We all know that most automotive enthusiasts are horsepower junkies. They try to get more power out of their daily drivers, race cars, go karts, golf carts and even their tow vehicles. Racers have been known to race their tow vehicles and even get into pulling competitions on the track. But outside of fun, more power in a tow vehicle makes it easier to pull larger loads.
We took a 2006 Ford F-350 diesel truck and performed some upgrades with products from Turbonetics, AEM and Diablosport to see what kind of results we would get. Not only do the modifications help increase horsepower, they also help torque, which matters more on a diesel. This will improve the truck’s towing ability and really help when you’re pulling that big trailer through the mountains on your way to the next race. Turbonetics has introduced the Torque-Master line of diesel performance products just for these applications. According to Tyler Tanaka of Turbonetics, “The Torque-Master line is designed more towards having a shop do the installation, but a savvy gearhead could do it at home also.” Now on to the parts we used!
The first thing we needed to do was get the F-350 on our DynoJet for some baseline numbers. The stock 6-liter put out 190 horsepower and 333 foot pounds to the rear wheels. Now it was time to get under the hood.
Turbo: Turbonetics Torque-Master Stage 1 Ball Bearing Upgrade with Pedestal Mount
The heart of the kit is the Turbonetics full ball bearing 61 millimeter turbo that will produce up to an aggressive 700 foot pounds of torque and 500 horsepower with up to 40 PSI of boost though the 6-liter power stroke diesel. The Turbonectics turbo uses their patented ceramic ball bearings to provide fast spool up to increase acceleration and throttle response. The ceramic ball bearings also provide fifty times greater thrust capacity and are more resilient under high temperature shutdowns than conventional bronze thrust and journal bearing designs. The more efficient turbo will reduce exhaust gas temperatures up to 150 degrees, which is extremely important when it comes to towing. As Tanaka tells us, “This turbo was chosen for this application because it was specifically engineered for the Ford 6.0 liter diesel engine, everything from the compressor to exhaust housing size has been through design and testing.”
“There was more research and development going into this package than you can imagine to get the turbo matched to the engine correctly,” states Tanaka. The exhaust housing is specifically engineered and sized to the 6.0 liter Ford engine to provide smooth power delivery throughout the RPM range. A computer molded wheel and ported shroud compressor housing eliminates surge and choke problems that are common in high boost applications. The high nickel cast steel adapter flange makes the turbo a direct factory replacement and reduces the installation time. The turbo will work with all ECU programs and can be used stand alone or as recommended with the intercooler upgrade. Turbonetics has so much confidence in their turbos, they offer an unconditional one year, no-fault/no-hassle warranty on parts. According to Tanaka, “The key to making the kit to installation as easy as possible is the custom engineered pedestal mount, along with including all the other pieces that are necessary for installation.”
The turbo upgrade also comes with all the specialty hardware and fittings needed to make this upgrade turn-key easy.
The Torque-Master Intercooler upgrade is designed to increase airflow as well as efficiency. The intake air temperature and the exhaust gas temperatures can each be reduced by as much as 150 degrees. A lower air intake temperature will result in more power and also reduces the thermal load on the engine and cooling system. Additionally, it gives you the capacity to cool more air on even higher boost levels. “This intercooler was chosen because it is the largest core size to fit in the factory location, using the theory that the largest is best for most application,” says Tanaka.
The intercooler installs in the factory location for a bolt and go application. The cooler and denser air creates a leaner air to fuel ratio and depending on driving conditions, can result in better fuel mileage. The intercooler utilizes the latest and greatest in intercooler technology by incorporating Spearco’s W.A.V.E. Technology bar and plate cores for increased strength and efficiency. The end tanks are polished and precision welded and the intercoolers are pressure tested up to 200 PSI to guarantee you won’t have any issues down the road.
The intercooler will install in three hours or less, and it is highly recommended that you install it with a Turbonetics turbo. Although getting it tuned after installation is not mandatory, Turbonetics strongly advises that you do so. “A custom tune is not required but is highly recommended,” according to Tanaka. “A custom tune is needed due to the variances in the different options that guys run on their trucks and it is just too hard to make it fit everyone’s preferences.”
Tuner: Diablosport Predator P/N-U7165
To get the most out of our turbo and intercooler upgrade, we contacted Diablosport Tuning for their recommended tuner. Diablosport supplied us with the Predator hand held tuner that gives you pre-programmed tunes or allows you to customize your own tune.
