Everyone knows that the common rail 5.9L Cummins is a real workhorse with tons of power potential just waiting to be tapped.
Eric Kinsolving, a salesman at Beanâ€™s Diesel Performance in Woodbury, Tennessee, recently purchased an â€™06 Dodge Ram 2500 HD. He decided it was time to turn up the wick on his Cummins engine by installing a Stainless Diesel BatMoWheel compressor wheel and tuning the truck with new EFILive programming. He already had the installation crew at BDP install a 5-inch straight-through exhaust system, as well as a BDP fuel sump and AirDog fuel pump/filter system. Otherwise, the engine is stock.
Before work on the truck began, Jonathan Jones strapped the Ram down to the Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno for a few baseline power pulls. In stock trim, the truck put 301.7 hp to the rollers with about 540 lb/ft of torque. EFILive tuning was written by Cassandra Jones to wring the full potential out of the Cummins engine. More dyno pulls were made with the EFILive tuning in place on the Cummins before and after the turbo upgrade.
To help pull more air into the factory Holset HE-351 turbo, Jones and Jeremy Curtis removed the factory compressor wheel and replaced it with a BatMoWheel. The process is much simpler than one would expect, and the only specialty tool required is a pair of snap ring pliers. As a result, nearly any skilled DIY diesel enthusiast can perform the upgrade in his or her garage or driveway.
Changing The Wheel
To get to the compressor wheel, the top of the air cleaner housing and intake tube between the housing and turbo must be removed. Next, the turbo outlet is disconnected, as well as the oil feed line, to make it easier to access the snap ring securing the compressor housing. Then, using the snap ring pliers, the ring can be released on the back side of the compressor housing, followed by removing the housing from the turbo. Finally, using an impact gun and 12-point socket, the nut securing the compressor wheel can be removed, and the wheel can be slid off the turbo shaft.
With the stock wheel removed, the new billet-aluminum BatMoWheel can be slid onto the shaft and secured before the turbo and air cleaner are reassembled. At first glance, making dyno pulls with the new wheel installed showed little improvement, with a peak increase of only 3.3 hp. However, when we looked more closely at the dyno graph, we realized that the torque curve was much broader than stock, with as much as 60 more lb/ft of torque available at around 2,300 rpm and around 30 additional hp, as well. The additional output down low in the rpm range translates directly into better drivability. As an added bonus, EGTs were also reduced by close to 100 degrees at peak during our dyno pulls.
Interestingly, we also watched the BDP crew install a BatMoWheel on a Cummins 4BT that was seriously overfueled and running an HE-351 charger. The diminutive Cummins was experiencing EGTs in the 1,600-degree range when towing, and the owner hoped the new compressor wheel would help. On the dyno, we witnessed a 10hp dropâ€”but that came with a 300-degree reduction in peak EGT measurements during the dyno pulls.
Live-Tuning the Cummins
Duramax owners have been relying on EFILive programming and skilled engine-tuners for quite some time now, while the Cummins guys have been patiently waiting for their chance. Finally, the engineers behind EFILive have released software that lets engine-tuners tune â€™06 to â€™07 5.9L and â€™07.5 to â€™09 6.7L Cummins engines.
To start the tuning process, Cassandra Jones interfaces with the truck, using the V2 programmer, and downloads the base file from the ECU. This shows her if the truck has a modified or stock tune and provides a starting point to build the modified EFILive file. The baseline file is saved in the database and backed up, along with the custom tunes they create so they can be used as a reference or reinstalled in the truck, if needed. Then, she raises the factory limiting values before modifying the mapping for desired fuel rail pressure and injector pulse width. Jones also modifies the injection-timing table when creating her custom tunes, based on her vast experience tuning diesel trucks.
After creating an initial modified tune and flashing the file into the factory ECU, Jones makes additional dyno pulls to verify performance gains while data-logging and monitoring the engine vitals closely. Then, the process is repeated, increasing fuel delivery in small increments until peak horsepower is reached. The ECU is reflashed with each new tune.
