Turbocharged VP44 5.9L Cummins Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

Turbocharged VP44 5.9L Cummins Engine

Jared Rectenbaugh caught our attention when he messaged us that he was rebuilding this VP44 5.9L Cummins engine for more horsepower. Looking to build a daily driver/street sleeper, he got machine work from KDD as well as a laundry list of quality components. Find out what went into the new build!

Diesel of the Week is presented by

We love it when members of our audience want to share the cool stuff they’re working on with us. Jared Rectenbaugh was one of those readers who reached out to us via social media with a couple of juicy diesel engine photos and a short description of what he was planning to do with a rebuild. Naturally, this message wasn’t ignored. Intrigued by what we saw, we prodded for more info.

Jared’s 5.9L Cummins before being rebuilt.

Turns out, Jared has owned a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 with a 5.9L Cummins in it since 2014-‘15. He always had a thing for cars and trucks and has been itching to crank it up a notch in his Dodge. He took the Cummins engine out three years ago to do a reseal because it was a “leaky mess,” according to Jared. However, he recently had a head gasket failure, which helped spur his desire to rebuild the engine for more performance this time around.

“In the beginning months of 2021, the head gasket decided to let go causing oil to get into the radiator,” Rectenbaugh told us. “I pulled the engine out back in April and I’m glad I did because the rod bearings were showing wear and the cheap plastic piston oil squirters were broken.”

During Jared’s first reseal of the 5.9L three years ago, he told us that he had already done a bunch of modifications, such as a TRE Stage 2 transmission built by Tim Barber in Norfolk, VA, a BorgWarner S362SXE 62/68/12 spec turbo, a Steed Speed T3 exhaust manifold, Fleece exhaust manifold studs, a Fleece coolant bypass, Flux Diesel Mach 4 injectors, ARP 2000 hardware, Full Send Diesel transmission lines, an aFe Stage 2 cold air intake, a Quadzilla tuner with tunes by TJ Frey and Power Driven Diesel, CE Auto Electric battery cables, Optima batteries, a Mechman 240 amp alternator, an MBRP 5˝ stainless steel straight pipe exhaust, a Fluidampr balancer, a VP44, a BD stealth cover, Attitude Performance bolt-on side freeze plugs, an Industrial Injection KDP kit, Hamilton pushrods, a G&R Diesel tappet cover, an AirDog II 4G 165 lift pump, and a Beans Diesel sump – among a few other odd and end add-ons.

“After tearing down the engine this time and seeing what I saw with a 275,000-mile engine, I decided on a full engine rebuild with extras,” Rectenbaugh says. “Surprisingly, the cylinder walls still had the cross hatches. The rebuild will have most of the mods I previously put in as well as machine work from Kill Devil Diesel. I’m building the engine for 600-750 horsepower, maybe more in the future.”

Besides getting quality machine work from KDD, the newly rebuilt 5.9L Cummins didn’t stay entirely the same as before. Jared also opted to get an o-ringed head that includes screw-in plugs and Hamilton 103 valve springs, ARP 625 rod bolts, XDP aluminum piston oil squirters, Flux Diesel Mach 7 injectors, a Fleece fuel pump block-off plate, a King Speed valve cover and front cover, Full Send Diesel heat exchanger bypass transmission lines and heater hoses, a Mishimoto transmission cooler, intercooler, radiator, hoses, and T6 turbo blanket, a Thermal Zero exhaust manifold blanket, a Pusher compound kit with an S475 turbo and a custom South Bay Orange color, a Hamilton Cams 178/208 camshaft with tappets, a bolt-on retainer, thrust plate, ICT intake plate, and an XDP grid heater delete and oil cap with breather.

“I am building my VP44-powered truck as a daily driver/street sleeper,” he says. “On the outside, the truck has the typical 20+ year old paint and body look, but I’m more focused on the mechanical side. I didn’t realize how much I really enjoyed building a somewhat performance build, but I also wanted something that I can drive every day that will be reliable. I am rebuilding in the garage because I do not have the luxury of having a shop just yet. It is quite interesting to learn these trucks and the power they can make.”

While Jared is still picking up new tips and tricks with each diesel build he does, this latest edition of his 5.9L Cummins is definitely the best version yet! 

Diesel of the Week is sponsored by AMSOIL. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].

You May Also Like

6.7L Compound-Turbo Cummins Engine

Ross Dunagan and his team at Flyin Diesel Performance recently finished a compound-turbo 6.7L Cummins build that was more than three years in the making. Customer Erik Santana wanted to go all out, so they did, and the result was worth the wait!

6.7L Cummins engine

They say persistence pays off. Ross Dunagan knows it. The co-owner of Flyin Diesel Performance, a 7,000-sq.-ft. shop located about an hour northwest of San Antonio in Kerrville, Texas, and his team recently wrapped up a compound-turbo project more than three years – and two separate trucks – in the making. Judging by the finished product, the juice was well worth the squeeze.

Twin-Turbocharged 6.6L Duramax Engine

Enrique Gonzalez, owner of The Diesel Shop Inc., has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible with a Duramax engine, earning him recognition in the Duramax world and greater diesel motorsports community. Check out his twin-turbo 6.6L Duramax engine!

Duramax truck
Triple-Turbo 5.9L Super Stock Cummins Engine

Jayden Litman is a 16 year old out to prove she has what it takes to compete with the men of the Super Stock pulling class. Helping her beat the boys is a truck named Somethin to Prove and a triple-turbo 5.9L billet Cummins engine built by Scheid Diesel.

Super Stock Cummins engine
Light Pro Stock 540 cid Small Block John Deere Engine

Maybe it was the level of detailing and polish? Maybe it was the giant turbo? Maybe it was the size and green color? Maybe it was just because this is an awesome Light Pro Stock 540 cid small block John Deere engine, so we stopped to find out more about the build done by VG Motorsports!

Turbocharged 5.9L Cummins Engine

At Back Bay Diesel Performance, repair and performance work are taken very seriously. Those capabilities are often showcased through custom shop builds, like shop owner Adam Nichols’ own turbocharged 5.9L Cummins engine for his personal drag truck. Check it out!

Other Posts
Removing and Preventing Diesel DEF Crystals

Under certain conditions, DEF can break down and evaporate, leaving behind white crystal deposits, which clog SCR system components and interfere with normal operation.

AMSOIL 0W-8 100% Synthetic Hybrid Motor Oil

This new 0W-8 viscosity is engineered for applications calling for the JASO GLV-1 specification.

AMSOIL hybrid oil
Alex Null’s 6.4L Ford Powerstroke Engine

During our trip to Dallas this year, we spent a day in Weatherford and visited Alex Null and Summit Diesel. We were treated to the details of Alex’s own 6.4L Ford Powerstroke engine build he is finishing up for a race application. It’s our Diesel of the Week brought to you by AMSOIL INC. Related

6.4L Ford Powerstroke
Choate Engineering Performance to Lead Webinar on the Cummins Engine

Cass Choate of Choate Engineering Performance is returning to PERA to talk about the Cummins diesel engine. He will take advantage of his vast experience to delve into its problems and what his shop has learned about fixing them. Related Articles – The 2025 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Schedule – Matt Daigle Joins SEMA