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Questions about my m54 5 ton.

ihavea65

Member
14
27
13
Location
Idaho
Hi everyone. I have already in a short time here been treated kindly and guided expertly. Thanks to everyone! As a disclaimer, I never really was involved with a forum before so if I don't have the proper etiquette initially let me know, please. I know somewhere on the threads I may find what I am looking for, but I browsed them didn't find it, and I don't want to bring up dead posts from way back either, so I will just ask, and see if someone can send me in the right direction! :) I have a 1968 M54 5 ton that I bought cheep at auction. It has 16.00 super single tires already. I drove it only a little bit after buying it, and last time out, I barely got it back in my driveway, 5 feet at a time, because both my brakes and my clutch went out at exactly the same time. All I really had was the hand brake, and the fuel kill knob to back it in. I should have shifted in low, but didn't think about it, but after sweating bullets I got it back, and it didn't go through any buildings, lol.

The clutch is not worn, it just doesn't disengage, and the brake master is empty and needs a new master, apparently, since it is leaking. ODD about the clutch, though. I still have to pull the inspection cover, but I adjusted the linkage and still it wont disengage. I am guessing it's either something with the pressure plate, or linkage. A person on here had me pretty much convinced to sell this truck and start over with a newer one. But, I just like the way the 1968 looks, and I am torn. Yes, it will be expensive to change to disks, and I am thinking even of going to full air for the brakes, or a dual master and another air over hydr for a dual system....I am sure many people before me have had the same quandary. Maybe some have tried and failed?

So, here are my questions: I wish to make it a hard top/ or if possible a extended cab, even quad cab. I would extend the frame and keep the bed length. I plan to build a camper box, or even find a military expansible for the back. Has anyone done this? I'm a decent welder and fabber with modest metal working equipment, but fabricating the progressive curve corners of the roof will be a hard undertaking for me. Adding doors and windows wont be cheap, but that roof is going to be hard. My next question is the engine, the continental multi-fuel. I don't like it and don't want to rebuild something so under powered. With so many other surplus engines available, and I can always rebuild it myself, what other diesel is a drop-in? The tyranny too, while i enjoy going through the gears, my 5'2" wife couldn't drive it, and an Allison or other trans would make it less of a workout and might even last longer? I want like 300 turbocharged HP, but 250 even will do. I will probably never use anything but diesel or kerosene anyway.

Another question: The RV equipment, solar, generator, batteries, tanks and cabinets, all together, is far less than the weight carrying capability of this 5 ton. Even with full tanks I don't see it above about 1500 pounds, and certainly not even 2.5 tons. Do you think I could bob it, take out an axel, and still have decent flotation and off road ability? I know the 6x6 would be ultimate at traction and in sand, but many overland are two axle, and I have the big 16.00 super singles on it too. I would bring the single rear back, I think, about where the current third axle is, and then the last 2 feet or so of the bed would angle up for departure clearance. Getting rid of that axle would really help with fuel economy, and i could use that 5 ton axle under my to be built 4x4 school bus, Then I just need a matching front axle for that, and I will have one (vehicle) to sell.

Any guidance would help. Especially documentation of an engine transplant, and hardtop roof or quad cab, and if someone has failed doing this for one reason or another. The newer ones, M39? just look kinda ugly, but that's just me, and much much newer ones are just too expensive. I can't pay 30 0r 40k to start. This M54 5 ton was 5K. Thanks!
 

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Mullaney

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Hi everyone. I have already in a short time here been treated kindly and guided expertly. Thanks to everyone! As a disclaimer, I never really was involved with a forum before so if I don't have the proper etiquette initially let me know, please. I know somewhere on the threads I may find what I am looking for, but I browsed them didn't find it, and I don't want to bring up dead posts from way back either, so I will just ask, and see if someone can send me in the right direction! :) I have a 1968 M54 5 ton that I bought cheep at auction. It has 16.00 super single tires already. I drove it only a little bit after buying it, and last time out, I barely got it back in my driveway, 5 feet at a time, because both my brakes and my clutch went out at exactly the same time. All I really had was the hand brake, and the fuel kill knob to back it in. I should have shifted in low, but didn't think about it, but after sweating bullets I got it back, and it didn't go through any buildings, lol.

