Clessie Cummins' Grandson hits 300K miles on cross-country drive

Cummins High Mileage Club - 300K
During his cross-country trek to Columbus and back, Matt Cummins asked veterans to add their signatures to his tailgate.

Matt Cummins and his life-long friend Pete Hazel were outside of Bozeman, Montana, when the odometer on his 1999 Dodge Ram quad cab, long bed with a Cummins 5.9L ticked over 300,000. “That was exciting. It was a big deal that lasted for one mile,” he said. 
 
Hitting 300,000 was just one of many highlights of that trip, which had Matt driving cross-country in June from his home in Portland, Oregon, hopefully to join in with some of the Turbo Diesel Rally activities in Columbus, Indiana, held during the Cummins’ Centennial Celebration. Why? Because this 56-year-old mechanical engineer Freightliner manager is not only a member of the Cummins High Mileage Club, he’s also the grandson of Cummins founder Clessie Cummins. 
 
Invited to attend as part of Cummins’ 100-year anniversary celebration, Matt wasn’t satisfied to just fly in.  He decided to drive there. According to him, the journey was “kind of in line with some of the things that my grandfather had done with cross-country trips to show the dependability of his engines and their fuel mileage. I definitely wanted to honor the company, but I also wanted to make the effort, trust my truck, and wind my way into Columbus and stand next to my dad and be there for him while his father was being honored”. 
 
Prior to the journey, a Cummins marketing group applied a wrap to the truck and at Matt’s request,  provided space on his tailgate to honor veterans and ask them to sign it as they were encountered along the way. It took Matt and Pete four days with stops at Cummins’ distributors in Salt Lake City, Denver and Kansas City.

Cummins No. 8car Matt Cummins
Matt's truck with the No. 8 Cummins Diesel car. 

While the days were long (often driving 11 to 12 hours a day), Matt said his Ram handled the roads like a champ. “There were plenty of hills. The truck worked great - never had to downshift. I set the cruise control at 60 and headed east – even with steep grades and high altitudes, it never slowed down”. 
 
Unlike Matt, his parents, wife, two of his children, two sisters and a cousin flew in for the 100-year anniversary festivities, where he and his father presented a gift to the company: It was the coat that had been worn by Freddie Agabashian, the driver of the 1952 No. 28 Cummins Indy 500 car that set a qualifying one-lap record at 139.104 mph that year. Following the race, the driver had given the coat to his grandfather.
 

Cummins No. 28 Car - Alex Cummins
Matt’s daughter Alex, wears Freddie Agabashian’s driving coat one last time. The family gave the jacket to Cummins so it can be displayed with the #28 car Agabashian drove in the 1952 Indy 500. 

"My dad and I thought it was time to let the coat go so it could be displayed along with the car, reuniting the two things," he said. However, one of his daughters had asked if she could put the coat on one more time before we gave it to Cummins, and of course they agreed. 
 
"We walked over to No. 28 where there was a Cummins photographer, and all of a sudden the people started backing away. Then, someone says, ‘Alex, why don’t you get in the car?’ So, she gets in with an enormous smile. And then - 'Put the helmet on.’ And then on goes the whole gear with her sitting in the car and taking all these pictures, and it was great. That’s on Instagram. So, my daughter’s famous." 
 
Another high point for Matt, a weekend mechanic, was spending time at Cummins’ restoration center because they had 2 old diesel powered sedans and all the Cummins Indy race cars ( 3 were his Grandfathers). “The guys at that restoration center were just really nice people. They were so proud to show everything, giving up their evening after a full day’s work,” he said. “It was cool to be able to see it all and experience a piece of my grandfather again because we knew he had had his hands all over those cars.”

Matt Cummins and Clessie Cummins
A young Matt Cummins celebrates a birthday with his grandfather and Cummins founder, Clessie Cummins. Clessie passed away when Matt was five years old. 

Matt's one regret during his time in Columbus was that he didn’t get to tour the Columbus Mid-range Engine Plant. He had agreed to take part in an onboarding activity for new employees so he couldn’t tour the plant with the rest of the TDR Rally participants; however, he did get to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Matt says he’s glad he made the trip. "When I’m in Portland, nobody knows who my grandfather was. So, when you visit a Midwest town like Columbus and everyone knows his name and what he did, it’s pretty humbling - Columbus, Indiana is a special place. It was great for my dad to see his dad being honored. And my kids now have a whole new perspective of who their great-grandfather was." 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

From farm to table: 100 years of powering the agriculture industry

Cummins engines for agriculture

On the farm and in the field, for over a century Cummins technology has helped farmers around the world. 

