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Alex's '42 WC53 Carryall Build Details - Cummins ISB170

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  • Thanks guys. I think the worst part about having to continue to chase these problems is that it prevents me from working on the things I need to do next, like build the seat frames, and button up the interior with windows and things. My wife is over it all too. When I told her it was still making the noise, I think she was more physically upset than I was because it has been hours and hours of time. I am trying to see the silver lining in this, as Damien mentioned, that the transmission did in fact need work, and the converter bearings were bad so it would have been a problem further down the road. The shift kits, and stall speed on the converter do make the truck drive very nice and the shifts are nearly seamless. The new steering box is a good bit heavier and drives more like what you would expect a heavier truck to drive like; the steering makes it feel like the truck gained about a ton of weight just because now it takes two hands to turn and feed the wheel vs before it was literally like driving a piece of heavy equipment with a one finger turning power... but with minimal feedback.

    I am grabbing one of those remote ear noise things. I think they are called a Steelman stethoscope. I'll hook that up to various parts and drive around to see if I can isolate the exact source of the noise.

    If it IS the transfer case bearings, then I actually have a whole spare identical case. It appears fairly unused, and seems tighter than the case I have. The one I rebuilt felt worn out anyways and I even had the mental thought when it went back together that "this thing might make noise"... Actually, we rebuilt two at once but somehow the other guy ended up with the nicer one installed in a mud truck. Ohh well. Whenever I find these things for a deal I buy them.

    My fear is that it has something to do with my driveline angles... but everything is phased perfectly, the joints are all new. Etc. Its not a "vibration". I know what a driveshaft vibration feels like, its gear noise or bearing noise as its a "metal roller roar".

    I guess I'll know more after driving it with the stethoscope on it. I am also going to rig up my go-pro on the frame rails and look to see if the transfercase or transmission are moving in the mounts or anything.

    1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.


    • This reminds me of a noise I was once chasing in a build, I couldn't find it. It only made the most annoying sound while driving. I had a friend that was of a slighter build than myself, he rode in the truck with his feet hanging out the window on the passenger side while I drove down the highway. It ended up being a loose bracket under the dash that held the fuse block. I wish I could have taken a photo... That would have been to dangerous.
      1967 W200.aka.Hank
      1946 WDX.aka.Shorty
      2012 Ram 2500 PowerWagon.aka Ollie

      Life is easier in a lower gear.


      • Well, I put more miles on it. About 250 miles actually. The overdrive noise got perpetually worse, and then migrated into 1st and 2nd gear, then eventually into 3rd and Reverse also. Every gear except 4th (1:1) was making a noise. I kept driving it around some and made one long 130 mile round trip expedition with it. That made the noises all even louder. I then checked the fluid in the transmission and it looks like a fancy nail polish for my wife or a paint that someone with a '32 Ford Sedan would use; bright red with ALL of the glitter you can imagine. Uggh. I took it for a short Saturday morning 2 mile trip to a local hardware store and the truck down shifted into 2nd gear coming up to a stop light and subsequently locked the rear tires up. My brain went through a million scenarios in 0.01 seconds... a quick shift into Neutral resulted in no change so I thought, "dang, t-case must be locked up" but then suddenly the floor by my feet lets out this KAPOWWW! and the truck starts to roll again but with a grinding noise. Its short shifts into 1st gear though, but the shifter is in neutral... and I think.. thats weird. The truck doesn't want to seem to roll at the light despite the slight backward slope... I click it back into drive and the engine loads normally like the converter is moving fluid against a line pressure. Light changes and I start to go, not knowing what to expect. I've got my nose turned up trying to smell for transmission fluid or gear oil but nothing was evident. I was somewhat expecting anything to happen as I pulled forward; I even checked proximity to my fire extinguisher just in case fluid starts leaking and going to hot places, etc. Still no fluid smell and the truck moves forward normally but the transmission now sounds like a rock tumbler in first. Expecting a flare shift, or no shift, or maybe even no second gear at all I lightly let it gain rpm to where 2nd gear should be... it makes the shift normally but oh dear the crunching and grinding, and horrible scraping of metal on metal emanating from the transmission case. At this point I start laughing hysterically as I make the turn into my hardware store destination just beyond the stoplight where it all just went down. I crawl past a group of people looking funny at me; not sure if they are interested in the truck, wondering what I am laughing about, or if they could hear the noise as audibly as I and thus think the "Langoliers" are approaching and that they should run. I kick the truck into Neutral to let it roll to my parking spot and even rolling in N has a funny scraping sound. I shut the truck down, climb out in a haste and peer below expecting all sorts of carnage, but it all looks normal. I roll to my back and slid under the truck, but not before rocking it good to ensure it was in fact locked in park. I back hand touch the oil pan to find it warm but not hot. I scoot around and check the transfer case and it is barely above ambient temperature and same goes for the rear axle. I stare at the transfer case that I have lately been so suspecting of. It has no front driveshaft so I grab the front yoke and spin it somewhat hopeful of a noise to tell me that what I hear is not what I fear, and would rather it be a cheaper and easier task to replace NP205, than the Allison 1000... I knew better though and as expected the yoke spun smoothly in its place with the perfect amount of friction from the seal and good set of bearings. ****it...

