Looks Stock, But It Puts 500 hp and 1000 lb-ft to the Wheels
Diesel trucks are the hot rods of the 21st Century. Thirty years ago, our fathers and grandfathers were toying with carbureted V-8 engines. Back then, guys would be heroes if they could get 350 hp out of their Camaro, Mustang, or 'Cuda. Today, a factory diesel pickup rolls off the showroom floor with more than 300 hp and twice as much torque. Man, we've come a long way. To unlock the potential of these new diesel engines requires just as much tinkering and testing as the old gasoline mills did. But, now the tuning is done with a laptop and an oscilloscope, instead of with a screwdriver and a vacuum gauge.
To see for ourselves just what kind of power we could uncork from a production LLY Duramax engine, using some modern tinkering, we teamed up with Steve Cole at TTS Power Systems. TTS has just released its new Power Loader III that will allow Joe Average to upload performance calibrations into his diesel engine. Thanks to modern technology, now we can all squeak some extra power out of our hot rods-and leave the tinkering to somebody else.
At these power levels, the Duramax's Bosch injection pump will not consistently suck enough diesel from the factory fuel tank. To cure this problem, TTS Power Systems has engineered a stand-alone lift pump system that will work on any Duramax truck. When the engine is keyed on, the TTS lift pump will activate and prime the fuel system before start-up. The pump will then run continuously and supply fuel as long as there is engine oil pressure. For trucks making more than 350 hp, the TTS Stage II lift pump system (shown) is recommended. Its function is the same as the Stage I (single pump) kit, but under high-load situations (referenced from the engine oil and turbo boost pressure) the Stage II system will turn on a second lift pump that will continuously supply a 450hp Duramax. And as our testing clearly shows, it will handle much more than that for short periods.
To survive under extreme use, the 12-volt TTS lift pumps feature brushless electric motors rated for 40,000 hours (that's 1,666 days!) of continuous use. The pumps feature stainless steel and brass construction, and no fuel ever comes in contact with the electronics.
We knew the engine could deliver plenty of fuel in the TTS Race mode. We also knew the engine wanted more air. But, instead of a complex turbo swap (that would surely give our intensions away), we decided to turn to nitrous oxide. If you look closely, you can see the solenoids under the VaraRam airbox, and the two nitrous jets in the intake tube (arrows). Commonly used in drag racing applications, nitrous can be thought of as a chemical turbocharger for diesel engines. With the extra oxygen delivered by the nitrous, power levels spiked to 527 hp and just about 1,000 lb-ft of torque. And remember, those numbers are at the rear wheels, and the engine still looks completely stock.