Light Pro Stock 540 cid Small Block John Deere Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

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!

Diesel of the Week is presented by

You rarely have enough time, even over the course of three days, to cover the entire show floor at the PRI Show. However, for the past couple years, I’ve made it a point to always swing by the Fluidampr booth because they’ve done a nice job of showcasing awesome engines, and the builders are generally hanging nearby to discuss the specifics.

This past year, at the 2023 PRI Show, was no different. Fluidampr had a Light Pro Stock 540 cid small block John Deere engine in the booth, which was so cool and so different from much of what you see at a show like this, so we knew we had to know more about the Deere. Thankfully, Bryce VanGenderen of VG Motorsports, who built this green beauty of an engine, was kind enough to give us a few minutes to fill us in on what was on display.

VG Motorsports, located in Eddyville, IA, is a premium, precision machine shop focused on diesel engine performance. The shop machines a lot of its own parts from block work and connecting rods to camshaft blanks, geartrain and manifolds – pretty much anything needed for the shop’s own engine builds can be done in-house.

“A lot of it is designed ourselves,” Bryce VanGenderen says. “We have a great crew that works with us to make it all happen. We’ve got a few family members and two full-time machinists.”

VG Motorsports specializes in small block John Deere, International DT466 and DT360, as well as some Cummins engine work. The build seen at PRI is one of the shop’s bread and butter builds – a Light Pro Stock 540 cid small block John Deere – which was detailed and polished by Ryan Ewing of Ewing Shine Shop.

“This one utilizes an OEM 9.0L John Deere block,” VanGenderen told us. “We do have an aftermarket version of this block. From there, it utilizes a billet crank, our in-house built connecting rods, Diamond pistons, and our camshaft, which gets sent out to get ground. This engine has one of our recast, small block cylinder heads on it. We have everything cast and machined in-house and then final port work done. This one here is actually one of our prototypes and a new design that’s getting ready to hit the track to do some testing on and see if it’ll make some power.”

According to VanGenderen, the oiling system used is a wet sump system from Aviaid, which features a dual section pump and a primer pump for pumping diesel fuel to the injection pump itself. For the fuel system, because of class rules, it has to be a P7100 series pump, and the fuel system comes from Wimer.

We also learned that this engine does run water to keep cool since this class is not allowed to run an intercooler to control exhaust temps and up the cylinder pressure, but it does run with water injection. In fact, Bryce told us it runs about as much water as it does diesel fuel.

Of course, while the size of the engine and its signature John Deere green catches the eye, you also can’t help but notice the sizeable turbocharger.

“For the turbo on this, the spec in the class has been capped at a 5” intake and a 4.5G trim style exhaust,” he says. “This one’s been prepared by Wimer out of Pennsylvania. This engine is going to be running somewhere in the 130-lbs. of boost area with this size charger, and it’ll turn about 5,000 rpm at peak power. This engine makes roughly 3,000 horse and about 3,500-3,800 ft.-lbs. of torque.”

Out in front of the small block John Deere, VG Motorsports utilized a Fluidampr damper, a product they have been using for many years.

“Fluidampr’s new pulling damper has been a good improvement over their previous versions, so it really helps the life of the crank and gets some of the harmonics out of the engine,” VanGenderen says.

All in all, this Light Pro Stock John Deere build is a turnkey package for VG Motorsports and this particular program. “Once we get a proven package, we don’t vary a whole lot,” VanGenderen says.

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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