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Million-Mile Cummins Rebuild

Engine, Turbocharger, and Injection Pump Overhauled To Last Forever

Jason Thompson
Apr 1, 2012
Photographers: Jason Thompson
With 2012 upon us and fear mongers around the world preaching, “The end of days is near,” it was time for us to bring you an engine buildup that’s ideal for any doomsday scenario. Unlike many of our projects, in which we try to obtain the most power possible, this 5.9L Cummins engine rebuild is all about surviving. Sure, many of the upgrades important for long engine life are also good for making 1,000 hp, but the specific goals for this Cummins are million-mile durability, low smoke (so we won’t attract unwanted attention from bandits), 350 to 500 hp (to outrun any zombies), and bulletproof durability (literally). We knew we needed help with this task, so we enlisted Industrial Injection in Murray, Utah, and its Performance Diesel Machine (PDM) facility to build our engine.
Photo 2/33   |   million Mile Cummins Rebuild cummins 6bt On Engine Stand
Though this particular 6BTA Cummins began life in a ’95 Dodge, its new mission will be powering our ’91 GMC Suburban—a truck we call Doomsday Diesel. When we bought the engine 3 years ago for $1,200, we weren’t 100 percent sure it even ran. Assuming it did, it was still only rated at 160 hp. For a truck like Doomsday Diesel, stock power levels and unknown mechanical condition weren’t acceptable.
Photo 3/33   |   Our ’95 Cummins was lifted onto this bench with a hoist and disassembled. All the parts, including the block, were cleaned in a large dishwasher-like machine. Then the crank, head, and block were inspected for cracks on Industrial’s Magnaflux bench.
Through the years, we’ve seen Industrial Injection put together dozens of diesels that made insane power, but we’ve also seen its engines hold up to the torture tests of our Diesel Power Challenge. Yet it wasn’t till we toured Industrial Injection’s Performance Diesel Machine (PDM) division and spoke with Dustin Hembury that we knew we’d found the shop we’d trust to build our apocalypse-proof diesel. After talking with Hembury about our specific needs, the engine was shipped to Utah to undergo a full rebuild.