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High Performance Diesel Engines

By Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson

February, 2020

Here at Pittsburgh Power we believe in new ideas and innovations that help to serve the owner-operator which is why we test new products every year. Generally, these products are designed to make trucks more reliable, more efficient, and more profitable for the owner-operator. To be honest, many of these new products fail our testing never get to be marketed. But every once in a while, we have a product that exceeds everyone’s expectations and we bring it to market. Our original Power Box was created this way, as well as the quiet performance muffler, duel fuel line kit, torsional damper, mercury filled engine balancer, FASS fuel system, ported and polished exhaust manifolds, performance turbochargers, high flow radiators, Diesel Force cleaning, DPF washing, ECM programming, and Max Mileage fuel borne catalyst. So, if you have a new product you would like us to test using our advanced equipment, please give us a call. If you bought a used fleet truck with an ISX 450, we have a phenomenal new program. You will see an additional 96 HP and 400 lb.-ft of torque! Keep in mind, it’s the torque that takes you up the mountain, not horsepower. 

Ethan, our lead electrical engineer, is in charge of testing new products, and he takes testing seriously. As you might rememberfrom middle school science class, the scientific method involves developing a hypothesis and designing an experiment to see if your observations support the hypothesis. You make observations by changing one independent variable and observing how the dependent variable reacts. Other variables that could affect the result must be controlled or the test is void. The whole process typically takes a day or two. Our tests usually rely off of our Taylor rolling chassis dyno and our Semtech emissions testing equipment (this is EPA recommended testing equipment). Using the dyno allows us to eliminate any variables that could affect the test results like road conditions, weather, etc. By changing just one variable, we can get an accurate reading for horsepower, torque, exhaust volume, various temperatures, and other readings. With our Semtech advanced emissions testing sensors we can test for CO, CO3, NO, NO2, and NOx (which is NO and NO2 combined). 

We’ve spoken a lot in the past about the importance of replacing your engine’s torsional damper, but every so often we get a reminder why it’s so important. When a torsional damper goes bad, the silicone on the inside of the inertia housing hardens and the damper can no longer absorb vibrations. Usually there is no external visual evidence the damper has gone bad, however, the result is broken engine parts like alternator brackets, air conditioning brackets, flywheel housing bolts, springs in the clutch disk, crankshaft, camshaft, accessory drive shaft, shifter and interior parts rattle, and it will vibrate your seat and tire you out. They have a 500,000 mile or 10 year lifespan. Recently we had a 379 Pete with a Detroit 60 Series in the shop with the worst torsional damper we’ve ever seen. The inertia ring was sheared off from the inside mounting plate with where it bolts to the crankshaft (see photo). The engine itself had 1.3 million miles with the original torsional damper. It should have been replaced 3 times by now. 

Speaking of dampers, we have a new Severe Duty Australian Torsional Damper available for the Cummins ISX . This damper was designed specifically for high horsepower engines pulling road trains in Australia. It features a denser silicone core to take more abuse than the standard ISX damper and it weighs 11 pounds heavier. The extra weight comes from the inertia ring. It may also help if you have an engine vibration that cannot be identified or fixed. We have a severe duty torsional damper for the 12.7 Detroit as well, but it’s half an inch thicker so you need to check for clearance. 

Fuel mileage: Reggie Freedlund is a very sharp 29 year old owner operator with a 1998 Freightliner Century equipped with a Cummins N14 (CPL 2025) and a 13 speed transmission. He regularly pulls a utility reefer and travels at 60 MPH. Modifications include a Pittsburgh Power radiator and charge air cooler, our damper and balancer, turbo boost and pyrometer gauges, two Quiet Performance Mufflers, and he runs Max Mileage FBC. Before running Max Mileage, he would average around 8 MPG, but now he’s between 9.08 and 12.55 MPG. That 12.55 tank was one 2,170 mile tripped logged with good conditions. Reggie is able to obtain this excellent fuel economy by driving by the boost gauge and using the catalyst. It goes to show, you can get greatmileage from any truck so long as it’s well maintained, you’re using a few key low-cost products, and you’re driving for mileage. 

Every now and then we have a used truck for sale. Three years ago, we had a 2012 Kenworth T660 with a 450 HP ISX, 10 speed, and 3.55 rears. The truck was in immaculate condition to begin with and then we made it better. We did a Diesel Force cleaning, installed a Dorothy EGR soot separator, our exhaust manifold and high flow intake manifold, set the overhead, installed the torsional damper and mercury filled engine balancer, OPS, Fass, and reprogrammed the ECM to 650 HP. This truck was purchased by C.D. Martin who is a Max Mileage dealer out of McPherson, Kansas. He does a dedicated run from Kansas to Arizona, L.A., Denver, and back to Kansas. He sells Max Mileage along the way and it’s always available in his truck. The truck is equipped with an APU, so it does not idle, he runs the Rocky Mountains and he’s averaging between 7.1 and 9 MPG. CD has put 430,000 miles on this truck, running the catalyst since April. It’s a full emissions truck, with zero problems. He inspected the DPF last week and it’s spotless, no soot in the exhaust system. One of our lead technicians, Eagle Eye Adam, went over this truck front to back and gave it a clean bill of health. The only thing C.D. had to replace was a corroded wire. This is a money making high performance machine. C.D. is an accomplished dirt track motorcycle racer. He’s extremely mechanically inclined and even uses the catalyst in the racing motorcycle. His phone number is (417) 850-2830 if you would like to buy Max Mileage from him. 

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

Photo caption:

“Broken vibration damper”