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High Performance Diesel Engines

By Bruce Mallinson

January, 2019

Welcome owner operators and students, I have never started an article like this because I don’t really know where these end up. Tonight, I was informed that some vocational schools are using the articles to teach their students my way of building diesel engines. So, I guess I better clean up my act, so I don’t pollute the young minds reading these words of wisdom.

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The first 2 paragraphs of this article were written by our lead Electrical Engineer Ethan, and it pertains to the emissions systems used on the Detroit DD15 and DD13 exhaust systems, which is referred to as “One Box”. 

The DD15 and DD13 one box contains the majority of the aftertreatment components all in one unit. The only advantage to this compact design over other systems is that it saves some space under the truck. One major disadvantage is that the diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) and the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) element cannot be replace without changing the entire one box. Only the diesel particulate filters (DPF) and a few other components can be serviced on the one box system. This causes the cost of repair to increase dramatically, typically around $10,000 after labor, gaskets, and of course at least one parked regen. Shops usually try to change that one box as a last resort because of the high cost associated with the repair but sometimes it is the only option.

Also, the DD15 system requires you to validate a repair to clear a check engine light, especially if it deals with the aftertreatment system. There are several different levels of codes that the ECM can have: An active code, permanent active code, permanent inactive code, or just inactive. Some codes are easy to repair and the process to clear them out of the ECM is also simple, just hit ‘clear codes.’ Others like the permanent codes cannot be cleared even if the component has been replaced. You must follow the proper procedure for that code and most of the time it will require a regen to verify the repair. In the case of multiple codes, you may do multiple parked regenerations as part of the repair procedure. Active permanent codes sometimes cannot be completely cleared off the ECM. They will become permanent inactive until a drive cycle is completed and then the ECM will clear the code. 

Last week I walked into our engineering center and there was what I though was a brand new bright yellow 389 Peterbilt. The hood was tilted and there was a new Acert Caterpillar engine with polished stainless air intake piping, charge air cooler tubes, and even part of the fan shroud was wrapped in polished stainless. I continued to walk around this beautiful Pete and opened the driver’s side door and noticed the instrument panel was that of the mid 1990’s Peterbilts. Now I’m thinking, how did that instrument panel get into this new truck? I then walked to the front of the truck and looked at the headlights and realized that this was a reworked 1994 379 Pete! Sometimes your mind can play funny games with your head and what you think you’re looking at, really isn’t what it is. Now I looked at the door for a name and saw AAMODT, INC. Then I realized this was an old friend of mine from Bonners Ferry, Idaho by the name of Delton Amoth. I spoke with him at the Louisville Truck Show this past March and he did not tell me he was building this 379 Pete. I’ve known this man for a long time and knew he was capable of building some unique trucks, now I finally got to see his work. Delton's son, Blayne, was the driver and he told me the story of this Pete. He was 14 months old when his father and mother traveled to Denton, Texas to watch their new Pete being built. There was one problem, no children are permitted in the assembly plant. The Vice President of Peterbilt heard of the problem, walked out of the office and said, “I’ll babysit the child, go and watch your truck being built”. So Blayne got to spend time with the VP of Peterbilt. 

This 1994 Pete originally came with a Sixty Series DD3 Detroit which ran for 1.1 million miles with oil changes every 10 to 12,000 miles. Than a junkyard DD3 Detroit was purchased with 500,000 miles on it, and it ran another 700,000 miles. When this engine wore out an N-14 525 Celect Plus was installed and it ran for 1.1 million miles. The N-14 spun a rod bearing, and at this time the 1994 Pete with 2.9 million miles came into the shop for a makeover. The original color was a 1976 Corvette yellow and it’s still the same color. 

During the makeover, an Acert Caterpillar engine was installed. The truck was in our shop for dyno tuning, a new torsional damper and mercury filled engine balancer. You can see why Blayne is so proud of this 379, being he was 14 months old when it was built, spent time with the VP pf Peterbilt, and he was part of the rebuilding of this wonderful truck with 2.9 million miles on the odometer. 

Over the years I have told many owner-operators that a Peterbilt and Kenworth can be completely disassembled down to the last rivet, and rebuilt to be better than new, this Pete is proof of that statement.

Written by; Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power, Inc.,

3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, PA 16056.

Phone: 724-360-4080

Website: Pittsburghpower.com