Built For War: Brian Durf’s Battleship 6.7L Cummins RAM

Some people are fortunate enough to grow up around very skilled people. Over time, that skill will eventually rub off on the surrounding youngsters. Brian Durf was fortunate enough to be around a group of family that’s no stranger to turning wrenches. Sure enough, after years of mentoring, he’s turned into a gearhead and has been for as long as he can remember.

After completing high school, Durf joined the United States Army. He finished his enlistment and began juggling ideas for a career choice. Durf continued his love for mechanics and chose aviation. He obtained multiple certifications from the FAA to legally perform repairs on aviation equipment. Seventeen years later, Durf is still living his dream.

The paint that Durf chose was based on his appreciation for battleships; hence also the name. Grey is most closely associated with modern-day battleships, but dates back to the Civil War.

“I’ve been a gearhead for as long as I can remember,” said Durf. “My day job as an overseas aviation mechanic is something I love, although it really takes time away from my family and my project truck”. Working a 56 day on and a 28 day off rotation doesn’t make it easy to complete a project, but with determination, it can be done.

A Rough Start To Something Great

Durf’s Cummins draws all sorts of attention when taken to shows around his part of the country.

Durf’s masterpiece build is his 2008 Dodge Ram. This build is one-of-a-kind, and his attention to detail is incredible. “The truck was lightly modified from 2010 to 2016,” said Durf. “This has been a group effort between a few friends of mine, but my cousin Dan and I have done 95 percent of the build ourselves.”

Before the build even started, Durf knew he would need a place to build the truck and fortunately for him, a 24×40 shop was constructed on his property. “One evening, during a return trip home, I had a conversation between my wife, and Dan, discussing the build of the truck,” said Durf. “My wife said, ‘With all of this snow, why don’t you guys just go ahead and start this build?’ So we did.”

“I was keeping UPS and FedEx delivery people plenty busy during this period,” said Durf.

With the wife’s approval, Durf hit the door as fast as possible and went to town. Within four hours, they had the truck completely stripped down to the cab, bed, and the frame ready for paint. A few days later, the truck was off to paint and body at Sheaffer’s Auto Body in Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania. “She spent the next several months there,” said Durf. “During that time, Operation Savings Account Depletion was in full effect.”

Over the next few months of Durf’s trips to Saudi Arabia, he and his cousin continued to the build with the intention of completing soon. New ideas surfaced for the powerplant, which led to the engine being removed and dropped at a local machine shop. At the machine shop, the engine was refreshed and gone through to ensure it was capable and reliable enough to support the added power Durf was planning on using.

“My goal wasn’t to have a super-high-horsepower truck, but I wanted 750 to 850 horsepower,” said Durf. “I was always taught do it once and do it right, so that’s what I’ve always done.”

Unfortunately, after a perfect post-engine install, things didn’t go as planned. “It was running perfect and I knew it was too good to be true,” said Durf.

“When I returned home in February or March of 2017, I was informed that the engine was ready for any abuse I could throw at it,” said Durf. “Naturally, I had some custom tuning from Calibrated Tuning Solutions installed on the truck so we could do a break-in period on the truck.” After a few miles in route to a friend’s shop, Liberator Performance, Durf was nervous about the fresh engine.

With all of the time and money invested in this, it would be catastrophic if something bad were to happen. Sure enough, on the way to the shop, Durf heard a massive boom. “Dan and I look at each other and immediately we started to wonder what the loud noise was,”said Durf. “After further inspection, the custom camshaft was improperly installed.”

The machine shop didn’t admit the fault, as they were cautious with their words in hopes of avoiding responsibility. In the end, however, they did promise to “make it right.” “The machine shop did not line bore at my request because they felt since tolerances were within check, that the engine as good to go, and specifically said line boring was overkill and not needed,” said Durf. “So, the only thing done was a new front cam bearing and cam install.”

It was an expensive learning experience, but with the help of Chris Gelbaugh, a new block was started. “In May of 2017, the new engine block and head were back from the machine shop,” said Durf. “I wasn’t even home 24 hours and got to work right away building it back up for the install the next day. The truck was running smoothly. Up to this point, Dan and I have roughly 2,400 hours into this build.”

Worth The Wait

“There were many sleepless nights, which for the record I don’t suggest going without sleep for 76 hours,” said Durf. “Till this day, that is my personal best!”

What came next was what made all the headaches and issues worth it. The finished product had 1H5 Cement Grey Paint, a Laramie front bumper conversion, mesh style grille with a paint match trim, and a Trifecta 2.0 tri-fold bed cover to finish the exterior up. Loving the stolen Toyota FJ color, Durf didn’t stop there. He continued to paint match nearly every part of the truck possible; the end result looks flawless.

On the inside of the cockpit, there are ISSPRO factory matched gauges reading boost, EGT, drive pressure, and fuel rail pressure. Spiking out these gauges are the Calibrated Addiction EFI Live tunes. Durf uses an Edge Products Insight CTS2 monitor for additional parameters. Driving fast and watching all the flashing lights is made easy with some comfort modifications.

Thanks to the bass from Kenwood Audio’s head unit, subwoofer box, and 12-inch subwoofer, Durf and Co. can jam out to music in the four Cipher Auto Racing seats all the way around.

Cleaning the engine bay up more than probably anyone, Durf practically wire tucked the whole thing. Continuing the cleanliness is a set of Fleece Performance shock tower delete plates, BD Diesel sway bar end links, and Bilstein 5100 shock absorbers.

The truck is equipped with a set of 22 x 10 DropStars 654BM Wheels. and they are wrapped in 305/45R22 Toyo Proxes ST Tires. Behind these gloss finish wheels peek Power Stop drilled and slotted rotors, as well as VHT High Temp painted calipers.

As for the fun stuff, this 6.7 Cummins clearly isn’t factory. Hanging off the side of this Cummins is a T4 Stainless Diesel manifold supporting an S467.7/83/1.1 turbocharger. The turbocharger is plumbed with Pusher Intakes piping and goes into a modified OEM intercooler. Holding all of the boost inside the system are upgraded HSP Diesel silicone boots.

Hooking to the back of the turbo is a four-inch Fleece downpipe, plumbed back to a five-inch Flo Pro Exhaust system. As for the powertrain, the cylinder head is a Stage III unit that has been O-ringed, filled with 110-pound valve springs and Stage III Manton pushrods, and finally, held down to the block surface with ARP 625 head studs.

Backing this 6.7-liter Cummins is a G56 6-Speed manual transmission with a Lazarsmith girdle and a South Bend 3250 Double Disk clutch.

Inside this remanufactured 6.7-liter engine sits a set of 12-valve connecting rods, cut QSB pistons, and a Fluidyne damper with a barring tool from Fleece. Mounted behind the radiator is a pair of Flex-A-Lite dual electric fans to keep things cool, along with a clipped Gates water pump.

Fueling this beauty is a 12mm Exergy Performance CP3, 100-percent over Exergy fuel injectors, and a FASS 150gph lift pump. Durf has kept this engine bay supremely clean by using all stainless steel braided lines and anodized black fittings for fuel supply and return. The modified engine harness led to a wire tuck of the truck using a braided sleeve protective covering.

Projects like this don’t just happen super fast. It’s almost a certainty that there will besetbacks. Getting through the issues and staying positive is done with a great support system. Durf would like to thank everyone that’s been involved in this whole process, incuding his wife Sarah, Dan Nelson, Eric McKee, Dakota Hess, and Chris Gelbaugh.

To keep up with Brian and Battleship, check him out on Instagram

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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