Kickin’ Gas!

Turbo Diesel Register Issue 30

by Scott Dalgleish

Evaluation of OttoMind TLC features in Banks Power systems for Cummins 24-valve trucks

Banks Engineering takes a systematic approach to power enhancement. Rather than buy a little of this from one supplier, and a little of that from another, and hoping the products will work together, Banks offers a proven combination. The advantage is obvious. You are purchasing components which have been tested and tuned to work in concert together. Banks has eliminated the guesswork for you. Should your budget not permit full power in one outlay, Banks offers upgrades in stages.We were recently invited to the Banks facility to observe the unveiling of the new OttoMind Torque/Temperature Limiting Calibration/Control upgrade for 24-valve Cummins powered vehicles. After seeing the OttoMind TLC with all of its components installed and witnessing the dynamometer results, we can tell you that, in every sense of the power upgrade vocabulary, this is a system that has been thoroughly engineered.

In this day of electronic wizardry, the automotive industry is no exception when it comes to “features” offered to enhance performance and safety. The performance characteristics are limited only by the imagination of the product designers. Rather than merely increasing fuel delivery across the rpm band, the folks at Banks decided to design engine and drivetrain protection features that are not unlike those offered by OEMs. Built into every Banks electronically controlled system is the ability to read engine data and control fuel delivery to prevent a failure. Not unlike the “antiknock” sensors offered in gas-powered vehicles, the Banks’ electronics monitor exhaust gas temperatures (EGTs), horsepower and torque, and modulate fuel delivery to give the user maximum performance while ensuring that design limits are not exceeded.

These features are marketed under the following names: TLC, torque limiting calibration — sets the maximum torque to protect your transmission; TLC2, temperature limiting control — measures exhaust gas temperature prior to the tubocharger (that is, in the exhaust manifold) and prevents piston melt down under all conditions; ABC, active boost control — limits boost; PAL, power adjusted lock-up — cuts back power during the crucial transmission lock-up interval; PASS, performance accelerator sub-system. Think of PASS as an accelerator pump on a carburetor. While the gas counterpart clearly has no connection, the results of both are the same, more passing power. We applaud these features, as they will become your insurance policy the day you forget to look at the pyrometer, not to mention saving your clutch or torque converter.

Banks OttoMind® TLCThe Banks OttoMind TLC is the brains of it all!

Banks offers four systems for Dodge/Cummins powered trucks: Git-Kit TLC, Stinger TLC, Stinger-Plus TLC, and PowerPack® TLC. The Git-Kit TLC offers OttoMind power-train control with TLC and a wastegate actuator. Stinger TLC adds Banks’ free-flowing air filter and 4″ exhaust system. Stinger-Plus TLC combines Banks’ Quick-Turbo turbine housing into the equation. PowerPack TLC is the full enchilada combining all elements of the aforementioned systems plus Banks’ High-Ram intake manifold casting. Prices range from $879.00 to $2,525.00 plus installation. In addition, Banks offers the components individually.

For testing purposes we chose a 1999, 2500, five-speed, 4×4. The truck weighed in at 200 pounds under the maximum vehicle weight rating (8,800 pounds). The Banks PowerPack TLC was installed on the test truck. The numbers provided by the subsequent tests should provide an accurate insight to the performance characteristics of the Banks system.

Installation

Prior to any changes to the test truck, testing was performed to establish performance baselines. The key to any aftermarket product is a professional installation; we cannot over stress this fact. To that end, the folks at Banks performed the installation at their corporate facility in Azusa, California. While many of you may be tempted to save a few hard-earned dollars by installing the system yourself (about $585.00 for the PowerPack TLC), we would recommend against it. If you want the advertised performance, let the system manufacturer, or one of their authorized dealers, do the job.

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Performance Test Results

We witnessed the testing first hand, and the results were awesome. The stock truck delivered its peak horsepower showing 213.0 hp at 2800 rpm to the rear wheels and 415.4 lbs. ft. of torque at 2000 rpm. These are healthy readings for a stock truck. Peak boost was 19 psi and peak EGT measured 1265° in the exhaust manifold (turbine in). Acceleration (measured 0-60 mph) for the 8,600 pound five-speed Turbo Diesel was 18.80 seconds.

All that changed when the PowerPack TLC was installed. All the tests were repeated and the results told an entirely different story. The horsepower and torque logged in were 297.8 and 736.6 lbs. ft. respectively. Peak boost jumped to 36 psi and the EGTs topped out at 1300°. The 0-60mph time was 12.9, a reduction of 5.9 seconds. Very respectable for an 8600 pound truck!

The low-end torque increase necessitated a clutch upgrade. Fitted with a new dual disc clutch from McLeod, the “sticks like glue” performance coupled with the ease of operation provided by a diaphragm cover, put the test truck in full tactical readiness.

Mileage Test Results

For mileage testing, the truck traveled to the annual TDR May Madness event. Wearing the speeding ticket earned en route as a red badge of courage, our tester called to brag about the truck’s newfound performance characteristics. The mileage figures varied with the driver’s ability to practice restraint of the right foot, the range being at the least no change, and at the best an eight-percent increase.

We have always had a fondness for spirited competition. The May Madness sand drags were no exception. Seems the test truck fitted with Banks PowerPack squared off with a “400 hp” version of a competitor’s “prescription” in the sand drag pit. The results were captured on video and speak for themselves. With at least two truck lengths separating the two, we noted the Banks truck’s copilot leaning out the window making some remark about releasing the parking brake. Like we said before, dynos are nice for tailgate bragging rights, but if you want to know how your truck works, take it to the track.

The clever ad slogans say “Banks Kicks Gas” and they do. At the completion of our visit we walked away asking ourselves, with diesel performance available like Banks OttoMind TLC, why would anyone want to own a gas-powered truck?

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