Blood, sweat, strategy and unyielding determination for victory: this is how a war is fought. This is how a truck is built. Troy Unruh took a 1996, 5.9L Cummins from completely stock and began his fervent struggle to build his Warhorse. Unruh started the war, but the heavy hauling Dodge wasn't about to go down without a fight. Starting his attack with the most formidable opponent, the engine, Unruh went under the hood and answered the call of the war for performance. With wrench in hand and an unwavering resolve in his mind, the battle began.
Preparing for Battle
The engine was certainly in need of an overhaul. With over 300,000 miles clocked on the odometer, something had to be done to extend the longevity of the hard-worked 5.9-liter engine. Without an easy way to visibly observe the key elements within the massive engine block, the only option was to gather intelligence on its condition. This would not be easy, however, as many lines, components and even the front end would have to be removed to properly assess and repair the intricate inner-workings of the Cummins. Taking only a moment to absorb the incredible task that lay before him, Unruh grabbed his tools and began the invasion.
Part after part, the engine bay began to open up, but the removal of one component seemed to show another component in the way. As if to slow his progress, tangled and dust-covered lines obscured his vision and created a confusing web of soot and dirt. Unruh strafed from one side to the other, reverse-engineering each part and its connections until finally he reached his main objective. There, nestled proudly, was the monstrous Cummins engine.
Wasting no time, Unruh finished removing the few remaining lines, intake and exhaust manifold and b-lined straight toward the head. Following the torque guidelines meticulously, the head lost its tired and beaten bolts and the hoist was chained firmly to it. Within seconds, the gasket ripped away from its home and the head popped free. Much was to be changed in this engine, and in order for that to happen, the block and head had to be removed. Again the weight-lifting power of the hoist was ordered in and while it waited patiently to tear the engine away from its position, Unruh was already behind enemy lines, removing the bell-housing bolts and freeing the engine form the transmission. Like a flash of lightning, Unruh was back to his feet and at the ready with the hoist. A simple push on the lever and the hoist’s strength lifted the engine from its seat and had it hovering in the air.
With the engine bay completely cleared, much had already been done in the first day of battle. Knuckles battered, sweat laden with oil and dirt streaming down his face, Unruh's exhaustion began to set in, and with day two of this battle on the horizon, preparations were being made to begin installing the performance parts that would give the engine an inexorable amount of strength and resilience for the inevitable power upgrades yet to come.
A war is never fought on one front. Not having the milling equipment necessary, Unruh brought the head over to Performance Automotive Machine Co., in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to have the rocker arm pedestals milled down to fit the new, resilient Automotive Racing Products (ARP) head studs that were scheduled to replace the worn-out factory bolts. Danny Baird, head manager of Performance Automotive Machine, personally took charge of the milling while Unruh returned to his work with the now disassembled Dodge back home.
Baird, being adept with every tool in the shop, worked swiftly to mill each pedestal down to the required specifications while Unruh worked anxiously to prepare for their return.
"There's a lot of stress being put on an engine with aftermarket performance put in it," Said Baird. "Making sure the engine is prepared for that stress can't be overlooked."
Without hesitation, Baird focused on each pedestal and within an hour, the pedestals were milled, cleaned, pieced back together and ready for the next step, which was already in the works back at Unruh's shop.
Back in Unruh's shop, with the pedestals ready for installation, the work went underway to rebuild the 5.9L Cummins and turn it from a light armored machine into a heavily fortified monster. While work was being done on the pedestals, Unruh was doing work of his own to reinforce the engine with the introduction of new rod and main bearings, piston rings, seals, gaskets and most importantly of all, the ARP head studs. Each step was meticulously examined to ensure that the mission to rebuild the engine was done properly.
Using ARP's ring compressor, Unruh's task of replacing the old and battered piston rings was made simple. Having the right tools for the job is a necessity to getting the critical steps in the engine rebuild moving smoothly, and there was no other option for Unruh than ARP to deliver the proper equipment. After the rings came the bearings. With time always the pressing factor, Unruh worked through the evening making the preparations for the final work to be done.
ARP’s head studs have been proven nearly impossible to compromise.
"I was eager to put the head studs on and see the newly reinforced and complete engine," Unruh continued. "I know the engine is way stronger now and I can picture the next 300,000 miles on it already."
With the addition of a new head gasket, stronger exhaust and intake valve springs, the bulletproof head studs were torqued into place, finishing the internal engine work and leading Unruh to move to the next step.
Fueling The Warhorse
With the engine nearly finished, the next step was increase the flow of fuel. The injectors that were currently feeding the Cummins were proven to be less than adequate for the kind of power Unruh envisioned for the Dodge, so they were removed and a new set of Ducky Fuel Injection 5X0.012 SAC injectors were brought to the forefront.
"The stock injectors had previously been replaced with 215 hp -5x0.01025 factory Dodge injectors, so power output was already overstock levels. They were a little stronger than the original injectors, but with what I want to see, I needed way more efficient fuel delivery," said Unruh.
While being larger, the injectors were also more economical and suited Unruh's need for extra fuel without detracting from precious fuel economy while he traveled throughout the state for parts needed for other projects. Ducky's 5X0.012 SAC injectors also provided a greater, evenly directed spray pattern, which gave abundant fuel injection while simultaneously reducing idle haze, as well as excessive temperatures and smoking.
With the engine nearly ready to install, Unruh's bigger picture momentarily led him away from the engine and on to a new exhaust system.
With a few more performance installations resting in the back of Unruh's mind before the engine could be placed back into the Dodge, he diverted his attention to the back of the truck, and more specifically, the exhaust. The Cummins' stock exhaust was simple, unappealing and relentlessly used over the first 300,000 miles of its life. It had to go. Unruh began working away at the stock pipes in preparation for the marriage of a new 5" Silverline exhaust system to the Warhorse.
While each step in the build seemed haphazard and undirected, Unruh had a method to his madness.
"I've already thought about what I want to do next," Unruh continued. "I have a few ideas that are going to seriously increase the performance."
The Silverline exhaust was set firmly in place and Unruh thoroughly checked his work one last time before making the decision to end day two of the war for performance. With new power on the horizon and a new day's battle looming in the future, Unruh began strategizing for what would undoubtedly be a grueling test of his knowledge, skill and determination to finish his iron clad, over-powered vision of the Warhorse.
Automotive Racing Products
Ducky Fuel Injection
Performance Automotive Machine Co.
Silverline Performance Exhaust
Western Mule Cranes