When you’re one of the partners in a successful and growing diesel performance shop, you tend to look at things a bit differently. While most truck owners consider updating a late-model engine by adding a few aftermarket parts, Unlimited Diesel Performance’s Project Six-Four is a Ford 6.4L Power Stroke engine that was built using all-new components.
Nate Bailor, one of two principal owners (the other being Ben Burnworth) at Unlimited Diesel Performance in Bremen, Ohio, definitely has added incentive for the build. You see, the engine isn’t being installed in just any hot-rod pickup. To the contrary, the 6.4L is slated for a truck that will be driven by Nate’s wife, Nakia Bailor. In addition to her responsibilities as a medical professional, Nakia handles much of the behind-the-scenes chores for UDP. Nakia’s truck isn’t just for looks, so it needs a stout engine that will run hard in the quarter-mile and pull a sled with the best of ’em.
While Unlimited Diesel Performance is well respected for its impressive 7.3L Power Stroke modifications, Nate and his partner Ben Burnworth are also well versed in performance upgrades for all diesel engines.
We’re following this 6.4L build to present to you the performance potential of one of Ford’s most popular powertrain options. We’ve witnessed many engine builds over the years, but this one is exceptional for several reasons. In addition to the extra care taken in making sure the parts are as good as they can be, what resonates with us is the attention to detail taken in putting the engine together. The crew at Unlimited Diesel Performance works at a good pace, but you can tell they also take the time to double- and even triple-check that each step in the build is done right.
With the short-block complete, our next installment in this series will highlight the cylinder heads and long-block assembly. There are some really trick parts going into this 6.4L Power Stroke that you won’t want to miss.
| It’s a diesel junkie’s candy store. Every Unlimited Diesel Performance 6.4L Ford build starts with a new factory block and hand-selected components to maximize both reliability and performance. Nate Bailor personally selects all the hardware used in the assembly, which includes International Heavy Duty pistons, R&R Racing Products Pro billet connecting rods (E4340AQ), and an Elite Diesel Engineering camshaft.
| Before assembly, the entire rotating assembly is weighed and balanced within a tenth of a gram by Dennis Fowler of Fowler Engines in Columbus, Ohio. Balancing a diesel engine, like any other internal combustion engine, is a game of weighing, machining, and matching parts so everything works as smoothly as possible.
| 003 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| Bob weights are affixed to each journal of the crankshaft to let Dennis know where weight must be added or subtracted. When weight needs to be removed, the crank is precisely drilled to balance the spinning forces.
| Nate installs the piston-cooling jets, which spray oil on the underside of the piston to help maintain operating temperature.
| Assembly lube is applied to the cam, rod, main bearings, and all other moving surfaces to prevent metal-to-metal contact and subsequent damage.
| Nate chose an Elite Diesel Engineering Stage 1X camshaft, which features .406 lift and 184/196 duration.
| The factory crank-adapter bolts are replaced with ARP fasteners that will not stretch.
| All the bearings in Unlimited Diesel’s 6.4L Power Stroke engine are treated with PPM Swain Tech Coatings high-load, low-friction Peko Polly Molly coating.
| 010 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| With the block placed upside down on a workbench, Nate and Ben Burnworth lower the balanced crankshaft into place. Given the size and weight of the crank, this step is much easier with two people handling it.
| 012 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| Next, the gasket that seals the bedplate to the block is carefully inserted in the race that runs around the bottom end. Once it’s properly aligned, the plate is lowered onto the engine and secured. Again, using two mechanics makes the operation easier and ensures the plate mates squarely and the gasket doesn’t move.
| 014 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| Elite Diesel Engineering main studs keep the 6.4L’s bottom end secured. Nate finger-tightens each stud and then uses a torque wrench to ensure there won’t be any movement.
| It’s critical that the crank adapter is in the exact same position it was removed from, indexed to the crankshaft itself.
| The crank-adapter bolts are then tightened until they’re snug and there is no movement in the adapter.
| A dial indicator is used to confirm the crank adapter is not out of round. Once the crank adapter is verified as true, bolts are torqued to 115 ft-lb.
| 019 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| The block is then moved to an engine stand and main studs are torqued to 125 ft-lb.
| Nate installs wristpins in the International Heavy Duty pistons and R&R Racing Pro custom billet E4340AQ connecting rods.
| The pistons have a different dome design than the factory slugs, and they’re given a Swain Tech Gold Coat ceramic coating (and .003-inch-thick PC9 coating on the skirts). Swain Tech’s diamond-like coating is used on the wristpins.
| 023 Unlimitied Diesel Performance Projcect Six Four
| Once past the rings, the pistons are tapped in with a dead blow hammer. Note the long reach of the hammer head to make this operation easier.
| After installing the bearings and caps, the connecting rods are torqued to factory specifications.
| The piston and rod assembly continues until all eight cylinders are done. Here you can see the Swain Tech coating on the rod bearings.
| Next, Nate double-checks the piston height in the bore to make sure the domes’ protrusion above the deck is exactly where he wants it to be.
| A liberal dose of lubricant is also applied to the lifters before they’re dropped into the block.
| Four lifters are installed per every two pistons at a time, on each bank of the engine. Once in place, the bolts are run in finger tight.
| Finally, all the lifters are torqued to factory specs.
| The Unlimited Six-Four short-block is complete. Up next will be the engine’s final assembly, including installation of the heads and top end. Stay tuned—it only gets better from here.