DURAMAX DAY – A Backward Glance and Step Toward the Future

Duramax Day was conceived as a way to bring together suppliers, manufacturers and integrators together with the media and businesses with a stake in Duramax. The event was held at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Pomona Fairgrounds, a significant site considering the history of the engine and the audience on hand.

By John Stewart

On November 16, Gale Banks Engineering, in connection with GM Powertrain, hosted a group of media, educators, technicians, lead users and aftermarket Duramax specialists for a deep dive into Duramax history and its current technology. Nearly 1.3 million Duramax diesel engines are now in operation, and the newest Duramax, the LML, is a topic of keen interest to the industry.

The gathering was convened because the Duramax V-8 diesel is increasingly becoming significant for racing, marine and military applications, and is considered by many to be the “hot rod” of diesel engines.  By bringing suppliers, manufacturers and integrators together with the media and businesses with a stake in Duramax, meaningful information could be provided and exchanged, and business contacts extended. The event was held at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Pomona Fairgrounds, a significant site considering the history of the engine and the audience on hand.

Speakers included Michael Cochran, Assistant Manager of Manufacturing Engineering at the DMAX plant in Moraine, OHIO, and Gale Banks, president of Gale Banks Engineering. Duramax Program Manager Mark Herman supplied considerable information to help build presentations for the day, and was on hand at the museum to mix with enthusiasts and media.  Gale Banks’ Market Development Manager John Espino delivered a presentation created by Bosch as well.

One of the highlights of the day was Michael Cochran’s video presentation that detailed the manufacturing and assembly techniques now in place at the DMAX plant.  Attendees were surprised to find, for example, than any of three different head gaskets might be used, with selection based on key block-to-piston measurements.  Cochran also illustrated DMAX fastener torque procedures and showed how very fine variations in manufacturing tolerances were achieved and maintained.

John Espino delivered a presentation supplied by Bosch, providing a detailed, technical look at the Bosch products that support the Duramax. The 2011 GM HD diesels feature Bosch’s diesel common rail systems with Piezo high-pressure fuel injectors, a high pressure fuel pump and an engine control unit. This system typically improves fuel economy by 30 percent, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 25 percent. Another key Bosch component is the fuel delivery system.  The presentation focused on CP3 and CP4 high pressure fuel pumps, which are used for model years 2010 (CP3) and 2011 and beyond in the case of the CP4.  Among other benefits, the pumps offer an optional layout in the case of poor fuel lubricity.

Bosch also presented some details about the 2011+ model-year ECU, which has 2.5 times the computing power of the prior generation via a 32-bit microcontroller.  Bosch also produces the Denoxtronic with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, to support aftertreatment such as automatic urea dosing systems.  The presentation focused on explaining how these new systems were devised and how they enable high NOX reduction to meet the most stringent regulations yet.

Not least among the presenters was Gale Banks, who talked about the performance potential inherent in the existing and future Duramax engines. Gale Banks Engineering is considered an OEM by GM Powertrain Division, meaning that the company is permitted to sell the Duramax into a variety of markets. These include military, racing and hot rod markets worldwide. In addition, Gale Banks Engineering is the exclusive marine OEM for Duramax in North America.

Banks talked about the long history his company has working with the Duramax, and showed some of the newest turn-key variations on the engine that had been produced for a variety of customers.  These included the mind-blowing Duramax Super Sequential Twin-Turbo, which delivers near-peak power off idle by means of a supercharger and two turbochargers combined.  A model of the engine was available for attendees to scrutinize.  Banks recently shipped two Duramax super/turbo engines to a marine customer in New Orleans, and more are being built.  Gale Banks Engineering has logged thousands of dyno hours on Duramax engines, and developed a proprietary engine controller and wire harness for the upfitted diesels the company sells.

In commenting about the new LML Duramax, Banks noted a few changes. These included a revised oiling circuit that includes a dedicated feed for the turbocharger, for increased pressure at the turbo and faster oil delivery. There is also an improved gear-driven oil pump that delivers 21-percent greater capacity, for increased oil pressure at lower speeds, and enhanced piston cooling. The main bearings’ profiles are also different in the LML, to increase oil film thickness, which enhances durability.

Also on hand were a number of “lead users”, including aftermarket specialists who are among the more visible Duramax enthusiasts in the marketplace today.  A number of them brought in vehicles they have built or were working on, as a way of illustrating the performance potential of the engine.  These included specially modified and tuned vehicles owned by Ruben Angles and Jason Nichols, plus a 2005 Kodiak 4500 owned by John James that he uses for work and drag racing.  Pat and Kathy McSwain were there with two trucks, including Pat’s well-known 2005 Chevrolet world land speed record holder. The newest of the tuned trucks was Mike Lovrich’s LML-powered 2011 Chevy.  Lovrich is a Banks “beta tester” who is helping to test and verify a newly-developed intake/exhaust combination soon to be offered by Banks Power, the retail arm of Gale Banks Engineering.  Attendees heard about how “clean and green” parts will be developed for the LML, and how they will be tested to be sure they do not violate emissions regulations or harm the OEM emissions equipment.

At the end of the session, attendees had access to the speakers and time to network with each other over a catered lunch. Based on feedback from the group of industry insiders on hand that day, it seems assured that Duramax engines, and the new LML, will continue to be the preferred power source in the diesel marketplace for a long time to come.


Duramax Day
Duramax Day was conceived as a way to bring together suppliers, manufacturers and integrators together with the media and businesses with a stake in Duramax. The event was held at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Pomona Fairgrounds, a significant site considering the history of the engine and the audience on hand.

Duramax Day
Not least among the presenters was Gale Banks, who talked about the performance potential of the  Duramax engines, and commented on the newest features his engineering team had noted in the newest Duramax, the LML. Gale Banks Engineering is recognized as an OEM for Duramax by GM Powertrain division.

Duramax Day
A group of enthusiasts have a moment with GM Duramax Program Manager Mark Herman as they consider a 2011 LML-powered HD pickup fitted with prototype Banks Power intake and exhaust.

Duramax Day
One of the more interesting vehicles at Duramax Day was John James’ Kodiak 4500, which he uses daily at work and races on weekends. The engine has modified engine internals, fuel delivery improvements and an upgraded turbo.

Duramax Day
As an OEM for Duramax, Banks Technology division has developed specialized ECUs and custom wiring harnesses for marine Duramax engines.

Duramax Day
The next Duramax-powered Banks project vehicle is this rail, scheduled to begin competition in earnest in 2011.  The Banks team is hopeful they can achieve a diesel world record in this car using a Duramax engine that turns 6200 rpm, plus.

Duramax Day
Banks upfits Duramax engines to spec for customers who require reliable, turn-key solutions for vehicles that require enhanced power density.

Duramax Day
The Banks Super Sequential Twin-Turbo Duramax was specially developed to generate near-maximum power at very low rpm.

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