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High Performance Diesel Engines

By Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson

June, 2019

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Old School Trucking: this article is about old trucks, old ways of driving, turbo boost gauges and pyrometers, torsional dampers and one new product, Mileage Max Fuel Catalysis.

Every day on the telephone I’m amazed at how many owner-operators do NOT know how many pounds of turbo boost their truck can develop, how many pounds of boost it takes to travel across the level highways at their cruising speed, and what happens when the engine is low on turbo boost. The turbo boost gauge is one of the most important gauges in the instrument panel. If you don’t drive with one eye on the turbo boost gauge you are NOT getting optimal fuel mileage. This is for trucks 2002 and older, most engines that develop 500 horsepower need 30 psi of boost to keep the exhaust gas temperature at a safe level, so you don’t melt pistons if they are aluminum. If the engine has steel pistons, the excessive heat can take the tension out of the piston rings. Excessive exhaust heat will burn the cast iron exhaust manifold and the cast iron turbine of the turbocharger. If you have a 500-horsepower engine and the turbo boost is decreasing a few pounds every day, there is a problem, don’t keep driving the truck. Every pound of turbo boost lost will raise the exhaust gas temperature by 25 degrees. Recently we have had two owner operators driving their trucks with a loss of 10 psi of boost which raises the exhaust gas temperature 250 degrees, this is beyond the danger point. By driving this truck, you are decreasing the life of your engine.

Now here is another problem, many owner operators purchase used company trucks, which do not have a turbo boost gauge and exhaust gas temperature gauge (pyrometer). Fleet managers say their drivers are not smart enough to read the gauges and can’t drive a 13 or 18 speed transmission. Now Mr. Owner Operator purchases these single stack trucks with a 10 speed and no gauges and goes to work. First compliant, no power and no fuel mileage. That’s right, low power equates to poor fuel mileage. So, you call us on the phone or talk to us on the radio show and what is the first thing I ask you? How much turbo boost does the engine develop on a hard pull with your foot on the floor? And your answer is, “this is an ex-fleet truck and doesn’t have those gauges.” 

Owner-operators, the turbo boost gauge is $68.00, and you can install it in your driveway with simple hand tools. The exhaust gas temperature gauge works hand in hand with the boost gauge. If the boost is decreasing and the exhaust gas temperature is going up, there is a boost leak, turbo problem, clogged or wet air filter, or a crack in the charge air cooler. Now if the turbo boost is decreasing and the exhaust gas temperature is also decreasing, there is a fuel problem. It takes fuel to make turbo boost and exhaust heat. So, if the fuel delivery to the combustion chamber is decreasing, the exhaust gas temperature is also decreasing along with the turbo boost. When you, the driver and owner of this truck, give us these numbers we can help you to find the problem. The pyrometer kit it $178.00, and if you have a drill with a 7/16th drill bit, you can install this gauge in your driveway. 

Harmonic Balancers: there is no such item, it’s called a Torsional Damper, and this is a wear item which means it wears out like a tire and a shock absorber. In fact, it is a shock absorber for the crankshaft. Every time an injector fires and the piston is slammed to the bottom of the stroke, the large steel ring in the torsional damper moves slightly to absorb the shock and remove torsional vibrations. This large steel ring rides on Teflon and is cushioned by very thick silicone. As the Teflon wears the silicon starts to harden at about 380,000. At 500,000 miles the silicone is hard, the large steel ring can no longer move to remove the torsional vibrations and shock from the piston coming to the bottom of the stroke. Did you know at 1400 RPM in one mile there are 700 injections of diesel fuel, and the large steel ring in the torsional damper has to absorb all 700 of the power strokes of the pistons? Every day on the phone I have to hear “My mechanic says we never change those; they don’t wear out.” Tell your mechanic to go on our website and look at the video pertaining to Torsional Dampers. 

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about our new Max Mileage Fuel Borne Catalyst and so we’d like to address that here. A common question is if you have an older truck without a DPF, will you benefit from this product? The answer is yes. It still makes for a better running engine with a more complete combustion, so you’ll notice a smoother running engine and slightly better mileage. The Max Mileage will also save your engine from carbon buildup in the combustion chamber which reduces ring and liner life and in the exhaust manifold and turbo which will reduce performance. Another common question is, should you still get a Diesel Force engine cleaning done in addition to using Max Mileage? The answer to that is absolutely. The Diesel Force will give your engine a fresh start before using the Max Mileage to keep it clean. The Max Mileage burns off soot starting at 700 degrees F. Regen programs are designed to increase exhaust gas temperature as high as 1200 degrees to burn off the soot and carbon. So Max Mileage does a good job at keeping the hotter parts of the system clean. Diesel Force will clean all the other parts that don’t get hot. So really, it’s necessary to do both if soot is a problem for you. 

Please don’t forget about the Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer, yes, it’s expensive at $699.00 for the unit and installation kit. But it can be installed in your driveway. This unit will hold the truck straight down the highway, remove shock from the steering wheel, and give you more control if you drift off the highway. If you blow a front steering tire, all you need is one hand on the steering wheel to maintain complete control of the truck. If you have a car hauler, this item is a necessity due to the extra weight on the front axle. Give us a call if you have questions about the products here or would like to make an order. 

Written by Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson; Pittsburgh Power Inc.

3600 South Noah Dr. Saxonburg, Pa. 16056.

Phone 724-360-4080.

Website: PittsburghPower.com