A Truck, A Tractor and A Bus? 3 Unique Diesel Swaps You Have to See
Diesels are everywhere these days. From show trucks to drag racers, sled pullers to dyno queens and off-road rigs to rat-rods, they’ve infiltrated virtually every automotive niche you can think of. On the engine swap scene, oil burners have also become first-choice engine options for scores of people seeking horsepower, reliability or something outside the box. Some of the diesel projects we stumble across are downright creative and, as you might’ve guessed by the title, we’ve got three shining examples to show you.
Below, you’ll find a chopped and lowered, Cummins-powered ’41 Chevy school bus, a mini-rod tractor squeezing 400hp out of a 1.9L Volkswagen TDI and a 700hp 5.9L-swapped OBS Ford that runs 11’s at the track but prefers to race on the street. You just can’t make this stuff up!
The Rat-Rod School Bus
As a Harley, classic car and rat-rod fan, Jason Bliesner has a lot of gearhead-related thoughts running through his head on a daily basis. Fortunately for all of us, he put this one into action. Looking to build a rat-rod but add his own personal twist to things, he set out in search of an old-school bus. Countless hours later, he’s got a compound turbocharged, Cummins-propelled ’41 Chevy short bus that doubles as a 650rwhp burnout machine and people hauler. It’s been chopped, lowered, and turning heads everywhere it goes, which includes traveling all over the Midwest and even the occasional trip to Nashville. Of course, Seating for 12 means Jason can bring all of his friends along for the ride.
Fresh 5.9L Cummins
After placing the winning bid on eBay for a 12-valve 5.9L Cummins, Jason tore the engine down to start fresh and reinforce a few key areas. With the help of local friend and competitive truck puller, Drew DeClerck, the 5.9L was treated to ARP main and head studs, fire-rings, Hamilton Cams’ hot street 188/220 camshaft and tappets, heavy-duty pushrods, 180-lb valve springs and port and polish work on the head. To avoid any clearance issues with the oil pan scraping the ground, a low-profile pan was built by C-Line/562 Fabrications.
Entrusting a company that could transform a good, used core P7100 into a pump capable of flowing 500cc’s and fueling all the way to 4,500 rpm, Jason went with Scheid Diesel. At the present time, the P-pump’s timing is set at 18 degrees of advancement. Scheid also built the 5x.013 billet nozzle injectors and the custom-bent injection lines that span between them and the P-pump. A 260-gph FASS lift pump supplies the tweaked P7100 a 60-psi diet of low pressure fuel.
Compound Turbos & 60+ PSI of Boost
Attempting to clean up the heavily-fueled 12-valve, you’ll find a compound turbo arrangement that’s practically climbing out of the engine bay. An S400 series BorgWarner serves as the atmosphere charger, and sits just about eye level with the bus driver. The 72mm turbo breathes through a massive S&B air filter and forces exhaust out a 5-inch diameter up-pipe (i.e. inverted downpipe), which is topped off with a rain cap. The high-pressure (or manifold) charger was also sourced from the BorgWarner catalog, this one being a 63mm S300 with an internal wastegate.
The Red Raptor
Brace yourselves, the wow factor is strong with this one. When the German-based Pulling Crew Ostfriesland decided to take the ALH code 1.9L TDI Volkswagen tractor pulling, they did it up right. Extremely docile in OEM form, the 115 ci VW is best known for helping tiny sedans and coupes get 50-mpg, not belt out 400 hp—but that’s exactly what happened here. In quadrupling the power of the ALH four-banger and stuffing it into a mini-rod class tractor coined “Red Raptor,” Pulling Crew Ostfriesland saw tremendous success last season.
400 HP From 115 Cubic Inches
As you can see, the TDI mill still uses a timing belt, but it’s not turning a distributor style rotary pump anymore. That’s right, it’s P-pumped. It’s also still sporting the single overhead cam arrangement, albeit a much more aggressive version than stock. Back behind the trophy laying across the engine (we told you it was a runner), a massive (for a 1.9L) single turbo is in charge of feeding boost into the worked-over cylinder head.
‘Fummins Street Racer
The word swap means much more to Tyler Turay and his ‘95 Ford F-250 than a simple engine swap. No sir, this isn’t just some old Blue Oval sporting a 5.9L Cummins. In addition to the engine, the axles, suspension and transmission have all been swapped out for newer, stronger components so he can better indulge in those irresistible trips down to “Mexico.” For the axles and suspension, Tyler plucked the rear 10.5 Sterling and front Dana 60, coil springs and radius arms off of an ’05 Super Duty. The engine, a 1992 model year 6BT (originally equipped with the VE injection pump) was a $1,500 Craigslist find that eventually had to be rebuilt when the camshaft checked out a few years back.
Billet Chrysler Four-Speed
As for the transmission, it’s a long way from the original ZF-5 five-speed manual Tyler used to row gears with. Now, a LinCo Diesel Performance-built 47RE with a host of cutting-edge parts from Sun Coast (including a manual valve body) sends power through the transfer case and out to the Super Duty axles. Billet input, intermediate and output shafts, a billet direct drum and a billet stator, race-ready torque converter were chosen for their ability to hold up to boosted, four-wheel drive launches. Thanks to Sun Coast’s high-stall (2,500-rpm) triple disc converter brings the engine’s big single turbo to life quickly.
Dump Truck P-pump
Because Tyler likes to party, the fueling-limited VE injection pump was never given a chance. Instead, he robbed a Bosch P7100 off of an old Ford F800 dump truck, treated it to a #0 fuel plate, 4,000-rpm governor springs, 7mm delivery valves, a Mack rack plug, a Tork Tek overflow valve and modified the AFC. Then he bolted it to the Cummins. To date, the P-pump has still never been benched, but it flows enough fuel for the truck to make north of 700rwhp thanks to the 5x.018 injectors that are also part of the equation.
Fresh Long-Block and A Big Single
During the engine rebuild, Tyler took steps to ensure the 5.9L could handle street racing every night of the week. ARP main studs, rod bolts and head studs all got the call, along with marine pistons. A Hamilton 188/220 camshaft, 24-valve tappets, extreme pushrods and dual valve springs highlight the valvetrain mods and the cylinder head was O-ringed to hold up to big boost. As for boost production, a billet compressor wheel BorgWarner S467.7 with a race cover and an rpm-friendly, 1.10 A/R exhaust housing with a T4 flange crams more than 60-psi into the engine.
Curious what others are doing with diesel power? Here’s another handful of one-of-a-kind oil burners for you to digest.