Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Matthew Al­cum­brack’s 2005 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado 2500 HD tow rig

Many truck own­ers own a truck sim­ply be­cause they like trucks. But diesel truck own­ers tend to pur­chase their trucks be­cause they NEED a truck. Matthew Al­cum­brack is a truck owner who falls into that cat­e­gory. The 39-year-old Tool & Die com­pany owner from Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, pur­chased his 2005 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado 2500 HD new in March of 2005 and has been us­ing it and up­grad­ing it ever since. The truck is a multi-pur­pose ma­chine for him that he uses to tow a trailer for work fre­quently as well as for tak­ing his wife and their three kids on fam­ily road trip va­ca­tions with their RV and boat in tow.

Al­cum­brack liked the power and com­fort of his crew cab Sil­ver­ado, but felt that he could use some sim­ple per­for­mance up­grades for the en­gine as well as a ma­jor brake up­grade. For the first 150,000 or so miles he used a Bully Dog tuner along with an S&B cold-air in­take, and he re­placed the hot-side in­ter­cooler tube with a 3-inch-di­am­e­ter tube from afe that flows bet­ter and will help re­duce EGTS. In ad­di­tion to air­flow im­prove­ments un­der the hood, he also im­proved the ex­haust flow with a Sil­ver­line stain­less steel 5-inch-di­am­e­ter ex­haust sys­tem that cul­mi­nates in a 6-inch pol­ished stain­less steel ex­haust tip in the fac­tory lo­ca­tion.

He then turned to the Du­ra­max ex­perts at Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive in Zee­land, Michi­gan, to de­liver some more oomph. To up the per­for­mance, they tuned the truck with EFILIVE tun­ing and in­stalled a DSP5 switch next to the steer­ing col­umn to al­low Al­cum­brack to se­lect tunes at will, based on his needs. They also re­built the stock trans­mis­sion with a Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive build op­ti­mized for tow­ing heavy as Al­cum­brack is known to do. While the truck is not built for com­pe­ti­tion or dyno per­for­mance and has yet to be dyno tested, it likely de­liv­ers well over 500 hp to the rear wheels on the high­est per­for­mance tune set­ting. He has over 250,000 miles on the com­bi­na­tion and is still en­joy­ing the per­for­mance of both the Du­ra­max en­gine and the Mer­chant built Al­li­son trans­mis­sion.

To im­prove the chas­sis to meet Al­cum­brack’s tow­ing needs the truck is equipped with Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive stain­less steel tie rod sleeves up front to pro­tect the tie rods when the truck is un­der power in 4WD. They also in­stalled a huge Wil­wood front brake up­grade that re­quired the ad­di­tion of 20-inch AVE wheels by MKW wrapped in Load Range E rated LT305/55R20 Bf­goodrich All-ter­rain tires. The chrome wheels fea­ture a 6-spoke de­sign that al­lows the Wil­wood brakes to be eas­ily seen. Mas­sive 16-inch two-piece ro­tors re­place the fac­tory ro­tors while gi­ant 6-pis­ton calipers re­place the fac­tory units, giv­ing the truck more clamp­ing power and more lev­er­age to stop much more ef­fec­tively, es­pe­cially when it’s loaded down and tow­ing heavy. To help sta­bi­lize the truck in all driv­ing con­di­tions, Al­cum­brack in­stalled Bil­stein 5100 Se­ries shocks on all four cor­ners and a Pacbrake air bag sys­tem in the rear to help when tow­ing.

He also in­stalled Westin side step bars and a front push bar to both pro­tect the truck and make it eas­ier for the fam­ily to get in and out. Then, to make it a lit­tle more se­cure for his daily work use, Al­cum­brack in­stalled a color-matched ARE shell to keep pry­ing eyes away from tools, sup­plies and equip­ment that he has to trans­port in the bed at times.

