WORKIN’ IT: Fast And Easy Dodge Work Truck Upgrades For More Power
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Roy Dorn’s 2006 Dodge 3500

Roy Dorn’s 2006 Dodge 3500 has been a faithful work truck, but he knew he could get more performance out of the 5.9L Cummins so he turned to the crew at Beans Diesel Performance. The truck made 292.4 hp and 570.0 lb-ft of torque during the baseline dyno testing.

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.

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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.

Tuning

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.

Testing

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.

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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

AEM intake system

The AEM intake system comes with everything you need to install it except for the tools. It uses a Dryflow synthetic washable/reusable air filter along with a mandrel-bent aluminum intake tube and steel heat shield.

Jack Grubb starts the installation

Jack Grubb starts the installation by disconnecting the MAF sensor harness, loosening the hose clamps on the turbo inlet tube before unbolting the factory airbox and lifting it out of the truck.

Grubb removed turbo inlet tube

Grubb next removed the turbo inlet tube and muffler assembly from the turbo.

installing mounting hardware

Then he prepared the heat shield following the installation instructions to install the mounting hardware as well as tree-lock zip-ties.

installed rubber trim molding

The rubber trim molding was installed on the edges of the heat shield next.

Grubb positions the heat shield

Moving from the workbench back to the truck, Grubb positions the heat shield and installs the mounting bolts finger tight to hold it in position.

Grubb positions the heat shield and installs the mounting bolts

Moving from the workbench back to the truck, Grubb positions the heat shield and installs the mounting bolts finger tight to hold it in position.

MAF sensor removed from the original airbox

The factory MAF sensor needs to be removed from the original airbox to be used with the AEM system.

Grubb cleaning it with MAF sensor

After removing the sensor, Grubb cleans it with MAF sensor cleaner to remove any dust or debris that has accumulated on the sensor over the truck’s 200,000 miles of use.

aluminum intake tube

Then he installed the sensor in the aluminum intake tube using the supplied Allen head mounting screws.

supplied adaptor to install it in intake tube

The filter minder is also relocated from the original air cleaner assembly using a supplied adaptor to install it in the intake tube with a twisting motion so as not to tear the rubber.

intake elbow

Grubb next installed the new intake elbow on the turbo inlet (see arrows) but does not tighten the clamps until later when the final fitment is completed.

aluminum intake tube

The aluminum intake tube can now be slid into the elbow and mounted to the heat shield with the supplied hardware.

adjusted for proper fit

After everything is installed and adjusted for proper fit, Grubb tightens all the mounting hardware for the heat shield and intake elbow.

the Dryflow filter

Then the Dryflow filter can be installed on the intake tube with the supplied clamp and secured to prevent unfiltered air from entering the turbo and engine.

Grubb installed the CARB OE label in an highly visible location in case regulations

Even though Dorn lives in an area that does not currently perform emissions testing on diesel trucks, Grubb installed the CARB OE label in an highly visible location in case regulations change or a future owner lives in an area the requires emissions inspections.

AEM intake system

The completed AEM intake system was installed in less than an hour and looks great on the Cummins engine. It’s also easy for Dorn to give the open element filter a quick visual inspection for cleanliness each time he lifts the hood.

SoCal Diesel CSP5 switch

The SoCal Diesel CSP5 switch allows the operator to switch between five EFILive tunes loaded into the truck by communicating through the OBD pass-through cable adaptor.

Marty Meraz removed the lower mounting screws

Marty Meraz removed the lower mounting screws and popped the lower trim panel off the dash so that the switch could be mounted next to the steering column.

Meraz verifies the mounting location before drilling a hole in the plastic panel

Meraz verifies the mounting location before drilling a hole in the plastic panel, making sure that the switch assembly will have enough clearance on the back side of the panel.

Then he drills the mounting hole in the panel for the CSP5 switch.

Then he drills the mounting hole in the panel for the CSP5 switch.

Meraz carefully installed the switch

Meraz carefully installed the switch and easy to read BDP position indicator plate through the new mounting hole being careful not to overtighten the mounting nut.

plugged end pass-through OBD cable

He then plugged the end of the pass-through OBD cable into the receptacle on the back side of the CSP5 switch.

aligns the knob and tightens

After reinstalling the panel on the dash, he aligns the knob and tightens the set-screw with the supplied Allen wrench.

OBD harness plug below the dash

The other end of the pass-through OBD connector plugs into the truck’s OBD harness plug below the dash (see arrow).

Meraz dismounts the plug and secures the plug

Rather than simply plugging the connector into the factory harness plug, Meraz dismounts the plug and secures the plug and the additional cable under the dash with zip-ties to make sure that the large plug does not interfere with Dorn while driving the truck. Be sure to secure the harness safely away from any moving components under the dash to prevent a safety hazard.

Meraz dismounts the plug and secures the plug and the additional cable under the dash

Rather than simply plugging the connector into the factory harness plug, Meraz dismounts the plug and secures the plug and the additional cable under the dash with zip-ties to make sure that the large plug does not interfere with Dorn while driving the truck. Be sure to secure the harness safely away from any moving components under the dash to prevent a safety hazard.

Chase Lunsford uploaded

After Meraz finished the CSP5 switch installation, Chase Lunsford uploaded the new tunes he wrote for Dorn to the truck using a laptop computer and the EFILive FlashScan V2 module

Dynocom chassis dyno

Then Lunsford ran the truck through its paces once again on the Dynocom chassis dyno. With the new tunes and intake installed on the truck it picked up as much as 178.1 horsepower and 331.8 lb-ft of torque to help Dorn’s work truck shoulder heavy loads more easily.