Editor’s Pick Part 2

Building From The Ground Up

August 2015 Build, PowerStroke Brady L. Kay

The second round of installs had us down in Shelley, Idaho, visiting our friends at Adrenaline Performance. But before we get to the next phase of our Ford 6.4L Power Stroke project truck, let’s do a quick recap and get you caught up on how we got here.

We’re calling the build “Editor’s Pick” because after years of covering heavily-modified diesel trucks, I felt as editor of Diesel Tech magazine it was time to create a truck that represented me with some of my favorite modifications. I’ve had other project trucks as well and helped with more than a dozen other builds, but my goal heading into this truck was to make it the best magazine build to date.

Part I Recap

It all started with a bone stock 2010 Ford F350 that I picked up at a local truck lot in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I went to Autos 4 Less on a brutal cold January afternoon and David Claiborne worked with me and my budget to make it happen. Then to help get the ice and snow off my truck, I headed south to Arizona to visit Ken Neal and his brother Gene, the owners of Bullet Proof Diesel in Mesa. They helped me “bulletproof” my Power Stroke by upgrading my EGR Coolers with its stainless steel tube design that comes with a lifetime warranty. The other upgrade the brothers suggested for my must-have list was the BDP Oil Cooler System Half Kit with the Bypass Oil Filtration system. Also at this time we upgraded to the BD Power Xtruded Charge Air Cooler (CAC), also known as the intercooler. To top it all off, we added front and rear differential covers from advanced FLOW engineering (aFe), as well as a deeper transmission pan, and changed all the fluids using Royal Purple products.

Adrenaline Performance

We got started by first running our 6.4L project truck on the dyno to see where she was sitting.

At around 2900 RPMs the truck seemed to take a dive, even though we could tell there was more power to go. Of course that’s probably the excuse everyone gives when their stock numbers come in at 343.9 horsepower and 631.1 ft/lbs. of torque. Until we can figure out why we’re leaving horsepower numbers on the dyno, we just decided to focus on the gains we’ll experience moving forward.

One of the reasons we take a lot of our project trucks to Adrenaline Performance is the established trust factor. Shop owner Cam Hulse has built a solid reputation in his area and beyond by being meticulous and demanding perfection from those who work for him. The quality mechanics are not only knowledgeable, but they’re also diesel enthusiasts who love creating powerful and dependable trucks. 

Leading Edge

The first three upgrades most diesel owners make are to add an intake, tuner and an exhaust. Why? Because these three modifications instantly improve your fuel economy, as well as horsepower. As an owner, if you don’t have the desire to do anything else to your stock truck, I would recommend you at least make these three upgrades.

Increases based on our past installs vary when adding the Edge Evolution CTS Tuner, but we’ve found the improved fuel economy to be the biggest advantage. While custom tuning is becoming more and more popular, for where we’re currently at with our daily driver, I feel the “off the shelf” tuner from Edge is perfect for my needs. Plus I upgraded to the rear camera that Edge offers as an option. Whenever you put the truck in reverse, the monitor automatically switches to the backup camera. What sold me on this was the clean mounting design.

The camera is built into the license plate holder and goes practically undetected. I like this a lot better than when you have to drill holes in your bumper or try and rig something so your camera hangs in the right position. Plus with a small allen head wrench (included) you can adjust the camera view, which I did so I can easily see my trailer hitch. I also added the dash pod because I like the look of a permanent spot for my monitor instead of just using a suction cup bracket on my windshield. Picky, I know. But to me it’s the simple tweaks that can sometimes make the biggest differences in giving the truck a finished look.

Here Adrenaline Performance Tech Josh Maldonado hooks up the dash pod.

The monitor looks and feels like it belongs. The exhaust temps are displayed on the left, miles per hour at the bottom, with the boost pressure gauge on the right. From here you can customize the look as well as make adjustments like updating tire size (hint: we’re going bigger next time).

aFe Momentum

The first step to more horsepower starts with your intake. If she can’t breathe, it doesn’t matter how big your turbo is, and that’s why this step is so critical. There are plenty of great intakes on the market and most if not all are easy to install, but for my truck I went with the aFe Momentum HD intake. I like the enclosed system and I know it will instantly increase my horsepower.

As Josh Maldonado pulled out the old stock one, I was a little embarrassed by just how neglected the old filter was. Granted, I just purchased the truck, but still I know a diesel needs to breathe.

MBRP Gone Black

I’m not going for a total “blackout” with this build, but when this truck is finished it’s going to be mostly black or white. So when searching for my exhaust, I wanted to find a top-rated company with a solid reputation in the industry that offers a black exhaust.

