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2000 Ford F-350 Super Duty - Project Plain Jane, Part 3

Left Front View
Ned Bacon | Photographer
Posted July 1, 2002

Jane Gets a Banks PowerPack System

Step By Step

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  • Upon arriving at the Banks campus, Jane was taken to the engineering workshop for her surgery. Technicians swarmed all over her, taking note of her serial number, transmission type, build date, and computer catch code. All this information would be used to burn the proper chip for her OttoMind module. Next they changed her rear tires to stock units for a before run on the dyno. Seems that mud tires don’t like dyno rollers and tend to spit their lugs off.

  • On the dyno to obtain “before” numbers. Jane’s best stock numbers were 214 hp at 2,600 rpm and 463 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm, at the rear wheels. Factory horsepower and torque ratings of 230 hp and 510 lb-ft are measured at the flywheel—numbers that avoid the power losses created by the drivetrain. The factory numbers look big on paper, but don’t tell the real-world story.

  • Off the dyno and in the shop, Chris Whitney begins the wrenching. I thought this Banks-designed lay-on wrenching rack was way cool. It worked great for accessing hard-to-reach turbo parts crammed into a Super Duty’s engine bay.

  • One of the first steps, and certainly the easiest, is installing the Banks Ram-Air filter element. Banks engineers feel this modification is all that is needed for the stock air box to flow enough air. Remember, just upstream, we will be installing a modified turbo compressor impeller capable of drawing much more air through the filter and air box.

  • Whitney goes after the intercooler, which is buried under the core support and is quite a task to get to. After removing the grille and lots of plastic air ducting, the top of the core support can be unbolted and removed, as shown here. This exposes the intercooler and allows its removal.

  • Next, all the factory air ducting is removed from the inlet and outlet sides of the intercooler. These tubes are replaced with mandrel-bent pieces that feature 45- degree, instead of 90-degree, bends. This allows for freer flow of intake air.

  • With the stock intercooler removed from the truck, a comparison to the Banks Techni-Cooler (in the foreground) is possible. Note the larger intake and much broader ramp angles leading to the cooler core. The stock inlet directs air to just the center of the cooler, causing turbulence, restriction, and less-efficient cooling.

  • After the new intercooler was installed, Whitney turned his attention to removing the intake manifold, allowing access to the turbo assembly. Here the manifold has been removed and you can finally see the turbo assembly tucked in under the cowl. Whitney then removes the turbo.

  • On the bench, the compressor housing is split apart, exposing the compressor wheel, the driven side of the turbo. The wheel is the device that sucks incoming air through the air filter and rams it, under pressure, into the intercooler and on to the intake manifold and the cylinders. It is spun via the drive side of the turbo, which is powered by exhaust gases. We’ll work on that side next.

  • Here is a close-up of the two compressor wheels. The stock one is on the right and the Banks one is on the left. Note the difference in the pitch of the blades, and that every other blade on the Banks unit is a different height. These changes allow the wheel to move more air for a given rpm. They also make Jane whistle like a big rig under acceleration, which sounds really cool. A note on noise: Overall, I’ve noticed very little change in the sound of the truck. Despite the much larger exhaust tubing and a flow-through muffler, the exhaust note seems no louder than stock, just a little more throaty. Other than the aforementioned whistle, the engine itself sounds no different.

  • With the driven side of the turbo taken care of, we now flip the assembly over and disassemble the drive, or exhaust side. Here the wastegate is removed and set aside, allowing access to the turbine housing.

  • The exhaust turbine housing is removed from the center bearing housing. Four bolts hold the two together. These bolts have a history of coming loose and destroying your turbo. Ford has issued a Technical Service Bulletin on this subject, but I was never notified of this problem. It’s a good thing we tore Jane apart when we did, as one of these bolts was missing and the other three were loose.

  • A comparison between the Banks and stock turbine housings doesn’t reveal any differences. That’s because all the differences are on the inside. The Banks housing has a larger inside diameter, which creates more room around the impeller, allowing more exhaust gas to fit into the turbine chamber. Since we’ve forced more air through the intake side and into the combustion chamber, when the exhaust valve opens, all that extra air wants out. The stock turbine housing is too small to handle this extra air and backpressure builds up, causing excessive exhaust gas temperature, which inhibits the power potential. With the bigger Banks housing, the air can pass quickly over the turbine blades, spin the turbo, then dump into the equally free-flowing 4-inch exhaust pipe for a trip to the back of the truck.

  • Before those exhaust gases completely escape down the exhaust pipe, they first pass by the wastegate. This unit acts like a trap door and stays closed unless pressure becomes too great within the turbine housing, or the engine is in warm-up mode and the computer doesn’t allow it to receive a lot of boost. When this happens, the wastegate door is opened by the actuator on the left, allowing the exhaust to bypass the turbo and go straight down the tailpipe. The Banks Big Head actuator on the right replaces the stock unit. The Big Head is calibrated for the changes made in turbine pressure by the new turbine housing. It maintains more boost throughout the powerband while making sure there is no over-boost.

