If you’ve yet to hear the name Plowboy Diesel, do yourself a favor and Google “Twin Cummins Dodge.” This small, farm-based operation is known for building one-off vehicles that combine wow-factor with fine craftmanship—and their dual 5.9L Cummins ’70 Dodge Sweptline creation brought them instant fame. More recently, Jody Mollet and the rest of the Plowboy Diesel team set their sights on another project: a gen-set engine’d ’52 Dodge B-series pickup that’s as impeccable as it is unique. The John Deere-themed build revolves around the use of a 4.5L PowerTech engine, a visual appreciation for the manufacturer’s 20 series line of tractors his family has been using for decades, and is capped off with its unexpected use of an Allison 1000.

But that’s far from the whole story. The frame, suspension, and exhaust system were built at Plowboy Diesel’s headquarters out in the middle of corn-country, and all auto body, paint, electrical, and wrenching duties were performed there, too. Jody, his father Mike, and his kids, Mallory and Dakota, were all part of the homegrown build. As is typical of so many blue-collar, self-reliant folks who’re used to working with their hands, ingenuity played a key role in the six-month undertaking. “If we need something, the first thing we do is walk outside and see what we have lying around that will work,” Jody told us, laughing. Funny thing is, he must not have been kidding—because in a lot of areas of the build that’s exactly what he did, and the truck turned out flawless.

4.5L PowerTech

Mistaken as a 4BT by some, immediately recognized by others, the 4.5L PowerTech makes the John Deere theme 100-percent authentic. Obtained off of eBay, the 1,000-pound, cast-iron block and head inline-four is set back roughly 4-inches for more favorable weight distribution, ultimately resting on Summit Racing motor mounts. Believe it or not, the serpentine belt system sold Jody on the engine more than anything else (many were V-belt). As it turns out, this specific PowerTech previously served in a gen-set application, which meant a governor change was in store in order to make the engine street-friendly.

No, it’s not a 4BT Cummins painted up in John Deere Green, it’s an actual John Deere engine. Plowboy Diesel’s Jody Mollet located the 4.5L PowerTech ‘Deere, which served in a gen-set in its previous life, on eBay. Various versions of this little four-cylinder have been manufactured over the years, but the rotary pumped and fixed geometry turbo version means it’s emissions free and equipped with a simple, 2-valve cylinder head. The iron block and head PowerTech mill features a 4.17-inch bore, a 5.00-inch stroke, forged-steel connecting rods, and wet sleeve cylinder liners. It tips the scales at 1,000 pounds (roughly the same as a 6BT Cummins), and in this case is set back 4-inches to help with weight distribution.

Mechanical Fueling

Fuel system reliability checks in in the form of a mechanical injection system that’s based around a Stanadyne DB4 rotary pump. After taking a trip to Area Diesel Service, the pump’s governor was reworked for street-use, and it was also modified to flow 45-percent more fuel. The DB4 routes fuel to four mechanical injectors, which were reworked internally at Area Diesel and set for a higher, 240 bar pop-off pressure to complement the pump mods. To adequately feed the DB4, the cam-driven mechanical lift pump went by the wayside in favor of an electric AirDog Raptor 4G unit mounted along the inside of the driver side frame rail.

The atmosphere turbocharger was sourced through Area Diesel Service, as well as several adaptors, flanges and clamps that were required to make the compound system work. The BorgWarner S300SX3 sports a 60mm compressor wheel, a 68mm turbine wheel, and a .88 A/R exhaust housing with a T4 open volute turbine inlet. Vibrant boots and spring-loaded, T-bolt clamps help hold down the fort when the compounds are under boost.
Like a lot of Jody’s projects, the engine is fitted with a compound turbo system. The original BorgWarner S2A, which makes use of a 42mm compressor wheel and a 53mm turbine wheel, was left alone on the exhaust manifold to serve as the high-pressure unit. Back behind the firewall on this side of the truck sits the vacuum brake booster and the brake master cylinder.

BorgWarner Compounds

A small compound turbo arrangement spices things up under the hood. It starts with the factory 42mm BorgWarner S2A on the stock exhaust manifold, and is paired with a 60mm, T4 foot S300 from Area Diesel, which is ironically a turbo that comes factory on a larger John Deere application. Area Diesel also supplied the adaptors, flanges and T-bolt clamps that were used to build the two-stage system. Peak boost is unknown and probably will remain that way. After all, no 20 series ever came with a boost gauge.

As if the John Deere PowerTech engine isn’t enough of a surprise, the Allison underneath adds another. The six-speed A1000 came from Custom Automatic Conversions and was made to work using an SAE #3 bellhousing and a custom flex plate. A stand-alone transmission controller helps the Allison choose the right gear for the torquey PowerTech engine in front of it. And, of course, in keeping with the John Deere theme, the Allison has been bathed in green.
Once again turning to Area Diesel, the rotary Stanadyne DB4 injection pump was modified to flow 45-percent more fuel, eventually moving 166 cc’s on the bench vs. 114 to 116 cc’s stock. And because the PowerTech had come from a gen-set application, Area Diesel had to rework the governor for highway and street use. To match the higher flow of the DB4, the mechanical, pop-off style Stanadyne injectors were set to 240 bar, but also internally reworked to handle the increase in fuel from the injection pump.

Allison 1000

The Allison transmission behind the PowerTech provides an unexpected yet welcomed surprise. Sourced from Custom Automatic Conversions, the 1000 series automatic is of the six-speed variety, and makes use of the SAE #3 bellhousing to accommodate the John Deere engine. A custom-tailored flex plate and a stand-alone controller make the use of the Allison possible, both mechanically and electronically. Gear selections are made on the steering column—by way of a repurposed 20 series throttle lever.

