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A BUDGET-BUILT, 600HP 7.3L PULLER

Making the most of any situation is what life’s all about. For Zach Green, that meant converting his once daily-driven ’02 F-250 into a dedicated sled puller. After a wreck on black ice landed the truck on its roof back in 2012, his insurance company considered it a total loss. He didn’t feel the same way—as even though the truck had rolled, the damage was minimal. After a little time with a porta-power and a windshield replacement, evidence that it’d been upside down was virtually nonexistent. Still, the ’02 F-250 could no longer be registered in Green’s home state of South Carolina, forcing him to improvise. It was here that the “Goin’ for Broke” idea was born: a budget-built 7.3L that could mix things up on the local Carolina Truck and Tractor Pullers circuit.

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Knowing that powdered metal rods would never hold up to the kind of power he planned to make, Zach Green ditched the factory 7.3L Power Stroke in his ’02 F-250 in favor of a 150,000-mile forged rod engine out of a ’97. While Green made the mandatory upgrades a 7.3L needs to handle high horsepower (stronger pushrods, stiffer valve springs, and head studs), the rest of the long block is 100-percent stock.

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Thanks to a T4 turbo mount from Irate Diesel Performance, a 2.5-inch charger sits at the back of the 7.3L’s lifter valley. Built by Engineered Diesel, the 2.5-legal turbo is based on a BorgWarner S475 and features a 63.5mm billet compressor wheel, a 0.200-inch map width enhancement groove (MWE), and an 87mm turbine wheel inside a 1.10 A/R exhaust housing. Boost peaks somewhere around 57 psi during the course of a pull.

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To get the truck into the 600rwhp range, 300/400 injectors from Performance Injection Systems are employed. The hybrid injectors flow 300cc worth of fuel and utilize 400% over nozzles. The oil demands of the injectors are met courtesy of a Gen3 high-pressure oil pump from Swamp’s Diesel, which mounts above a factory displacement (17-degree) pump.

Long Block Swap

With a powdered metal rod version of the 7.3L Power Stroke under the hood, Green knew it would never survive the kind of power he wanted to make. After hunting down a cheap ’97 long block—an engine equipped with forged-steel rods—he resealed the oil pan and lowered it into the truck. The few hard part upgrades the 7.3L did receive were a set of Stage 2 beehive valve springs from Swamp’s Diesel, Smith Brothers pushrods, and ARP head studs.

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After diesel gravity-feeds through a Beans Diesel Performance sump in the factory tank, it makes its way to this basic competition fuel system from Irate Diesel Performance. Combined with a regulated return system from Diesel Innovations, the Fuelab 41401 pump sends fuel to the rear of each head, and an adjustable Fuelab regulator keeps pressure set to 70 psi.

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A stout Dana 80 from an ’03 F-350 dually resides at the rear of the truck, and it’s been graced with a welded differential (a.k.a. Lincoln locker) and 4.63 gears. For zero travel, the rear suspension is blocked. The front Dana 60 makes use of a spool and 4.56 gears.

300/400 Hybrids, Gen3 HPOP

Jumping right in, Green opted for a set of 300/400 hybrid injectors from Performance Injection Systems, along with all the supporting mods required to keep them happy. Adequate high-pressure oil volume is on tap thanks to a Gen3 pump from Swamp’s Diesel (coupled with a factory 17-degree unit). Sufficient fuel supply makes it to the injectors courtesy of Irate Diesel Performance’s basic competition system, which works in conjunction with a regulated return setup from Diesel Innovations. The dual tasks of taming the 400% over nozzles and keeping the connecting rods straight was left in the hands of Power Hungry Performance in the form of custom PCM tuning.

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After diesel gravity feeds through a Beans Diesel Performance sump in the factory tank, it makes its way to this basic competition fuel system from Irate Diesel Performance. Combined with a regulated return system from Diesel Innovations, the Fuelab 41401 pump sends fuel to the rear of each head, and an adjustable Fuelab regulator keeps pressure set to 70 psi.

2.5-inch S400

As if competing with the HEUI injection system isn’t enough of a challenge, Green’s local pulling class dictates that he can only run a map groove style turbocharger if its inducer size is 63.5mm (2.5 inches)—which is miniscule when it comes to feeding 7.3 liters of displacement. To make the most of the situation, Green reached out to a company on the leading edge of aftermarket turbo technology: Engineered Diesel. The call was answered with a competition-ready, billet 2.5 charger that produces just shy of 60 psi of boost. It mounts at the back of the lifter valley thanks to a complete T4 turbo mounting kit from Irate Diesel Performance.

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Keeping a stock-rod 7.3L Power Stroke alive at 600 hp means limiting low-rpm timing and making sure the engine lives upstairs. To do this, Green called upon Power Hungry Performance for custom PCM tuning via one of the company’s Hydra Chips. The custom-tailored file Green pulls with waits until roughly 2,600 rpm before aggressively ramping up timing, and also calls for 3.2 milliseconds of pulse width and 3,500 psi of injection control pressure (ICP).

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This shift box, built by Irate Diesel Performance’s Matt Maier, allows Green to have full control over converter lockup. During the course of a pull, Green leaves the 4R100 in third gear, locks the converter at 4,200 rpm, and doesn’t unlock it until the truck spins out at the end of the track.

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Fortified 4R100

Keeping the transmission build local, Green had nearby Stone’s Performance prep the truck’s four-speed automatic for sled pulling. Things get started with a 4-disc DPC converter sitting on a billet input shaft, Alto Red clutches provide minimal torque loss from the converter to the output shaft, and valve body and pump mods keep pressure up. To manually control gear changes and lockup, Green uses a shift box built by 7.3L guru Matt Maier.

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You’re looking at some of the damage the Super Duty incurred during a rollover accident five years ago. While the damage was minimal, the insurance company totaled the truck. But after buying it back, turning a porta-power loose in the cab, and replacing the windshield, Green had his F-250 all but repaired. Then, because it could no longer be legally driven on the street, he, his friends, and his father, Bob, began the process of transforming the truck into a dedicated puller.

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To maximize the truck’s front footprint and make sure the duals do their fair share of digging, Green runs 30 psi of air pressure in the front BFGoodrich All-Terrains and 50 psi in the rear. A pair of 16×8 Hoss XD795s add a little dress up to the front end, while the factory 16×7 Alcoas bolt to the Dana 80 out back.

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As is often the case with lower horsepower trucks, a loose track typically gives Green and his Super Duty the best shot at winning, while hard-packed, biting clay tracks favor the higher horsepower trucks in his class. Even though Green knows competing with a 600hp 7.3L is futile, he’s grown accustomed to being the perpetual underdog and thoroughly enjoys mixing it up with some of the hottest-running Cummins and Duramax-powered trucks in his area

A Content Underdog

As you might’ve guessed, Green’s Super Duty is never the favorite when it rolls into the fairgrounds. But he has nothing to lose. His HEUI-injected, stock-bottom-end 7.3L is up against a sea of built-to-the-hilt Cummins and Duramax mills, many of which are cranking out 400 more horsepower. The fact that his Ford can hold its own against some of the strongest running trucks in the Southeast says a lot about its overall setup and his driving experience. With more than 130 hooks on a junkyard 7.3L that regularly sees 4,200 rpm and nearly 60 psi of boost, it’s easy to see why the weight box says Goin’ for Broke. DW

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