For some diesel owners, one quick look at their stock beauty and it's "love at first sight." For others, a few customizations, some tinkering under the hood, and they have what they consider to be a perfect truck. But for a select few, the phrase "project truck" takes on a whole new meaning. It seems like there isn't enough to be altered or upgraded. These are the people who can be found either scouring the performance shops for the most powerful upgrades they can get their hands on, or they're already under the hood with a ratchet in one hand and a turbo in the other. One of those select few happens to be Phillip Waddell with his 2007 Dodge.
One glance at this 5.9L Cummins dually and it's easy to see that there have been some serious changes made. Over time, most diesel owners find they're no longer satisfied with the performance bare minimums a stock truck offers and customize as they find necessary. Shortly after buying the truck, Waddell had the windows limo tinted, installed Ranch Hand front and back bumpers, a Western Hauler headache rack, Westin step bars and had a spray-in bed liner coated in.
He could never find satisfaction with the way the standard trucks come.
"I've upgraded every truck I have ever owned; I would never leave it stock," says Waddell with a laugh. "When the salesman told me the truck had a 325 horsepower engine I was thinking, `Is that all?'"
In no time at all, the determination to make this monster his own was already underway. But the pursuit for perfection wouldn't stop at cosmetics. Waddell already had big dreams for his Dodge and it wasn't long before he would really put his tools to use.
Waddell's passion for the Dodge Cummins is in his blood.
"I didn't look at any other truck; all I wanted was a Dodge Cummins," says the Texas native. "My dad and grandpa got me hooked on them."
His wife of three years, Lori, was the one to drive him towards a dually. It was clear that the desire for this build ran in the family. The only issue was Waddell's ambition to get started on his first upgrades was running high, but performance manufacturers couldn't supply the parts fast enough.
"I was begging a lot of companies for performance aftermarket upgrades to be released," recalls Waddell. "I couldn't wait for them to catch up."
As the parts slowly started surfacing, they would find their way onto his 2007 Dodge. It began with some custom exhaust work. By removing the old exhaust system, Waddell gave himself the room to weld in his own set of 6-inch Peterbilt stacks. Next, feeling the need for some performance upgrades, he installed an aFe stage 2 cold box air intake. With that out of the way, he uploaded a Smarty 260hp TNT-R programmer and a new set of pillar gauges. It was just a few short months after Waddell bought the '07 Dodge and already the engine was beginning to exert more power.
Putting in these performance upgrades comes at a price and Waddell immediately knew it.
"I realized I was going to need a better clutch," says the Texas native.
His insight resulted in the installation of a few different South Bend clutches. One after the other, each clutch proved unable to handle the great stress being exerted on it. It would take a heavy-duty clutch to keep up. The solution came with the installation of a South Bend 3250 dual disk clutch with an upgraded center plate. With the hit-and-miss clutch problem out of the way, Waddell could focus on some of the finer details of his build.
He had already tweaked his Dodge a good handful of times in a short period and the increase in power was obvious, but his insatiable quest for greater performance wasn't over.
"The truck was handling well, but 5 to 6 months later more power was needed," says Waddell. "A FASS HD fuel system, Industrial Injection's "Phat" shaft turbo and Dynamite Diesel Performance's 90hp fuel injectors were labored in."
Like Waddell's previous upgrades, Newton's third law complicated things and the Cummins engine starved for fuel. The principal function of the upgraded fuel system was to "purify" the diesel by pressurizing the fuel, which separates the liquid fuel from vapors, water and the air from the tank. Sometimes, sloshing fuel while the truck is in motion causes air to become entrained into the fuel, causing the area that should normally be pure fuel to be contaminated. This led to the installation of Industrial Injection's modified CP3 injection pump and a new set of Hamilton valve springs.
This series of upgrades eliminated the fuel entrainment issue by increasing the amount of pressure in the fuel lines and with the addition of new U-joints, this Cummins was the picture of health. With every addition made to the monster diesel, Waddell decided to run his truck on the dyno and see how much power he put in the engine. He maxed the engine out at 603hp with 1217 ft./lbs. of torque and was able to boost the fuel economy from 16 mpg as a stock truck to 19 mpg, even after the incredible overhaul.
For a while, Waddell was content with his work. Aside from a few heavy-duty installations that needed the professional equipment only found in a shop, most of the installations were completed by Waddell himself. Seeing all of your hard work pay off and driving in something virtually built by your own two hands can instill a sense of pride not found anywhere else. Waddell's passion for the Dodge Cummins turned a stock diesel dually into a work of art that could be admired by any truck enthusiast. To the inexperienced eye, however, it looked like any other truck on the road. Thankfully, Waddell already had bigger plans in store for the already massive 5.9L, 603 horsepower beast.
With everything finished in the performance department, it was time to give this Dodge a lift. When the project started, he began by installing a modest 1.5-inch Fabtech lift kit. Now with all of the work that had been done, 1.5 inches just wasn't enough.
"I got tired of the typical ole dually-looking truck so I did a 5-inch Fabtech lift kit," says Waddell. "The only way to make sense of the lift was to also add Pro Comp Xtreme AT tires all around with a set of 3/4-ton Ultra Goliath rims to boot."
But being that lifted proved to be too much for the shocks. The stock equipment was no longer able to keep up and the lift caused the rear of the truck to move and sway. The shocks were promptly swapped out for a Fabtech dual shock system, Bilstein gas reservoir shocks, a matching set of Bilstein metal body gas shocks and Superlift traction bars were placed in to keep the tail-end from jostling around.
After the installation of a very intimidating stereo system, consisting of two 12-inch sub-woofers, Hertz door speakers, two kicker amps and an Audison 1200-watt amp, all under the control of a Kenwood flip-out head unit, the work to push the boundaries of what a sound system was capable of seemed complete. With a simple touch on the 7-inch touchscreen panel, Waddell's new stereo system was almost space age and very top-of-the-line.
The truck's massive Cummins engine could already growl off the lot. With every performance upgrade done, Waddell made his Dodge roar. Now, with the introduction of a thundering sound system, it could really sing. Waddell's hunger for performance was satisfied. His dream for his perfect Cummins was finally realized and it was time to enjoy the payoff. It was time to put the finished product on the pavement.
A New Dream
A lot of time and a seemingly endless list of upgrades went into Waddell's dream truck. There were moments where every installation seemed to have some unforeseen consequence, leading to yet another new part having to be installed to balance everything back out.
"Did most of the work from home," recalls Waddell. "And I spent hours with my wife, wondering what I was doing."
Each problem faced led him to a new experience and a new performance upgrade. With the build finally finished, Waddell couldn't think of a more perfect purpose for the Dodge dually than to take his wife and daughter around the countryside and turn this 603hp giant into his daily driver. What had started as a passion for the Cummins diesel turned into a dream build. After years of difficult and progressive work, Waddell lived out his dream and created something powerful and one of a kind.
The next time you take your truck for a road trip, if you ever find yourself in the town of Burleson, Texas, keep an eye out for any dually trucks on the road. You may catch Waddell in his 2007 Dodge Cummins passing by, diesel smoke drifting through the Texas heat. If not, you can probably find him under the hood of his next project, giving it a little tune-up.
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