  • After all the mods were made to the turbocharger, it was reinstalled. Then Whitney tackled installing the new ducting, which runs from the new intercooler to the engine. These pieces are a tight fit.

  • This close-up of a bend in the right-side air duct shows how the stock tube (on the top) makes a sharp 80-degree bend, creating turbulence and restriction. The Banks tube uses two 45-degree bends to achieve the same curve. This allows for smoother airflow, less pressure loss, and ultimately, more power.

  • With the installation of the air ducts completed, the underhood work is done. We now move under the truck. Here, the entire stock exhaust has been removed and laid out for comparison with the new Banks Monster tailpipe and Dynaflow muffler.

  • A look through the Dynaflow muffler provides an unimpeded view. A look down the stock unit revealed nothing but darkness and trapped soot.

  • It’s the little things that count. The Banks downpipe on the left features a much more gradual bend and 3.5 inches of diameter versus the wimpy 3-inch OE piece on the right.

  • Here’s a look at the new exhaust system in place. The system hangs from all the original hangers and nothing drops lower than stock. Some cutting had to be done to the center pipe section to get the correct length for Jane’s single cab—one of a rare breed these days. Moreover, the guys in the shop said they had never installed an exhaust on a single-cab truck. It should be noted that other than this slight modification, none of the Banks parts used during this installation required any cussing, fussing, cutting, pounding, or fighting to get them to fit.

  • The final touch to the exhaust system was installing this five-inch polished stainless-steel tip.

  • The last job to do was install the OttoMind module onto the truck’s computer. This required a walk over to another building full of computers instead of tools, hoists, and the sound of air guns. Here, at this computer, Jane’s catch code was looked up on the chart at left. A blank chip was fitted into the black box on top of the computer terminal. The code was punched into the keyboard and the danged thing burned us the proper OttoMind chip that could interface with Jane’s OE build characteristics and her newly installed Banks PowerPack system.

  • With the freshly burned OttoMind module in hand, we went back to the truck and Whitney removed Jane’s brain from the left kick-panel near the parking brake. After some modifying of the plastic cover and cleaning of some terminals, which required opening up the magic box, the OttoMind module plugged right into the side of the brain. Here it stays, held on by a piece of tape.

  • With everything buttoned up, Jane was driven outside and placed back on the chassis dyno. This time, a container holding 150 gallons of water (1,200 pounds) had to be placed in her bed. The weight was needed because, empty, with the Banks PowerPack installed, the truck would just haze its tires on the rollers and no readings could be recorded. So what were the final results? How about 294 hp (an 80hp gain) and a whopping 660 lb-ft of torque (a 201 lb-ft gain).

  • We paused on a mountain pass in the High Sierras on the drive home from L.A. I towed the trailer down there with a car in it to get around in during Jane’s three-day stay at Banks. Pulling the 6,500-pound trailer up the mountain required less effort than the trip down had with the stock truck. No more downshifting to Fifth gear on every little hill. Only two 8,000-plus-foot passes required a downshift.

  • Once back home, Jane was taken out for a little winter ’wheeling. The Banks components did not affect her crawlability at all. Around town, driveability also remains unchanged. You can’t really tell anything is different until you tip into the throttle a bit and the torque starts building. Then it just starts pulling like a train.

  • On the dyno: horsepower.

  • On the dyno: torque.

Regular readers of Four Wheeler will recall our occasional project girl, Plain Jane, a 2000 Ford F-350 Super Duty carrying a Power Stroke diesel under her hood. We haven’t heard from Jane since March and June of 2001, when she received a five-inch Fabtech lift, ARBs, a gear swap, and 36-inch rubber. Since then, Jane hasn’t been asleep, she’s just been dutifully performing as a daily driver, a ranch work truck, and tow rig for a 9,000-pound enclosed trailer. She hasn’t changed much, except for a few dings and scratches received while racking up 40,000 trouble-free miles. We like to think that they give her personality. Her personality got the biggest shakeup yet, though, the day the wake-up call came.

When Four Wheeler editor Jon Thompson called to say it was time to wake up Project Plain Jane, I don’t think he realized just how much life this waking up would amount to. I always felt Jane’s Power Stroke made her pretty spry, and never realized she had been performing her tasks while half asleep. After her visit to Gale Banks Engineering in Azusa, California, where she received Banks’ whole-enchilada PowerPack kit, she was a changed woman—ahem—truck.

More power is always nice and, I must admit, despite Jane’s more-than-adequate stock performance, I’d more than once eyed ads for chips and/or larger exhaust systems and the power gains they claimed. One reason I’d shied away from installing any of them was my concern over the truck’s exhaust-gas temperature (EGT). Living and towing heavy loads in mountains above 5,000 feet, I’d seen my pyrometer gauge touch the don’t-go-above-zone of 1,250 degrees more than once. Since more fuel equals more heat, installing a chip that just feeds the engine more fuel seemed like a recipe for trouble. But a phone conversation with Rich Shahoian at Banks convinced me that the Banks whole-system approach to increasing power was a safe way to go.

