Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day One Blog

The Cummins Repower team left Columbus, IN at 3:30am to catch the first flight west to see our newly repowered SUV’s for the first time.  We knew that once we landed in our respective airports in New Mexico and Colorado that we would have about an hour to set up our computers, make sure the calibrations are up to date and set up the data loggers before it was time to swing back around to pick up our media guests.  The day would be long but well worth it.

Touching down about the same time at each airport, we were each greeted with the great sight of two very clean SUV’s. Although looking very different from each other, they shared a very familiar sound under the hood. 

In Colorado, it was the Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 with Chandra Proffitt at the wheel.  After a quick calibration check and setting up the data logger, we looped back around and picked up our guest, Bryon Bass, from Overland Journal.  At the time we picked up Bryon, I had less than a mile behind the wheel. Nevertheless, it was time to hit the road to meet up with the red HZJ79 series Land Cruiser that was getting fresh tires at Proffitt Resurrection Land Cruisers about 45 minutes away. 

calibration check

My first impressions were very good.  With a vehicle tipping the scales at nearly 6,000 lbs (we will confirm once we find a scale) plus four adults and gear, we were comfortably cruising at 75mph (until I learned that the speedometer was wrong and quickly backed down a bit!).  Chandra told me how much they had enjoyed shaking this one down and that they too were impressed by the R2.8’s ability to effortlessly handle the truck. On their first tank of fuel, it returned over 23mpg - a tank of fuel for where they live consists of a lot of snow, 4wd, altitude (9,500 ft), and grade climbing. 

We arrived at the Proffitt’s shop just in time to see the 79 series pulling out with its new wheels and tires.  You may remember this truck from our SEMA booth this year. With a quick refresh of the calibration, it was ready to go with the latest and greatest tune from Cummins.

Proffitt's shop
Receiving a quick tour of the Proffitt's shop.

Before we left, we did a quick tour of the shop.  It is never easy to do a short tour of such an amazing place that brings these iconic rigs back to life.  Outside was a parking lot of an eclectic group of Land Cruisers patiently awaiting their turn to go inside for anything from a basic refresh to a complete refurbishment.  We could have spent an entire day looking around that lot; Jeramiah Proffitt knows the story behind each vehicle.  Inside the shop, it was a similar story – more amazing vehicles and a very talented crew.  We learned which vehicles were going to be receiving the R2.8 and which were staying with a stock engine. Proffitt Resurrection Land Cruisers is among the first of our official “Builder” customers; they are able to directly purchase R2.8’s from Cummins to install in a vehicle rather than an end-user needing to purchase and ship the engine to them.  You’ll hear more soon on the builder channel.

Leaving the shop, we had to head south to meet the crew that was heading north from Albuquerque, NM.  The scenic drive through Ouray and Silverton was breathtaking.  We drove up and over 11,000 ft in our two heavy R2.8 vehicles and daylight was burning fast; there wasn’t much time for site seeing.  We pulled into Durango within 1 minute of the New Mexico team. We hit the trails quickly before we lost all daylight. We trekked into the San Jaun National Forest and tested the vehicles through plenty of snow and mud. Finally, we turned back for a well-deserved and much-needed dinner. 

After our first day of driving these heavy autos, we were very impressed with the integration work of the modern 6-speed GM GL80 (Discovery) and 6L90 (Land Cruiser) with the R2.8. Currently, the R2.8 is targeted for manual transmission applications.  The shifting was on point as we rolled through the mountains. These builds are much more refined and less exhausting to drive long distances than some of our previous test vehicles.  At times, it was easy to forget that you’re testing a new driveline with only a few hundred miles on it. 

More to come on each vehicle later today, but it’s time to do some cold start testing and get on the road!

R2.8 Repowered vehicles

R2.8 Repowered vehicles

Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders is the Program Leader for Cummins Repower R2.8 Crate Engines.  Steve joined Cummins in 2009 in Cummins Emission Solutions. He has a background in industrial design and fabrication, studied business management in school, and has a passion for anything with wheels that he can drive.

Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day Four Blog

The last morning of our trip brought perhaps the coldest starting temperatures; the engines had been cold soaking for about ten hours. We hooked up our laptops to log – with one cycle of the grid heater, we were up and running! As we continued east across the Plains, the blowing snow from the previous day has cleared and we were able to witness a magnificent sunrise.

With a highway speed limit of 75 mph, this wide open area offers a different challenge for a big SUV. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be a strong head/cross wind.  The two trucks are within a few hundred pounds of each other with different off-road optimized axle gearing, tire size, and tread.  The off-road front bumpers, roof rack, and accessories on the Land Rover create a less than ideal aero-dynamic package.

Despite all of these challenges, the blowing wind proved to be a non-issue for the R2.8.  We were able to maintain speed in 6th gear with the occasional drop to 5th gear on the grades to maintain exact road speed. Throughout the entire trip, this segment recorded the worst fuel economy in the mid to high teens.  We are confident, though, that we still doubled the fuel economy of what the original engines would have yielded in the same conditions. 

During the trip, Cummins enthusiast, Don, reached out to us via the @Cummins Instagram account offering to meet us on our way east as we drove through Missouri.  Not only was he an enthusiast, but he is also the owner and daily driver of a 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer that he repowered a decade ago with a B3.9 Cummins (4bt).  Don isn’t a stranger to the benefits of diesel as he is the Director of Sustainability at the National Biodiesel Board. 

We pulled into an icy parking lot off of I-70 where we saw a beautiful Grand Wagoneer with a very familiar sound.  After our introductions, Don led us to a nearby public nature preserve called “Big Muddy” which leads back to the Missouri River.  The three Cummins-powered heavy-weight SUV’s drove across the frozen mud to a clearing where we were within feet of the fast moving river.  In the river were giant chunks of snow-topped ice just to remind us of how cold it really was.  Don began to explain to us what he does for a living and how his jobs have always required a lot of driving and usually 4wd.  He said that his family enjoyed driving to scenic Colorado for vacations but at 10mpg, they couldn’t afford gas for all of the travels. That’s why he repowered his Jeep with a harvested B3.9 Cummins and “doubled the fuel economy.”  He’s been daily driving it since, as evident by the car seats in the back. 

When we asked what he thought of the R2.8 after our brief trail ride, Don said “The 3.9 is wonderful for torque, power, and fuel economy, but I’m ready to come into this century with clean emissions.”

After admiring each other’s rigs, we shook hands and headed back toward the highway.  Don joined us for 20 miles of highway cruising in his Jeep. After driving a Jeep repowered with the 4bt for ten years, we truly value an endorsement of the R2.8. We look forward to seeing Don again in the Spring!

We had one more fuel stop between us and home; thankfully the last leg was uneventful.  More highway driving, passing time talking on the radios between vehicles (including Cummins trivia), and mixed emotion as always when a great trip like this is winding to a close.  We are all ready to be home but we also know that it will be some time before we see those views again. 

On this trip we saw the openness of the Southwest, the snowy Rocky Mountains, old mining towns, high altitude passes, scenic plateaus, the vast Great Plains, and finally back to our home in the mid-lands and we did it all at with high-mileage vehicles repowered with fresh, fuel efficient Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel powertrains.  It may not be for everyone, but it is extremely gratifying to drive nearly 2,000 miles in a recycled vehicle with such unique character knowing you will not see another like it for the duration of the trip. 

Thank you for reading our blog and please reach out to us if you have any questions about Cummins Repower, the R2.8 Turbo Diesel, or if you’re interested in joining with your Cummins Repowered rig on another trip like this!


The Cummins Repower Team




Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders is the Program Leader for Cummins Repower R2.8 Crate Engines.  Steve joined Cummins in 2009 in Cummins Emission Solutions. He has a background in industrial design and fabrication, studied business management in school, and has a passion for anything with wheels that he can drive.

Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day Three Blog

Snow and Love in the Air.

The morning came early - each of us immediately looked out the windows to see how much snow had fallen, and we looked to our phones to see how much was still in store. Snow was falling fast and several inches had already accumulated.  It was time to log cold starts and the decision was made: we would send one vehicle straight to Denver to ensure our media guests caught their flights and the other two vehicles would attempt Loveland Pass. 

Loveland Pass is just under 12,000 feet in elevation and is the alternative route around Eisenhower Tunnel for trucks carrying hazardous materials or oversized loads.  For this reason, they try to keep it open as much as possible.  On a clear day, the extremely winding roads, steep grade, and breathtaking views make for an interesting enough experience.  Add snow and near zero visibility and the drive becomes that much more interesting.  There isn’t much room between the road and the edge of the pass in most spots, so the margin for error is very thin. 

The Land Cruiser headed west toward Denver and settled in behind a slow but steady formation of expert level snow plows doing their best to clear I-70.  About two hours later, we unloaded bags and said farewell to our media guests.  It was time to wait for news from Loveland Pass and with any luck the next thing we would focus on would be reforming our caravan and continuing east. Things were very quiet from the team on the pass.  

Finally a text came in.  The heavy Land Rover and the ’85 Toyota pickup made it to the top without issue and the aftermarket-tuned auto stayed on point rather than getting lost in their gears.  In fact, the biggest news about the entire Loveland Pass drive wasn’t on the way up or the way down – it was something that happened at the top.  With one knee in the snow, a ring was presented and one of our own answered a very important question! The happy couple now had around 1,300 miles ahead of them to work out the details so it was time to get going!


Once we met back up and congratulations were exchanged, we started what would be a much longer than anticipated drive to Junction City, Kansas.  There was a continuous dusting of snow that wouldn’t accumulate but instead would almost hover above the highway.  When a vehicle would drive over it, it would churn up and completely whiteout the highway ahead. There weren’t many cars out that day, but the big rigs still had jobs to do and this fresh powder would leave a 200 yard trail of blinding conditions making it impossible to see what was ahead.  Our radios came in very handy during all of this, especially in the instance where we were approaching stopped traffic.  With speeds ranging from 10-50 mph for the majority of the day, it took much longer to reach Junction City than planned. When we finally did, we were ready for dinner and bed.  Temperatures had been steadily dropping our entire drive and we were flirting with single digits and the bitter wind-chill of the Great Plains.

Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders is the Program Leader for Cummins Repower R2.8 Crate Engines.  Steve joined Cummins in 2009 in Cummins Emission Solutions. He has a background in industrial design and fabrication, studied business management in school, and has a passion for anything with wheels that he can drive.

Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day Two Blog

Coffee, Diesel, Go.

It was an early, overcast morning in Durango. It was time for cold start data logging, fueling up, and making our plan for the day over coffee and breakfast burritos.  Due to recent weather conditions, our planned route through the Colorado Back Country Discovery had to be adjusted. Because the Proffitt’s and Mark Terrien are natives to the area, they were able to offer many options for alternative routes. We all agreed to head back north to climb over Red Mountain Pass and hit some trails. 

With our friends from Overland International and Alloy + Grit behind the wheels of the Land Cruiser and Land Rover, it was time to climb. Our media guests observed that there was no need to have the pedal to the floor winding through the 6.6% grades.  Holding speed or accelerating wasn’t an issue even with our altitude of 10,000 feet and engine temperature gauge reading 190 degrees F.  At this point, the builders mentioned some of the features they were working to program into the 6-speed GM transmissions including tap shifting, sport mode, and other hill climbing overdrive lockouts. 

We pulled off to shoot a photo next to an old Snow Cat and little did we know that underneath the fresh snow was a nice sheet of ice.  While turning around the 80 Series for a photo, we got stuck.  With the quick help and guidance of our experienced guests, some handy overlanding recovery gear, and the wheel work of Chandra Proffitt, the truck freed itself under its own power.  While most would wipe their brow and get back on the road, but we took the opportunity to test the Disco 1 through the same patch.  Having a bit more speed, a mud-terrain tire tread, and the knowledge of ‘how not to do it,’ it chugged through the deep snow without issue.  Back on the road!


