Born of Necessity

DDP’s 700HP, Cummins Powered F-450

In 2008 the F-450 represented the ultimate working man’s truck. A properly spec’d model came with a 33,000-pound GCWR, and four-wheel drive versions featured a King Pin Dana 60 axle up front, a massive Dana S110 in the rear, and who could forget those factory 19.5-inch Alcoas? Had the 6.4L Power Stroke been more reliable, the ’08-’10 F-450’s might’ve gone down in history as the quintessential tow rig. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Emissions system, fuel system, and hard part failures are all too common—and replacement parts are expensive to say the least.

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Starting with a ’12 model year 6.7L Cummins, Lenny Reed and the team at Dynomite Diesel Products rebuilt the bottom end with 12-valve connecting rods, fresh Mahle cast-aluminum pistons, and a 178/208 cam from Hamilton. The cylinder head was treated to a valve job, a multi layer steel head gasket, and fastens to the block thanks to ARP 425 studs torqued to 140 ft-lb. A pair of Diesel Conversion Specialists’ Cummins-to-Ford engine mounts anchor the inline-six in place, while an adapter plate kit (also from Diesel Conversion Specialists) was employed to retain the Ford 5R110 transmission.

 

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Built in-house at Dynomite Diesel Products, the compound turbo arrangement consists of a BorgWarner S364 SX-E over an S475 SX4. The S475 serves as the atmosphere unit and makes use of a 74.5mm inducer compressor wheel, a 96mm turbine wheel, and a T6 flange 1.32 A/R exhaust housing. Bringing the two-stage system to life is the S364 SX-E, equipped with a 64.5mm inducer forged milled compressor wheel, 76mm turbine wheel, T4 flange 0.91 A/R exhaust housing, and a 360-degree thrust bearing. The S364 SX-E mounts to a flipped second-gen exhaust manifold from ATS Diesel.

 

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The massive Mishimoto intercooler, installed back when Lenny was still willing to sink money into the 6.4L, was retained during the Cummins swap. Another Mishimoto upgrade lies in the engine bay in the form of an upper radiator support. The upper radiator support is designed to add rigidity and reduce the notorious leaking radiator issues that plagued the 6.4L Fords.

 

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Tucked in along the driver side frame rail you’ll find a 150-gph Titanium series fuel system from FASS. The lift pump sends 10 psi worth of fuel pressure to the Cummins’ only CP3—a DDP 12mm stroker unit. Pressurized fuel makes its way in-cylinder via a set of DDP 50hp injectors.

 

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Given that Ford’s 5R110 TorqShift is known for its durability—even at 700-rwhp—Lenny decided to leave it in place behind the 6.7L. Mating the Cummins and TorqShift together called for a Diesel Conversion Specialists adapter plate kit, complete with a billet adapter plate, cam sensor ring, and custom designed flex plate. To retain the 5R110’s diagnostics capabilities, as well as its Tow/Haul and adaptive shift quality functions, TCM tuning was also supplied by Diesel Conversion Specialists, by way of an SCT X4 programmer.

Practically Born Out of Necessity

After picking up a 140,000-mile Lariat on the cheap, Lenny Reed of Dynomite Diesel Products (DDP) immediately found himself pulling the cab to replace the head gaskets, followed by injectors, a fuel system, and so on. Needless to say, his plans to leave the 6.4L in place of his new tow mule quickly vanished. Right then and there, “the intention was to build something I could use to tow two trucks from here to New Jersey with—and with the 6.4L that just wasn’t gonna happen,” he told us. The F-450 would soon be the recipient of a 6.7L Cummins.

WITH THE TRUCK DESTINED TO TOW 28,000 POUNDS, OFTEN THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS, A COMPOUND TURBO ARRANGEMENT WAS BUILT IN HOUSE

The Seamless Swap

A ’12 model year engine would be sourced and treated to a refresh that included 12-valve rods, Mahle cast-aluminum pistons, a cam from Hamilton, a valve job, and ARP head studs. To keep the Cummins swap as straightforward as possible, Lenny reached out to Diesel Conversion Specialists of Kalispell, Montana. The company responded by supplying the appropriate engine mounts, an adapter plate kit, and even modified both the Ford and Cummins’ factory engine wire harnesses to ensure everything integrated seamlessly. Even the factory Ford starter was retained.

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Auto Meter Gen 4 Factory Match Dodge gauges are mounted along the driver side A-pillar to keep an eye on EGT and boost. Thanks to the compound turbo system, 60-psi of boost can be observed in the truck’s most aggressive EFI Live tune. However, when running in the 450-rwhp tow file—where the truck spends most of its time—Lenny tells us that EGT stays so low you can basically throw the pyrometer away.

