The Wake-Up Call!
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.
1. Upon arriving at the Banks campus, Jane was taken to the engineering workshop for her s
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
2. On the dyno to obtain "before" numbers. Jane's best stock numbers were 214 hp at 2,600
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 1/2-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.
3. Off the dyno and in the shop, Chris Whitney begins the wrenching. I thought this Banks-
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.