Some aftermarket parts for diesel trucks are pretty job focused. For instance, when you buy a set of 250-percent over injectors, chances are you’re trying to make a lot more horsepower. When you buy a gooseneck hitch for your dually, you’re needing it because you’re going to work the truck with a trailer. As for head studs, they work for pretty much every scenario.
Whether you have a truck that gets beat down working all day or if you have a truck that is built for all-out performance, the truck can and will benefit from a set of cylinder head studs. Most trucks on the road come equipped with a set of head bolts. While the head bolts will work, over time, there is a possibility they could fail. Why chance it when you’re out on the road hauling cattle or even racing on the weekends? A set of studs is a must-do for every diesel truck.
Working closely with our friends over at KT Performance, they recommended to us their line of head fasteners, Gator Fasteners. Gator Fasteners have a tensile strength of over 220,000-psi and will not stretch like your factory head bolts. This will prevent you from lifting the cylinder head and compromising the head gasket.
Under higher combustion pressure, having your cylinder head or heads clamped down the block surface is critical. Gator Fasteners come manufactured with rolled threads after heat treating that provides optimum fatigue strength. They are centerless ground to assure perfect concentricity. Included in each kit are heat-treated, Chromoly steel, 12-point nuts, and parallel-ground washers with a black oxide finish for extra durability.
Do They Fit What I Have?
Gator Fasteners, believe it or not, has a set of fasteners for every major diesel engine platform. For the GMC and Chevrolet trucks, there is a set of Gator studs that fit the 2001 Duramax engines all the way to the newer L5P engines in 2020. Following suit, Power Stroke and Cummins engines are both covered from ’89 Ram’s to the ’94 Power Strokes all the way to the current year.
KT Performance trusts its brand and wanted to showcase that. They wanted us here at Diesel Army to source three vehicles from all different scenarios to try these studs out on. With that being said, the search was on. We found a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 with a 6.6-liter LBZ Duramax engine inside. This truck has been modified with a larger turbo, bigger injectors, custom tuning, and a few other add-ons that make the boost number climb pretty quick.
Running a set of head bolts in this is risky but has yielded good results so far. Well, no risking it anymore. This hot street truck is going to have the insurance it desires when tearing up the roads.
Next, we found a 2006 Dodge Ram with the 5.9-liter Cummins engine in it. While the factory head bolts in these engines have somehow managed to work on some serious builds, we just aren’t willing to chance it anymore. This truck is somewhat of a street/work truck but it spends most of its run time daily driving with a heavy foot. This truck has performance in its future so an upgrade like this is 100-percent necessary.
Having parts that keep your engine together at any power level is critical. Last, but certainly not least, the Power Stroke. Johnny Farrow, a friend of ours, is working on building a 2015 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine. With plans to make this a workhorse and hot street truck, and not to mention how hard it will be to access this later on in the truck, now is a perfect time to set the engine up with good parts.
Like the other manufacturers, the Power Stroke studs from Gator still feature that 220,000-psi tensile strength and the coatings that provide a part that gives us drivers what we need. We aren’t going to run through and give you a how-to on how to install head studs in this but we are going to give our honest opinion of them going in.
Well, How Are They?
At a glance, they look great. They look like they are worthy parts for any build we have going and when you set them next to a competing brand, you won’t see much of a difference. Taking one step backward, we could really tell a big difference before pulling them out of the package. I’ve had competing parts before and they’re literally thrown in the box, covered in oils, and ready to go. Inside would be a small tube of assembly lube but hardly enough.
When it comes to the Gator Fasteners brand, each stud kit was delicately wrapped in plastic and protected inside the box. On top of that, Gator studs come with a large bottle of AMSOIL assembly lube which will be more than enough to lube up these parts before going into the engine with them. It may not seem like much to you, but for us, these small things say a lot.
I talked with each of the owners to get their opinion on the head stud kit and since they’ve used other brands before, it is a perfect testimonial. For Brennan, the Duramax owner, he was genuinely impressed. “I appreciate the extra effort Gator goes into when packaging. Like you’ve said, it may not be a huge deal but the small things like this make the difference in my opinion,” he said. “As far as the parts going into the engine, they worked flawlessly.”
Moving on to our hot street Ram truck, we talked with Quinten the truck owner to see how he felt about them. “The hardware this kit came with looks great. The studs threaded into the block as they should, the finish on the threads was precision cut. I am impressed with the Gator studs,” he said. “Now that I’ve got some horsepower-capable head studs in the engine, I’ve got the itch bad to upgrade the truck with another turbo.”
Last but not least, the Power Stroke. We talked with Farrow about the build he is working on and it seems like perfect timing. “The engine isn’t being torn apart for the fun of it. It blew a head gasket, therefore, it’s teardown time. It is just easier like this,” Johnny said. A perfect example of why these head studs could have helped had we got to him earlier.
To us, the Gator head studs were impressive. The time is taken to package each bundle of hardware, everything is tucked into a neat box and safe for shipping. The hardware was all precision-cut. The threads had no imperfections, the nuts threaded on smooth as ever, each of the kits went into the block with ease cutting through any grime that could possibly be in there.
We are really looking forward to checking back with each truck owner in the near future and see how things are going. As long as each truck is still hanging in there with no issues, especially with some power behind them, I think we have a front runner in the space of boost containment.
For more information about Gator Fasteners and the rest of their heavy-duty hardware, head on over to the KT Performance website here. For more part reviews, truck features, and event coverage, stay tuned to Diesel Army. What are your thoughts on these? Do you think anything will bite like the Gators? Let us know in the comments below.