1947 Marmon-Herrington Ford CM6-4: A Restored And Rare 4x4 WreckerPosted in Features on October 25, 2016
Marmon-Herrington (M-H) is one of the founding fathers of four-wheel drive, but it’s a name not often heard these days. The company was founded in 1931 when Walter Marmon and Arthur Herrington joined forces to produce all-wheel-drive trucks. Marmon was the founder of the Marmon Motor Car Company and Herrington was an Army engineer who had worked in the ’20s to help the U.S. Army design and build its own fleet of all-wheel-drive trucks. Along the way, he patented a steering knuckle design that provided the foundation for a device many four-wheelers use today: the double-cardan CV-joint used on driveshafts. The Marmon Motor Car Company went out of business in 1933 but Marmon-Herrington hung on and remains in business to this day.
At first, Marmon-Herrington built its own truck designs in the larger capacities. That was not as profitable as it could be and the company looked for a way to cut costs. Walter Marmon came up with a humdinger of an idea: Why not convert an existing line of trucks to all-wheel drive? Marmon owned a Ford dealership and immediately settled on that brand as the most adaptable. Herrington was vehemently opposed but when he was in Iran in 1935 negotiating a military contract, Marmon had M-H engineer Bob Wallace convert a Ford truck. Herrington was furious upon his return but became an enthusiastic supporter after seeing and driving the truck.
The company soon found a strong market for the conversion of Fords. Eventually, they did just about everything from passenger cars through light trucks and trucks up to 3-ton capacity, including 6x6 conversions. They still built their own lines of big trucks. It didn’t take much lobbying with Ford leadership, namely with old Henry himself, to make the conversions available through Ford dealers. Your Ford truck could be ordered from Dearborn, sent to Marmon-Herrington in Indianapolis for conversion, and shipped to your dealer for delivery.
The Army was all over the Marmon-Herringtons and bought substantial numbers of converted trucks leading up to World War II, including 1/2- and 1-ton light 4x4s. One of the events leading up to the development of the light 4x4 truck and the WWII jeep was the Marmon-Herrington 1/2-ton Ford conversion of 1936, which became the Army’s lightest standard-issue 4x4 to that date. M-H was a big supplier of trucks and equipment in World War II, including a line of light tanks. They were a big player after the war and had a strong place in the light and medium truck market, even after others entered the conversion game. The bottom fell out in the late ’50s and early ’60s when light and medium truck manufacturers began building 4x4s in house. Ford’s handshake deal with Marmon-Herrington for light 4x4 trucks ended after 1958, when Ford began producing 4x4s in-house stating for the ’59 model year.
In 1947, the world was still recovering from the global upheaval of WWII, but the American truck industry was starting to build up a head of steam. Ford’s 1947 line of trucks was nothing particularly special, essentially a revamp of the prewar line with a few minor tweaks. It was geared up for a redesigned line of trucks for 1948 that would knock the world on its ear. Ever heard of the F-Series Ford truck?
The behind-the-times nature of the ’47 Ford line didn’t stop the one company from buying a Glade Green 1947 Marmon-Herrington Ford CM6-4 truck and adding a big Tulsa 23L winch and boom to lay gas lines in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky in the late ’40s. The CM6-4 was based on Ford’s 798T series 1 1/2-ton trucks and sat on a 158-inch wheelbase. They were powered by an industrial version of Ford’s legendary 239ci flathead V-8, which cranked out 100 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot by today’s standard but in its class, that was decent power for the day in which speed and power expectations were lower. A Warner T-9 four-speed was mounted behind the flathead. The T-9 was a widely used, non-synchro, spur gear transmission that was the ancestor of the legendary T-98 that came along later. A power take-off from the T-9 powered the Tulsa winch.
Behind the T-9 was mounted a divorced transfer case. The exact type M-H used varied, depending on the weight rating of the truck, but most in this class used either a two-speed unit from Fuller or a Timken-Wisconsin. These were “full-time” transfer cases but they didn’t have a center diff. Instead they had a lockable compensator on the front output, which was a dog-clutch that allowed a speed differential between the front and rear driveshafts but could be locked for a 50/50 split. Unlocked, a sharp turn on the highway resulted in a “brrrrr” from the compensator.
Around 1950, DeLucio & Sons, a Richmond, Indiana, excavating company got a contract to lay gas pipe locally, and when the truck came up for sale at a Cincinnati used truck dealer, it was perfectly equipped to fulfill that contract. The DeLucio family had started up in 1942, and the ’47 M-H was one early sign of its early success and expansion. In subsequent years, it continued to be used for laying pipe and every other job you can think of as well. In the ’60s, it spent six months pulling cable when a local power plant was being built. It was used to lift and set heavy beams and trusses, as well as to pull big diesel engines from construction equipment. It was often used at construction sites to recover stuck vehicles, both with the winch or by the power of its four-wheel drive. It was never retired at DeLucio’s and was still in occasional use when John Ittel bought it in 2003. John did a little cosmetic spruce up and today it shows only 41,000 miles.
The Details:1947 Ford Marmon-Herrington CM6-4
Owner: John Ittel
Estimated value: $10,000
Engine: 239ci L-Head V-8 (Ford 79A)
Power (hp): 100 hp @ 3,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 180 lbs-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Bore & stroke (in): 3.19 x 3.75
Comp. ratio: 6.75:1
Transmission: 4-speed, Warner T-9
Transfer case: Fuller
Front axle: Marmon-Herrington/Timken Detroit
Rear axle: Timken-Detroit
Axle ratio: 6.67:1
Wheelbase (in): 158
GVW (lbs): 13,500
Curb weight (lbs): 4,950 (cab & chassis)
Fuel capacity (gal): 20
Min. grd. clearance (in): 19
Approach angle (deg): 48
Departure angle (deg): 36