High Performance Diesel Engines

Bruce Mallinson
May 2018

The Louisville Truck Show is now behind us, the weather was terrible, snow, rain, cold - however that did not stop the owner-operators who were outside from putting on a great show. The show trucks were beautiful, every year they just get better. It makes me proud that I have spent my entire adult career in the trucking industry. During the early 1970’s I was a judge for ISCA (International Show Car Association) out of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and worked the Rod and Custom Car Shows at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Cleveland, Erie and Pittsburgh, I must say the judges for the show trucks at Louisville and Dallas have a much more difficult job judging these trucks than I did judging Street Rods.

Our booth in the West Wing was packed with owner-operators, many of them interested in our “Dorothy”, our newest invention that removes the soot from the EGR gasses before they enter the intake manifold. With a reduction of Diesel Exhaust Fluid consumption by 30% the “Dorothy” soot eater is a winner.

The Louisville Show is a reunion for us, we get to see many of the same people every year and hear about how happy they are with how their truck is running using our parts and programming. The comradely and friendship we share in this industry is second to none.

Engine rebuilding: Many times, each day we get the phone calls “How much to rebuild my engine”? Our question is “What engine do you have”? There are many owner-operators that do not know the model of the engine they own and drive. With a Caterpillar we need to know if it’s a 5EK, 1LW, 2WS, 6NZ, MXS, etc. If you have a Detroit 60 Series is it a DD3, DD4, DD5, DD6, DD15 Etc. If you have a Cummins, is it a Big Cam and if so what is the CPL such as 445, 625, 1280, 1844, 2025, etc., and if it’s an ISX the CPL plus the engine serial number and the year of the truck. Please take the time to find out exactly what engine you have, and the engine serial number is a must when it comes to ordering parts. Write these numbers down and keep them in the truck, put a sticky note where you will see it often with the model of the engine. Telling us you have a 60 Series or a C-15 Cat is not enough information.

Now for pricing and why it costs so much to build the engine the PROPER way. A basic rebuild on a DD3 or DD4 Detroit can be as low as $16,000. This doesn’t get you very much, new liners and pistons, rod and main bearings, reman head, 6 reman injectors, new head bolts, a head gasket and pan gasket set, oil and filters, and new antifreeze. If the engine is a 430/470 or 500 horsepower, that is what is still is, a bone stock engine. To make this a great engine we have to cut the upper counter bores to set the liner protrusion-$800, balance the connecting rods and pistons-$850, ported and ceramic coated exhaust manifold to decrease the exhaust temperature by 125 degrees and gain ¼ mpg-$1450, 15% larger turbocharger to gain another ¼ mpg or more, lower exhaust gas temperatures, allow the engine to run free and pull better-$1150, new torsional damper and mercury filled engine balancer-$625, performance program and cleaning the inside of the ECM and testing-$1425, FASS Fuel System installed-$1600, Bullgear-$1200, by-pass oil filter-$675, Fleet air filter-$425 and the performance muffler-$185. That my friends comes out to $10,385 in extras to build a GREAT running engine that will outlive the stock engine, gain at least 1 more mile per gallon, and be a whole lot more fun to drive. You will have a love affair with your truck with this style of engine. If you were diligent about maintaining the engine and changed the torsional damper at 500,000 miles, then installed the ported and ceramic coated exhaust manifold, 15% larger turbo, performance muffler, Fleet Air Filter, OPS by-pass oil filter, during the life of the engine, than these parts can be reused at the time of the rebuild, thus bringing the price way back down towards the basic price. That is one of the many reasons we encourage you to invest in the engine while it’s still running, the additional fuel mileage savings will pay for the rebuild.

Now for the single turbo Caterpillar; the Platinum rebuild kit, which happens to be the best rebuild kit of all the engine manufacturers, is $12,584, then add about $6,000 in labor and you have $18,584. Please realize this is almost impossible to do, there are hundreds of small parts that do not come with the rebuild kit. The reason I’m telling you this is because when you call a truck dealership or basic truck shop, this is what you will get quoted. Once the engine is disassembled and the engine block is cleaned, and the main bearings are checked to make sure the line bore is straight, know we then know the engine can stay in the chassis. The Caterpillar cylinder packs MUST be taken apart, this is the only way the mechanic can set the liners in the block, install the spacer plate and gasket, and install the specialty tool to hold the liners in place so the liner protrusion can be checked. If this most important step is not performed, how are you going to know the liner protrusion? If the mechanic installs the cylinder packs and then checks the liner protrusion and it’s low, which it always is, now he has to un-torque the connecting rods from the crankshaft, the crush of the rod bearings where the two halves meet is now lost, remove the cylinder pack and try to find out why the protrusion is low. It’s so much easier to work just with the liner to check for liner protrusion. Does it take longer to do it the Pittsburgh Power way, yes Sir, about 12 hours of labor longer. Now is the time for these two old sayings, “Why is there never time to do it right the first time, but there is always time to do it over.” The next saying, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.” I recently had a phone call from a small trucking company in Mississippi that just had their Acert Cat rebuilt and the head gasket blows every trip. They have replaced the head gasket 8 times and wanted to know what the problem was. The answer is simple, the rebuilding mechanic DID NOT set the liner protrusion correctly.

The following is a list of the performance parts to build a great performing, long life, and good fuel mileage Caterpillar engine.

Pittsburgh Power ported and ceramic coated manifold - $1650.00

HP Cat Turbocharger - $2450.00

ECM Performance tuning - $1450.00

Balancing the connecting rods and pistons - $ 850.00

Torsional Damper and Mercury filled balancer - $765.00

FASS Fuel System installed with all the hoses and fittings - $1600.00

OPS By-pass oil filtration system installed -$1165.00 (without electrics; $695.00)

2 Fleet Air Filters - $ 598.00

Cutting of upper counter bores- $800.00

Total for all of the great parts that make the Caterpillar a great engine - $11,328

As you can see, it’s much easier to add these parts to your existing engine and then you will have the money to do a rebuild when the time comes. Carl Kellner added $12,000 to his 2WS Cat in a 1999 379 Pete, and in one year saved $35,000 in fuel and the fuel mileage savings came from his accountant.

Written by Bruce Mallinson,

3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, PA 16056

Phone 724-360-4080