Compound Turbo 12-Valve 5.9L Cummins - Engine Builder Magazine

Compound Turbo 12-Valve 5.9L Cummins

At 18 years old, Wade Dillow sold his common rail and purchased his friend’s truck with aspirations of a race build. The ’97 Dodge 1500 single cab was in pretty bad shape, but thanks to Dillow's hard work and a newly built compound turbo 12-valve 5.9L Cummins, the ODSS 5.90 index class is now in sight.

Diesel of the Week is presented by

With the often-pricy expenses, time commitments and experience needed, performance engine building is often a difficult endeavor to take on for younger enthusiasts. But, every so often we find someone who found a way to get in on the game early and build something awesome.

Wade Dillow has been surrounded by diesel trucks his whole life. When he was younger, he helped his dad work on old square body 4-doors. A few years later, he got the best of both worlds watching his older brothers build their own – one built show trucks while the other chased after high speeds.

Wade Dillow

During this time, he started working on projects in shop class and got into welding among other programs in high school, all the while working on a single cab, long bed common rail Dodge he bought from his brother.

“For about three years when I was in high school, I was spending money like it was going out of style,” Dillow says. “Every dollar that I earned was going towards this truck and whenever I saw something I wanted I threw it on. I wanted something clean, something that everyone would like.”

’97 Dodge 1500 when Wade originally bought it.

The truck got painted, new wheels and tires were installed and Dillow eventually added some performance upgrades including a compound turbo tot the engine. Towards the end of the build, Dillow began forming a sizable social media presence and name for himself around his community in Crofton, MD. Living within 15 minutes of a dirt drag strip convinced him that he needed to upgrade to a full race build.

During his senior year of high school at only 18, he sold his common rail and purchased his friend’s truck for a race build. Dillow said the ’97 Dodge 1500 single cab was “pulled out of the bushes” and in pretty bad shape. His friend had initially meant for the truck to be a sled puller, but ditched the project before selling it to him. At the time, the truck produced around 750 hp.

The truck got updated outside.

“I knew I wanted to put a lot of power on it, but this was just a little over my head,” he admits. “I had worked on trucks a lot and knew all about them, but those higher performance numbers were new to me.

“I had a lot of help along the way. There were a lot of guys in the community that I knew and they kind of gave me pointers as I was going. It was definitely a process and I learned as it got better and faster, but the finished product really speaks for itself.”

And updates under the hood.

A year later, now at 19, Dillow has carved out a formidable drag truck for himself and a list of ambassadors and sponsors including Standout Specialities, Custom Offsets, BD Diesel Performance, and Coked Out Diesel.

Inside the truck is a mean, compound turbo, 12-valve 5.9L Cummins that Dillow has upgraded and added a myriad of components to. Almost everything was done in-house from Dillow’s own garage with help from his sponsors, friends and other local shops.

Compound turbo 12-valve 5.9L Cummins

The engine features a ported and polished cylinder head that got a fire ring setup, ARP 625 head studs, 150-lb. valve springs, main studs, forged hardened rods, Hamilton pushrods, Mahle performance pistons, billet rocker bridges, diamond-honed valve guides, stainless steel valves, and a titanium valve spring retainer.

The engine has a 14mm Gorilla girdle to maintain rigidity, which benefits the build a lot during dirt drag racing. Dillow decided on a Hamilton 188/220 steel camshaft that can range between 1,700-4,500 rpm. An ATS T4 exhaust manifold with ceramic coating works for heat management and greatly improves flow.

For air, the engine features a compound turbo setup with an S488 Forced Inductions charger feeding a 107mm On3Performance turbo with 4˝ custom intercooler piping and an NX three-stage nitrous kit. For fuel, Dillow opted to use a 14mm Scheid Original P8600 fuel injection pump with triple feed 5×28 injectors and FASS 290GPH braided fuel lines.

Before the second turbo was added and Dillow began using more fuel, he dyno’d the truck at 1,300 hp and the engine malfunctioned. Now, he estimates his current setup will make around 1,400-1,500 hp.

Dillow takes the truck out to as many events as he can and competes in the ODSS in the 5.90 index class. Being so young, he has tons of time to work on builds in the future and we hope to see one of his engine/truck combos again soon!

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

Billet 6.0L Powerstroke Engine

Leave it to Jared Alderson and the guys at Kill Devil Diesel to build a kickass Powerstroke engine! This competition-level, billet aluminum 6.0L will be going under the hood of KC Turbo’s truck for the upcoming race season. Check it out!

It’s always a treat to see the range of engines that can be built by a single machine shop. Some guys opt to revolve their builds around a particular engine platform or even within a particular horsepower range, and others tend to put out something different each and every time an order comes in the door. Jared Alderson and Kill Devil Diesel fall somewhere in the middle of those two.

Compound Turbo 6.7L Enforcer Engine

The popularity of D&J Precision Machine’s Enforcer series engine can’t be understated. We checked this one out at the 2022 PRI Show.

Coffman Starter 24-Valve 5.9L Cummins Engine

This 24-valve 5.9L Cummins is your average workhorse build for pulling trailers… until you learn about the Coffman-inspired starter James Crutcher built for this engine.

6.7L Powerstroke Engine

The 6.7L Powerstroke may have some some minor flaws, but they are easily remedied by the team over at Choate Engineering Performance.

12-Valve 6BT Cummins Engine

Eric Lucy and his 16-year-old son have been hard at work over the past two years building a 12-valve Cummins to drop into his F-250 King Ranch. Check it out!

Other Posts

Kill Devil Diesel’s 7.0L Billet Powerstroke Engine

The team at Kill Devil Diesel does some amazing work surrounding all light-duty diesel engines, but the Poplar Branch, NC-based shop specializes in Ford Powerstroke work. As such, they do a ton of trick stuff on 6.0L Powerstrokes, and we got a first glimpse at a billet 7.0L/6.0L Powerstroke build for Charlie Fish of KC

Intellectual Horsepower: Light & Medium Duty Diesel Replacement Parts

*Skip to the video at 1:37. Engine Builder Editor, Greg Jones, talks to Paul Kelly from Maxiforce and Bryan Menke from R&R Engine and Machine about “Light to Medium Duty Diesel Engine Parts.” From skid steers to back hoes and mini excavators, these machines are being used at a high rate and are often in

Nitrous Update

The use of nitrous oxide in diesel engines is not a new concept. In fact, it has been used in drag racing for decades. However, it is only in recent years that it has gained widespread popularity in the worlds of diesel truck pulling and drag racing. Now, it seems as if almost everyone in the competitive scene is using it. 

Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines, Equipment and Replacement Parts

Relying on OE manufacturers like Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel and Waukesha has always been an option, but diesel equipment owners are now more than ever seeking the aftermarket as a more viable solution for replacement parts.