9 Ground-Up, Cummins-Powered Builds You Have To See

Arguably no other truck produced over the past 75 years is as tough looking or highly sought after as the Dodge Power Wagon. Drop a Cummins in one, and you’ve built a vehicle that is the envy of most of the car-collecting and diesel world. Precision Power Wagons spends its time transforming these iconic, military-intended pickups into oil-burning, off-road-capable pieces of eye candy on a regular basis. Most of the small, Girard, Pennsylvania-based shop’s projects revolve around the 4BT or 6BT, but they have worked with the smaller, quieter R2.8 Cummins as of late, and even the ISB 170. Its builds range from simple restorations to ground-up, one-off masterpieces, and they’re even able to put together “build your own chassis” packages for customers who prefer a DIY approach.

 In business since 2013, Precision Power Wagons owner, Daniel Mininger, now has his company’s repower recipes down to a science. Engines are either Cummins diesels or Mopar gassers, with the NV4500 transmission, NP241 transfer case, and 4BT being a very common combination. With the workload spread out between Mininger and his three employees, Precision builds approximately six trucks per year, each one consuming roughly 1,000 to 1,200 man hours—and four to six months apiece. Over the past nine years, Mininger and his team have pieced together a cluster of one of a kind Power Wagons. From a Carryall WC-53 to six-wheel drive WC-63 and WC-62’s, let’s take a walk around the small PA company’s shop to see exactly what they’re capable of.

Although many of Precision Power Wagons’ builds are similar, when it comes to finishing out the truck no two are alike. This is because direct customer input is included in each build, from the chassis to the powertrain to the exact look the customer wants. In particular, this ’64 W200 owned by Peter Neuffer turned out perfect. The truck sits on Corporate 14-bolt and Dana 60 axles from Hillbilly Wizard, sports a 140hp version of the 4BT Cummins supplied by Big Bear Engine Company, and is backed by the tried-and-true NV4500 five-speed and NP241 transfer case combo.

W200

Owner: Peter Neuffer
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: W200
Vehicle Year: 1964
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Injection Pump: Bosch VE rotary
Turbocharger: Holset HX25
Horsepower: 140 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: NP241
Clutch: South Bend
Axles: GM Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Rear coil over four-link, stock front suspension

Precision’s primary mission is to offer a reliable finished product—hence the 14-bolt, Dana 60, NV4500, NP241, and mechanical 4BT Cummins options included in this particular project. As you can see from this under hood shot of Peter Neuffer’s ’64 W200, cosmetic appeal ranks high on Precision’s list, too. While not visible here, Precision Power Wagons owner, Daniel Mininger, tells us the intercooler employed in this build was an off-the-shelf unit modified to fit in relatively tight quarters.

An early Power Wagon with a modernized, electronically-controlled powertrain, this ’49 four-door is powered by a 170hp version of the 3.9L common-rail Cummins that replaced the mechanical 4BT. The 16-valve four-cylinder is fueled by common-rail injection and produces 420 lb-ft of torque—considerably more out-of-the-box power than even a P-pumped 4BT provided. Better yet, the ISB 170 is supported by an Allison 1000 automatic.

 

On the creature comfort side, the ’49 has two separate sound systems: one for the interior and the second for exterior/outdoor purposes. The interior sound system is world class, but the outdoor system is a true marvel. A completely separate, battery-powered system built into the toolbox, the outdoor stereo has a 3-hour play time. The system was spec’d out by Custom Audio in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Straight out of WWII, the six-wheel drive WC-63’s are perhaps the rarest form of early Power Wagons to come across, and according to Daniel Mininger this is the only version with modern axles underneath it. The front Dana 60 and twin rear Corporate 14-bolt axles were fully refurbished by John McConnell at Hillbilly Wizard, and the one-off, dual rear output NP205 transfer case was built by Ryan Vredenburgh of Moonshine Mafia Motorsports. The original rear wheel bogie system was retained and made to work with the custom axles.

While 4BT engines have no problem motivating a Power Wagon with authority, the 6BT makes driving one downright fun. Here you can see that despite limited space between the radiator and firewall Mininger was still able to squeeze the P-pumped 5.9L into place and keep it intercooled.

