BUCKING THE TREND WITH A COMPETITIVE, 700HP 7.3L PULLER
Campaigning a 7.3L Power Stroke in the world of truck pulling isn’t easy. No matter what you do, the HEUI injection system will always hold you back, and turbo rules—often designed for smaller displacement engines—will constantly impede your power potential. Still, there are certain niche areas where the 7.3L still has its day in the sun. For Dan Gilbertson and his ’02 F-350, that area is southern Wisconsin. Over the years, even the slightest chance of winning has given him all the motivation he needs. “I’ve really enjoyed doing the things they say you can’t do with a 7.3L,” he told us.
Bedplate, Billet Rods, and Fire Rings
To hold up to 60 psi of boost, extreme EGT, and big torque production, Dan amassed a well-researched parts list to ensure his 7.3L would never let him down. The factory-based crankshaft is secured via a Hypermax bed plate, H-beam billet rods connect to cast-aluminum Arias pistons, and the heads are re-ringed and anchor to the block by way of H-11 tool steel head studs. A custom-grind camshaft from Crower Cams also made it into the build in order to help drive the turbo harder.
Fire Hoses and Dual HPOP’s
With the goal to inject massive amounts of fuel in the shortest window possible, Dan turned to the injector experts at Full Force Diesel. When all conditions are met (adequate ICP, pulse width, and fuel pressure), the Full Force units flow 500 cc’s of fuel, and they do so through 400-percent over nozzles. On the high-pressure oil side of the equation, a Gen3 pump from Swamp’s Diesel keeps oil supply on the up-and-up, with an Adrenaline HPOP from DieselSite residing in the factory location.
Other than the HEUI system’s inherent fuel and oil delivery flaws, turbo regulations also tend to handicap the 7.3L in a big way. Luckily for Dan, the outlaw style classes he pulls in permit the use of any size single charger—hence the S482 located near the firewall. Modified for higher flow and improved responsiveness at Colberg Hi-Performance Tractor Repair, the big BorgWarner squeezes 60 psi of boost through a Hypermax Tapercore intercooler. A turbo mounting system from Irate Diesel Performance, complete with T4 collector, stainless up-pipes, pedestal, and intercooler tubing, facilitates the use of the S482.
Proven Transmission and Tuning
Never parting ways with the truck’s automatic transmission, Dan relies on a BTS-built 4R100 to get him down the track. The Brian’s Truck Shop four-speed contains a 300M input shaft and cryo’d intermediate and output shafts, among select other internals. A triple disc torque converter from Precision Industries was spec’d with a 2,400-rpm stall to accommodate the big single charger. Tying every modification together in the form of custom PCM tuning is handled by Gearhead Automotive Performance—a company renowned for its ability to tame large 7.3L injectors.
So being that he’s often pitted against trucks making nearly twice the power, what drives Dan to continue to compete with the 7.3L? Well, for starters his suspension and driveline configuration has yielded remarkable consistency, and as such, has remained virtually unchanged the last five years. As proof that the truck’s overall setup is effective, Dan grabbed a handful of wins in the summer of ’17 despite only hooking a dozen times. And finally, he still believes the 7.3L can be competitive. “They are the unsung hero of the bunch,” he tells us. And of course, while winning is never a forgone conclusion, “It’s always nice to go to a pull somewhere and surprise people.”DW
2002 FORD F-350
OWNER: Dan Gilbertson
HOMETOWN: Edgerton, Wisconsin
ODOMETER: 99,950 miles
ENGINE: 7.3L Power Stroke with Hypermax girdle bed plate, billet H-beam rods, Arias pistons, Crower cam, fire-ringed heads, Extreme Studs H-11 head studs
FUEL: Full Force Diesel 500/400 injectors, modified DieselSite CPRx system with Aeromotive Marine A1000, fuel cooler, regulated return
OIL: Swamp’s Diesel Performance Gen3 high-pressure oil pump over DieselSite Adrenaline, DieselSite high volume LPOP
AIR: Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting kit, BorgWarner S482 modified by Colberg Hi-Performance Tractor Repair, Diesel Innovations ceramic coated headers, Hypermax Tapercore intercooler
TUNING: Gearhead Automotive Performance custom tuning via Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip
TRANSMISSION: BTS 4R100 with 300M input shaft, cryogenically treated intermediate and output shafts, Precision Industries 2,400-rpm stall, triple disc converter
HORSEPOWER: 650 to 700-rwhp (est.)
TORQUE: 1,200 to 1,300 lb-ft (est.)
TIRES: Dick Cepek F-C II 305/70R16
WHEELS: Weld Racing Evo Cheyenne 16×8 (front), Weld Racing Evo Cheyenne 16×7 (rear)
AXLES: Dana 80 (rear) with Yukon Gear & Axle 37-spline axle shafts and spool, Dana 60 (front) with spool and Dynatrac Free- Spin Kit with Warn locking hubs