Whether it be a Ford, GM, or RAM product that you prefer, the bottom line is, you’re going to modify it at some point. You’re here reading this, so, therefore, you know what we’re talking about. Modifying comes in multiple different levels, but no matter the level of performance you seek, it’s always good to have good insurance, like head studs.
With modifying your truck in mind, you become familiar with tuning options like EFI Live, Smarty, H&S, or Spartan tuners. We’ve found that by using the custom parameters more horsepower and torque is available at a high margin. With more horsepower and torque you encounter more pressure and stress on your engine.
With boost pressure on the rise, it’s necessary to replace the stock head bolts with a set of head studs before the bolts stretch an create a separation between the head and block. The head studs have a clamping force that’s much greater than a factory head bolt.
Firstly, the difference between a head bolt and a head stud is a bolt has a fixed head on top whereas a stud is a threaded stock running through the head and block with a nut clamping down on the cylinder head surface. With all this extra boost pressure, you risk compromising your head gasket.
We swung into C&B Diesel in Jackson, Missouri for an install on one of their customer’s trucks. The truck is a 2012 Dodge Ram that has been deleted and equipped with custom tuning. With more power inevitable, the guys at C&B referred the customer to Automotive Racing Products (ARP) for head studs. Trusting the professionalism of the company, the job was ok’ed.
After the cylinder head was lined up, Brennan, one of their technicians, started to thread all of the studs into through the head and into the block. The hex broach in the end of the stud is designed to assist with installing and removing the studs using a 5-mm Allen wrench, not torquing them down.
After all of the studs were ran into both the block and the head, it was time for the hardware. You’re given the nuts and washers that you will thread onto the still exposed stud. Before installing the washers, make sure you lubricate both sides of the washer using the ARP Ultra-Torque lubricant that’s been given to you.
Using the exact same lubricant, we lubricated the remaining exposed stud for applying the nuts. Once we got them all started, we hand tightened down to the nut surface and prepared for the torque sequence. The tools used were a torque wrench and a 14-mm socket.
The first torque of the studs is 40 ft-lb of torque. Using the given sheet from ARP, we followed the torque sequence shown above. Once we ran through all 26 studs, we ran through them a second time at 80 ft-lb of torque followed by the third and final step, 125 ft-lb.
Now that the head studs were installed and properly torqued, the rocker box that contains the valve cover and valvetrain has extra material over the number 24 bolt hole that will not have enough clearance to fit over the now stud. It will be necessary to machine the lower rocker arm cover (extra material) to gain desired clearance for job completion.
This job took more time due to the cylinder head removal and the pressure testing over a few days but without removing the head, this job can be done in a matter of an hour or two with minimal skill or experience.
While head studs are not a guarantee that the gasket will never fail, but it makes you sleep better at night knowing that they are there. We recommend a set of head studs on every truck that has the intention of upgrading performance levels to minimize the risk of blowing a head gasket. For the cost of the kit and time invested, it’s cheap insurance compared to the alternative. Not to mention the downtime while your truck is being repaired.
For more information about ARP Products, check out their website. What are some common questions you need answers too? Let us know in the comments below.