A work truck is often one of the most important tools in a contractor’s arsenal and is relied on for much more than just transportation from point A to point B. Work trucks are portable offices, conference rooms, workshops, storage spaces, tool boxes, moving vans and more that see regular use and abuse all across the country. Roy Dorn of Sale Creek, Tennessee, is one such contractor who relies on his 2006 Dodge 3500 4×4 dually to get from jobsite to jobsite working on new construction and remodeling projects. With the fully loaded service bed on the 204,000-mile Dodge, it will never be considered a lightweight truck, especially when it’s towing a heavy work trailer to or from jobsites.
Dorn has left the truck largely stock, installing only a BD Diesel exhaust brake system to help braking when towing heavy and a Corsa Commercial Exhaust (See Diesel World June 2012 issue.—Ed.) system to get exhaust gasses out of the engine a little more efficiently. Looking to put some more pep in the truck’s step, Dorn turned to the crew at Beans Diesel Performance in Woodbury, Tennessee, for some upgrades. The crew there will be installing an AEM intake system to help the engine breathe easier along with EFILive tuning and a SoCal Diesel CSP5 switch to select tunes on the fly. They would also dyno the truck before and after the installation on their Dynocom chassis dyno to track the performance improvements with the truck.
After making the trek north to the BDP shop in Woodbury, Chase Lunsford and Marty Meraz strapped Dorn’s Dodge to the chassis dyno and made several baseline runs showing a peak of 292.4 horsepower with 570.0 lb-ft of torque. After the baseline dyno pulls, diesel tech Jack Grubb removed the factory intake system and airbox/filter assembly, and replaced it with the new kit from AEM. Including our typical slowdowns for photography, Grubb finished the intake swap in less than an hour and it’s an installation that nearly any DIYer can do with simple basic tools.
After Grubb finished the intake upgrade, Meraz installed the SoCal Diesel CSP5 switch and OBD interface cable, mounting the switch in the dash panel on the left side of the steering column. He used a BDP mounting plate for the switch that shows positions 1-5 to make it easy for the driver to identify which tune he or she is in without having to twist it one way or the other and count the clicks. Once the switch install was complete, Lunsford used a laptop and an EFILive FlashScan V2 interface to upload five new tunes to the Cummins ECM.
In less than an hour, the switch was installed, the new tunes were loaded and the truck was spinning the dyno rollers again. Like the intake installation, most DIY diesel enthusiasts could perform the installation themselves. However, we do recommend using an experienced engine tuner like Lunsford or another specialist at your local diesel performance shop to write the tunes rather than attempting to do it yourself, since improper tuning could lead to catastrophic results for your truck and engine. Lunsford sets the tunes up with position 1 as an optimized stock tune and then steps up the power and performance progressively to position 5 for the hottest street tune that he recommends for a work truck like Dorn’s, but he can custom build tunes for any application as needed.
Lunsford began another series of dyno pulls on the chassis dyno after bringing the truck back up to operating temperature. He ran through the various tunes, logging passes and backup passes with each tune. All of the tunes allowed the truck to make more power at higher rpm compared to the original stock baseline runs that showed power falling off after about 2,700 rpm; the new tunes were still pulling hard out to 3,200 rpm. The optimized stock tune picked up about 16 horsepower and about 17 lb-ft of torque at the peaks with an average of almost 20 hp and more than 20 lb-ft of torque in addition to an extra 500 usable rpm.
Stepping up to the performance minded tune settings really woke up the truck. In position 2 the truck jumped up to peak horsepower of 383.6, nearly 90 more horsepower than stock to go along with a boost in torque to 759.1 lb-ft. The power and torque curves were both very smooth and will provide plenty of grunt for Dorn whenever he’s heavily loaded and towing. Stepping up to position 3, we measured another increase in power up to 456.6 horsepower. Our highest peak torque reading of the day with 901.8 lb-ft. Position 3 also provided our highest measured average horsepower at 411.4 and torque at 853.5 lb-ft, making this a good tune for his daily driving needs. Moving up to positions 4 and 5 continued to provide modest power increases of around 10 and 5 horsepower, respectively, but torque dropped off in each case from the peak in tune position 3. Lunsford attributed the falloff and small gains to finding the limits of the truck’s original fuel system and says that there’s more power and torque hiding in the engine waiting to be unleashed with some fuel system upgrades.
Lunsford kept the hot tunes relatively conservative as well since Dorn’s G56 six-speed manual transmission is still using a stock-style clutch and in his experience the stock clutch won’t handle much more power than that without slipping especially under heavy loads. Next month, we’ll address the clutch as the crew at Beans Diesel Performance installs a new clutch and flywheel and will also replace the hydraulics.
Dorn has definitely noticed the additional power when driving and appreciates the extra go he now has available under his right foot. Follow along over the next few pages to see how the BDP crew gave this old Dodge work truck about 60 percent more power and torque in less than two hours. Then head over to your local diesel performance specialist or call up Beans to set an appointment to wake up the sleeping horses in your truck, just be sure to tell them your friends at Diesel World magazine sent you. DW