Buying Used and Getting Back to Basics

Right back at it with Project My2K and it’s time to add some supporting upgrades since we’ve added some bigger wheels and tires and offer that engine a little extra help to keep up with the demands of performance tuning. This truck has a little extra horsepower under the hood now, and a much heavier set of tires, so we need to look at improving its ability to get slowed down. A replacement set of performance brake rotors and pads from EBC Brakes will not only improve overall stopping performance but help fight brake fade and heat while towing.

The Stage 8 Super Truck kit from EBC Brakes is the perfect braking package upgrade for a daily driver with the need for consistent low heat braking through the abuse of heavy towing. The slotted and dimpled rotors work in conjunction with and a specially formulated semi-metallic, no fade brake pads for long life and great pedal feel.

With that said, under enough heavy abuse, it’s not unheard of to have stock rotors warp from excessive heat, so we’d assumed the truck had been used for a lot of heavy towing in its past life as there was some definite shimmy under braking. The brake pads had been changed at some point in life, but the rotors appeared to be factory Ford originals so at 172k on the clock now, it was time. The brake pads were showing lots of life left, with plenty of thickness left but upon close inspection, you could see glazed over spots and some cracks developing.

Doing the basic brake job on the Super Duty trucks is straight forward and won’t require any specialty tools. This is a job that can be accomplished at home, should you have a little mechanic experience. Removing the tire and just two large bolts get the caliper off the axle, so the rotors can be replaced.

The Stage 8 Super Truck heavy duty brake kit from EBC Brakes is the perfect stock replacement upgrade package for a daily driven and heavy towing application as it combines the firm pedal feel and longevity of a semi-metallic brake pad, with vented high-performance style rotors. The Orange Stuff Heavy Duty brake pads use a specially formulated pad material that offers great gripping power that won’t fade away under high heat and strain of slowing heavy loads. Designed specifically for a light duty pickup, this semi-metallic pad has been heat scorched to reduce bed in times and has deep V-grooves to catch dirt and dust debris to improve ventilation through the pad without losing grip. The black coated Sport Rotors offer three wide sweeping slots to help induce cool air into the contact area to help keep rotor temperatures low preventing brake fad under heavy load. The added drilled dimples help prevent stress cracks from developing extending rotor life as well. This rotor and pad combo have been proven to reduce braking temperatures by up to 200-degrees while helping the mating surface true and flat for more uniform pad wear and improved pedal feel.

When installing the new rotors, you’ll want to be sure to get them in the correct position as they are specific left to right. The three slots allow cool air to enter the braking surface while the dimples help prevent stress cracks from forming.

Obviously anytime you’re servicing the brake system you should pay attention to the brake calipers and be sure the floating pins are greased for easy caliper movement and all the caliper pistons work as intended. There would be no shame in replacing the calipers at this point as well, but all four on this truck seemed to be in great condition. After installing the new EBC Heavy Duty package, the first initial test drive showed an instant improvement in stopping power with a firmer pedal feel and quicker stopping response with less pedal input. Under the stresses of towing, the rotors and pads felt positive while slowing a load on long downhill grades and they’ve been super quiet with no squealing or squeaks coming from the pads, also very pleased with brake dust control as the wheels don’t show any signs of buildup at all.

EBC’s Sport Rotors use large sweeping slots to help draw cool air into the contact area on the face of the rotor under heavy braking. Keeping rotor and pad temperature down under heavy pedal keeps brake fade from happening. Testing showed these rotors can run up to 200-degrees cooler than stock.

Moving on to the engine side of things, not long ago we installed a new 6-position Revolver chip and Insight CTS3 monitor for some extra performance and improved drivability. The Revolver made a significant improvement in overall drivability, the truck has so much more spunk its crazy anyone could continue driving a 7.3L Power Stroke without tuning. It’s really a major change in just how the truck gets itself down the road. Unfortunately, the bigger performance tunes, like the 100hp and 140hp tunes are showing us weak points within the rest of the engine systems.

The high pressure oil system plays a vital role in the performance of the 7.3L Power Stroke and under heavy load and wide open throttle situations, it’s common for the high pressure pump to fall short of supplying the requested injection pressure to the injectors for optimum performance. Full Force Diesel developed their Rail System to help that pump maintain more consistent pressures under load.

