PROJECT SUPER DUTY
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PART ONE: IMPROVING THE 6.4L POWER STROKE FOR SUPERB USABILITY

It’s hard to believe, but the 6.4L Power Stroke is coming up on ten years since it was first released mid-2007. The fully emission-equipped engine was the first to be offered by Ford with the full EGR, DPF, and catalytic converter systems bolted on, and it has had its share of issues. But thanks to the aftermarket, these platforms can make great daily drivers and towing rigs if a few steps are taken to help increase reliability and durability.

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This project begins with the installation of a Banks Power Pack to improve the 6.4L’s powertrain for better overall drivability and towing performance. This package includes the Banks Six Gun tuner with IQ monitor, Speed Brake, Ram Air intake, dual-exit Monster Exhaust, and high-fl ow Technicooler intercooler.

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The Ram Air intake is super easy to install and will replace the restrictive stock air cleaner with a Banks oiled air filter element that’s fully serviceable and improves airflow to the turbochargers by 31%. A couple clips, two harnesses, and one hose clamp are that are needed to be disconnected to remove the stock box and lid.

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The Ram Air intake sits in the stock location and will take advantage of drawing cold air through the fender like the factory box did. But due to the high-flow filter and injection-molded plastic box, it can keep hot underhood temperatures from reaching the intake tract.

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The closed box not only fits perfectly under the hood, but it also looks nice with easy open access for filter services and cleaning. Notice the factory filter minder and mass airflow sensors are retained as well.

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While on the subject of improving airflow, the factory intercooler was replaced with the Technicooler supplied in the Banks Power Pack. The cast high-efficiency end tanks and high-flow core improves airflow within the charge air system to create better throttle response and easier EGT control while towing.

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The 6.4L Power Stroke intercooler is one of the easiest intercooler swaps you’ll ever do; just the boost tubes and three bolts need to be removed to get it out of the truck. Looking at them side by side, you can compare end tank designs between the stock and Banks units. The Banks cast aluminum end tanks will withstand higher boost pressures while flowing better than the stock plastic end tanks, which are prone to rupture, crack, and leak over time.

This 2008 crew cab F-250 truck was found on a used car lot with just over 140,000 miles on the clock, a little high on miles for the year, but at just $15,500 it seemed like too good a deal to pass up. The truck was in overall good shape with a few minor scratches here and there, simple cosmetic fi xes mostly. The rest was sound.

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Behind that massive chrome Super Duty grille, the new black powdercoated Technicooler looks great while dramatically increasing the air density being fed to that heavy-breathing diesel engine. The large inlets and outlets and core design help reduce EGTs under load.

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Up on the two-post hoist, the installation of the dual-exit Monster Exhaust comes next. This was also a great time to go over the rest of the truck’s drivetrain to check for any other issues with the ball joints, U-joints, engine or transmission leaks, and so on.

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The 6.4L Power Stroke was Ford’s first light duty diesel required to run the catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter in the exhaust. With both of these staying under the truck and effectively acting as massive mufflers, this little muffler located downstream near the rear axle doesn’t seem necessary and was removed in favor of the better sounding and nicer looking Monster Exhaust kit.

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This simple DPF-back system will install relatively easily once the stock exhaust is removed from this slip joint located right behind the DPF. A little rust penetrant oil, an impact gun to loosen the clamp, and some wiggling were all that was required to get this one apart.

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The factory dual tailpipe on the 6.4L may just be the ugliest ever offered on a pickup, but it does serve a purpose. The slots you see in the tips allow outside airflow to enter the exhaust stream before it exits the pipe to help cool that air temperature. When DPF-equipped trucks enter the regeneration cycle, it’s not uncommon to see exhaust gas temperatures surpassing 1,600 degrees.

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The Monster Exhaust’s dual-tailpipe design mimics that of the stock system but with much better style. The massive oval 5-inch tips are clamped on over dual 4-inch tailpipes that are cooled upstream by the Banks-exclusive Cool Cuff design, which helps keep that extreme exhaust temperature from tarnishing the chrome tips.

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For more horsepower, this 6.4L will also be seeing some programming changes through the innovative Banks Six Gun with IQ monitoring system, which basically piggybacks the factory management system to enhance its fuel, air, and timing tables for better engine efficiency, power, torque, and superb drivability without increasing engine emissions. This connection located behind the airbox is where you’ll tap into the truck’s Powertrain Control Module.

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The Banks Speed Brake, which is an option in the Power Pack, will allow in-cab control of the truck’s variable-geometry turbocharger to act as an exhaust brake when towing. By tying into the VGT actuator, the IQ monitor can open and close the vanes when pre-calibrated situations arrive, creating drive pressure within the engine and helping reduce engine speed on downhill grades for maximum load control.

