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Growing up in forestry, Steve Hart and his family always worked on their own vehicles and skidders to maintain day-to-day operations. Ever since Steve could walk, he would join his father and help him fix the skidders, tractors and other vehicles his family used for the business. You could say that automotive and diesel work was in his blood.
When it came time for Steve to decide what he wanted to do in life, his father encouraged him to step away from forestry.
“Growing up, my dad told me that if I ever went back to the logging industry, he would kill me,” jokes Steve Hart. “There were two things I knew how to do, and that was felling trees and fixing diesels, so I went into fixing diesels.”
Today, Steve is the founder and owner of NOT. Diesel and automotive in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada – 11 employees, 10,000 square feet. workshop that performs repair, maintenance and engine work on the three major diesel platforms. Additionally, NS Diesel also performs fleet work and heavy and haul work from the nine-bay workshop.
However, before Steve opened NOT. Diesel just four years ago, in May 2017, he cut his teeth in the industry at several other stores and was shown the right way of doing things by those he worked for.
“I worked for a small boutique in my hometown of Windsor, Nova Scotia for five years,” says Hart. “Fred Schofield was the name of the store owner and I have nothing but the utmost respect for that man. If it weren’t for him, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t anything in the world for that old man and I didn’t realize at the time what he was doing for me. When you’re a kid you don’t realize the people watching over you. I hated him then because he was my boss and that he was tough on me, but looking back now, I definitely owe him my life.
From there, Steve went to work at a Ford dealership, a stint that only lasted a year before he was offered a job as a foreman at another diesel shop. He spent the next five years there before deciding to go it alone.
“My dream has always been to run my own diesel shop, run fleets and build cool engines and transmissions, rears and stuff,” he says.
Part of Steve’s passion for this industry, given his current position, is helping kids with a similar upbringing to his – rough and tough – who never had many opportunities. Steve helps them get into this industry, if they feel like it, and teaches them the tricks of the trade.
“I hired a few young people out of school,” he says. “Evan started with me when he was 18, and Cole started with me when he was 17. I accompany them along the way. Evan is now a third year apprentice and does most of the engine rebuilding for me.
According to Steve, NOT. Diesel is a process-oriented store that does not use document orders, but instead uses iPads to take photos and notify customers of jobs via text messages and emails as they happen.
“From the minute the customer shows up to the minute they leave, everything is perfect,” says Hart. We are a state-of-the-art digital store. There has never really been a market here, in our little old province of Nova Scotia, for what we do. My main focus was on the big three and diesel repair because other than the dealer no one was doing that. We have everything the big three dealerships have. We are the alternative to dealerships.
With the ability to perform complete engine rebuilds, maintenance and repair work, NS Diesel has earned a good reputation and good customer base in the region. Recently a long time customer came to see Steve and the guys at NS with a 2004 Ford Powerstroke 6.0L in need of some serious attention.
“Right now our big build we’re doing is a 700 horsepower 6.0L Ford Powerstroke,” he says. “It actually started with a long time customer of mine. He brought me an old 2004 Ford F250 6.0L that was just a rusty, beat up work truck. The head gaskets were so bad that they were popping the coolant cap. He put it down and said here, man, see what you can do with it.
“We ripped the engine out and tore it down – it was just destroyed. It had about 600,000 kilometers (nearly 400,000 miles) in it. It wasn’t really well maintained. We pulled another engine out of a donor truck and had it completely overhauled.
The rebuild began with boring the new engine to 0.020˝. NS Diesel retained the standard connecting rod and main bearings from Mahle. They used Mahle valve relief pistons and Mahle rings and jointed the factory heads after taking off 0.010˝ to increase the compression ratio.
In addition to this work, NS Diesel chose to use Industrial Injection 30% injectors on 145cc, Dynamic Diesel valve springs, ARP hardware throughout, BD Diesel 58 volt FICM, intake pipes and manifolds to BD Diesel high flow, a BD Diesel flex plate, Sinister Diesel regulated fuel pressure return, coolant filter kit and oil bypass kit, and innovative Diesel tuning.
To top off the rebuild of this 6.0L Powerstroke, NS Diesel used a BD Diesel Stage 2 Screamer turbo (10-blade 66mm/72mm) to help it hit the power target.
“It was brought to us like a rotten old barn truck,” Hart explains. “Now you wouldn’t even recognize him. The 2004 Ford is used as a daily driver for the client and his wife. That’s why we’ve only kept it to 700bhp, because anything above that is boring for a daily driver.
The Diesel of the week is sponsored by AMSOIL. If you have an engine you would like to feature in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor-in-Chief Greg Jones at [email protected]