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  • Writer's pictureJohn Baker

AMSOIL Helps Awaken 500+ HP Cummins 4BT Engine

Last time we worked with builder Kenny Hauk, host of “Hauk Machines” and mastermind behind an array of awesome builds, he brought his Mopar Hellephant crate engine to our dyno in an attempt to break the 1,000-hp barrier. His goal this time seems more modest on the surface but still represents a notable engineering feat: turn a stock 105-hp Cummins 4BT diesel engine into a 500+ horsepower powerplant.

Why the desire for another 395 horsepower? First of all, if you need to ask, this blog isn’t for you.

More to the point, Kenny Hauk selected the engine for his latest build, a Jeep that’s street-legal but capable of taking to the rocks in true off-road-Jeep fashion.

Cummins 4BT workhorse

The Cummins 4BT is often used to power urban delivery trucks. While a stock version is neither powerful nor fast, it is reliable, which is perfect for vehicles used in demanding city driving day after day.

Its relatively small size means it’s perfect for jamming into a vehicle that didn’t come from the factory with a diesel engine installed, making it a favorite for vehicle builders. And it comes with the low-end grunt of a diesel engine that everyone loves.

Hauk summoned a team of experts to help him awaken the beast within the Cummins 4BT and hit the 500-hp mark. The team included Utah-based Industrial Injection; Apex Turbo and Mountain Machine, both based in Michigan; and, of course, AMSOIL.

Apex Turbo contributed a pair of turbos to jam more air into the cylinders. More air means more fuel, and more fuel means more power.

Industrial Injection provided new injectors, a fuel pump and custom-machined heads and intake, all of which helped boost power and performance.

Mountain Machine skillfully and masterfully assembled the beast. Not only did they assemble it, they added the sweet flair of a clear front cover with integrated lighting so you can see the geartrain spin.

Check it out in the video below.

Mountain Machine fabricated this sweet clear front engine cover with integrated lighting.

The icing on the cake was a custom valve cover/work of art to complete the look. Take a look at the finished product below.

Proper break-in maximizes horsepower

Our role was to ensure proper engine break-in on the dyno using AMSOIL Break-In Oil.

New cylinder liners, bearings, cam lobes and other engine parts have microscopic peaks on them called asperities. During break in, the goal is to allow a controlled amount of wear to parts to wear down these peaks and help components mate together. This ensures, for example, that the piston rings seat properly against the liners, which increases compression for maximum power.

A good break-in oil also protects and seasons the cam lobes so they don’t wear down and negatively affect valve timing, reducing power. Simply put, break-in is vital to building an engine that makes maximum power.

The crew tested the engine at Maybee, Michigan-based Salenbien Performance, which is owned by Apex Turbo owner Ryan Salenbien. As AMSOIL Staff Product Development Engineer and Mechanical R&D Manager Mark Nyholm reports, the engine hit 500 horsepower (505, to be precise), but he thinks there’s a bunch more power in the engine. Unfortunately, a broken balancer ended testing before they could find out.

Even if 505 is the ceiling, it’s quite an engineering achievement to coax nearly 400 additional hp out of a Cummins 4BT.

Credit goes out to everyone involved, especially Salenbien Performance and Apex Turbo owner Ryan Salenbien, who hosted the crew at his shop.

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