        I go in the hardware store to find they don't stock a simple drop in the tank chainsaw fuel filter; that is unless you buy a $21.00 kit. Par for the course of the current situation.

        Leaving the parking lot was a lifelong emotional experience as I felt more daunting concern and empty stomach than any roller coaster I had ever been on. You know when you are at the top of the hill looking down, maybe even from the front seat and the rest of the train is holding you down the slope... yea, thats what it felt like. "Is this thing going to move... then if it moves, SHOULD I DRIVE IT?" I fought with the idea in my head but my heart had taken control. I was out of body watching my emotions run the show and the "lets just see what happens, you know its broke, come on and get this home" was all that was going on. Truck starts normal and away I go. 1st gear was loud but not unbearable... but that 2nd gear, ohh man... Just terrible. I pull back out into traffic and start to sneak my way home. The truck is now approaching the rpm range and load for third gear but its not shifting. "Uh oh"... But just as I grab the four way flasher lever it snags 3rd gear and its a touch quieter but still growling and grinding... I think, err, feel that I can get it home this way. I am starting to get up some fair speed for the route I am on and not much or any traffic around me... "Lets go to 4th I think". I step into it some more and it quickly and smoothly drops into 4th, and the roar and grind stop but are replaced with a driveshaft speed hard and loud tapping as if something inside the transmission is chipping its way out with a pneumatic hammer. I lightly cruise along in a safe speed and load as to not force any other gear shifts until I reach my few turns into my neighborhood. I anticipate the 4th to 3rd downshift and the unknown noises that may be happening. I also expect at anytime to experience the wonderful locked rear tire slide and drive appropriately to compensate for such an event. It shifts to 3rd and roars and growls almost deafeningly. "Well, that got worse in only 2 miles" I said aloud... to myself, but I couldn't even hear myself say it other than the muffled hum of my voice in my own head which made me simply chuckle at the gravity of the situation. Here comes 2nd... and BAM, it slams into 2nd and gives a good hard tire bark and somehow the noise is even louder yet. I creep the truck along until I can find a few spots to see what Neutral will give me hoping the truck will roll along quietly. Negative. Neutral is simply a dragging metal sound like noisy brakes as if you were to lightly load the drum parking brake hanging off the back of the 205... I even lightly bump the brake handle to make sure I hadn't subconsciously engaged it during my trip. Only a few blocks to go until I was home. Noise noise noise... Roaring and crunching, grinding and tapping. I was waiting for the ultimate failure as the closer I got to home the louder and more aggressive the sounds were becoming. I get the truck up into the driveway and around the side of the house to in front of my garage. Shift into Neutral but the transmission stays in 2nd and standing on the brakes I go. Never shifted to first even. The brakes have plenty to stop it but I also just key it off and the truck coughs to a rolling drivetrain locked up stop. I let it sit for a second and I ponder the events. I shake my head, check the surroundings and again look at my fire extinguisher... maybe I want it to catch on fire at this point... Not really, but sinister thoughts flood my frustrated mind and tease my heart as if it would be some narcissistic solution . I decide to re-start it expecting to stand on the brakes but it sits and idles in Neutral. I test a forward gear and it bumps into first just fine. I bump back into reverse, it loads and wants to move. I let it move some... CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH... "Okay lets stop there."

        I get out of the truck, shut the door lightly and let out a sigh. I sniff for smoke, fluid, or anything of concern before walking away... nothing. I go in the house and sit down for a minute. I know what I need to do but I don't want to; the transmission needs to come back out again. The worst part is I still had to tell my wife that the thousands of dollars, and many nights of work are lost and were fruitless, the truck is broken and as is my heart.

