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Cummins V903 Celebrates 50 Years in Service


kscarbel2
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Cummins Press Release  /  November 15, 2017

One of the most enduring engines in Cummins’ long history, the V903, is celebrating a remarkable 50 years in service.

“Many engines have done the Cummins name proud, and prominent among these is the V903,” said Tom Terkhorn, Manager of Defense Products for Cummins Inc. “The first V903 crankshaft was laid at the Cummins Engine Plant (CEP) in Columbus, Indiana (USA), late in 1967, and since then the engine has progressed from 280 horsepower (hp) for truck use to its current peak output of 675 hp for military equipment.”

The V903 is an eight-cylinder ‘V’ configuration with a 903 cubic inch (14.8-litre) displacement. Providing high power density, it has four valves per cylinder, is turbocharged and air-to-water aftercooled, and has a low pressure common rail fuel system.

Today, the V903 is produced primarily for military applications, notably the US Army’s iconic Bradley Fighting Vehicle, rated at 600 hp. In 2018, a 675 hp version will be installed in the upgraded Bradley ECP 2, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) and Paladin M109A7 howitzer.

In actual operations, the V903 powered Bradley has showed a combat readiness of over 95 percent – the highest of any armored vehicle in the history of the US Army.

The V903 was originally developed for the on-highway truck and construction markets to meet the requirements for a lightweight, compact diesel engine in the 280-320 hp range. It went on to make its mark in other applications such as recreational and commercial boats, mining equipment, and farm tractors.

The V903 began its life in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in 1981 when Cummins upgraded the power level of the commercial truck engine from 350 to 500 hp with the addition of air-to-water aftercooling and upgraded fuel system.

Cummins moved the engine up to 600 hp V903 in early 1989 to maintain the Bradley’s mobility when its full combat weight increased to 60,000 lb as a result of added armor. The power boost was achieved using technologies developed for other Cummins products. Importantly, there were no changes to the length, width and height of the engine which had to fit into the Bradley’s notably tight powerpack compartment.

“Cummins conducted accelerated wear and abuse tests for final acceptance of the engine’s revised design and these showed that thermal and mechanical stresses of the 600 hp engine were actually lower than the 500 hp version,” said Keith Baylor, V903 Product Validation Manager.

“This meant the army could expect improved reliability and durability. Field performance of the 600 hp engine confirmed this initial expectation.”

Development of the 675 hp version of the V903 was completed in 2013 for the US Army’s Paladin M109A7 howitzer, and in 2018 it will be fitted in the upgraded Bradley ECP 2 and Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) which replaces the M113 armored personnel carrier.

Production of the V903 – both remanufactured and new engines – is carried out at Cummins’ Seymour Engine Plant in Indiana (USA).

“The V903 platform will continue to support the armored vehicle forces for decades to come,” said Tom Terkhorn.

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Chicken producer Holly Farms on the shore had a fleet of Kenworth K100s with VT903s. They were every bit as bad as you heard.

This was a case of, "If all else fails, sell it to the government. They buy low bid no matter what".

The Mack E9, as the French can tell you, was a far superior V8 powerplant for the military applications described.

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1 hour ago, kscarbel2 said:

Chicken producer Holly Farms on the shore had a fleet of Kenworth K100s with VT903s. They were every bit as bad as you heard.

This was a case of, "If all else fails, sell it to the government. They buy low bid no matter what".

The Mack E9, as the French can tell you, was a far superior V8 powerplant for the military applications described.

I’m not trying to be rude but how could a bad engine stick around for 50 years. Seems like a testament on how well it was built. I know nothing about them just purely a speculative observation. 

The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by the people who vote for a living.

The government can only "give" someone what they first take from another.

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I wonder if it's just a case of the engines sucking at lower power levels and kind of came into it's own in the 600hp spec.... it's odd that they stated reliability improved at 600hp over the 500hp setting so that leads me to believe that whatever they were using in the 500hp version and below is why they were unreliable???? I dunno just curious because I always heard they sucked too.

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I do believe light weight given high horsepower was a selling point for service in bulk transport (tankers).  we never had any on east coast but they were used in Calif.  And the experience was not good, although I have no specifics.  Looking at all the comments on this thread however, that experience appears to be common.

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I think they were Cummins' answer to the 318 h.p. 8V-71.  Flat torque curve, pull to 2,800 r.p.m., only needed a 5 speed transmission.  They did have a very nice sound to them.  50 years in production, but not in any highway trucks since the early 80's.  Cummins has had worse ideas.........

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6 hours ago, Dirtymilkman said:

In 4wd tractors they were good for around 2500 hours. Most were replaced with a 855. 

I remember hearing the Cummins triple nickels that were in the versatile tractors were not well liked.  I heard it was because the flywheel bolts were prone to breaking under a load and did so often. 

The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by the people who vote for a living.

The government can only "give" someone what they first take from another.

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I've always been amazed at how disliked the V903 is in the U.S.A..

Here in Australia they had (& still have) an awesome reputation & They made a lot of people a lot of Money. They were  regarded as very durable reliable Engines. (albeit a bit thirsty).

Grain harvest has just started here & quite a few have come out Farmers sheds for the next few Weeks.

"Be who you are and say what you feel...
Because those that matter...
don't mind...
And those that mind....
don't matter." -

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44 minutes ago, Hayseed said:

I've always been amazed at how disliked the V903 is in the U.S.A..

Here in Australia they had (& still have) an awesome reputation & They made a lot of people a lot of Money. They were  regarded as very durable reliable Engines. (albeit a bit thirsty).

Grain harvest has just started here & quite a few have come out Farmers sheds for the next few Weeks..

Are farmers getting 10,000 plus hours out of them there? 

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  • 3 years later...

I was tanking for Diamond Tank Lines in Calif in the 1970's when this was a new spec engine.  We had two trucks with V903's.  They were OK, but not the pick for long uphill hauls into the Sierra's.  My Pete had an I6. But the VT903'a would run fine on the flat and coastal hills.

We also had one V8 Mack and that was the cats meow ...

Later I was in marine engineering for NOAA.  We had some Uniflites with twin VT903's that ran really well.  Over 7,500 hours that I was aware of.  They love constant speed operation and lots of cooling water 🙂

I wouldn't mind having one in a ATHS truck for show and fun ...  Maybe a '78 Fruitliner cabover with a sleeper ...

Edited by Broc Luno
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