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98sst 05-13-2013 01:03 PM

For those who want to mod their 5.9
I want to sum up my thoughts on the mild build I did on my 5.9. I basically did a whole new top end minus heads. Otherwise the only other modifications from here would be a stroker kit or forced induction.

To start, here is the list of parts that I bought and installed.
HER1418 camshaft from Hughes engines. 114* LSA.
Hughes FI Air gap intake manifold
HER1110 valve springs/retainers
Hughes complete gasket set
Hughes timing chain and sprocket
Hughes big gulp throttle body
Tuning by hemifever
AEM UEGO air fuel ratio gauge
Summit racing gauge pod steering wheel mount
Eventually single gauge pod that attaches to my A-pillar

Old supporting mods:
Electric exhaust cutout
K&N cold air intake
Custom built headers
Magnaflow muffler
3 inch exhaust piping (stock on SS/T)
SCT Tuner

So my goal with this thread is for people to follow my recommendations as to modifying your magnum 5.9, whether your goal is for bolt ons or for a mild build.

Some things to consider.

- what is my budget?
- does my state/county have inspections/emissions testing?
- is my truck in proper running order before modifying?
- can my drivetrain handle my power goals?
- how long am I going to keep the truck? (It gets costly)
- do I care about gas mileage? (You drive a ram 5.9, I hope not)

MY answers to these considerations:
- No budget, just goals.
- Yes, my county has emissions and I am also not allowed to have a check engine light at the time of testing.
- Yes. Remember, modifying your motor will not fix your motor unless you're replacing what is causing the problem.
- Yes. I'm sure I still have less than 300whp.
- I plan on keeping it a whole lot longer as this is the direction I wanted to go with my truck since I bought it about 4 years ago.
- I do not care about mileage at all, I bought the ram knowing full well what I was getting into... I am getting better mileage now than before... more on that later.

I'm going to start with reviewing Hughes Engines and the company that installed my parts, Auto Truck Services in Everett, WA.

All of my internal modifications are from Hughes Engines. I've had nothing but great experiences with them. Their instruction pamphlets are very straight forward but they are also very funny, often making references to Al Gore and what his opinion on their parts would be. Their products are packaged very thoroughly and meticulously. I would trust them always in insuring that their products will be shipped without damage and in a timely manner. Where I live, Washington State, products took exactly 1 week to arrive after purchasing.

Their website is very easy to follow on the left hand column of the screen. Many different motor options to go through and then when you get to the small block magnum your options for parts is endless. I would recommend Hughes Engines to anybody for anything. I frequently called Hughes Engines regarding questions about my build and the direction I should go. It was Hughes Engines that helped me to select my camshaft and supporting modifications. They were very helpful in their customer service and knew their product very well. Their sense of humor showed as well; when speaking to Kevin with Hughes Engines, I said that I have to worry about emissions up here in WA and he replied with "*sigh*, you guys have so many trees up there that you don't even know which one to hug." He made my day with that comment and made me realize that I need to move away at some point...

I was not real sure where to begin to look for an installer of the parts I had stockpiled in my garage. All I knew is that the truck is my daily driver and I needed it done in a timely manner and that I did not trust myself to be ripping into my own motor to install the camshaft and properly time it etc etc. You can't simply google "Shop to install my camshaft", at least I couldn't, so I began to call around. I came across Auto Truck Services in Everett. They had 5 star reviews which I love to see.

I called the shop and spoke with Jeremy, one of the owners. I told him what I had in mind and what I wanted to do. He told me that they had just built a 408 stroker jeep with a vortech supercharger. That's what I like to hear. That is what I would call an outrageous build, so I knew that mine would be nothing.

Jeremy brought to my attention that I forgot about lifters... I felt like a moron... but he said that he would find some for me and include it in the charges. He also said for an engine with 150k, it would not be a bad idea to replace the valve seals. I was all for that idea and was quoted a very good price for all of this.

The truck was in the shop for 1 week and I picked it up that Friday. When I had left the shop, I noticed there was a dramatic backfire when I hit 4600rpms. The next day... it would not start... I was so discouraged. I immediately contacted Hemifever, who was doing my tuning, and ran the symptoms by him. He said it was not on his end and that I needed to look into this elsewhere.

I called Jeremy back on the following Monday and had a tow arranged back up to Everett. Unfortunately, the truck was down for almost a month. I contacted them frequently to check on the status and everything was checking out. Jeremy gave the truck to a friend's shop who has a dyno so that they could view the problem real-time in the engine bay. By doing so, they were able to diagnose the problem correctly and fix it. Jeremy backs his work, without a doubt, and he split the tow bill with me, only charged me two hours of labor in the month it was there, and had me cover the parts (my ignition was sh*t).