The clutch is not worn, it just doesn't disengage, and the brake master is empty and needs a new master, apparently, since it is leaking. ODD about the clutch, though. I still have to pull the inspection cover, but I adjusted the linkage and still it wont disengage. I am guessing it's either something with the pressure plate, or linkage. A person on here had me pretty much convinced to sell this truck and start over with a newer one. But, I just like the way the 1968 looks, and I am torn. Yes, it will be expensive to change to disks, and I am thinking even of going to full air for the brakes, or a dual master and another air over hydr for a dual system....I am sure many people before me have had the same quandary. Maybe some have tried and failed?

So, here are my questions: I wish to make it a hard top/ or if possible a extended cab, even quad cab. I would extend the frame and keep the bed length. I plan to build a camper box, or even find a military expansible for the back. Has anyone done this? I'm a decent welder and fabber with modest metal working equipment, but fabricating the progressive curve corners of the roof will be a hard undertaking for me. Adding doors and windows wont be cheap, but that roof is going to be hard. My next question is the engine, the continental multi-fuel. I don't like it and don't want to rebuild something so under powered. With so many other surplus engines available, and I can always rebuild it myself, what other diesel is a drop-in? The tyranny too, while i enjoy going through the gears, my 5'2" wife couldn't drive it, and an Allison or other trans would make it less of a workout and might even last longer? I want like 300 turbocharged HP, but 250 even will do. I will probably never use anything but diesel or kerosene anyway.

Another question: The RV equipment, solar, generator, batteries, tanks and cabinets, all together, is far less than the weight carrying capability of this 5 ton. Even with full tanks I don't see it above about 1500 pounds, and certainly not even 2.5 tons. Do you think I could bob it, take out an axel, and still have decent flotation and off road ability? I know the 6x6 would be ultimate at traction and in sand, but many overland are two axle, and I have the big 16.00 super singles on it too. I would bring the single rear back, I think, about where the current third axle is, and then the last 2 feet or so of the bed would angle up for departure clearance. Getting rid of that axle would really help with fuel economy, and i could use that 5 ton axle under my to be built 4x4 school bus, Then I just need a matching front axle for that, and I will have one (vehicle) to sell.

Any guidance would help. Especially documentation of an engine transplant, and hardtop roof or quad cab, and if someone has failed doing this for one reason or another. The newer ones, M39? just look kinda ugly, but that's just me, and much much newer ones are just too expensive. I can't pay 30 0r 40k to start. This M54 5 ton was 5K. Thanks!
.
Well, you definitely have a quandary. Me personally, I think I would fix the brakes first. It could be as simple as refilling the reservoir and bleeding the brakes. Start bleeding from the fartherest point, generally the back axle. Then progress to the intermediate axle, then to the front... It may take several quarts of fluid to do that job. Look at the cap to see if it says DOT 3 or maybe DOT 5. And if it is already empty, fill her up with DOT 3 and start bleeding. Yeah, there is a possibility of DOT 5 but I am guessing it won't be.

The other thing that you should do is crawl up under the truck. Take a look and see if you can spot "dark spots" on the bottom of the wheels (actually on the backing plate where the shoes are). If you see dark spots, chances are that you have a leaky wheel cylinder. Do as you see fit, but if you spot a leak I would go ahead and replace or rebuild all the wheel cylinders. Gonna need several sets of jack stands - or just a pair - and then do each axle one at the time. Chances are that your master cylinder needs attention as well.

---

As far as changing out the power plant is concerned, you honestly might do better to fix the truck then trade it to somebody else for a little more than you paid for it - because it won't be cheap.

There is a crew cab up in Winston-Salem that you might buy.

There are a lot of other questions that you had, but until it stops the truck is somewhat useless...
 

