Project 7.3L Work Truck: New “Heart”

Last month, you may have noticed that our Project 7.3L work truck suffered a transmission setback that caused a detour in our build schedule. This required an extra visit to Swamp’s Diesel Performance for a transmission rebuild. This month, we’re getting the truck back on schedule for many more happy and healthy miles of work truck duty. Specifically, we’re addressing the “heart” of the 7.3L Power Stroke engine by replacing the high-pressure oil pump (HPOP, for short). This unit drives the fuel injection system, and Project Work Truck will be using an upgraded rebuilt pump from Dieselsite. As with any other heart transplant patient, we want to be sure to monitor the patient’s vitals so we will also be installing a set of Auto Meter gauges that will allow us to keep an eye on the engine’s vitals and performance.

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Vincent Uriah turned his 2003 F-350 work truck over to the experts at Swamp’s Diesel Performance in La Vergne, Tennessee, to once again work their magic on his Ford. Technician C.J. Carter handled the installation of both the HPOP and gauges. This expert was able to complete these tasks in about nine hours, including time for a lunch break, as well as our typical photography slowdowns. You could probably get it done in one long day if you plan to perform the installation yourself, but you may need some time on a second day to wrap things up.

C.J. Carter holds the heart of the 7.3L Power Stroke fuel injection system in the palms of his hands. The small but powerful HPOP is key to a strong-running 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine.

C.J. Carter holds the heart of the 7.3L Power Stroke fuel injection system in the palms of his hands. The small but powerful HPOP is key to a strong-running 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine.

Oil pressure from the HPOP drives the fuel injectors, which push fuel into the engine. Many times, when larger injectors are used, the factory HPOP will run out of volume and have difficulty maintaining pressure to properly drive the injectors. The result is poor performance. This can also happen if you have added aggressive tuning and are using the factory injectors. The crew at Swamp’s has also seen many factory HPOPs that are weak out of the box or have worn out over time, leading to poor injector performance and ultimately poor engine performance. Going with a tested and verified aftermarket HPOP yields consistent performance, and the ability to handle larger injectors for more power and efficiency with your 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

The team at Dieselsite builds their Adrenaline HPOPs from factory cores that are rebuilt to their exacting performance standards. For improved longevity, they use heavy-duty dual ball bearing cartridges in the Adrenaline pumps. These are far superior to the less expensive bushings that some rebuilders use. The Adrenaline pumps can be used with stock injectors and most aftermarket performance injectors. In fact, owners will see more performance gains when using it with bigger injectors. Dieselsite also claims possible fuel mileage improvements in all 7.3L Power Stroke engine/injector combinations using the Adrenaline HPOP.

1. Dieselsite's Adrenaline HPOP comes complete with a new gasket and O-rings to make the installation easier. They back the rebuilt pump with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

1. Dieselsite’s Adrenaline HPOP comes complete with a new gasket and O-rings to make the installation easier. They back the rebuilt pump with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

2. To help Vincent Uriah keep a better eye on the vitals of his 7.3L engine and automatic transmission, he's adding a quartet of Auto Meter gauges in Ford factory match trim to blend in with the interior.

2. To help Vincent Uriah keep a better eye on the vitals of his 7.3L engine and automatic transmission, he’s adding a quartet of Auto Meter gauges in Ford factory match trim to blend in with the interior.

3. The factory gauges are rudimentary at best with colors at the extremes for the temperature gauges, and nothing to monitor boost, EGT or HPOP operation.

3. The factory gauges are rudimentary at best with colors at the extremes for the temperature gauges, and nothing to monitor boost, EGT or HPOP operation.

4. The Auto Meter molded pods need to be color matched to the interior of the truck with vinyl color spray after being prepped with a plastic clean and prep spray for good adhesion.

4. The Auto Meter molded pods need to be color matched to the interior of the truck with vinyl color spray after being prepped with a plastic clean and prep spray for good adhesion.

5. While the fresh coats of color are drying on the new pods, Carter removes the factory grab handle and A-pillar cover as well as the steering column cover.

5. While the fresh coats of color are drying on the new pods, Carter removes the factory grab handle and A-pillar cover as well as the steering column cover.

