In the diesel truck industry there are two different categories. You have guys who use their trucks for work and are looking for reliable power to pull that equipment or livestock around, and you have the guys who want a hot street truck that can make a number. There are plenty of upgrade options whether your build is work or performance oriented. The drop-in Work Stock style upgrades are slowly taking over.
After all, that is the bread and butter of this industry. It was explained to me one time that there are way more trucks out there passing your house being used for work than there are the souped-up hot-rod builds, right? So, with that being said, these workaholic turbos are a hot topic right now and Spoologic Turbo Systems has offerings to keep it in the mix.
Offering turbos for all kinds of manufacturers, Spoologic wanted to focus on the Cummins-powered trucks for this testing as they seem to be the most popular for this arena at the moment. The search was on for a truck to utilize this new, upgraded turbocharger and we decided to use a familiar 2006 Dodge Ram that we’ve been tinkering on for a few years now.
The truck features an upgraded air intake system, Edge Products CTS3 monitor, and custom tuning via EFILive. The sole purpose of this truck is to pull a boat or a full-size camper to-and-from the campsite. It gets daily driven sometimes, but for the most part, it is hooked to a camper or a boat. With that being said, the truck is capable of doing these tasks without any upgrades, but the point is to make the tasks easier with more available horsepower and torque. Let’s dive in.
What Parts Are We Using?
A truck like this that has plenty of miles with the already installed upgrades has a familiar feel. What I mean by that is that any extra power gained from Spoologic’s Stage II turbocharger will be noticeable. This turbo is the higher of the two available turbochargers for this Cummins powerplant and promises an upgrade in horsepower and torque, quicker spool-up times, and lower exhaust gas temperatures.
Right out of the box, I am already impressed. Seriously, I’m being completely unbiased during these tests and I was surprised at how nice these parts were. Our Stage II turbocharger came in thickly coated red paint and the hardware in the box was of durable quality. As I pulled the turbo out of the box I noticed on the labeling that these turbos are backed by a 48-hour warranty guarantee. That means if you have an issue and you ship it to them for a repair, not only is it covered, but you will also see it within 48 hours. That’s service.
Once you get some light shed on this front cover, tucked in behind a very racy-looking front cover is that balanced 63-MM compressor wheel just waiting to sing up to 45-PSI of boost. I took a peek at the engine bay prior to installation and noticed how poor the factory exhaust manifold looked. Luckily for us, Spoologic sent along with one of their high-flow, ceramic-coated, Cummins exhaust manifolds.
Here is where things really got me. I’ve been around plenty of exhaust manifold installations and there is nothing more aggravating than those exhaust manifold gaskets. Having to line up the holes on the gasket with the bolt, maneuvering the manifold around, and getting it all lined up, it’s a nightmare by yourself.
Until someone decided that exhaust manifolds needed studs instead of bolts, that is. There are manifold stud kits out there that are nearly the price of this whole package, but Spoologic’s manifold comes with studs and the necessary hardware to safely secure this to the engine. I had no idea it came this way and I am super impressed that they offer that. Good on you, Spoologic team!
Anyway, the exhaust manifold is a thicker material offering more durability and has been flow-tested against the factory units. It outflowed the factory unit by 25-percent. With a more durable T3 exhaust manifold and its ceramic coating, you’re reducing the under-the-hood temperatures by up to 70-degrees lowering intake air temperatures, reducing turbo lag, and improving spool-up times by keeping the turbine inlet gases hot.
It Puts The Parts On The Truck
For those of you who aren’t familiar, a turbocharger installation on these trucks really isn’t that bad. With basic skills and tools in your possession, this is doable in a few hours. Pro Tip: If the truck has been sitting for a long time or is covered in rusty hardware, do yourself a favor and coat the hardware you’ll be removing with some sort of penetrant. [You’re welcome!]
Fast forward a day, we started by disconnecting the charge tube off the front of the turbo where it connects to the intercooler. Once it was removed, we loosened and removed the downpipe from the turbo freeing it up. Minus where it is connected at the manifold, the only other items to loosen and remove are the turbo oil feed and drain.
You can do this however you want, but we decided to just remove the whole turbo with the manifold attached. Removing all of the manifold hardware freed the whole unit up for us to just pick up out of the engine bay. With it all removed, it made for a clean canvas that needed some extra color. Luckily for us, that big red Stage II turbo was waiting.
To make things easier, we were going to clock the front cover in a way that would allow it to line up with the intercooler pipe better, but they already had it perfect. With the turbo ready, we wanted to get the manifold on and ready. I put all of the exhaust manifold studs back into the cylinder head, slid all of the exhaust gaskets onto them, and then slipped the exhaust manifold on.
With the manifold on, the turbo slid into its spot on the T3 flange and was secured down with the supplied hardware. The new drain and existing oil feed line were installed, the exhaust was hooked back up, and it was time to fire. Key on, light off, and it is alive. No leaks, no issues, it was ready to take out and test.
How Does It Feel?
With the turbo installed, you can 100-percent tell that this is a different truck. Just at an idle the truck sounds throatier than normal and has a constant whistle. I guess if you’re not a fan of turbo whistle then this isn’t for you, but it is quite pleasant to listen to in my opinion.
Unfortunately, it was snowing and nasty outside and with this new power, we knew it would just spin when full throttle testing it. We had to wait a few days for things to settle down outside but it was worth the wait. The initial idle test as aforementioned was a success. Just at an idle, it was different and we were excited to see how it did out on the street.
Mark, the owner of the truck, was pleased after the install. “The install wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. We had a few snags, but it wasn’t the turbo kit’s fault,” he said. “I am happy with the turbo for the sake of sound for sure. It sounds much different than before.”
Fast forward a few days later and we can safely say that the Stage II turbo does in fact offer more horsepower and torque and quicker spool-up times. I don’t have any data showing that it lowered EGT’s from before and after, but the power difference is substantial. You really have to be careful with the accelerator now because tire smoke is only a few seconds away if you want it. “I really like this upgraded turbo on here. I don’t think it’s a massive difference over the stock unit, but I like the way it drives and sounds over the factory one,” Mark said.
So, if you’re looking for an upgraded turbo that still fits in that drop-in / stock-ish category, maybe check out the Spoologic turbos. For more part reviews, event coverage, and truck features, stay tuned right here to Diesel Army. What are your thoughts on this Spoologic Stage II turbo? Would you put this on your Cummins-powered truck? Let us know in the comments below.