Newly Purchased M37 All New Drivetrain

troop2865

Member
54
11
8
Location
Litchfield, Illinois
I just made a road trip to North Carolina to pick up a 53 M37. I picked it up at M Series Rebuild in Norwood. Those guys do some beautiful builds. Check them out.

The truck I purchased is missing the engine, transmission, axle center sections, and the tailgate. It does have an original artic top that needs some work.

I plan to upgrade all of the running gear. On the way back, I stopped in Kentucky to pick up a set of axles (front high pinion king pin Dana 60 with 4:56 gears, Detroit Locker, high steer with heim joints and PSC hydro assist ram - rear FF 14 bolt with shave kit, 4:56 and Detroit Locker, forged yoke, pinion guard, and disc brake conversion). I also purchased 4 wheels and tires from the same guy. They are 40 inch Maxxis Creepy Crawler tires on Raceline 17 X 10 Monster beadlock wheels. They really were too good of a deal to pass up.

I am thinking running an LS engine with a Ford NP435 and 205 transfer case. It is fairly easy to adapt this transmission to a GM bell housing.

I have a lot of questions and am hoping for some input from you guys. I have tried to do a lot of homework, but I think I come up with more questions than answers at times.

I have read that the stock springs work very well, and that between the frame design and the springs, the M37 flexes very well. Some have said the springs aren't up to the heavier axles. I removed a rear stock wheel/tire, and set it at the proper height for the new 40 inch tires. It looks like they fit well at stock height. The front looks like it needs raised 2-3 inches. Should I go to a more modern spring like something for a GM -2.5 inches wide)? I think either way I will need to modify the stock front spring mounts?

As for the body, I haven't decided what to do. I may build a tailgate. The bed has some rust that needs repaired, and someone welded steel onto the front bed sides for? I will repair the rust holes, but I do kind of like the rat rod look. Still not sure what to do there.

I have previously built an M715 (sold the M715-that was dumb) and M38 (sort of). I restored/ modified the bodies on them. I guess time will tell.

It has been a while since I posted here. Feel free to give me your 2 cents. Here are a few pictures.

Resized_20201231_123635.jpegResized_20201231_123506.jpegResized_20210101_095145.jpegIMG_1122.JPGM715 011915.jpg
 

troop2865

Member
54
11
8
Location
Litchfield, Illinois
Haven't gotten any work done on the project, but I have been collecting some parts. I thought about running a more old school engine like a big block 440, but I have done two projects now with Chevy LS series engine (one 6.0 and and a 5.3), and I have a good understanding of how to make them work. I definitely want fuel injection, and it is easy to make power with an LS platform. In my opinion, it is also one of the most economical engines for parts and initial purchase price. I ended up buying a 5.3 from a 2004 Chevy Silverado that had 112,000 miles.

Since I will be running 40 inch tires with 4:56 gearing, I decided the overdrive was not needed. I also wanted to run an NP205 transfer case, which doesn't have a great low range gear. I decided to run an NP435 transmission and 205 case from a Ford truck. The NP435 has the very low granny gear which should make up for the transfer case lack of low gearing. I know the 3-4 jump is fairly big, but I am not worried about going fast. I purchased it from a guy who had it in a CJ-7 with an LS engine, so it already had the bell housing and hydraulic clutch setup.

I did start to do a little rust repair on my bed, and it was worse than I thought. I found a bed at MV Military Parts in Waukesha, Wisconsin. When I got there, they had a number of cool projects, and all kinds of parts. I ended up picking us another frame while I was there. It was in near perfect shape, and for the price, I couldn't pass it up. It will making building from the ground up much easier.

I am still undecided on whether to try to make the stock springs work or go with newer springs. If anyone has suggestions, I am open for your thoughts. I will need to outboard the front springs to make them line up with the Dana 60.

