Dodge 440 to 5.9 Cummins Diesel conversion

Started by Wantawinnie, October 16, 2012, 12:28 AM

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I am really interested in the amount of noise.  I think that has always been the limiting factor regarding puller diesels.  Winnebago has tried several variations, Deutz Air Diesels, GM 6.2 and 6.5 diesels and Freightliner FRED chassis over the years.  Your conversion and the attention to detail has been incredible.  Can't wait for the road test results!!  Rick
Rick and Tracy Ellerbeck


Getting pretty good at taking this thing apart and putting it back together again. The Hayden fan relay was bad out of the box so the fans engage all the time unless I manually flip the overide switch to shut them off. Went through the troubleshooting and the sensor is shorted out. So I get to tear all the wiring and controller back out and return it. My advice is to stay away from those controllers.(guess where it is made)

I ordered up a Painless wiring controller 30102 that features a screw in temp sender with 195 degree on and 185 degree off. It also has a circuit breaker and should be much more reliable. The Cummins uses a 180 degree thermostat and this should work well. This one cost twice as much and I can't find any bad reviews on it. Cooling the engine is not really an area I want to skimp on. Should have the controller in a couple days to get that up and running.

I also opted to install a frame mounted electric fuel pump back by the tank. It has a 30gph flow rate and a 5-9psi operating range. This is the pressure range where the mechanical pump operates. This will work well as a primer for the fuel lines and assist the mechanical pump when needed. Also, it can be used for a backup if the mechanical pump dies by bypassing it. The pump is mounted and plumbed in all I need to do is finish a little wiring on it.

Had to take the intercooler back out for the controller issues and found a small tranny leak at the cooler in front. I will take care of that as well.

BTW: I took the fuel shut off solenoid back out when we where trying to bleed the injecton pump thinking it was sucking air somehow.(it wasn't and can't as it is pressurized) After reinstalling it and getting the engine running for awhile I noticed a fuel leak under the rig. It was coming from the solenoid and it took me a few days to figure out what was wrong. The O-ring fell off when I pulled it out. I found it this morning laying on the floor by the steering column. D:oH!  I'll get that addressed soon too.



Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 1981 Ford F-100 Custom tow vehicle, and our 1995 Itasca Suncruiser Diesel Pusher.


Got the fuel solenoid back out and reinstalled the O-ring. I made a tool to get it out easier by grinding down an old 7/8" wrench. First I ground out the size to fit the solenoid as it is 15/16 or metric maybe, then ground the outside of the open end down to slide in the tight space, and then cut the wrench in half. I was able to get it in between the fuel lines to break it loose and then loosen from above once the throttle bracket was unbolted. Hope it doesn't leak again.

Got the Hayden controller removed and returned this morning. Still waiting for the Painless relay kit to show up.

I forgot to mention that I put the engine cover on loosely when I moved it out of the shop. I couldn't get it all the way down as the fuel lines to the 5 gallon pail and an old A/C hose were hanging over. There is probably an 1" gap around the cover and floor. Even with the open spaces, no carpet, or any type of extra sound deadening the rig was suprisingly quiet compared to when the engine compartment is open. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to even hear myself talk but that is definately not the case. As expected, it is louder than the 440, I couldn't even tell that was running really.


OMG!!!  The suspense is killing me!

Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 1981 Ford F-100 Custom tow vehicle, and our 1995 Itasca Suncruiser Diesel Pusher.


Sorry Kevin, slow going lately.

I got the electric fuel pump wired up and controlled by a rocker switch under the dash. It made quick work of priming the tank lines. The main tank lines got hooked up yesterday and the 5 gallon pail was retired.

The Painless wiring kit was installed yesterday which involved draining a gallon of antifreeze out of the system to screw in the sensor probe. I used a coolant plug up in front by the alternator. The kit includes an adapter fitting that worked fine for installing it in the Cummins. The wiring was clearly labeled and I feel much better about the quality of this setup. I am going to run a manual override switch by using a toggle switch to provide a ground that bypasses the temp sensor when needed.

Tonight I started it up and let it run long enough to check that the fuel solenoid stopped leaking. Apparently that o-ring is rather important. :laugh:


Sorry for the delay in posting. Life has been busy lately.

Here is the progress since the last post. I reinstalled the engine compartment to radiator shield and had to make a bracket as the shield originally fastens to the radiator shroud. That is not used with the Cummins so an alternative was needed to seal against the back of the radiator.


