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Project "Come Awn" - Long Term Test Results
By Lance Clifford

Back in October of 2003 I bought "Come Awn" - a brand spankin' new 2003 Dodge 2500 Ram with the legendary Cummins Turbo Diesel. When I drove it off the showroom floor, I knew this truck would be subjected to a hard life of towing across the country, and my heavy right foot. I also knew that it's not in my blood to leave anything stock, so this truck would see lots of modifications..

Fast forward to November 2005, and the odometer just turned 50,000 miles. I figured it was time to give you all an update on my truck, and how it and all the goodies have held up over the past two years of abuse.

I will go in chronological order, from the first things installed, to the latest stuff.

ATS Stage IV Transmission

I met Clint Cannon from ATS Diesel at the 2003 SEMA show. I made arrangements with him to drive my still new truck out to Colorado to have an ATS Stage IV transmission installed in the truck. The transmission has been in the truck for over 47,000 miles now, and has been literally bulletproof. The truck has seen abuse over the past two years that would make an OEM tranny blow to pieces. The ATS transmission has NEVER exceeded 180 degrees at any time, even towing loads in excess of 12,000lbs! I think this transmission was probably one of the best upgrades I have done to this truck. Click here to see the full ATS article.

Edge EZ, ATS 4" Exhaust, AFE intake
When I took my truck to ATS for the transmission, they also installed an Edge EZ computer chip and 4" exhaust. When I got home from ATS, I installed an AFE intake system as well. This upgrade really woke up my anemic 235 hp standard output motor. While it still wasn't a power house, it certainly made a HUGE improvement in usable power.

BD XMonitor Digital Gauge
Since I installed the Edge EZ, I felt it was necessary to install pyro and boost gauges in my truck. What I didn't want was a big obtrusive Christmas tree of gauges and lights going all the way up my pillar. Not only do the pillar mounted gauges greatly restrict your vision they also require you remove your factory grab handle. The solution was simple - an X-Monitor which incorporates 3 functions into one slick looking digital unit. I've heard people say that they like mechanical gauges better than digital, but I haven't met a person yet who has driven my truck that didn't like the X-Monitor. A nifty feature of the X-Monitor is the fact that is saves the highest settings in memory. So you can go back and show off your high boost numbers to your friends. The memory is resettable, and you can set alarms to go off at predetermined settings as well. I was able to install the X-Monitor myself with little trouble.

Torklift Hitch and Camper Mounts

The full article shows what a beefy unit this setup is. I have hauled my 11' Lance cabover countless times with this setup, and it is by far the best camper setup on the market.

 


TST PowerMaxCR
This is the big daddy chip. This bad boy claims 150hp and 500ft lb. gains. This chip replaced my Edge EZ .. The power gain was significant, but the power wasn't near as usable as the Edge. Pyro temps were through the roof on the higher settings. This chip ended up being the downfall of my truck's warranty.

The Cliff's Notes to the story go something like this:
On the way home from Moab, by truck's turbo blew up. I took it to the dealer out in Utah, and they said it needed a new engine and turbo. They found codes stored in the truck's ECM (computer) that indicated the presence of an aftermarket chip. They voided my warranty on the spot, and I was on my own to fix my truck. I took my truck to Shaffer's Offroad, and they found that the truck blew up because of a failed oil pump. The TST chip in fact had nothing to do with the failure. Looking back I probably could have fought Daimler Chrysler on the whole fiasco, but it would have taken lawyers, money, and time. I didn't feel it was worth the gamble. I had SOR fix it, and decided to go big. I called Piers Diesel Research..

Piers Twin Turbos

 

The folks at Piers rock. After discussing what I wanted to do with the truck, it was decided twin turbos were in order. They actually sent me a stock turbo (the old turbo blew up from lack of oil) to install in the truck so I could drive up to Canada to have the twin turbos installed at their shop. Check out the full twin turbo story here. After 30,000 miles of peeling out and driving the truck like it's a sports car, the twins still give me a big grin every time I mash he throttle and hear their whine. The best part is my fuel mileage is better than my friend who has the exact same truck, but stock. The Piers twin turbo kit is the second best upgrade I have made to my truck, hands down. Huge usable power, and ice cold EGTs make it money well spent.