4-Door Power Wagon

Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Power Wagon
Vehicle Year: 1949
Engine: Cummins ISB 170
Injection Pump: Bosch CP3
Horsepower: 170 hp
Transmission: Allison 1000
Transfer Case: NP205
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Rear second-gen four-link with coil over, front leaf spring

According to Mininger, a typical Precision Power Wagons customer is between 60 and 70 years old, owns multiple vehicles, and is often a vehicle collector. One such customer is Joe Leydon, the owner of this WC-63. This particular version, unique in that it utilizes six-wheel drive and six-cylinders of Cummins propulsion, would be a standout in any Power Wagon collection.

WC-63

Owner: Joe Leydon
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: WC-63
Vehicle Year: 1941
Engine: Cummins 6BT
Injection Pump: Bosch P7100
Turbocharger: Holset HX35
Horsepower: 210 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: Dual rear output NP205 from Moonshine Mafia Motorsports
Clutch: Stock Napa replacement
Axles: Dual Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Stock

All of Precision Power Wagons’ engines revolve around the use of brand-new units. No take-out power plants are allowed. Above all else, Mininger targets reliability in his company’s Power Wagon builds. This particular ’48 chassis build was put together to support a 6BT Cummins, which includes boxing the frame and beefier crossmembers. The brand-new 5.9L was sourced from Big Bear Engine Company. “When I buy an engine from Big Bear, I don’t have to worry about anything,” Mininger told us. “It’s imperative that I have a good engine source, as it’s not cost-effective to build our own engines.” The Big Bear 6BT is mated to a 4L80E that was built by GearStar Performance Transmission.
You’re looking at Precision’s first R2.8 Cummins conversion. Despite its 160hp, 310 lb-ft rating, Mininger confesses it has considerably less get up and go than a new 140hp 4BT from Big Bear Engine Company—perhaps due to the 4BT’s ability to produce peak torque at a lower rpm. Even so, Mininger believes the R2.8 is more than adequate in powering this ’46 Power Wagon, not to mention that the chain-driven common-rail power plant is much quieter than any 4BT.

Chassis Build

Owner: Mike Giebenhain
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Power Wagon
Vehicle Year: 1948
Engine: Cummins 6BT
Injection Pump: Bosch P7100
Turbocharger: Holset HX35
Horsepower: 210 hp
Transmission: 4L80E
Transfer Case: NP241
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Second-gen four-link coil over, front leaf springs

Believed to be the first Carryall sporting a four-door conversion, Mininger and his team built this ’41 from the ground-up in 2018. A hydraulic winch conversion, triple-sealed rear barn doors, Town Wagon tail lights, a custom rear bumper, and power running boards all made the cut, as did a metal roof as opposed to the canvas it came with.
Foundationally, the factory frame was boxed in to better support the weight of the Cummins, and a custom transmission crossmember was built to accommodate the NV4500. Also notice the motor mounts, leaf spring mounts, and even the crossover steering system. Despite the use of 40-inch tires and a mid 1980’s Dana 60, Precision Power Wagons’ crossover steering is well-engineered and second-to-none, with excellent tracking and zero wobble.
The finished product looks like this: clean as clean can be. While Mininger offers the 6BT, ISB 170 and even the R2.8 as engine options in his Power Wagon builds, he prefers the 4BT. “I prefer the 4BT because it has enough power to move the vehicle at a nice clip,” he told us. “Plus our designed top speed is 90 mph,” which is about double what any Power Wagon was originally rate for.

R2.8 Power Wagon

Owner: Mike Bobo
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Power Wagon
Vehicle Year: 1946
Engine: Cummins R2.8
Injection System: High-pressure common-rail
Turbocharger: Holset HE200WG
Horsepower: 160 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: NP241
Clutch: South Bend
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Coil over four-link rear, front leaf springs

As is regularly practiced, once the engine is mounted (in this case, a 4BT Cummins), Mininger installs a temporary oil pressure gauge, primes the engine with both fuel and oil, and fires off the power plant for a few seconds to make sure everything works. After that, he gets to work fabbing up the intercooler piping to ensure everything clears with the body installed. As for the intercooler itself, Bryce Thomas makes all of Mininger’s intercoolers out of Alabama.
What could be more enjoyable than a 6×6 open cab? Fun fact: the WC-62 and WC-63 were never sold on the civilian market. However, slews of decommissioned military versions were made available following WWII, and many were converted to civilian applications. This one, owned by Mike Testerman, was intended to be the ultimate trail truck.

