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2005 Dodge Ram Cummins 2500 Power Wagon 4x4 Turbo Diesel

The Best Factory 4X4 Gets a Cummins

Photography by Robin Stover

It was April 14th, and Ron Ramies didn't get a call from the IRS, he got a call from the local Dodge dealership. "Dude, they just dropped off your Power Wagon!" Ron had ordered the truck, but after a month of waiting, was told it would not be delivered due to a shortage of the popular factory-built 4x4. During that month, Ron had placed an order for a 3/4-ton diesel-powered Ram that had not yet arrived. A check of the VIN number confirmed the Power Wagon was "Ron's truck," so he plunked down the cash and took the keys. So what about the diesel? He bought that truck, too.

The Diesel DonorAfter a few weeks of driving both, the Power Wagon became the favorite, but ironically, it lacked the power he needed. Ron sold the diesel Ram to a buddy and started shopping for a Cummins to swap into the Power Wagon. He lucked out and found an engine and transmission from a Ram with just three miles on the odometer. It had been totaled when it fell off a delivery truck and was ripe for the picking.

The Cummins SwapThe employees at Ron's auto shop in Portola Valley, California, thought he was crazy when the Hemi wiring started flying after work one Friday night in preparation for a weekend marathon of engine swapping. The electrical system proved to be the only real hurdle and that was just because the harness used to run the differential locks and the sway bar disconnect (an exclusive Power Wagon feature) was not designed to work with the Cummins. Using a DRB3 Chrysler scanner tool he was able to work out the electrical bugs. The antilock brakes, lockers, transfer case, transmission, and all accessories are working, and the Power Wagon is not throwing codes or flashing the idiot lights. A stock diesel cooling fan and clutch, radiator, intercooler, brake master cylinder, and exhaust system were needed to complete the installation that used the original Cummins motor mounts.

With the 5.9L working happily under the hood, a Dr. Performance Stage II Predator module was installed to raise the engine output by 85 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. Since the truck spends a lot of time on steep dirt roads during hunting trips, a Jacobs Exhaust Brake was installed. Now the extra-heavy Power Wagon can be driven on backwoods trails all day with almost no use of the wheel brakes. A Prodigy brake controller was installed to regulate trailer brakes when Ron is transporting cars on a trailer for his auto shop.

Off-Road UpgradesThe Dodge Power Wagon is the most capable stock 4x4 available. It comes with a suspension lift, locking front and rear differentials with 4.56 gears, an electronic sway bar disconnect to improve wheel articulation, a built-in 12,000-pound winch, 33-inch tires, and a full set of skidplates. Sounds awesome, but that was not enough for Ron.

After consulting with Kent Kroeker, the owner of KORE suspension, a Race Series kit designed for a diesel Ram was installed (instead of the gasoline Power Wagon kit KORE also sells). The soft factory rear leaf springs were the only part of the stock suspension that were retained. KORE-Fox remote-reservoir shocks were installed at each corner, and progressive rate coilover springs with billet aluminum towers can now be found up front hiding behind 37x12.5-inch BFGoodrich tires.

Hefty Fab Fours bumpers provide serious protection in the front and rear of the truck. The back bumper includes built-in steps and recovery rings and also retains the factory trailer hitch and wiring. The front bumper is designed to match the '05 Ram headlamp contours and has room to house a Warn 16.5ti winch that provides more than two tons of extra pulling power over the factory Power Wagon winch.

The Verdict"Happy" can't describe how content Ron is with his diesel rig. He was originally shopping for a '53 Power Wagon when he learned about this modern version of the truck. Unfortunately, the gasoline Hemi engine was not up to snuff. It didn't have the torque necessary to tow his work trailer loaded with cars, and it was only getting 9 mpg of that nasty gasoline stuff.

Now that the Power Wagon is packing a 24-valve Cummins with about 775 lb-ft of torque, Ron has no trouble pulling grades, and he's getting an impressive 18 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highways. Ron is constantly being asked about his truck and will often find people inspecting the badges in parking lots. Just the other day, a gaping spectator commented, "I didn't know you could get a Power Wagon with a Cummins." Ron smiled and answered, "you can't."

Specs
Vehicle: '05 Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon 4x4
Owner: Ron Ramies
Engine: '05 Cummins 5.9L 24-valve
Power module: Dr. Performance Predator Stage II
Transmission: 48RE
Transfer case: NV271
Low-range ratio: 2.72:1
Axle ratios: 4.56:1
Front suspension: KORE-Fox shocks and KORE coil springs
Rear suspension: KORE-Fox shocks and stock leaf springs
Brake controller: Prodigy
Wheels: 17-inch Dodge forged aluminum
Tires: 37x12.5-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO

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