The Warhorse Forward

May 2014 Michael Deulley

Day six. The fog of war has lifted. Among the dust and debris of relentless combat stands the Warhorse. Through trial, dauntless repair and modification, tireless research and hundreds of man-hours, Unruh's towing monster takes its first step into the light of a new day. Heralding much of the 5.9L Cummins into a new millennium, all that remained was show to bring some of the beauty and power of the Dodge to the surface, so everyone could see what a decorated hero in the war for performance looked like. Before the celebration could begin, however, a complete debriefing of the long and trying journey was in order.

Day One

When the battle began, Unruh rekindled the fire in the weakened and tired Dodge. The transfer case was in dire need of repair, but once finished, the hunger for power began. Dismantling the engine, Unruh began fitting the head for the proven strength of ARP's head studs. While the pedestals were being machined to specifications at Performance Machine of Idaho Falls, Idaho, Unruh removed the old, dilapidated injectors and made preparations for a set of Ducky Fuel Injection 5X0.012 VCOs. Next the ARP main studs, rod and flex plate bolts were installed. He also introduced new valve springs, heavy duty push rods and titanium valve spring keepers, as well as an AFC spring kit, all to ensure better fueling and support for the engine’s higher revving capabilities. Attacking from all angles, Unruh redirected his attention to the back of the Dodge and installed a 5" Silverline turbo back exhaust system, which yielded to later modifications that would undoubtedly need the extra support provided by the new exhaust.

Day Two

As day two dawned, the engine's complete removal gave Unruh an opportunity to fit and harness a CFM Plus intake manifold and pipe, which would work in concert with an ATS 3-piece exhaust manifold securing their intake from an AIRAID cold air intake system.

Taking a moment to evaluate the situation, Unruh began to see the bigger picture in store for the '96 Cummins and, again splitting his attention, he installed a MAG-HYTEC transmission pan and differential covers. The shallow stock pan and covers were insufficient to the envisioned power needs, but the new additions proved to be more than efficient and would allow the truck’s power to flourish to unspeakably new levels.

Day Three

The engine still out, Unruh decided to further reinforce the transmission and installed an aFe Power F3 torque converter. Wanting to encourage lower temperatures in the truck, which would eventually be tested, an aFe Bladerunner intercooler was installed. Unruh's approach to this build began at the outermost rims of the Dodge and then moved inward. Following that train of thought, he decided the worn lift pump was next, which he promptly replaced with a FASS T D10 125G lift pump. With much of the Dodge dissembled, beginning some of the finer detail work was simple. Unruh's next installations were Auto Meter's Elite boost, trans temp and EGT gauges, which could be easily routed and rigged together.

Keeping his scope broad and seeing the picture in its entirety, the idea of the perfect towing workhorse never left Unruh's mind. The next install was Western Mule Bumper Cranes’ A-2000-Max collapsible bumper crane. With the capability to lift 2000lbs, the A-2000-Max would prove invaluable for all the various work Unruh had intended for the Warhorse in the future.

Day Four

After much of the truck was rebuilt internally, Unruh's next offensive was directed toward the suspension, outer appearance, and performance of the Warhorse. The first install was BUCKSTOP's outback series front bumper, which not only gave the Dodge seldom-seen appeal, but gave way to the introduction of a 12,000lb winch for any heavy pulling the truck may have during its life. The bumper also helped distribute weight, keeping the truck more level while on the road. To counter the additional weight, Unruh removed the old suspension, replacing it with a SkyJacker Suspension lift kit, which included a 4.5" suspension lift, rugged shocks and dual steering stabilizers.

To add further balance and stability, the next installation was Air Lift's 88215 LoadLifter 5000 Ultimate Air Spring Kit with Internal Jounce Bumper, which would keep the Dodge level and driving smooth, even when weighed down. To support all of the new equipment, 16"x 8.5" rims, wrapped in Goodyear Duratrac tires were installed, tying up all of the loose ends and finishing the uncanny amount of modifications that had been placed on the Warhorse since day one.

With victory approaching, only a few things remained to give the Warhorse a new and intimidating signature look.

War Paint

All of the hard work Unruh put into the Warhorse over the course of the last six months finally came to its zenith. Wars are never won in a day, and this statement never rang truer than for the Warhorse's battle for performance. Through everything, Unruh had created a formidable and menacing machine boasting limitless towing capabilities, an incredible well of power, and unspeakable performance in all weather and towing condition. Now, all that remained was to give the Dodge a signature look, and to establish that nothing else was like it on the road.

Enveloping the truck in matte green and the wheels in a matte black finish, Unruh called on the help of Toyskinz, a decal and graphics company located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to finish the appearance Unruh had envisioned from the beginning. Once the decals were designed and placed, the tired looking 1996 Dodge 5.9L Cummins burned away, and from the ashes the Warhorse was born. Emblazoned with the paint of a true warrior, the Dodge Warhorse finally had an opportunity to test its mettle and show the rest of the world true towing power.

Future Sight

Even though the Dodge gave the performance Unruh needed for his towing machine, the passion for more power hasn't yet been sated. In the future, the Warhorse would see even more modifications as Unruh’s desire for power rose. Plans to increase both the boost and fueling will be set in motion once the engine adjusts to its new upgrades. Once everything is in order, the idea of a performance transmission rebuild and turbo upgrade is already in the back of Unruh's mind. Whatever the future holds for Unruh and his truck, it will undoubtedly lead both to new possibilities, new levels of performance, and new horizons as the Dodge Warhorse tramples forward to the next battle.


Source Box

aFe Power






Air Lift



ATS Diesel Performance



Auto Meter Competition Instruments



Automotive Racing Products



BUCKSTOP Truckware



CFM Plus



Ducky Fuel Injection












Plasti Dip



Performance Automotive Machine Co.



Silverline Performance Exhaust



Skyjacker Suspensions






Western Mule Cranes


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