Cummins has powered world agriculture since our first engine was launched in 1919. As the company gears up for Agritechnica, here’s a look at our history of innovation in agriculture, as well as our latest developments.

The year 1919 marked the start of the Cummins Engine Company. Founded by Clessie Cummins, a 31-year-old farmer’s son from Columbus, Indiana, with support from banker W.G Irwin, Clessie recognized the benefits of using technology originally developed by Rudolph Diesel in the 19th century.

The single cylinder, HVID engine was the company’s first product, manufactured under license and incorporating Clessie’s improved ignition control. Used for farm pump applications, the HVID was available from 1.5-8 hp. Today, one of only a few surviving 3hp versions will be on display at Cummins’ booth during Agritechnica, Hannover.

Cummins 1919 HVID Engine
The single cylinder HVID engine, pictured here, was the first product produced by the Cummins Engine Co. 

With a rated speed of 600 rpm, the HVID had a displacement of just over 1 litre and weighed 280 kg. Around 3,000 were manufactured by Cummins in Columbus, which is a far cry from the 1.5 million engines the company produced globally in 2018.

Fast forward to 1929, when Cummins extends its innovative engines into on-road technology by installing the Model U engine into a Packard Limousine. Not only was this the first car in the United Staets to have a diesel engine, it was one of the earliest diesel powered cars in the world. 

The same engine model was later used in the first U.S. diesel agricultural crawler tractor, a six-ton Allis Chalmers Monarch 50 known as “Neverslip.” The 1950s brought the company’s 8.1 and 12.2 litre engines to the world’s first articulated tractor, the Wagner TR, and in 1958 Clessie filed a patent for the famous Pressure Time fuel system - the foundation of today’s common rail fuel systems.

Throughout the decades, Cummins has been involved in a number of agricultural ‘firsts’ – Versatile’s largest prairie tractor Big Roy fitted with a 19 litre, 600 hp Cummins engine; world records featuring Cummins powered machines; and John Deere’s most powerful forage harvester powered by a Cummins QSK19 832 hp engine, to name just a few. 

What’s next?

This week we continue our spirit of innovation, launching the new F3.8 and F4.5 structural engines at the Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural technology.. Signifying an extension to our agriculture lineup, Cummins’ new structural engines provide compact and capable four-cylinder options for tractors in the 67 – 149 kW (90 – 200 hp) power band. 

Cummins StageV F38 and F4.5 structural engine
Cummins new structural 4-cylinder engine will debut at Agritechnica 2019 in Hanover, Germany.

The engines on display at Agritechnica are the company’s latest innovations for tractor applications and, alongside the six-cylinder B6.7 engine, expand Cummins structural product coverage from 67 to 243 kW (90 – 326 hp). 

“For Stage V, Cummins technology significantly improved the capabilities of our F3.8 engine, with 33% more power and 31% more torque versus its Stage IV predecessor.  Pushing it up to 173 hp has made it a leader in its class,” said Ann Schmelzer, General Manger Global Agriculture at Cummins. “We are now making this product available with a structural block and oil pan for agricultural tractor applications.  As part of our Performance Series range, it will deliver more machine capability and substantial productivity benefits for the farmers who operate Cummins powered equipment.” 

A global technology leader

While the basic physics of the engines remains the same, the precision engineering and technology has changed significantly since Clessie launched the HVID. Cummins has developed key enablers in-house; combustion, air handling, fuel systems, filtration, electronic control and exhaust aftertreatment to get to where we are today. 

The company has made significant strides for Stage V, but the innovation won’t stop there. As a 100-year old company committed to powering a more prosperous world for our customers, end users and the communites we operate in, Cummins will continue to develop clean diesel technology,complimented by our alternative power solutions, that meet the needs of our customers and the environment in the future.

Learn more

Agritechnica attendees can see first-hand Cummins’ full structural engine line up at Agritechnica, hall 16, stand D19 in Hanover Messe. More information on Cummins F3.8 and F4.5 structural engines can be found in our press release.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Machine of the Month: Kubota M8 series tractor

Kubota M8 Cummins

From material handling to a variety of field work, the Cummins-powered M8-series tractor is Kubota's most powerful tractor line to date. 