The switchbacks were absolutely breathtaking and we were fortunate to have the perfect amount of snow to make it scenic, but passible.  Remnants of old mining towns are evident all the way to Ouray.  When we’re in the small towns, many people stop and pay close attention as we roll through.  We pulled over to check out a few more scenic views and observed a few heavy duty class-8 Cummins-powered trucks powering through the switchbacks. This is what sets the R2.8 apart from the others – it has siblings in much bigger applications that we pass wherever we drive.  Countless Ram trucks, 15 Liter-powered big rigs, snow groomers and lots of green gen sets near pump stations help us to tell the 99-year old Cummins story to our guests.

We did a quick stop in Silverton, another old mining town to snap a few pics.  The town’s turn of the century buildings were painted with vibrant colors and reminded us of the industry that once thrived in this area and the risks that people took to earn a living.  Thinking about how hard these winters must have been 100 years ago made me very grateful for the way that I earn my living today.  The spirit of exploration, innovation, and the desire for something better is what these small towns were built upon and that is very fitting for the driving force behind the R2.8 and what we are demonstrating on this trip.

With private access to a wonderful trail leading to a beautiful plateau near Gunnison, we ventured off the road once more onto fresh snow to push these rigs up to more scenic heights.  Fresh hoof prints from a large herd of elk made for a washboard-like experience in several parts of this trail, but the view was worth the bumps.

It was time to get back on the road as we still had nearly four hours of driving to Silverthorne and we were burning daylight.  By this time, the weather reports were getting worse for Saturday and more route decisions needed to be made.  Our friends from Proffitt Cruisers were relatively close to home, so they escorted us to the top of Monarch Pass (11,312 above sea level) at nightfall and then turned around to head home.  With Chandra behind the wheel of the HZJ79, she muscled up in 5th gear the entire climb, never being passed by another vehicle and never breaking 200 degrees.  It was a fitting sign-off.

The rest of us continued driving through Leadville onward to our final stop for the night in Silverthorne.  We arrived with fuel to spare, but it was time to top off the tanks to see how we did.  The on and off road driving all day from Durango to Silverthorne totaled 337.1 miles, nearly 21,000 feet of total climbing peaking at 11,375 feet and just under 11 hours of engine running time.  It was time to pump them all to one click to learn how well the R2.8 did with these heavy rigs, oversized tires, and on winter fuel:

1st place:  ’85 Toyota pickup on 35” mud terrains – 22.17mpg

2nd place: Land Rover Discovery on 32” mud terrains – 20.3mpg

3rd place (by a hair): Land Cruiser FZJ80 on 32” all terrains – 20.1mpg

Tomorrow morning will bring more coffee, snow clearing, and a new plan.  Weather permitting, we plan to go over Loveland Pass. We have a long way until home and with the forecast, the real adventure and test may still be ahead of us!






Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders is the Program Leader for Cummins Repower R2.8 Crate Engines.  Steve joined Cummins in 2009 in Cummins Emission Solutions. He has a background in industrial design and fabrication, studied business management in school, and has a passion for anything with wheels that he can drive.

Cummins Westport plays key role in LA’s goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet

LA Metro natural gas bus
The Metro system in Los Angeles is updating its natural gas fleet with near zero emission engines from Cummins Westport (Image courtesy of Metro. © 2018 LACMTA)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will soon begin an important step toward its goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2030. Starting in early 2018, Metro will begin taking delivery of up to 395 Cummins Westport L9N natural gas engines.

The engine’s exhaust emissions will be 90 percent lower than the current Environmental Protection Agency limit for NOx, a key contributor to smog. In addition, the transit system will test the use of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), produced by landfills, water filtration plants, food waste and other sources – not extracted from the ground.

