Motor Build

Published in the February 2009 Issue February 2009 Build, Feature, PowerStroke

It's been five years since Ford built a 7.3L Power Stroke, but that doesn't mean it's been retired from service.

We've done a few build-up projects in past issues, including the Re-Powered 12V Cummins story in Volume 2, Issue 1, and of course the big LLY Duramax buildup that spanned three or four issues of Diesel Tech. Well, now it's the Power Stroke's turn. This story starts the build-up of a 1999 Ford F250. We're going to show you Ford guys what aftermarket parts are out there, who to look to for quality performance products, why we chose them and how they work. We're going to turn this beat-up, worn-out, near-the-grave work truck into the ultimate diesel street truck-a mean little diesel burner every Ford Mustang owner will learn to be scared of.

A few months back a search on Craigslist turned up this little beauty-a bone stock, stripped down 2wd 7.3L PSD powered work truck. It was owned by a tire store and spent all 225,000 miles of its life hauling tires around-steel bed rack and powered lift tailgate and all. Yeah, we mean work truck. Manual crank windows, manual door locks, vinyl flooring, and even steel wheels, it didn't come with many amenities. Well, it does have a sweet bumping AM/FM stereo and an A/C unit. For the bargain basement price of $3,500 this would be the perfect candidate for our 7.3L resurrection.

Before we started the performance buildup of the truck, something needed to be done with the appearance. As cool as it was to pull this beater out onto the Rocky Mountain Raceway drag strip at the DHRA Utah Nationals in August and have every person in the crowd cheering it on, we had to do something with its looks. Yes, you read that right, we actually bracket raced this truck in bone stock form, chains on the lift gate whipping in the wind the whole way down the track. Heck, we made it into the semi-final round in this old junker. There's something to be said about a stock truck's consistency.

Some quick searches on Ebay rounded up some 2005 F250 headlights and a used rear roll pan-the lift gate had to go. A chrome bumper and chrome grille from the junkyard, some tint for the windows, and some factory take-off aluminum wheels and tires from a 2002 F350 Super Duty and it's starting to look like a regular truck. For less than $700 invested in parts, we have a decent looking daily driver now. Future plans include a suspension drop kit, some big fat 20-inch wheels and tires and maybe even a 6-inch single stack, but that will come soon enough.

Autometer Gauges

First off, any truck with performance modifications like a chip, programmer or bigger injectors, should have a set of gauges installed. Extreme exhaust gas temperatures can lead to the early demise of any engine, hot transmission temperatures will kill any tranny and low fuel pressure could eat up your injectors. Knowing this, we got in touch with Autometer, one of the biggest names in the aftermarket gauge industry, and ordered a quad A-pillar pod and some GS Series gauges. The GS Series comes in a black face with a silver bezel and is backlit with green incandescent LED bulbs. They match the factory OEM gauge cluster perfectly, even at night. With a pyrometer, trans temperature, boost and fuel pressure gauge installed, we could not only keep an eye on critical components of the truck, but we could also see how each specific modification affects the way the truck runs.

We've done gauge install stories before and these are just the same-drill and tap your exhaust manifold and mount the pyrometer-sending unit. The trans gauge sending unit installs on the driver's side of the transmission in a factory port. Just remove the plug and install the sender. Tap into your map sensor line or the driver's side intercooler pipe for the boost gauge. And the fuel pressure-sending unit installs on the back passenger side of the factory fuel bowl. Then it's as easy as finishing the wires and mounting the pod in place.

The folks at Autometer make top-quality, well-engineered gauges with numerous styles to choose from. Wiring them up is a walk in the park, too, with color matching wires. Just about anyone could do this install in the driveway.

AFE Stage II Intake

Air. That's the first half of the equation to making more efficient useable horsepower. While the stock intake system filters great, the needed flow just isn't there if you're looking for more oomph and better efficiency. The AFE Stage II Intake system not only fills that requirement, it goes above and beyond it. AFE has gone to great lengths to ensure its filters not only filter better but flow better as well, removing any and all restrictions from the intake side of the turbocharger.

The Stage II from AFE has become one of the most popular aftermarket intake systems. The fit and finish is flawless, with high quality powdercoated boxes that seal against the hood, keeping hot underhood air out. They work great, they look great and installation is easy, just a few minutes in the driveway and some basic hand tools.

With the open box design, the AFE filter can now breath fresh, cool air, aiding in the motor's overall efficiency. While we didn't have time to make before and after dyno runs with this particular truck, we've seen the same AFE Stage II intake system gain 27 hp on a 2008 6.4L Power Stroke. Increased air flow is vital when it comes to how well your truck will perform.

Hypermax 5-Inch Exhaust

With the air entering the motor easier, we needed to get the air exiting our soon-to-be-hot-rod 7.3L power plant easier, too. With plans of a larger turbocharger and larger injectors, expelling all that air through a stock down pipe and restrictive muffler just isn't an option. Plus, if this little truck is going to be a bad little street truck, it needs to sound like one, right?

We turned to Hypermax Engineering, Power Stroke gurus in the industry, and had them send us out one of their mandrel bent 5-inch systems. With a high flowing 5-inch muffler, pre-welded tail pipe section and near perfect fit, it made for a nice simple install. The kit comes with a well-engineered 3.5-inch downpipe to maintain low-end torque while still allowing excellent flow and lower egts. While we've done testing in the past that shows a 5-inch exhaust won't really offer any performance gains over a 4-inch system, the 5-inch Hypermax just had the sound we were looking for-that deep muscle truck rumble without the in-cab noise and freeway drone so often found with straight piped systems.

Like most aftermarket exhaust kits, the hardest part of the installation kit is removing the stock system. A sawzall and some penetrating oil made short work of that, however. After installation of the kit, we've noticed some substantially lower egts and a much smoother exhaust note.

More To Come

This is just the tip of the iceberg on this build-up project. We've got some exciting plans and some great parts sitting on the shelf just waiting to be bolted on, but that will have to wait for the next issue.

With the help of companies like Hypermax Engineering and ITP Diesel we've got some really big horsepower goals set for this truck. We'll be addressing the injectors, turbo, chip tuning, fuel system and even the high-pressure oil system. Before we're through, this little $3,500 junker is going to turn heads.

And who knows? Maybe after a transmission buildup and some racing slicks we can get it back out on the track and really show just what an old, worn-out 7.3L can bring to the table.



Advanced Flow Engineering

Hypermax Engineering

ITP Diesel

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