This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue.
Check out this 12-valve Cummins-powered 1996 Dodge Ram 3500, a project completed by 20-year-old Travis Long of Springfield, Ohio. He bought the truck when he was 17 and worked very hard to earn it. It’s his first diesel, and it might be a really cool-looking truck for being older than Long himself, but it’s unfortunately not for sale. He originally bought the old beast to resell, but he couldn’t give it up as the truck “grew up” at his expense.
Regardless, he made the most of what he had, and the truck looks like new. If you own a truck like his, you might also be thankful for not having to deal with the EGR, DPF, and SCR-triggered maintenance hassles of newer trucks. The white beast used to be a dually, but that configuration didn’t appeal to his lifestyle, so he rebuilt it from the ground up.
One of the largest mods you may notice is the 2002 Sport front end to show its appeal. This truck is indeed very beefed up, so the grille and headlights really blend in well with that. It also makes sense to have the Sport front end, because Long uses the truck for a lot of racing. Calling it his Weekend Warrior, he takes it to local race strips and does drag runs with it. He plans on eventually dirt dragging the truck. When you go racing, wouldn’t you want to give your truck a cool look to show you really mean business? Long agrees and he did so much work in getting his truck to where it is now. Other than racing, he simply uses the truck to have all kinds of fun with friends on the weekends.
Since the Weekend Warrior is a race monster, the 12-valve engine mods are extensive, and many of them are on the fuel system, which is always the heart of any vehicle’s potential for speed. First, the Cummins features a 12mm P7100 injection pump that has been maxed out by Industrial Injection. The pump has a governor spring kit that allows the engine to run up to 5000 rpm, and thus increases its potential for more top-end oomph. The fuel delivery valves are full-cut. Such valves have shown to increase horsepower by up to 100 over stock injectors by increasing fuel flow up to 80cc’s. It also features 5x.018 injectors from Power Driven Diesel that allow for a cleaner, crisper fuel spray pattern that increases power and efficiency.
Of course, these mods on the injectors and pump couldn’t achieve such great performance alone, so Long bought a new Brazilian-made head from Noble’s Performance. Additionally, he had Noble’s Performance rebuild, resurface, and port the head with new ARP studs and fire rings. He also installed 188/220 Hamilton cams and Manton pushrods. An AirDog II-4G air-fuel separation system has also been installed; it’s quality-engineered to remove air and water vapor from diesel to help allow for more complete combustion of the fuel to improve power and economy.
Intake & Exhaust
Of course, engine and fuel system mods can’t truly thrive without modifications on the intake and exhaust. One of the biggest things you’ll notice under the hood is the BorgWarner S369SXE turbo with a 360-degree thrust bearing. The turbo spools very quickly and improves boost tremendously over stock turbos. An aFe intake manifold and a Mishimoto intercooler both maximize and evenly distribute airflow for a nice, solid power boost. The 5-inch exhaust with a 6-inch tip (installed by Bryant’s Exhaust, a local shop near Long’s home) also improves exhaust flow to help harmonize that performance. The tip might not be huge, but it still provides plenty of entertainment when you see the truck launch; that’ll only mean even more contentment in person, whether you’re driving the truck or watching it take off. Hearing that deep, throaty inline-6 roar makes you feel like you’re king of the road!
The 47RE four-speed automatic transmission is another big hit on Long’s truck; it’s been fully built by Noble’s Performance using the OEM parts. Constructed to work with the heavily modified 12-valve Cummins, this transmission contains many components found on the 48RE, and it’s designed to carry out up to 850hp. The horsepower increase is largely helped by the use of a triple-disc Diesel Performance Converters (DPC) torque converter with a stall speed of 2,600rpm. It contains an oversized lockup piston and Torrington bearings; they not only ensure internal strength, but they also provide better get-up.
“The converter is all billet except for the immediate shaft,” says Long. Such a disc is available from DPC with customizable stall speeds and either a one-year or lifetime limited warranty. As with all DPC converters, his was built on-site. DPC has an excellent reputation for customer service, warranty, and 24-hour turnaround time.
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Interior & Exterior
One of the most eye-catching parts of the [Weekend Warrior] truck is the brand-new paint job, a gleaming coat of white completed by Kandy Shop Kustomz, a local Springfield, Ohio, auto body shop that offers custom body work. This coat of paint makes the truck blend in well with a snowy surrounding until you notice the dark headlight and taillight lenses, and windows, which give a bold, strong contrast with the rest of the truck. LED headlights and taillights, a cowl hood, a color-matched roll pan, color-matched mirrors, and reconditioned cab lights really emphasize the cool looks of this truck, too. Behind the driver’s seat, there are GlowShift gauges that add some colorful character to the dash, which has no cracks in it! That’s quite exceptional for a large Dodge truck as old as 1996.
Long’s truck is great for those who like the technological simplicity of older trucks. As an example of that, the truck is excellent for not dealing with the toil of exhaust after-treatment system maintenance. Unfortunately, though, the mods on this truck make it only legally in the clear for racing and off-road purposes (which is what Long solely uses the truck for). To make it your everyday-use vehicle, it would be subject to varying local and state anti-tampering and safety laws, which such a truck may or may not meet. That’s why it’s called the [Weekend Warrior]. It feels and sounds awesome in a drag race. Long plans on keeping his truck for a long time, knowing that it runs extremely well and is intact for a 1996. He’s almost done modifying it, but he still has some more work to do. He might like his current BorgWarner turbo, but he feels his truck could be even better off with compound turbos, which he’s currently preparing for installation.
“My future plans are to keep my truck as a toy and race a little with it,” says Long. “In a few years hopefully it’ll still be parked beside a fourth gen.” An old truck that performs so well and retains its good looks is probably something he’d be loath to give up after putting so much work into it.
Bryant’s Exhaust and Performance
Diesel Performance Converters
Kandy Shop Kustomz
Noble’s Performance Diesel
Power Driven Diesel