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!

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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].

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