Earlier this year Kubota unveiled its largest tractor, the 19,510 lb. (8550 kg) M8. Powered by a 190 hp (141 kW) or 210 hp (156 kW) Cummins B6.7 Performance Series engine, the M8 delivers the power and reliability that Kubota customers expect.

Kubota M8 Cummins

"The M8 Series is Kubota’s most powerful and advanced tractor line to date,” said Todd Stucke, Kubota senior vice president of marketing, product support and strategic projects. "The M8 allows us to aggressively fill a higher-horsepower customer need across the large utility and mid-size row crop tractor market – for material handling and hay tool application on dairy and livestock operations as well as a variety of field work. Built with an operating experience focused on easy-to-control comfort, confident workability, and intuitive controls for precision farming, the M8 will maximize return on investment for Kubota customers today and well into the future.” 

Built with the ‘office with a view’ concept, this tractor has 148 cubic feet of cab space along with features that are designed with comfort and fatigue reduction in mind. Cummins’ latest B6.7 Performance Series engine offers high power and torque capability, while the removal of EGR facilitates a simpler design, easier packaging and less maintenance.

Learn more about Cummins' B6.7 Performance Series engine
 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Decades of dedicated service go into Cummins-powered RAM Trucks

Longtime employees at the Columbus MidRange Engine Plant are honored for their dedicated service to the company and the RAM engine.
Longtime employees at the Columbus MidRange Engine Plant are honored for their dedicated service to the company and the RAM engine.

A little bit of Debra Brown’s heart goes into every RAM engine produced at the Columbus MidRange Engine Plant (CMEP). 

Her face lights up as she talks about her journey from the assembly line to now working in Facilities Maintenance at CMEP. She’s been part of the RAM team since Cummins’ partnership with the truck maker started 30 years ago.

Brown is not alone. Nineteen other employees have been working on RAM engines since Cummins began producing them in 1989.

Debra Wilson leaves her mark on Cummins 3 millionth engine for RAM.
Debra Brown leaves her mark on Cummins' 3 millionth engine for RAM. All of the employees at Cummins since the partnership with RAM started in 1989 signed the milestone engine.

Brown is so confident about the engines she has helped build for decades that she’s a RAM customer herself.  She beams with pride as she speaks about the “great pulling power” of her beloved 2004 RAM Dually, the second consecutive RAM truck she’s owned. 

“Every engine has a personality of its own,” said Harold Barnes, a recent retiree who, like Brown, worked on engines for RAM trucks at CMEP over the last three decades. Perhaps the personality of the engines Barnes alludes to comes from the experienced and dedicated hands that bring each engine to life. 

A POWERFUL COMBINATION

Cummins-powered RAM trucks have the DNA of superior technology coupled with decades of dedicated service from the employees who build them – the kind of dedicated service that inspired Brown, Barnes and 18 others to remain committed to CMEP long enough to see the 3 millionth engine roll off the assembly line last month. 

“We are honored these 20 employees have chosen to devote more than 30 years to Cummins,” said Melina Kennedy, Executive Director of Cummins Pickup Truck business. “They, and the whole plant team, are a big-hearted group committed to improving where they live.”

All the employees at CMEP have powered the success of the partnership between Cummins and RAM, which has resulted in engines that break records and set new standards in the pickup industry. 

RAM engine
The Cummins RAM engine has changed over the years but the dedication of the employees behind it has been a constant.

"Our dedicated employees deserve a huge thank you for their commitment to the success of the engines they produce,” said Nicole Wheeldon, Cummins CMEP Plant Manager. “The excellent reputation for the Cummins engine is a product of their hard work." 

ATTITUDE IS KEY

When asked about his experience working at CMEP for 30 of his 45 years at Cummins, Barnes praised the can-do attitude of his former colleagues, adding that they are always willing to step up and support the success of the plant and customers. 

“The people I worked with always made coming to work, worth it,” Barnes said.

The dedication of CMEP employees is representative of the global Cummins workforce. Employees live the company’s values and ensure Cummins continues to deliver innovative and dependable solutions to power the success of every customer.
 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

The test drive of a lifetime!

The Clean Cruiser Project’s re-powered Land Cruisers with Pico de Orizaba in the background on what would be a harrowing trip up the mountain.
The Clean Cruiser Project’s re-powered Land Cruisers ,with Pico de Orizaba in the background, make a harrowing trip up the mountain.

