Paying Attention To Detail

An in-depth look at Ric Scrimager's Chevy Duramax

Published in the April 2009 Issue April 2009 Build, Duramax, Spotlight Lane Lindstrom

Ric Scrimager should be the poster child for the American Hospital Association.

No offense to the AHA, but we'd rather be around Scrimager's impeccably clean Chevy Duramax than any hospital and it's not just because we're diesel freaks and don't like hospitals.

Let's just say your average hospital could take some cleaning tips from Ric and Shannon Scrimager.

Scrimager is a familiar name in sled pulling circles not just in the Midwest but pretty much across the country. And he is probably known as much for his sled-pulling prowess as he is for his Chevy truck.

We first saw Scrimager compete last summer in Indianapolis and were so impressed with his sled pulling and his truck that we just had to catch up to him in his home state of Indiana and find out what made both tick.

What makes the truck tick is lots and lots of elbow grease. It's obvious that Scrimager is not a "run what ya brung" kind of driver. He is all about detail, down to the last nut and bolt and absolutely everything in between.

We didn't see the truck when it was on the dealership lot, but we're guessing the vehicle looks better today than it did the day he drove it off the lot on Dec. 23, 2005.

An Obsession

Here's why. Scrimager, his wife Shannon, and their good friend Joe Barszcz are obsessed with the truck and its performance. Yeah, we know there are lots of you diesel addicts out there who are obsessed with your trucks, but consider this.

Here is a rundown of what the Scrimager Duramax goes through after each sled pull it competes in.

  • After each pull, everything is power washed underneath and on top.
  • Then it's handwashed underneath and on top.
  • The entire engine bay gets washed.
  • Then, after the truck is washed, it's hand dried underneath and on top.
  • After that, the truck is pulled in the garage and the wheels and tires come off and the wheels are polished.
  • All the fender wells are cleaned.
  • The outside of the truck is either spray waxed or hand waxed.
  • All the powdercoated parts underneath the truck are waxed, including the hitch assembly.
  • The billet aluminum drive shaft is polished.
  • All transmission cross members are sprayed down and detailed.
  • The interior door jambs are all wiped out.
  • The oil is changed every three to five runs.

So, you get the idea of why the AHA should stand up and take notice.

That Chevy is a thing of beauty.

Perhaps "motivated" is a better description for the Scrimagers than "obsessed."

"The reason I have good sponsors is they know when the truck shows up it could go to a truck show or down the track," Ric Scrimager said.

And Scrimager loves to go down the track, competing in 30 or so events every summer from Las Vegas to Houston to Ohio to various other spots in the Midwest, including Indiana. He does pick and choose how many pulls he competes in, but maybe not for the more general reasons other pullers do. Scrimager said there are 18 pulls in 14 days in the area of Indiana he lives in. "We don't compete in them all because we can't get all the maintenance done on the truck in that time."

It's not just how his truck looks that Scrimager really pays attention to, it's how it runs, too.

The Buildup Begins

When Scrimager picked up the brand new Chevy (he worked at GM at the time and got employee pricing on the vehicle) the LBZ 6.6L engine had a horsepower rating of 360 (318 at the rear wheels) with 589 lb-ft of torque. After a series of upgrades and aftermarket parts, the first real serious jump in horsepower showed 656 on the dyno. More upgrades and aftermarket parts later and a December, 2008, dyno run showed 846 hp at the rear wheels with 1,630 lb-ft of torque.

To get to those numbers Scrimager looked at every square inch of the Duramax to see where he could make it better. In the engine compartment that meant going with SoCal Diesel pistons, which have been cut and powdercoated, TTS Power Systems rods, SoCal cylinder heads with Stage 3 porting, a new cam shaft (the origins of this are secret, Scrimager said, "because that's where all the power is"), an ATS Aurora 5000 turbo, PPE intercooler, ATS twin CP3s with a PPE Xcelerator programmer and Exergy Engineering injectors. Scrimager noted that the "wastegate setup on the Aurora 5000 is one of the key components to making the engine live and keeping egts down." Scrimager used ATS head studs and main studs as well, to help keep everything together. We pressed Scrimager on the cam shaft but he was mum, except to say he tried three different cam shafts before finding the one he liked. Referring to the cam shafts that he didn't like, he said, "The torque curve wasn't something that was useable."

Scrimager also modified the oiling system, specifically the oil pump, to obtain more oil volume and pressure.

