Would a M35A2/LDT465 parts manufacturing business be successful?

bebyb

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Hello everyone, I am posting today regarding a different topic. I am a machinist and enjoy the trade. Just started into it about 2 and a half years ago. I have been seeing a lot of talk lately about surplus engine parts and rebuild kits being hard to find and expensive. I have thought about in the future opening a plant to manufacture these parts as an alternative to surplus. Does anyone think such an endeavour would be profitable and does anyone have a list of some of the engine parts or any other parts for that matter that might be drying up soon?
 

wreckerman893

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I think it will cost a ton of money to tool up and unless you can show a lot of potential for sales no one is going to invest to get you started.

And you will be competing with overseas companies that are already making replacement parts.

Making the parts one at a time on a demand basis will also be expensive.

I'd do a very careful cost analysis before I jumped in with both feet.

Just my 2cents.
 

pitpawten

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The ventures that I have seen successful are people who manufacture one or two very specific items that are either hard to source or are more often an upgrade over what you'll find in NOS parts

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sandcobra164

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I'd think there would be a somewhat limited market. I think people who plan on keeping these trucks on the road for many years to come have already bought up the parts they think they will need. I have a friend one city over that has 3 spare engines, 2 spare transmissions and who knows what else at his shop. He's a sandblaster, fabricator, credentialed engineer and is near retirement age. He has one of the nicest deuces around but he has also planned ahead for the off chance his truck has an issue like a rod slung through the block. If I still had a deuce, rather than pay expensive prices, I'd consider the extra effort to do a 5.9 Cummins swap if I had a hole in the block. Bearings, filters and seals are available commercially for the stock truck. Hard parts may be drying up in some areas but I'm in a small town and know where at least 15 of these trucks are available at a scrap yard worth picking over. My advice would be to gauge the market by responses on here and plan accordingly.
 

cattlerepairman

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Most (not all) people in the hobby buy military trucks because you get as much truck as you can handle for a fraction of the money any civilian comparable would cost. While people like their trucks, many will eventually move on to the next more modern model that can be had cheaply, rather than spending endless money to keep their old truck shipshape.
Droves of people give up on the M35A2, as evidenced by the forum activity, and move to 900 series 5tons (cheap) or even FMTVs (not cheap). The right truck is decades younger and has lots of useful service live on especially the expensive components.

Communal users, such as fire departments, are also slowly transitioning away, substituting the M35A2 with trucks with automatic transmission (M35A3 and 900 series, the odd FMTV).

Yes, there will always be a hard core following for the Deuce, but whether this is enough to make a living, I do not know. Would I "like" truck parts precision made in the USA? You bet. I would be willing to pay more for them, within reason. There are still many M135 around and the torqueflite is notoriously problematic. Still, nobody makes even a new overhaul kit for it, let alone a new tranny. That's all I can really say.
 
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rustystud

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There are still many M135 around and the torqueflite is notoriously problematic. Still, nobody makes even a new overhaul kit for it, let alone a new tranny. That's all I can really say.
Not to bust your chops but actually it is the "Dual Range Hydra-Matic" transmission. Torqueflite is Chrysler. Also there are some companies that are making rebuild kits, but they are expensive. As far as being "notorious" the Hydra-Matic was and still is a very well built transmission. Their still running after 78 years. Most of the problems come from people who don't know how to care for and adjust the transmission. Just keep the tranny adjusted right and it will work like crazy for you.
 

rustystud

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Yes, I mixed up Hydramatic and Torqueflite! :)
Those are my two favorite brands of transmission to rebuild. I have always loved the simplicity and durability of the Torqueflite 727. It had it's flaws, but in todays racing world all those flaws are fixable with enough cash. Actually it doesn't take much money to build up one to take over 2,000 HP !
Then of course there is the TH400 my favorite transmission of all. The most expensive one I built was for a guys "funny car" that ran in the mid to low 4's . That was a "wicked" transmission !!! Definitely not for street use !!! The stall speed alone was over 5,000 RPM's.
 

snowtrac nome

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I live out in bush Alaska in a mining community military trucks are still popular up here the simplicity and capability of all wheel drive. im sorry to say when they have a major malfunction what ever engine they find laying around gets shoe horned in i've seen everything from small block chevys to 2 cycle detroits put in to them. I like the idea but like others have stated I believe the market is too narrow. I would like to expand my business some day and add an overhaul shop and also set up to do things like line boring before that happens I may have to expand my foot print from northwest Alaska to have a customer base to justify that kind of equipment.
 

rustystud

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I live out in bush Alaska in a mining community military trucks are still popular up here the simplicity and capability of all wheel drive. im sorry to say when they have a major malfunction what ever engine they find laying around gets shoe horned in i've seen everything from small block chevys to 2 cycle detroits put in to them. I like the idea but like others have stated I believe the market is too narrow. I would like to expand my business some day and add an overhaul shop and also set up to do things like line boring before that happens I may have to expand my foot print from northwest Alaska to have a customer base to justify that kind of equipment.
My uncle lived in Sitka for decades. He was a machinist there. He had to make some crazy things for his customers ! Once he had to make a camshaft for a fishing boats Detroit Diesel engine. He used a long square shaft and milled out some off center discs with a square hole. Then he stacked them up with smaller discs between the "lobes" and then welded the ends together. The boat was able to make it back to Seattle for rebuilding ! The things you can do with a lathe and mill are amazing !
 

bebyb

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Thanks for the information guys! I guess I am what you would call a deuce loyalist. I get sentimental attachment to things. Well I guess I will see how things pan out over the next few years to test the markets. Maybe a business making all kinds of military parts would be better than something as narrow as M35A2s.
 

zanther

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I recently worked with a local foundry to get a quote on the dual-master circuit mount. I figured there were a lot of folks that wanted the upgrade so we could do a group buy and pay for the tooling etc. When I finally had a quote for the first run, I got 2 replies with folks that would want it. The tooling cost was $30k. The project went nowhere unfortunately. I mention my experience so that you know it's pretty hard to get that sort of project started within the MV community.
 

bebyb

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I recently worked with a local foundry to get a quote on the dual-master circuit mount. I figured there were a lot of folks that wanted the upgrade so we could do a group buy and pay for the tooling etc. When I finally had a quote for the first run, I got 2 replies with folks that would want it. The tooling cost was $30k. The project went nowhere unfortunately. I mention my experience so that you know it's pretty hard to get that sort of project started within the MV community.
I think the biggest issue is the brake parts themselves are rare for dual. Now if you manufactured the entire dual system...
 

rustystud

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I think the biggest issue is the brake parts themselves are rare for dual. Now if you manufactured the entire dual system...
Actually that is a pretty good idea. If you could provide a complete bolt-on system that was more modern with easy parts availability then you could have a winner ! I think one of the biggest problems with all our deuce brakes is the antiquated brake "anchor" system. Modern trucks use "floating" brakes until you get into the "medium" size trucks (30,000 Ibs to 60,000 Ibs) . Then of course all semi-trucks (80,000 Ibs and up) use anchored air brakes with "S" cams. Modern brakes would be so easy to keep in adjustment, and being always in adjustment provide better braking. Sure the deuces brakes work great when they are properly adjusted, but how long does that last ? Of course the "caliper" system would be great but the cost is too high for most people.
Of course the "Holy Grail" of brakes for the deuce would be total "air" with "S" cams and automatic slack adjusters !
Ah, to dream the impossible dream !
 
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