In-Chassis rebuilds on older engines; we always try to do an in-chassis rebuild vs. an out of chassis because of the time element and the added expense. However, this past week two Caterpillar engines came into our shop for in-chassis rebuilds, and during the disassembly of the engines the main bearing caps fell out of the engine block. The main bearing caps are an interference fit and should be snug in the block. When they are loose the engine must be removed from the truck, completely disassembled, and the block and crankshaft must be sent to the machine shop. Sometimes a new main bearing cap is machined and fitted to the block, other times a small bead of weld is applied to the main bearing cap, then machined to once again be snug in the engine block. Once all of the bearing caps are tight, the crankshaft bore is then machined and the deck surface of the block is also machined. Next, the crankshaft is magnafluxed, straightened, and polished. Once the crankshaft is placed in the new main bearings, main bearing caps tightened to the proper torque, a man can turn the 400 pound crankshaft with one hand. At that point you know the machine work was properly performed.
There is another way to tell if the line bore in the block is OK without removing the engine from the chassis, and that is by a visual inspection of the bottom half of the main bearings. The wear across the bearing should be equal on both sides. If copper and the majority of the wear is on one side of the bearing than the line bore is out and the block must be removed from the truck and sent off to a good machine shop. The positive outcome is the Owner-Operator ends up with a great engine, maybe even better than when it was new. Unfortunately, the cost increases by about $12,000. A Signature rebuild on a Caterpillar 3406-E or C-15 with all of the performance parts we have to offer is about $38,000 plus the labor to remove and replace the engine back into the truck. Once the engine is out, now is the time to replace cab mounts, fuel lines, air lines, and brake lines. Total cost for all of the parts and labor can reach $45,000. The fuel mileage improvement over a stock engine will be 1.5 miles per gallon, which in turn will pay for the rebuild in about 2.5 years. It pays to have great credit, set aside 10 cents per mile into a maintenance account, have high limits on a few credit cards, or be good friends with your banker. The cost of parts and labor increases each year, I sure hope your freight rates do also.
Written by: Bruce Mallinson
Tires slinging mud and smoke, engines spinning at their limits, stacks spewing great black clouds of dust and flames, and massive crowds cheering, the first ever Onaway Speedway Great Lakes Big Rig Challenge was a success. The event included a Quebec style drag race and a show n’ shine for the trailer queens. The freshly built track was an 1/8th mile uphill run. Driver’s would be pulling over 60,000 pounds of lumber up the incline to the finish. It’s safe to say most of the spectators and participants had a marvelous time despite some difficult conditions.
The weather was quite a challenge. A cold front Saturday brought with it a heavy downpour for most of the day turning the grounds into a muddy mess. This not only made it difficult for the fans having to trudge through the soupy mess, but the drivers had to navigate a thick muddy pit in order to access the drag strip. Thankfully, Sunday brought the sun and warmth, but mud was still causing traction issues for the drivers. The only solution was massive 8 wheel burnouts to clean off the tires (to the delight of the spectators)
It was fascinating to see a range of different setups competing together on the track. The engine of choice for most participants would be the CAT 6NZ or similar while there were a healthy number of Detroit power plants, both 12.7 and 14 liter. Most of the drivers were running our performance parts on their trucks. Class C trucks were bone stock while the majority of participants were running in class B which allowed minor modifications including a non-stock turbo and Powerbox. Class A contenders were highly modified with turbos peeking through grills and hoods.
Running these trucks at their physical limits means quite a few trucks suffered from mechanical complications. A number of trucks broke driveshafts and U-Joints including Diesel Freak’s white and blue Kenworth. Fortunately, they were able to get the truck fixed for the next day white others were not as lucky. Khaggs Trucking #100 Freightliner suffered from power loss to the ECM on Sunday, ending their day early. The majority of trucks were able to return home under their own power.
In addition to the racing, there was a healthy showing of show trucks on the track oval. Everything from a ‘bagged’ Peterbilt, vintage Kenworths, and even a Smokey and the Bandit tribute truck complete with the stagecoach mural on the trailer. The youngsters enjoyed the carnival rides while the racing fans learned about the cutting edge of truck performance technology from the vendors in the pitts. Many came to look at the display engines and learn about our innovations such as the Dorothy EGR cleaner and see our selection of performance oriented exhaust manifolds, mufflers, and turbos. We look forward to the return of the Great Lakes Big Rig Challenge in 2019 and hope to see similar events around the US in the coming years.
Pittsburgh Power would like to welcome Brian Moan as our new Shop Foreman.
Brian has been with the company since May, 1989. Prior to becoming shop foreman, he had been the head mechanic for approximately 18 years.
