Welcome to Sleeperville: The Stock-Appearing 550-HP F-250

Not everyone sets out to perform a general repair on their truck and then proceeds to add 300 hp to it—but that’s exactly what David Beach ended up doing to his ’01 F-250. With the 7.3L Power Stroke’s factory up-pipes beginning to leak, he decided to upgrade to a more durable set, which then morphed into the need for a completely new turbo arrangement in the valley. But then, what purpose does a larger turbo serve without more fuel to go along with it?

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Forged Beginnings

In order to know exactly how far he could push things, Beach first had to find out which type of connecting rods resided in the block. And after pulling the pipe plug next to the oil cooler pad, he was relieved to find studs on the rod caps, which meant his 7.3L was equipped with forged steel rods and not the weaker powdered-metal units typically found in ’01-03 model year engines. As far as his horsepower plans were concerned, this meant full steam ahead.

Big Air

Starting with the turbo, a complete T4 mounting kit from Irate Diesel Performance was selected to replace the factory system. The turbo mount opens the door for 7.3L Power Stroke owners to run any T4-flanged charger on the market. Beach’s turbo of choice would be one of the latest gems from BorgWarner: the forged milled wheel (FMW) S369 SX-E, which offers the flow of a S400 frame charger but comes in the compact package of a S300. Intercooler piping, 3-inch aluminum intake plenums, and stainless steel up-pipes were also included in the Irate kit.

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Considering the truck is conservatively tuned for the time being, it still knocks down some impressive ETs at the drag strip. So far, Beach has gone mid-8s in the eighthmile, but should have no problem dipping into the 7s after this winter’s mods are completed.

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Beach navigates a multitude of custom PCM tunes created by Gearhead Automotive Performance via a Hydra Chip. Until he has a few more supporting mods in place, namely stiffer valve springs, chromoly push rods, head studs, and a larger volume high-pressure oil pump, he’s keeping the tuning on the conservative side. Once those parts make it onto the engine over the winter, he’ll have Gearhead turn up the proverbial wick—which will most likely add another 75 to 100 hp.

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With a set of Unlimited Diesel Performance 350cc hybrid injectors equipped with 200% larger nozzles onboard, a serious fuel supply system was required. For that, Beach purchased a competition fuel system from Irate Diesel Performance, which incorporates a Fuelab Prodigy pump (41401). A Beans Diesel Performance tank sump allows fuel to be pulled from the bottom of the tank as opposed to being sucked through a draw straw up top.

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While it definitely no longer appears stock under the hood, the internals of the 210,000-mile, forged bottom end engine in David Beach’s 550rwhp ’01 F-250 have never been touched. In fact, installing a set of 350/200 hybrid injectors is the only time the valve covers have been off of it. The intercooler piping comes courtesy of a T4 turbo mounting kit from Irate Diesel Performance, which allowed Beach to bolt a higher flowing charger into the lifter valley.

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One of BorgWarner’s high-flowing S369 SX-E turbos inhales all the oxygen the 7.3L needs. The S300 frame charger features a forged milled wheel (FMW) compressor wheel with a 69mm inducer, a 360-degree thrust bearing assembly in the center cartridge, and a 73mm turbine wheel. Its .91 A/R exhaust housing makes for a quick-lighting unit, but due to the PCM tuning being kept tame (thanks to Gearhead Automotive Performance), the turbo sees less than 40 psi of boost at full tilt.

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If sled pulling or drag racing on asphalt doesn’t satisfy Beach’s needs, you can find him tearing it up at the dirt drags. We’re willing to bet that a lot of folks are surprised by what this stealthy F-250 is capable of.

Hybrid Fueling

In true all-or-nothing fashion, Beach would step up the fuel side of the 7.3L’s HEUI equation considerably. The stock injectors were replaced with 350cc hybrid units from Unlimited Diesel Performance, fuel supply was ramped up courtesy of an Irate Diesel Performance competition system (complete with a Fuelab lift pump and a regulated return setup), and a Beans Diesel Performance sump kit was installed in the fuel tank. For the time being, the stock 17-degree highpressure oil pump handles the oil supply needs for the injectors, and custom PCM tuning from Gearhead Automotive Performance ensures the stock pump can keep up.

HD Trans

With a parts list of what he would need to put together a competition-ready 4R100 from fellow 7.3L guru Matt Maier, Beach had family friend Wayne Runion—a Ford tech with 40 years of experience— build up the four-speed automatic. Complete with billet input and intermediate shafts, a billet Overdrive planetary, Alto clutches, John Wood Automotive accumulator body, cast-iron tail housing, and a Precision Industries triple-disc torque converter, this transmission is ready to handle anything the 7.3L sends its way. For added insurance, a transmission cooler from a 6.0L Power Stroke was installed, as well as a manual lock-up controller for sled pulling and drag racing purposes.

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While Beach’s F-250 isn’t a dedicated puller by any means, it can still hold its own in the dirt. At last year’s 7Tree Jamboree in Woodbury, Tennessee, we watched him lug the iron sled 374 feet and finish near the top of his class.

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To combat any rear axle wrap, the Super Duty sports a set of traction bars fabricated by nearby SoFlo Diesel.

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Other than the digital switch for the Hydra Chip, the only other performance add-on in the truck’s spotless interior is an Edge Insight CTS monitor. Beach uses the CTS to keep tabs on injection control pressure (ICP), transmission and engine oil temp, boost, and EGT when towing—although he told us it never crests a cool 1,000 degrees with a camper attached.

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A regulated return system is conveniently included in the Irate competition fuel system, which keeps consistent, air-free fuel pressure on tap for the injectors to use. Beach keeps fuel supply pressure for the injectors set at 65 psi, courtesy of an adjustable Fuelab regulator.

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When Beach finds himself hooked to the sled, a set of adjustable suspension stops from Merchant Automotive works wonders. With infinite adjustability, they give him the option of having as much (or as little) suspension travel as he wants, and they can be permanently affixed to the truck’s frame.

While the last couple of years could be characterized as an endless string of modifications for Beach and his Super Duty, he’s learned a lot along the way. Between himself and good friend Hastings Foote, nearly every wrench that’s been turned on the truck has taken place in his or his friend’s driveway. “The only time my truck’s ever really been to a shop was when So-Flo did the traction bars,” Beach says.

This winter, the wrenches will be turning once again, as he plans to double down and add stiffer valve springs, stronger pushrods, head studs, a larger (or second) high-pressure oil pump, a fuel cell, and a little nitrous to the mix. Judging by what he’s accomplished so far, we have no reason to doubt his F-250 will have the potential to run low 12s or high 11s come spring. DW