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I was posting in another thread and told to come here, hope I found the right place..

Think it is a '47.

Was told it is probably a WFA, what does these letters stand for?

What does "dual purpose" stand for? (that was read from a book shown to me in the other thread from dodge brothers)

Really love this old truck, engine turns over easily, perhaps too easily but we will see what happens.




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  • 2 months later...

The only thing I can think of that even relates to "dual purpose" is that in my book it mentions a 2 speed rear end. That could mean "city" and "highway" uses as in "dual purpose". I have scanned my Dodge book and as far as I can tell, that is the only mention of the term in the whole book. I suppose it could also mean "military" and "civilian", but I doubt it. I have yet to determine why models are designated the way they are by Dodge as in "WFA" or even as far as my own Dodge Brothers "DH".


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Hey thanks!

I have since found the ID plate, and it appears to be a WH-47

Yes it does have a 2 speed rear, and I found a marker ring around the shift lever that appears to say it is a 5 speed tranny!

Got the engine running after changing oil and stinky gas, minor cleaning the carb, pouring lubricant into the cylinders, it is running very well. What a trip after sitting for some 20 or so years.

The radiator leaks, and has a large split across the top that I cannot account for, so I will need to pull it out for rebuild, but it still had coolant in it which is a relief.

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The 'dual purpose' does indeed stand for the 2 speed rear end. I used to drive a 1952 International firetruck and a 1968 Ford Super Heavy Duty Model 850 pumper with such a setup on their rear axles. It was shifted by a red push/pull knob attached to the side of the gear shift lever. I wasn't very mechanical in those days,I was on from 21 to 25 years old, but I remember my instructor telling me it was operated by vacuum off the engine.

We used to 'split the shifts' with it. That is when loaded with 400 gallons of water (400 X 10 lbs= 2 tons)and maybe 6 firemen on the back step (6 X 180 lbs= 1080 lbs)at the start of an emergency run, I would start out with the 'low' speed position of the rear end shifter and get the truck moving. As the truck picked up speed I would start to 'split the shifts' between the low speed ratio and the high speed ratio by moving the rear end shift knob up and down as I needed.

In other words, you could go 1st gear,2nd,3rd in low and then pull out the knob for the high axle ratio and 'split' the shift to 3 1/2. You just raised your foot off the accelerator for the moment that you needed to pull the knob. I assume ,looking back, that this would develop high vacuum at the manifold and give a good solid shift in the rear end. You don't depress the clutch.

You could then 'play' with the main transmission ratios and the rear end's 2 ratios to get the truck up to speed and hold it there. Outside of town I would see 70 and sometimes 80 mph on the speedo which wasnt' bad considering the International only had a 6 banger. The truck was sold intact in pristine condition by my home town of Aurora Ont. many years ago and is now owned by a member of a fire truck club in south western Ontario. I've seen it at fire truck musters. The Ford was a COE with,I believe, a 500 cubic inch V8 with two 4 bbls. on it. The fire chief told me he had tracked the gas mileage at 3 to 4 mpg. Fully loaded it weighed 30000 lbs. GVW or 15 tons. It had positraction on it that would sound off like a gun shot and jerk the truck when I turned a tight slow corner and it had to disengage to allow the differential to work. The firechief was always on the drivers because the Ford had enough power in 'low,low' to spin it's 4 rear tires on the firehall floor and he liked to keep a clean hall. There were always black marks around the Ford's rear wheels. Some power! I don't know what happened to the Ford.

This brings back a lot of memories. I did a lot of that driving after 12 midnite in sub zero weather. When we got to the fire it was my job to set the tranny to 'power takeoff' and get the pump up to speed. Then stand beside the pump panel and set the different valves to charge the lines as the men hooked up. Bloody cold!

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  • 9 months later...

Thanks all for your input, what great trucks, and what a fun story about working with them KCL.

I have not had a whole lot of time to work on mine, but I did manage to use some radiator patch putty for a temporary fix on the radiator crack, all so I could try my old truck out... and it was a blast to gear it up a hill near me, and wow does it ever have some low gears!

I haven't got it up to a speed to try out the two speed rear end, but the brakes work, and that was what I really wanted to be sure of after rebuilding the master cyl and vacuum booster unit, and bleeding it all.

It does have a noise in the water pump, and I will be taking that apart to see what's up.

I tried greasing it, as it has a grease nipple, but I did not have the correct lube for it and did not want to put too much of that in the cooling system.

Anyone know what kind of lubricant is used in the coolant pump?

Thanks guys,


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The water pump is supposed to use water pump grease. Garages used to keep a special grease gun just for lubricating water pumps.

If you can't find water pump grease try marine grease. I think it is used for lubing the bottom end of outboard motors.It's blue and comes in a small tube that fits a mini grease gun.

Be sparing with the grease. One shot twice a year is plenty.

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  • 8 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
Guest BillP

My Dad and Grandad had the International Harvester franchise in our little town in Pennsylvania. I grew up there in the fifties and early-mid sixties. There were aways a few trucks around the shop; when I got of age, I would make deliveries or pick ups of farm machinery around the area.

Our truck was a R190 with a big six, later we got a Loadstar that Dad had a tilt back installed on. Both had Spicer 2-speed rear axles. I vaguely recall that these axles were either air or electric, I think both ours were electric. The 2 speeds were the result of a planetary gearset in the rear axle housing.

If you were unloaded, you never had to use (shift) the rear axle, just the transmission. I think the 190 had a 4 speed main trans, the Loadstar a 5 speed. There was an optional 3 speed auxiliary box that could be had that bolted to the rear of the main box, but none of our trucks had those.

Loaded, it was a lot easier on the truck to go up using all gear ratios available. Engines back then were a lot smaller and had less horsepower than modern trucks, so lots of gears were important. Similar to the old erector sets.

When the button was down, the rear axle was in the low ratio. Start out with the trans in first, get the truck rolling, then lift the button up. Nothing will happen. Either momentarily let off the gas and then reapply the gas or work the clutch and the gas as if you are making a regular shift but don't move the gear lever. During the momentary pause, the axle will shift from low to high ratio (the main is still in first). The point is, the torque on the axle has to be "unloaded" for the planetary clutch to grab or release.

Now if you really have a heavy load or are trying to climb a hill, going from first high to second high will be too much of a jump. If so, as you are accelerating in first high, push the button down (nothing will happen). When you are ready to shift the main trans to second, do so in the regular fashion and the rear axle, having already been signalled, will go into low ratio, so you are in second low. And so on, until you are rolling along in high high.

Down-shifting is similar but you must remember to keep the gas down before (not during) and briefly after the rear axle shift. This may seem to go against common sense, especially when going over the brow of a down grade. It's best (easier, safer) to pop the rear axle into low just before you brow over the hill and maybe take the trans back a gear to avoid the whole thing getting away from you. Old trucks had puny brakes as well.

Do the whole business slow and easy and it's fun and won't hurt the old truck.

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