4-Door Carryall Conversion

Owner: Dan Hultgen
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Carryall WC-53
Vehicle Year: 1941
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Injection Pump: Bosch VE rotary
Turbocharger: Holset HX25
Horsepower: 140 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: NP205
Clutch: Napa stock replacement
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Coil over four-link rear, front leaf springs

One of the rarest Power Wagons you’ll find is a swivel frame version. A product of the Willock Company in western Canada, the swivel frame system featured a split chassis frame with a large center bearing that allowed it to twist when off-road, presumably to maintain traction at all four tires (it can be locked in the level position, or be left to rotate freely). According to Precision Power Wagons, there were only about 40 swivel frame trucks ever produced, and somewhere around 20 are known to still exist. To Mininger’s knowledge, this ’46 (the one he and his team built) is possibly the sole swivel frame Power Wagon to be the beneficiary of a drivetrain that’s been modified to handle highway speeds.
Thanks to Mininger and his team’s handiwork, Clayton Luttrell ended up with not only a beast of a crew cab Power Wagon, but one that benefits from a host of modern luxuries. Remote start, keyless ignition, power windows, A/C, a backup camera, trailer brake controller, and power running boards all help make the brute a bit more tolerable. An intercooled 12-valve 5.9L out of a ’93 Dodge Ram 2500 powers the ’47, while a built A518 automatic copes with its torque output. Rear disc brakes accommodate the 14-bolt and the stock winch is hydraulically driven, as well as being controlled electronically.
When Mininger doesn’t source a Cummins directly from Cummins, his diesel power plants all come from Big Bear Engine Company (and we’ll note that his Mopar gasoline engines are exclusively derived from Mopar Pro Shop). “Once you have a good track record (I’ve bought five Big Bear engines now), you stick with it,” we were told. “Remans aren’t bad, but when you can buy a new one off the shelf that’s already ready to go, it’s much better.”

Open Top WC-62

Owner: Mike Testerman
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: WC-62
Vehicle Year: 1941
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Injection Pump: Bosch VE rotary
Turbocharger: Holset HX25
Horsepower: 125 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: NP200
Clutch: Napa stock replacement
Axles: Factory
Suspension: Inverted 1½-ton leaf springs rear, front leaf springs

A highly proven combination offered in Precision Power Wagons’ build brochure can be seen here: a Big Bear 4BT Cummins crate engine out front, an NV4500 transmission in the middle, and an NP241 transfer case routing power to both axles. All three components have been vetted for durability for more than 25 years now and are hard to beat in any Cummins conversion project, 4BT or 6BT.
For customers looking to finish out their own Power Wagon projects, Mininger has no problem accommodating their needs. After performing the necessary chassis work and sourcing an engine (once again a brand-new 4BT Cummins from Big Bear), transmission, and transfer case, this project was sent on its way.

Swivel Frame

Owner: Joe Leydon
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Power Wagon
Vehicle Year: 1946
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Injection Pump: Bosch VE rotary
Turbocharger: Holset HX25
Horsepower: 125 hp
Transmission: NV4500
Transfer Case: NP241
Clutch: Napa stock replacement
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Four-link rear, leaf spring front

Nothing says you do ground-up Cummins conversions better than hauling a stripped and sandblasted Power Wagon frame. However, even Mininger acknowledges that no one can do it all on their own. For nearby outsourcing, he often enlists CHE Performance for radiator, suspension, and crossmember work, and Hillbilly Wizard for axles. With the quality of the finished trucks that roll out of Precision Power Wagons’ doors, we’d say these partnerships are definitely paying off.

’47 With A 12-Valve

Owner: Clayton Luttrell
Vehicle Make: Dodge
Vehicle Model: Power Wagon
Vehicle Year: 1947
Engine: Cummins 6BT
Injection Pump: Bosch VE rotary
Turbocharger: Holset H1C
Horsepower: 160 hp
Transmission: A518
Transfer Case: NP205
Axles: Corporate 14-bolt rear, Dana 60 front
Suspension: Four-link coil spring rear, leaf spring front

SOURCEs

Big Bear Engine Company
844.340.4114
4btengines.com

CHE Performance
814.580.1147

Hillbilly Wizard
717.905.2246
hillbillywizard.com

Moonshine Mafia Motorsports
217.304.4663

Precision Power Wagons
814.490.8501
precisionpowerwagons.com

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