The Predator is a state-of-the-art high performance tuning flash programmer in a sleek hand held design. Once connected to the vehicle’s OBD-II port, the Predator’s internal computer recognizes the vehicle’s PCM and begins the easy walkthrough.
Inside the Predator’s memory are the actual tuning files that optimize spark timing and air/fuel ratio curves. “We have thousands of tunes in our database and when we do not have the vehicle in-house, we look at the modifications to the vehicle and compare those to the tunes we have in our database,” Max Wyman of DiabloSport tells us. “Then we make changes to that tune as necessary to address the modifications on your particular vehicle.”
The transmission parameters are remapped to improve the shift characteristics such as shift firmness and shift points. Unlike other tuners, DiabloSport’s programming is performed in very small increments throughout the entire RPM range for a smoother, wider and a more predictable power delivery. DiabloSport’s engineers spend many hours on the dyno, street, and track to ensure the tunes provided with the Predator are the best for all facets.
Three tunes are included in the Predator, making it very simple to use. Our tuner included a fourth custom tune, supplied by DiabloSport. “Tuning a diesel is pretty much the same process as tuning a gasoline engine, but the number one issue we have with a diesel is dealing with EPA issues,” says Wyman. Here are the four tunes and a small description for each:
• Stock Tune: Has adjustable speed limiters. Speed limiter to approximately 120 MPH varies based on vehicle setup weight, tire size, 2wd vs. 4wd, etc..
• 40 RWHP and 100 ft/lb TQ: Tow Tune, made specifically for towing. DiabloSport recommended weight limitations based on manufacturer suggested limits for the vehicle.
• 65 RWHP and 155 ft/lb TQ: Economy Performance Tune, designed for economy and performance. Fuel economy depends solely on driving style and will vary from vehicle to vehicle. DiabloSport recommended weight limitations of 8,000 pounds.
• 100+ RWHP and 198-ft/lb TQ: Performance Tune, designed specifically for opening a can of whoop-ass (pardon the expression). DiabloSport recommends this tune not be used for towing.
• Custom Tune – Designed by DiabloSport specifically for our vehicle application.
According to Wyman, “Predator Tuners are being continually updated to meet the changes made by vehicle manufactures and all these updates are free and can be found on our website.”
AEM Brute Force HD Induction PN 21-9113DC
To help accommodate the additional airflow coming through the turbo, we decided to complement it with a more efficient air intake by AEM. We also liked the fact that they come equipped with an AEM Dryflow air filter that requires no oil. Oil can cause problems with air meters, so not having to worry about that is a big advantage.
AEM will also warranty the air intake system for as long as you own your vehicle. All AEM air intakes are engineered to add horsepower and reduce restriction compared to OEM air intakes. The Dryflow air cleaners are cleanable and guaranteed for life and they will not void your vehicle’s warranty. AEM’s filters are made in the USA and filter out 99% of the dirt, even in dusty conditions.
Beginning with the Intercooler Installation
Disconnect negative terminals from both batteries by loosening the 8mm bolts. Remove both battery terminals on the driver’s side battery and remove the battery cover by pulling upwards, then remove the battery by unbolting the 8mm bolt. Remove the upper radiator mounts by unbolting the two 8mm bolts on each mount, then remove the four plastic snap-in fasteners that secure the plastic trim to the core support.
Removing the hood latch is one of the first steps.
Use a marker and mark the location of the hood latch relative to the core support. This will help latch alignment during reassembly. Next, carefully unclip the plastic fastener that secures the hood latch cable to the core support.
Unbolt the two 8mm bolts for the upper A/C condenser brackets and remove the air filter and the plastic intake tube that goes from the front of the truck to the filter. From there, remove the two 10mm bolts that secure the factory intercooler to the core support. Using a 12mm open wrench or socket, remove the eight bolts that secure the core support to the chassis and carefully take the top core support out with a pry bar without scratching it.
Removing the core support will allow you to gain access to the top of the intercooler.
Remove the driver’s side boost tube (some vehicles may come with a plastic boost tube and some with a steel tube). Loosen the hose clamp that secures the boost tube from the turbo to the intercooler on the passenger side.
Slowly remove the factory intercooler out of the vehicle by lifting upwards.
• NOTE: Be careful when working around the A/C lines. They are soft and can be bent slightly out of the way.