I would recommend them to anybody in the Puget Sound as they know what they are doing and they will not screw you over.


Kevin with Hughes Engines recommended that I go with this camshaft. He actually felt that 110* LSA would be nicer as you will get a more aggressive lope and more power (who doesn't want that?). Again, with this being my daily driver and having to deal with emissions testing, I wasn't sure. The lower the LSA (Lobe Separation Angle), the worse the drivability will be for your motor. Conscious of emissions, I opted for the 114*LSA which Kevin said is a good choice just to play it safe. At idle, it is nothing too impressive but there is a DEFINITE lope. It sounds very good in fact. The power band for this camshaft is rated at 1400rpms-5800rpms. My redline was bumped up to 5400rpms to play it safe.

If you've never heard a magnum engine past 5000rpms, then I'm sorry. It sounds amazing. I would recommend any camshaft for this motor to wake it up personally. I am, however, VERY satisfied with mine. How much of a difference did it make? I can't tell because I installed everything at once. A dyno is soon to come my friends...

Let me first say, this intake is beautiful. There is no comparison to the Keg manifold at all. Then stamped on one of the runners is HUGHES. It looks phenomenal. A BIG advantage to this manifold is that your distributor is accessible after it is installed! Yes guys, you are able to see it and mess with it now. It is GREAT to be able to have access to it now. Another BIG advantage is that this manifold has no plenum pan. NO MORE PLENUM PAN GASKET BLOWING OUT! I was a victim of this at one point, caught onto it when at my next oil change I was missing 3.5 quarts of oil miraculously... Never a good sign... First thing I did is remove my air hat and open the TB. I could see oil in the pan. This is how you know you have a bad plenum pan gasket... Well now I never have to worry about it again. It is one solid piece of metal.

People have said this before with the Air Gap and I will vouch for it, the sound it makes when you are giving your truck hell... is awesome... The problem is that I am constantly running with my cutout open so I don't hear much other than very loud noises... Lol. As for power, the dyno on Hughes website shows it lacks in torque off the line that the Keg has, which is true. I do feel a loss in torque. My cam is not for torque and mated with this intake, I know I lost some. But realize that you have 5.9 liters under the hood... you're always going to have access to more torque than most motors out there. But you can't always have the best of both worlds. I would still recommend this manifold to anybody.

What more can I say? They were required for the cam and that's about it. All I know is that I could not compress them with my bare hands when I tried to do so... now their in my motor. All 16 of them.

I never opened up this box when I received it as I could've seen myself losing some stupid gasket. So I trust all the gaskets were in there.

A RECOMMENDATION... Each of the parts I bought had came with gaskets. The FI Air Gap in particular came with a sh*t ton for the install. I could have saved probably a hundred dollars to only buy the gaskets I needed that I didn't have already. I opted to buy the complete kit just to be safe. There is always the possibility for surprises. If you want to save money, don't do what I did, but if you want to be safe, do what I did.

With a motor with 150k miles and not knowing the full history of the motor, I figured it to be necessary to replace the timing chain and sprocket with the install of these parts. Remember, all I paid for in the installation is the camshaft labor because everything else is covered within doing so. It then makes sense to do this. The shop did say that I must've received the wrong part as the bolt did not match up, but, they had another on hand they used to replace it with.

I installed this myself before I had taken the truck to the shop to have all of the other goodies installed. Took maybe... 5 minutes to install? It looks somewhat like the stock throttle body but all of the silencers/baffles have been removed. Furthermore, it has been bored out to 52mm butterflies. Didn't feel a difference in power. So for those of you that are looking into a throttle body with no supporting internal modifications, that is my testimony. Don't do it, waste of money otherwise. Your engine will only take as much air in as the valves allow, the CFM or whatever it is called, won't matter UNLESS the travel of the valves change. Remember that.

I had already purchased the canned tune option from Hemifever last year. It was a $265.00 package and came with 87, 91, and 93 octane tunes. WA does not have 93 octane, so I had to opt for 91 octane. People look at other tuners and I don't really understand why they consider it. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, the SCT tuner is the only tuner on the market for magnum engines that allows for custom tuning. With the canned tunes from hemifever even, I only spent $265.00 and received these tunes and the tuner itself. I once owned the superchips flashpaq and spent out the A$$ for it, well over $300.00. Granted, I cannot adjust my speedometer for tire size but I do not have a lifted truck with large tires. I hear about Edge programmers, JET chip, Superchips and so forth, don't waste your money on these if you plan to some day modify your motor where custom tuning may be required. You'd be plain stupid to do so, unless you have hundreds of dollars to throw around, which I don't.

