The Battle Rages On

Dodge beginning to take form

May 2014 Michael Deulley

During his first day of high-performance combat, Troy Unruh set out to reinforce the engine with ARP head studs, Ducky Fuel Injection 5X0.012 VCO injectors and tuned up his exhaust with a 5-inch Silverline exhaust system to prepare for later installs. Then, during day two, it was back to the engine with a CFM Plus intake manifold and pipe, an ATS 3-piece exhaust manifold and an AIRAID cold air intake.

Keeping the big picture in mind, Unruh split his offensive and laid in a MAG-HYTEC transmission pan and a robust set of differential covers. By attacking the build at multiple points, Unruh was able to work inward and focus on the multiple points of interest that would take the unassuming 1996 stock Dodge and turn it into the monster diesel Warhorse.

When day three rounded the bend, Unruh reinforced the integrity of the transmission with an aFe Power F3 torque converter and encouraged cooler temperatures to the engine with an aFe Bladerunner intercooler. He later disposed of the dilapidated stock lift pump and introduced a FASS 125 gph lift pump. To monitor the new performance of the truck’s various systems, Unruh installed a high performance set of gauges from Auto Meter's Elite Series. Now, as the war for performance reaches its exciting conclusion, Unruh still has a few tricks up his sleeve to ensure complete victory and create the one and only Warhorse.

Iron Clad

Unruh knew it was time to suit the Warhorse in something that would be a little more fitting for a the monstrous towing machine, but not just any rear bumper. Finding a rear bumper that would be a suitable fit for the Dodge wouldn't be a difficult task, but Unruh had something far greater in mind for the heavy hauling Warhorse. The addition of the 420-pound bumper crane from Western Mule Cranes would provide the key element to the towing monster. The A-2000 Max model bumper crane featured a collapsible crane that folds down and under the diamond-plate cover. With the capability to operate the crane with the wired pendant or remotely from a wireless controller, and a lifting capacity of 2000 pounds, Unruh had the perfect tool for any job he had.

The A-2000 Max bumper crane can lift any engine, ATV and even smaller cars with ease. Never again would Unruh need outside help to lift heavy equipment or parts that he often tows to and from his garage. Making the Warhorse an unstoppable giant of diesel power was what he came to do, and the incredible addition to the already heavily modified and formidable Dodge would set a future standard for towing power and capability.

Taking the High Ground

To combat the increased weight and stress that could greatly affect the Warhorse's performance, Unruh needed to devise a strategy to not just simply balance the weight of the new rear bumper, but to alleviate the stress as well.

“The increased weight is going to make it difficult to load the truck up with the parts I intend to haul,” says Unruh. “The suspension is going to have to hold up to everything I throw at it.”

To ensure the Dodge 2500 could hold up to whatever challenges Unruh had in store, he decided that a suspension lift would have to take precedence over any other install he wanted to do. Luckily, Skyjacker Suspension had the solution. Unruh installed a 4.5-inch suspension lift, which keeps the weight from bringing the wheel wells too close to the tires and refrains it from any tire wear and friction. But this wasn't the only thing in store for the Warhorse. To accommodate the new, robust suspension, more would need to be added.

“Skyjacker's suspension kit really makes a difference to the truck’s performance, but I know that the frame is going to need all the support it can get when I really start towing,” says Unruh.

To maintain balance and smooth drivability while towing, Unruh turned to Air Lift for the right fit. Teaming up with the stronger suspension, Air Lift's rear air bags greatly improve the performance at the rear of the Warhorse when needed for extremely heavy or oversized loads. Taking time to look over every detail, the air bags were placed in and the lines attached to the Air Lift 72000 wireless air compressor. Now leveling the rear suspension while outside of the truck is simple with the push of a button on the wireless remote. Doing a thorough check over the system to ensure everything was functioning properly, Unruh turned his attention to a final few details that would decisively earn him victory in the war for performance and make the Warhorse an imposing diesel force that had seldom been seen before.

All Wrapped Up

Everything was finally taking shape on the build. Since its beginning, the Ram 2500 had gone through a lot of changes. While most of these changes were done to reinforce the pickup’s various systems and create a more powerful platform, many also added weight, which Unruh has already compensated for. With Skyjacker's suspension lift and Air Lift's airbags providing the much-needed support for not only the truck's weight, but the inevitable towing weight the Ram would experience, the only thing left in question was to find a front bumper to not only balance the weight but also balance the look of the truck. For this, Unruh has turned to BUCKSTOP and details of the bumper will be in the final installment in this series.  

“The suspension package has made an irrefutable change, both aesthetically and performance-wise, but I have a few ideas besides a new BUCKSTOP bumper to really finish off this build,” says Unruh.

The final touches to the Warhorse in an attempt to create an intimidating look are coming soon.

With every bolt tightened and every wire harnessed in place, Unruh took one last look over the Warhorse. From its relentlessly challenging beginning to now, the Dodge Ram had put up quite a fight. Now, with much of the work over, the final tweaks are on the horizon.




aFe Power






Air Lift



ATS Diesel Performance



Auto Meter Competition Instruments



Automotive Racing Products



BUCKSTOP Truckware



CFM Plus



Ducky Fuel Injection












Performance Automotive Machine Co.



Silverline Performance Exhaust



Skyjacker Suspensions



Western Mule Cranes


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