NDT

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If I am reading this right, you bought this truck and the only parts you plan to use are the front axle, a rear axle, and some of the frame. Maybe sell this and start with something closer to what you want? Those 4x4 crew cab Internationals come to mind like what the fire service uses.
 

ihavea65

Member
14
27
13
Location
Idaho
Thanks...i just saw a 1990 5T 6x6 in an auction. This one has 250 hp Cummings, 5sp Allison auto, anti-lock air brakes. No winch or central tire inflation that I saw, with a soft top, and some kind of fire water tank and pumps and nozzles with control from the cab. I could part that out, hopefully, and have a far better base to build. As a caveat, it's listed starting bid is lower than what I paid for my 68. Now my gears are turning. If I get this for reasonable amount, I'll still fix up the M54, just as I would for myself, and SELL IT. It all depends on who else will bid on the 1990. It is loaded up with the tank and all, so hopefully, nobody will want it! haha...we will have to see. But the 1968 still looks better, to my eyes. : )
 

pmramsey

Active member
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189
43
Location
VA
The reason I ask, Mack had the contract from 1959 to 1966. If your truck is a 1968, odds are, it is an M54A2 with a multifuel engine. Transmission info would be helpful. It will either have a "direct drive" or an "over drive" version of the Spicer tranny. Do the data plates show any sort of rebuild having been applied. Rebuilds beginning during or after 1970 will have upgraded steering and transmissions identical to the newly introduced M809 series of trucks which had the Cummins NT. My 1965 M54A1 was delivered to the Army with the Mack ENDT 373 with a "screw" type steering system and a direct drive Spicer transmission. During its 1975 rebuild, the engine was upgraded to the last version of the Mack ENDT engine, and steering and transmission identical to the M809 series of 5-ton trucks. Rebuilds to the M54s 1970-75 received upgrades to the original engines found in the trucks.
 

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Mullaney

Well-known member
Steel Soldiers Supporter
Supporting Vendor
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Charlotte NC
The reason I ask, Mack had the contract from 1959 to 1966. If your truck is a 1968, odds are, it is an M54A2 with a multifuel engine. Transmission info would be helpful. It will either have a "direct drive" or an "over drive" version of the Spicer tranny. Do the data plates show any sort of rebuild having been applied. Rebuilds beginning during or after 1970 will have upgraded steering and transmissions identical to the newly introduced M809 series of trucks which had the Cummins NT. My 1965 M54A1 was delivered to the Army with the Mack ENDT 373 with a "screw" type steering system and a direct drive Spicer transmission. During its 1975 rebuild, the engine was upgraded to the last version of the Mack ENDT engine, and steering and transmission identical to the M809 series of 5-ton trucks. Rebuilds to the M54s 1970-75 received upgrades to the original engines found in the trucks.
.
You might also grab a TM that was recently posted that speaks to the Mack power plant...
 

pmramsey

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Location
VA
.
You might also grab a TM that was recently posted that speaks to the Mack power plant...
Thanks for the info. When I first found the truck, I located a clean new hard copy of the Mack engine TM. After all these years, it is a bit dog-eared but still viable. I found files and printed out the remaining truck TMs and mounted them in binders. I appreciate your suggestion
 

msgjd

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upstate ny
as a selling point, if your truck has a mack in it , that's a sweeter more-powerful/valuable/desireable engine than the multifuel, hands down.. a quick spotting feature is the mack's turbo sits above the manifold ... A multifuel has a turbo below the manifold. ..

Also, what's with the air cleaner can? Looks to be an M809-series OEM ..

As PMRamsey said above, Mack had the (diesel engine) contract for a spell, and I concur with him in that if it's truly a 1968-model, it's most-likely a multifuel...

Another selling point is whether you have a much-older actual Mack-built 5-ton ( if a tag indicates a rebuild in 1968 ) , but certain features I see in your pics say "no" to that.. What has not been mentioned in this string yet is Mack and Diamond-T built a small percentage of M39-series trucks while IHC was building most of them, during the 1951-1963 period... These all came with beefy continental R6602 gas engines ..

Many of these gassers were later upgraded/rebuilt.. Some got the mack 673 engine, including some of the original "Mack-bilt" trucks, but most of the conversions got stuffed with a multifuel .. Most of these conversions, if not all, retained their old-style original grille (with horn slots).. As I previously mentioned, your truck's grille shows mid-1960's-1970's features thus I bet you have a multifuel A2 thus not a mack engine and not a mack-built truck.
 
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