        I start to contact my rebuilder, the guy who said "That transmission is fine, it has to be the transfer case"... His response was. "I assure you that nothing appeared wrong with a bearing or planetary gear when I was in there, so whatever happened must be something you've done to it, good luck". And now he doesn't respond to messages or calls. Lovely. Thats what I get for it being a "good deal" through a "friend of a friend".

        So... Currently I have scrounged my pennies and found a used Duramax transmission to try and swap into the truck. Its gross, its used, and has unknown origins, but it was cheap and will be a testing tool to see just what is going on here. If it doesn't work at all, or works fine, or has similar issues, I'll at least have a direction to go. I am, 10,000% frustrated at this point though. I wanted to stab the guy on another forum that said "It wouldn't be fair to the rest of us for you to get away with a project like this without having some sort of epic problem or failure"... OOOOOooo... I'ma come through this computer screen boy!

        Attached Files
        1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.


        • Desoto61
          Desoto61 commented
          Editing a comment
          Man know exactly what you're going through, I think we've all been in that situation at least once, bouncing between stages of grief, trying to will the universe back to harmony and peace. I'm having similar situations with this new house. Worse everything else suffers because of it. You're so focused on this one thing that work and normal life stuff gets neglected which isn't healthy either. For technically oriented, logical thinkers like most of us gear-head are these types of seemingly illogical, emotionally charged moments we do not handle well (or at least I don't think I do).

          Only advice I can give is take a breath, let the emotions work themselves out and clear your head before going forward, it's not what you want to hear, and it's not what you want to do, but technical work under emotional duress tends to cause more problems than it solves. It's every bit as OK to take a moment and be angry, upset, depressed, and tired, as it is to take a moment to be tired, hungry, or sick.

          Now if only I would take my own advice ;-P

        • Matthew Welcher PWA
          Editing a comment
          Alex, I feel your frustrations. One who has literally poured there heart and soul into a project of this magnitude as you have deserves it to go without problems. Your wife will understand, maybe not today, or tomorrow but soon she will look at you and say, If anyone can make this go and go right it is you.
          I have read and seen enough of the way you two are that she fully supports you.
          As far as the guy who did the transmission work, lets for a moment set him on the shelf next to the other broken parts that we all save, the busted rods, broken valves, we all have that one spot that we store our busted mechanical memories. Set him up there with those pieces. Because they are meaningless, he like those parts are now a trophy so to speak, of what not to do next time. Let us hope this new to you transmission led a life of the retired gentleman who takes things nice and easy, now rested and ready to give it it's all for the new home will be a happy one.
          I do appreciate you sharing your feelings on this with all of us, I could feel the pain and frustration in your words. Now bottle that all up into a big dose of fuel additive and roll on through the winter ahead.

      • Alex, it doesn't take much to understand how frustrated you must be. I've been there with my projects, as I think most of us have. There are days I just want to take a baseball bat to the thing and set it on fire. Scream myself hoarse while I watch it burn to the ground. My own private little Burning Man. But thankfully the urge passes, and then progress begins again. It just takes time to let the frustration filter out of my system. Sometimes I have to stay away from the shop for a week or two until I start to miss the project.

        The paint on my 6x6 is an excellent example. It's flaking and chipping off the metal. It was a simple mistake - a $4000 mistake not of my own making - but it's mine now and the whole cab and front end have to come apart and get redone. It makes me crazy, but there it is and it has to be dealt with. So I'm focusing on fabricating the bed as I prepare myself to undo the front bodywork. Then get it all done together at the end. It sucks, and that's that.

        But to have someone tell you that you deserve this to happen to you, that's outrageous. Sounds like one of those people who can't stand to see someone else succeed at something. You're a better man, don't let it get under your skin.
        Greg Coffin
        Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

        1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
        1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
        1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
        1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
        1944/1957 Dodge WM500T 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
        1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package


        • Well, its a new year and I still have this old truck. I haven't touched the transmission issue at all, I just have been moving the truck in and out of the garage some as needed and not really driving it anywhere. Its been raining and raining and raining anyways, so I can't even put the truck outside for me to work on other things either. Two days after Thanksgiving, I had to put down my shop bud Wheeler Dog. His health crashed very quickly during the month of November. We don't have kids and he was almost 10 so my wife and I have been rather devastated. Between that nightmare, the weather, the Holiday travels, rush, chaos, I have accomplished very little with the truck.
          I have been working on my passenger's seat frame and have just recently started to do some other misc body work on the truck so that I can get to building my window boxes and get the interior finalized enough to drive this thing around some in the spring. I'm not doing any major body work to the truck other than fixing a few really rough repairs that were done poorly in the past. Beyond that, it will get rough sanded and painted. Enough screwing around, I have other things to do in life and time is catching up to me quicker than I ever expected and this is taking a million times longer than originally planned. This May I will have owned this thing for 7 years... SEVEN.. uggh.

