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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Cummins people.

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flying belgian

04-05-2013 19:21:21

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I am going to an auction tomorrow where there is an old farm truck with 290 Cummins power. Note says it runs real nice. Picture looks nice. New rear rubber, floats on front. 18.5ft. box and hoist. full screw tandem. Anyway is there any signs with this engine that I can tell by looking and listening to it run that might tell me if there is a problem with this engine? It is a private auction not consignment so this is the truck this guy used. Reason for auction is retiring. So I feel pretty sure if farmer says it runs good that it is a good running truck. It has current d.o.t. But still a wondering if I can tell anything about this 290 just from listening to it?

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04-07-2013 08:05:03

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
As I was retiring, I bought a rock bucket with an 800 cu in. Big Cam 400 hp turbo'd Cummins. Had it on a 15 speed tranny. Power band was about 300 rpm and it ran out just fine.

Since you were in and out of sand/clay/gravel pits with a full load coming out of the hole, one day I twisted the steel, splined, drive shaft and it broke, running between the tranny and the first drive axle. Engine didn't bat an eye.

To my utter amazement, I had no idea as to the tranny sync big trucks had but the only time I used the clutch was to stop/go.

You shifted by the tach. Ran her up to upper limit of the band, don't remember the rpms (1200 more or less), put slight pressure on the shifter with your finger and let off the pedal. As the rpms fell, the gears in the tranny lined up for a split second and she just eased into the next gear, no clutch, nothing but a finger's pressure and smooth as silk.

I was utterly amazed as the first thing I thought when I saw 15 gears was my knee was going to wear out with all that clutching. Not so.


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04-06-2013 10:49:21

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
I've only been involved with one 290 and it was tougher'n nails and would start well in cold weather. On a cold day, meaning 20 degrees or so, if the starter could barely growl it over it would start. It could be run so hot any other engine would have given up but the the little 290 didn't seem to be fazed. I was following about 1/4 mile or so behind it going up the climb out of Laramie WY and I could smell the grease burning on the engine of that 290 cause it was so hot but it didn't seem to affect it's longevity any, and it had been run very hot many times before. Jim

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John A.

04-06-2013 09:56:37

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
f.b., Like T.V. Look in the usual places for problems. You said Full screw tandem. I am sure you meant "Twin Screws" or it is a "Tandem" a single drive axle with a rear Tag Axle.
The old 855cid Cummins ranging in HP from 250 to 435 is a reliable engine.Just about Bullet-proof if treated reasonable. and just like a "Chevy 350" can be rebuilt for not a lot of money at all and no special tools needed. Back in the 80 a rebuild kit was in the 3K range if my memory serves me. I am sure it is higher now by some.
I would say if oil is black, no evidence if moisture. Crack the plug and loosen a couple of rotations to see if any antifreeze drips out.
turbo,leaks, head gasket leaks. It ought to be a solid enough truck I think. Build up air pressure and shut her down, Listen for obvious air leaks, could be problems or just annoyances that are just that or a air line that may have to be fixed in short order Hope this helps.
John A.

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Tx Jim

04-06-2013 10:27:57

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to John A., 04-06-2013 09:56:37  
Those Mighty 290's are good engines but they won't get you a lot of speeding tickets. At least I never got a speeding ticket in the years I drove one.

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John A.

04-06-2013 13:17:31

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to Tx Jim, 04-06-2013 10:27:57  
TxJim, Our Cummins was in a 1975 Mack Western COE. It began life as a Formula 290 with a RTO95-13 with Rockwell SQHD with 4:44 gears, mounted up on Hendrickson walking beam suspension. On a 230 wheel base. This old Sow was hooked up the a Bell Gas tanker out of Amarillo, Tx. for its working life. Sometime in that life it got punched out to a full 350.
It was pretty salty with a grain wagon and a Bull wagon. It regularly came across the Elevator Scales @ 94000 lbs Truck, trailer and grain. First Semi-Tractor I learned to drive so that old girl still holds a special place in my heart!
John A.

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The tractor vet

04-05-2013 20:40:24

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
Old SHINNY 290 they are good old engines and still one that you can shade tree rebuild with just a couple special tools needed . They were not a super power house but in a straight truck should do the job just fine . Look in the rad for Oil in the water and look around where the heads meet the block for seepage and the usual pull the dip stick. look for oil around the Turbo outlet for turbo leaking oil . And If it is a Small cam or big cam .

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flying belgian

04-06-2013 06:04:42

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to The tractor vet, 04-05-2013 20:40:24  
How can I tell cam size big or small and is one preferred over other? If so is the wrong one a deal breaker?

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The tractor vet

04-06-2013 07:26:36

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-06-2013 06:04:42  
On the lower left side of the block there will be three rectangular plates these are ABOUT three inches wide and maybe 8-10 inches long if it is a small cam and if it is a big cam these plates will be maybe 5 inches wide and about as long as the other . and it will also say BIG CAM on the side of the block. Also make sure that on the timing cover that the engine data plate is still there as it will have the CPL # on it and when ya need parts that is real important .

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04-05-2013 20:12:38

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
Drove for four hours with the boy, three weeks a go to look at a road tractor with a Cummins engine. Thats all he would look at. Its sitting in my yard now.

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Fritz Maurer

04-05-2013 19:40:04

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to flying belgian, 04-05-2013 19:21:21  
If it has a Rockwell lube-oil fan clutch, spin the fan with the air up and the engine off. Any noise here and it will need new ball bearings. Otherwise a real peach of an engine. What is a "full screw"?

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flying belgian

04-05-2013 20:06:40

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 Re: Cummins people. in reply to Fritz Maurer, 04-05-2013 19:40:04  
full screw=twin screw whereby both rear axles are drivers as apposed to a tag axle or pusher axle tandem. Thanks for the tip on the fan.

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