To be honest, I have been wanting to cover and tell the incredible story of this truck for a long time. I have known this truck as the build standard if you’re wanting something that will purely take a beating and just kick ass. That’s right. I’m talking about “The Quad Cab.” This truck is more than someone’s pickup and it has evolved a small business into an industry-leading empire for anything and everything diesel. Firepunk Diesel.
Even though his schedule is full and tension is high with off-season changes and preparation for the 2020 season is going on, Lavon Miller has taken the time to answer our questions so we can tell this truck’s story the best to our ability and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we do telling it.
This truck was purchased by Miller in 2010 in its slightly modified form with 110,000-miles. It looked like an ordinary “03/04” truck with a few extra accessories like a bull bar on the front, cab-length nerf bars and a set of 17 or 18-inch wheels with an aggressive tire. What this truck didn’t know is what it would be put through but in the same sense how well it would be taken care of.
“When I purchased this truck, I kept it basically how it was because I was starting a business. We were starting to build transmissions and every dime we made we put directly back into the business so we weren’t modifying our own trucks,” said Miller. “This truck had about 585-horsepower with stock injectors, stock CP3, stock head bolts, S363 turbo, and a Pureflow Air Dog lift pump.”
With this title, you have to wonder what I mean by “do it all.” Well, I mean precisely what I’m saying. This truck is capable of doing anything you ask it. You want to tow your loaded trailer hundreds of miles and hours from home? It can do it. You wanting to sled pull with this truck and head home after? It can do it. You want to drag race in a very competitive class and then tow another truck home? It can do it. I mean it, there isn’t another truck like it.
Under Hood Genetics
An ordinary engine doesn’t tolerate general abuse. I mean, it will but it won’t for long, you know? Miller wanted a powerplant in the quad cab that can be trusted and something he knows will work. After all, this truck needs to keep chugging along. This 2004.5 Ram is propelled by a 6.7-liter D & J Precision Machine Street Series, Enforcer long-block Cummins engine.
Behind the cast walls of this engine homes a set of QSB, late-5.9 bowl pattern pistons and a set of custom D & J one-inch longer connecting rods to finish off the rotating assembly. Other internal mods include 9/16-inch main studs, girdle, and 9/16-inch head studs. Riding on top of this long block is a matching D & J Stage 3 cylinder head that is still utilizing coolant with the block to remain capable of towing.
Running a shop like Firepunk, these guys tend to learn what works and what doesn’t over time. The quad cab is a perfect example of this. For fuel, Miller relies on a set of 126-degree, 275-percent over Exergy Performance injectors and a single Exergy 14-MM Race CP3 pump. This fuel setup is one large part of the formula that makes this truck so magnificent.
Matched perfectly with its fuel system, the quad cab utilizes a large set of compound turbochargers. On the manifold, this 6.7-Liter thrusts a Stainless Diesel 5-Blade S472/87/1.0 while being fed by a Forced Inductions S488/96/1.32 atmosphere turbo. This combination is an upgrade from the previous S366/484 setup it had.
“Running the S366 on the manifold in that configuration worked great and I have no complaints but even though we weren’t having problems with it, I knew it was only a matter of time. We were pushing that charger pretty hard,” said Miller. “So, here is the new setup. There is very little difference with a huge jump in capabilities going up to the 72/88 set. They’re only really just a bit lazier but they are much more durable.” Other parts under the hood include a Mishimoto radiator, intercooler and an aftermarket coolant overflow container.
Miller continued, “My brother, Landon, has been piloting this truck in the 6.70 Index in the Outlaw Diesel Super Series and is doing pretty good. In fact, we just returned from Virginia where he towed with this truck with a gross weight of around 23,000-pounds. It was a Polaris RZR and his truck on the trailer and not only did it make it through the mountains and back with no issues, but it also won racing the 6.70 class while we were there.”
If you look closely, you may notice there aren’t any batteries. It’s common the passenger side battery is removed to make room for the side-by-side compound turbos but the driver side is missing too. This is because Miller has transformed the battery box into a junction box for anything and everything auxiliary accessories. This includes the Air Dog, transmission fan, extra lights, and the Anteater system. One battery has been mounted in the bed and the other is mounted underneath the truck.
You have to admit, it does look a lot cleaner in there now, right?
Steering, Suspension, And Driveline
Underneath these Dodge trucks are where most people begin to nitpick their issues. If it isn’t clear coat peeling, dashes cracking, or something else, it’s the front end components. When you’re towing 20,000-pounds, traveling 140-MPH, or hooking to a sled, you’re going to want a tight front end. Miller only trusts Synergy Manufacturing and their Heavy Duty Steering Kit. This included their tie-rod, Chromoly track bar, and a hydraulic-assisted steering stabilizer.
