For years, the Bosch P7100 pump (most commonly found on ’94 to ’98 Dodge Rams) has dominated diesel pickup horsepower and can be found in the nation’s top drag racers and sled pullers. The simple design of the pump, along with its excellent fueling and rpm capabilities led to 160-hp rated Cummins engines making 1,000 horsepower within a decade of the ’94 Ram’s introduction. Now, it’s nearly twenty years later, so we wondered, what’s the latest and greatest?
THE BASICS: HOW A 12MM P7100 PUMP WORKS
The function of a P-pump is relatively simple, although it may take a few readings to understand. The pump basically acts like a small engine, but instead of compressing air, the rotating plungers compress fuel to thousands of pounds per square inch needed for diesel injection. These plungers ride on a camshaft, which controls the rate of injection as well as the total lift. While the cam profile remains constant through the rpm band, the pump rack rotates the plungers to supply more fuel through the injection lines and into the injectors.
THE EARLY DAYS: A “QUICK CAM” 13MM PUMP
By looking at the P7100’s basic operation, we can see that there are two basic parts that are very important to fueling: the pump cam, and the plungers. It wasn’t long before performance pump builders found out they could run larger 13mm plungers in a bored-out P7100 body to increase the amount of fuel the pump could produce. Also, even among stock pumps, certain cam profiles were “hotter” than others (injecting more fuel at a quicker rate, again leading to more usable fuel production).
WELCOME TO 2016: THE SCHEID 16MM PUMP
As time progressed, so did the sport of sled pulling, and the popularity of this no-holds-barred sport lead to radical advancements in mechanical injection pumps. We stopped by Scheid Diesel in Terre Haute, Indiana, to get a glimpse of the latest in modified P-pumps and were surprised to learn that they were now custom building 16mm plunger pumps, which could produce more than 1,500cc of fuel and spin more than 7,000 rpm, which is just nuts. While we’d heard of 14mm pumps before, 16mm pumps were new to us, so we were eager to see how they worked. Luckily for us, owner Dan Scheid was nice enough to walk us through how these awesome units are built.
CUSTOM PARTS, COATINGS, AND CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE
The heart of a big pump build starts out in a fairly simple place: normal 12mm core pumps. From there, a lot of work is done to integrate the 16mm plungers into a system that was originally designed for 12mm units, with virtually everything inside the pump being machined or modified. The plunger diameter increases the rate that the fuel is injected, which also increases power. With so many custom parts that could be seeing 6,000 to 7,000 rpm engine speeds, the camshaft, plungers, and a number of other parts use Scheid’s proprietary coatings for increased durability. For those looking for a clean-sheet effort, Scheid can also build the larger P8600 pump, as long as it’s within the rules of the class.
THE FUTURE OF P-PUMPS
With the rapid progressing of P7100 and P8600 pumps of the past few years, we wondered, what did the future hold? “We’re already working on a 17mm unit that should be available by the time you read this,” noted Dan Scheid. “We’re still making horsepower by leaps and bounds, and picking up hundreds of horsepower on pulling engines, even in the top classes,” he continued. “I don’t know where we’ll end up ultimately, but we’re not there yet.” With what we’ve seen over the past ten years (or even the past five) we can’t wait to see how this technology will progress. DW