Upgrading to Dieselsite’s Adrenaline HPOP is a great match to the Swamp’s Diesel Performance 175/146 single-shot injectors that we installed in Part 4 of the Project Work Truck series. The injectors were working with the original pump, but you could feel while driving that there was some performance being left on the table. We anticipated that drivability and throttle response would improve with the new HPOP; read on for our results. Dieselsite backs their Adrenaline pumps with a 24-month unlimited-mileage warranty that covers anything short of abuse, tampering or physical damage.

Like most diesel vehicles on the road today, Ford offered very little in the way of engine monitoring from the factory. The Power Stroke-equipped trucks are without a provision for boost, HPOP or EGT info feedback and have only a crude transmission temperature gauge. Yep, there’s a lot of room for improvement here. Auto Meter builds gauges known for quality and reliability commonly used in the muscle car and racing industries, as well as performance models for diesel enthusiasts. They even make factory-style gauges for Ford, GM or Dodge trucks so the gauges in your pod will match the gauges in your dash. Carter installed a quartet of Auto Meter factory match Ford gauges in Uriah’s truck to monitor boost, EGT, HPOP and transmission temperature. The boost gauge is a traditional mechanical gauge while the other three gauges employ digital stepper motors and offer an accurate full-sweep display. The electrical gauges read from installed sensors.

Carter opted to use an A-pillar triple-gauge pod as well as a steering column-mount single-gauge pod to cleanly install the four Auto Meter 2 1/16-inch gauges in Uriah’s truck. Both pods are molded to fit over the factory components and come in black textured plastic. After spraying the surfaces with a clean and prep spray, Carter painted the pods with color-matched vinyl and plastic refinisher to match the factory interior. Prepping and painting the pods was handled early in the morning to make sure they were fully dried and ready to handle when the gauges were being installed.

While the paint was drying, Carter removed the grab handle and A-pillar cover, as well as the steering column cover. After the factory pieces were removed, he lined them up with the new pods to drill the mounting holes that secure the pod to the factory covers. The gauges were then prepped and slid part way into the openings. The final adjustments would be handled and the gauges aligned with the pods installed in the truck. To make sure the harnesses are durable and stand the test of time, Carter always solders, and heat-shrinks the connections. He also insulates the harnesses with wire loom for protection from heat and abrasion.

6. Carter cuts off the mounting studs from the backside of the gauge to fit the HPOP gauge in the steering column pod.

6. Carter cuts off the mounting studs from the backside of the gauge to fit the HPOP gauge in the steering column pod.

7.With the gauge prep complete. It was time to get back to the HPOP upgrade and other underhood work, while the paint dried on the Pods.

7.With the gauge prep complete. It was time to get back to the HPOP upgrade and other underhood work, while the paint dried on the Pods.

8. Carter removes both ends of the power cable to the intake heater (see arrows) to remove an obstruction from the intake tract and provide a great mounting location for the boost reference connection. If you were to only remove the end at the heater, the high-current cable could short out and damage the electrical system.

8. Carter removes both ends of the power cable to the intake heater (see arrows) to remove an obstruction from the intake tract and provide a great mounting location for the boost reference connection. If you were to only remove the end at the heater, the high-current cable could short out and damage the electrical system.

9. The bulky and unnecessary intake heater is removed from the intake and the Driven Diesel plug is installed in its place (see arrows). The plug features a threaded input to install the boost tube port.

9. The bulky and unnecessary intake heater is removed from the intake and the Driven Diesel plug is installed in its place (see arrows). The plug features a threaded input to install the boost tube port.

10. Carter slips the gauges partially into the pod and then wires the harnesses using solder and heat-shrink tubing for secure connections that will last the life of the truck.

10. Carter slips the gauges partially into the pod and then wires the harnesses using solder and heat-shrink tubing for secure connections that will last the life of the truck.

11. After disconnecting the fuel lines and removing the mounting bolts, the fuel filter bowl assembly can be removed from the engine to allow access to the HPOP that sits below the fuel bowl in the engine valley.

11. After disconnecting the fuel lines and removing the mounting bolts, the fuel filter bowl assembly can be removed from the engine to allow access to the HPOP that sits below the fuel bowl in the engine valley.

Moving under the hood, Carter drained and removed the fuel filter bowl as well as the serpentine belt to get access to the HPOP. He also drained the old oil from the reservoir before unbolting the HPOP gear cover, gear and mounting bolts. Then he removed the high-pressure oil lines and the old HPOP was ready to come out of the truck. Rather than using specialty tools to disconnect the oil line fittings, it’s easier to unbolt the fittings from the pump with a wrench. The fittings must be removed to take out the check valve springs that are not needed with the Adrenaline pump. Dieselsite provides new O-ring seals so it’s easier to unbolt them and then reuse them on the new HPOP.

