Several years ago, an owner operator from the Los Angeles area called me to talk about engines. This man told me something his father always said to him: “Son, with great power comes great responsibility.” It’s been about 18 years since I heard that statement, but I have never forgotten it. JR Hillhouse out of Mississippi runs an ultra-clean 379 Peterbilt with a C-15 Cat that we re-worked. The horsepower it produces is about 100 more than we anticipated. He chose to accept the extra power, and when I call him and ask how the truck is running, he says, “She’ll do anything you ask her to do.”
I personally have always had great-running cars, trucks, boats and snowmobiles. Mike Lane, an owner operator out of Ogden, Utah, and a snowmobiling friend of mine, recently called me and told me I can now have my 850cc Ski Doo snowmobile turbocharged for half of what it cost a few years ago. He didn’t have to twist my arm very hard when he told me I would have 200 horsepower with only 6 psi of turbo boost. Think about the horsepower-to-weight ratio – the snowmobile only weighs 450 pounds – it will accelerate from 0 to 60 in just two seconds! A typical sled like mine has 165-hp at Sea Level, but with every 1,000 feet of elevation, you lose 3%. So, at 10,000 feet, that 165-hp is down to 115. But, the turbo keeps it at 200-hp regardless of the altitude. Now, you can really understand the difference.
On January 23, I arrived at AD Triple S Motorsports in Ogden, Utah, and Brayden went to work on my sled. The next morning, we went for a test ride in the mountains and WOW, anytime I pushed on the throttle, the skis came up off the snow. The following weekend was the Owner Operator Snowmobile Conference in Cook City, Montana, and yes, the turbocharged snowmobile did get me in trouble four times in three days. I had to think about that statement: “With great power comes great responsibility.” A 200-hp sled will take you places you really should not be – especially at my age.
Lamar Cohen, an owner operator and friend from Virginia, also turbocharged his Polaris in Mike Lane’s trailer in 38-degree temps. At 8:30 Tuesday evening, he had his sled all apart, pieces were scattered everywhere, and we were leaving the next morning. He and Mike were able to finish assembling the Polaris in time, and now he has 200 horsepower to play with, as well. However, he used more common sense than me, and did not get into any trouble at the conference.
Horsepower and torque are wonderful things, and today’s big semi-trucks, with steel pistons inside, will produce an abundance of power when paired with the correct exhaust manifold, turbocharger, air filters, mufflers, ECM tuning and/or Pittsburgh Power Computer. Know what you have and respect it. Speed Specialist DA Santucci was the builder of my race car engines, and his saying was, “A great-running engine is capable of blowing itself apart, so it is up to the driver to keep it together.” That is sage advice that still applies today.
Here is some good news from our Engineering Department at Pittsburgh Power. Freightliners equipped with the DD15 Detroit engine from 2012 to 2016 can now be custom-programmed for up to 620 horsepower to the ground (which is 730 flywheel horsepower). And, with the “Dorothy” soot separator installed on the EGR system, which removes the soot prior to entering the intake manifold, and some custom tuning, the DD15 will be a very fuel efficient, powerful, long-lasting engine. With Dorothy “eating” the soot, the emissions are greatly reduced, the diesel exhaust fluid consumption is reduced by 30%, and the regens of the diesel particulate filter are greatly reduced. It’s all positive – great results come from great engineering!
During our 41 years in the diesel engine business, we have always forged ahead to improve the engine, whether it was for power, fuel economy or engine longevity. There is another popular question we ask a lot here at Pittsburgh Power, and that is, “What if?” What if we try this? What if we do that? What will the result be? With research and development, there will always be failures before the positive outcome. R&D is time consuming, expensive and, at times, very frustrating – it will cause you to have sleepless nights. But, when everything comes together, the final product will put a smile on your face, especially if you gave it your best and did not give up.
But, once you’ve conquered one problem, it’s time for the next project, because faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. With horsepower comes responsibility. Always remember that! As we solve problems and forge forward, your level of responsibility as a truck driver/owner will increase, and it is imperative that you take that added responsibility seriously. For comments or questions, I can be reached at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080. You can also visit us online at www.pittsburghpower.com.