453t Detroit Diesel

Discussion in 'General Diesels' started by meander, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. meander

    meander Registered User

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    Aug 15, 2011
    Big Cottonwood Canyon
    I picked this up on a lark, might be in over my head. How feasible is this rig with this setup to be mini RV? I'm mainly concerned with the engine and traveling long distances with this monster on the other side of the engine doghouse. I've read a lot about this motor but can't find anything related to the application I'm looking at this for.

    1981 RV cutaway, they ordered the motorhome with out the home. It was supposed to be a satellite communications van but I don't think it ever ended up being used for that. I look around for 4x4 vans all the time and have never seen anything remotely like this, not much on the web either.

    453 T Detroit Diesel motor
    MT463 Allison 4-speed automatic
    The transfer case is gear driven, think it's a Spicer?
    The undercarriage is all custom, airbags in the rear, haven't identified the axles yet but everything is huge, same with the suspension components, I think I counted the leaf springs stacked 11 deep
    I think the front axle might be a Dana 60, but my mechanic wasn't sure, so I'm not.
    It's kind of far away and I have only been out there once
    oh, and it's a dually

    Anyone have any experience or insight that could give me an honest opinion...huge mistake or brilliant find? This rig is heavy but I can't imagine it's going to push the motor very hard. Any guesses on the MPG I can possibly expect? I really appreciate that people smarter than are often willing to take the time to post. Thanks in advance.

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  2. tom37

    tom37 Full Access Member

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    May 16, 2011
    Independence Missouri
    That right there would be the ultimate tow rig for my BBQ trailer....

    Party back in the trailer,,,,,,business up front. Sorry I couldn't resist.

    I would love to have it. But I know nothing about its makings. Looks really cool tho.
  3. The Warden

    The Warden MiB Impersonator Supporting Member

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    Jan 12, 2005
    Fog Bless Pacifica (CA)
    You could have some fun with that!! -Drool

    As far as driving it goes, my suggestions are as follows:

    1) Get a good set of noise-protection earphones AND insulate the doghouse as best as you possibly can.

    2) When you climb into the cab to drive it, be sure to slam the door on your fingers. That way you're good and mad at it before you get on the road...and be sure to take that aggression out on the accelerator pedal :D

    Seriously, Detroits want to be run right at the governor, and since she's a 2-stroke, when you're at 2500 RPM she's going to sound like she's at 5000 RPM :shocked: You probably already figured this out, but there's pretty much no way that drivetrain's factory. If you haven't dealt with a 2-stroke Detroit before, keep a CLOSE eye on the oil level...they're notorious for oil leaks; the joke is that if it's NOT leaking oil, you have a problem :D Beyond that, they're pretty simple engines...the governor may need some adjusting if the engine hunts, and depending on how the nozzles look, the injectors could probably stand to be rebuilt, but otherwise I'd say change the oil and filters and go for it! The Detroits I worked on wanted 30 weight oil, but that's for a marine application...I'm not sure if road engines use the same oil.

    One thing that might be worth double-checking; the engines I've worked on have a flap just before the blower; it's meant to be closed (operated by a cable or an electric solenoid) to starve the engine of air in case it starts running away. I don't know if road engines have this, but you may want to make sure that it's open before starting the engine.

    Since I've just about exclusively dealt with these engines on boats, I can't really say what you'll get for fuel economy, but I would guess high teens or low 20's?

    As to the rest of the truck...I don't know much about Chebbys, but from the pics and especially the drivetrain, my guess is that a LOT has been messed with and is no longer factory...that might make it challenging to make repairs, although some could replace "challenging" with "fun"...the real question is, what are your mechanical abilities and your willingness to learn? This could be a fun project or a nightmare...only real way to find out is to jump in ;Sweet
  4. typ4

    typ4 Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Dec 24, 2005
    Dont overheat it, make sure the cooling system is in perfect shape, you have a good engine, but replacement heads are scarce, if you blow a hose on a DD it will crack the head in less than 1 minute.
    That said, it should get fair economy, be nice if the trans was od.
    Use straight 30 or 40 weight oil, do not use multigrades.
    Idle oil pressure will be 10 lbs or less. normal.
    Oh and they will run forever. and rebuild parts are not too bad.
  5. G. Mann

    G. Mann Full Access Member

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    Apr 13, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I presently own 3 Detroit V8's and the design plan Detroit used was one of like parts where possible... So same cylinder liner / piston /rod works in straight 4, inline 6, V6, or V8, V12, V24 ...on engines with same displacement. Kept the parts count down and gave lots of flexibility for Detroit.
    Mine are all 6V92 or 8v71 engines.... Detroit marking system goes " Number of cylinders /configuration [V, inline,] / displacement per cylinder in inches / turbo / [manual injection system or DDEC [detroit diesel electronic control {computer}].

    All that said, your 4/53/T has 53 cu in per cylinder and is turbo. Governor limit should be 2350 however. Contrary to common belief peak torque on Detroits is in the 16/1800 rpm range, along with peak fuel economy.

    Watch for oil leaks, used to be said "you can paint a piece of paper Detroit Green, hang it on the wall, and in the morning there will be an oil spot on the floor". Nearly true.

    Use only straight weight 40 wt LOW ASH oil.. the can must say "two stroke Detroit use".. if you use modern multi grade oil it will puke, leak, and blow it out, and do damage to the engine. Detroit design is from 1930's and multigrade oil wasn't invented then.

    Treat it right, use it properly, and it will last nearly forever.
    Good Luck

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