 

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Thanks to combining the factory Ford wiring harness with the 6.7L Cummins’ wiring harness, Diesel Conversion Specialists made the electronic side of the swap a painless process. In modifying the harnesses, DCS adds a data link connector, and the Ford sensor wires are lengthened to reach the required sensors the Cummins needs in order to run. As a result, the factory gauge cluster functions flawlessly and the truck has no idea the 6.4L is no longer powering it.

 

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With no need to replace the original 19.5’s, Lenny threw a set of 245/70R19.5 Goodyear G622 RSD tires at each wheel. The commercial-duty Goodyear’s measure 33.5 inches in overall diameter.

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The Air/Fuel Ratio

With the truck destined to tow 28,000 pounds—often through the mountains—a compound turbo arrangement was built in-house at DDP’s Monroe, Washington facility. The system combines a quick-lighting BorgWarner S364 SX-E with a proven S475 SX4, and sends 60 psi of boost through a 6.4L-intended Mishimoto intercooler. For added fueling, a set of DDP’s 50hp injectors work in conjunction with one of the company’s 12mm CP3’s. Low-pressure fuel supplied to the CP3 is handled by a 150-gph Titanium Series FASS system.

SCT and EFI Live Tuning

Although Lenny retained the hard-to-kill 5R110 TorqShift automatic, it was fitted with a triple disc converter from BD Diesel and one of BD’s TapShifters, which allows for manual gear selection on the shift column. The aforementioned adapter plate kit from Diesel Conversion Specialists made mating the 5R110 to the Cummins physically possible, while DCS’s custom TCM tuning (via an SCT X4 device) put the transmission’s operation in perfect sync with the 6.7L. Custom tuning of the Cummins’ ECM is handled by Jarid Vollmer of Breakout Tuning, by way of EFI Live software.

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Here you can see Lenny’s Super Duty doing what it does best: toting two pulling trucks to the track. Grossing 37,000 pounds, it’s the job the truck was meant to do—and thanks to the compound turbo’d 6.7L Cummins, 5R110 TorqShift, and rugged F-450 chassis it does so without skipping a beat.

 

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When you live in the northwestern portion of the United States and want to be competitive in truck pulling, you have a lot of ground to cover. Some events require as much 10 to 12 hours of drive time just to get there. It’s times like those when Lenny takes comfort in the plush leather interior of his Lariat trim Ford.

 

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From a distance, and without the engine running, most would never guess they were looking at a 700-rwhp, Cummins-swapped Super Duty. In fact, a set of billet badges from Beans Diesel Performance represent the only visual inkling that the truck is packing Cummins power—and more than one turbo.

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The Ultimate Tow Mule

Truck guys know the F-450 was meant for hard work, but the Cummins-powered version Lenny put together offers a level of reliability and capability that allows it to be used exactly how it was intended. He regularly saddles the Super Duty with 14 tons worth of pulling trucks and tandem axle gooseneck—and then turns it loose towing through the mountains. No matter the load or driving condition, the Cummins never runs warm, the tow-friendly S300/S400 compound arrangement provides plenty of boost, and the well-integrated TorqShift is always in the right gear. It’s the ultimate modern day work horse.

Specifications

’08 Ford F-450

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Owner: Lenny Reed
Hometown: Hayden, Idaho
Odometer:  140,000 Miles
Engine: 2012 6.7L Cummins with 12-valve rods, Mahle pistons, Hamilton camshaft, ARP head studs
Fuel: Dynomite Diesel Products 50hp injectors and 12mm CP3, FASS 150-gph Titanium Series low-pressure system
Air: Dynomite Diesel Products-built compound turbo system with BorgWarner S475 atmosphere charger and S364 SX-E manifold turbo, Mishimoto intercooler
Exhaust: ATS Diesel 3-piece Pulse Flow second-gen (flipped) exhaust manifold, Diamond Eye stainless steel 4-inch system with Flowmaster 50 Series Heavy Duty muffler and 5-inch MBRP polished tip
Electronics: EFI Live ECM tuning from Breakout Tuning, SCT TCM tuning and engine wire harness modification service from Diesel Conversion Specialists
Transmission: Ford 5R110 TorqShift five-speed automatic with BD Diesel triple disc torque converter and TapShifter
Horsepower: 650 to 700-rwhp (est.)
Torque: 1,300 to 1,400 lb-ft (est.)
Tires: 245/70R19.5 Goodyear G622 RSD
Wheels: Factory 19.5-inch, 10-lug, forged Alcoa
Axles: Factory Dana 60 wide track (front) with 4.88 gears, Dana S110 (rear) with 4.88 gearsnty of boost, and the well-integrated TorqShift is always in the right gear. It’s the ultimate modern day work horse.