Diesel World - - Contents - JA­SON SANDS

Steve Ort­ner, of Belleville, Michi­gan al­ways wanted a Hummer. When he did fi­nally get the chance to buy a ’94 civil­ian-spec Hummer H1 he was quite over­joyed. But there was a prob­lem. “The Hummer had a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 6.2L en­gine in it, and it was so, so slow,” Ort­ner says. “There were times on hills you didn’t think it would make it up to the speed limit!” He for sure had the ve­hi­cle he’d al­ways wanted—but it was pow­ered by the wrong en­gine.

12-Valve Trans­plant

“I’d al­ways liked stuff with power and re­li­a­bil­ity, so the 5.9L 12-valve Cum­mins was an ob­vi­ous choice,” Ort­ner says. Af­ter ac­quir­ing an en­gine from a Fed-ex truck he was off to the races. Since he knew he wanted a lot of power he started with the en­gine block and worked his way up. The Cum­mins block was fit­ted with 14mm ARP main studs and a gir­dle that’s based on a In­dus­trial In­jec­tion Go­rilla Gir­dle but was mod­i­fied at Ort­ner’s ma­chine shop, Moun­tain Ma­chine. He kept the fac­tory crank, but

from Wa­gler Com­pe­ti­tion Prod­ucts, along with Di­a­mond pis­tons. A 188/220 camshaft from Hamil­ton Cams was added, and the block was ma­chined to ac­cept 14mm head studs. Af­ter the bot­tom end was as­sem­bled Ort­ner opened up the Hamil­ton Cams cat­a­log again for one of their Street heads, along with a valve spring pack­age and pushrods.


While a sin­gle tur­bocharger would have been the easy way to go, Ort­ner was more con­cerned with re­sponse and power. So com­pounds it was. With a high-rpm ca­pa­ble en­gine, Ort­ner went with a 66mm tur­bocharger as his smaller turbo, and a mon­ster 88mm Borg­warner SX-E for the large turbo. He also built a cus­tom in­ter­cooler out from a bare core and jacked the fuel to the strato­sphere with a 13mm P7100 pump from Far­rell Diesel Ser­vice, 5x0.025-inch in­jec­tors from Power Driven Diesel, Scheid

Diesel 0.120-inch in­jec­tion lines and a 220-gph FASS lift pump. Es­ti­mated horse­power is some­where around 1,000 hp even with the 13mm pump turned down.

Power Trans­mis­sion

Trans­mis­sions can be a large and trou­ble­some part of diesel swaps, but in this case Ort­ner lucked out. A GM 4L80E eas­ily fit in the trans­mis­sion tun­nel, and he was able to adapt the Cum­mins en­gine to the trans­mis­sion via an adapter plate of his own de­sign. A Cum­mins-to-gm flex­plate was also used as the fi­nal piece to hook ev­ery­thing to­gether. Now, GM 4L80E trans­mis­sions are a good de­sign for diesels be­cause they use an over­drive gear, are rel­a­tively light and can be built to be very strong. For a rac­ing gear­box that could han­dle the en­gine’s mon­ster torque, Ort­ner dropped the elec­tronic “E” and went with a full man­ual valve body and per­for­mance trans­mis­sion from J&H. The 4L80 fea­tures raised line pres­sures, af­ter­mar­ket shafts and a tough Yank Per­for­mance torque con­verter that stalls at about 2,200 rpm. Used in off-road race trucks, this con­verter is one that’s built to han­dle abuse.


The sus­pen­sion was an­other area where Ort­ner turned to the of­froad rac­ing in­dus­try, as it’s not like every parts store car­ries lift kits for Hum­mers. He wanted his H1 to be plenty ca­pa­ble, so he went with a Rod Hall Prod­ucts long-travel spring and shock pack­age that was de­signed to give the truck a cou­ple inches of lift along with use­ful travel. The rest of the driv­e­train was also suit­ably re­in­forced, with a trans­fer case out of an ar­mored Humvee and ARB air lock­ers front and rear that work with the fac­tory gear­ing. Ort­ner also up­sized in the wheel and tire de­part­ment with 37-inch Pit­bull Rocker XOR tires mounted on 17x9-inch Method Race Wheels bead­locks.

Dream Truck

When he was fin­ished build­ing out his in­no­va­tive Hummer, Steve Ort­ner now had enough power to pass cars on the high­way—and just about ev­ery­thing else. He spends a lot of time in the sand where the Hummer re­ally shines, as its in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, huge wheels and tires and all that diesel torque make for just about the per­fect com­bi­na­tion. So what’s next? “I need to find a

four-wheel-drive dyno in the area and start re­ally lean­ing on it,” he says. He’s also at­tracted enough in­ter­est in his per­sonal Hummer con­ver­sion that he’s now build­ing ex­am­ples for cus­tomers. “I had a lot of friends help out with this one,” Ort­ner says. “Casey Cur­tis, Ed Larsen, Carl Sparks and Chris Reiter, and we de­cided we wanted to do more. There are about three in the shop right now—and I don’t see things slow­ing down any time soon.”


