High Performance Diesels With Bruce Mallinson and Ron Mahen
High Fuel Mileage Diesels With A Touch Of Performance!
I was involved with trucks in the traffic management side since the age of 19, even did some dispatching and in the evenings I had a racecar shop called Mallinson Performance. I would build and road race Corvettes. Years later the opportunity came along to get into the diesel engine side of the trucking industry and I was ready. Chuck Passmore wanted to move to Tampa, Florida and start a new diesel shop. It was then when I took over his small fuel injection shop that I got my start in diesel engines. I loved and still do enjoy working with my hands. However back in 1977 diesel engines were dirty, noisy and slow. Back then a small cam NTC 350 was considered a big hammer and the Big Cam NTC Cummins had just started to come out. In 1977 nobody in the industry attempted to gave extra fuel to a diesel engine, so I did. As I built relationships in the industry I discovered that most owner-operators were also gear heads just like I was. Owner-operators loading in Pittsburgh would often be loaded with a double load of steel coils from a steel mill and the extra power was always welcomed. If I could drive a high performance Corvette as my every day car why couldn't an owner-operator have a performance diesel engine in his every day truck? Thinking this way got me labeled as the black sheep in the diesel engine industry. At first this was not an easy path to follow. I was forbidden from belonging to some diesel engine organizations and many times I was told; "Oh, you're that guy who turns up the engines. That’s going to come back and bite you. You can't give these engines more power than what they were designed for". Despite this attitude owner-operators always had faith in me and we never had the failures most in the industry said we would. We always installed turbo boost gauges and exhaust gas temperature gauges and the drivers drove by them. I remember when Cummins built the first NTC 444 and Caterpillar had their 3406-B 425 and both companies said they would never build a larger engine. By then we were already building these engine with an additional 200 horsepower and NOT having any problems.
So if you find yourself getting labeled as a black sheep, so be it, stick to your guns, your dreams, and ambitions and don’t let anyone talk you out of what you truly believe! I'm not considered to be the black sheep of the industry anymore. Engine manufacturers and other diesel engine shops have got into the performance side of diesels.
Did you notice I changed the heading of this article to include the words High fuel mileage? I did this because over the past several years our goals have been focused on improving fuel mileage but we’ll never lose sight of what we’re known for, which is high performance. Now, when I say high performance I’m not talking about 1000 plus horsepower engines. I’m talking about engines in the 585 to 700 horsepower range. You have the option to have anything you want, however this engine power range is what guys usually want. We often hear "I don't want power, just fuel mileage". Our response is always the same; “You won’t get great fuel mileage without power.” A semi truck burns most of its fuel pulling a hill, mountain or grade and this country is NOT flat, so the longer you spend on the hill, grade or mountain the more fuel you will burn. A Sixty Series 12.7 Detroit works best at 585 hp and what’s amazing is when we give an owner-operator of a 430 horsepower Series 60 a 585 horsepower computer upgrade he NEVER wants to go back to stock. The DDEC V 14 liter Series 60 loves to produce about 625 hp and can get great fuel mileage there and you’ll never have to push the throttle to the floor. This also holds true for the Caterpillar and Cummins engines. The C-15 Cat from 585 to 700 plus horsepower is a pleasure to drive and the Acert Cat from 2005 through 2009 when properly upgraded is my favorite engine to drive. These are what I would consider high performance engines.
Now if you want something for sled pulling or drag racing that’s different. We can build a 14-liter Detroit, to 1950 horsepower at 2800 rpm. 2800 rpm is currently the limit though because once over 2800 rpm the rocker arms will snap. We are looking into having Billet rocker arms made so the engine cam pull up into the 3000 plus RPM range. Don’t even ask us for this kind of power if you’re taking this truck on the highway. These engines are not for the street and are ONLY for competition. Mike Ryan who holds the track record for racing a truck up Pikes Peak is a nice guy, however he isn’t a truck driver but a professional stunt driver. I’d like to see what an owner-operator could do on Pikes Peak. If you have the money to build such a truck, I have the perfect driver in mind, Ron Atwell, owner-operator of a high performance Series 60. This man would not be intimidated by the gravel roads to the 14,000-foot summit. It would take a lot of money, however it would be fun.
In the photo is our latest Peterbilt Glider Kit to be built by Pittsburgh Power Inc. It will be powered by a Cummins Signature 600 ISX and an 18-speed transmission. This is a heavy haul truck that will be used to move equipment in oil fields of Pennsylvania. This truck has a 20,000 lb. front axle and 3.70 46,000 lb. rears and a double frame. We will keep you posted as we build this Pete. We waited a long time to get this glider kit!
Remember: Enthusiasm is the sustaining power of all great actions!
Written by: Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 South Noah Dr., Saxonburg, Pa. 16056. Phone 724-360-4080. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org