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  • Hard Data From Our ’89 Cummins-Powered Dodge on the Dyno and Dragstrip

Hard Data From Our ’89 Cummins-Powered Dodge on the Dyno and Dragstrip

Authoritative Testing

Jason Sands
Jul 1, 2011
Photographers: Jason Sands
Most diesel enthusiasts look for a way to test their latest modifications, and we’re no different. After bumping the engine’s injection timing up from 7 degrees to 27 degrees before top dead center and installing a lockup torque converter transmission out of a second-generation Dodge in place of our TF727, we were eager to test Project Rust Bucket, our 5.9L Cummins-powered ’89 Dodge. That meant getting the truck on the dragstrip to see if it was any faster and also on a dynamometer to measure our rear-wheel horsepower.
Photo 2/9   |   authoritative Testing dodge Ram Front Three Quarter
At The Track
We ran mid-9s at about 74 mph in the eighth-mile with Rust Bucket at Irwindale Raceway in the past, which, multiplied by 1.53 and 1.25 respectively, translates into a quarter-mile time in the mid-14s at about 90 mph. With our new modifications, we hit the track and immediately encountered a couple of snags: We couldn’t spool the turbo, and the newfound power meant no traction, even at 50 mph—without nitrous. After a pitiful 11-second run at 69 mph in the eighth-mile, we hit the mark on our second pass, bogging the engine to a horrendous 2.96-second 60-foot time before spinning to a 10.28-second at 82.3-mph run. Since Rust Bucket has a Sun Coast manual valvebody in its 47RH transmission, all the shifting and converter locking was up to us. This meant shifting out of First at about 30 mph, Second at roughly 60 mph, and then locking the converter in Third right before the finish line. Converting our eighth-mile numbers gives us a lopsided 15.72-second at 102.87-mph guesstimate in the quarter-mile. This indicated to us that the power we were putting to the ground definitely went up once we lit the turbo and got traction, so our homework for the next few months will be centered around spooling and hooking up. Project SleeperMax, our Duramax project, ran 8.31 seconds at 83.4 mph on a single turbo, so we’re confident we’ll see low 13s or maybe even high 12s once we can hook Rust Bucket up, and mid-to-low 12s on nitrous. It was obvious to us with the trap speed, that the Dodge was making good power.
Photo 3/9   |   At the dragstrip, our timeslip of 10.28 seconds at 83.2 mph in the eighth-mile shows we have a long way to go as far as track times. Our 60-foot was horrendous, and so was our elapsed time. The vehicle’s trap speed was the only indicator of the truck’s true potential.
On the Dyno
Another way of benchmarking performance involves running a vehicle on a chassis dynamometer (dyno). Dynos measure horsepower via a known resistance to load, which is applied to the rear tires by a roller. Since force equals mass times acceleration (F=MxA), if you know the applied load (mass) and the rate of acceleration, you can calculate force (horsepower and torque). Our old numbers before the timing and lockup came in at 356 hp without nitrous, and 514 hp with, as measured on a Dynojet 248C chassis dyno. After our modifications, we jumped on the dyno at Pacific Performance Engineering (which is a Mustang dyno) to get a new reading. Although switching dynos leads to an apples-to-oranges comparison, we were still expecting an increase in power. Our first run was a pathetic 266 hp. Oops, forgot to lock the converter. With the converter locked, we made a couple of 330hp pulls, but something still wasn’t right. We looked at our speedometer, and it was smacking 85 mph when the dyno was showing 70 mph. We were spinning on the rollers. A bump up to Overdrive and a test window of 70 mph to 120 mph gave us the number we were looking for. At 447 hp without nitrous, the extra timing and lockup had given us a 91hp increase. We opened both wastegates and made a nitrous hit, running 583 hp with one stage. Things were looking good, and we hit the second stage hoping for another big increase. But try as we might, the engine just didn’t have any fuel left to burn, hitting a maximum of 599 hp and a calculated 1,284 lb-ft of torque.
Photo 4/9   |   We hit the dyno at Pacific Performance Engineering and were quite pleased with our horsepower and torque readings of 599 hp and 1,284 lb-ft. All the runs were made in Overdrive to avoid spinning on the rollers.
Further Testing?
Well, we’re pretty happy with the horsepower we gained through timing and a lockup transmission on the dyno, but not so happy with our dragstrip time. Therefore, we’ve resolved to go back to the track with the proper safety equipment and some racing tires to try and run a halfway respectable number. Stay tuned.
Photo 5/9   |   While we were fooling around trying to spool, our photo guy noticed a bunch of black smoke dumping out of the engine bay, so it’s clear we have a leak somewhere when the truck is under load. It’s just one more thing to check before we hit the track again.
Video Proof
To check out our awesome flame-throwing dyno pull during which the truck tries to jump off the rollers, check out: www.dieselpowermag.com/video/index.html.
Photo 6/9   |   authoritative Testing dyno Run
Project Rust Bucket, As It Sits
For those of you not familiar with Project Rust Bucket, we’ve included a little specification sheet. For more information on our ’89 Dodge, check out our blogs and videos at www.dieselpowermag.com.
Year: 1989
Make: Dodge
Model: D250
Odometer: 226,098 miles
Engine: 5.9L Cummins, cylinder head ported and O-ringed by J&H Performance and fitted with ARP 2000 head studs
Fuel: Scheid Diesel 14mm VE pump, New Era Diesel 6x0.016-inch injectors, AirDog II fuel system, Hellmann Performance fuel sump
Air: Majestic Turbo 62/65/14 S300 turbocharger, Turbosmart 40mm external wastegate, Nitrous Express dual-stage nitrous system
Drivetrain: J&H Performance 47RH transmission with Sun Coast Converters manual valvebody, Diesel Performance Converters triple-disc converter, B&M Pro Ratchet Shifter


Fullerton, CA 92831
Nitrous Oxide Systems
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Summit Racing
Akron, OH



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