Tyler Brownlee’s Cummins fan page has 279,000 followers. And, the question that Tyler hears all too often is, “How did you get over a quarter million Instagram followers?” To answer this question, you must flash back six years to when he purchased a used 2006 Ram MegaCab with a 5.9L Cummins in cherry condition to be his daily driver.
It was lifted and rolling on big American Force wheels. But not long after the purchase he found himself dreaming of updating its look, so he began taking screen shots of other Rams to use as inspiration. “I like that lift kit or those are my favorite wheels,” Tyler recalled saying as he cataloged photos of his favorite parts. After amassing thousands of photos, he decided to share his massive collection. And thus @strictlycummins was born.
But his love affair with Cummins didn’t stop there. The Santa Rosa, California resident found a new sport later that year. Sled pulling would capture his imagination and lead him to build a bigger and badder engine.
“One day I was hanging out with my buddy Tom Wallace, owner of West Coast Diesels, and he convinced me to hook the truck up to a sled and take a pass,” recalls Tyler. “As soon as I connected the sled my adrenaline started pumping. I was thinking, ‘Oh sh--. I’m hooking up my forty thousand dollar truck to a sled and I could blow up my engine just to have 10 seconds of fun.” But the engine didn’t blow and Tyler ran a few more times that evening. “After that I was hooked. It went from a lift and Forces back down to leveled with mud tires and a beefier suspension. Before I knew it, it was a full-on pull truck.” Basically, West Coast Diesels gave Tyler a hit off the crack pipe and there was no turning back. “My addiction is all their fault,” he says with a chuckle.
As his skills improved, his engine couldn't keep up. In order to pull the sled farther, Tyler required more power from the stock 5.9 liter. The first thing he did was to throw as much fuel at it as possible. “I got bigger injectors, bigger CP3s, and a little larger turbo. Les at Silver Bullet Tuning did his magic on the ECU, we dyno’d it around 650hp and before I knew it, we were competing in ten events. It all happened really fast.” But the truck was still a daily driver, despite having to swap parts back and forth to maintain its street legal status. The following season was when Tyler really stepped it up. He was determined to beat the reigning local sled pulling champ. “I got a bigger turbo, more fueling, etc., we just went full bore.” At that point the truck ceased to be his daily driver.
But the after winning a National Hot Rod Diesel Association event last year he proceeded to blow up the engine; frying the rings and destroying the bearings. At that point Tyler figured he’d take advantage of the engine being out of the truck. He’d improve it from top to bottom, choosing to go big rather than go home. And, there’s no way to go bigger without airflow. Tyler did his homework and found the Banks Big Hoss side draft intake manifold. “It seems like all of the competitors that I want to beat are using the Banks intake. I was familiar with Banks cold air intakes, I liked how they perform and how the kits come with everything for an easy installation, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make.”
Tyler bought the Big Hoss manifold, and sent the head to Freedom Racing Engines in Indiana to have the intake shelf machined off. They also ported and polished the inlets for unrestricted flow. He then welded on a Vibrant V-band clamp to keep everything together under huge boost. For fueling he used an Exergy Performance dual-feed billet rail, fuel lines from a 6.7L, a 5.9L PRV, 6.7L feed tubes, and a 6.7L pressure sensor.
The engine is nearing its completion and should make it back into the Ram just in time for the sled pulling season opener. Admittedly, Tyler has been in such a rush that he didn’t have time to powder coat the manifold the way he’d hoped to. But he does have plans to remove it for paint later in the season.