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Old 07-12-2014, 09:56 AM   #1
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Performance modules for 96 F350 DRW Powerstroke

I would appreciate any information you have on the benefits/negatives of installing performance modules. What brands or models are better? Are they worthwhile or am I chasing a pipe dream? Current tow fuel economy was 12 mpg keeping at or below 2000 RPM (approx 60 mph) on 2k trip to NW Florida from KY (nearly the same without tow).

The truck easily handles the 26 ft Alumalite XL (1986 model) fiver in relatively flat country, but, I am planning trip to Colorado high country. The truck has 170K miles and auto transmission was replaced at 155K. It is 2WD, 4 door XLT.
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:28 AM   #2
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I've spent a lot of time and money, trying to maximize the output of my '95 Powerstroke, and there are only a few things that are really worth doing. Improving the intake and exhaust will give the most bang for your buck. If you're willing to spend more money, a programmer will help, but don't believe the claims of 20-40-60-80 hp gains. A programmer will improve the shifting of the transmission, but I don't think I'd spend the money for the modest improvement.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:30 AM   #3
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Hi, THD, and

Quote:
Originally Posted by thd75 View Post
I would appreciate any information you have on the benefits/negatives of installing performance modules. What brands or models are better? Are they worthwhile or am I chasing a pipe dream?
I had a '99.5 PSD towing an 8,000-pound 5er all over the USA for over 100,000 miles over 11 years. My stock drivetrain had a bit more power and torque than yours because of the intercooler added in '99 model year.

Before you add any horses to the output of your engine, you first must have a pyrometer (gauge for exhaust gas temp or EGT). The red line is 1,250° pre-turbo EGT, and you don't want to exceed that limit.

(I had a nice too-long reply here, but lost it trying to edit the reply. So here's the cliff notes version

Yes, a good towing tune is worth the money. I prefer www.dp-tuner.com. Consider their F-5 chip with 80-tow tune, plus any other tunes that you think might be worth the money. I would like 80-tow, 60-tow, exhaust brake, and high idle tunes, along with a tune switcher that would allow me to switch tunes "on the fly".
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Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 07-12-2014, 04:44 PM   #4
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Gauges, intake, exhaust INCLUDING replacing the down pipe off the turbo.
You can tune slightly, but you also have no intercooler. That limits you're tuning.
Also, do not get canned tunes. Get some that are custom burnt and will help your trans.
A bigger trans cooler and external filter are also a great idea.
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Old 07-12-2014, 05:11 PM   #5
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Okay, I’ll write this again, but this time in Word so I won’t lose it because of fat fingers.

Quote:
I would appreciate any information you have on the benefits/negatives of installing performance modules.
“Modules” usually means micro-computers, so I’ll assume you mean performance tunes. There are at least four ways to install a tune. One way is to flash the powertrain control module (PCM) with a different tune, but then you have only one tune. My first towing tune was on a single-position computer “chip” that plugs into the PCM, but that had to be a tune good for towing and unloaded cruising. Another way is to plug in a “programmer” which has three or four tunes. Then you could have a stock tune, a towing tune, a “Saturday Nite show-off” tune, and maybe an improved economy tune for grocery getting when not towing. I suspect that’s what you meant by a performance module. Disadvantage to a programmer is it requires about three minutes while parked on the side of the road to switch from one tune to another. Lots of folks get along fine with that.

But the most popular way is to add a multi-position computer “chip” to your PCM. A multi-position chip can have several different tunes loaded onto different positions on the chip. With a tune switcher, you can switch tunes “on the fly”. So, for example, you could have a towing tune and a decel (exhaust brake) tune. Climb the mountain with the towing tune, then at the top of the pass switch to the decel tune, then when back to the bottom again switch back to the towing tune.

But WARNING! Do not install any performance tune until after you have installed a pyrometer with the max temp on the dial of around 1’500°. The red line for your engine and turbo is 1,250° pre-turbo EGT. If you exceed 1,250° for more than a few seconds your aluminum pistons could assume phunny shapes and trash your engine. Look up the melting point for aluminum and you’ll understand.

A good source for a good price on a gauge kit for your PowerStroke is
Diesel Performance at DieselManor, Inc..
You don’t need a boost gauge, but you do need both the pyrometer and the tranny temp gauge. So install a gauge kit that includes at least those tow gauges.

