The Fire­house Spe­cial home-built diesel hot rod

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text / Pho­tog­ra­phy: Joe Daniels

Most fire­men are OCD when it comes to sweatin’ the de­tails. It goes with the ter­ri­tory. Rollin’ hoses just right, spit-shine on the fire truck… you get the point. But the chicken and the egg ques­tion is are they trained that way, or is it a cer­tain per­son­al­ity type that grav­i­tates to that kind of work? Our bet is on the lat­ter.

Case in point is Ja­son Dilling­ham of St. Joseph, Illi­nois. By day (and night) he’s a fire­fighter. But his se­cret pas­sion is build­ing, fab­ri­cat­ing and mod­i­fy­ing ve­hi­cles. His list of ac­com­plish­ments in­cludes a ’69 Dodge Dart race car, a cou­ple of Dodge trucks and a Har­ley-david­son. His lat­est cre­ation is a 2004.5 Dodge Ram that’s any­thing but stock, which is just the way he likes things.

“I pur­chased this ve­hi­cle as a bone-stock, two-tone gray farm truck,” he says. “I specif­i­cally chose this truck with the in­ten­tions of build­ing a fully cus­tom­ized truck for show, sled pulling and drag rac­ing.”

At first glance, Dilling­ham’s Dodge is sort of unas­sum­ing, sport­ing a Top Gun Cus­tomz 2.5inch lev­el­ing kit and ra­dius arms. Rolling stock is stan­dard diesel fare: 35-inch Nitto Trail Grap­plers wrapped around 20x10-inch XD wheels. But it’s the sub­tle de­tails in the ap­pear­ance, like a ghosted Cum­mins “C” on the hood and other sub­tle touches, that make this truck a true cus­tom.

What re­ally sets this Dodge apart from the rest is the hand-built 5.9L Cum­mins un­der the hood that was given the full hot rod treat­ment. Ac­cord­ing to Dilling­ham, the en­gine was “re­built from crank to in­take,” start­ing with a fully pol­ished and bal­anced ro­tat­ing as­sem­bly done by G&G Ma­chine Shop in Ran­toul, Illi­nois. Af­ter­mar­ket con­nect­ing rods and 20-over coated pis­tons by Swain Tech Coat­ings of New York are at­tached to a pol­ished and bal­anced fac­tory crank­shaft.

The stock 5.9L cylin­der head was pol­ished and milled to ac­cept a Hell­mann side-draft in­take. The head is also fit­ted with In­conel valves, Hamil­ton push rods and 110-pound valve springs that are ac­tu­ated by a Stage 3 Colt camshaft. The head seals to the block with ARP 625 head studs. Be­fore be­ing dropped into the truck, the Cum­mins was fit­ted with a Fleece Per­for­mance coolant by­pass kit.

Push­ing 60+ pounds of boost into the com­bus­tion cham­ber is a 66mm Bulls­eye Turbo mounted on a ce­ramic-coated ex­haust man­i­fold via a High Tech Turbo in­ter­cooler. Fu­el­ing comes cour­tesy of a FASS sys­tem, which pushes diesel for­ward to PPE twin CP3S and even­tu­ally to 100% over Ex­ergy in­jec­tors. Randy Law­less is cred­ited with cus­tom tun­ing on the Smarty VDC, while a Snow Per­for­mance Stage 2 wa­ter/methanol in­jec­tion sys­tem keeps EGTS from go­ing nu­clear. And speak­ing of ex­haust, soot is routed out via a 5-inch Flo-pro sys­tem.

To han­dle the es­ti­mated 800 horse­power and 1,400+ lb-ft of torque, the fac­tory au­to­matic trans­mis­sion went to For­ward Mo­tion in Homer, Illi­nois, for the full bil­let treat­ment in­clud­ing bil­let shafts, shift kit and 1,800 rpm stall-speed Sun- Coast triple-disc torque con­verter. Power goes to the ground via cus­tom long-arm trac­tion bars, sus­pen­sion stops and 3:55 gear­ing at both ends.

Cus­tom vis­ual touches on the truck are both ob­vi­ous and sub­tle. Since Dilling­ham’s father owns Dave’s Col­li­sion Re­pair in Cham­paign, Illi­nois, and he’s worked there on and off since he was a kid, re­paint­ing the truck Min­eral Gray and adding cus­tom touches wasn’t too dif­fi­cult. The stock hood was re­placed with a Dodge SRT10 hood with cus­tom bil­let in­serts in both the bumper and fac­tory grille. One sub­tle cus­tom touch is the ghosted Cum­mins “C” on the hood. Less sub­tle are the

cus­tom-painted valve cover un­der the hood and the taste­fully color-matched side mir­rors.

On the in­side, things are just as cool. The seat­ing is all leather with suede in­serts. A cus­tom-fab­ri­cated ra­dio bezel with cus­tom-in­stalled gauge pods keeps things neat and tidy. Glow­shift gauges and an Edge CTS keep track of en­gine vi­tals. On the sound side, a JVC dou­ble-din head unit pushes sig­nal through MB Quart amps and a Probox sub­woofer setup in­stalled un­der the rear seat. Head­rest DVDS are also in­cor­po­rated into the sys­tem that was put to­gether by Ja­son and Vibez Car Au­dio in Cham­paign.

Fam­ily and friends re­fer to Dilling­ham’s cre­ation as the “As­phalt Princess” or the “Hay Hauler,” but to him, the truck is just a la­bor of love. “I have de­voted a ton of time, money, blood, sweat and tears into this truck and would like to thank my wife, Liz, and fam­ily for all their sup­port,” he adds. UDBG

To han­dle the es­ti­mated 800 horse­power and 1,400+ lb-ft of torque, the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion went to For­ward Mo­tion in Homer, Illi­nois, for the full bil­let treat­ment.”

The orig­i­nal stock 5.9L Cum­mins was re­built stem to stern with lots of up­graded hard parts un­der the cus­tom-painted valve cover. Up­gades in­clude af­ter­mar­ket coated pis­tons and rods, ARP head studs, a bal­anced and pol­ished ro­tat­ing as­sem­bly, Hamil­ton pushrods and valve springs, a Stage 3 Colt camshaft and Hell­mann side-draft in­take.

A ce­ramic-coated ex­haust man­i­fold holds a Bulls­eye 66mm turbo, which gen­er­ates more than 60 pounds of boost at full song. Pow­der­coated cus­tom in­take tub­ing pro­vides all the air from a con­i­cal high-flow air fil­ter.

Dual PPE CP3S pro­vide plenty of fuel pres­sure.

The stock cylin­der head was milled to ac­cept the Hell­mann side-draft in­take man­i­fold.

Top Gun Cus­tomz ra­dius arms are part of a 2.5-inch lev­el­ing kit for the front.

Long-arm trac­tion bars and sus­pen­sion stops help put the power to the ground.

Push­ing fuel for­ward to the CP3S is a FASS fuel sys­tem.

A High Tech Turbo in­ter­cooler re­places the stocker for lower boost temps and in­creased vol­ume.

The truck rolls on 35-inch Nitto Trail Grap­plers wrapped around 20x10-inch XD wheels.

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