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High Performance Diesel Engines

By Bruce Mallinson

February, 2016

Thank God for our performance minded computer tech gear head engineers. All I can say is us older mechanical engine mechanics really need to listen to the computer tech guys that love making trucks perform better, improve fuel mileage, and of course improve emissions. The following is a partial list of items our Engineering Department has repaired during the past 2 weeks.

Bob Dent brought in a DD5 Detroit complaining of low power. The computer program was a disaster and the injectors were worn out. Furthermore, the injectors only had 300,000 miles on them; so this is why I tell you Owner-Operators to use Lucas Injector Cleaner. Your injectors need the lubricity to eliminate wear in the barrel and plungers. As far as the ECM goes, some guy that calls himself the “Doctor” did the programming. On the 12.7 liter Detroits, the “Doctor” likes to set the injectors all to 75, which is wrong. When you do this all 6 injectors deliver different amounts of fuel to the cylinders and the engine can run rough. Be careful guys who you allow to mess with your brain, and you’re engine’s brain. By the way there are a few people out there in North America that consider themselves the “Doctor” of diesel engines and they weren’t even born when we started building engines.

Ken Graff brought a 2012 Coronado to us with the climate controls not working. The engineers found a corroded module in the blower motor. Problem solved!

Rob with Arnold Transport came to us with ECM failures. The battery was just starting to fail; his problem was an easy one to solve. A Detroit dealership would have installed a Reman ECM costing about $2500 with labor.

Eric Raymond has a 5EK Caterpillar and came to us for ECM programming. He reported back to us with a solid 7 mpg. I love the 5EK Cat Engine, however this engine does have a habit of breaking a few crankshafts. If you install our crankshaft damper every 500,000 miles, this problem will not happen. The 5 EK was available in 1995, and was in production until sometime in 1997. It’s a great running engine and when the Pittsburgh Power Computer, our ported and ceramic-coated exhaust manifold along with the HP Cat Turbo are installed, what a winning combination you will have. Think about this, with Eric getting 7 miles per gallon, where do you think the emissions are? About 30% cleaner than a stock engine.

Performance along with fuel mileage, a great driver equates to longer engine life, driving pleasure and much lower emissions. I’m an outdoorsman; I do appreciate the blue skies, clean water, white snow and clean air. My feeling is to improve the quality of the air we all breathe, is to obtain better fuel mileage. We are still working on the 10-mpg truck, and just might have it soon. We could cut diesel fuel consumption by 40% if all semi-trucks obtained 9 to 10 mpg. Think about this, when we run out of diesel fuel, we all shall die. Life depends on air, water and diesel fuel. Think diesel fuel is not part of the equation to sustain life, think about this, from the time a raw material comes out of the ground or is a tree that is cut down, it’s hauled a minimum of 7 times on a truck until it’s a finished product in a store available for sale. Another fact, 75% of the cost of a product is transportation. These figures are from back in the 1980’s and are still true today. People on this earth cannot exist unless people drive trucks, build diesel trucks, diesel farm equipment, farm, and take oil from the ground and turn it into diesel fuel. After 48 years in trucking and the past 39 years building engines, I believe these facts to be true.

David Bowling had his truck towed to us because it would not start. It was a Caterpillar 6TS, another great Cat Engine. Most shops would have installed a Reman ECM at a price of about $2600; we repaired it by installing a new crank sensor.

We had another owner operator with intermittent ABS wheel speed sensor problems. He had his truck at multiple truck dealerships and they could not fix the problem. Our engineers found grease and road grime covering the tone ring causing low signal voltage. A little cleaning and the ABS problem is history.

Richard Kasperak had spent $140.00 per hour at several Freightliner dealerships to trouble shoot an outside air temperature sensor for his instrumental panel. Leroy had it repaired in 20 minutes. If all problems were repaired this fast I would not have a business!

A good friend of ours Tim McFeathers, also a loyal client, called and said his driver was in West Virginia and the VG turbo was spooling up and down while he was holding his foot steady on the throttle. Most shops would have installed a new VG turbo and still have the problem. Those turbochargers are $2500 plus labor and the problem would have still been there. Most shops will not take new parts back off the engine, they just keep adding more. We found a small rusty hole on the backside of the line delivering air to the VG turbo. We did not have a new line in stock, however we had a good used line. Problem repaired for a few dollars.

Troubleshooting is something we do very well at Pittsburgh Power and have been this way since our beginning in December of 1977. We do appreciate loyal owner operators who give us repeat business when they are experiencing a problem with their truck or just want to improve it. Next week we have a DD5 Detroit that was just rebuilt in Chicago, the engine is using 1 gallon of coolant every 3500 miles and some of it is getting into the oil. The shop that did the rebuild has no idea what the problem is. We will find the problem and repair the engine, give it 100 more horsepower, gain fuel mileage, and be trouble free for the owner. It’s amazing what 100 to 150 extra horsepower can do for your driving pleasure, and how much more money it will keep in your wallet!

We have one of our Signature 6NZ Caterpillar Engines built and ready to go into a new glider kit or repower your truck. The horsepower can be set for 550 to 750 or more. Properly driven this engine will give you 7.5 mpg or more. If you want to talk to someone with one of these engines give Patrick Lucash a call at 330-542-9315. We re-powered his 379 Pete with one a little over a year ago and it has saved him $34,000 in fuel to date. Plus he loves the power and has never had to run it wide open.

Written by; Bruce Mallinson,

Pittsburgh Power Inc.,

600 S. Noah Dr.,

Saxonburg, PA 16056.

Phone 724-360-4080