Brian started out in the pump room and worked his way up from there to mechanic to shop foreman all within the same company. Brian is dedicated to the company's success and will go out of his way to provide excellent service to every customer.
John Walko, who was our Shop Foreman, has moved to head up our New Product Development and Engineering Team to bring you new technology like the Dorothy Tornadic ERG Cleaner
Do you have a favorite mechanic in your hometown that does the majority of work on your truck, however, he is NOT able to tune your ECM, program the ECM or diagnose problems via the ECM?
If the check engine light constantly comes on, we will help your mechanic or you, as to the proper way to repair the problem that is causing the check engine light to turn on. We are making this service available because so many of our clients do not travel to the northeast.
For some strange reason, many owner-operators just want to stay on the I-5 corridor on the West Coast, or in the state of Texas. Now the electrical engineers at our facility can share their knowledge with our clients regardless of where they live and operate. All that is needed is the briefcase with the necessary equipment and a telephone.
Variable Geometry turbochargers on DD3 and DD4 Detroits and some ISX Cummins. I have to admit that I did NOT like variable geometry turbochargers because of the failure rate. I did like the concept, and would like to have on my 12 valve 1995 Dodge Cummins pickup, it’s just not possible because this engine is not equipped with a computer. However the failure rate of the variable geometry turbo was quite high on the early 2003 and newer diesel engines equipped with EGR. Most of the failures were the variable geometry vanes would get clogged with soot from the EGR system, however the DD3 and most of the DD4 Detroits did not have EGR systems so there is no soot to lock the variable vane into one position. We have installed several of the VG turbos and the results are amazing, out of a 12.7 liter engine we were able to develop 1800 ft. lbs. of torque at 1200 rpm and 600 horsepower without building excessive exhaust temperature.
The advantage of the variable geometry turbocharger on 12.7 Detroit is not only the fuel mileage increase, but the drivability of the engine, especially in cities, traffic, 2 lane back roads especially if there are hills involved, and varying altitudes. There is always constant power horsepower and torque under your right foot! As of this writing we are installing a variable geometry turbocharger on an ISX, this is the first one and so I have no results to tell you now, I will next month. Taking a product or engine that was prone to failures and making it a great product or engine is something we have been doing at Pittsburgh Power for the past 39 years.
Does your truck run freely across the interstate? If you remove your foot from the throttle does it slow down drastically, when you look in your mirrors do you see one side of your trailer and not the other? Many trailers trail to the right side of the highway, this is telling me the axles of the trailer are not in line with the tractor.
Think about a chain only being as strong as the weakest link: An engine’s air supply is the same, and those are ALL LINKS. A free running truck will be able to cruise along a level interstate at 2 to 8 psi of turbo boost, the lower the boost during cruise, the better the fuel mileage will be. Your job as the driver and owner is to operate the truck in this manner and to install the necessary items on the truck to make this possible. The easier the truck cruises, the longer the engine will live and the better the fuel mileage. The 264 rear gears is a huge plus in building a freely-running truck. We have in our inventory most of the items to be able to help you obtain a freely-running rig
SOOT from an ISX EGR-DPF engine: Take a look at this picture: Most all EGR engines have an excessive buildup of soot in the air-intake manifold. We have a cleaning process that will pressure-wash the inside of the engine, then we physical clean the air-intake, doser valve, EGR-valve and any other item emissions-related items so they will work as good as new or better. Please don’t ignore the emissions systems: It’s much better to have us clean and maintain them every 200,000 miles (it’s only a day’s labor) as opposed to waiting for a failure and shut down.
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 South Noah Drive, Saxonburg, Pa. 16056
We have talked about this in the past few years, and why diesel fuel turns black in your fuel tanks and leaves a black coating in the tank. This coating is extremely hard to remove, we have tried steaming, bleach, parts cleaning solvent, many different types of soaps and liquid cleaners, and the black residue still stays in the fuel tank.
The injector does NOT inject all of the fuel that has been heated and pressurized, and returns it to the fuel tank. The Asphaltene is actually a polymer which is created in the injector tip, then returned to the fuel tank. So even if you install a fuel cooler it WILL NOT fix this problem because of the heat and pressure present in the injector tip where the polymer is created.
