My obsession with diesels started out in high school. A couple of my buddies and I would always go over to the local diesel guru’s shop Friday and Saturday nights to hang out and watch him work on t ...read more.
VIDEO & BUILD GALLERY
My obsession with diesels started out in high school. A couple of my buddies and I would always go over to the local diesel guru’s shop Friday and Saturday nights to hang out and watch him work on trucks, which usually just ended up with all of us drinking “sodas” into the wee hours of the night. Usually within an hour of getting there, the trash talk would start back and forth about whose truck was better.
At that time, I had an under-powered Chevy 1500 with a 305 Vortec and 35” tires. It had a big lift and looked cool, but it literally couldn’t get out of its own way. Eventually I got really tired of 10 MPGs and no power. I was all set to build a 383 Stroker to throw in the old Chev, but then I had an epiphany . . . why not have both power and economy? My friend who owned the shop was a specialist in 12 valve Cummins and was teetering on 600 RWHP with his personal truck. Why couldn’t I do the same thing, but on an everyday vehicle? So there it was—I went out and bought a 2001 Dodge Cummins.
At the time, I was working at a local motorcycle / ATV / PWC shop. The manager there happened to be good friends with the original of owner of Dr. Performance. I had a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket, so I headed over to “Doc’s” shop for a Twister II kit. Oh boy. I thought I had the fastest truck on the face of the planet! I couldn’t wait to show my friend at the shop how much power my new Cummins had. I’ve never seen someone laugh so hard . . . and so it started.
Over the next eight years, I was continually adding, changing, and blowing up different parts on that truck and going to every competition I could. I loved that truck! But after years of relentless abuse, the truck started to give me more issues than ever, so I fixed it one last time and sold it.
I couldn’t afford another Cummins, so I got a 1500 Hemi. I tricked it out with black everything and made it look tough, but it didn’t feel tough. I hated it. Every single day I owned that truck I was looking for another Cummins. By then, I was running the accessory department at a Dodge dealership, which only made things worse because I was surrounded by brand new Cummins trucks every day. After six months of misery, a 2001 Patriot Blue Cummins rolled into the dealership with 103K on the odometer. It had been a fifth wheel hauler its entire life, so it was exactly what I was looking for. Within a day, I had traded in the Hemi for my “new” truck.
The previous owner had already outfitted the truck with an Edge EZ, RV275 injectors, 4” exhaust, an AFE intake, and a decent single disc converter. Before long, I added a new FASS HD 150 lift pump and a TST PowerMax 3. I had planned to keep the truck relatively “close” to stock but here I was back to my old ways. It was like there was a little green monster on my shoulder pushing me along, saying “come on, just do it.”
Fast forward a few more months. I started working at Diesel Power Products, and the whole theory of keeping that truck “close” to stock was now definitely out the window. But at least I took a better approach. With my first Cummins, the theory was always bigger is better. Why go with 100HP injectors when they make 200HP? Why go with a 62mm turbo when I can get a 66mm? This approach was fun, but it always resulted in a big, laggy, smoky mess. Fun at the track, but not fun for everyday driving.
With my new truck, I wanted a more balanced build that did everything well. In my opinion, a truck should work for you. You shouldn’t work for it. That’s how I approached that 2001 Cummins, and that’s how I’ve approached every build since. There’s no reason that a truck can’t serve many functions, whether its towing a travel trailer, hauling a yard of dirt, getting you safely to work, or traversing a trail. And it can still turn the head of any truck enthusiast!
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