          When I got the truck from Lee, it had been smashed, so I had to cut the interior body panel out on the passenger's side to fix some dents and holes, etc. Well, he had already cut it out in the past and applied a ton of roll on sound deadening and jute mat, etc. So now, between the two separate cut processes, welding this thing back in has become quite the challenge. I've tacked backing bar strips onto the seams where I could to help "back-up" the weld similarly to how heavy structural welding joints are assembled. Going slow though still.

          I still need to finish closing in the shifter box, finish up my onboard air system and finalize the plumbing for the air shift transfer case, wire up my cruise control switches, install the HVAC under the dash, figure out my paneling systems for the roof... AND... ohh yea... Replace the fawking transmission... uggh.

          1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.


          • So sorry to hear about Wheeler Dog. My wife and I are the same boat - only kids we have are the 4 legged kind. Three right now - two are 14 years old and the third is 7. Met with the Vet over the holidays and she said that time is getting close on one of the two that are 14. Nothing breaks your heart more than losing a 4 legged best friend. Youíre in our thoughts and prayers.


            • Originally posted by Chip View Post
              So sorry to hear about Wheeler Dog. My wife and I are the same boat - only kids we have are the 4 legged kind. Three right now - two are 14 years old and the third is 7. Met with the Vet over the holidays and she said that time is getting close on one of the two that are 14. Nothing breaks your heart more than losing a 4 legged best friend. Youíre in our thoughts and prayers.
              Thanks so much. Every day it gets a little easier but my heart still aches anytime I think about him. He was such a good happy boy.

              Life was being really ****ty there for a while... a few things have resolved themselves but others shall remain just ****, because as is the world and just bad people will always be bad.

              After about a month of more or less poking the truck with a stick, to see if it was still alive, or how much I cared, I finally got a spark lit back and am decided to make the best of a weekend of rain and dreary weather by just staying locked in my garage.

              Recap on time line of events regarding the driveline "Saga"...

              Bought used Engine and Transmission from a 3rd party person who had purchased it from an auto recycler in Salt Lake city, who I later found out has a TERRIBLE reputation of products and customer service. Story was it came from a 2001 FedEx truck that was flopped in a snow storm in 2005. The engine was a Nov 2001 build, transmission was Feb 2002, and the ESN wasn't activated into service until Feb of 2003.

              Engine and transmission was in WI from 2005 until Oct 2012 when I had it shipped to me in Va. They come in seperate crates. The converter has a little bit of fluid in it but its not full, but I marry the two back together when I get them and they go into the truck in spring of 2013 and stay together. I build the truck around them.

              First start of engine is Oct '17. It runs for about 30 seconds max.

              Transmission gets filled and engine gets run on jack stands in July of '18 but the engine idles very rough, has a major lag, and seems very under-powered.

              Start running ECM and TCM software diagnostics, find out that the TCM is from an LLY Duramax truck and not the correct TCM for the Industrial J1939 transmission. Not only is it from the wrong model, it is from a later 5 speed that has the G-solenoid so it really won't work, nor will it talk to the J1939 Cummins ECM.

              Buy an Industrial TCM, have it flashed to match the original VIN from the FedEx truck as per what was logged in the Cummins computer and voila, the Engine starts running MUCH better. The ECM was needing speed sensor information from the TCM but the J1939 protocol wasn't there with the OBDII GM LLY TCM. Truck shifts into gear great, and acts the way it should. Chase a few more engine things and its doing great around the neighborhood and I put about 15 miles on it at around 40 mph top. I noticed that around 45 when it shifts into overdrive it has this "bearing rattle" that sounds like that throwout bearing rattle sound when a 7.3 or similarly large manual transmission truck is lugged and you get that driveline chatter growl.