The chemicals we have today to add to the fuel, made by Fleetguard and Penray, are to disperse (dissolve) the polymer back to diesel fuel. This problem is most present at refineries where they treat for it constantly and if your engine produces Asphaltene you should run the chemicals consistently as opposed to waiting for a problem. The labor to remove the fuel tanks, have them cleaned and reinstalled is about $1200.00
Internal Engine Cleaning
We spoke about this about one year ago and the program has been very successful. If you own a 2003 or newer truck equipped with EGR, or EGR and DPF, or 2011 and newer with EGR-DPF-DEF, then you should think about this cleaning process once a year when the oil is due to be changed. This process takes about one hour to perform and the process of flushing the engine with a thin oil with 6 times the detergents regular oil.
After the internal cleaning and your oil and filters are then put into the engine and, you will be amazed at how long you can drive and the oil on the dip stick will remain clean. Emissions engine eat a lot of soot, and much of it stays in the engine cavities during an oil change, with the internal cleaning process the engine is pressure washed with the ultra-high detergent oil and the cavities are flushed out. The normal price for this operation is $350.00 plus oil and filters, however for this summer we are having a special, $275.00 plus oil and filters. Try it once and see how much extra dirt we can get out of your engine.
The summer heat is here and so is high coolant temperatures
Owner-operators expect a lot out of their trucks and engines today. Years ago on the very hot days especially in the South, many guys sleep during the day and trucked during the night because they could not keep the coolant temperatures down. Charge air coolers, better radiators and electronically controlled engines have made it possible to drive in the 95 plus degree days. The negative of today’s engines is 190 to 195 degree thermostats. We always install the 180 degree stats because it takes 16 degrees to fully open. So if your truck is equipped with a 190 stat then it’s already 205 degrees before it’s fully open. Please don’t be afraid to manually turn on the fan before getting into the hard pull section of the hill or mountain. It’s easier to beat the heat than trying to cool it off after it gets hot.
The Pittsburgh Power Radiators are always built with as many tubes that we can fit in the confines of the opening of the hood. Think about this, on a 379 Peterbilt equipped with a 500 horsepower Detroit there are 177 tubes to cool the water and 14 fins per inch. The fins between the tubes carry away the heat. If the same truck is equipped with a 550 Caterpillar engine there will be 234 tubes to cool the coolant. Our 379 Pete radiator has 400 tubes and 16 fins per inch. Plus we use a dimpled tube to dissipate more heat from the coolant. Yes this radiator cost about $1,000.00 more than a stock radiator, however you’re getting twice the radiator.
Then install the 180 degree thermostat and your engine will run cool even on the hottest days. Another truck I used to use on the Big Cam 4 Series Cummins with the low flow cooling system was to install an additional coolant tank. I would use and air tank, mount it back in the frame rails near the transmission or where ever there was space, and run a 1” water line to the front of the tank. I would take the coolant from the engine right in front of the black heater and return out of the far end of the air tank back to the water manifold. Then add about 5 more gallons of coolant to the radiator and the results were pretty amazing. The engine would run 20 degrees cooler on a hard pull for 7 miles. If the mountain was longer than 7 miles, than you would have to drop some gears to keep it cool. One of our clients from eastern Ohio mounted a radiator out of a Camaro with an electric fan on it and once the coolant came out of the tank it passed through the Camaro radiator. Problem solved!
Many times over the years of writing about diesel engines I have referred to the diesel engine and your body to be very similar. Both need clean oxygen, a good source of fuel, or food, and both must get rid of their waste in a timely manner.
Have you ever been constipated? What do you think happens to your engine when the muffler is clogged or the exhaust flow is impeded? Look at the effects of cigarettes on your lungs and how hard it is to breathe when you have a cold, just like your engine when the air filter is dirty or too small for the horsepower it is developing.
The next time you are crossing Vail Pass on I-70 at 10,400 feet elevation, pull in the rest area and run up the mountain along side the interstate, how many feet can your lungs and heart carry you up the hill before you're gasping for air? If you are in great shape you may get 40 to 60 feet. WOW, and you expect your diesel engine to pull at 10,000 feet like it does at sea level. There is 1/2 the molecules of oxygen at 10,000 feet elevation as compared to sea level. If it's too hot and humid outside for your body to do physical work, than it's too hot for your engine also, like wise if it's too cold for you do to do physical work, it's also too cold for your engine. Be gentle with it, when it's below zero and you see the white smoke coming out the stacks, the engine is telling you it's breathing air that is too cold and the fuel is not burning properly, may be a winter front would help.
We ask a lot today out of our engines, after all everyone thinks the ECM will take care of everything. This is NOT true, you still need to employ common sense when driving and maintaining your truck. Ah, there is the word, maintaining your truck. Let's face it, most people today do as little as possible to maintain their truck. How many times a year do you get under your truck to grease it, change the oil, check and adjust the brakes, inspect the air lines, exhaust system, and drive line? I quite often hear
"I just drive this truck, I don't work on it"
Here's a video for directions of the proper procedure for use of Klotz Foam Filter Oil.
