A year ago, my personal drag racing program was hitting a whole new level and with that being said, the need for a tow rig that was up for any task was a must. Could the truck have done the job completely bone stock? Yes. The fact of the matter is the truck wasn’t stock when I purchased it, and even if it was, who wants a stock truck?
With the help of a ton of different companies, I’ve basically completed what I set out to do just a year or more ago. Build the ultimate tow rig. Project TowBoat, as I’ve coined it, for those of you who don’t know, is a 2011 Mega Cab RAM 2500 that is silver in color. When I first purchased the truck, it was equipped with “off the shelf” tuning, mild transmission upgrades, a larger single turbocharger, and a few aesthetics.
I towed with this truck for a year before this journey began and yes, it did tow okay but to be honest, the exhaust temperatures would get really hot, the rear of the truck sagged, the mileage wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, the lighting was less than stellar, and I knew there was a lot left on the table in terms of performance improvements. For starters, I wanted to get a more “hands-on” tuning on the truck. Really hone in on the tuning on a more personal level.
To help assist with the sagging rear, a set of Ride-Rite Firestone Air Bags was installed and it was a night and day difference. I was able to load and tow anything with a level truck which inevitably made it ride and look a lot better going down the road. Not to mention how much safer it drove with the weight evenly spread.
With the help of our friends over at EFILive and Firpeunk Diesel, TowBoat was equipped with a five-position switch and five custom tunes that offered performance from stock to wild. Although wild wasn’t really the point of the install, I guess it was cool to say it had it. I’m not like most and really do baby this truck and getting the race truck and trailer to events was the number one priority.
With the tuning handled, it was already a new truck. It ran better, it smoked less, and the mileage had definitely improved. In an attempt to further improve the mileage and quality of driving, we filled all of the tanks up with Hot Shot’s Secret‘s oils and additives and that only skyrocketed our intervals. Our temperatures were down, the miles per gallons were up, and I am beginning to see this truck transform into the initial idea of the ultimate tow rig.
I am driving the truck as is and know that there are still more opportunities out there to keep this progression of this build going. With that, the turbocharger was next on the chopping block. The single 66mm turbo hanging off the manifold wasn’t exactly ideal for what I was doing. Even though I was only towing 12,000-13,000-pounds, that 66 wasn’t exactly zippy out of the hole.
Since the truck had been stripped of its factory turbo, one of the most important towing attributes these trucks come equipped with was missing. The exhaust brake. I wanted that back. I want to be able to turn the exhaust brake on and assist in slowing the load down when facing a stop sign, stoplight, or slowing traffic.
There was no way to do that with the turbo I had so we turned to BD Diesel Performance. At the time, their latest development was their HE351 Screamer turbos. These modified stock turbos may look like factory units but I can assure you that what’s inside is pure dynamite. As expected, when the screamer was installed, the drivability was insane. I mean, it should be because it has a smaller 64mm wheel but you get the point.
Now, because of a smaller charge air system, the power was instantaneous, the smoke was almost completely gone, and again, the mileage has improved. I drove the truck like this for quite a while and once again, another opportunity arose and I capitalized. Compounds. Two is better than one, right? Pusher Intakes compound turbo system was calling my name.
Pusher offers a High-Mount Compound Turbo system that actually works with a stock turbo and is completely bolt-on. Their pitch was that these kits were installable in your driveway. So here I am thinking about how good this truck runs already, how can just adding another turbo really improve what I think is awesome?
Jacob Allenbaugh, the owner of Pusher Intakes, assured me that this would be a game-changer. They’ve been testing these kits on the RAM trucks with both the 5.9 and 6.7-Liter Cummins engines and he swore that it would perform. Good news for me, these kits were designed to make good, usable power with just a stock turbo. We’re getting additional horsepower and torque when doing this but I am not using a stock turbo, I’ve got the screamer.
Fast forward to after some logistical negotiations and the kit arrived. I got the Pusher compound kit installed with the help from a friend right here in the garage. It is 100-percent doable in your driveway but it also helps that you’ve got another set of hands for parts, tools, etc. Fast forward to now, this truck is absolutely incredible.
I’ve towed through the hills of Tennessee, the flat and heat of Florida, mountainous areas of Ohio, and so much more, and this truck just loves it. We’ve got boost at all times, there is no turbo lag, and the mileage, once again, is at an all-time high. As for EGT’s, the exhaust temperatures I mentioned earlier, they are in check now. Before, with the 66mm turbo, my EGT’s would reach 1,500-degrees in no time. I’m sure it would’ve climbed higher but I never let it go that far.
Now, with the tuning and compounds, I can’t get the truck hotter than 1,200-degrees. Setting the cruise control at 70 to 71-mph, 10,000-pounds in two, it just chugs right on up the hills and through the traffic like it’s nothing. All that remained for this truck was some exterior upgrades. Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of trading, buying, and selling of wheels and tires but I wanted the ultimate tow rig. I want to daily drive, tow, and show.
If you’re going to a car show and want to stand out, you can’t just have under the hood goodies, clean paint, and plain wheels and tires, right? Our friends over at Cali Off-Road Wheels were introducing a new set of wheels and it fit the exact bill I was after. A set of polished 22-inch by 12-inch Sevenfold’s. These polished wheels matched with the pretty silver paint just looked great with the chrome accents the truck had.
We’ve got our wheels but we needed some tread. I needed a good set of tires that weren’t too aggressive but could still handle the normal driving of the truck. I reached out to Nexen Tire about their tire line and they set us up with a tire they thought would work great. In came the Nexen Roadian AT Pro RA8 tire. It measured out to 305/45R22.
These tires offered an all-terrain look but were still small enough that they didn’t look “muddy”, you know? It’s exactly what I wanted. Just in case there was some clearance issue because the wheels are so much wider, I wanted to pick up the nose of the truck some to ensure plenty of room. I reached out to Brian George, owner of Sinister Diesel, to see about setting TowBoat up with their RAM leveling kit.
their leveling kit came with quality materials and hardware. To top it off, they offered to send some upgrade shocks too. They’ve teamed up with Bilstein and so the truck then became equipped with the Sinister leveling kit and Bilstein 5100 shocks on all four corners. The truck runs better, sounds better, looks better, and I am happy with how it has transformed.
I wanted to take the truck to a car show and showcase all of the goodies but with the recent hiatus in this world, all of our car shows and racing events were basically brought to an immediate halt. Luckily for me, my local 4th of July car show made the cut. I was unsure if it would actually happen or not but I was pleased to hear that they let it happen with the social distancing rules being enforced.
As you can see, the truck looked great on the “showroom” floor with all of its upgrades including the wheels and tires. There were showgoers that came through asking about the truck and wanting to know the ins and outs and they couldn’t believe that it sounded as quiet as it did and towed as well as I explained.
When following the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, I’ve had fellow racers ask about the truck and I always tell them how perfect this truck is. You don’t have to be headed to the racetrack to have a perfect tow rig. You can have a normal everyday truck and make this too. If you’re truly wanting “the perfect tow rig”, take this build list and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
I cannot thank the companies that were involved with this enough and I encourage each and every one of you to reach out to these companies and do it too. For more information about these parts, be sure and head over to their websites linked below. What are your thoughts on Project TowBoat’s final form? Do you think it turned out perfect? Stay tuned to Diesel Army as I continue to use this truck and possibly add more on in the future.