Perhaps the biggest test for the R2.8 Cummins Turbo Diesels came perched precariously on the side of Pico de Orizaba.

Drivers Nathan Stuart and Steven Ploog took a wrong turn in their Land Cruisers, re-powered with Cummins crate engines, about 13,000 feet up Mexico’s tallest mountain, the third highest peak in North America, and they were quickly running out of options.

The Clean Cruisers wade through a stream in Central America
The entire 9,000-mile journey from California to Nicaragua would test the Cummins crate engines under almost every condition imaginable. See a video on the trip here.

It seemed like such a good idea, climbing to a base camp at 14,000 feet as part of their Clean Cruiser Project from California through Central America and back to demonstrate overlanding, a form of adventuring in four-wheel drive vehicles, could be done in an environmentally sensitive way.

The friends had managed to get past some of the deepest ruts they had ever seen on the way up, but now they were on an out cropping of slippery, shale-like rock with no easy way to turn around without flipping over. Adding to the challenge: each vehicle had a trailer attached with supplies for planting trees to help offset the environmental impact of their trip.

RETREAT TO THE TOP

Slowly and painstakingly, Stuart and Ploog backed up, inch by inch, counting on their engines to provide the torque they needed despite the altitude and rocky trail. Eventually, they reached a place where they could slowly turn and head up the narrow trail they’d found earlier using a drone they had packed for the trip. Upon reaching the base camp, they shared a bottle of wine with those waiting to summit the mountain.

“I can’t emphasize enough how hard we worked those engines,” Stuart said, recalling not just the wrong turn, or the climb up Pico de Orizaba, but the entire 9,000-mile journey from California to Nicaragua and back.

Once they warmed up after a cold night half-way up Pico de Orizaba, the crate engines performed flawlessly on the climb despite the colder, thinner air. Four hours after Ploog and Stuart wore down jackets toasting with others at the base camp at 14,000 feet, they were driving in tropical conditions at sea level. The R2.8 Cummins Turbo Diesel never missed a beat.

Over the course of the trip, tires blew, bearings in the trailer wheels failed, and, in one particularly scary instance, one of the trailers flipped over several times on the road in Nicaragua (thankfully, no one was hurt). But the Cummins crate engines just kept going, through deep ruts, over sand, across streams and in all kinds of weather.

It should be noted the engines were running on bio-diesel, the same B20 mix available at many U.S. service stations. The fuel blend was another step Ploog and Stuart took to reduce their carbon impact. 

HEADING HOME

The trailer flip would prove a salient moment for Stuart, who manages a herd of more than 200 sheep at a California winery, and Ploog an Army veteran, accomplished backpacker and full-time student who took a break to work on the project. 

They had planned to drive through Costa Rica and all the way to Panama. But with their 600 trees planted, and after the various challenges along the way (repairs took much longer in remote areas than they anticipated), as well as some particularly difficult border crossings – one, Stuart said, was like the worst trip to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles you can imagine – they decided to turn back.

Neither man is a professional mechanic and they were grateful the R2.8 Turbo Diesels worked so well. Cummins helped sponsor their trip in part to show that hobbyists could install the new engines and benefit from their clean, dependable power.

Stuart and Ploog talk to a local resident on their trip with Pico de Orizaba in the background.
Stuart and Ploog talk to a local resident on their trip with Pico de Orizaba in the background.

The trip home would prove to be the final challenge. Stuart and Ploog were eager to get back after so long on the road. They drove their Land Cruisers at eight and 10 hour stretches, at 65 mph most of the way.

From Mexico City to Texas, across New Mexico and Arizona, and finally back to California, the stretches of desert never seemed to end, always up a gentle incline. Temperatures reached 100 degrees, but the engines never faltered.

“We just wanted to get back to our wives and families,” Stuart said. 

After six weeks on the road starting in mid-May, Ploog and Stuart arrived home. Over time, their memories will focus on the incredible things they saw and the amazing people they met. They truly demonstrated off-road adventuring can be done in a low carbon way.

But now, it’s still difficult to get past all the hard work that went into the trip.

“With all that we faced, it was nice we never had to worry about the engines,” Stuart said.

Clean Cruisers Nathan Stuart and Steven Ploog
TO GET INVOLVED
The project lives on. Steven Ploog (left) and Nathan Stuart (right) want to plant more trees. Learn more about their effort at the Clean Cruiser Project.
    

 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

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