Remove the rubber isolator from the lower mounting brackets of the factory intercooler and reinstall it onto the new Spearco intercooler, making sure that the rubber isolator is flush to the edge of the new intercooler lower mount. Glue the factory rubber isolator to the Spearco intercooler with silicone to make installation easier and reinstall the intercooler in reverse order. Wait to install the new supplied stainless boost tube that connects the intercooler to the engine until after the new turbo installation is complete. Once it’s complete, install it using the supplied T-bolt clamps, silicone hump connector and silicone hose adapter. “The cores are built to be exceptionally strong,” states Tanaka. “The bar and plate design uses the entire surface front to back to cool the air charge and is the most efficient design.”
Here you can see the difference in the size and the quality of the two intercoolers.
It takes two guys to lower the monster sized intercooler into place.
Installing the New Turbo
When it came time to remove the stock turbo, we knew we were in for some fun (not). Start by using an 8mm socket or nut driver to loosen the hose clamp that connects the factory air filter tube to the turbo.
BJ removing the hoses from the factory turbocharger.
Locate the air filter vacuum sensor on the factory intake pipe and unplug the harness to the sensor. Unclip the factory clips that secure the filter in the truck and remove filter, then unplug the harness for the mass air sensor.
Remove all vacuum tubes and sensor plugs off the air intake.
Remove both 5/16” coolant hoses from the coolant tank using a pair of pliers, and squeezing the tabs together, pull back slowing on the factory hose clamps. Using an 8mm socket, unbolt the two bolts that secure the factory intake tube to the valve cover. Next, loosen the worm drive clamp that secures the intake tube to the factory turbo using an 8mm socket or nut driver.
Here is the tube being removed from the engine compartment.
Carefully pop out the blow-by tube from the driver’s side valve cover. You may use a screwdriver to help remove the tube. Remove the remaining factory turbo to filter intake tube out of the vehicle. Using an 11mm socket, loosen the factory T-bolt clamps on the turbo discharge. Also loosen the factory T-bolt clamp on the intercooler that secures the factory boost tube between the turbo and the intercooler and remove the boost tube from the vehicle.
Using a 10mm socket, loosen the two bolts that connect the factory oil feed line to the turbo. Unclip the VNT wire keeper (the only sensor on the turbo) on the compressor housing of the turbo by depressing the keeper together with your fingers. Rotate the steel clamp out of the way to release the VNT plug to the VNT solenoid by pulling the steel clamp counter clockwise.
Using an 11mm socket, loosen the V-Band clamp from the factory up-pipe to the turbo, then remove the V-Band clamp that secures the factory downpipe to the turbo.
Note the three bolt locations on the factory pedestal on the left, they are not fun to get to. The Turbonetics pedestal on the right is much easier to work with for future maintenance.
Unbolt the three 10mm bolts that secure the factory turbocharger to the factory turbo pedestal. Remove the factory turbocharger and the factory oil drain tube by pulling it forward. It will take some crafty movements to get the heavy stock turbo out. Next, remove the factory turbocharger pedestal out of the vehicle by unbolting the four 10mm bolts.
Believe it or not, the Turbonetics turbo is actually a few millimeters larger on the compressor side.
The flange adapter is being prepped for installation before the turbo goes on.
It is now time to start prepping the new Turbonetics turbo. Thread the four supplied M10 studs into the new supplied V-Band to four-bolt flange adapter. Place the supplied T4 turbo inlet gasket through the studs and onto the flange and secure the adapter flange to the new turbo. Using the supplied 1/8” NPT plug, place it in the port on the compressor of the new turbocharger unless needed for accessory. Install the supplied 1/8” NPT to -4AN fitting to the oil filter located in middle of the bearing housing of the turbo and thread the two supplied M8 studs into the oil drain flange of the new turbo (opposite end of the feed).
Here is the oil drain back tube assembled and ready for installation.
Next, cut the supplied 5/8” ID rubber hose into 2 pieces, 2.50” long each. Install one of the 2.50” long 5/8” ID rubber hose onto the supplied oil drain adapter fitting and secure using a supplied 5/8” worm drive clamp. Place the new pedestal onto the engine and only hand tighten.
The drain back tube installed on the pedestal, awaiting the turbo.
While the new supplied pedestal is still loose in the valley of the engine, use the other 2.50” long 5/8” ID rubber hose and slide one end onto the supplied aluminum oil return tube. Slide two supplied 5/8” worm drive hose clamps over the 5/8” ID rubber hose and the aluminum tube, then slide the other end of the 5/8” ID rubber hose onto the oil discharge tube of the pedestal. Once everything is lined up, tighten all four clamps.
