Some think we here at Diesel Tech have a pretty sweet gig. We get to drive, test, tune and be around all the latest (and some not so latest) diesel truck technology and everything that goes along with it.
Yea, we admit it, we got a good thing going here.
Then we ran into Kirk Abegglen.
Working at Premier Performance Products in Rexburg, ID, the largest diesel performance distribution center in the country, you'd expect Abegglen to get the absolute coolest diesel parts on the planet.
Abegglen lives, breathes and knows diesel performance parts. He's more than a diesel addict-he's a diesel fanatic.
How many of you have named your dog Diesel?
That's what we thought.
Abegglen insists he's not the one who named his dog Diesel. He says it was his daughter Kaytlin.
He explained, "Ever since I have been here at Premier I've been heavily involved in the diesel market. My kids love what I do and the whole truck thing. So when we talked about getting a dog, the whole name thing was brought up and Kaytlin said if we get a boy dog, "~what about the name Diesel.' Her reasoning was I work at a diesel place and I drive a diesel truck so let's name our pet Diesel.
"Everybody who comes by and hears his name instantly looks at me and says, 'Ah, I wonder who picked that name.' But it was actually Kaytlin. I must admit I like it."_
That's what we'd call a diesel fanatic.
Inside And Out
By virtue of his job, Abegglen knows the diesel industry inside and out. He knows what works and what he wants to put on his own diesel pickup. He can try this or that product, see how it performs and, if it doesn't, swap it out for something that does. Like most every other diesel addict out there, Abegglen closely monitors his add ons and gauges their performance constantly.
Abegglen's truck of choice for trying out products these days is a 2006 Dodge Cummins. It's his second Cummins. "Back in 2003, I was first introduced to the whole Dodge Cummins world,"_ he said. "The first Cummins I built from the ground up was a 2003 H.O. This project took three years to build and I put just about everything I could on it and couldn't get more than 625 hp. The torque was great, right at 1300 ft. lbs."_
The inability for the '03 Cummins to reach higher on the horsepower chart left Abegglen looking for another rig to build.
He wasn't ready to abandon the Cummins engine so he looked at an '06. "I had heard that the 2006 Cummins were easy to build power in so I sold my 2003 and went looking for a 2006. I found a local seller trying to sell his truck. It had the wheels and tires and a lift kit already on it. That saved me thousands. All it needed was power. I looked at it as the perfect truck to build."_
The Mega Cab was also an important consideration for Abegglen, he said. "The main reason I went with the Mega Cab is the room. If you have ever had to sit in the back seat of a quad cab you would know why I went with a Mega Cab. I have had different people say they would rather ride in the back seat because there's more feet room, the seat reclines and it's more comfortable."_
While Abegglen's Dodge is somewhat of a show truck, simply because of his job as one of Premier's regional sales managers (his territory includes Idaho, California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, British Columbia and Hawaii), which is fairly high profile when you're driving around to diesel aftermarket companies, he uses it every day to get to work and drive around town. He explained, "The truth of the matter is, more and more people are buying diesel pickups for their everyday drives. I used to drive a Cummins quad cab but for my family, room was an issue. But not any more. Another reason I went with the Mega Cab was the look. You get one that's lifted with nice wheels and tires and they're hard to beat."_
The looks may be hard to beat, but then throw into the mix all the performance add ons and, well, Dadgum, as his truck license says, this truck hauls.
Here's what Abegglen has settled on for his '06 Dodge, which had around 14,000 miles on it when he purchased it.