 Per­form­ing a Cum­mins swap is hard enough, but Steve Ort­ner went the ex­tra mile and built his 5.9L 12-valve for mon­ster power. The en­gine pushes an es­ti­mated 1,000 hp and 1,700 lb-ft of torque through a J&H 4L80 to the Hummer’s all-wheel-drive sys­tem.

 Since the Hummer came from the fac­tory with a diesel pow­er­plant, there was a de­cent amount of room for the swap. Many parts like the en­gine mounts and trans­mis­sion adapter were made in Ort­ner’s own shop, Moun­tain Ma­chine.

 The fu­el­ing sys­tem is per­haps the most over-built as­pect of this Hummer. Fuel first gets sent to the en­gine via a 220-gph FASS pump, where it’s then fed to a 13mm P7100 in­jec­tion pump from Far­rell Diesel Ser­vice and 5x.025-inch Power Driven Diesel in­jec­tors. All told, Ort­ner fig­ures he has about 1,500 hp worth of fuel on board.

 Since he planned for the en­gine to spend a lot of the time in sand, Ort­ner had to make sure to size the tur­bos cor­rectly. He didn’t want to go with a big sin­gle due to the lag, and in­stead went with a com­pound setup that starts with a 66mm S300 turbo from Borg­warner.

 Re­li­a­bil­ity was pri­or­ity num­ber one so Ort­ner re­in­forced his en­gine ev­ery­where he could, with ARP studs in the mains, the rods, and of course the head. He even went a lit­tle fur­ther with the head studs, choos­ing ARP’S Cus­tom Age 625 ma­te­rial in or­der to pre­vent any is­sues at high boost.

 The num­ber of cus­tom parts on this Hummer is prac­ti­cally end­less. From the en­gine to the cool­ing sys­tem to the driv­e­train, there’s some­thing spe­cial vir­tu­ally ev­ery­where you look.

 The in­ter­cooler is just one of many pieces of the puz­zle needed for the Cum­mins swap. Ort­ner wasn’t able to find any­thing to fit the bill from any cat­a­log, so he bought an in­ter­cooler core that roughly matched the flow specs from the big tur­bocharger and got to work fab­ri­cat­ing end tanks that would fit the en­gine bay con­fine­ments on the Hummer.  An on­board air sys­tem is a big part of Ort­ner’s cre­ation. The lock­ers and tires all need to be aired up and down and ac­ti­vated and de­ac­ti­vated for the sand, so he in­stalled an air com­pres­sor sys­tem from ARB to get the job done.

 The Hummer’s rear axle has been fit­ted with an ARB air locker to help with trac­tion. Un­like vir­tu­ally all diesel pickup trucks, the rear sus­pen­sion is an in­de­pen­dent de­sign and is only able to sur­vive thanks to its in­cred­i­ble strength. Ort­ner re­ports that the fac­tory gear­ing works well with the diesel thanks to the en­gine’s high-rpm op­er­a­tion and the over­drive trans­mis­sion.

 The larger turbo is an 88mm with the new SX-E tech­nol­ogy from Borg­warner. It’s the prime air mover in the sys­tem, which pro­duces about 80-85 psi of boost. Ort­ner says the Hummer re­ally starts to come alive at around 2,500 rpm and will pull all the way to 4,500-5,000.

 The sus­pen­sion on an H1 Hummer is truly unique and one of the tough­est in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sions around. The bat­tle-tested de­sign is AWD (all­wheel-drive) with­out a 2WD op­tion, and this one has been sup­ple­mented with a Rod Hall long-travel kit.

 The first clue that this Hummer is diesel-pow­ered could be the 5-inch ex­haust stack, which is routed up and out of the port where the fac­tory air cleaner used to re­side.

 With a small for­tune in­vested in the en­gine and trans­mis­sion, Ort­ner wanted to keep an eye on ev­ery­thing. He used the fac­tory Hummer pil­lar to mount four Au­tome­ter gauges, plus a cen­ter tachome­ter that lets him keep the en­gine in its sweet spot.

 Cus­tom black vinyl was cut specif­i­cally for this Hummer and cov­ers vir­tu­ally every square inch of its in­te­rior sur­faces.

 As with the front, the stylish rear bumper was fab­ri­cated at Ort­ner’s shop and is just one of the many hand­made parts on this ve­hi­cle.

 This cool cen­tral tire in­fla­tion sys­tem (CTIS for short) al­lows Ort­ner to air the tires up and down with­out ever leav­ing the com­fort of the Hummer’s cabin.

 Ort­ner went tall by wide for his tire choice, and the ag­gres­sive 37x12.50-inch Pit­bull Rocker XORS mounted on 17x9-inch Method Race Wheels bead­locks are de­signed more for the sand than any­thing else.

 The front bumper is a Steve Ort­ner cre­ation and is aug­mented with a set of KC Hilites LED clus­ters and a 15,000-pound Warn winch.

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