Set the supplied oil drain gasket onto the oil drain flange on the new pedestal. Putting a thin coat of high temperature silicone between the gasket and the pedestal oil drain flange will help prevent the gasket from moving when installing the new turbocharger during the next step
Before we installed the turbo, we loosened all of the bolts on the exhaust housing and removed the compressor housing. This allowed us to clock the turbo accordingly and to keep the compressor housing from getting scratched while installing the turbo. Carefully set the turbo onto the pedestal by placing the M8 studs (installed earlier in the oil drain flange of the turbo) into the two outer holes of the oil drain flange of the new turbo pedestal. Make sure that the oil drain gasket is correctly oriented and does not shift during the turbo install.
Make sure the adapter flange that is attached to the turbo mates up properly to the factory turbo up-pipe’s V-Band flange. Secure using the factory V-Band clamp, but do not tighten it completely. Tighten just enough so that both V-Band flanges mate to each other properly and are held in place. Once this is done, tighten everything down, including the exhaust housing bolts.
Reuse the stock V-Band clamps on both the downpipe and uppipe.
Make sure the V-Band on the factory downpipe mates up to the turbine housing discharge V-Band flange and secure in place with the factory V-Band clamp. Do not tighten completely, tighten just enough so that both V-Band flanges mate to each other properly and are held in place.
The new Turbonectics turbo is in place with the downpipe and compressor housing installed.
Tighten both V-Band clamps, the one that connects the factory up pipes to the turbo, and the one that connects the turbo to the factory downpipe.
Install one end of the supplied oil feed line to the -4AN side of either oil feed adapter fitting and tighten. If you’re using the O-ring oil feed adapter fitting, insert the O-ring end into the engine block and secure the fitting to the engine using the factory 8mm screw.
If you’re using the M18-1.50 to -4AN adapter fitting, thread the M18-1.50 side of the fitting into the engine block and tighten. Attach the end with the straight fitting of the supplied oil feed line to the -4AN portion of the fitting and tighten.
The VNT sensor will attach to the supplied bracket (left) outside of the turbo.
Attach the other side of the new supplied oil feed line to the oil inlet fitting that was previously installed on the top of the new turbocharger and tighten. Using a 12-point 8mm socket, remove the VNT solenoid on the factory turbocharger by gently prying it upwards then separate the oil passage section from the solenoid by carefully prying it apart. The two pieces are pressed together and sealed by an O-ring.
Using the supplied solenoid relocation bracket and the factory VNT bracket, secure the solenoid using the supplied M8-1.25 bolt with an M8 hex nut and an M8 lock washer. Plug the factory VNT harness back onto the VNT solenoid, then relocate and secure the VNT solenoid to the engine. The solenoid can be relocated to either the driver’s side or passenger side of the engine.
Install the factory boost tube that goes from the turbo to the intercooler using the factory silicone hose and T-bolt clamps, then install the factory intake pipe onto the new turbocharger using the factory silicone hose and T-bolt clamps. Whew!
AEM Air Intake Install
The last item we had to install under the hood was the AEM intake. The intake retains the factory tube that connects to the turbo, which must be installed first.
The AEM retains the factory air flow meter sensor and includes mounting tabs to maintain all stock locations. The intake takes about five minutes to install. Here is a shot of the completed installation.
Diablosport Predator Tuner Install
The Diablosport Predator installation is a pretty simple plug and play. Start by plugging it into the access port under the dash and turn the key on. After the Predator goes through its start up screens, it will prompt you to select either the pre-installed tunes or any other custom tunes you might have purchased (which we did).
We selected the custom tune and the tuner confirms that you want to install it. Before installing the tune, you have the option to modify it by adjusting fuel, timing, and other attributes.
The tuner will then take a few minutes to install. Follow a few more prompts and you’re done!
Back on the Dyno!
With the installation done, it was time to get the F-350 back on the dyno. We strapped it down on the Dynojet and managed to get a new total of 289 horsepower and 500 foot pounds of torque with an increase of nearly 100 horsepower and 167 foot pounds to the rear wheels. With just a few parts and a day’s worth of work we were able to pick up the needed power and improve the drivability and towing of our truck. Now pulling a trailer and getting up to freeway speeds are no problem. It’s like the trailer is not even back there.
Another big plus is the increased gas mileage – we have seen a thirty percent increase in our fuel mileage. That helps with the high cost of fuel these days. It also appears that the running temp has decreased as well, and that should add some durablility.
Thanks to Turbonetics, Diablosport and AEM, we now have more power then we would ever need for towing and street performance.
Here you can see the improvements the parts made on our truck.