Reliable Ram

August 8th, 2011

By Kevin Wilson

Photography: The Diesel World Staff

Simple Upgrades For a Common Rail Daily Driver

For Cummins aficionados, first came the 12-valve, then the 24-valve, and then the common rail version of the 5.9L. Each iteration of the 5.9L was an improvement on the previous-generation’s powerplant. While there is plenty of debate in the Dodge camp as to which version of the 5.9 is most desirable, the most coveted trucks these days are the later-model Dodge with the 5.9L common rail. These trucks offer the latest in styling, plenty of room in the cab, and the fact that the common rail is very easy to modify.

That’s precisely the reason Dusty Marshall, of Cedar City, Utah, bought his 2003 Dodge Ram Sport 2500. He got a good buy on the truck and has always wanted a diesel, he said.

Of course, like most of us enthusiasts, Dusty didn’t keep his Dodge truck stock for long. Since he intended to replace the stock rubber with a larger tire-and-wheel combo, the Dodge was fitted with a ReadyLift leveling kit. This minor lift made room for 35-inch Mickey Thompson ATZs mounted on 17-inch Motor Metal wheels.

To turn the larger-than-stock wheel-and-tire combo without changing differential gearing, Dusty has to step things up on the common rail, which is half the fun of owning a diesel in the first place. For deep breathing, the 5.9L was fitted with an ATS Arc Flow intake manifold that is fed by an S&B intake system.

On the exhaust side, the Cummins is fitted with a single 5-inch turbo-back system that culminates in twin 8-inch stacks in the bed from Fast Track Enterprises. Dusty also claims to have added Mopar 50-horse injector nozzles to the performance mix.

Fuel is pushed forward to the CPS via an AirDog fuel system from Toxic Diesel. Programming is a combo platter that stacks a Diablo Sport Power Puck on top of Predator programming. Even with the stock turbo, Dusty claims the setup is good for 400 horsepower. Backing up the Cummins is a stock six-speed manual.

One of the reasons for buying a Dodge Ram Sport in the first place was the fact these trucks come with painted bumpers and a color-matched grille shell for the sport truck look. Dusty added late-model Dodge towing mirrors and had Brandon Perry, of Cedar City, Utah, color-match the new mirrors and door handles.

On the inside, the stock leather seats were comfortable enough, but Dusty upgraded the sound system with a Power Acoustik DVD/head unit that sends the signal to 2,400-watt Crunch amps. For thump, a set of two 10-inch Kicker CVRs is in a sub enclosure under the rear seat. One standout in the cab is the cool Super Chips Racing dual-sweep boost and EGT gauge, which is mounted in a Dodge SRT10 A-pillar pod. There’s also a Quadzilla rail pressure gauge mounted on the steering column to keep track of fuel flow.

So, why is this unassuming Red Ram the cover truck for this month? Simple. It represents what most diesel enthusiasts are doing: starting small and then going big as the budget allows. Along the way, they get to drive a fun truck.

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