Two Turbos, One Diesel, One Half-Ton: Aaron Roth’s Shop Truck

Sometimes, you find what you want, when you didn’t even know you were looking for it. Such is the case when we stumbled upon Aaron Roth of Millersville, Missouri at the 2017 edition of the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza. We caught up with Aaron when he was strolling around in his 1997 Dodge Ram 1500. Yes, you heard that right, a half-ton.

Being at an event such as Scheid, you expect to see some unique builds. We definitely encountered some different ideas, but this truck stood out. It must have been the rumble under the hood, growling out of a half-ton chassis. We had to get the scoop.

From Mud To Mutt

Aaron’s passion for diesel performance was unintentional. The much dirtier, yet fun, passion of his, was creating a mud truck for his weekend fun. It started with his 1978 Chevrolet pickup and after various engine modifications and suspension items, it reached a point where he needed a vehicle to get this truck to and from numerous events or parties.

Aaron has gone from one extreme to the other. But, we can definitely enjoy his new found passion of diesel performance.

A 2002 Chevrolet 2500 HD was the vehicle of choice, and it definitely sparked some interest once it made it into the driveway. After years of towing the mud truck and using the Duramax powered daily driver, Aaron wanted to dive in a little deeper into the diesel performance industry.

The Shop Truck

Some people follow the trends set by others, but some strive to be different. Wanting to have something different, Aaron anticipated he would purchase his dream ride. Looking to buy the truck from a college friend, he sadly found out the truck had been traded off to someone in a near southern Illinois town.

"I wanted to have something different that nobody would expect to see," Roth said. What better way to fulfill that dream? The beloved 12-valve Cummins engine shoved in a 1/2-ton dodge pick-up.

After two years of looking frantically, Aaron finally found the truck. He said, “I finally found it, the truck at the time was basically two wrecked trucks into one.” Knowing he had a project ahead of him, he headed back to Missouri with it. It was at this time that Aaron knew, he was hooked. “I thought, what have I done?” Roth said.

Building Up To Par

Cognizant what this project would entail, he had a floating build sheet in his head and knew where he wanted the truck to beat. “When I bought this truck, I knew it had been through hell, but it was up to me to bring it back to life.” Roth continued, “I pulled the engine to rebuild it, after noticing it had a lot of crankcase pressure or blow-by.”

Aaron says with this setup he averages 24 mpg. Not only does it make great power, but its fuel efficient.

Observing the engine was needing an overhaul, he also added a few insurance parts to give himself peace of mind. Knowing how he was going to drive it. ARP head studs, cut Mahle marine pistons, Cummins connecting rods, and coolant bypass from Enterprise Diesel to list a few add-ons.

As you know, with a set of quick spooling budget towing compounds, as Aaron liked to call them, it’s necessary to have a set of head studs harnessing the head to the block. The head gasket will fail eventually if not done. We know from personal experience.

Roth used the factory exhaust manifold upside down and that's where he mounted the oversized hx35/40 hybrid turbocharger. From there, he compounds the manifold turbo with an HT3B turbo which is enough flowing air to surpass 600-horsepower. That exhaust is flumed out of five-inch piping back to a six-inch tip.

Fixing All The Priors

Aaron also did a rewire on the entire truck, covering up or replacing dead and opened ended wires. After being passed down by so many different owners, the truck was showing its wear. The dash was replaced because as we all know, these 2nd generation ram dashes don’t last. The shop truck was already equipped with the NV4500 manual transmission, which is great, but for Aaron, this project didn’t start out too promising.

Even though he was at the drag strip, we couldn't talk him into making a pass, but depending on how this build goes, who knows? We may seem him racing at an event in the near future.

“I was headed out of town one evening, heading for the interstate, “Aaron explained. “As I came to the on-ramp, I accelerated, heavily towards the open road when, BANG!” Aaron explained. As you may know, the NV4500 has had its fair share of issues and it just so happened that this one stripped the fifth gear nut out.

While he was inside repairing the transmission, he equipped it with a stronger, aftermarket single disc ceramic clutch from South Bend Clutch. Knowing he would be making a considerable amount of power, a clutch was one of the first insurance modifications made on the list.

Inside The Madness

Even with over 200,000 miles, the shop truck keeps chugging along. With the rebuild of the engine and repairing the known issues of the supplied drivetrain, he has extended the life of Ole' Red. Laughing, Aaron told us, "It's just a beat down 99 interior, it's nothing special."

One thing that really stands out about this truck, is the wheel selection. It’s one thing to see this with a diesel, but also tucking 22-inch wheels. This amount of wheel puts off a menacing look to whoever pulls up to the light next to him.

Getting this power to the ground is a set of 22-inch KMC Slide wheels. With the gloss finish, they sync perfectly with the Lexani 305/40R22 tires.

Fueling For Fun

Being the mechanical 12-valve Cummins engine, next to the injectors, the P7100 injection pump is the heart of the power. Removing the pump, Aaron sent his pump to Miles Diesel in Jackson Missouri to be maxed out with .024 delivery valves, removed the fuel plate. These pump alterations were necessary to please the 5×16 fuel injectors from Diesel Auto Power.

Supplying the injection pump with fuel, was the Airdog 150 lift pump, which was also adjusted with a 40-psi spring to allow more pressure to the pump. Tork Tek overflow valve from Larry B’s, dual feed line from Vulcan Diesel Performance and 4,000 rpm governor springs, and the timing was set at 22 degrees.

Aaron was saying "It isn't the prettiest thing here" But we think it's definitely the most unique that we saw over the weekend.

With this being the outcome of basically two wrecked trucks merged together, We’d say Aaron did alright. We asked what his future plans for the truck were and he replied, “I’d like to throw a nine-inch rear axle under it, install airbag suspension, as well as purchase bigger turbochargers. I’ve thought about swapping a 47re automatic transmission in as well.”

If it wasn’t for the wheels, this truck would be a complete sleeper. Doesn’t this make you want to shove a diesel in a half ton truck?

How Much Power?

We were curious as to what this truck would make on the dyno. Luckily for Aaron, at the event a dyno competition was present. Of course, he was as interested as we were to see what it would lay down. After adding all of these modifications Aaron says, “I was a little concerned about the rear end holding together.”

He’s made these modifications to the truck, but the half-ton axles aren’t used to the extra horsepower and torque that the engine is capable of. Sending it anyway, Aaron took his chance. After anxiously waiting, the truck was strapped down and made a best of 655.2 horsepower and 1175.5 lb-ft of torque.

Looking for 700-horsepower, Aaron was somewhat disappointed, but overall pleased with how powerful the truck is. Now he knows what needs to be done to reach that 700 horsepower goal at next years event.

After a two-year period, Aaron has nearly taken his truck where he wants and is very close to his end goal. With a total investment of only $6,000 for the truck, we’re hoping to see the Shop Truck out next year with even more power.

Roth would like to give a big thank you, to all of those that helped him get it to where it is today. Terry Roth, Scott Cain, Regan Swan, and Andrew Clark are the friends and family that made this possible. What are your thoughts on this unique build? Do you see this becoming a more popular build platform? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds as well as sled pulling competitions.
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