You must install an injection pressure regulator (IPR) before installing the Adrenaline HPOP in the truck. You can reuse your IPR from the stock pump or order a new or rebuilt IPR direct from Dieselsite. For this installation, Carter reused Uriah’s IPR by cleaning and reinstalling it with the supplied O-rings, making sure that a lint-resistant cloth was used to wipe it down as dirt or lint contamination can cause the IPR to malfunction.

The HPOP can be reinstalled using the supplied mounting gasket. Make sure that the drive gear is fully seated on the HPOP before installing the bolt and washer. This will help prevent oil leakage that can result in binding or slippage and a no oil flow condition. Carter uses RTV gasket sealant on the drive gear access cover and a new reservoir gasket to seal the oil reservoir. He then changed the engine oil and filter to make a clean start with the new HPOP.

To wrap up the day’s installation, Carter drilled and tapped the lower side of the driver-side exhaust manifold to install the EGT probe for the new gauge. Drilling the mounting hole on the bottom side of the manifold minimizes metal scraps in the manifold, but you should still be sure to clean any remaining metal shavings out of it using a small magnet. While underneath the truck, he also installed the transmission temperature sender in the transmission. For the boost reference, Carter removed the 7.3L intake heater and replaced it with a Driven Diesel plug with a machined port for the boost gauge tubing, killing two birds with one stone by removing the obstruction from the intake heater and providing a great location for the boost reference measurement.

12. The factory HPOP can be seen in all its oily glory once the fuel bowl is removed.

12. The factory HPOP can be seen in all its oily glory once the fuel bowl is removed.

13. Carter used a vacuum tool to drain the oil from the HPOP reservoir before unbolting and removing it.

13. Carter used a vacuum tool to drain the oil from the HPOP reservoir before unbolting and removing it.

14. Removing the high-pressure oil line fittings by unbolting them from the HPOP works best for the team at Swamp's. The Adrenaline pump includes new O-rings for installation as well.

14. Removing the high-pressure oil line fittings by unbolting them from the HPOP works best for the team at Swamp’s. The Adrenaline pump includes new O-rings for installation as well.

15. The HPOP drive gear bolt may require a significant amount of force to be removed. It’s also a tight fit with the socket and ratchet between the coolant fitting and gear housing, as seen here.

15. The HPOP drive gear bolt may require a significant amount of force to be removed. It’s also a tight fit with the socket and ratchet between the coolant fitting and gear housing, as seen here.

Carter removed the factory HPOP from the 7.3L engine after removing the mounting bolts from the backside of the pump and the drive gear. It can then be slid out of its mounting bore and lifted out of the engine valley.

Carter removed the factory HPOP from the 7.3L engine after removing the mounting bolts from the backside of the pump and the drive gear. It can then be slid out of its mounting bore and lifted out of the engine valley.

17. Carter removed the IPR from the original HPOP and cleaned it before installing new O-rings and lubricating them with oil. The unit is then reinstalled in the new Adrenaline HPOP.

17. Carter removed the IPR from the original HPOP and cleaned it before installing new O-rings and lubricating them with oil. The unit is then reinstalled in the new Adrenaline HPOP.

Installing the HPOP and gauges is a project that most DIY diesel enthusiasts can do themselves with basic garage tools following the supplied installation instructions. You can expect to have at least a full day wrapped up in the work, so schedule accordingly so you won’t be rushed into making a mistake. Of course, it’s important that you practice safe shop techniques while working on your truck, especially when using power tools. When working under the truck, make sure it’s properly supported. Also pay special attention to harness routing and installation in the cab, under the hood and under the truck. Keep all harnesses away from rotating/moving components and heat sources. Use zip-ties to secure the harnesses away from dangerous areas like the pedal assembly and steering column in the cab, and hot exhaust components under the hood. If the installation seems beyond your skill level or if you just don’t have the time, visit your local performance diesel specialist and they will be glad to perform the installation for you.

Sliding behind the wheel and driving the truck, Uriah immediately noticed that throttle response and drivability improved dramatically. This is all the more impressive since there were no additional tuning changes made to the TS Performance chip this time around; the improvements were solely from the Adrenaline HPOP and its improved control of the Swamp’s injectors. As if the drivability and throttle response improvements were not enough, Uriah is also seeing a fuel mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg even while towing heavy loads up and down hilly roads to jobsites as he’s been doing lately.

