Road Treasure

Adding Another 100 Horses: Getting more out of the LB7

Published in the June 2013 Issue June 2013 Build Brady L. Kay

Fact: With the 6-inch lift, this 2003 GMC LB7 rides as good—if not better—than the stock version.

Fact: The 35-inch tires on the 20-inch wheels dramatically enhance the look and the attitude of this Duramax.

Fact: It’s now time to back it all up by increasing the horsepower and torque in an attempt to make this a thrill ride worth bragging about.

It has taken some time, but Dave Friedli—with, of course, the help of a couple of shops and countless man hours—has created one mean towing machine. Each step has been carefully plotted in an attempt to reach the goals he’s set for it. When completed, there’s no telling what kind of “road treasure” Dave will be able to find.

His 6.6L Duramax earned its Road Treasure name because Dave doesn’t shy away from investigating those items on the side of the highway that have fallen off another vehicle.

Project Recap

In the last issue, Dave ran his LB7 on the Powerlabs dyno at the Adrenaline Performance shop in Shelley, Idaho, before having the transmission rebuilt. It came in at 423.8hp with 857.9 ft/lbs of torque. Not too bad considering it was at 255hp and 504.3 ft/lbs of torque before Terry Thain, the owner of Moonlight Diesel in Logan, Utah, installed the Edge Insight CTS. Using EFILive, the truck left his shop doing more than just looking good. Moonlight Diesel also installed Superlift’s 6-inch bracket lift as well as front and rear sway bars from Hellwig. Complete with Mickey Thompson tires and Burst SS 20-inch wheels from American Force Wheels, the truck never looked so good.

But after throwing some slip codes, Dave knew it was time to rebuild his transmission as well as address the injectors, which were starting to fail on his 10-year-old truck. Adrenaline Performance owner Cam Hulse completely rebuilt the transmission and added an ATS Deep tranny pan and had it looking better than the day it rolled off the assembly line. The guys in his shop also replaced the rear differential cover with an ATS one and relied on Royal Purple to replenish the fluids.

Power Hungry

Rebuilding the transmission was only the first step for what was planned to be done at the Adrenaline Performance shop. The rebuilt transmission is now capable of up to 1,000 horsepower but before upgrading the stock turbo, something had to be done about the injectors.

The old stock injectors with around 125,000 miles on them were sent to Dynomite Diesel Performance to be tested. The results were expected, yet still surprising. At its facility, Dynomite is able to test the injectors and found that two of them needed to be replaced with the others soon to follow if not replaced soon.

With a goal of 500hp in mind, Dave was more interested in a dependable daily driver than winning any dyno events this summer, so he went with the 50hp injectors from Dynomite Diesel Performance.

Each injector comes individually packaged and well protected. Getting to the valve covers to replace the injectors is time-consuming, even for a professional like shop tech Josh Maldonado who says he averages about one injector install a week. So while he was at it he replaced the glow plugs as well. With over 125,000 miles it was time and Dave contacted Alligator Performance to order the new plugs. When it comes to finding the right parts and getting them quickly, it’s hard to beat a company like Alligator who is always great to work with and extremely quick to get it to you.

ATS 3000

Installing an aftermarket intake was one of the first things Dave did to his 6.6L Duramax after adding the dual Diamond Eye exhaust. But he quickly learned why the ATS 3000 Aurora Turbo kit includes a new one. The design of the ATS Diesel system requires that it arch over the engine so the old one couldn’t be used. This proven system is all about sucking it up, spinning it up and blowing it out, so Dave had no problem making the switch.

The first step was to get the stock turbo out and when Josh placed it side-by-side on his toolbox next to the ATS one, there was quite a dramatic difference. The new pedestal for the purple turbo almost looks like a second turbo.

ATS Aurora turbo kits are designed to lower EGTs, provide more power across the rpm range and exceed your specific needs. The Aurora 3000 turbo system for the 2001-2010 GM Duramax that was installed by Adrenaline Performance is designed for daily driving as well as towing applications and that’s exactly what Dave was looking for.

The focus of this turbo is to provide quick spool, low-end pulling power and EGT control on stock or tuned trucks. The result is a system that will provide a wide powerband, while being responsive at sea level or higher elevations. And the best part is that aftermarket fueling upgrades are not required for this turbo.

The 58mm inducer on the turbo is a very nimble and highly responsive unit and included in the Aurora 3000 turbo kit is a 4-inch downpipe, pedestal, turbo, air intake system (that is from aFe Power) and all necessary hardware, electronics and oil supply/return fittings and tubes. The 3000 is equipped with journal bearings, a ported compressor housing to reduce turbo “bark”, as well as heavy-duty silicone boots.

ATS Diesel is based in the mountains of Colorado near Denver and the kit comes backed with a 3-year or 150,000-mile warranty. As far as installation, the kit is designed as a bolt-on application, so no cutting, welding or modification was needed. The company has really stepped it up over the last few years and is truly building quality products for diesel enthusiasts that are proven and well-tested.


The last step before putting the truck back on the dyno was to install the FASS fuel system. The stock injectors failed, but having the FASS system should keep the new ones from Dynomite Diesel working properly.

Josh did this part of the install as well and it’s something he’s done a lot lately.

“We’ve had a lot of success with these FASS pumps and it’s something we’re seeing a lot of right now as far as people wanting them installed,” says Josh. “Having those extra filters makes a lot of sense.”

The FASS Fuel System has its own pump and this pump carries the fuel from the tank into the FASS System through a spin-on water separator. The fuel is then pumped into the main fuel filter where the dirt and air/vapor are removed. At that point, the fuel is under pressure to the engine. The small portion of air and vapor that remains is sent back to the fuel tank through the return line.

Everything you need is included for an easy install. First you install the electrical harness, next prepare the suction and return lines, then mount the fuel system, then install the fuel line and last, check the installation. The instructions help you through this step-by-step and tucking the wires and securing them was really the hardest part.

Breaking 500

When all was finished, the LB7 was once again strapped to the Powerlabs dyno so the gains could be measured. Using EFILive with the truck on the dyno, Cam was able to dial in the right amount of performance as he custom-tuned the GMC. Dave wasn’t interested in pushing the limits, but rather just looking for a tune that would make his truck dependable, yet still powerful.

With the rebuilt transmission, 50hp injectors from Dynomite Diesel Performance and the ATS 3000 Turbo kit, the LB7 now sits at 534.9hp and 1127.8 ft/lbs of torque. For you non-math majors, that’s a 111 horsepower gain and nearly 270 ft/lbs of torque improvement! Not bad for a truck where 500hp was the goal.

It’s always nice to get dyno numbers, but the real test is how the truck performs. With the bigger injectors and the Aurora 3000 that is a quick-spooling turbo charger, the power is amazing.

“I can’t believe how quickly the turbo lights now. It will throw you in the back of your seat if you want it to,” says Dave. “The ATS turbo with the bigger injectors from Dynomite Diesel is the perfect combination and I couldn’t be happier. Leaving the shop I couldn’t stop smiling.”

Dave has a couple of cosmetic upgrades still in mind to complete his build and we’ll cover those as well as a full recap of his project in our July issue.

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