The Pittsburgh Power Performance Computers are back! Yes, we have completed our mandated EPA emissions testing on the Cummins ISX, ISX-EGR, Detroit DDEC3 and DDEC4 engines, and the power boxes are now emissions-compliant for these engines. In fact, power levels 1 through 4 have ALWAYS been compliant since we invented the computer in the year 2000 – we just had to do a little “tweaking” on the higher settings (which nobody uses unless they are truck-pulling or drag racing anyway). We are still making the SAME amount of power as always, it’s just a little more refined now.
What a blessing it is to have seven wonderful engineers on our staff all working towards a common goal – to bring you a great-running truck that is emissions compliant. We currently still need a 5EK, 6TS, 1LW, 2WS, 6NZ Cat and an MXS Acert Cat to perform the emissions testing to be able to release the “CAT” box. So, if you’re going to be close to Pittsburgh, PA soon and would be interested in a special price on a CAT box, come in and let us use your truck for testing on the dyno. Give us a call at (724) 360-4080 and ask for Clayton, Pete or Bruce to schedule a time. We get a lot of questions about what we have for the Volvo engine. At this time, we do own a D-12 EGR Volvo and we will try to get it on the engine dyno sometime late this fall to start our testing for compliant performance parts for your Volvo. Stay tuned.
Kevin Rutherford’s “CMC Seminar” (which stands for Certified Master Contractor) was this past week, May 4th through the 9th, and 225 owner operators were in attendance. Classes start at 8 a.m. and quit at 5 p.m. for dinner, and then the evening session starts. It’s a week of learning how to make more money with your truck and it’s been a huge success. If you are struggling as an owner operator and just don’t seem to ever have enough money, you should plan to attend the seminar next year. So far, 125 people have already signed up for next year’s seminar, so there are only 100 seats left. You can find out more about the CMC on Kevin’s website (www.letstruck.com) or by tuning in to his radio show on Sirius-XM channel 128 at midnight EST Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. After working with owner operators for the past 37 years, here are nine key items that I have found struggling truckers are usually missing:
1) A turbo boost gauge. Driving without a turbo boost or manifold pressure gauge is like driving blind. The boost gauge will inform you as to when you have a leak in the charge air system, a failing turbo, a clogged fuel filter or fuel lines, a faulty ECM, dirty air filters, or are using too much throttle on the level, resulting in a loss of fuel mileage.
2) An exhaust gas temperature gauge or pyrometer (an EGT gauge or “pyro” for short). This gauge works in conjunction with the turbo boost gauge and will inform you if the exhaust gas temperatures are too high. It is also your leading indicator of a boost leak.
3) Kevin Rutherford’s Scan Gauge. This gauge will give you an instant readout of your fuel mileage and about 63 other useful bits of information from the data link of your truck. You should get one!
4) Clean fuel filters. Back in the 1980s, we used to change the fuel filter once a week! Now, these filters often get changed at oil change intervals, and if your interval is 30,000 miles, that is way too long (unless you have the FASS fuel system on your truck – then 30,000 miles is okay).
5) A fresh crankshaft vibration damper. This item is located on the front of the crankshaft and removes torsional vibration from the engine and must be replaced every 500,000 miles or every 10 years. No matter what your mechanic says, they do wear out. The damper has a large steel ring inside which rides on a Teflon bearing and floats in a thin layer of silicone. Once the silicone inside the damper gets hard (at about 500,000 miles), the steel ring in it will no longer be able to “float” and absorb the torsional vibrations inside the engine, causing internal parts to start breaking prematurely.
6) A balanced driveshaft. Your driveshaft should be rebuilt every 500,000 miles, especially if your truck is in a heavy-haul application or spends a lot of time in the mountains. Driveshafts bend, carrier bearings wear out, and U-joints go out of balance – and all of these things will affect your truck’s bottom line.
7) Driving with your right foot instead of the cruise control. Using your cruise control too often will rob the engine of at least 1/2 mpg when on the rolling hills or on mountains. Use your right foot and drive by the turbo boost gauge (the less boost you can use to get the job done the better your fuel mileage will be). Be sure to pre-accelerate for the hills, drive as though you have an egg between your foot and the throttle, and only use the cruise control on level terrain.
8) Free-flowing mufflers. Stock mufflers are very restrictive and will cost you at least 1/4 mpg. Get them off your truck and replace them with performance mufflers as soon as possible.
9) Working on your truck yourself. Truck owners not working on their own truck(s) is a huge expense. One of the pleasures of owning a vehicle is performing routine maintenance, like repairing items as they fail or before they fail, cleaning the truck, changing the oil and greasing the chassis, and spending time underneath looking for potential problems. Installing simple items like washable Fleet-Air filters, performance mufflers, and extra gauges (like the ones already mentioned), are all simple steps you can do at home yourself. Some owner operators feel that they “drive the truck and don’t want to do the maintenance on it during their time off,” but labor rates are high today and you can save thousands of dollars per year if you just try to make some minor improvements yourself. Teach yourself how to be mechanically inclined – we all had to learn at some point.
By addressing these nine issues, you will be a more profitable owner operator – and, you will know and appreciate your rig a lot more because of the “sweat equity” you have invested in it! If you have any questions, contact me at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA by calling (724) 360-4080 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget: the power box is back!!