1998 Dodge Ram 2500 - Mean Green

Jason Merfeld's Homebuilt 700HP Dodge

Jason Sands
Nov 24, 2014
Photographers: Jason Sands
When Jason first found his ’98 Dodge, it was far from his dream vehicle. It had a slight rust problem, and by “slight” we mean both fenders, the bed, hood, and tailgate were all junk. Undeterred by all the oxidation, Jason started collecting parts from junkyards, parts suppliers, and Craigslist. Over time, he was able to secure brandnew sheetmetal for the truck, including a hood from Diamond Standard Parts, and Stampede fender flares for the wheelwells. The bumpers are interesting, and when we asked Jason where he got them, he replied, “I didn’t. A couple buddies and I made them!” This cool combination was then sanded down before Jason sprayed the whole truck with Synergy Green Line-X.
The powertrain in Jason’s Ram has had its fair share of rebuilds and parts changes. However, it took the block being ruined by a tappet failure for Jason to finally bite the bullet and go for the full build. The engine itself was built with coated Mahle pistons and a Pure Diesel Power rebuild kit, and the short-block was machined and assembled by Berry Machine in Mason City, Iowa.
With the bottom end in good shape, the rest of the engine was assembled by Jason and good buddy Jeff Allen of For-Play Automotive in London, Minnesota. A Hamilton Cams 188/220 camshaft with retainer had already been installed, to which Jason added a set of Hamilton Cams pushrods and tappets, and a set of Industrial Injection 150-pound valvesprings. A new, stock head was purchased from Pure Diesel Power (as the old one was cracked) and was installed with a set of ARP 425 studs.
Photo 2/21   |   Another interesting part of this Dodge is the bumpers, which are robust yet don’t extend much past the body lines, offering a clean look. Unfortunately, there’s no place you can buy them, as Jason and his buddies built them!
Jason also upped the horsepower game on his Cummins while it was apart. The injection pump was fitted with full-cut delivery valves and 4,000-rpm governor springs from Dynomite Diesel, as well as a Mack Rack plug and Tork Tek overflow valve. A local shop racked the barrels and flowed the P7100 to the tune of a whopping 800cc of fuel. At this point, Jason was on his third turbo, an Industrial Injection Phatshaft 62, which had been mounted with compounds in mind. With nothing but time on his hands while the engine was still in pieces, Jason decided to go with twins and mounted a 75mm S400 under the 62mm turbo. Like most of the truck, Jason built the piping kit with the help of friends, and then had it powdercoated.
The rest of the Dodge also received its fair share of upgrades. The NV4500 transmission was rebuilt for the rigors of sled pulling by Zumbrota Bearing & Gear, and a South Bend 3250 dual-disc clutch was placed between it and the hopped-up engine. Jason and his buddies also built the custom traction bars and fitted the truck with brand-new Moog suspension components and a Borgeson quick-ratio steering box. Finally, the entire inside of the truck was layered with Dynamat to keep the interior as quiet as possible.
Photo 3/21   |   The 5.9L Cummins engine in Jason’s Dodge survived more than 200,000 miles without a hiccup, until an errant lifter made its way through the engine and caused a wee bit of blow-by. Fortunately, Jason took this mishap in stride and opted for a full rebuild with large bowl pistons, a Hamilton Cams 188/220 grind, and numerous other modifications.
With the truck in ready-to-show shape, Jason made his way to the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza in Terre Haute, Indiana, which is where we spotted it. The more questions we asked, the more we realized just how extensive the rebuild and performance modifications were—and that the truck isn’t just a Line-X spray job. The fact that this truck also hauls the mail with 70 psi of boost and an estimated 700 hp didn’t hurt, either, or that it has seen its fair share of sled pulls.
Jason says he’s mostly done with the build at this point and that a switch to a 3850 clutch is on the list (so he can pull in Fourth gear, low-range). Slightly bigger turbos are the only other future modifications he’s contemplating. Whether the Ram stays the same or again gets more horsepower, we can definitely say all of Jason’s hard work on the truck has really paid off.
Photo 4/21   |   1998 Dodge Ram 2500 Rear Three Quarter
Fast Facts Year/Make/Model: 1998 Dodge Ram 2500
Owner: Jason Merfeld
Hometown: Mason City, Iowa
Odometer: 264,000 miles
Engine: 5.9L Cummins inline-six; Mahle Industrial pistons; 188/220 Hamilton Cams camshaft, retainer, tappets, and pushrods; Industrial Injection 150-pound valvesprings; ARP 425 head studs; Fluidampr harmonic balancer
Fuel: Dynomite Diesel Performance 90hp injectors, 4,000-rpm governor spring kit, full-cut delivery valves, barrels racked, 25 degree timing, Mack Rack plug, Tork Teknology 060 overflow valve, FASS 220-gph lift pump with Sinster Diesel fuel sump, Snow Performance Stage 2 watermethanol injection
Air: Homebuilt compound turbos using an Industrial Injection Phatshaft 62/70, s475 with 1.32 A/R
Transmission: NV4500 rebuilt by Zumbrota Bearing & Gear, South Bend 3250 clutch
Horsepower: 600 to 700 hp (est.)
Torque: 1,300 to 1,400 lb-ft (est.)
Tires: 35x12.50 Nitto Mud Grapplers
Wheels: 18x9 Ballistic Jesters
Suspension: 2½-inch front leveling kit, Airlift 5000 airbags, traction bars (homebuilt), Borgeson steering box
Axles: 3.55 with Detroit Truetrac locker
Body: Truck was sprayed with Line-X (Synergy Green Effect), homemade bumpers, smoked lights, badges from Billet Badges, Stampede fender flares, cab is fully layered with DynaMat
Interior: Auto Meter boost and pyro gauges, Ruff Tuff leather seat covers
Fun Fact: It took Jason three clutches, four turbos, and two engines to get to this point.

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