It is almost a joke at this point but this truck gets asked about a lot when it comes to wheels and tires. “Yes, this question is asked quite a bit so we’ll clear it up. This is a set of custom 22-inch by 12-inch American Force wheels with no rivets cut and our name Firepunk Diesel cut into the faces,” said Miller. “The wheels are wrapped in a set of Toyo Open Country AT II tires. This seems to be the best tires on these trucks for daily driving and towing in my experience.”
Peeling back the layers, on the inside of this machine looks pretty ordinary with the exception of a removable roll cage and a five-point harness. On the A-Pillar, there are a few gauges where the guys can monitor EGT’s, boost, and transmission temperature. Other interior goodies include a 10-inch Alpine Audio subwoofer and a Pioneer amplifier. Because why not jam out too, right? It does everything else.
Underneath this bright white Ram is one of their own handcrafted masterpieces, a Firepunk Diesel Comp 3 Transmission. Inside this 48RE is the new Santjer solid input shaft they’re testing and a Diesel Performance Converters triple disc torque converter. “This combination, the shaft and lockup converter, has been perfect. We installed this in March and we have been to all of the events racing and towing still with no issues. This will soon become the standard option for our Comp 3 units being sold.
Big Idea To Reality
In early 2018, we stopped in at Firepunk Diesel to just see how things are going. Our tour showed us how big this company really is and what it has developed into and Lavon credits a lot of the business’s success on this truck and what it has done. In the back seat, at all times, the quad cab has all of the Diesel Power Challenge Diesel Power magazines in it from where they competed.
“The Diesel Power Challenge for us was monumental. That event and how we did there really was what laid the foundation for Firepunk and grew the business. As a team, we thought about every aspect of the challenge, overthought a lot of it, to make sure we were 100-percent prepared. With that, I was very transparent about the build too,” said Miller.
He continued, “There were no huge secrets of what we were doing. We let everyone know what we were bringing to the table if they asked and I think that is a lot of the reason why we got the following we did later after the event. This sort of just kept up over the years afterward as a shop. If you call in looking for direction or what we use, we will tell you.”
Miller went on to win his first attempt at the Diesel Power Challenge in 2014. His consistent performance in all of the separate events spread out over the three days placed him on top of the podium and a free pass into the following year’s event. Returning in 2015 with the #1 on his window, Miller had his work cut out for him in yet another challenge but he brought the whole package again. Miller, who is no longer eligible for the Diesel Power Challenge, won yet again.
“Since 2014, this truck hasn’t been under 1,200-horsepower. It had triple turbos, forged pistons for the triple turbos, and made 1,633-horsepower. On that setup, it’s been 9.80 at 140 MPH in the quarter-mile at 7,760 pounds,” said Miller. “I knew at the time I could make this truck faster but in the winter of 2016, I got to thinking what do I need to do with this truck? It’s heavy, it’s a fun street truck, I can still tow with it, and if I want to go to the next level, I’m going to have to start cutting up this truck to lighten it up.”
About that time, that’s when they were called out for the Ultimate Callout Challenge and the decision was made to leave the trusty quad cab alone and build the well-known Pro Street truck that went on to win not one but three consecutive Ultimate Callout Challenge titles. With that being said, the quad cab stays at its 1,280-horsepower setting which has this tank dialed perfectly in that 6.70 index range for racing.
“This truck really is a daily driver in my eyes. If she wanted, my wife could hop in this truck and head to the grocery store no problem,” said Miller. “When she got back, I could just take off to Texas without even thinking about it or even hit the dragstrip for some mid-to-low 10-second passes.”
If you’re wanting to replicate this build, you’re going to have to accumulate a good amount of parts. In fact, Miller said if you were to rebuild this, you’re looking at $60,000 in parts. Luckily for him, he’s trickled this expense over the course of nine years which according to him “doesn’t make it hurt as bad.” Just because your truck out in the garage isn’t to this point doesn’t mean it won’t be. Take your time and build it up as you can.
It has been an absolute pleasure covering this truck for you guys and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it. If you’re looking to build a truck like this that will literally take care of all of your needs, take this build sheet and get to work. It’s so possible to dominate everything there is to dominate in a truck with a setup like this. For more information about Firepunk Diesel and how they can help you build the truck of your dreams, be sure and check out their website. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for more features from the hottest trucks of the industry.