After a few weeks and a couple hundred miles to collect some good driving impressions and fuel economy reports, it was time to consider some aftermarket products to improve on the less-than-stellar 13 mpg it was seeing around town. Previous testing on the chassis dyno has shown 6.4L Power Strokes averaging around 305 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque, which are strong numbers for any stock truck. So it’s no wonder the 6.4L has turned out to be such a strong running daily driver and tow rig; with that kind of torque on tap you’ll keep even the largest trailers moving uphill at a strong pace.

Banks Big Hoss Bundle

Of course, those stock numbers can all be improved with help from the right bolt-on parts. Any diesel engine needs two main things to make power: fuel and air. Banks Power has been in the diesel game as long or longer than most every performance diesel company you’ll fi nd, and their team of engineers know that the denser that air is, the more effi cient and stronger a diesel will run. To help the 6.4L Power Stroke platform run a little better while keeping the factory emissions equipment intact, the Banks Big Hoss Bundle system will not only increase power and torque, but increase air density for a more usable powerband, while improving throttle response, turbo spool-up, and fuel mileage.

Upgraded Intake

Removing restrictions from the intake side of the factory turbochargers can improve spool-up and throttle response, so the Ram Air intake kit ensures easy breathing for the 6.4L motor. The fi t and fi nish is fl awless and the huge serviceable element fi lters great while fl owing 31% better than the stock system. As for the charge air side of the system, Banks also includes its Technicooler intercooler, which not only fl ows better than the stock unit due to better core and end tank designs, but it will dissipate heat more efficiently, meaning better EGT control while towing.

Speed Brake

On the subject of towing, Banks offers an innovative Speed Brake option for the Big Hoss Bundle that integrates into the IQ monitoring system and ties into the factory turbocharger vane actuator to open and close the vanes on command. This offers a very effective form of exhaust braking to maintain and slow engine speed when you are trying to keep a load under control on steep grades.

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Exhausted

The factory exhaust system can’t be modified or changed too much since the stock catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF) will remain intact, but from that DPF back, there’s still room for improvement. You can’t expect huge gains from the DPF-back exhaust kit, but the dual-tailpipe Monster Exhaust system offers a little better sound and much better looks compared to stock. The system removes the small factory muffler, and best of all eliminates the ugly dual-vented tailpipe section Ford came up with. Using their patented Cool Cuff to reduce EGT before the exhaust reaches the tailpipes, Banks was able to develop a more aggressive-looking dual tailpipe section with big 5-inch polished stainless steel oval tips for a much bolder look.

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The Sig Gun tuner and Speed Brake will also tap into the truck’s automatic transmission shift lever by piggybacking the shift lever harness located on the steering column. This connection will help the Banks system know what modifications it needs to make to the shift strategy and exhaust braking to offer the best performance while towing.

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The optional Speed Brake module plugs directly into the main Six Gun wiring harness and works seamlessly with touchscreen control on the included IQ monitor for easy on-the-fly adjustments to both its on/ off functionality and even its overall holdback strength with three different levels to choose from.

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The massive 5-inch color touchscreen, known as the Banks IQ, is a complete in-cab performance command center giving you, the driver, complete control of the horsepower levels and the Speed Brake. The IQ will also be used to read engine parameters as shown here, with with numerous PIDs, color schemes, and gauge layouts to choose from.

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The IQ system will also read and clear engine trouble codes, allow you to set audible warnings for fluid or air temperatures, and do everything you’d need to keep you informed on what’s going on under the hood. It’s easy to read in both daytime and nighttime conditions and is quick to react to driver inputs.

Six Gun

The Six Gun tuner is used to fine-tune the engine’s calibrations while offering select-on-the-fly tuning for easy access to an additional 100 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, all controlled through the state-of-the-art IQ color touchscreen monitor. With hundreds of different display options, you can fine-tune the IQ display to show you the data you really need to keep your 6.4L engine running a long, healthy life. Banks clean tune technology offers power increases you can feel from the driver’s seat, without the unwanted thick black smoke that has been known to plug up DPFs and create unnecessary regenerations. Banks engineers spent countless hours tuning their software to make calculated adjustments to the pulse width, timing, boost and fuel pressures to offer strong acceleration and towing without the worry of engine and drivetrain problems. Working in conjunction with the Ram Air intake, Technicooler and Monster Exhaust, the Big Hoss Bundle can also reduce EGTs even at higher horsepower levels when compared to stock.

Results

After just the first few fuel tanks of fuel after parts installation, the truck’s owner has reported much better drivability, with a peppier throttle and the small jump in fuel mileage he’d hoped for. At around 400 rearwheel horsepower, the truck is much nicer to drive— and who can complain about better mileage without affecting a warranty or local emissions laws, including those in California where the complete Banks system is certified? Over the course of the next few issues this truck will be going through a few more upgrades with front and rear differential covers, along with an adjustable front suspension leveling kit and a set of rear traction blocks and traction bars, all from One Up Off-Road, as well as a new heavy-duty front bumper from Throttle Down Kustoms. DW