Diesel Tuner's Blog

The Never Ending Work-Stock Build

Posted by Justin Tyson on Mar 1, 2018 9:06:00 AM

How it started:

In 2013, Nick Priegnitz, the founder and CEO of Duramaxtuner.com, decided to put his dream into action. The road to completion had many forks, twists, and turns, but when does anything ever come easy in the world of diesel? Nick’s original plan now seems like a distant memory. The build was to be simple, six weeks at most. Swap the body of a 1958-1959 Chevrolet Apache onto a 2003 2500 HD frame, install a clutch, custom tuning, and use the truck for sled pulling in the local stock circuits. Nothing too serious. Looking at the truck now as compared to where the direction was to initially go, the Apachemax is truly a masterpiece. Almost immediately, the changes began to form shaping it into what you see today.


Upon the trailer rolling up to the company lot, it was immediately noticed how much front-end damage the 2003 Silverado HD had. The donor truck purchased was known to have damage as it had been purchased salvaged, but the severity of issues to arise would throw of a few curveballs into the original idea. The damage done had caused at the very minimum radiator and intercooler replacements upon first glance. It would go on to be the source of front differential issues. Little did Nick and crew know that this would merely be the tip of the iceberg.

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Once the Apache body and 2500 HD frame were taken to the body shop, many changes were made in lieu of what the initial project was supposed to be. It was already known that the frame had to be cut and welded for the shortened body of the ’58 Apache to fit as well as for structural integrity of the vehicle. The body mounts needed customizing to give the clearance the Apache needed. All in all, the body was raised about ten inches and the frame had about three feet chopped.  Many hours were spent customizing the front end, paneling, paint, and various other cosmetics morphing the truck into what you see today. The Apache spent just over a year in the body shop, causing the team and truck to miss the first season of pulling.

While time was being put in on the chassis and body, Duramaxtuner’s shop was already hard at work on major engine, transmission, fuel, and turbo modifications. When all was said and done the ApacheMax would have built motor head work, the exhaust port flow gained 41% at peak cam lift, intake port flow picked up 33% at peak cam lift, double valve springs, triple disk pulling clutch, cast flow manifolds, custom up-pipe, a 67.7mm turbo, 100% over injectors and 12mm stroker pump from Exergy Engineering, and custom tuning from Nick. The initial amount of mechanical work was supposed to be minimal, but as the dream snowballed into a bigger idea, the truck would spend another season of pulling being worked on.


Two years of work and coupled with missed seasons of sled pulling would go on to put the Apachemax a few years behind the competition. As we all know, the pulling circuit is constantly evolving and moving in a different direction. The truck would now be two years behind the field once it was completed for competition. While this showed when it was time for the truck to hook to the sled, the gawk factor before and after pulls was always high. The truck constantly had a group huddled around the hood of it with more questions and comments than there would be time to answer them all. The Apachemax would go on to put up 775 RWHP on the dyno, 12.0 @ 120 mph at the local drag strip, and a win at the dirt drags in a field of 36 diesel trucks.

This brings up a question that many diesel power enthusiast find themselves asking once a build has started:  

When is your build done?

Recently, the Apachemax underwent another change in Spring of 2017. Nick would have the manual transmission swapped with an automatic. The truck now is used for testing turbos at Duramaxtuner due to it being trustworthy and dependable. Nick is proud of everything he’s accomplished with the truck thus far. It still runs down the drag strip occasionally, and still has tons of eyes on it when it makes it out to shows.  If you know Nick and his fleet of trucks, you know that each truck is available for the right offer. The Apachemax is the one exception to the rule.

apachemax sled pulling.jpg

When asked what he plans on doing with the build next, Nick said the truck will get a little more interior work and possibly hook up the A/C. He wants to take it out to sand drags, continue taking his kids out for rides, and eventually pass it on for his children to enjoy. This beckons the question, when is your build actually completed? It’s hard to say, our ideas and lives change constantly. It’s only truly done when we decide to put down the wrench. If we ever decide to.

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Topics: apache, apachemax