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1,000 HP 7.3 Power Stroke

Proving the 7.3L's HEUI injection system can still run with the best of them

Mike McGlothlin
Jul 1, 2010
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
In the last year, each generation of the Power Stroke diesel has surpassed the 1,000hp mark on the dyno. In May 2009, the first Power Stroke to hit 1,000 hp was a 6.0L. Earlier this year, a 6.4L did it as well. But between these two milestones, Mike Ontiveros accomplished the same goal with an engine most thought would never make the cut-a 7.3L Power Stroke. His drive to reach the four-digit-horsepower list was simple: "I've always loved the 7.3L, and I want people to see that it can be competitive."
Photo 2/12   |   four Digit Horsepowered 1999 Ford F250 wheels
If you're wondering, it wasn't easy for Mike to get his '99 F-250 to this point. The 1,000hp engine actually came out of his tow rig, which he'd been slowly modifying since it was new. In 2007, he purchased the F-250 you see here, swapped the modified 7.3L into it, and decided to turn his big dyno numbers into fast track times. A cracked block at the 800hp mark slowed Mike's horsepower progress, but at the same time pushed him to go all out.
The experts at Wide Open Performance in Sandy, Utah, built and balanced the 7.3L to allow it to make even more power. The block was half filled with HardBlok and a girdle was added for bottom-end strength. Crower connecting rods were installed, along with Wide Open Performance's custom pistons, which feature reworked fuel bowls. And, because Mike planned to upgrade to twin turbos, the heads were fire-ringed to stand up to extreme boost levels. A set of H11 heads studs from A-1 Technologies was also added to keep the heads secured to the block. Heavy-duty valvetrain upgrades included the addition of hardened pushrods from Diesel Innovations and Hi-Rev valvesprings from Hypermax.
Photo 3/12   |   The Wide Open Performance-built 7.3L Power Stroke made 1,052 hp on PFI Performance's dyno in Fort Collins, Colorado, with a healthy dose of nitrous. The owner of the truck, Mike Ontiveros, believes it makes more than 700 hp on fuel. Notice the factory air conditioning was left intact, which makes Mike's claim that he drives the truck frequently on the street believable.
For fuel, Mike purchased a set of injectors from Swamp's Diesel Performance. The injectors are rated at 400cc's of fuel, and the nozzles flow four times as quickly as the factory nozzles. Swamp's Diesel also provided a highly modified injector drive module (IDM) to ensure the injector solenoids produce a very strong and precise magnetic field to actuate the injectors. An ITP Diesel fuel system with a regulated return keeps diesel flow to the heads consistent and efficient. As far as keeping the hydraulic side of the HEUI equation in check, twin high-pressure oil pumps from Brian's Truck Shop were added to power the injectors.
The compound-turbo configuration was designed by Pius Eberle at Bell Turbo, while Wide Open Performance built and fabricated the kit to make it fit under the Super Duty's hood. Air enters the system via the low-pressure turbo, flows through the intercooler, and then to the high-pressure unit. But before entering the engine, the compressed air is hit with a stage of water injection for the coolest charge possible. A dual wastegate setup helps the small turbo drive the large turbo and alleviates drive pressure. Three stages of nitrous top off the engine's power-making potential, and Mike has them activate progressively via a timer while drag racing.
Power from the 7.3L is sent through a fully built 4R100 transmission from Brian's Truck Shop. Mike's not your average customer, and his 1,000hp 7.3L poses a unique challenge for a transmission builder. However, he was adamant that the folks at Brian's Truck Shop have delivered-putting together one tough transmission-and that they're even developing more durable parts in case he ups the truck's power in the future. Once through the transmission, front and rear Detroit lockers get power to all four tires.
Through the use of Minotaur software and the help of Power Hungry Performance, Mike has been able to test, tune, and log data for every parameter he's changed in the engine's calibration. Mike has data-logged every single change he's made to the truck. He uses his trips to the dyno as tests, in which he compares the changes he's made over time-and the effect they've had on the engine's power. The day the truck broke 1,000 hp, Mike first made 950 hp. But with the truck still on the rollers, he tweaked the fuel delivery a little for better atomization, which resulted in 1,052 hp.
Judging by the numbers Mike's truck laid down on the dyno, most would assume he set out to build a dyno queen or an all-out race truck-but that's not the case. His real goal was to make the 7.3L engine both powerful and reliable and use the truck as his daily driver if he needed to. "Eventually, I want to get it into the 10s but keep it a street truck, and on street tires." If Mike gets the truck to that point, it might be even more impressive to watch than a 1,000hp dyno pull.



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