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 In Part 1 of the build, we removed outdated exterior accessories and installed new headlights, turn signals, chrome light bezels and a grille shell.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.
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.
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.
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!