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Cub Cadet Repowered With 7.3-Liter Diesel
Jim Rose, Chardon, Ohio, found a unique way to advertise his diesel repair business - he installed a 1,000-lb., 7.3-liter Ford Power Stroke diesel engine in a Cub Cadet Lo-Boy compact tractor. The 500-hp. engine is off a 1996 Ford F-350 pickup, with the tractor lengthened by 22 in. to make room for the engine.

His company, Rosewood Diesel Shop, specializes in rebuilding 7.3 Power Stroke injectors and servicing and repairing Ford diesel pickups.

“I repowered the Cub because I’ve been a die-hard fan of the 7.3-liter Power Stroke for years, and I wanted something that would draw attention at events we attend,” says Rose. “Since the engine was originally manufactured by Navistar International, which is the successor to International Harvester, I wanted to repower a tractor that was also built by International. With the big engine, the tractor weighs 2,430 lbs., compared to 1,480 lbs. for the original Cub.”

He bought the 1969 Cub Lo-Boy at an auction for $225 and bolted it to a Ford C-6 automatic transmission. “The C-6 transmission allows me to manually shift gears without using a clutch and has the option for a transmission brake - a device used in drag racing to hold the car dead still while allowing the engine to build massive power at the starting line,” says Rose. “The transmission brake allows me to load the engine, force the turbocharger to build up some boost, and then shoot tons of black smoke into the air.”

He cut the tractor frame in front of the cowl, then used 2 by 6, 1/4-in. thick box tubing to build new frame rails. “I mounted the engine and transmission in such a way as to allow a positive connection with the Cub’s factory rear end, using a chain coupler and several custom machined parts,” says Rose. “I welded the front of the factory Cub frame section with the factory Cub front axle in place, which also serves as the mount for the factory radiator. An electric fan tucked inside the factory fan shroud provides extra cooling.”

The tractor’s rack and pinion steering system is off an early 1970’s Ford Pinto. “I used multiple shafts and steering joints to connect the steering rack to the Cub’s steering wheel, centered in the cowl,” says Rose. “The computers and electronics that operate the engine fit under the fuel tank in the cowl, and a Ford truck throttle pedal was adapted to the tractor’s hydraulic control lever to serve as a new throttle. New control levers were added to activate the transmission brake and the gear selector for the C-6 transmission.”

Rose added aftermarket gauges on the tractor’s dash to monitor the engine. “I still use the Cub’s original lighting switch and its ignition key switch to start the tractor,” he says.

The hood was built by welding two separate tractor hoods together.

“A lot of work went into adding new sheet metal on the back of the tractor,” says Rose. “I filled several unused holes, converted the tractor’s original battery tray into a tool tray, and mounted a larger battery required for the Power Stroke engine. I also replaced the tires with used ones from two different parts tractors. Everything was then taken apart and painted to match the tractor’s original yellow and cream colors.”

The hood is fitted with a 3 1/2-in. exhaust pipe. “Not surprisingly, the tractor sounds like a 1996 Ford pickup equipped with a diesel engine,” says Rose.

The project was completed in time for the company to attend a big diesel truck event last May, but unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Overall, I’m pleased with how the tractor turned out,” says Rose. “I achieved my goal of maintaining the look and feel of an old Cub compact tractor while repowering it with a big 500 hp. diesel engine.”

Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Rose, 12114 Mayfield Rd., Chardon, Ohio 44024 (ph 440-286-1990; sales@rosewooddieselshop.com; www.rosewooddieselshop.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1