I also made these side shields up to direct air through the radiator. The parts manual shows something similar as factory but there were none and it doesn't really seem like any were ever there.

All of the new wiring and some of the old is going in plastic looms to help protect it.

With that out of the way I reinstalled the intercooler and carefully cut the holes for the intercooler tubes to go through the upper shield.

This one was a little tricky as it comes through at an angle.

All done with that!

Bumper back on for the first time since the conversion started.

Grill divider and lower grill back on. Really hard to tell much is different from the outside.....unless it is running. ;)

Another shot of the intercooler and piping.

And some glamour shots out of the shop idling away. :)


Thanks much for the update.   :)clap

Sounds like still no maiden voyage yet though?  I think we're all dying to know how the whole thing works on the highway.  Given all the work you're put into it, I suspect you are at the top of the list of people who want to know.

Best of luck, and may your schedule free up soon. :)


No driving yet. The brakes are not up to it until they get checked out. All I have are the front right now. There was also an oil leak at the fuel pump that I just got fixed today. There are couple other small things and it should be ready.

I've let it idle a lot and did quite a few starting, stopping, and backing up manuevers to make sure the cooling system will handle stop and go traffic. Found out the sensor for automatic transmission cooler fan works today and it cools the tranny off nicely when sitting still in gear.   

All I can say at this point is you can feel the difference in low end torque. It's much different just puttering around compared to the 440. Hard to explain it really.

I will try to get a video of it but I've never messed with that before. Hm?



Tried to post a video, didn't work.




Hey "The Boss" just might be a good name for it.


You know this voids your warranty :angel:

nice work....good job!
We call our coach "Charlie Brown"


Post a video on YouTube and then post the link here.
1969 D22, 2 x 1974 D24 Indians, 1977 27' Itasca


So, what did you end up doing with the old 440-3?  I've been plotting doing a 360/440 swap for my truck as the 360 is a tad under powered and finding a diesel donor truck around here is a nightmare. 
Follow along with me as I full-time the Redneck Way in [url=http://



Here are some Youtube videos. The quality isn't the best as I was using my phone.

Walk around while the Cummins was running.

Starting it up and using the pull stop cable to shut it down. You can hear the electric fans running after the engine stops.

Running with the engine cover off.

This one with the engine cover on shows the noise reduction compared to the previous videos. I haven't done any sound deadening and there is no carpet yet so it should get a little better.


Amazing job.  Congratulations on the fine engineering and workmanship. 


Outstanding!  I can't wait for the road test!

:)clap :)clap :)clap :)clap :)clap

Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 1981 Ford F-100 Custom tow vehicle, and our 1995 Itasca Suncruiser Diesel Pusher.

M & J

M & J


Hey, where'd you get the fans on yer radiator at?  I've been plotting adding a pair to my truck to augment the engine driven fan.  The problem I'm running into is the radiator cools down too well and subsequently, at low speed, not enough air is being pulled through to properly cool the big tranny cooler in the center of the sandwich (Only place I could fit it), so I need to add a couple fans I can actuate manually to boost air flow to keep the tranny temp as cool as possible when grade pulling :).

Follow along with me as I full-time the Redneck Way in [url=http://


Thanks guys!

Redneck - I got the fans, transmission cooler, and all the silicone boots from these guys. The fans seem to be fine for the price but the free mounting kit was no good. The pins were very brittle and snapped off. I ended up buying some from a parts store for a few bucks.


Thanks, I'll snap the measurements, then grab a couple, at those prices they're definitely worth it. 

I assume you custom wired up a thermostatic switch to turn them on and off on yer bago, correct?
Follow along with me as I full-time the Redneck Way in [url=http://


Yep, I used a 195 on 185 off switch and then put a manual toggle on the ground side to turn it on and off if needed.


Excellent job!!
What I want to see is the look you get the first time you take it to a quik oil place.. and the techs there try to look up the filters for a 1973 Winnebago that came with a diesel. That should be a good laugh.

I will point out 1 minor detail that I would change. In your walkaround, I noticed the exhaust pipe sticks out a few inches. Mine was like that, and I gashed my leg wide open on it one day.. I then cut it off so it was flush with the side of the coach... I still have a scar from it.  Just a suggestion.
Other than that I can't say anything but positive things about it. The rig is absolutely gorgeous, and you've done an outstanding job engineering the swap so it not only fits.. but looks surprisingly factory installed as well.
I reserve the right to reject your reality and substitute my own...