Rodan Reader
2/4/17 12:00 p.m.

I have a 2004.5 3500 crew, dually 4x4, 6sp manual trans, that does my towing duties. For most trips, it's carrying a large truck camper and pulling a 24' enclosed trailer. Gross combined, I'm 20-22k lbs depending on load and whether the camper is wet or dry.

The truck has 233k miles, and the stock turbo is starting to show it's age. I would like to replace/upgrade it before we start traveling this year. I am looking for a replacement turbo, and would love to have some input from the Hive. For now, the truck is stock except for a 4" MBRP exhaust and gauges (egt, boost, fuel pressure), but I also plan to add a Smarty Jr. in conjunction with the turbo replacement. My priorities (in order) are:

  1. Reliabilty
  2. 100% bolt-on (no mods to intake/exhaust)
  3. Lower egts
  4. a little more power wouldn't hurt.

Obviously, a stock replacement is the best for 1 & 2, but I'd really like to lower egts for pulling the grades out here in the West, and a little more power would be nice. Some of the turbos I've been looking at are the AFE Bladerunner, the Fleece Cheetah, and I've read good things about "Tater built" turbos, which are modified stock turbos, like the Cheetah, without the huge price tag. Mostly, I'm looking at slightly enlarged turbine housing to drop egts, but nothing extreme. I understand I may loose some spool, but I'm willing to make that tradeoff for the lower egts.

Since the various Dodge/Cummins forums lean toward the flat brim, big lift, rolling coal end of the spectrum, and I'm much more interested in reliable towing performance, and a lot of the info over there is several years old, I thought I'd throw it out here...

Your experience? Input? Suggestions? Good sites for research?

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
2/4/17 1:38 p.m.

Have you talked to a Diesel performance shop yet? I have had good experiences just talking to them about what I want and them giving input towards what will work and won't.

Rodan Reader
2/5/17 8:46 a.m.

I was looking more for actual experiences from folks here who actually tow stuff. I will have conversations with the vendors when I'm ready to buy, but ultimately, they're all trying to sell their parts.

Jcamper Reader
2/5/17 11:39 p.m.

May not apply since I have a 12 valve truck but I have a Piers HX40. Bought around 2001, have put around 140k miles on it since then (260k now). 4" exhaust opening on this turbo. At my personal 1200 degree pre-turbo egt limit and 40psi my truck puts around 800ft*lbs to the road at 2000rpms, 325 horse at 2200. I regularly weigh about 16k gross and don't recall ever being passed on a hill by someone towing something close to that weight. Lots of other trucks wilt in the heat or have to shift down in order to climb, mine will just try to shred the tires off at 72mph in overdrive. Jcamper

Rodan Reader
2/6/17 10:23 a.m.

The HX40 seems like a popular upgrade for the 12V trucks. I have not found many folks putting it on a 5.9CR, though. Hard to find info on slight upgrades with bolt-on fit. On the Dodge forums, it seems to be all about huge dyno numbers.

I did find a vendor selling brand new OEM Holesets for $1100, so I'm seriously leaning towards just replacing it with stock, and then doing an upgrade/rebuild on my core down the road a bit. That would also leave me with a good spare on hand if the 'upgrade' is a bust...

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