If all goes well, the majority of buses in the United States’ third largest transit system, serving some 1.3 million passengers daily, could be using RNG within the next few years.

“Our 2018 product line demonstrates an important milestone in product development for Cummins Westport, creating a move to a zero emissions strategy for our customers and industry,” said Rob Neitzke, President of Cummins Westport. “We’re excited to be part of such an important project as this initiative in Los Angeles.”

Metro will also study the use of electrification on two key commuter lines. While its leaders believe that may be the ultimate solution to reaching the system’s 2030 goal, the combination of the new near zero natural gas engines and the use of a renewable fuel source will arguably get Metro closer to “true zero” than any other metropolitan transit system in the country.

“As we continue our transportation revolution, we must continue to make sustainable practices the norm,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a news release earlier this year announcing the 2030 goal. “We hope our move toward a zero emission fleet will inspire other transit agencies across the nation to consider this as a possibility.”

Former "Mythbuster" Jamie Hyneman talks about the benefits of Renewable Natural Gas as a fuel source in a new video for Cummins. 


Cummins Westport is a joint venture between Cummins and Westport Fuel Systems to produce 12 liter and smaller natural gas engines for North American markets. The new ISX12N and the L9N will be the lowest certified NOx emission engines available in North America in 2018. In addition to certifying 90 percent below the EPA’s current NOx limits, the engines also certify well below the 2017 EPA greenhouse gas (GHG) emission requirements.

Metro awarded Cummins a $26.5 million contract this past June to begin supplying its new near-zero L9N engines, produced at Cummins’ Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (U.S.A.), for installation in its fleet to provide immediate air quality improvements.

In addition, Metro has established a one-year pilot program with Clean Energy Fuels, the leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America, to supply its Redeem™ brand of Renewable Natural Gas to one of the transit system’s 11 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations around Los Angeles County. It will provide fuel for approximately 200 CNG buses. Clean Energy Fuels says an additional option would allow it to provide RNG for four more years, serving all of the region’s CNG buses.

The plan provides an interesting twist in the debate over alternative fuels. By now you’ve probably heard the arguments. Are the advantages of non-renewable natural gas outweighed by the methane released during the extraction process? If electricity comes from a coal-fired power plant, is it really zero emissions? Does the energy needed to produce bio fuels diminish their environmental benefits?

By using the natural gas produced in waste treatment and reduction efforts, advocates say RNG is a “carbon neutral” or “carbon negative” fuel. It makes use of something that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere causing harm. While critics question whether there’s enough RNG available to make a significant difference, advocates maintain there’s plenty of room for growth, especially in California.

The American Biogas Council, for example, estimates California, a leader in the production of RNG, has enough biogas to support roughly five times as many projects as it currently has, potentially producing enough electricity to power about 182,000 homes or fuel more than 435,000 vehicles while significantly reducing GHGs in the state.


Cummins believes every customer’s power needs and circumstances are a little bit different, so the company offers a broad portfolio of products that enable customers to choose what makes the most sense for them.

These include industry leading clean diesel engines and high-tech hybrids in addition to Cummins’ and Cummins Westport’s natural gas engines. And starting in 2019, Cummins will offer an all-electric powertrain for transit and delivery vehicles, maintaining electrification initially makes the most sense in buses and trucks operating in urban areas.

The company’s goal is to provide the right technology at the right time and in the right place to fuel customer success.

“For those customers where natural gas makes sense, we offer the cleanest technology there is on the market today, with a proven service network to back it up,” said Cummins Westport’s Neitzke. “Our partnership with Metro is a great example. We want to help them achieve their goal of a cleaner environment for all the residents of Los Angeles.”

Steve Sanders

Steve Sanders is the Program Leader for Cummins Repower R2.8 Crate Engines.  Steve joined Cummins in 2009 in Cummins Emission Solutions. He has a background in industrial design and fabrication, studied business management in school, and has a passion for anything with wheels that he can drive.

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