The Big Cam Cummins is an awesome engine, but nobody seems to have parts in stock for them anymore. Never fear – we do! We have complete rebuild kits for the BC 2 and 3 (CPL 449 and 625). Both are for stock 400 hp engines, and they feature ceramic and teflon coated high-strength pistons made by Cummins. We also stock the Premium Gold Heads and just about any part you need to build your Big Cam, as well as parts for the NTC 444 (CPL 910, 1210, 1211, and 1280). The beauty of shipping Cummins parts is that you do NOT have to return the liners and pistons, like Detroit and Caterpillar. However, you DO have to return the heads, connecting rods, injectors, turbos, and fuel pumps, because they are rebuild-able parts.
For those of you who are not fans of the Big Cam Cummins, it is probably because you never drove one built our way. We also love and respect the 425-B Caterpillar, and agree that it was one of the greatest mechanical diesel engines ever built. To tell you just how good the 425-B mechanical engine was, it produced between 19.30 to 21.25 hp per pound of turbo boost. The 14.1-liter Detroit is another great engine, once it’s allowed to breathe, that can produce 18.55 hp per pound of turbo boost. To make good mileage, the engine has to breathe and produce great power per pound of turbo boost, and you, the owner-operator, must drive it by the turbo boost gauge and use only enough horsepower to get the job done (you need to stay below 6 psi of boost on the level terrain to obtain 7 plus mpg).
Please don’t waste your time going into your truck dealer’s shop (or just about any other shop) and start talking about horsepower per pound of turbo boost – they will have no idea what you are talking about. Back in my youth, studying the Big Cam Cummins and other engines, I came up with this theory. We are the only shop that I know of in the world that uses this concept to evaluate and compare the performance of different engines and set-ups.
The C-15 Caterpillar is another great engine that we have made huge strides with. Just last month, we built two almost identical C-15 engines, side by side, and then compared them. The first engine, built with stock 550 hp Caterpillar parts, produced 560 hp to the rear wheels with 36 psi of turbo boost, which is 658 hp at the flywheel. The horsepower per pound of turbo boost ratio was 18.27 hp, which is good, especially when compared to the stock configuration, which only produced 12.17 hp per pound of turbo boost. As for the second C-15 we rebuilt, we changed the compression ratio and camshaft, and then coated the parts with Micro-Blue. This engine now produces 680 hp to the rear wheels and 800 hp to the flywheel, using only 37 psi of turbo boost. That is a whopping 21.62 hp per pound of turbo boost! We did cut this engine back before releasing it to the owner, but not by much.
By the time you read this article, I will have turned 64 years of age. I have been snow skiing for the past 50 years, turning wrenches on engines for the past 48 years, have 45 years of experience in the trucking industry, and have been building specialty diesel engines for owner-operators for 35 years. I guess at this age, there is no sense in changing now. When I was younger, every dollar I earned went into building and racing Corvettes. I had wonderful parents who built a beautiful garage for me to use to build these cars, and they charged me no room or board to live with them for my first 26 years. My mother was an angel on this earth, but we lost her this past January at the age of 93. She is now in heaven with her husband of 69 years, my father, who made it to 92 years of age, until a brain tumor took his life.
When I was young, I was “hell on wheels” (literally). To give you examples, I once drove to Detroit from Exit 38 of the PA Turnpike in a 1969 Corvette in 3 hours and 15 minutes, and another time I drove from Exit 48 of the PA Turnpike to New Jersey in only 3 hours and 45 minutes – and that was down the Schuylkill Expressway through Philly and across the Trenton, NJ bridge, averaging 105 mph. In 1975, I ran the entire length of Cape Cod in 55 minutes, keeping the speedometer at 115 mph almost the entire time, in that same 1969 Corvette. During this run, I went by two policemen standing outside their police cars and they just looked at me with their arms crossed. Needless to say, I lost my drivers’ license a few times over the years.
The CB radio and, of course, all of the truckers out there, were always my guiding light – and God must have loved me! My good friend Kevin Rutherford has also had a big impact on my life, getting me to slow down quite a bit (and so has my age). Please keep in mind that back in the 1970s, when I was doing all this speeding, there were a lot less cars on the road. On the racetrack at Nelson Ledges in Warren, Ohio, I drove 140 mph, and at Summit Point Race Track in Winchester, Virginia, I hit a top speed of 166 mph in my 1966 Corvette. So, now you know a little bit more about how (and why) I look at a semi truck’s engine the way I do! If you have any comments or questions, call me at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080 or send me an e-mail at email@example.com.