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The Little Things Matter Most - Editorial

Taking Pride In Your Work, Being Creative, & Sweating The Small Stuff

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Having been to dozens of diesel shops, I’ve really started to appreciate the little things shop owners and mechanics do when working on customer vehicles. We all know shops that put temporary floor mats and seat covers down—I’m talking about how the work looks when they’re done, and whether or not they took the time to do things right the first go-round. Treating someone else’s truck as if it’s your own brings the highest quality work to the table. When shop owners and their employees care, it shows. And both new and repeat customers are usually the result.

As someone who relies on experts to knock out the wrenching and fabricating I can’t handle on my own, I have a list of reputable shops that do top-notch work. Last month, I was in need of some help in order to go forward with Part 3 of our “500hp Power Stroke” series. The job entailed squeezing in a larger intercooler and installing a completely new turbocharger system. When part owner of Randall’s Performance, Corey Finch, told me he’d be glad to help, I knew I was in good hands. Not only was Corey a former ’94½ to ’97 Ford owner, but he’d also installed an intercooler in it back in the day.

Build In Simplicity
Having performed five Cummins conversions in the past, Corey enjoys a challenge, likes to make things stronger than they were before, and always takes the time necessary to do things correctly. So I shouldn’t have been surprised with his thoroughness throughout the project. To keep things simple, he used nutserts to install all the fasteners for the intercooler mounting brackets. It’s nice not to have a nut on the backside of hard-to-reach areas when you have to install or remove a component.

Using his resourcefulness and ingenuity, Corey also re-purposed a set of stainless steel brackets, originally intended for a set of running boards, as bottom support brackets for the intercooler. And, noticing the truck’s plastic headlight panel had a huge crack in it, he riveted in two aluminum straps to hold it together. I’m pretty sure no one has ever done that with a headlight panel, but mine will last forever now.

Corey also handled most of the welding required to make everything work, including the downpipe. For anyone who doesn’t know, the older-body-style Fords weren’t originally designed to house a turbodiesel engine (or an intercooler, for that matter). Because of this, aftermarket downpipe fitment can be a nightmare. But Corey took the time (the time it really takes) to get the downpipe to clear the truck’s firewall. With a Porta Power system, a dozen mockups, and several hours of our time invested, the 3-inch downpipe bolted right up. Thanks to all Corey’s efforts, I don’t hear the dreaded downpipe rub in the cab.

Take Pride In Your Work
Corey also went out of his way to form a rolled bead around the rim of the plenums so the intake Y couldn’t back off under boost, modified the hood latch support so the hood would open properly, and threw in two new headlight bulbs. Always thinking, Corey’s best idea surfaced near the end of the build and related to the drive pressure testing we planned to do with the new turbo. Thinking of something I never would’ve thought of, Corey told me we’d tap into the exhaust backpressure line at the front of the engine for our temporary drive pressure gauge. This saved us from drilling an extra hole in one of the exhaust manifolds and having to plug it off after testing.

Of course, I was ecstatic with the final result and the performance gained from the hard parts installed, but the little things done throughout the course of the project are what truly pleased me. I’ve always had an appreciation for someone’s spur-of-the-moment ingenuity when faced with a problem or challenge. Corey’s is second-to-none.

Once everything was buttoned up, I did the only thing I could: I made sure Corey got first dibs on testdriving the truck. Then we strapped it to the rollers and went after 500 hp. Make sure you check out Part 4 this month to see if we hit our mark.

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