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Possible CL9000 Purchase - Opinions?

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  #1  
Old 01-13-2018, 07:18 PM
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Question Possible CL9000 Purchase - Opinions?

Looking at a 1980 Ford CL9000 with a VT903 Cummins and 13 spd.

Use for the truck, we buy and sell used construction equipment and we plan to get our own float and take care of deliveries and offer a float service as well. We often are transporting equipment that weighs anywhere from 15 to 30 ton.

Wanting to know if anyone here has driven one of these trucks and has input into whether it will work for us or not. We are looking to buy something with a bit of style, we understand that style and mileage don't go together usually.

Thank you in advance for any helpful pointers or warnings.
 
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:21 PM
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For a cab over they have a nice ride, air ride cab. The three A/C units running off one compressor will keep you cool, if you keep them working. It can get expensive. Parts are surely getting hard to find.
Never drove one with a 903 but probably the same as in a Road Commander. Rolls down one hill and can ardly make up the next. Seat is to high off the ground to open the door and help push. It has thirteen speeds so row the shift lever like it is a boat for maximum speed.
I thank it would be a good hobby truck but was never good for a 60,000 pound load. Probably need a 4 axle tractor to axle that anyway.
An L9000 with a 3406 or N14 would be a better choice.
 
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:54 PM
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Thank you Tenwheeler that is very helpful.

I did a bit of research on the VT903 and I understand they are not a sought after motor by any means.

I am also a little worried about parts availability. Probably will hold off on buying this particular truck for now.

I do think that a CR9000 painted gloss black with chrome trim would make a pretty sharp looking rig.
 
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:30 PM
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I could not recall the model at the time but I thank a big Ford with class would be an LTL9000. Down side is the turning radius is also big.
If you like cab overs we are in the minority. Those trucks with a set back axle can get through some tight spots.
 
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:07 AM
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Nice looking rig, but......

We had one back in the day, and it spent a lot of time in the shop. Parts are gone, the CL's had already been history a long time before Freightliner took over. Believe it or not, VT-903's are still in production, but only for military use. Truck specific engine parts might be a problem. This would be an interesting hobby truck, but I wouldn't buy one to work.
 
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:27 PM
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The 903 did not have a great reputation and are now long out of production. Cummins seems to be able to get parts, but I did have to wait for over a year for a exhaust manifold - wait was until they got enough orders to make a production run.

Just my experience
 
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:48 PM
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I had a 83 CL9000 with air ride cab and air ride suspension, best riding truck I ever drove, rode to good, broke the front springs out of it twice on rough roads, never could keep the AC system working and ended up with a roof top unit, the extra height of the cab will give one a good work out getting in and out doing local deliveries.
I'd think parts are getting pretty hard to find for those old CL's, Cabovers are very front end heavy, easy to get stuck if you drop a front wheel in a hole or ditch, I think a short daycab would serve you better.

Cummins 903 engine was built to compete with the V8 Detroit, decent engines but never as popular was the inline 6.
I had one in a 75 IH 4070 cabover, due to their high operating rpm they needed bearings replaced more often, being non inner cooled they didn't do well in hot climates, cost more to rebuild than the NTC inline 6.
Factory governed these engines turned 2750 rpm, didn't have a lot of power under 2100, had to keep them reved up.
Military used a 500 hp twin turbo model for several years, I think it was because of it's high rpm capabilities.
 
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:08 PM
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All the replies have been very helpful. For what it is worth here are a couple pics from the advertisement. I have done some research on these trucks and it seems that they have very good points and very bad points. The interior was way ahead of its time and the ride was extremely good. The bad was the cummins powerplant was poor and nowadays parts are hard to come by for the truck itself.



 
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:14 PM
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A couple more;

 
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:07 AM
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It's been several years since I had my CL9000 but I do remember a few things about it.
One was when ever it set a length of time the cab air bags would lose air and the cab would settle down. The fender flare on the cab would be a inch or more lower than the one on the headlight panel, also the back of the cab would be nearly touching the fuel tanks.
There was also a decal strip in the recess below the door that said air-ride cab.

Air-ride cab was a option on those trucks and I don't thing that one has it.
It's being setting for some time, the fender flares are in line, the back of the cab looks to be at normal ride height and there no air-ride decal on what looks to be original paint.
So that truck is going to ride just as rough as any other old cab over.

The old truck looks good but there's not much one can use off of it on another truck other than those aluminum wheels.
Because of the 903's high operating rpm they where geared different, the transmissions didn't have over drive (my 13 spd was direct with under drive), it would also be the lighter RT9513 trans
Axle gearing ran from 4.10 to 4.77 depending on tire size (mine was on big rubber with 4.77's).
Unfortunately with the odd trans and gearing it's not even a good parts truck unless one was another like it.

My advice is to keep looking and find a decent conventional cab truck

A bit of trivia: Pierce custom cab fire trucks used the CL9000 windshields for many years, may still use them.
 
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:19 PM
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I have a VT903 uprated to 400Hp in a K125 Kenworth, they (turbo) were usually around 320. They were a very popular V8 diesel down here pulling anything from roadtrains, general freight to construction.
As with any Cummins, as long as the coolant is kept up on them they are reliable engine. I bought mine with a pinhole in the no.1 cylinder liner allowing coolant into the sump but have since done an inframe and all is good. ($3000AU for a full kit.) There are still plenty still running the road down in Oz.
Engine is the original sent out from the Kenworth factory in 1976. You either hate em or love em.
I would be more concerned finding parts for a CLT Ford cab as they didn't produce high numbers.


There is nothing like the sound of a 903 VT or natural.
 
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:02 AM
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Destroked 450 - very good catch on the air ride point. As they say - a picture is worth a thousand words!

Basically this truck is only good for the fittings and fixtures if you were restoring another one. I won't be buying it - Thanks everyone for the input.
 
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:04 PM
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Thanks for sharing that roKWiz as I had no idea about the down under 903's. The love em or hate is universal.
As I recall the ones here were turbos rated at 285 HP. We called them 9 0 nothings. I have heard of some folks uprating them to twin turbo marine specs and one guy said he also shimmed the valve springs. That way it could operate in airplane mode for a short period if desired.
They gave many years of dependable service in Gators, *** fault chippers and such just never cared for them in a truck. Grayhound Bus even gave some a whirl but stayed with the 2 strokes.
 
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:17 PM
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The 903 I had was a single turbo 320 hp model, loved the way they sounded.
Always wanted a twin turbo inner cooled setup but ended up switching to Cats for several years then to NTC Cummins, last truck had a Series 60, 1.5 million miles on the clock when I sold it in 05, drove a company truck for a few years before I retired in 08.
 
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Old 01-26-2018, 12:59 AM
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Hope no one minds me posting this here.

20.1.2018 Happy 50th birthday 903.

Cummins V903 Celebrates 50 Years in Service

 
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