After the fuel delivery is maximized, she writes new tunes, increasing the timing one degree at a time until peak horsepower is reachedâ€”again, with additional flashes and dyno pulls between each new tuneâ€”all the while staying within the safe operating limits of the engine to avoid throwing codes or creating drivability problems.
The limit was reached on Kinsolvingâ€™s truck when the high-mileage CP3 high-pressure fuel pump was no longer able to deliver the commanded (or desired) rail pressure. By using the dyno and data-logging the engine during the dyno pulls, Jones was able to maximize the truck for its current capabilities and take the tuning to the mechanical limits of the engineâ€”such as fuel delivery, air delivery, cooling or other issues.
Even with the limits of the CP3, the dyno results with the EFILive tuning were impressive, making peaks of 487.7 hp and about 930 lb/ft of torque with the stock compressor wheel, and 496.3 hp and about 930 lb/ft of torque with the BatMoWheel installed. As with the stock tuning, the torque curve with the BatMoWheel was wider than without, and the 100-degree reduction in EGT was also there.
So, if you drive an â€™06-to-â€™09 Cummins truck, you owe it to yourself to check out the BatMoWheel from Stainless Diesel and have your rig EFILive tuned by your local performance diesel-tuner. With nearly 200 additional hp and about 400 additional lb/ft of torque on tap, weâ€™re sure your Cummins-powered truck will be much more enjoyable to drive. And it will only take an afternoon to do it.
Something to always keep in mind is that increased power levels can start to push the factory transmission beyond its capabilities. At that point, itâ€™s time for trans upgrades to hold all that newfound power. According to the crew at Beanâ€™s Diesel Performance, you should start looking into a performance transmission rebuild with anything more than 450 horsepower.
REINVENTING THE WHEEL
The compressor wheel inside a turbocharger has looked the same for many years. The team at Stainless Diesel set out to change that. Working within the fixed confines of factory compressor housings, they set out to reinvent the wheel and came up with the BatMoWheel, a machined billet-aluminum wheel that is a drop-in replacement for the factory cast compressor wheel used in current turbochargers.
Focusing on the leading edge of the blade, the team at Stainless felt that out-of-the-box thinking would allow them to make the wheel more efficientâ€”without going to a larger diameter. The result is the unique â€œbatwingâ€ shape included in all BatMoWheel models.
According to Stainless Diesel, the design of the BatMoWheel provides better spooling by using a wheel that is lighter than the stock wheel, letting it spin faster. By designing an aggressive blade profile with more volume between the blades, as well as a taller design with more protrusion, the engineers at Stainless Diesel were able to get more air into the turbo, thus providing the engine with more torque and cooler EGTs (in most applications).
BatMoWheels are cut from a solid chunk of aluminum alloy to precisely fit the interior dimensions of the factory compressor housing, using a five-axis mill. The wheel shown in this article fits Holset HE-351 turbos found on â€™04.5 to â€™07 5.9L Cummins engines, as well as the older Holset HX-40 turbos and â€™07.5 to â€™12 6.7L Cummins engines with the Holset HE-351VGT turbos. Stainless Diesel also builds BatMoWheel models to fit Ford Power Stroke and GM Duramax applications.
The BatMoWheel is crafted from a billet-aluminum alloy to grab the air and suck it into the engine.
Looking at a BatMoWheel and comparing it to the stock Holset cast wheel, the differences are clearly evidentâ€”especially the aggressive cut to the blades and the additional protrusion used in the BatMoWheel design.
Using high-speed photography, we were able to catch the BatMoWheel in action inside a Holset HE-351 turbo installed on a 4BT Cummins. On the small Cummins, we witnessed a slight drop in peak hp, along with a 300-degree reduction in peak EGTs.
Beanâ€™s Diesel Performance
210 Rollin Coal Lane
Woodbury, TN 37190
Middlebury, IN 46540
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By Chris Tobin
Photography: Chris Tobin