In the diesel industry, the word “delete” has become one of the most taboo words you could possibly utter out loud. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went on the attack nearly a decade ago by hamstringing auto manufacturers and forcing them to comply with stricter emission standards starting with all 2008 models going forward. Aftermarket companies thrived for years with “deletes” to work around these new restrictions, but eventually the threat of the government fining the companies supplying the products as well as the shops doing the work (plus rumors about the government going after the individual truck owners) put an end to this or at least drastically slowed it down.
For those not wanting better fuel economy or improved horsepower, it was easy to keep trucks compliant, but in reality that’s not what diesel truck owners want. Is it possible to build a 700 to 800hp truck and still be compliant? To be completely honest, we’re not really sure. What we are sure of, however, is that we want to give it a try because this is where our industry needs to be heading, since fighting the EPA is a battle no one will ever win.
Matt Rosenberg, owner of Rosenberg Automotive in southeast Idaho, was determined to prove it could be done. Matt started with a 2016 Chevy Silverado LML that he picked up locally from Smith Chevrolet.
“I think building a compliant truck is critical for our industry; it’s the wave of the future to be EPA-friendly,” says Matt. “And as a shop owner, having something to show potential customers is important. When they can actually drive it and see that it can be done, it’s good for business.”
In order to begin the journey, he first needed to know where he was starting from. Working with Custom Auto, another local diesel shop that currently owns a pair of trailerable dynos, Matt strapped down his stock truck. Before touching anything on it, the truck sat at 347hp with 511 lb/ft of torque.
Tune ‘Er Up
For the past ten-plus years, Rosenberg Automotive has helped diesel owners get the most out of their trucks so when it came to modifying his own Matt was in familiar territory. Based on his own experiences, he already had a list of trusted companies in mind for his own build.
“After purchasing the Duramax at Smith Chevrolet, within 400 miles I had a tuner from Duramaxtuner on its way for it,” says Matt. “For tuning my LML there was no one else I wanted to even contact. After that I added an S&B cold air intake, a FASS 150 lift pump and an Edge CTS 2.”
While legally putting up big horsepower numbers is the goal, at the end of the day Matt wants a conservative-looking truck, but that doesn’t mean he wants it to look stock either.
To instantly improve the look, the shop owner added Moto Metal 961 wheels and wrapped them in Big O brand tires. A TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover soon followed, which is a combination of a soft roll-up but also hinged. Next came a grille insert and bumper guard from T-Rex grilles to customize the look. To increase the functionality, Matt also installed a Curt Manufacturing turnover ball fifth-wheel hitch to add to the versatility of his truck.
“I mostly just want a do-everything type of truck that I can use to pull trailers, take on road trips and be comfortable, as well as take it to the race track,” explains Matt. “After the SPADE tuning I towed doubles, a 28-foot camp trailer with a 10-foot toy trailer behind it—and I was impressed with the tune that kept my exhaust temps from heating up, even with that load. I’m enjoying the smooth transitions and when you really need to get on it, it really goes.”
In anticipation of where this truck plans to end up, Matt installed traction bars from BDS as one of the last things he wanted to accomplish before moving on to Part 2. When it comes to traction bars, BDS is one of those companies that has a solid reputation in the industry. Its RECOIL traction bars are the next generation of traction bar technology, which is exactly what Matt was after.
“When we put the power to the ground my truck is going to need the best so that’s why I contacted BDS,” explains Matt. “The RECOIL traction bars give me the stability that I need, plus I love that they’re adjustable.”
Using heavy wall construction with a full floating design, the revolutionary traction bars won’t bind up the suspension. At one end they use an adjustable forged flex end to load or unload the 3000-pound-rated compression spring at the other end to control axle wrap and give you better traction whether you are towing, racing or daily driving. The adjustments on the bolt-on traction bars are easy using the supplied wrenches with the bars installed.
After finishing up the first round in our series on this LML, the truck now sits at 527hp and 796 lbs/ft of torque. The Duramaxtuner SPADE tuning and S&B intake earned him an additional 180hp and nearly 300 lbs/ft of torque. Not bad, but this truck has a long way to go and the steps moving forward only get more aggressive. The only downside to a project like this is waiting for products to be developed, which means this truck may need to sit a few months between upgrades. So to protect the 2016 Duramax, a truck cover from Empire Covers was ordered.
“My end goal is I’d like to see how far I can get with a stock bottom end, which I’m guessing will be around 725hp, 750hp,” says Matt. “I think that will be the breaking point on those pistons from what I’ve been told. But really the goal remains to build a do-everything type truck.”
Next step for this truck is a road trip to the Midwest. In order to take this LML where we need it to go and still be compliant, we called in the reinforcements. First stop will be Wehrli Custom Fabrication in Sycamore, Il., for a set of twin turbos, followed by some time at nearby Duramaxtuner in Marengo, Il., for some custom tuning where Nick Priegnitz will build the tune. Yep, the fun is just starting!
Big O Tires
Moto Metal Wheels
TruXedo Bed Truck Covers
Wehrli Custom Fabrication