Here we go! This is the beginning of our 38th year of working for owner operators to improve their lives by helping them improve the performance, fuel mileage and longevity of their engines. We have several owner operators that do not drive their trucks during the winter months – some go to Florida, some to Costa Rica, and others take off a few months to snowmobile all winter. When your truck gets seven-plus miles per gallon and does not break down, this becomes possible (something all of you should seriously think about).
This past month, I traveled to California with Eric Wheeler to check out a new machine that cleans out the insides of diesel engines through their oil systems. After the oil is drained, this machine pumps in thin, ultra-high detergent oil at 40 psi through the oil galleys. This continues for about 20 minutes, and then the engine is started and idled for five minutes on the same ultra-high detergent oil. Then, the system is drained and the oil of your choice is installed, along with new filters. I’ve been told that the engine will now run for several thousand hours before the oil even appears dirty on the dipstick, and that some engines will see a 1/2 mpg increase in fuel mileage. The people who make the machine recommend using it on every third oil change.
The company that manufactures this machine, Snap-on Tools, has been around for several years and makes similar machines to clean and flush automatic transmissions, power steering systems and cooling systems, as well. This type of cleaning is NOT new to the automotive industry, but it is new to diesel engines. By the time you read this, we should have one of these machines at our facility in Saxonburg, PA. After using this machine to clean engines internally, we will then perform emissions testing on the engines which will tell us just how well the system actually works. If the emissions improve, then the fuel mileage and the longevity of the engine will also improve. At that point, we will know that we have something worth pursuing! My understanding is that the ISX Cummins with the EGR system is the engine that will benefit the most from this type of cleaning.
For those of you who do not want to change your oil, we have an oil-cleaning system that will polish your existing oil once it is drained from the engine. The oil can then be reinstalled. The “polishing” process removes particles that are less than one micron. This is not a new system – in fact, I attended an oil filtration seminar back in 1981 where they introduced one-micron bypass oil filters. Back then, they took brand new hydraulic oil and put it through a particle counter and found that even new oil had about 500,000 parts of “stuff” in it. After running the oil through their double filtration system, the particle count dropped to around 50 parts per million. When I mentioned this to the engineers who build the engine flush system, they did say that even “brand new” oil does have many particles of “whatever” in it.
I don’t know why it took me 34 years to realize that cleaning new oil, before it’s put into an engine, is a worthwhile endeavor. It took meeting with the engineers in California to bring this fact back to my attention. If all of these things will help extend the life of an engine, eliminate the need to re-gen as often, and improve the emissions of the EGR/DPF/Urea-using engines, then we just may have something here. Rest assured, we will find a way to improve the life of these newer engines, while leaving all of the emissions systems intact, so you can be CARB and EPA compliant.
A recent breakthrough by the engineers here at Pittsburgh Power recently occurred when they successfully took a “dead” Series 60 DDEC-4 ECM and brought it back to life. A Detroit Diesel dealer had told the owner of this ECM that it had failed and therefore replaced it with a remanufactured ECM (the cost of a reman ECM is typically $1,800-$2,200). The Detroit dealer determined that the ECM was bad because they had seen a diagnostic code related to the memory. The owner figured it was only worth core value, but decided to see if we could repair it anyway. Well, when we looked inside the ECM, the memory chips on the circuit board were covered in oil. After carefully cleaning out all the oil, we found that nearly 20% of the microchips had failed due to the oil intrusion. The faulty chips were replaced with good ones from a donor and the “dead” ECM came back to life!
The Detroit dealer was right when they said that this ECM was bad – memory fault codes are a sure indicator that an ECM has issues. Other times, issues with performance are often blamed on the ECM prematurely. If you tell us your ECM is bad, the first two questions you will get back are, “Who told you this?” and “Why do they think your ECM is bad?” Some of you don’t want to hear this because you have likely been told that your ECM was bad by a technician who failed to find the real problem and, by default, assumed that it was the ECM, because that’s the one thing they can’t test. Well, our engineers have created ECM engine-simulator test benches, complete with injectors and fan circuits, to remove all of that expensive guesswork. If you purchase a new ECM and install it on your truck and the problem still exists, you just lost about $3,000. Isn’t it a better decision to get a load to Western Pennsylvania and have our engineers check out your electrical system before you spend the money on a new ECM?
Just last week, we had an owner operator in the shop wanting a new ECM because his truck was always going into “de-rate mode” and drastically cutting back the horsepower. After pressure testing the entire air-intake system, we found a massive crack in the air-to-air intercooler, thus causing the ECM to go into “de-rate mode” to save the engine from burning a piston, exhaust manifold, turbo or exhaust valve. The ECM saw “lower-than-normal turbo boost” and was doing its job. Never drive a turbocharged engine without a turbo boost gauge or without knowing what it means. Needless to say, we installed a new charge-air cooler on this truck, as well as a turbo boost gauge, and did not replace the ECM, which saved the owner a lot of money. A mechanical turbo boost gauge kit is only $68.00 and it is very easy to install. Without one, you are driving blind – don’t do that!
Thanks for 37 great years – here’s to 37 more! If you have any questions, I can be reached at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080 or via e-mail at email@example.com.