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2005 Dodge Ram 2500 - Resurrection

Nothing's Gonna Keep This Dodge Down

Photography by Stephen Clark

Mechanical failures can be costly and time-consuming, but they can also provide an opportunity to rebuild with high performance parts. Chris Stecklein has been through this scenario, making major repairs to his '05 Cummins-powered Dodge more than once, but each time he has rebuilt it better than before. The result is a custom truck with more than double the horsepower and torque it had when it left the factory.

Chris' appreciation for diesels started when his brother bought an '04 Dodge and added an Edge chip. Chris was amazed by the power his brother's simple upgrades made, and from that moment on, he just had to have a diesel. He started with a '99 Dodge Ram 2500 and installed some mild performance upgrades on the 24-valve Cummins. Chris liked his VP44-injected truck-until one day when he saw this bright yellow common-rail Cummins on a used car lot.

Born On A Used Car Lot
Chris had always wanted to own a yellow truck, and this '05 Dodge Ram 2500 was built exactly the way he imagined. He made an offer, but the salesman refused, so Chris walked away. About two months later, Chris saw the same yellow truck still sitting on the same lot. He made a second offer, but again was refused, so he walked. A few days passed, and Chris got a call from the sales manager who was now eager to sell the truck. They came to an agreement the next day and Chris drove away in the truck of his dreams-a lifted Dodge Ram 2500 with a Cummins diesel.

Six Melted Pistons
Unfortunately, things started to go sour with the truck soon after Chris took ownership of it. A batch of bad fuel supposedly reigned havoc on the engine, cracking the tips of the injectors, melting all six pistons, and ruining the head. The dealership wouldn't warranty the repairs, and quoted Chris $12,000 for a new engine. Chris figured he could repair the engine with upgraded parts himself for less money.

Race Engine Rebuild
The engine was taken to Woods Rebabbiting, a machine shop in Nampa, Idaho, which balanced and blueprinted the 5.9L Cummins, and installed larger pistons. A new head was also installed with ARP head studs and a thicker head gasket.

With the engine rebuilt to specifications capable of handling higher horsepower, Chris began installing a host of performance parts. The stock turbo was replaced with an HTB2 from High Tech Turbo; and the injection system was upgraded with a modified CP3, 90hp injectors, and a dual feed line from Industrial Injection. Electronic upgrades were also made with a TST PowerMax CR box piggybacked with a Smarty tuner. This setup produced 580 hp at the rear wheels.

Turbo Overspeed
Chris's bad luck struck again though when the shaft on his HTB2 turbo broke, causing the impeller wheel to break apart and send aluminum shrapnel through the intercooler and into the head. It could have been worse, but the aluminum still damaged the valves and head. Chris removed the head, and replaced and reseated all the valves. The stock intercooler was full of aluminum from the turbo so it was replaced with a Banks intercooler and Banks High Ram intake elbow.

Compound Turbocharger Solution
With the truck back together, the turbo still had to be replaced. Chris obviously didn't just replace the turbo, he upgraded to a compound turbo system from MPI. Powerlabs in Idaho Falls installed the MPI kit with an HTB2 feeding a larger Schweitzer S400. With the twins installed, the truck had way too much power for the stock transmission to handle, and it got smoked. The transmission was then rebuilt by Auto Trenz with billet shafts, a billet torque converter, a shift kit, more frictions and steels, a billet drum, and a deep oil pan.

Mission Accomplished
When Chris purchased the truck, it already had a 6-inch Tuff Country lift installed with 20-inch American Racing 6700 wheels. Chris wanted a look that would make the truck stand out, so he started color-matching a few components with blue. The wheels and stacks were powdercoated Postal Blue. The rocker panels, bed, hoodscoop, bumpers, and nerf bars were all Rhino-lined blue. The blue and yellow theme also extends under the hood with the head, intake elbow, and turbo piping. You have to appreciate the attention to detail that has gone into the blue-yellow scheme. Even the lug nuts and fender flare bolts have been color-matched, making the truck look just as good as it runs.

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