A healthy dose of ceramic coating by Keco Coatings on the exhaust manifold up pipes, intake manifold and housing helps keep the heat in check.

Other key components, Scrimager said, include an ATS billet flywheel, Fluidampr harmonic balancer and a modified FASS fuel/air separator. A To Z Muffler in Terre Haute, IN, did all the exhaust work on the truck.

With Scrimager's attention to detail, it's not surprising he likes to know what's going on under the hood and just about everywhere else on the truck. Some fancy custom tuning by PPE gives Scrimager access to 62 different data parameters. He watches and pays close attention to the fuel rail pressure, injection timing, intake air temperature, fuel supply pressure, boost pressure and turbo drive pressure. "Those are the top ones we closely monitor," he explained.

Scrimager said his favorite features under the hood are the SoCal cylinder heads. He commented, "It's the cylinder heads because when you get them from SoCal, they're a work of art."

To get the power to the ground, this Chevy uses an ATS Extreme after burning up three different trannys prior to the ATS unit. The drive shaft is billet aluminum and comes from Advanced Driveline in Plainfield, IN.

Suspension Setup

While all the above stuff is cool and gets the truck past the 800 hp barrier, Scrimager was even more excited to talk about the suspension on his truck. He, along with his friend Joe Barszcz, designed the system. Barszcz also did the drive shaft hoops.

"Because I came from outlaw Pro Street drag racing I know how important pinion angle and suspension components are," Scrimager said. "The end goal was to get the truck to plant the rear tires and be able to adjust the suspension for track conditions."

That sounds like pretty complicated stuff. To accomplish the goal of designing the right suspension, Scrimager said he removed the rear leaf springs to determine the travel arc of the rear end and figure out where the center lifting point is. By figuring that out, he could make the necessary adjustments so that when the truck is hooked to the sled, it doesn't unload the front tires. He called it "mapping the suspension." And he gave credit to Barszcz for being the expert in that area.

"We can adjust the pinion angle to change the setup for specific track conditions," Scrimager said. "If it's dry, we'll increase the pinion angle a little."

With the kind of time and effort that went into the suspension setup is it any wonder that, outside of the engine compartment, the suspension is his favorite? "A lot of R&D initially went into that setup," he said.

A fair amount of trial and error also went into finding the right steering setup. "We broke some parts trying to figure out the steering," Scrimager said. "We needed to strengthen the steering so it would hold up."

Not convinced yet of Scrimager's attention to detail? Okay, let's look at the wheels. Of course, he did the legwork himself. "I built a custom set of billet aluminum BeadLock wheels and then it took me a month to find a company that could do what I wanted with them," he explained. That company was Raceline Wheels in Garden Grove, CA. The wheels are 10.5 inches wide with a 6-inch backspace, "which allows us to put more time on the ground," Scrimager said.

Scrimager is obviously proud of his Duramax and for good reason. It's helped him win 21 of 27 sled pulls he's competed in with his record pull stretching to 402 feet.

But if you dig a little, the reason for the meticulous everything about Scrimager's truck can be traced to a sled pull in Hazelwood, IN, back in the spring of 2006. Scrimager explained, "After I bought the truck and had it for four or five months, I went to a pull in Hazelwood. I broke the stock hitch and the truck lunged forward and died. People started heckling me and I came home and started ordering parts."

The gradual buildup of the truck over the next few years has resulted in one of the best-looking (and cleanest) Duramax trucks you'll find anywhere.

And, like any good man, Scrimager blames his original purchase of the Chevy diesel on wife Shannon. "Shannon was the one who wanted the diesel truck because she liked the way it sounds," Scrimager said.

Regardless, the two, along with Barszcz, have become a force to be reckoned with on the track. Scrimager has been pulling on a serious basis for the past two summers and is now the president of the Indiana Truck Pullers Association. That's in addition to his full-time job as a service engineer for Cummins Engine (he left Allison Transmission in mid-2008).

Years ago, when he first bought the Chevy Duramax and then had an unceremonious introduction to sled pulling and the buildup began, the goal was, and still is, simple. "The whole goal behind it is to keep it 100 percent streetable," Scrimager said.

Today the truck is worth $65,000-70,000 by Scrimager's estimation.

The more interesting response, though, came when we asked Ric and Shannon to estimate the amount of hours spent on the buildup.

"Oh my God," Shannon said, shaking her head.

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