As tow vehicles go, the Ford F-450 may be in a class of its own. While the other two of the big three have increased their tow ratings—Ram claims 30,000 lbs. and GM claims 23,200 lbs. for goose neck and fifth wheel tow ratings—the F-450 sits firm on a claimed rating of 31,200 lbs. But weight ratings are not the only class distinction, as the F-450—which is offered as a crew cab, 4×4, or long bed—has the highest MSRP of all three.
Lenny Reed from Dynomite Diesel Products picked up an F-450 because it fit his towing needs: quiet comfort. Heavy-duty capacities. Yes, with its long wheelbase and amenity packed interior, the F-450 King Ranch was the perfect choice for hauling competitions and whatever else Reed’s life may call for.
So with a pedigree like that how would you go about making it better? Elementary. Diesel engines are but large pumps moving air-infused fuel and injecting the mixture at just the right time for the proper duration. Improving the engine’s ability to move air and fuel in and out of the cylinder can increases the engine’s efficiency (Air + Fuel = Power).
Today’s diesel engines have become more sophisticated as their need to fulfill emission compliance has increased with tighter regulations. For Reed’s truck, the goal was to find products that would increase the engine efficiency without removing the emissions devices.
We started off by improving the intake airflow in the 2013 Ford F-450. Advanced Flow Engineering, Inc. (aFe) has long been one of the industry leaders in manufacturing high-performance cold air intakes and air filters. Their part numbered 51-11872 can be a direct replacement for the 2013 Ford F-450 OEM filter assembly. According to aFe, this air intake system produces up to 26 horsepower, 80 lbs. ft. of torque and outflows the factory intake by 67 percent.
The new air filter assembly comes complete with all the parts necessary and includes easy-to-follow instructions, making the swap for the OEM filter assembly a simple task. The air filter is housed in a durable 16-gauge, powdercoated heat shield and features a heat-insulating molded plastic tube that replaces the stock intake tract.
After improving the intake airflow, the next logical step would be to improve the airflow out of the engine—so we turned to Diamond Eye Performance. Diamond Eye makes a DPF back, four-inch, mandrel-bent, aluminized steel system for the Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups. We found Diamond Eye part number K4376A fit the F-450. Comparing the OEM and Diamond Eye system side-by-side clearly shows the smooth mandrel bends providing maximum exhaust-flow capabilities.
The Diamond Eye system bolts directly to the DPF flange and utilizes the OEM rubber hangers, making the installation take less than half an hour. The system also includes the all-important DPF-friendly exhaust tip, which permits cool air to be mixed with the extremely hot exhaust gases emitted during the DPF cleaning cycles. It was necessary to shorten the tail pipe approximately six inches so the supplied polished stainless steel DPF style tip fit properly.
One of the potential downsides of installing aftermarket exhaust systems is excessive noise, or worse, the dreaded drone. Happily, we are able to report neither is the case with this system. The installation of the Diamond Eye DPF back system provides a slightly deeper exhaust tone. We noticed—even while pulling a moderate load at highway speeds—normal conversation was not a problem within the confines of the King Ranch interior.
The last of the variables to the power equation would be fuel. We elected to go with the Edge Evolution CS, which reprograms the vehicle’s OEM engine control module (ECM) and saves the stock files from the vehicle’s computer and then uploads the Edge calibrations. Inside the cab, the Evolution CS installs with one simple cable connection to the OBDII (diagnostic) port and gives drivers a multitude of features, including real-time, in-cab monitoring of vital engine data, as well as multiple power levels custom tuned by a team of engineers.
The Evolution CS also provides a comprehensive gauge package with different options available to provide the driver with the information desired. It even permits the screen to scroll automatically so that the driver can view more information than will fit on a typical screen snapshot. Since the Evolution CS installs in the OBDII port, it also reads all ECM codes and allows the driver to reset the codes as desired.
Other features included are Mileage Coach Software and Maintenance Manager. Edge designed Mileage Coach with fuel economy in mind, and it features tools to help drivers gauge, monitor and conserve fuel consumption, improving MPGs. The Maintenance Manager helps manage the vehicle’s maintenance items that directly affect overall performance. Drivers can set alerts when maintenance items are coming due.
SOME FEATURES INCLUDE:
Full-color, high-resolution, button-controlled 2.4-inch screen
View parameters in numeric or analog style gauge display
The option to switch between US or Metric units of measure
A light sensitivity meter to dim screen as ambient light decreases
Updateable internet so you can get the latest updates, software and calibration files
Performance tuning for mileage, towing, daily driving and performance
Up to an additional 180 horsepower and 440 lb. ft. torque on diesel applications
Custom tuning for shift points, shift firmness, torque management, fuel pressure and more
Adjust speed and rev limiters
Correct speedometer for different wheel and tire combinations
The Evolution also can be used for data logging, as it can display crucial data to help identify the “sweet spots” and potential problems during driving. The data-logging feature allows for a comprehensive, accurate picture of the vehicle’s conditions, including temperatures, pressures and speed.
As a towing tool, the Edge Evolution CS provides the ability to change shift points so that the already reliable 6-speed automatic transmission can be dialed to a specific load. Additionally, having the ability to view engine parameters while towing in real time will allow for maximum engine efficiency, resulting in the best in fuel economy and towing performance.
Another useful feature is that the Evolution CS displays a small red light each time the engine is in a “DPF regeneration mode” and stays on during the cycle. Unlike the OEM notification, which displays for approximately three seconds and turns off, creating the opportunity for the driver to turn the engine off before the cycle has completed and thereby potentially resulting in a plugged DPF. The Evolution CS also has the ability to manually run the cycle, which could benefit drivers who find themselves driving more in-town, short hauls.
Edge stated they expect to achieve full emissions compliance certification in 2015, as they have more electronic tuning EO Numbers than any other performance electronics company in the industry.
We are always looking for ways to improve ride and handling, and we found one small way to improve body roll: changing the way the overload springs compress under load when used in conjunction with the OEM air springs. When the air springs are inflated, they essentially hold the overload springs off their stops. This allows the body to roll and is especially noticeable with loads that have a high center of gravity. SuperSway-Stops part number SSS 2, provides a longer overload spring “snubber,” which permits the overload spring to provide the additional support it was designed for.
We took advantage of the chassis dynamometer at Dynomite Diesel Products and measured stock baseline horsepower and torque; then, we ran the dyno to measure the changes achieved resulting from the installation of the products.
The stock Ford F-450 produced a respectable 305 horsepower and maximum torque of 591 lb. ft. With the installations complete, we ran the F-450 with the Edge Evolution CS set at power level three and with the aFe air intake system and Diamond Eye DPF back exhaust in place. The results were 389 horsepower and 738 lb. ft. of torque: an increase of 84 horsepower and 147 lb. ft. of torque.
We then hitched the F-450 to a gooseneck enclosed car trailer—which DDP uses to transport its race vehicles—and loaded a full-sized race-equipped Ram pickup on to that. We headed over to the scales, where the truck and trailer combined for 25,880 lbs.—well within the towing limits as set by Ford. After that, we took the combination out on the road for 700-hundred mile round trip from Monroe, Washington, to Redmond, Oregon, and saw approximately 9.5 mpg.
The F-450’s ability to start, move and stop the load inspires confidence while the amenities offer great comfort—accomplishing 500 to 700 mile days would be very doable. DW
Advanced Flow Engineering, Inc.
Diamond Eye Performance
Dynomite Diesel Products
Super Springs International