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  • The Perfect Plan For Your 2003-2007 Super Duty

The Perfect Plan For Your 2003-2007 Super Duty

Building A Powerful Yet Trustworthy 6.0L

Mike McGlothlin
Jun 1, 2012
With more than 130,000 subscriptions, exceptional newsstand sales, and nearly a million pairs of eyes reviewing each month’s issue, some of our readers let us know when we’re over-indulging in something. And lately, the Cummins-swap bell has been tolling loudly. It’s time to rethink brand loyalty and tackle a project that consists of a Ford that’s still equipped with a Power Stroke engine.
Photo 2/2   |   Even though I’ve seen my fair share of 6.0L failures, I believe with the right combination(s) of parts, it’s an engine that can be made to run with the best the competition has to offer. We’ll provide plenty of proof for our argument in the year ahead.
Today, 6.0L-powered Super Dutys are everywhere. And not only that, they’re relatively cheap compared to the competition. While many will say there’s a reason for this—the reality is that, provided you know what you’re getting into, you’re still buying an affordable diesel with a lot of aftermarket potential. The fact that thousands of ’03 to ’07 trucks get traded in prior to their 100,000-mile engine warranty expiring makes for an ideal situation for a prospective, first-time diesel owner. The hit the truck’s previous owner took on trade-in offsets to potential buyers in the form of a lower, second-owner price tag. As long as you’re willing to put in the necessary legwork (EGR delete, head studs, regular maintenance), you can capitalize on this and have one of the most sought-after heavy-duty pickups in history for a bargain price. How do you justify such a purchase? Naysayers often forget the fact that Super Dutys ride much better than Rams and come with a five-speed automatic (5R110 TorqShift) that will handle nearly twice the power as a stock Allison 1000.
Although I’ve personally had my doubts in the past about building up a high-horsepower 6.0L, I’m confident we can put together a truck that even inline-six fanatics will envy. I’m also sure we can do it on a reasonable budget. So here’s the question: Would you rather see a budget build or an all-out horsepower build? My thinking is to do both. Reason being, 400 to 500 rwhp can (arguably) be had on the everyday, working man’s budget—but venturing much past that calls for deeper and deeper pockets.
Our low-mile, ’03 F-250 test mule recently put 251 hp to the ground in stock form. Due to the fact that most 6.0L enthusiasts claim to see 260 to 270 rwhp from the factory (and the fact that I use the stingiest dyno in my immediate area to conduct all my testing), I’d say we’re starting out with a very healthy candidate. The list of modifications we plan to perform (both within and beyond what we consider to be reasonable budgets) is shown below.
Smaller Budgets
  • Custom tuning via SCT: 400 to 430 hp
  • EGR delete and head studs
  • 155cc injectors, upgraded fuel system, regulated return, and Garrett PowerMax turbo: 500 hp
Mediocre Budgets
  • 180 to 190cc injectors, upgraded PowerMax or fixed-geometry S300: 550 hp
  • Upgraded 5R110 transmission
Performance Budgets
  • 225cc or hybrid injectors, large single or compound turbo system: 600 hp
We may even throw in some tuned or high-voltage FICM tests along the way to see what difference these upgrades make, and if power gains can be realized. Once the time comes for more air, we may put together several turbo reviews—testing them on the street, strip, and dyno. After things get pretty serious, we’ll go over some valvetrain upgrades as well (valvesprings, pushrods). The underlying goal will be similar to what you saw with Project Street Max, in which the stock short-block is left alone throughout the course of the build and kept safe via good tuning. We’ll also address several other issues that can land a 6.0L on the side of the road, such as a clogged oil cooler, failed (or failing) factory lift pump, and lack of adequate coolant filtration. We hope you’re looking forward to this as much as we are…
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