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More Power 08-18-2009 01:20 PM

Lil Red
Duramax Diesel Power Project

Rocket science is a whole lot more entertaining when you actually get to drive one! The primary mission for this Duramax Diesel Power Project includes exploring the performance potential of the Duramax/Allison in a lightweight 4x4. This truck was first driven in April 2004 soon after completing the conversion.

A wide range of Duramax performance products have been tested, and more are in the works, which help us explore the performance potential of the Duramax/Allison powertrain - both on the dyno and at the track. In addition to performance products that increase fueling and boost pressure, a nitrous oxide system was included in the range of tested products. Many of these product reviews are currently available online here at The Diesel Page which help to explain what we did and why we did it.

A 4" exhaust system, 4" polished stainless exhaust tip and Bilstein HD shocks were installed in May 2004 after the body work and paint had been completed. A custom exhaust system was chosen because we needed a 4" tailpipe without pre-welded hangers to work for this rather unique application. There is no muffler or catalytic converter installed, which means the truck sounds a little more like a hot-rod. The addition of a set of CalTracs traction bars help control axle-wrap during a launch.

After exceeding the power/torque limits of the factory Allison automatic, we installed an ATS Allison transmission in 2005. There are several different ATS Allison options available from mild to wild, and ATS set us up with what this particular truck needed. The new transmission shifts mildly when dialed back for daily type driving, but performs with authority when needed.

Prior to May 2004, we had been looking for just the right set of tires & wheels before we finally settling on the silver finished Chevy SS 20"x8" aluminum wheels. The matching Goodyear Eagle tires in 275/55R20 were an excellent choice, being almost 32" in diameter and more than 11" wide.

The original 10-bolt ½-ton rear axle was replaced in late 2004 with a disc brake equipped six-lug 9-1/2" 14-bolt semi-floating rear axle. Our replacement axle was rebuilt with a new Eaton Positraction differential, new 3.42 ring & pinion and all new bearings and seals. Other than shortening the rear driveline about 3/4" and upgrading the rear driveshaft u-joint to a 1350, this was a bolt-in upgrade that has performed well in this lightweight truck.

This project was about power and performance, but it also provides a tremendous opportunity to learn more about the powertrain in the process. The payoff is all of the new articles and product reviews that result from the buildup and testing. Aside from providing more interesting content for the web site, members learn more about product application for their own trucks, and manufacturers/vendors gain exposure by sharing their knowledge and expertise. Everyone wins!

The above is about midway through a 12.9 second run, showing Lil Red squatting the rear and lifting the front all the way through the 1/4-mile. This photo was shot during one of the bracket runs, where they handicap the faster trucks - allowing the slower trucks to leave first off the line by some whole or fraction of a second. In this case, the Dodge got the green light about a half second before Lil Red. The Dodge was overtaken well before reaching the lights.

This truck has appeared in the January 2007 issue of Diesel World magazine, the May 2006 issue of Diesel Power magazine and in three separate issues of Truck Trend magazine (which are now available online Nov/Dec 2004, Mar/Apr 2005 & May/June 2006). Click here for a Youtube video showing a 632-hp dyno run.

The Duramax Conversion Guide is now available! This color laser-printed 60-page professionally written bound volume contains 104 original photos, specific wiring diagrams and custom motor mount drawings (drawn for and original to The Diesel Page) that illustrate what you'll need to know when installing a Duramax 6600 diesel engine and Allison 1000 automatic transmission into a 1988-98 classic C/K GM pickup truck or Suburban.

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