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High Performance Diesel Engines

By Bruce Mallinson

August, 2018

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A piece of history left me today, something that I have owned and cherished for 47 years, a vehicle that changed my life when I was 22 years old. A silver 1966 Corvette Coupe that had 19,000 miles on the odometer when I purchased it in 1971. The mechanical knowledge I gained from building this car made me a champion at Autocross and SCCA Solo 1 road racing. Nelson Ledges Road Course, a 2.3-mile circuit, was my home track and in 1973 I set the track record which held until 1979. I was told NOT to build this Corvette for the Race Prepared Class. They said I was too young, too poor, and certainly did not have the driving experience. I will admit that I was young and didn’t have much money, however, I was working a day job in Traffic and Transportation, and in the evenings I was rebuilding wrecked Corvettes. As for driving, what my critics didn’t know was that I loved speed; the faster I could get a Corvette to go, the happier I was. Those of you who know the terrain in Western Pennsylvania realize that most of our roads are two-lane country, hilly, with plenty of curves. Back then I was mastering the art of 4-wheel drifting. My first time racing the 66 Corvette at Nelson’s Ledges I finished 2nd out of 144 Corvettes. I only had 1 person to beat, and that happened in 1973 when I set the track record.

Life is amazing, many of us go through life being told “You can’t do that,” “You can’t build high performance diesel engines for truckers,” “You can’t take a Big Cam 400 Cummins and produce 800 horsepower and expect it to live.” The list goes on and on. The most recent one, “You can’t pilot a boat to the Bahamas, you have never been out of sight of land on a boat. You have never had a class on reading a chart and navigating a larger boat, and it’s only you and Debbie. You can’t do that!” Well, Debbie and I did it last summer. Maybe someday people will quit telling me “I can’t do that.” In the meantime, I’ll continue to do what others say can’t be done.

OLD SCHOOL TRUCKING, on June 25, 2018 a new Western Star pulled into our shop and I had to go and see this beautiful purple truck. A 78-year-old owner-operator climbed out of the cab and his name was Charles Cowdrey. What I though was a brand-new truck turned out to be a 1999 Western Star that he paid $13,000 for. The story is much deeper, you see Charles had another ‘99 Western Star powered with a 60 Series Detroit using the Pittsburgh Power exhaust manifold, 15% larger turbocharger, torsional damper and mercury filled engine balancer, and the Pittsburgh Power computer. This 12.7-liter engine produces 763 horsepower on level 2 of the power box so needless to say, horsepower was not an issue. Charles’s grandson was driving the Western Star on I-85 in Durham, N.C. when a tree that was 2 feet in diameter fell on the truck at 70 miles per hour. I’ll bet his grandson never saw that one coming! The tree hit the hood and then the passenger side of the cab demolishing the truck. Branches of the tree ripped the oil drain plug out of the oil pan and the grandson shut off the engine as soon as he got to the side of the highway. No damage to the Detroit Diesel. Now Charles and his grandson are truck-less and being he has only been driving a truck for 60 years, he is not finished. (Charles’s first truck was a 1958 Ford F-1000 powered by a 534 cubic inch gasoline engine.) The insurance company gave him $26,000 for his demolished Western Star, he then bought it back from the insurance company for $6,000. His search for another Western Star took him to the state of Indiana where he purchased the purple 1999 Western Star for $13,000. He sold the seats, engine, transmission, differentials, tires, and wheels for $10,000. Then he took the parts form his wrecked Star and installed them into the purple Star and off to the paint shop it goes. As you can see the result is phenomenal! He fooled me, I thought it was a brand new Western Star!

Written by Bruce Mallinson
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 S. Noah Dr, Saxonburg, PA 16056
Phone 724-360-4080

EMISSION SYSTEM MAINTENANCE: As you know, 14 years ago truck manufacturers had to meet stricter emissions requirements and the common solution was an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system. Shortly after, the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) were added. It’s important to remember that these systems need to be maintained or they will cause significant problems. It’s unfortunate that many shops do not understand these systems and how to keep them operating properly. Disassembling and cleaning individual parts can be labor intensive and expensive. Therefore, we’ve come up with two solutions.

First, our Dorothy soot separator removes the heavy soot particles from EGR flow and prevents soot buildup on your intake, engine internals, turbo, etc. It also means longer life from your DPF and DEF. We recently collected 1.3 pounds of soot from one Dorothy collection pot, a new record. Think of that much soot building up inside your intake and getting stuck on the valves. The second solution is rather new, but we’ve had great success with it. It uses compressed air to force a foam solvent through the engine breaking down dense carbon buildup. With a computer program controlling engine RPM, solvent cycles through the air passages cleaning everything from the intake, turbo, EGR, valves, and out the exhaust cleaning the DPF. It also cleans soot from the piston rings reducing liner wear. Afterwards, a parked regen burns off the existing solvent and the oil is changed. The result is a restored emissions system and a truck that runs good as new.

Written by Andrew Wilson
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 S. Noah Dr, Saxonburg, PA 16056
Phone 724-360-4080


Bruce says goodbye to his 1966 Corvette Coupe.

Charles Cowdrey, a 78 year old Professional Truck Driver and Bruce Mallinson.

Pittsburgh Power’s Dorothy soot separator