The Auto Meter gauges are a near perfect match to the factory gauge cluster with matching faces, needles and illumination so they blend well into the interior rather than sticking out like tacky add-ons. The pods position the gauges well for easy view from the driver’s seat, allowing Uriah to confidently tow and haul heavy loads throughout the northern Georgia and southern Tennessee area while knowing precisely how the engine and transmission are behaving. DW

16. The Adrenaline HPOP drops into place and is installed in a reverse of the factory HPOP removal.

16. The Adrenaline HPOP drops into place and is installed in a reverse of the factory HPOP removal.

19. Like the rest of the gauge installation, Carter solders and then seals the joints with heat-shrink tubing for a secure connection of the HPOP gauge harness under the hood. A cheap connector could corrode and develop a poor connection over time.

19. Like the rest of the gauge installation, Carter solders and then seals the joints with heat-shrink tubing for a secure connection of the HPOP gauge harness under the hood. A cheap connector could corrode and develop a poor connection over time.

20. The nylon tubing for the boost gauge connects directly to the supplied fittings. Be sure to install the small ferrule or the tubing will not seal. Carter covers the nylon tubing with a protective sheath to prevent it from being damaged under the hood.

20. The nylon tubing for the boost gauge connects directly to the supplied fittings. Be sure to install the small ferrule or the tubing will not seal. Carter covers the nylon tubing with a protective sheath to prevent it from being damaged under the hood.

21. After drilling, tapping and cleaning metal shavings from the driver-side exhaust manifold, Carter installs the EGT probe, securing the fitting with the supplied setscrew to hold it firmly in place for accurate measurements.

21. After drilling, tapping and cleaning metal shavings from the driver-side exhaust manifold, Carter installs the EGT probe, securing the fitting with the supplied setscrew to hold it firmly in place for accurate measurements.

22. The team at Swamp's recommends installing the transmission temperature gauge in the threaded boss (shown here by the arrow) by removing the factory plug and installing the temperature probe. They feel that it provides a more consistent and reliable reading than simply measuring the temperature of the fluid in the pan.

22. The team at Swamp’s recommends installing the transmission temperature gauge in the threaded boss (shown here by the arrow) by removing the factory plug and installing the temperature probe. They feel that it provides a more consistent and reliable reading than simply measuring the temperature of the fluid in the pan.

23. After installing the Auto Meter pod and HPOP gauge on the factory column cover, Carter carefully reinstalls the cover on the column, routing the harness behind the cover.

23. After installing the Auto Meter pod and HPOP gauge on the factory column cover, Carter carefully reinstalls the cover on the column, routing the harness behind the cover.

24. To make room for the wiring harness for the A-pillar gauges, Carter uses a rotary tool to cut away the corner from the factory A-pillar cover before installing the Auto Meter pod and gauges.

24. To make room for the wiring harness for the A-pillar gauges, Carter uses a rotary tool to cut away the corner from the factory A-pillar cover before installing the Auto Meter pod and gauges.

25. Carter slips the gauges partially into the pod and then wires the harnesses using solder and heat-shrink tubing for secure connections that will last the life of the truck.

25. Carter slips the gauges partially into the pod and then wires the harnesses using solder and heat-shrink tubing for secure connections that will last the life of the truck.

26. He then routes the harnesses through the A-pillar joint near the dash and installs the pod. He adjusts the angle of the gauges and presses them fully into the pod once it’s installed to verify the angle from the driver’s seat.

26. He then routes the harnesses through the A-pillar joint near the dash and installs the pod. He adjusts the angle of the gauges and presses them fully into the pod once it’s installed to verify the angle from the driver’s seat.

27. Day or night, the factory match Ford gauges from Auto Meter look good in the work truck and will provide Uriah the valuable data he needs to monitor the health of his engine and transmission.

27. Day or night, the factory match Ford gauges from Auto Meter look good in the work truck and will provide Uriah the valuable data he needs to monitor the health of his engine and transmission.

SOURCES:

Auto Meter

866.248.6356

AutoMeter.com

Dieselsite

888.414.3457

DieselSite.com

Driven Diesel Performance

623.582.4404

DrivenDiesel.com

Swamp’s Diesel Performance

866.595.8724

SwampsDiesel.com