Truck Powered By Hit & Miss Engine

         Combine a 1949 3/4-ton pickup frame, a 1950 truck bed, a 1969 truck cab and a 1908 hit and miss engine, and youíve got Barney Kedrowski's Barn Rod. He described the process of building it in a detailed article in the July 2021 issue of Farm Collector magazine. The one-of-a-kind truck with its 1,200-lb., 5 hp. engine shakes up every car and tractor show it is trailered into.

"I've shown up at a show with no class for my truck, said I'm just here for a good time, made a $10 donation and left with a trophy for the most amazing build," says Kedrowski.

He credits a local hobbyist, who repowered a B John Deere with a 7 hp. Witte throttle-governed engine. "The guy was an absolute king on his machine," says Kedrowski. "Thatís where I came up with the idea to put a 5 hp. John Lauson Frost King engine on a truck frame."

The base for the project was a 1949 Chevy 3/4-ton pickup. He stripped away the engine and radiator, as well as the cab and rear bed. Challenges started with the hit and miss engine. Smooth and soft when firing at low rpm's, the engine shook its display trailer at higher rpm's. 

A friend suggested that early flywheel cavities were oversized for balancing. Using the friend's balancing jig, Kedrowski tested the engine out on the truck frame. He ended up adding 8 lb. of lead to each flywheel. 
At the same time, he added four extra leaf springs to each side of the front axle to carry the weight of the engine and two transmissions. 

Making a transmission to use with the engine was another big challenge. A machinist friend helped Kedrowski use a T-style angle gear transmission to get the correct direction to the 4-speed Chevy transmission. They mounted a split socket on the inside of the flywheel, plus a chain guard for safety. At the end of the angle transmission is a chain coupler that marries the two transmissions together. A custom-made stub shaft holds the Chevy flywheel in the original truck transmission. 

A third challenge was the cab. Kedrowski had originally purchased a 1969 Diamond Rio dump truck cab when planning to build a pull-truck. However, it was smaller than the Chevy cab. To accommodate the steering wheel, now against the door, he cut and narrowed the frame. At the same time, he added a rear notch to the frame to level the cab with the front axle. 

"I also shortened the Pitman arm, which helps provide easier steering," says Kedrowski.  A big question was whether or not the 49 starter could turn over the big engine. "To our amazement, it worked better than expected," says Kedrowski.

To make the truck look like a hot rod, he cut the floor out of the cab and settled it over the frame. That required a subframe made of 2 by 4-in. steel tubing to hold the cab square so the doors would function.

The box from a 1950 Chevy pickup was salvaged from an area junkyard. He modified a Ford tailgate to fit the box with the truck's name in forged steel letters. It spells out BARN ROD.

"Everyone asks how fast it goes," he says. "I tell them 'I am very proud to tell you that 10 mph is too fast to drive in a tractor parade.'"

Contact:  FARM SHOW Followup, Barney Kedrowski, 1331 Highland Ave Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. 54494  (ph 715-213-5369;;