We've all run across performance products that are claimed to make tremendous power gains-sometimes too tremendous to believe. However, you can believe what you hear in the case of the diesel PowerPack kits from Gale Banks Engineering, specifically the kits for the Dodge Cummins turbodiesel engines. A true 114 percent increase in horsepower and 81 percent more torque are possible with simple-to-install bolt-on parts.
We couldn't resist the prospect of waking the sleeping giant under the hood of a '97 Dodge turbodiesel, so we followed the installation of a complete PowerPack system at Gale Banks Engineering. At the end, we did a dyno-test thrash to see if we could duplicate the numbers.
As it turns out, the PowerPack system didn't just wake the sleeping giant, it made him downright mad. We suspected the Cummins turbodiesel engine was a good candidate to make serious horsepower (a version of the engine found in Dodge trucks is used to propel some 18-wheelers), and even though our test truck didn't exactly duplicate the Banks claims for reasons we'll explain later in this article, the power a few basic bolt-on parts yielded is impressive. Beyond the power gains, the quality and fit of the components are among the best we've seen, and the detailed instructions were written with the do-it-yourselfer in mind.
Find out what it takes to install a Banks PowerPack kit in the photos and captions, and then check out the acceleration and dyno-test results.
The truck we used for this article is a '97 3/4-ton Club Cab 4x4 with an automatic and 17,584 miles on the clock at the time of the modifications. It was chassis dyno-tested at Banks' facility before and after the installation, and we performed 0-60 acceleration tests and 40-60 passing acceleration tests with the truck both unloaded and pulling a 7,248-pound trailer. Mileage was also scrutinized before and after to see what the gains or losses would be.
The results were impressive. Although our findings (251 hp at 2,200 rpm and 661 lb-ft of torque at 1,900 rpm) were somewhat less than what Banks has found on other trucks it has tested (264 hp at 2,600 rpm and 697 lb-ft of torque at 1,900), we were astonished with how big a difference the PowerPack makes. Gale Banks pointed out that the discrepancy between the power numbers is because the truck we chose for testing is a California model equipped with an EGR valve. When you consider our numbers, remember that we're talking rear-wheel horsepower, which takes into account the power losses in the rest of the drivetrain, and the findings still show significant power gains.
Another surprise was the change in mileage. Typically a major performance modification will hurt gas mileage, but that was not the case with the PowerPack. With the truck both unloaded and loaded, it increased almost 2 mpg. And as though all this other stuff weren't enough, the PowerPack knocked between 2 and 5 seconds off every acceleration test.
The one factor that wasn't reflected in the testing was the drastic driveability changes. Before the mods, the owner noted that it took time for the turbo to spool up and that passing, especially when loaded, had to be planned far in advance. Now, the owner happily reports that with plenty of power on demand, the big diesel feels much closer to a gas engine, and it can pull up grades better than it ever could before.
|RPM||Stock HP||Banks HP||Stock||Banks|
|Torque (lb-ft)||Torque (lb-ft)|
|Acceleration and Mileage|
|0-60 unloaded (sec.)||16.4||14.1|
|0-60 loaded (sec.)||26.2||22.8|
|40-60 unloaded (sec.)||17.4||15.6|
|40-60 loaded (sec.)||29.08||23.9|