Under heavy load, or a wide open throttle run, we’ve noticed our Injection Control Pressure (ICP) is falling quite a bit from where it should be. This ICP, is the pressure of the oil being fed to the injectors and controlling how hard fuel is injected into the combustion chamber. The Edge Revolver and PCM is asking the high pressure oil system supply 2800-psi of ICP at wide open throttle, but our factory high pressure oil pump is struggling to keep up. On our chassis dyno runs we were seeing ICP drop as low as 1900-psi, and that means our fuel isn’t going to be as efficiently burned in the cylinders, which means we aren’t getting the full potential out of the engine. We’re giving up some power, generating more smoke than we need to, and just losing some efficiency. This is a common problem in a HEUI design and the 7.3L has always been plagued by it.

Who knows how long these brake pads have been on the truck, and while they still had a lot of thickness on them, you can see the stress and heat cracks that have developed and could lead to premature failure and unwanted brake fade while towing.

To resolve this, we could install a brand new high pressure oil pump, or upgrade the pump to an aftermarket unit, but we opted to try something new on the market first. Something a little easier on the check book and installation side of things. The Rail System from Full Force Diesel was developed to help the 7.3L run higher injection pressures by simply suspending a rail inside the oil log cavity of the cylinder heads. The rail takes up space within this cavity, meaning less oil volume is required to fill it, thus reducing the required flow from the pump. The lower oil consumption allows more pressure to the injectors at a lower HPOP duty cycle.

The Orange Stuff Extra Duty line of pads from EBC use a special formulation of semi-metallic material to offer 40-60% longer wear life with excellent braking performance while towing. The pads Deep V-grooves catch dirt and debris while improving ventilation for a strong bond to the slotted rotors.

The install is straight forward and only took about an hour with the help of some air tools. You just need to gain access to the oil rail plugs on the front of the cylinder heads, slide in the back half of the rail kit, thread the front half on to it, then slid the completed assembly all the way into the log. Install the new rail plug and start cranking on the engine to refill that oil cavity so the engine will fire. Full Force says they’ve tested this system with everything from stock injectors up to 350cc Hybrid injectors with great success. They’ll work with factory pumps or upgraded pumps and HPOP crossover tubes as well.

The FFD Rail System installs in around an hour by simply installing the rail kit inside the oil galleys within each cylinder head. To access the rail plug for the driver side cylinder head, the alternator must first be removed, allowing full access to the front bracket attached to the engine it sits on.

While we haven’t had a chance to get back to the chassis dyno to see if the rail system made improvements to the horsepower and torque outputs, we can attest for their ability to maintain a higher injection pressure. Running the same tuning, our truck will now hold 2200-2300psi under heavy load and wide open throttle. This added pressure will equate to better overall engine efficiency and a more complete burn within the cylinders. No, we still can’t maintain the 2800-psi being asked, but it’s better. We’ll most likely end up replacing our high pressure oil pump next, but it’s great to know a simple modification like this FFD Rail kit is worth the investment and time to install.

Behind that factory aluminum bracket on the front of the engine, you’ll have ample access to the end of the oil rail and can start on the installation of the Rail System. This bracket is attached to the engine block with four bolts all, easily accessible with basic tools.
On the passenger side of the engine, the AC Compressor needs to be removed, but don’t worry. There is no need to discharge the system, as the four mounting bolts can just be removed and the compressor lifted and swung off to the side, AC lines still attached.


With the entire alternator mounting bracket removed from the truck, you get your first look at that oil rail plug. This is the largest plug pictured here and used a simple 1/2” drive ratchet end to remove. Be prepared to catch some oil when doing so.
With the original rail plug out, you can see inside the oil rail, this will need to drain for a bit, and you’ll want to have some rags and a catch pan below the truck to catch what comes out. We figure it’s around 1/3 quart per head you’ll drain from the engine.
With the oil drained, the FFD Rail System can be installed, this is done easily by sliding one half of the rail kit into the oil rail, just far enough you can still hold on to the end.
The other end of the rail kit will then be positioned directly in front of the rear section, then threaded together. Using just your hands you should be able to get this tight enough to stay securely together and then slid all the way into the oil rail.
Full Force includes a brand new oil rail plug and OEM O-ring to ensure the proper seal. Once that oil rail kit is fully inserted, this plug can be threaded into place. Be sure to lube the O-ring ahead of time to allow it to spin freely while tightening, can’t risk a tear or crack, as these may be subjected to as much as 3200-psi of oil pressure.
Once the rail plug is tightened, you’ll want to be sure to grab your torque wrench and torque to the specs suggested in the instructions that came with the rail kit. With the driver side complete, you can reinstall the engine bracket and alternator and move over to the passenger side and repeat.


EBC Brakes USA

Full Force Diesel

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