Bully Dog Triple Dog. "I tested this part primarily for the fact that I wanted to see how easy it was to install the Triple Dog,"_ Abegglen said. "I also wanted to see the different features it had."_ His impressions? "My outcome was that the install was very easy,"_ he said. "There was no way to mess it up and the features it has are great. I like the fact that you can change tunes on the fly. The horsepower is great and I really had no problem with this tuner at all."_
Bully Dog Performance Management Tool. Known as the PMT, Abegglen said he tried this product for a couple of reasons. "First, the look is the best out there,"_ he said. "Bully Dog has done a great job on the fit and finish of this product. Second, I like all the parameters this tuner allows the end user to have. I wanted to see how it all worked and it is smooth. The horsepower is exactly the same as the Triple Dog."_ He pointed out the two products have the same tuning. He also pointed out the PMT wasn't error free. "To be honest, I did have some problems with it,"_ he said. "And it happened away from home. It did some weird recover thing and wouldn't let my truck start. I was able to get it home and the fix was an easy update that Bully Dog stepped me through. From that time on, I've had no other problems with it."_
Edge Juice with Attitude. Abegglen is really sold on this product. "The Edge Juice is an awesome module,"_ he said. "It is the all-around safest unit on the road today. Horsepower is good and reliable (not crazy). The awesome thing with Edge is the monitoring capabilities it has. You can monitor just about anything the truck has capabilities to monitor. It also has a huge benefit already built in, which is a turbo timer. With a module, you have five adjustable power settings with all the backdown features you could ask for."_
DiabloSport Predator. Abegglen told Diesel Tech that this product really helped boost the horsepower of his Cummins. He said, "When a guy wants high horsepower, nothing beats this unit. I love the horsepower this tuner offers. It has three power levels and you have the option to data log while driving. You just plug the tuner in and select what it is you want to data log and you're done."_ There is one glitch, he said. "The only problem I ran into with this tuner is when the truck kicks up on high idle, it will surge. The company is aware of what the problem is and I know it doesn't do that on every truck."_
MADS Smarty Jr. When we talked with Abegglen and test drove his Dodge Cummins early this summer, he had had his Smarty Jr. for about two months. "I have had no problems at all,"_ he said. "And I have run it on the highest power level. The EGTs aren't out of control at all and I can get it to around 1400 degrees F if I am on it for a long time."_ And for those of you who like the smoke, Abegglen said the Smarty Jr. delivers. "If you like smoke, this one smokes a lot,"_ he said. He summed up his feelings on the Smarty Jr. with two words: "great horsepower."_
aFe Blade Runner. Abegglen pointed out that at Premier Performance, the company "tests everything we can put on trucks. So I've tested a lot of different parts."_ That's how he came to the Blade Runner. He said, "I ran another manufacturer's intake manifold on my 2003 Dodge and saw no noticeable increase at all. I then ran the aFe Blade Runner and could feel the difference. It had just a little more take off power and the top end was better. This is a great product and it works."_
aFe Cold Air Intake. This seems to be an easy choice for Abegglen. "I have always run aFe intakes on my trucks,"_ he said. "I love them. The fit is awesome and the product is manufactured well."_
DTT Transmission Enhancer. Abegglen looked to Diesel Transmission Technology to help solve a bug in Dodge's transmission when the power is hopped up. "With the Dodge Cummins, one problem you have when adding power is the tranny seems to get confused on when to shift and sometimes will stutter shift,"_ he explained. "DTT has come up with a fix. It has three adjustable settings: drive, tow and performance. It will take care of the stutter shift."_ Abegglen pointed out this product won't increase line pressure while it takes care of the shifting problems.
Dynomite Diesel Performance 90 Horsepower Injectors. There were three benefits to going with DDP injectors, Abegglen said. "A set of Dynomite Diesel's extrude-honed injectors quieted the motor, reduced smoke and add 90 hp. The reason I went with Dynomite rather than the competition is the training I've received on injectors. I fee that extrude-honed injectors are a cleaner, more precise way to horsepower."_ He added, "And Dynomite spends the time to make them right."_
DDP 62 Turbo. This is a non-wastegated turbo offered by Dynomite Diesel Performance. "I have been running this turbo for about a month now (as of mid-May) and I have noticed a drop in EGTs, have gained almost 50 hp with the turbo alone and there is absolutely no turbo surge."_ Abegglen was even more impressed after towing an 18,000-pound backhoe 75 mph during a recent trip. "There were no heating issues and no surge,"_ he said. "It was a great add-on."_
Bully Dog 5-Inch Turbo Back Exhaust. While pleased with his Bully Dog addition, Abegglen said, "The only complaint I have with any five-inch kit is resonation in the cab, especially while towing."_
Hushpower 5-Inch Muffler. To help solve the aforementioned resonation, Abegglen went with the Hushpower product. "This muffler cut down on the in-cab resonation,"_ he explained. "Another great add on and this has a nice sound out the tail pipe."_
Kelderman 2 Bag Rear Kit. This is Kelderman's air ride suspension kit that mounts right to the rear leaf springs on a pickup, allowing the rear springs to ride on air. Abegglen commented, "It helped tremendously with the ride and also acts as override air springs."_
As mentioned, Abegglen and his coworkers test a lot of different products on their individual diesel trucks (all you have to do is look around Premier's parking lot to see how true this is). We didn't even list everything on Abegglen's truck in our report here, but we did ask him to pick one or two products that he is most pleased with. He said, "Well, I have tested a lot of product. The parts that I was most excited about were the turbo charger and injectors. As far as them exceeding my expectations, I don't know if that's possible. You always want more but they did do what I thought they would."_
When we asked Abegglen who does most of the work on his truck, he said, "It is a combination of a few local shops, including Custom Auto, Madison Auto and Clair and Dees. I try to give all my local dealers a shot at my business."_
Not surprisingly, Abegglen is looking to add more to his project Cummins. His laundry list includes: Fuel Air Separation System (FASS) 150 gph unit, triple lock torque converter, valve body, billet input shaft, Mag Hytec pans and diff covers, 4:56 gears, Snow Performance water/methanol injection system and Pacbrake exhaust brake.
The crowning touch to this Dodge Cummins, though, would be to have Diesel standing in the bed, feet propped up on the wheel well, tongue hanging out of his mouth, ears flopping in the wind and tail wagging as Abegglen drives down the road.