Here are a few pictures:Resized_20210123_144305.jpegResized_20210123_144321.jpegResized_20210122_153354.jpeg
 

troop2865

Member
54
11
8
Location
Litchfield, Illinois
I have finally gotten some time to get out in the garage to get some work done. I have also ordered some parts that I need. I have ordered leaf spring axle perches, hangers and U-bolts from Ruff Stuff. I also ordered some leaf springs (2.5 inch Chevy) to replace the stock leaf springs. The last thing I ordered for now is a set of Advance Adapters engine mounts for an LSX engine. I used their motor mounts on my M715. They are well made and can be adjusted for different frame widths. I will need to weld a piece to box a portion of the inner frame where I will position the mount.

I have also been removing the old spring mounts (what a bear). They are obviously very strong. I have also been cutting all of the bracketry from the Dana 60 front end which was set up for a Jeep Cherokee XJ suspension. I haven't decided whether I will run the stock leaf spring width, which was 31.5 for the late 70's Ford F350 Dana 60, or maybe try to go just a little wider. It looks like I may be able to go about two inches wider per side without tires rubbing the leaf spring. I will know better when the actual springs arrive.

I don't have enough posts to list something for sale, but the truck came with an original artic top. It is in need of much repair, but since I am building an off road rig, I would rather run a soft top. I will attach some pictures of what I have if anyone is interested, please let me know. I might be willing to trade for some needed parts.
 

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troop2865

Member
54
11
8
Location
Litchfield, Illinois
build the roll cage also
Actually, I do have a cage. Many of those guys don't and it scares me. This one will have a cage also. When I built my M715, I tried to get someone to build one for me. It was so expensive I invested in a JD2 bender. I do my own now.

Picture of my Jeep cage is above. Ordered chrome moly rear shafts from Dutchman. They are supposed to arrive Monday.

Did you take your Jeep? Got a picture?
 

Travlr

New member
15
21
3
Location
Utah
I have finally gotten some time to get out in the garage to get some work done. I have also ordered some parts that I need. I have ordered leaf spring axle perches, hangers and U-bolts from Ruff Stuff. I also ordered some leaf springs (2.5 inch Chevy) to replace the stock leaf springs. The last thing I ordered for now is a set of Advance Adapters engine mounts for an LSX engine. I used their motor mounts on my M715. They are well made and can be adjusted for different frame widths. I will need to weld a piece to box a portion of the inner frame where I will position the mount.

I have also been removing the old spring mounts (what a bear). They are obviously very strong. I have also been cutting all of the bracketry from the Dana 60 front end which was set up for a Jeep Cherokee XJ suspension. I haven't decided whether I will run the stock leaf spring width, which was 31.5 for the late 70's Ford F350 Dana 60, or maybe try to go just a little wider. It looks like I may be able to go about two inches wider per side without tires rubbing the leaf spring. I will know better when the actual springs arrive.

I don't have enough posts to list something for sale, but the truck came with an original artic top. It is in need of much repair, but since I am building an off road rig, I would rather run a soft top. I will attach some pictures of what I have if anyone is interested, please let me know. I might be willing to trade for some needed parts.
I've got the parts for a soft top except the canvas. Trade?
 

nattieleather

Well-known member
1,844
58
48
Location
Cleveland, OH
Okay because the front frame rails move inward you will need to move your spring mounts for the front axle. Seeing that those axles are for coil springs it sounds like you've got adapters for leaf mount coming your way. I used a Dana 44 HD front and Dana 60 rear out of a M880 to keep it in the family so to speak. I had to move my passenger side leaf spring out two inches while keeping the drivers side in the stock position. This set the axle in line with the rear tires. The rear axle needed the spring perches moves about a 1/2 inch out so that the springs were not being pulled in. The axle will bolt right in, but when you put weight on the springs you will see them bend inward and so I moved the perches slightly to keep the springs aligned. Not sure how that LS will fit in the engine compartment. I put a 6.2/6.5 turbo diesel in mine and it's a cozy fit. You may need to do some modifications.

I remember your M715 from the zone so I know you know how to do the work. Just sharing my experience with you.
 
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