Chemical Engineering has come a long way during my working career. Back in the 1950’s, anything made out of plastic was usually of very poor quality. We only had black electrical tape, masking tape and scotch tape. Silicone sealants were almost nonexistence. Whoever thought there would be double face tapes that could hold panels on trucks and trailers without rivets and screws by the late 1990’s let alone what we have today in chemicals and plastics. Cummins Engine Company came out with a chemical that would eat the carbon off of an injector plunger while the engine was idling. One gallon would run through the engine in about 1 hour and the injector cups and plungers were spotless. This was for the NTC 444 engines and was to be used before setting the injectors. When I would rebuild a set of injectors I would use a wire wheel to clean the embedded carbon from the plunger tip. Now a chemical removes 100% of the carbon without removing the injectors.
Let’s fast forward to today, Lucas Oil is a phenomenal chemical company and all of their products do exactly what they say will do. 20 years ago, Forrest Lucas and I were speaking at a seminar in Victorville, CA and he told me that if he could not make the very best product, he would not make it all. Lucas products that I personally use are the Fuel Conditioner, Oil Stabilizer, 15W40 Magnum oil, Semi-Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid, Slick Mist, 80w90 gear oil, and the Power Steering Fluid. I have never had a failure on any part of a vehicle that has Lucas Oil products in or on it.
More on chemicals, about 3 years ago we at Pittsburgh Power came up with a way to clean the entire emissions systems of today’s diesel engines. The entire process took about 12 to 14 hours. Many of the emissions related parts were dissembled, the EGR soot was scraped away, and then the part was washed in solvent and re-assembled. The sensors were removed and cleaned in our ultra-sonic parts cleaner. Once everything is assembled we would do a forced re-gen on the Diesel Particulate Filter. This cleaning process has been very successful and most of owner-operators ran trouble free with today’s new emissions engines. This past winter a company a called us with a new machine they wanted us to try. It is an emissions cleaning system that uses foam to remove carbon and EGR soot. While the engine is running foam is pumped into the EGR system and the intake manifold, a computer is connected to the EGR valve and the Variable Geometry Turbocharger. EGR valves do not open while the engine is idling and the variable vanes in the turbo move very little, so for a thorough cleaning the installed computer actuates the EGR valve and the VG turbo while the foam is being injected. Whatever this chemical is that makes up the foam, it’s pungent, it smells like burnt urine, and the entire shop is filled with this odor. After the first engine was cleaned with the pressurized foam, we dissembled the intake, EGR valve, the VG turbo and many of the sensors to see if it really worked, and we were amazed at what we saw. Chemical Engineering has come through once again, the EGR soot was gone, and all of the manual labor we had to do before was now drastically shortened. The cost of the chemicals is expensive, however what took almost 2 days is now about 6 hours, and places we couldn’t get to the foam does. Before you spend money on the emissions systems, EGR valves, VG turbos and DPF filters, let us clean the system with the form and chances are you will not have to buy the expensive parts. Chemical Engineering has come a long way, just like Electrical Engineering!
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten. With this thought in mind, think about the radiator in the front of your engine, what an incredible task that fragile copper and brass unit has to perform. Yet many owner-operators purchase the most economical radiator on the market. Then we get the phone call, I just put a new radiator in my truck and it still overheats. We ask how many rows of tubes are in the new radiator and how many tubes per row, and of course they never know. They do know they priced around and did purchase the cheapest one and they still have the overheating problem.
Why do great mechanics buy Snap-On Tools? Because they are the very best and just happen to be the most expensive, just like the radiators we sell at Pittsburgh Power. My good snowmobile friend and owner-operator Mike Lane, loves quality and never cuts a corner on his Western Star. Three weeks ago, Mike called me to order a new radiator for the Western Star powered by a DD5 14-liter Detroit, which we have, producing 720 horsepower. We have a huge inventory of radiators; however, we did not have that one. Fortunately, Mike’s radiator was still in somewhat working condition so waiting 10 days for the high flow high capacity radiator was not a problem. First trip was today, May 7th, and he started in Ogden, UT and traveled to Portland, OR. The engine fan never came on, the thermostats are 185 degrees so they fully open at 200 degrees. The return trip over Cabbage Mountain with a gross weight of 70,000 pounds, the coolant temperature rose to 204 degrees, the fan came on for 15 seconds and the coolant temperature dropped to 193 degrees. It gradually rose again to 204, the fan came on for 15 seconds again, and the temperature dropped to 188 degrees and stayed there for the remainder of the mountain, which is 7 miles long. On the level the coolant temperature averaged 177 degrees. Mike says he will need a winter front for the colder temperatures. The stock radiator on the Western Star has 2 rows of tubes for a total of 170 tubes; the Pittsburgh Power radiator has 3 rows for a total of 288 tubes. This is a cross flow radiator and space is limited. For a 359, 379, or 389 Pete we have 4 rows of tubes and 100 tubes per row for a total of 400 tubes. A 550 Cat comes with 234 tubes stock so you can see the difference plus our tubes are dimpled, which adds more surface and cools better than a straight tube. Quality pays in the long term or the first mountain!
Written by Bruce Mallinson
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, PA 16056