              Take it on the first highway speed test run... Roaring growling at highway speed in overdrive. Very audible and concerning. Sounds like it is coming from the front of the transmission or bellhousing. I check converter bolts for tightness, check driveline angles, etc.

              A few more trips till about 50 miles of total distance and I go to check the fluid and it is glittery... ****it.

              Pull the transmission for a rebuild. I am told "I got a guy, he does it for a living, all he does is rebuild Allisons". Okay, good deal.

              First thing found is the Torque Converter is also wrong... its for an 8.1 Liter GM application. Uggh...

              Order the right stall converter (expensive because this was going to be nice), have the full Transgo kits installed from shift, to E-valve upgrade, etc. Bling bling.

              Builder says that the converter was trashed and that I had a burnt set of C3 clutches and everything else looks good. So he buttons it up and I reinstall everything. First time I meet the guy is when he drops it off, and he says "Thats only the second A1000 I've done, and never done that shift kit before, it was complicated"... RED FLAG... I become a touch concerned.

              I install it, fill it, bleed it, etc. It is reluctant to shift into any gear at first but then finally does. I drive it around slow, seems good. SHIFTS AMAZING, so seamless. I take it out for the high speed test.... SAME EXACT NOISE, no change.

              I tell the builder, "Hey, this thing is still making the same noise, nothing changed". He responds with, there was nothing wrong in that transmission, even the C3s could have stayed but they were a touch burnt so I change them. Its most likely a driveline angle problem or the transfer-case / rear end. Also, maybe something is rattling in the geartrain? Check that too".

              So I go down the rabbit hole of diagnosis of other components. Check shaft angles 6 ways from Sunday, check the transfer case, even dig out and prep a replacement transfer case that I have as a spare. I put some miles on the truck but it still sounds like death in overdrive. Then I decide to take it on a long trip. The morning I leave it shifts into 2nd and all of a sudden I hear the roar in 2nd gear now... ***? Ohh well. Kept driving it. I make the 120 mile trip with it and it has NO problems other than the transmission noise. When I get home, I check the fluid again... MORE metal than before... Uggh. I message the guy that its messed up. He ignores me.

              Next morning, I go for a 5 mile trip and thats when it grenades entirely. And I limp it home. The guy still ignores my calls, texts etc.

              Fast forward to this weekend. I get my wild hair and decide that it was time to bust my tail and get this thing moving again.

              Out comes the Industrial unit, I split the bellhousings, pull pans, swap yokes, etc. The used with unknown mileage C3500 2wd unit has plenty of clutch material in the fluid but not even hardly a skim of metal paste on the magnet. So I am happy and hopeful with that.

              My takeout unit on the other hand... wow ohh wow. Just spinning the output yoke by hand was enough to make my blood boil. Crunching, hard spots, soft spots, stalled spots, all in two or three rotations.

              The pan has gear chunks, bearing chunks, and even entire pieces of torrington thrust bearing rollers.

              I blew up the builders phone with pictures and messages. His response..."The shift kit killed it and that I needed to take up my issue with TransGo." He is now ignoring me again.

              Lets see... Day 1... "It sounds like a bearing is going bad."... Rebuilder... Okay so I'll replace clutches and blame it on the converter"... and low and behold, the pan is full of bearings... FML.

              So, the swap is done, it really wasn't that bad. I learned a lot more about these transmissions and they really are interesting. I am waiting on my replacement pan filter to deliver and then I am going to get the TCM set to "fast learn" since it needs to learn how to shift this used transmission vs whatever it had figured out to shift that grenaded unit.

              Pictures for your pleasure.



              Attached Files
              1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.


              • Sorry to hear about all the trouble. If people would only speak up when things are above there heads so it does not create more trouble down the road or at least you know what and when you are getting into things.


                • Love your attitude - treat it as a learning experience and move forward. Iím keeping my fingers crossed that you are at the crest of the hill and about to start the easy trip down the other side ...


                  • Originally posted by Chip View Post
                    Love your attitude - treat it as a learning experience and move forward. Iím keeping my fingers crossed that you are at the crest of the hill and about to start the easy trip down the other side ...
                    thanks man. I do have it back on the road. Still tightening up squeaks and rattles. I have a vibration in the driveline now, so I think a yoke nut must have backed off on the T-case. I was afraid that was going to happen after re-using a nut a few times when test fitting my parking brake drum assembly.

                    Been working on the seat frames so far.

                    1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.