Compression Ignition Addict
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: The great state of Warshington
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With proper tuning, forged rods and stock bottom ends are living to 600+ HP. If you plan to go past that point, billet rods, girdle, main studs and a partial block fill would be a good investment. In either case head studs are a must. Same with valve springs.
To answer your second question, yes and no. You can have a 500hp 7.3. You can daily drive and tow 10k+ with said truck. But you can't do both at the same time. Building a truck and shooting for the 500hp mark in an extreme/race/pull tune, but then backing things down to 350 or so in a tow/daily driver tune is your best option. In all reality, driving a 500hp truck making 500hp on the street is a scary proposition. Every once in a while to put the hurt on a D-Max or ricer is fine, but a 500hp truck can/will scare the living sh*t out of you.
If it were me:
910 Comp Valve Springs
E-fuel (SD pumps, A1000, or other)
Quality tuning (Tony Wildman, Gearhead, PHP, and the list goes on)
Make sure you have the rest of your drive-line in order as well. BTS/JW transmission if an Auto, clutch/flywheel if manual. 500HP can also melt down your diffs if you aren't careful and tow heavy.
Chrome don't get ya home