MBRP fit my criteria perfectly with its 4-inch filter back, black-coated exhaust from its Black Series.

My last truck had a nice stainless tip, but it was always looking dirty so I love that there is a black ceramic finish on all the components including the steel tip.

Not only does the all-black exhaust from MBRP look great, but it also has a rich, mellow exhaust note that sounds great when you fire up the truck. Plus it can also improve your fuel economy by 1 to 2 miles per hour with gains up to 18 horsepower and 28 ft/lbs. of more torque.

The secret to getting more out of your diesel engine is to give it lots of cool, clean air and we’ve now done that with the aFe intake and MBRP exhaust with the Edge tuner to dial it all in. The only way that you can get fresh air in is to get the hot air out. From the fully mandrel-bent tubing to minimal bend degree angles, the new MBRP will get exhaust out fast, which will drop my exhaust gas temperature by up to 200 degrees and set the stage for all the performance we have planned for this 6.4L.

Going FASS

I still preach that an intake, tuner and exhaust upgrade should be the first three things you modify on your stock truck, but right after that on your list should be a fuel system. The Editor’s Pick truck is all about selecting the products I feel need to be on my truck as well as going back to proven upgrades that I’ve had nothing but success with. One of those companies is FASS. I’ve never had a single problem with this system and I doubt I’ll ever own a diesel truck that doesn’t have a FASS on it. Having those extra filters just makes a lot of sense.  

Josh starts by doing the assembly work on a table away from the truck before mounting the bracket.

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 most time-consuming part.

OPTIMA

Another one of those companies I’ve never had an issue with and always go back to is OPTIMA Batteries. I’ve had long-term success with YellowTops in the past, and with what we have planned for our build I don’t trust my stock batteries to get the job done.

The set of YellowTop deep cycle batteries from OPTIMA were my first choice because each offers premium cranking power and unparalleled cycling capability (rechargeability).

The YellowTop batteries can repeatedly bounce back from deep power drains to full energy capacity, so they can power plenty of electronics and still start you up time after time.

Weather Tech

While part two in this series has focused on laying the groundwork with exterior components, before we got too far on our project truck we wanted to address one basic, yet very important component, floor liners.

If Weather Tech isn’t the king of floor mats and floor liners, I’m not sure who is. This is a trusted and well-known company that always pops into my mind when I think of absolute interior protection.

The channels in the design help carry fluids and debris to a lower reservoir, plus even though they have a custom-made fit, they’re easy to remove for easy cleanup. In my book, I don’t think you can find a better floor liner on the market than what Weather Tech offers.

HornBlasters

The last installment in this round of installs wasn’t for looks or for function, but I would strongly disagree with anyone who argued they’re not necessary. Again, this is my truck and I’m building it based on upgrades and aftermarket products that I feel need to be included and I’ve always wanted to put train horns on my truck. And not just any train horns. I wanted the best so that’s why my first call was to HornBlasters. They have a huge selection, but its Conductor’s Special Nightmare Edition 244K model was an easy choice for me. Made in the U.S.A., the Conductor’s Special kits are the only horns in the industry with a lifetime warranty and I love that each horn is hand-tuned for genuine locomotive sound.

The biggest challenge with the installation is where to mount the Shocker XL train horns. Ben Porter at Adrenaline Performance built a custom bracket so we could mount all four together horns together.

Using his custom fabricated bracket Ben mounted the horns up tight next to the fuel tank and mounted the solenoid on top so it’s hardly visible. The next step was to find a good spot for the Viair onboard compressor and tank.

Ben made a custom bracket for the compressor so it could be mounted on the truck’s frame close to the horns. Before welding the bracket, Ben checked one more time to make sure it’s in the right place. The last step was to run the wiring; we ended up mounting a hidden switch below the dash to signal the train horns.

The switch that came with setup was an on/off switch so you could tie into your regular horn, but I wanted to keep it separate. Josh, who was doing this part of the install, hid a small push button in a compartment, which is perfect.

I could tell these horns were going to be a lot of fun when Josh tapped the button to try it out and actually startled himself. The yelling from the others in the shop was quickly muted by laughter as the “testing” went on for another 10 minutes.  

As the truck pulled out of Adrenaline Performance, I knew the foundation had been set and that this project truck was well on its way. Plans on the horizon include BD Power twin turbos, Swamp’s Diesel injectors and some other serious mods, but the next round of installs is going to focus on the exterior as we attempt to give our stock-looking Power Stroke a much-needed facelift.

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