Having purchased the $265.00 package from Hemifever before, it only costs $100 to upgrade to custom tuning for things such as a camshaft as I did. He was quick to reply to my e-mails and had a tune before I even knew it in order to get my truck started safely. The only thing I did have to do is get a cable that fit the SCT tuner. He says most printer cables will fit the SCT, and that is in fact what I used to upload the tunes. The interface when uploading the tunes to your SCT is easy to follow and instructions are listed on his website.

As far as uploading the tunes to the truck goes, it is just a long (5 minute) process of turning the key to the on position, then off, and back on, then off and so forth. I never look forward to adjusting anything because it is so boring. Very easy and instructions are live on your screen as to what to do.

Again, why buy that other garbage? SCT is the only way to go. Hemifever is also a great resource for tuning. Time on a dyno.. you're probably looking at $800 for tuning and dyno runs. Or you could trust Sean's experiences with tuning rams, Dakota RTs, and so forth and know your truck is going to run right and you'll save a sh*t ton of money.

Hemifever does require your AFR readings for your tune. Of course, like most of you would, I was so excited to have an excuse for a fancy gauge in my truck that had cool LED lights and cool numbers. I bought it off of Summit Racing for about $200. You must then choose where to mount it and buy that mount for it (more in the next review). It should be noted that this utilizes a WIDEBAND O2 sensor. Wideband vs Narrowband? Well.. the precision. Narrowband is fine for knowing whether or not your motor is running lean or rich, but wideband will turn this into a number and tell you how far out your motor is lean or rich giving you live readings to work with. Your tuner will appreciate you so much more for having this because it is not a guessing game.

With the installation, you obviously have another O2 sensor to install. Included, but not said on the Summit website, is an O2 bung to be welded on your exhaust. I did not see that, so I ordered one separately. The gauge comes with two faces, black or white. It also comes with two caps, silver or black (to hold the gauge face on). It comes with plenty of slack in the wires to have it mounted. I went to my most trustworthy shop (Walts Wrench) and had the O2 bung welded on my exhaust, the sensor mounted, and then the wire routed to the cab of the truck. Cost me a little bit, but it was under $100.

I then had to go home and do the wiring on the gauge. I just had to find a power and ground. Wasn't hard at all. Theres two other wires left over for datalogging which I cannot tell you anything about and I did not care so I did not bother with them. There is two simple plugs. One from the O2 sensor and 1 from the power source. They attach to the back of the gauge and that is it.

I loved the thought of this location at first. It is hidden and slips on right over my current column. Well don't get that with the AEM UEGO gauge. The gauge is too long and the steering wheel bumps into the face of the gauge, which made the column never sit flush with the stock column. This got old very quick and I soon had an A-pillar pod on the way.

I do not recommend this pod... plain and simple. I love the location, but to install this one you must drill holes into your stock A pillar and then mount it. It comes black, and looks crappy if its not painted. I need to find the proper paint to match the stock pillar. Instead, I'm going to buy a dual gauge pod with speaker (tweeter) and install that. I'll throw some other gauge in there... Maybe vacuum... so then it doesn't look so weird. The pillar will replace the stock one. I'll update you guys when I do that.

So that about sums up all of my reviews on the products that I have installed on my truck recently. They are all quality, name brand parts, and I would not buy anything else otherwise. So let me review how I feel about all of these parts and tell you the story.

I decided to begin this build last summer. I was in the market for a new car but was not having any luck and realized that I could not see my truck go. I first decided to give Hughes Engines a call and let them guide me in the right direction. As I stated, I went off of their recommendations. I then began to order parts. I'm not rich by any means, I just manage my expenses. I did not order all of these parts at once. It took me 8 months before I had all of the parts in my garage. About $2000-$2500 in parts is what I had ordered. Installation was $1300 and included the lifters and valve seals and the labor that resulted. So just shy of $4000 as a result in about the last year.

Was it money well spent? Yes. This is what is appealing about a big V8. Hearing that lope and the screaming at high RPMs. People think twice when they hear my truck and they should, because it goes great compared to stock. People could say, well why not just get a hemi truck? Well sure, that's an easy way out but I have no payments due, a desirable SS/T, and a 5.9. Furthermore my truck is already lowered, has a good set of tires, and is a regular cab short bed. Hemi trucks rarely, from my knowledge, come RC/SB. I know they exist, but that's beside the point.

