Turbocharged 5.9L Cummins Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

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!

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Adam Nichols’ venture into the automotive realm started at the young age of 10, fueled by the adrenaline rush of motocross racing and his tiny 125cc two-stroke Kawasaki. For 7 years he’d race at the track with his dad, and after countless times blowing off the top end of his bike, his dad had him start fixing it himself.

That early knack for racing and fixing bikes eventually evolved into a full-blown passion for all things diesel once he got into high school. That passion has stuck with him ever since.

“Back in 2008 or so, I had a neighbor who was the brother of an employee at Twisted Diesel, a shop down the way from me,” Nichols says. “I remember him coming home at the end of the day and letting the smoke blow out and I always thought that was really cool.”

During his last two years of high school, Adam studied at a technical center for automotive work and accepted an internship at Twisted Diesel in his final year. Upon graduation he worked for the shop full-time for about a year before leaving and beginning his own journey.

In 2012, Adam’s diesel dreams materialized into Back Bay Diesel Performance, a haven for both repair and performance diesel work. With a dedicated team of three, the shop caters to a diverse clientele, offering a blend of repair and performance services.

“We’ve had as many as eight employees, but I find that we get more done and have a smoother operation with our small team,” he says. “We were primarily a Ford shop the first few years when we were specializing on 6.0Ls, but even now as we’ve expanded, we still are doing head gaskets and head studs on 6.0L every day.”

The shop does all kinds of performance work for its customers, including fuel systems, injectors, turbos, engine builds, and tuning work. Adam in particular handles most of the custom transmission builds, mainly 5R110s for builds that are 600+ horsepower.

The business also likes to showcase its work through custom shop builds. Beneath the hood of Nichols’ personal drag truck is an impressively built 5.9L Cummins engine, complete with Wagler Street Fighter rods in the bottom end, fortified with 12mm main studs and Fleece valve bridges.

“I’m kind of pushing the limit on this one but I haven’t run into any problems yet,” Nichols told us. “This engine runs 250% over injectors and a stock CP3 pump that runs to an Industrial Injection dual fueler with a stock LBZ pump, which is plenty of fuel to drive the 250s. Then, an AirDog 100 4G pump supplies the two stock pumps.”

Over the years Nichols has tried a few different turbo setups, including a Forced Induction S480 and a Stainless Diesel S485, but his current setup boasts a Borgwarner 76/87 with a .110 housing.

“It’s been my favorite because I can get on top of the charger quickly with that size turbo,” he says. “We go all over to race and sometimes I feel like going up higher in elevation, some of those bigger chargers just weren’t easy to get on top of on the line.”

The engine also features Hamilton pushrods and valve springs, D&J Precision Machine billet freeze plugs, a Fleece coolant bypass kit and ARP 625 studs.

The engine is paired to an in-house built 48RE transmission with a Santjer input shaft, which runs a DPC converter. The build features a Muldoon’s full manual valve body as well.

Adam not only has a Cummins-powered drag truck, but also a Cummins-powered tow truck.

For Adam, towing is just as exhilarating as racing. His tow truck, powered by a rebuilt 6.7L Cummins engine, boasts a laundry list of upgrades as well, from Hamilton springs and pushrods to a 10mm CP3 pump. Paired with a Stainless Diesel T4 manifold and a VS Racing 67/89 turbo, this workhorse effortlessly hauls Adam’s race truck and trailer across the country.

With every build, Adam’s commitment to quality shines through at Back Bay Diesel Performance. From the track to the highway, his engines are a testament to precision engineering.

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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