Benefits of a towing tune? I’d hate to tow my 8,000-pounds 5er without one in my '99.5 PSD. With a stock tune, the tranny will downshift for every little bump on the road, and it will downshift for every little rise in the terrain. But with my 80-tow tune, mine rarely downshifted out of overdrive except for serious hills or passes.

Negatives of a towing tune? You cannot have a towing tune until after you have a pre-turbo pyrometer with clear readings around the 1,250° redline. Then you have to “drive by the gauge” and maintain EGT between about 1,200° and 1,250° when climbing grades. That’s easy to do – the same way you maintain a steady speed by manipulating the go pedal as you go over different terrain on the highway.

Will a tow tune decrease the life of your engine? No, not if you don’t allow more than 1,250° pre-turbo EGT.

Quote:
What brands or models are better?
You don’t want the generic tunes included in programmers sold by Edge and similar retailers. They’re better than a stock tune, but not much better. You want custom tunes designed for your exact truck and mods. The good computer programmers for developing tunes for the 7.3L include Tony Wildmann, Bill Cohron, and Jody Tipton. Jody and his wife Diane run the DP-Tuner diesel performance shop. I used Jody’s tunes and was very happy with them. As to which method you use to install a DP-Tuner tune, I think you’ll be happiest with a multi-position chip plus a tune switcher. For the tunes I’d want a minimum of 80-tow, decel, and improved stock tunes. If you do lots of unloaded non-towing driving, then add 80-economy along with a boost gauge. If you might tow any trailer that weighs more than 8,000 pounds, then add the 60-tow tune. If you just have to show off on Saturday night, then add 100-performance and a boost gauge. The boost red line is 25 PSI with a stock turbo, and you can get there in the blink of an eye with a 100-performance or hotter tune. (You don’t need a boost gauge for towing. When I stayed below 1,250° EGT while towing, I never saw over 25 PSI boost.)

Quote:
Are they worthwhile or am I chasing a pipe dream?
I would not want to tow my 5er with my ’99.5 7.3L without a DP-Tuner 80-tow tune. I did that on one long towing trip, and as soon as I got home I ordered up some tunes.

Quote:
Current tow fuel economy was 12 mpg keeping at or below 2000 RPM (approx 60 mph) on 2k trip to NW Florida from KY (nearly the same without tow).
Do not expect any improvement in MPG with a towing tune. It’s so pleasant to mash on the go pedal that you’ll be mashing it harder just to feel the push in the back of the seat.

Quote:
The truck easily handles the 26 ft Alumalite XL (1986 model) fiver in relatively flat country, but, I am planning trip to Colorado high country.
A turbo diesel doesn’t lose power at higher altitude the way a gasser does. You probably won’t need any more power just because of the altitude. But if you install a DP-Tuner 60-tow or 80-tow tune, you’ll be glad you did.
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Old 07-12-2014, 05:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jesilvas View Post
Gauges, intake, exhaust INCLUDING replacing the down pipe off the turbo.
Yeah, the '95 PSD exhaust system was horrific. But it had a catalytic converter that must be included in any exhaust system replacement, so that complicates matters. As a minimum you want to replace the downpipe and the muffler with performance parts. Even better is to replace the downpipe with a performance part, and then add a cat-back performance exhaust system.

Or for the ultimate legal system, replace the entire exhaust system with a 4" turbo-back performance system, then have your installer weld in a 4" performance catalytic converter for 7.3L diesel engines. Only if you live in California or any state that enforces CARB rules may that not be possible, because I haven't seen a CARB-approved 4" catalytic converter.
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Yeah, the '95 PSD exhaust system was horrific. But it had a catalytic converter that must be included in any exhaust system replacement, so that complicates matters. As a minimum you want to replace the downpipe and the muffler with performance parts. Even better is to replace the downpipe with a performance part, and then add a cat-back performance exhaust system.

Or for the ultimate legal system, replace the entire exhaust system with a 4" turbo-back performance system, then have your installer weld in a 4" performance catalytic converter for 7.3L diesel engines. Only if you live in California or any state that enforces CARB rules may that not be possible, because I haven't seen a CARB-approved 4" catalytic converter.
This is true. Removing the muffler or cat. is illegal . . . but is it rarely checked for.

As long as you don't drive around 'rolling coal' and making us all look like tools.
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