Wash filter with Klotz KL-608 Air Filter Cleaner to remove dirt and oil. Shake well, and apply Klotz Foam Air Filter Oil evenly on new or cleaned filter; squeeze out any excess oil. Excessive oil may cause engine to run rich momentarily. Never operate engine without air filter and filter oil.
We have proved them wrong! You the owner-operators of North America, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland, along with us at Pittsburgh Power Inc.
I loved and still do enjoy working with my hands. However back in 1977 diesel engines were dirty, noisy and slow. A small cam NTC 350 was a big hammer and this was the start of the Big Cam NTC Cummins. In 1977 nobody no one gave extra fuel to diesel engine, but I did. I realized that most owner-operators were gear heads just like I was and if I could drive a high performance Corvette as my every day car why couldn't an owner-operator have a performance diesel engine in his every day truck.
I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce myself, I’m John Walko, but you may hear a few others around here refer to me as Johnny. There is a reason for this, as Bruce likes to say he found me under a Corvette when I was 15, it’s true. I was at the race track with my father, and his name is John, so to friends and family I’m Johnny. I was introduced to Bruce as Johnny and it stuck.
I spent two years working in the shop as a mechanic under Gary Hoffman’s guidance. During those years, Gary was a very active shop foreman, and probably the best mechanic that I have ever had the opportunity to work with, and I have worked with Indycar mechanics. The skills, process and methodology learned during those years have served me quite well. I have used them as a guideline for mechanics that I have employed over the years on my championship winning race teams.
Teams that I have owned or managed have won championships in both the Pro Formula Mazda and USF2000 categories of the Mazda Road to Indy, an intensely competitive series primarily consisting of young drivers on their way to the highest levels of motorsport. This is an environment where failure is not an option, there are no comebacks, a loose bolt can destroy a two hundred thousand dollar racing car and injure or possibly kill a young driver. The skills learned here gave me and my crew the ability to operate successfully in that environment, and it will be my intention to do whatever it takes to bring the quality of work coming out of this shop to the same level of a championship winning race team.
In the years after Diesel Injection I’ve done quite a few things all of which I’ve learned a thing or two from. I made an attempt at college that didn’t go so well (I’d love another chance at this), bartended, moved to Colorado to be a ski bum (I thank Bruce for this), managed a restaurant, and then my father and I started a small manufacturing business in the early nineties. I was tasked with managing the shop, designing and building truck mounted vacuum excavation systems. I did this for eight years, and during that time I discovered that I really enjoyed managing a shop.
I learned an awful lot about fabrication and manufacturing. We built some really nice equipment, but the business never proved to be very profitable, maybe the stuff we were building was a little too nice. During the years building the vacuum trucks I had some freedom and a little bit of space in the back corner of the shop that enabled me to do some restoration work on race cars, which led to me driving for a few seasons. I was pretty quick, this led to more restoration and set-up work on racing cars, and soon my hobby became my business and I loved it. I have no regrets, but at 49 years old a steady paycheck and a little less travel is starting to look pretty attractive, so again I called Bruce and as it turns out he had a need.
I love to spend time with my children (I’ve got four 20 Emily, 19 Trent and 10 year old twin girls Jenna and Julia), ride bicycles, ski, work on my sons go-karts/race car. I drink craft beer, listen to alternative, blues, jazz, alt-country, folk and bluegrass music. I watch very little TV, and I won’t talk to you about religion or politics.
Well, enough about me now I’d like to hear about you. Of course I’ve been given some input on all of you, but I would really like to know in your own words where you think your strengths and weakness lie, the types of jobs you are most comfortable or uncomfortable with, and some of your personal interests.
I would also like to know areas in which you believe that we can improve as a company. I will use this information to do my best in pairing you with tasks that you will enjoy. This doesn’t mean that you will never again have to do something that you don’t like, but you need to know that an effort will be made to keep you in your comfort zone while we work together to expand that zone. This is also going to help me write an employee handbook that is just going to make everybody’s job easier by outlining processes and procedures that you may now be giving too much thought to. With this information we will be able to build a team that is stronger and more efficient than any of us are individually.
I want you to know that as your manager I will be working for you. The information that I gather here will be used to shape the future of the shop, so now is your chance to make a difference. Sometime soon after I collect and read all of your responses I will be meeting with each of you individually to discuss your input.
Feel free to email your input to me at email@example.com.
Many of the articles compiled here where written by Bruce Mallinson. Attribution to other contributors is given in the specific articles.