OBS Ford Restoration – Diesel Horsepower Mods

PART 3: FORD F-350 UPGRADE BASICS

Well, Project OBSessed—our remake of an old-body-style Ford—is finally taking shape as we convert this worn-out truck with 220,000 miles into a little nicer of a driver and tow rig using some of today’s improved technology. In Part 1 of the build, we removed outdated exterior accessories and installed new headlights, turn signals, chrome light bezels and a grille shell. In Part 2, we focused on the interior by adding a new dash bezel, replacement door hinge pins, door sill scuff plates, and a touchscreen double DIN stereo with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay.

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MONITORING

Here in Part 3 of the build, we’ll begin by focusing on engine monitoring. In any diesel pickup, a key to longevity and durability is watching what the engine and drivetrain are doing. In the early days of diesel, when the 7.3L Power Stroke was new, analog gauges on the pillar were the thing. A pyrometer transmission temperature and a boost gauge was the common upgrade for monitoring, but as technology has advanced, so has data acquisition. The CTS2 Insight monitor from Edge Products has been one of the most popular monitoring devices on the market for years and for good reason. The easy to read, color touchscreen installs quickly with no real wiring required. With the addition of the EAS system, we can monitor exhaust gas temperatures, charge air temperatures, boost, trans temp, injection control pressure, HPOP duty cycle, engine oil temp, and battery voltage. It even adds a back-up camera. All of these things can be important when towing heavy over long grades or trying to back this monster into a tight parking spot at the grocery store.

FRESH AIR

For our first real performance upgrade, we jumped at the chance to replace the truck’s poor excuse for a cold air intake. We use that term loosely, as a cheap air filter on the end of a stick is far from a cold air intake. We could see that it hadn’t really been serviced or cleaned regularly, and its location was likely pulling in a lot of under hood temps from the exhaust manifold area. With a quick phone call to Lyle Richmond, owner of Daily Driven Performance, we were lined up with one of the only true cold air intakes on the market for the 1994- 1997 7.3L application. The plastic-injection-molded, closedairbox kit from S&B Filters is a true upgrade for these older trucks. The kit seals out those hot engine temps from the filter element and allows a steady stream of cool air while increasing airflow enough to support the bigger turbo and injectors we’re planning to install. It installed in less than 10 minutes and fit perfectly under the hood. Plus, it looks great.

OIL LEAKS

With these basic upgrades taken care of, it was time to tackle a pesky oil leak that left a stain just about anywhere we parked. A common issue with this kind of power plant is oil pan leaks—especially as it continues to age and gets higher in mileage. The dipstick adapter on the side of the oil pan is notorious for leaks, and through the years we’ve seen some interesting remedies. Most commonly, folks slap and smear as much silicone around it as possible, but this never works. Another common problem with this repair is over-tightening the factory nut to the point that you warp the adapter inside the pan, which can keep the O-ring from ever sealing again.

To solve this oil leak once and for all, we chose one of the best aftermarket option available—the billet-machined, dual O-ring adapter kit from Strictly Diesel. The kit replaces the entire factory adapter and uses two large O-rings that will seal on the outside of the oil pan rather than inside. Best of all, the adapter kit installs easily with the pan still on the engine and the engine still in the truck. This install is mess-free and can be done during a normal oil change with just the extra steps of removing the starter and factory dipstick adapter. We did it in our garage (flatbacking it on the floor) in less than just 30 minutes. Best of all, once it was all done, it solved our oil leak!

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Before upping the horsepower under the hood, it’s important to add additional monitoring for the engine to increase longevity. The Edge Insight CTS2 is easy to install and will monitor just about everything we want including EGTs, transmission temps, boost, injection control pressure, and engine oil temperature.

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In order to watch the EGTs while towing, the Edge Insight will need an external sensor added into the exhaust stream. On the 7.3L Power Stroke, the easiest place to add one is in the end of the driver’s side exhaust manifold. You’ve got ample room to get a drill up there and tap it to the 1/8 NPT threads for the supplied thread in bung for the pyrometer sensor.

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The addition of a back-up camera really brings this old Ford into the current century. Using the Edge EAS system, we can easily plug their rear camera system into the truck and run wiring up the frame to plug into the back of the Insight. The camera really helps when backing this bus into a parking spot or hooking up to a trailer.

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The clear view path and easy-to-see monitor of the Edge Insight rear camera makes a big difference when daily driving this big old truck. The truck is over 20 feet long and has small mirrors, so the rearview camera sure helps.

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One of the first major modifications owners often make to their diesel trucks is the addition of a cold air intake. This one appears to be no different, however, we wouldn’t really consider a cheap filter element on a piece of 4-inch pipe a cold air intake. Located so close to the engine and exhaust manifold, you can imagine the hot, under-hood air this filter ingests. It was also dirty and poorly maintained.

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For the 1994-1997 Power Stroke trucks, there aren’t a whole lot of aftermarket options still available. But with some help from Daily Driven Performance, this plastic injection-molded intake was shipped in from S&B Filters. The box helps seal out the hot engine temps and that big open filter will flow more then enough air to support our future horsepower goals.

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The 7.3L Power Stroke has always been a reliable and consistent engine platform. With that said, it isn’t without a few flaws. One of the more common issues is a leaking oil dipstick tube. The factory design is known to cause a residual leak that is difficult to seal, regardless of how much silicone you use.

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To resolve the leaky dipstick problems once and for all, Strictly Diesel developed a new dipstick adapter design that uses a dual O-ring seal. The billet-machined piece can be easily installed in just 30-45 minutes during your normal oil change.

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With the factory dipstick pulled out of the way, you can begin the removal of the factory adapter. Make note of the orientation of the dipstick. Some are clocked straight up and down, while some will tilt slightly forward. You’ll want to be sure to install the new piece in the same orientation.

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Before the nut comes off completely, you’ll want to grab the internal piece with locking pliers and use a small pick tool to remove the original O-ring seal so it doesn’t fall into the engine pan where it would risk restricting the oil pickup tube.

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With the original O-ring and the external nut removed, the internal adapter piece can simply fall into the engine oil pan where it will now reside forever. Because the engine oil was drained before the process started, you should be able to hear it hit the bottom of the pan. Listen for this so you’ll know it’s not lodged anywhere where it could bind up with the crankshaft or connecting rods during normal operation.

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tThe new Strictly Diesel adapter piece is a finely machined billet piece with a dual O-ring design that seals on the outside of the oil pan. The simple design and pre-threaded internal attachment can be slipped through the original adapter hole and lined up for the second bolt to be inserted and torqued.

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Obviously, before installing the new adapter, the outside of the oil pan was cleaned as best we could to remove any oil residue and silicone that had been used in a previous failed attempt to seal the factory fitting. The new adapter fits perfectly and clamps tightly against the pan for a leak-free and mess-free install.

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While servicing the engine oil and replacing that stock leaky dipstick fitting, we will also be replacing the oil filter with this massive Donaldson DBL7405 oil filter from Riffraff Diesel. The larger filter will not only offer better filtration of the oil without limiting flow, but the increased size can extend services out in some applications.