isuzu landscape COE trucks up here in wisconsin are regulary hauling 5-20 cu. yards of material (pending material bark, stone, sand, grass clip etc.)
 

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Take a look at the Portland Craigslist, there are quite a few Isuzu npr's for not much $$. They will haul what you need and will get in the 20's for mpg. The Isuzu is a little smoother running than the 4bt, the 6bt will be a TIGHT fit, most likely the motor will poke out the rear of the cab, making a gap between the back of the cab and the bed, would look kind of stupid.
 

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II'd opt for a ZF 5speed.
this is a good option to use with the 4bt... still used in the f350 and f550 for south america and some overseas markets where these trucks are offered with the 4bt, but with a single speed dana axle (don't remember right now which one, but it's a dana)...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I looked into the Isuzus. Quite impressive for the going rate and a lot are on the market. Has anyone tried a WVO conversion on their 4 cylinder? If I go this route I won't need a complete old COE, just the body, which will reduce my initial expense and time to a reliable conversion. Does anyone know of a good body shop in eastern Washington that might have experience with this kind of job? The guys that used to do hot rod jobs in Walla Walla stopped doing custom work awhile ago and I don't know any other shops personally.
 

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There is an NPR on CL in Hillsboro OR for 3000.00, fairly low miles with a flatbed, just what you are looking for!
 

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If you were to find a Frito van you might even be able to use the drive-train, axles and suspension from it on your COE. I like the ZF 5 speed, but with a COE it might be easier to just use an auto.
 
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