High Performance Diesel Engines

Bruce Mallinson
June 2020

Several years ago, Kevin Rutherford and I were talking about setting money aside for a maintenance account and the amount per mile was 10 cents for pre-emissions trucks.  Then when EGR, DPF, and DEF appeared on the trucks in 2011 and 2012 the amount went to 15 cents per mile.  Last week our friend Jane Gates, the PhD chemist who developed the Max Mileage fuel borne catalyst, told us about the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). They say the figure to operate a late model truck with OEM engines for years 2012 to 2020 is 17 cents per mile and this does not include tires.  So, let’s figure that for a truck running 10,000 miles per month, the maintenance costs per year is $20,400 before including tire expense.  A big part of the increase from 10 cents to 17 cents per mile is because of the emissions equipment failures. Now let’s think about this, all new engines are good. In fact, most of the truck is good and if there were no emissions problems the maintenance cost per mile could drop to as low as 8 cents per mile.  The good news is we know how to solve this emissions equipment problem and keep the truck legal; the answer is to use the Max Mileage Fuel Borne Catalyst (FBC).  It costs only 1 cent per mile and the savings could be as high as 9 cents per mile.  Trucks using the catalyst consistently are simply not having emissions related problems. The engine, the oil, and the entire combustion and exhaust system all stay clean.  No more soot in the exhaust pipes, no more breakdowns and unexpected repair bills that come with lost income. Without the soot and carbon in the combustion chamber the life expectancy of the engine will increase by 30% or more.   Let’s use a more conservative number for cents per mile savings when using the fuel catalyst as an example.  I like the figure of 15 cents per mile for an emission equipped engine and 10 cents per mile for 2002 (pre-EGR) and older engines, so a savings of 5 cents per mile is more realistic to me.  Keep in mind I am conservative, so at a nickel per mile and 10,000 miles per month, the yearly savings would be $6,000.00  I feel that is a great return on an investment, 1 cent per mile to save 5 or more cents per mile.  Ask your stockbroker or investment banker to give you a 500% return on your money each year and listen to what he tells you.

Now, let me tell you about an N-14 engine resistance problem and fuel in the oil.  Not all engine rebuilds are created equal.  We have a beautiful black and orange Pete 389 “glider” in the shop with the complaint of low fuel mileage and fuel in the oil.  First diagnostics revealed that the number 1 and 2 exhaust ports were wet with fuel.  We then removed the valve cover and Jakebrake to check the valve and injector settings.  With use of a ½ inch breaker bar and a 1& 5/16 socket on the accessory drive we could not turn the engine over.  So, the mechanic got out the ¾ inch breaker bar that is 4 feet long, and still could not turn the engine over.  The engine would start with the starter.  However, it had a Caterpillar sound vs an N-14 sound.  Next, we removed the fuel pump, air compressor and accessory drive only to find they were free spinning.  So next we removed the oil pan to reveal no spun bearings, cam, and crankshaft, and could still not turn the engine over with a pry bar on the flywheel.  The next step was to remove #7 main bearing cap to see if the engine builder installed .010 thrust washers instead of standard. There were standard thrust washers. However, there was no end play in the crank even with the thrust washers out of the engine.  The next step was to remove several of the main bearing caps upon which we could finally see the problem.  The line bore of the crankshaft bore was out so far that the crank was being held in a bent or curved position.  Now we know why the fuel mileage was getting only 4 MPG.   Whenever the driver removed his foot from the throttle the truck would drastically slow down, there was no coasting for this truck.  Here is the lesson, when rebuilding an engine, you must inspect the wear of the main bearings and check if the wear is on one side and not the other.  As you can see in the pictures of this N14, the line bore is out, and the engine must be removed from the chassis to have the block and crankshaft taken to a machine shop.  After the line bore is re-machined, the crankshaft must be hot tanked, magnafluxed, straightened and polished.  This was a critical error for the person who rebuilt the engine for this Pete glider kit.

Long Haul Custom Detailing Inc, across the street from us just finished polishing a rather large tanker.  This tanker has 6 axles under it, hauls 13,500 gallons and at 7.2 lbs. per gallon of diesel fuel that comes out to a payload of 97,200 pounds.  This tanker was built by Mac Liquid Tanker in Kent, Ohio and is destined for Michigan.  There is a lot of beautiful detailing coming out of their shop.  By the way, if you are coming to our shop and our lot is full, there are 4.5 acres at Long Haul Custom Detailing and you are welcome to drop your trailer in their lot.  You are also welcome to visit their facility and see the beautiful detailing they do.  Also, they are starting a chrome stop and will be having a truck show this fall.   We will be part of their show and will be doing dyno testing on-demand. Please stay tuned for details.

Written by; Bruce Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, Pa. 16056 Phone 724-360-4080, website: PittsburghPower.com