I have a great foundation for a good sports truck, the name even suggests Super Sport Truck (SS/T). That was my direction I wanted to go and that is what I have achieved. I am going to drag race it, and maybe try a couple laps in the road course. Driving my truck is fun now and I look forward to my commute to work. I break a lot of necks when I drive by because people stare so much. It's great. You rarely see a done up 2nd generation ram. Around here, there are heaps of lifted trucks but even those hicks stare and I'm sure wish they could hit the gas in it.


I know there are still some of you wondering about my gas mileage. I just recently got over 300 miles on my tank. That was not possible at all before. I used to get about 250 or so before filling with 21 more gallons. Now I am up over 300 as I said. What is responsible for all of this? Well I'm sure the combination of everything helps. I also have never gotten a speeding ticket and do not wish to ever do so... so I tend to not be laying into the gas too much. I will however when I am on onramps and merging give it hell sometimes. Otherwise, it is a good cruiser for me. I built the truck for power, mileage was just another perk I had not foreseen.

The truck registers definite power gains and pulls pretty good for the parts I've installed. I'm overall happy with the build and wonder where I will go from here. Perhaps a supercharger down the road? gears? transmission? Who knows, but for now I am content.

98sst 05-13-2013 03:45 PM

I sincerely hope that this helps all of you guys in what direction you want to go. Bolt on mods are fun and all to install yourself, but do not expect any serious gains solely off of these. This whole build for me was even greater. To see all of these parts stockpiled in my garage was awesome. The satisfaction of knowing that "I am done" is unbeatable.

So, two hours later... I have finished writing and will reply to any questions you guys may have or comments. Thanks all. If pictures and/or videos are requested of anything, I have pictures and/or video for everything.

Questions regarding what heads to go with, bottom end, forced induction and so forth are unknown for me. Mild is all I could do in my county and mild is what I did. There is people out there with heaps more experience and knowledge than what I have to offer, but I do know about everything I did so that is what I have to talk about.

ElSombreroNegro 05-13-2013 08:07 PM

If i may interject my two cents.... The stock kegger is one reason this thing is so bad on gas. The super long runners do their job too good at idle and low RPM. They let in too much air and therefore too much fuel, by artificially skewing the torque range way too low and sucking down that extra gas in lower RPMs. you do see a difference in mileage when you get rid of the kegger. also the more efficient timing of the performance tune does not hurt.

98sst 05-13-2013 08:22 PM


Originally Posted by ElSombreroNegro (Post 1097241)
If i may interject my two cents.... The stock kegger is one reason this thing is so bad on gas. The super long runners do their job too good at idle and low RPM. They let in too much air and therefore too much fuel, by artificially skewing the torque range way too low and sucking down that extra gas in lower RPMs. you do see a difference in mileage when you get rid of the kegger. also the more efficient timing of the performance tune does not hurt.

Absolutely makes sense. Thanks for that man, didn't know that. The reviews on Hughes for the Air Gap bragged about the increased mileage.

rudkinp00 05-14-2013 12:01 AM

i guess i have been sorta lucky i am currently on 220 mi with another 140 mi on my 26 gal tank completely stock 5.9, with slightly larger tires, but i have been severely babying her
this tank
my ultimate goal would be 400 on a tank but lets face it this truck drives like a tank stock
also with your mods do you know a number for hp and torque i am curious

98sst 05-14-2013 12:30 AM


Originally Posted by rudkinp00 (Post 1097558)
i guess i have been sorta lucky i am currently on 220 mi with another 140 mi on my 26 gal tank completely stock 5.9, with slightly larger tires, but i have been severely babying her
this tank
my ultimate goal would be 400 on a tank but lets face it this truck drives like a tank stock
also with your mods do you know a number for hp and torque i am curious

That's pretty impressive! Apparently, I have a 26 gallon tank according to my build log. I've never seen it though lol, gauge may be off.

I have no idea for numbers. I definitely plan on a few dyno pulls. I'm guessing anywhere from 240-260hp at the rear wheels. It sounds low, but figure that the stock 5.9 is rated at 240ish hp at the crank. As for torque, I have no idea.

FilthyDog 06-13-2013 12:56 PM

Great Write up +1

Okiespaniels 06-25-2013 05:14 PM

Nice write up. Rep for ya!

mosestech99 07-03-2013 11:41 AM

Im at the stage in my build that i need a sct tuner and a cam. Whats the cost through hemifever for a tuner? From what i have read its cheaper than going through hughes. Whats the best way to contact him? Also, nice writeup and sharp truck man!!

rudkinp00 08-15-2013 09:45 PM

i am just curious, if you dont mind me asking what is ball park spent for the parts, i cant afford it i just dropped 1500 on tranny and 400 on brakes this week alone, expensive week...

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