Gale Banks Engineering has been in the business of making power gains from both gas and diesel engines for more than four decades. The company’s philosophy is to maximize engine airflow. An internal-combustion engine is just a big air pump. Getting maximum air into it, and back out of it, will result in it producing the most work. Extensive lab work, using highly sophisticated techniques for testing and identifying engine airflow restrictions, allows Banks’ engineers to offer products that maximize the airflow capabilities of a given engine while keeping temperatures and component stress to a minimum. Banks Engineering offers its power enhancement kits in various levels. Each level builds upon the last, allowing you to build up your truck in stages. Besides the products discussed in this article, Banks also offers staged buildups for older, pre-Super Duty Fords, as well as lots of goodies for Dodges and Chevys, both gas and diesel. For a 2000 Super Duty diesel like Jane, Banks offers four levels of upgrades.

The base level Git-Kit claims a 40hp gain and an extra 71 lb-ft of torque by replacing the restrictive, backpressure-producing stock muffler and tailpipe with a free-flowing acoustic-tuned muffler, mandrel-bent four-inch stainless-steel tailpipe, and a polished 5-inch tip. The engine-management computer is then reprogrammed with an OttoMind module that provides just enough fuel delivery for the exhaust flow gain.

Move up to the Stinger and you add a 3 ½-inch turbine outlet pipe, four-inch intermediate pipe, a K&N air filter, a Big Head wastegate actuator which optimizes the turbo’s boost, and pyrometer and boost gauges to monitor the claimed 57 hp and 110 lb-ft gains. The OttoMind module is calibrated to match the fuel curve to these airflow enhancements. Next step up the Banks Power ladder is the Stinger-Plus, which claims 79 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque over a stock Power Stroke. To the basic Stinger package is added a Quick-Turbo turbine housing which allows for less backpressure between the combustion chamber and the drive side of the turbo. This eliminates excessive backpressure at higher airflow levels and, overall, improves acceleration from idle to redline. Also included is a reconfigured compressor wheel for the turbo’s intake turbine. Again, the OttoMind is tweaked to maximize the gains offered by the Quick-Turbo. Finally, we come to the whole-hog system, the PowerPack, to which we treated Plain Jane. Along with all the goodies offered in the other three kits, the PowerPack includes the Banks Techni-Cooler intercooler and high-flow air ducting. The Techni-Cooler is a replacement high-throughput intercooler with an improved tube-and-fin heat-exchanger design. It minimizes boost pressure drop while also supercooling the boosted intake air before it is rammed into the combustion chamber. A correspondingly programmed OttoMind module completes the package, allowing a ’99-’02 Power Stroke to produce up to a claimed 91 extra hp and 200 lb-ft more torque than stock. Once we decided to go with the Banks PowerPack kit, I drove Jane to Banks’ 7-acre campus in Azusa, California, so she could receive expert installation of her enhancements by the guys who designed them. Jane would be dynoed before and after so we would have real-world figures of her specific personal gains. The photos and captions that follow tell the story of Jane’s transformation, and the Dyno Box and graphs show the results. However, nothing on paper can express the seat-of-the-pants feeling that 660 lb-ft of torque gives you when beating a new DuraMax up a 7-percent grade with 10,800 pounds in tow. Or being able to accelerate, in Sixth gear, all the way up the longest hill out of the L.A. basin—towing 6,500 pounds. At 75 mph, I had to back off as traffic kept getting in the way. Jane has had a wake-up call, big time. It seems the more you load her or lug her, the harder she pulls. Yet driving around town empty, she is just as docile as she was when stock, leading me to believe her newfound muscle is not putting undue strain on the rest of her drivetrain. Her power band is very linear. There is no slam-you-in-the-seat acceleration, just a steady, pull-like-a-freight-train rush that never lets up. And then there’s the business of her EGT reading. Because the Banks modifications address the entire airflow system, Jane’s exhaust temperatures now are 200 degrees lower across the board. These readings only confirm suspicions that the stock Ford setup is inefficient and restrictive. Jane’s Power Stroke seems much happier with all her horses awake and running free. Since the operation, I’ve put just over 3,000 miles on the truck. More than 2,000 of those were towing something. Most recently it was a 30-foot, three-axle trailer with a truck and a car on it to the Mexican border—an 18,180 GVWR. Mileage with a load like this is hovering around 10 mpg at 75 mph. Jane used to average around 9 mpg at that speed with lesser loads. This gain seems to be in keeping with Banks’ claim of a 14-percent mileage gain. As of this writing, I haven’t been able to keep a trailer off Jane long enough to determine if there has been a gain in mileage when empty. I may never know, as it’s too much fun pressing that right pedal down.

— Plain Jane - Part 1
— Plain Jane - Part 2
— Plain Jane - Part 4


Gale Banks Engineering
Azusa, CA 91702