SCHOOLED

Stu­dent-built 4.5L John Deere pow­ered ’01 Dodge Ram 1500

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Re­mem­ber when school projects were build­ing a bird­house, ash­tray or a vol­cano? Well, for a ta­lented group of kids in the But­ler Tech spon­sored En­gi­neer­ing De­sign Shop at Ross High School in Hamil­ton, Ohio, the school project was much cooler! The stu­dent build team—con­sist­ing of Jake Fritz, Nate Gander, Zach Haber­mehl, Tommy Hall, Doug Loos, Alex Slade, Ben War­man and Nick Zaenkert—worked with ad­vi­sors Eric Huhn and Bob Zaenkert to put a 4.5L John Deere Pow­ertech turbo-diesel engine in an ’01 Dodge 1500 pickup. The school’s teams are the Ross Rams, so build­ing a Dodge Ram pickup just seems right.

The ex­tra cab Dodge was in fair con­di­tion when pur­chased, with some dents as well as body and frame rust and a blown trans­mis­sion, but the stu­dents were de­ter­mined to trans­form it into some­thing their farm­ing com­mu­nity could be proud of. To start the trans­for­ma­tion the stu­dent builders re­moved the gas engine and trans­mis­sion from the truck and fab­ri­cated mounts to in­stall a new pow­er­plant in the form of a 4045T John Deere Pow­ertech 4.5L that was orig­i­nally in­stalled in a com­mer­cial straw chop­per. Af­ter get­ting the engine mounted, the crew also had to wire it as a stand-alone piece with its own ded­i­cated ig­ni­tion switch as they were not able to make the Dodge com­puter talk to the John Deere engine.

Since the truck al­ready had a balky trans­mis­sion, the build team opted to re­place it rather than re­build it and try to make the elec­tronic con­trols on the 46RE work with the new John Deere engine. They chose to in­stall a 47RH trans­mis­sion that op­er­ates strictly on hy­draulic pres­sure rather than elec­tronic con­trols. Gear se­lec­tion is han­dled by a floor-mounted B&M Me­gashifter. The stock Chrysler torque con­verter was used, along with a cus­tom flex­plate to link the engine to the trans­mis­sion. The man­ual trans­fer case was also re­tained to keep the 4WD func­tional on the Dodge. To get the power to the axles the front drive­shafts had to be length­ened while the rear was short­ened to ac­com­mo­date the longer trans­mis­sion.

The non-in­ter­cooled, four-cylin­der John Deere 4045T engine uses the orig­i­nal turbo and in­jec­tors to make around 150-180 horse­power for com­fort­able cruis­ing or spir­ited driv­ing in the 1500 Dodge, with around 24 mpg on the high­way. A four-inch ex­haust chan­nels the spent gases from the turbo to the bed, where it ex­its in dual 6-inch “Aussie-cut” pol­ished stacks. A Spec­tre air fil­ter pro­vides plenty of clean air di­rectly to the turbo.

Once the engine and trans­mis­sion were com­fort­ably fit into the truck, the stu­dent builders turned their at­ten­tion to the chas­sis. They in­stalled a 5-inch BDS Sus­pen­sion lift kit utiliz­ing front springs in­tended for a 3/4-ton truck to sup­port the weight of the 4.5L John Deere engine. In the rear the crew fab­ri­cated a set of lad­der-style trac­tion bars to pre­vent axle wrap. Both the front and rear 1/2-ton axles were re­tained, as were the fac­tory brakes. The truck rolls on a set of LT325/60R20 Nitto Terra Grap­pler All Ter­rain tires wrapped around chrome 20x10-inch Moto Me­tal wheels for good looks and per­for­mance.

The next area of at­tack for the stu­dents was the body. They smoothed the dents and re­paired the rust to get the truck into paintable shape. To make the 1/2-ton truck re­sem­ble its big­ger 3/4- and one-ton sib­lings they in­stalled cab marker lights on the roof and tow mir­rors. Boit­nott’s Cus­tom Paint in Fair­field, Ohio, do­nated the Planet Color paint and laid on the cus­tom tear-away graph­ics that re­veal John Deere green and yel­low col­ors with Ross High School lo­gos. Af­ter the paint was com­plete they in­stalled the stock front and rear bumpers, along with a new set of af­ter­mar­ket head­lights and tail­lights.

To wrap up the nine-month build the stu­dents handed the truck over to Beck­man’s Up­hol­stery in Har­ri­son, Ohio, to whip the in­te­rior into shape. Bob and Dave Beck­man used a com­bi­na­tion of black and yel­low vinyl to match the cus­tom paint when re­cov­er­ing the stock front and rear seats. Fi­nally, they in­stalled a trio of Au­tome­ter Pro­comp Ul­tra-lite gauges in an A-pil­lar pod to mon­i­tor boost, trans­mis­sion tem­per­a­ture and EGT to make sure their John Deere engine con­tin­ues to live a long and happy life in its new Dodge home.

The stu­dents cre­ated a Youtube video doc­u­ment­ing the build that can be found by search­ing for bleed­ing­green4020 on the site. Ad­di­tion­ally, they en­tered the project in the Tech Prep Show­case, where they took first-place hon­ors. Mov­ing on to the next level, they again took first place at the 2012 Ohio Skills USA Com­pe­ti­tion, and even won first place at the Na­tional Skills USA Com­pe­ti­tion. As you can see, th­ese stu­dents are a ta­lented bunch of young­sters with a bright fu­ture ahead of them in the diesel world. We just wish our school projects were as cool as this truck! UDBG

Look­ing un­der the front it’s easy to see that the stu­dent build team needed to lift the truck to pro­vide enough clear­ance for the large John Deere oil pan.

Un­like most diesel en­gines we’re used to see­ing in Dodge engine bays, the turbo is on the driver side of the Deere. It in­hales through a Spec­tre air cleaner.

The heart of the Ross High School Ram is a 4.5L John Deere 4045T turbo diesel engine orig­i­nally in­stalled in a com­mer­cial straw chop­per.

The BDS Sus­pen­sion 5-inch lift uses 3/4-ton springs up front to sup­port the weight of the John Deere engine. The Ram rides on Nitto Terra Grap­plers wrapped around Moto Me­tal wheels on all four cor­ners.

Credit where credit is due, the tail­gate lists the stu­dent build team, ad­vi­sors and pro­fes­sional crew that helped them com­plete the John Deere pow­ered Dodge Ram.

Look­ing closely at the cus­tom paint re­veals the in­tri­cate work the crew at Boinott’s do­nated to the stu­dent project.

While the as­pi­ra­tions might be more than the 4.5L 4-cylin­der John Deere can han­dle, the gi­ant tow hook is a cool look.

From any an­gle this is a stun­ning truck, even more so when you con­sider that it was de­signed and built by high school stu­dents!

The stu­dents felt that in­stalling a set of cab lights on the Dodge 1500 would help to make it look more like its big­ger 3/4- and one-ton sib­lings.

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