With the truck’s per­for­mance and tow­ing at­tributes up­graded to Al­cum­brack’s lik­ing, he fo­cused on the in­te­rior. To keep an eye on the en­gine’s per­for­mance he in­stalled an A-pil­lar pod and a pair of Au­tome­ter gauges to mon­i­tor boost and EGT at a glance. Then he turned to the ex­perts at Ex­treme Au­dio in Grand Rapids, Mich., to up­grade the sound sys­tem in the truck to make it more en­joy­able on those long fam­ily road trips. They in­stalled MB Quart com­po­nent speak­ers front and rear with the front tweet­ers mounted in the A-pil­lars for great stag­ing pres­ence. Then for bass they in­stalled a sub en­clo­sure with a pair of JL Au­dio V3 subs be­hind

the rear seat. Two Alpine amplifiers power the sys­tem, a four-chan­nel model mounted be­hind the rear seat for the mids and highs and a mono sub amp mounted be­low the rear seat for the bass. All that won­der­ful au­dio equip­ment gets its sig­nal from a Pi­o­neer DVD re­ceiver mounted in the fac­tory dash lo­ca­tion. To help keep the kids en­ter­tained in the back seat on long road trips, he fin­ished the sys­tem off with a Di­rected Dvd/mon­i­tor in­stalled in the head­liner.

Al­cum­brack is happy with his truck, but like all gear­heads, he says it isn’t fin­ished. We’re not sure what else he would want to add or im­prove, but we’re sure he’ll do it in a way that builds on the great foun­da­tion he has al­ready laid with this hard-work­ing rig that pulls dou­ble duty as a work truck and fam­ily road trip hauler, per­fectly meet­ing all his truck needs. UDBG

Al­cum­brack found that the fac­tory brakes were not up to his lik­ing, so he had the team at Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive in­stall a mas­sive Wil­wood brake up­grade with huge 6-pis­ton calipers that clamp down on enor­mous 16-inch two-piece brake ro­tors. Of course, the...

It’s a work truck in Michi­gan, so it’s not per­fect, but Al­cum­brack has done a good job of keep­ing up with clean­ing and un­der­coat­ing the chas­sis to pre­vent rust dam­age.

From the rear you can see the 5-inch di­am­e­ter stain­less steel Sil­ver­line ex­haust sys­tem and the 6-inch­di­am­e­ter pol­ished stain­less steel Sil­ver­line ex­haust tip ex­it­ing the truck in the fac­tory lo­ca­tion.

Look more closely and you can see the Pacbrake air springs that are used to help level the load when Al­cum­brack is tow­ing or haul­ing heavy loads. Also no­tice the Bil­stein 5100 Se­ries shocks that re­place the fac­tory shocks to help tame the ride.

Al­cum­brack’s Chevy has a great stance with larger wheels and tires, but not so large that he can’t use the truck for its main pur­pose of tow­ing and work­ing hard. He re­moves the ARE shell and in­stalls a di­a­mond plate tool box when he tows his RV with...

The fac­tory driver-side (hot) in­ter­cooler tube was re­placed with an afe 3-inch-di­am­e­ter in­ter­cooler tube for ad­di­tional flow and im­proved fuel mileage as well as re­duced EGTS, which is a crit­i­cal fac­tor for Al­cum­brack since he tows with the truck most...

To im­prove fil­tra­tion and air­flow he in­stalled an S&B cold-air in­take kit with a wash­able fil­ter and easy vis­ual in­spec­tion.

Un­der the hood, Al­cum­brack re­lies on the dura­bil­ity and reli­a­bil­ity of the stock Du­ra­max en­gine with some mi­nor up­grades, in­clud­ing a pair of Op­tima Yel­low Top bat­ter­ies to en­sure that it starts when­ever he needs it to, no mat­ter how harsh the...

Text: Chris Tobin Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin & Matthew Al­cum­brack

When the Al­cum­brack fam­ily loads up for a fam­ily road trip, they re­ally load up! He uses his Du­ra­max to tow not only his RV but also the boat at the same time with a bumper-pull re­ceiver mounted on the back of the 5th wheel.

The tan leather in­te­rior is still in great shape, mak­ing the cab a com­fort­able place for the fam­ily to ride while they travel for fam­ily road trip va­ca­tions. Look­ing into the driver side of the in­te­rior we see the fo­cus on tow­ing with a pair of...

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