Channel 19

Todd Dills

Allis-Chalmers on-highway engines? — Ted Streit’s restoration adventures…

| March 12, 2010

Mercer leased owner-operator Ted Streit also happens to be the owner of a shop doing custom and restoration work in Suring, Wis., called Fast Transport. More than a year ago, he called me up after seeing some coverage of fellow Wisconsin resident (Sparta) and owner-operator Paul Sagehorn’s restoration of two original TV KWs, one from the Movin’ On series and the other a last-season B.J. and the Bear rig I followed from discovery to the finish (you can check out some of that coverage 2008 edition of Custom Rigs magazine here). Streit told me about his long-running project, restoring a 1970 Kenworth W900 (pictured, with Streit) Ted Streit and his 1970 Kenworth W900Athat he said was one of just a couple-few to have been powered originally by an on-highway engine made by heavy-equipment stalwart Allis-Chalmers.

As I wrote in the story I eventually penned about Streit’s truck, live now at Custom Rigs’ site and in the Back Pages column of the new issue, “if that sounds weird, it is.

“Farm equipment maker Allis-Chalmers was only in the highway-engine business for a brief period in the late 1960s-early ’70s, during which time some appeared in experimental units, including a few used in trucking.”

Check out the rest of the story, a quick but wild ride through Streit’s personal history with the truck and with Allis-Chalmers engines, one of strange coincidences, to say the least. And if you have past experience with or any recollections of Allis-Chalmers’ on-highway adventures you care to share, Streit’s most definitely looking for leads on an original AC engine to fit the space of the replacement Cummins 400 he’s got in the Kenworth now, which he uses only for shows and parades. The Kenworth also had a particular stripe package to go with the Chalmers purple that was originally on it when it was used as a show vehicle for the equipment maker; Streit’s looking for a good photo to help re-create the striping, too. Contact him via streitted (at) or 920-590-1261, or post here and we’ll be sure to get your message to him (be sure to leave your contact info).  

  • Douglas Taylor

    I tried sending you an email, but the email address in the story does not work, I got a permanent failure message back. I drove a KW in the early 70s that had an A-C motor in it

  • Todd Dills

    Douglas, Please try I’m sure Ted will be happy to hear from you.

  • Douglas Taylor

    Thanks for the new email address Todd

  • Joel Snyder

    I have one picture of the 1975 w-900 that a friend of mine bought new. It was one of the first trucks I ever drove. The engine was actually a Buda design reworked by A-C.
    It was rated at 385 to the wheel through a 13 speed trans w/4.33 rears.
    It was a true beauty to drive,the harder you pulled it the better it loved it.
    Drove it by the manifold pressure gauge and pyrometer.
    Their demise was a nasty habit of breaking the crankshaft at #1 journal,this truck went through 3 cranks in less than 200k miles.
    Actually had 2 Kws in our town with the A-C . The other was a cabover leased to Dailey Express and hauled heavy loads.

  • Jack Sayler

    I have currently 2(25000,21000and 6138 engines.The 6138 is the metric versian of the 21000+25000 (1978+).I have the allis service updates sheets on these about 1974 allis did improve the cranks in these engines.The best crank went from a 12 counter weight to a 6 counter weight and strenthened the nose.The 6138 i just aquired came out of a fire pumper truck that had a 25000 motor.the original 25000 must of blew,and the city replaced it with the new 6138 versian.they swaped the water,exhaust manifolds and bell/flywheel to the 6138.I can tell,because these parts are still painted purple,and the rest of the engine is painted gold.

  • ivan albertson

    i drove a HENDERIKSON semi with the AC engine it in 1970 in the chicagoland area, it was a power house for the day

  • Randall Dilts

    can these Allis Chalmers engines still be purchased in running order? Would like one for show truck so it would only be light use. Any of the big ones out there, the twin turbo/intercooler 900 horse motors?

  • Todd Dills

    Not that I’m aware of, Randall, unless you can find somebody with a rebuilt/refurbish who wants to sell.

  • Doug Grellner

    These engines were used in scrapers, loader etc , power units – they are around and can be bought pretty cheap , i think i have run onto an old Dodge roadtractor with a BIG AL in it !! Dunno if its factory but it in there

  • darryl hartema

    when I was younger one of my first rides was in a kw with “purple people eater” on both sides of the hood in the stripe swear to god 72,000lbs 110mph. the tips of the stack would literal glow pulling a long grade the more you through at it the harder it would pull. broke the crank like setting your watch at every 100,000 miles. but man what a ride. have not seen one in years.

  • Marty Bostic

    Back in the late 70″s my father purchased a 1970 White Western Star with an AC engine in it. I don’t remember the Horse Power, but I think that it ws over 400. It was the same basic engine that was in the AC 21B dozer I don’t remember any real problems with that engine except that it had to much power for the drive train. Many broken driveshafts and rears from the high torque. I don’t think that the fuel mileage was all that bad for the time if you drove the speed limit.

  • Mr Filter ,Big Al

    I used to sell A/C (and Fiat Allis engines from Italy) Off Hwy tractors,and my best pitch was the SWIRL COMBUSTION head design that was proprietary to A/C and Buda.and No manufacturer could match the fuel mileage/Consumption of that engine–at least 20% better Also sold Cat and Komatsu (BEST Ripping tractor,in Calif Hardpan) later,and had lots of fun. Called me Tokyo Joe on Calif W.side SJ Valley.

  • Robert streit

    Hello guys. This is teds son. He is still desperately looking for this engine to fill the space in the truck. Any leads on one would b greatly appreciated. My email is write me a msg and I’ll b sure to relay any info u guys have for him thank you strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.