One look inside and you know it’s all ‘Deere. And if you’re a John Deere enthusiast you know it’s all 20 series equipment, too. The yellow vinyl seats (still covered in plastic), the rear fenders repurposed as armrests, the grab handles-turned door handles, the steering wheel, the gauge cluster, and the throttle and hydraulic levers are all 20 series paraphernalia. Even the accelerator pedal (though turned around backward) and the tractor cab upholstery can be found in 20 series machines. To keep things simple, the floorboards were hit with spray-in bedliner.

Custom, Original, And Aftermarket Parts

Unfortunately, a lot of the things you can’t see on the Mollet’s Dodge are some of its nicest features. Everything sits on a frame made out of 2×4-inch, 0.187-inch wall rectangular steel tubing, which integrates the factory I-beam axle up front and a Dana 70 with a limited slip in the rear. There are disc brakes all the way around, as well as air bags and a precisely-clearanced, 3-inch exhaust system culminates with a tail section that matches the contour of the rear fender above it. As for suspension, Jody built the front radius rod setup, along with the rear four-link.

Bright White

Working out of a makeshift paint booth erected at the family farm, Jody shot the truck in Bright White supplied by PPG. The same PW7 paint code found its way onto the bed, bumpers, and steel wheels, while fresh John Deere green was applied to the truck’s various accent pieces. DCM Customs kicked in a host of components that were vital when reassembling the old Dodge (especially weather-stripping), along with the ’48-’53 replacement aluminum radiator that bolted right in.

Niche Enthusiast Appeal, But Appreciated By All

So how has the finished product been received by the general public? If earning four trophies at its first three shows is any indication, we’d say it’s a hit. The attention-to-detail and craftmanship is apparent to everyone that is lucky enough to see the old Dodge in person. However, farmers and other tractor gurus are the folks who truly understand the build. “We mostly notice the guy who is likely a farmer and knows a 20-series tractor,” Jody explained. “They usually have a huge smile on their face when they see it, and that’s priceless. It’s so gratifying to see someone appreciate what you’ve done, and get it.” From truck people to tractor people to car people, and those that are into all three, Plowboy Diesel’s latest creation is quite a catch, and may even prove to have just as much staying power as their twin-engine truck. After all, there is no shortage of John Deere fandom.

The 20 series John Deere cues begin immediately up front. Grille inserts—which would be found covering the air filter, radiator, and oil cooler on a 20 series tractor—dominate the face of the truck. Up top, the John Deere badge pulled off of a 20 series mated perfectly with the angle at the center line of the truck’s hood. Beneath it sits the original Dodge emblem, which Jody was happy to have been able to polish up and bring back to life (rather than buy a reproduction piece). And although Jody had debated changing to a conventional hood to better see the engine, the original butterfly hood adds both originality and allurement to the build. For example, it’s era-appropriate, and on either side you’re greeted with a green turbo to look at.
For what we presume to be added character, a John Deere draw-bar hitch—with what appears to have plenty of hours on it—extends out past the rear bumper. It’s the only piece on the truck, Dodge, ‘Deere, or otherwise, that isn’t in spotless condition. Is it an innocent add-on, a tribute for all the hard days turned in by green equipment over the years, or is it something else entirely? Either way, and oddly enough, it seems to fit the particular build perfectly.
Four-corner air-ride provides for adjustable ride height and comfort thanks to air bags from Slam Specialties. Two Viair 400P compressors and dual Viair air tanks (one on either side of the truck under the cab) complete the system. The silver caliper to the left of the air bag reveals that the truck has four-way disc brakes. A disc brake kit from TSM Manufacturing exists here, while a disc brake conversion from Scarebird Classic Brakes is employed up front.
Believe it or not, Jody told us the Dana 70 in the rear of the truck was fairly hard to come by. The limited slip version is graced with a 3.54 ratio ring and pinion from Yukon Gear & Axle and topped off with a Mag-Hytec diff cover. The truck’s front I-beam axle was retained given it was originally used in a 1-ton application. As for shocks, first-gen intended absorbers are in place all the way around.
If you’re good enough to spot the post ’52 rear fenders, you’re a true Dodge fan. Jody, not a fan of the fenders Dodge used on the ’48-’52 trucks, decided on the longer versions that first debuted in 1953, these being sourced from Be Bop’s Glassworks. Believe it or not, Dodge employed these same fenders for more than three decades, well into the 80s.
Making great use of a 20 series battery box, it’s now a center console. Inside, you’ll find the truck’s fuse box and the regulators for the air-ride system. All of the truck’s wiring was performed by Jody’s 76-year-old father, Mike, and believe us when we tell you he did an ultra-clean job.

Just as he’d done with the rest of the truck, Jody treated the 17-inch third-gen steelies to bright white paint. The rear wheels have been flipped for a different look, but Jody had to be resourceful in finding a center cap that would cover the Dana 70 hubs. No one would ever guess they’re looking at the end of a John Deere oil filter that’s been epoxied in place—yet that’s exactly what it is! Also notice the 20 series John Deere step at the front of the bed. It’s one of two steps, and one of numerous other well-placed tractor pieces on the truck.
Peering into the bed (a late 50s Chevrolet piece sponsored by Pro’s Picks), you’re greeted with an all-oak floor that looks like a million bucks. Provided for the build courtesy of Trucks USA, it wears five coats of clear. Beneath the bed, a fuel tank from Rhodes Race Cars holds 20 gallons of diesel.

 

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