Toops an innovative diesel power mechanic

Dean Shipley The Madison Press

November 29, 2013

He was on his way, making his mark in his chosen field. Daniel “Danny” Toops had a knack for power diesel mechanics. With an innate curiosity and an unbridled imagination to give something a try, he was succeeding in the business of building powerful diesel engines for pickup trucks.

Unfortunately an early-morning pickup truck crash on Thursday, Nov. 28 brought all that drive and promise to a sad end.

Danny Toops, lost his life in the one-vehicle crash on state Route 161. Regretfully, Toops was not wearing a seat belt when Jacob Bluhm, 22, of Plain City, lost control of his pickup and it left the roadway. The truck hit a ditch, rolled over and Toops was ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Toops has been described as a self-taught diesel mechanic, but he possessed an inventor’s curiosity and drive to push his knowledge beyond the conventional. His long-time best friend, Cory Litchfield, watched as Toops blossomed into a power diesel mechanic, whose fledgling business was growing rapidly.

“He was one of the best,” Litchfield said.

He helped Toops convert a former horse barn on Old Springfield Road to a place where horsepower was tantamount. Litchfield said Toops’ reputation and his business were growing at “an unreal” pace.

His work caught the eye of Diesel Power magazine. The writer was impressed with Toops’ ability to innovate and think beyond the box to make things happen in a diesel engine. He noted Toops, who performed all of his own work, had placed very high in a prestigious competition, the Scheid Diesel Competition last year in Colorado.

“He was very good at tuning, knowing what they needed,” said Jared Troyer, a fellow diesel power enthusiast.

Brian Rittenhouse was Toops’ employee for the last eight months and saw his employer’s potential and drive to be the best. Rittenhouse said the business “exploded” and was gaining a reputation throughout the country. He cited one truck-pulling customer who came from New York to have Toops “do what he did best.”

Rittenhouse described Toops as a man around whom he made people feel comfortable. Within minutes of conversation, Toops could make a person feel as if they’d known him all his life. He always treated everyone with respect, which he thought was a product of his upbringing.

Jared Troyer had known Toops about five years and felt his friendship deeply enough to have him as a groomsman in his recent wedding.

Litchfield attested that Toops was “well-liked by everybody.”

The two had played golf together through high school at London, where Toops was team captain in his senior year.