Diesel Dynamics Pusher Pump
When Piers was installing my twin turbos, I had them install a Diesel Dynamics pusher pump that I had purchased a couple of weeks back. I have not installed a fuel pressure gauge to find out what my actual numbers are, but my hunch is this pump does not supply enough fuel to my truck at wide open throttle. I also do not like the obnoxious buzz of this pump. I have purchased a new FASS system to replace the DD pump. Stay tuned for a writeup on the FASS system.

KORE Race Suspension

I was skeptical that this suspension kit would live up to the hype. But it delivered. The suspension kit has been on my truck for about 20,000 miles now, and has performed flawlessly. I live on a bumpy dirt road, and the massive Fox Shox really soak up the bumps well. Click here for the full article on the Kore Race Suspension.

 

Toyo Tires Open Country MT and AT
My first set of Toyo 35 x 12.50 x 18 Open Country MT's only lasted 15,000 miles. To be fair, it wasn't the tire's fault. You see part of my job description requires me to occasionally drive like an idiot. The demise of my Toyo MT's was from doing burnouts and carving mountain roads like a sports car. As far as performance, the Toyo MTs are an awesome tow rig tire. They are one of the few "E" load 35s that I am aware of. They handle awesome on the pavement, and they really shine off road - especially in the snow. I can't count how many times I have pulled out stuck neighbors with my truck.

I am now running Toyo Open Country ATs. These tires are a little milder looking than the MTs but still look great. They are quieter on the road, and perform equally well on pavement. I haven't really had a chance to take them off road much, but the snow is right around the corner. They have about 5,000 miles on them now, and are wearing very well. I am still driving like an idiot, but I am refraining from doing anymore burnouts - at least till I get some new stuff for the truck.

Roundeyes HID Lights
I love my HIDs. I hate driving without them. Once you go HID, you don't go back. Check out my HID article here.

Overall Impressions and Future Plans
Overall, I love my truck. It's a very functional truck that looks good, and works even better. Almost all of the upgrades I have done to my truck have been great. The truck as a whole is holding up pretty well. The cruise control has gone out, and I have not taken it to get fixed yet since I no longer have a warranty. In typical domestic truck fashion, the truck has developed a few rattles and creaks over the past two years. The noises are not too annoying, and are a given part of owning an American truck that is more than a year old. I wish the big three could take lessons from Toyota or Honda on assembling an interior.

Other than the motor issue I had, I have had minimal things to replace on the truck. I have had a tranny line come loose, a tail light go out, and the power steering pump reservoir come loose. I attribute the tranny line and pump issues to the motor being out of the truck. At 50,000 miles I am still amazingly on the original brakes. I think they are about due to be replaced, however.

In the future I plan on installing a FASS Fuel System, and possibly Methanol Injection. I'd like to put in a better sound system, and navigation, as well.

Contacts
ATS Diesel Performance
4295 Kipling St.
Wheat Ridge, CO. 80033
Telephone: 303.431.7973 Toll Free: 800.949.6002
Hours: M-F 8am - 6pm MST
www.atsdiesel.com
info@atsdiesel.com

Torklift Central Welding of Kent
315 N. Central Avenue
Kent, WA 98032
800-246-8132
253-854-1832
Open M-F 8:30am - 5:00pm Saturdays 8:30am - 1:00pm PST
www.torklift.com

Dunks Performance - Diesel Performance and Off Road Parts and Accessories.
2600 Main Street suite A
Springfield, OR 97477
Sales and Tech
(541) 726-1006
(541) 543-9050
http://www.dunksperformance.com


Piers Diesel Research - Diesel Performance for Dodge, Ford, Chevy, Volkswagen, and even John Deere.
USA Address:
Piers Diesel Research, Inc.
Unit 7, 413B - 19th Street,PMB 226
Lynden, WA 98264

604-888-4159 Main Number
604-888-0057 Tech Line
604-888-0143 Tech Line
866-888-9396 Sales - Toll Free
http://www.piersdiesel.com

KORE LLC
P.O. BOX 2628
Valley Center CA 92082
Telephone 760.749.8687
http://koreperformance.com

Roundeyes.com
530-642-8003
info@roundeyes.com

Toyo Tires
http://www.toyo.com