You can’t go wrong with an older engine. For years now, I have been telling you to stay with a 2002 or older engine because of the cost of the breakdowns of the newer models. However, many people do not want to spend the time keeping the older iron on the road, plus the average annual cost of repairing an older truck is between $8,000 and $12,000. I know this sounds like a lot, but remember, they get at least 1 mpg more in fuel mileage and that will save you a lot every year – with way less breakdowns! That’s why it still makes sense to keep looking for that perfect 2002 or older Kenworth or Peterbilt truck. Owner operators often call me looking for a Peterbilt 379 with a DDECIV Detroit because they just can’t seem to find one. Well, there is a reason for that – the owners of these trucks just keep rebuilding them so they are NOT for sale.
We at Pittsburgh Power are proud to build some of the most powerful and efficient engines in the industry. A good example of that can be seen in the photograph here of our most recent Pittsburgh Power Signature Series Caterpillar 5EK engine. Once this engine is put back into the truck it was taken out of, the ECM will be set to a responsive 625 horsepower and it will run more efficiently than what you would get from the factory. This engine block was hot tanked, magnafluxed for cracks, line bored, resurfaced, squared, and then the upper counter bores were cut for .006 liner protrusion. The crankshaft was also hot tanked, magnafluxed, straightened and polished, to make the foundation of this engine as near perfect as perfect can be. As always, a new crankshaft damper and mercury-filled engine balancer will be mounted on the front of the crankshaft.
The Cat reman connecting rods and pistons for this engine were rebalanced and a new deck plate from Caterpillar, along with genuine Caterpillar gaskets, provide an excellent seal for the reman head. This engine also has a new set of reman Cat injectors. To ensure that this engine has superior efficiency and longevity, we prefer to stay with the stock camshaft and injectors and make up the horsepower with the ECM and, if needed, the Pittsburgh Power Computer. But with a responsive 625 horses coming from the ECM, the owner operator of this powerhouse will be very happy with the pulling power.
Caterpillar’s factory 625 horsepower programming on their Acert is dead power, but our programming will be responsive horsepower (the 625 hp will feel more like 700 hp). Our programming will also give this Cat engine an additional 1/2 mpg. This engine will also be fitted with our 20% larger flow ported and jet hot coated exhaust manifold, good for 1/4 mpg, and our Performance Cat turbo, which will help this engine yield another 1/4 mpg. So, with our ECM programming, ported jet hot coated exhaust manifold and Performance Cat turbo, we are already up 1 mpg over a stock 5EK Caterpillar engine.
The Peterbilt receiving this slick Signature 5EK Pittsburgh Power rebuilt Cat engine will be equipped with our quiet performance mufflers for another 1/4 mpg and the OPS-1 By-Pass Oil Filter and the FASS fuel system for another 1/4 mpg. Now we are up 1.5 mpg, and if the owner drives with the turbo boost gauge and leaves the cruise control off on the rolling hills, he will gain another 1/2 mpg. So, we are looking at a 2 mpg improvement from when this truck was originally built by Peterbilt and Caterpillar. So let’s be conservative and say this truck will improve in fuel mileage by 1.5 mpg and the total mileage driven per year is 150,000 miles. The fuel savings per year will be around $24,000 and this engine will last a million miles, so the total savings over the life of the engine will be about $158,000 in 6.6 years. These engines are NOT cheap to build (around $35,000), but the owner of this truck sure will enjoy driving this engine for the next million miles or more.
This past June we repaired a 2009 Peterbilt that had an Acert Cat engine with the DPF muffler. This truck is in a small fleet and used to be the least reliable and efficient truck in the fleet. After $23,000 of our upgrades, this engine’s fuel mileage has improved 2.4 mpg, and after just six months, the upgrades have paid for themselves by saving the fleet $23,000 in fuel – and now this truck is the best one in the fleet!
Now that we have picked on the Caterpillar engines, it’s time to talk about how we have been able to keep several owner operators out of bankruptcy due to their lousy DDECV Detroits. By doing $7,000 to $8,000 in upgrades, they were able to gain well over 1 mpg and they went from losing money each trip to making money. They hated their Freightliners and Western Stars because of the poor performance, fuel mileage and constant breakdowns, but now they love them. One of these unlucky owners went through 11 EGR valves and 5 VG turbos. Let’s assume this truck was making about $600 per day, and these breakdowns would cause the truck to be down for a total of 16 days (one day for each breakdown). The cost of the downtime just from the lost revenue is $9,600. The cost of these parts is around $17,000 (or more) with a labor cost of at least $600 each time, for a total cost of $36,200. When you look at it that way, $8,000 for a huge improvement in reliability isn’t so bad. You can see why these owner operators were going broke. After we upgraded these trucks, they started to make money and didn’t have any more breakdowns.
Now is the time to prepare for the Owner Operator Snowmobile Conference. This is our seventh year doing the conference – everyone who attends will have a good time and learn a lot. Our first two Snowmobile Conferences (2006 and 2007) were held in Heber City, Utah. In 2008 we went to John Day, Oregon; in 2009 we went to Cook City, Montana; in 2010 we went to Grand Lake, Colorado; and in 2011 we went to Stanley, Idaho. This year, we will be holding the event at the Togwotee Mountain Lodge just north of Dubois, Wyoming on February 24-27. The phone number of the lodge is (307) 543-2847 and you will want to speak to Paula Beck to reserve your room and snowmobile (if you don’t already have one). It is going to be another unforgettable weekend, so I hope you do not miss it. For any other questions, I can be reached at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080 or via e-mail at email@example.com.