Modern Miracles

JunePZpicChemical Engineering has come a long way during my working career. Back in the 1950s, anything made of plastic was usually of very poor quality. We only had black electrical tape, masking tape and scotch tape. Silicone sealants were almost nonexistent. Whoever thought there would be double-faced tapes that could hold panels on trucks and trailers without rivets and screws by the late 1990s, let alone what we have today in chemicals and plastics. The Cummins Engine Company came out with a chemical that would eat the carbon off an injector plunger while the engine was idling. One gallon would run through the engine in about one hour and the injector cups and plungers were spotless. This was for the NTC 444 engines and was to be used before setting the injectors. When I would rebuild a set of injectors, I would use a wire wheel to clean the embedded carbon from the plunger tip. Now, there is a chemical that removes 100% of the carbon without even removing the injectors!

Let’s fast forward to now. Lucas Oil is a phenomenal chemical company, and all their products do exactly what they say they will do. 20 years ago, Forrest Lucas and I were speaking at a seminar in Victorville, CA and he told me that if he could not make the very best product, he would not make it all. Lucas products that I personally use include the Fuel Conditioner, Oil Stabilizer, 15W40 Magnum oil, Semi-Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid, Slick Mist, 80W-90 gear oil and the Power Steering Fluid. I have never had a failure on any part of a vehicle that has Lucas Oil products in or on it.

About three years ago, we at Pittsburgh Power came up with a way to clean the entire emissions systems of today’s diesel engines. The entire process took between 12 and 14 hours to perform. Many of the emissions-related parts were dissembled, the soot was scraped away, then the parts were washed in solvent and re-assembled. We also removed and then cleaned all the sensors in our ultrasonic parts cleaner. Once everything was re-assembled, we would do a forced regen on the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). This cleaning process has been very successful, and most of our customers ran problem-free, even with today’s troublesome emissions engines.

This past winter a company called us with a new machine they wanted us to try. It is an emissions cleaning system that uses foam to remove carbon and EGR soot. While the engine is running, foam is pumped into the EGR system and the intake manifold. Since the EGR valves do not open while the engine is idling and the variable vanes in the VG turbo move very little, a computer is hooked up to the system to actuate the EGR valve and the VG turbo while the foam is being injected for a more thorough cleaning. Whatever this chemical is that makes up the pungent foam (it smells like burnt urine and the entire shop is filled with this nasty odor), it works like a charm.

After the first engine was cleaned with this pressurized foam, we dissembled the intake, EGR valve, the VG turbo and many of the sensors to see if it really worked – and we were amazed at what we saw. Chemical Engineering has come through once again! The EGR soot was gone!! All the manual labor we had to do before has now been drastically reduced. The cost of the chemicals is expensive, however what took almost two days is now about six hours, and places we couldn’t get to, the foam does. Before you spend money to replace parts of your emissions system, like EGR valves, VG turbos and DPF filters, let us clean it with the foam, and chances are you will not have to buy those expensive parts.

Remember this: the bitterness of inferior quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten. With this statement in mind, think about the radiator in the front of your engine and the incredible task that fragile copper and brass unit must perform. Many owner-operators just purchase the most economical radiator on the market. Then, not long after that, we get the phone call from that person saying they just put a new radiator in their truck, but it still overheats. We ask how many rows of tubes are in the new radiator and how many tubes per row and, of course, they never know. What they do know is that they shopped around and found the cheapest one, and now they still have an overheating problem.

Why do great mechanics buy Snap-On tools? Because they are the very best, and just happen to be the most expensive, too – just like the radiators we sell here at Pittsburgh Power. My good snowmobile friend and owner-operator Mike Lane loves quality and never cuts any corners on his Western Star. Three weeks ago, Mike called me to order a new radiator for the Western Star, which is powered by a DD5 14-liter Detroit producing 720 horsepower. We have a huge inventory of radiators, but we did not have that one. Fortunately, Mike’s radiator was still in somewhat working condition, so waiting 10 days for the high-flow high-capacity radiator was not a problem.

After installing the new radiator, Mike took his first trip, which started in Ogden, UT and traveled to Portland, OR. On that trip, the engine fan never came on! The thermostats we use are set at 185 degrees, so they are fully-open at 200 degrees. On the return trip over Cabbage Mountain with a gross weight of 70,000 pounds, the coolant temperature rose to 204 degrees, the fan came on for 15 seconds, and the coolant temperature dropped to 193 degrees. It gradually rose again to 204 degrees, the fan came on for 15 seconds again, the temperature dropped to 188 degrees, and then stayed there for the remainder of the mountain, which is seven miles long. On the level, the coolant temperature averaged 177 degrees.

Come next winter, Mike says he will need a winter front for the colder temperatures. The stock radiator on the Western Star has two rows of tubes for a total of 170 tubes. The Pittsburgh Power radiator has three rows for a total of 288 tubes. This is a cross-flow radiator and space is limited. For a 359, 379 or 389 Peterbilt, our radiators have four rows of tubes and 100 tubes per row, for a total of 400 tubes. A stock 550 Cat radiator comes with 234 tubes, so you can see the difference – plus, our tubes are dimpled, which adds more surface and cools better than a straight tube. Quality pays in the long run… or on the first mountain, depending how you look at it!

We at Pittsburgh Power not only love taking advantage of innovative technologies, but we also enjoy creating them ourselves, as well. Staying one-step ahead and constantly evolving alongside newly-developed technologies is what has kept us at the front of the pack for several decades. If you have any comments or questions, I can be reached at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA by calling (724) 360-4080. To see all our available products and services, visit us online at www.pittsburghpower.com today.

About Bruce C. Mallinson

Bruce Mallinson has been a pioneer in the high performance diesel industry for over 30 years. Bruce is also the owner and founder of Pittsburgh Power Incorporated, a company based in Saxonburg, PA that specializes in high performance diesel engines and parts. Bruce has been writing informative articles for 10-4 Magazine’s “gear head” readers since February of 2002.