Gale Banks Engineering Duramax Product Evaluation
Diesel technology in American Iron pickup trucks has been fully committed to electronic fuel management. Although this presents some hurdles for those who like to tune for performance, the basics of fuel management remain the same. More power is the result of more fuel energy delivered during the power stroke. Power may be increased in one of three ways: increase the fuel delivered by lengthening the injection pulse; increase the pressure of the fuel, thereby increasing the amount delivered; or change the timing of the pulse, effectively improving the point of peak pressure in the cylinder.
TESTING THE DURAMAX
In any proper product development cycle, it is important to determine the limitations of the base hardware. By knowing these limitations and working within them, a product can be developed to produce the desired result without having a detrimental impact on the durability of the engine. Banks Engineering staff found three critical areas of concern with the Duramax:
- The IHI turbocharger on the Duramax has a maximum allowable speed of approximately 125,000 RPM. Speeds above that value may result in a failure of the compressor wheel with obvious detrimental impact. Banks engineers determined that any fuel enhancement device for street use should be calibrated to honor the maximum speed limitation. In addition, any tuning done at sea level must allow compensation for altitude, since lower air density will result in higher turbo speed for equal boost levels.
- The Allison 1000 series automatic transmission is a very durable unit, able to withstand high levels of torque with the exception of the 5th gear clutch pack. Excess power introduced to the transmission in 5th results in a slipping of the clutch. Since speed sensors are present on the input and output shafts of the transmission, those signals can be monitored to detect, and therefore, control slip.
- The common rail fuel pressure system on the Duramax operates at approximately 23,000 PSI. Operation in excess of 26,000 PSI may result in internal leakage of the seals, a highly undesirable situation. Any fuel enhancement device should maintain a maximum fuel pressure below this threshold.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
While Banks Engineers labor to learn the areas of concern and develop product accordingly, it is inevitable that some companies will rush to market with products that do a substandard job, sometimes with disastrous results. In addition to testing vehicles in their stock form, Banks makes it a practice to evaluate the competition. The findings consistently reveal the same thing: there is no shortage of companies offering electronic products that miss the mark. No product that Banks evaluated for the Duramax offered all three aspects of fuel control that are important — pulse width, timing and fuel rail pressure. Many products increased power but gave no regard to transmission slippage. Even worse, the factory electronics would override these products when slippage was detected and put the vehicle into limp-home mode. Engine diagnostic codes were rampantly setting check-engine lights, an obvious sign of inferior development. One product allows fuel rail pressure to dramatically exceed the maximum allowable level. Those that offered level selection used complex methods or offered no indication of selected power output. And without exception, the exhaust gas temperatures exceeded allowable limits.
BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP
The criteria for developing a product had been clearly established by vehicle evaluation, and the shortcomings of other products only further clarified the target. Banks Engineering staff set about to build a Diesel Tuner that would far surpass the expectations of the buying public. The result is the Banks Six-Gun Diesel Tuner, the most advanced fuel enhancement product available for Duramax diesels. Banks’ Six-Gun Tuner contains a suite of features that adjusts the engine’s fuel rate according to prevailing conditions. Dubbed AutoRate®, these features constantly monitor various conditions and provide ActiveSafety® to help safeguard the drivetrain. They then went one step further by developing a competition-only optional enhancement, the Speed-Loader®. Here is a list of features and benefits:
- Highest Horsepower Available – By adding 155 Horsepower to your Duramax, the Banks Six-Gun with Speed-Loader is the best value for your dollar and the highest power unit on the market.
- Highest Torque Available – With an additional +385 lb-ft on tap, the Banks Six-Gun with Speed-Loader nearly doubles your engine’s torque output at 1800 RPM, from 458 to 856 lb-ft.
- Stacked for Power® – Six-Gun contains the ability to tune pulse width, timing and fuel pressure all in one device. To achieve the same result with other devices, you would literally have to buy more than one device and stack them on your vehicle, costing you at least double the price of a Six-Gun.
- Adjustable On-The-Fly – Some devices require a complex or indefinite method of level selection, or no level selection at all. Banks Six-Gun offers six distinct levels for ultimate versatility. Lower levels are ideal for heavy towing, while higher levels are suited for cruising and sport.
- Temperature Limiting Control – Exhaust gas temperature is the most vital statistic known for common usage of a diesel engine. Speed-Loader adds fuel-limiting control based on temperature measurement. (Note: For maximum performance, Banks always recommends improvements to airflow when enhancing fuel delivery.)
- Slip Monitoring – Banks Six-Gun monitors slip conditions in the transmission and controls power output prior to excessive slip that would result in clutch damage and engine derating.
- Turbo Speed Protection – Six-Gun calibrations maintain a safe speed for the Duramax turbo at all altitudes.
- FMEA Design – An ActiveSafety feature, Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) is Banks’ uncompromising design process to ensure that the Six-Gun electronics will in no way impact the durability or function of the onboard vehicle electronics. In addition, the Six-Gun constantly monitors its own inputs and outputs to ensure proper function.
The result of Banks diligence and attention to detail is added value. Banks puts the extra effort into identifying all aspects of the engine’s capabilities and limits to give the consumer a feeling of confidence when using the product. The Six-Gun is packed with features that no competitor can duplicate at the same price. The Six-Gun with Speed-Loader offers the most horsepower and torque of any product on the market, often at a lower price and always with more built-in safety.
Please note: The Speed-Loader module mentioned in this article is no longer offered as a separate component. Call Banks Power at (800) 601-8072 to find out what specific products are made for your vehicle.