Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text / Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Tobin

LB7 Power Up­grades Made Sim­ple

Most of us know that in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines are fancy air pumps and that the trick to get­ting more power from them is to get more air in and out of them. Just as with old-school hot-rod­ders, in­stalling a free-flow ex­haust sys­tem and in­take will go a long way to­ward help­ing air­flow in and out of the en­gine. How­ever, we wanted to do more than just a typ­i­cal in­take and ex­haust in­stal­la­tion, so we de­cided to im­prove the en­tire air­flow path all at once on our 350,000-plus­mile 2001 Chevy LB7 Du­ra­max truck.

We opted to in­stall the Banks Power Big Hoss Bun­dle, which in­cludes a Ram-air in­take sys­tem, Techni-cooler in­ter­cooler and boost tubes, Mon­ster ex­haust sys­tem, Big­head waste­gate ac­tu­a­tor and Six-gun tuner with Banks iq dis­play/con­troller to re­place the well worn but still func­tional stock com­po­nents.

Ad­di­tion­ally, we con­tacted our friends at Fleece Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing to get one of their drop-in LB7 Chee­tah tur­bocharg­ers, which fea­ture a cus­tom 63mm bil­let com­pres­sor wheel and high-flow in­conel tur­bine wheel. Then, to fin­ish things off, we or­dered an LB7 down­pipe from Pro Fab Per­for­mance to re­place the re­stric­tive fac­tory down­pipe and hand the ex­haust gasses off to the new, 4-inch-di­am­e­ter ex­haust sys­tem.

Af­ter our new parts were de­liv­ered, we loaded up the bed of our ’01 Chevy and pointed it to­ward Ad­vance In­jec­tion, a shop near Knoxville, Ten­nessee, that is co-owned by Cody Hale and Mark New­ton (for­merly of Anar­chy Diesel and MCN Diesel Per­for­mance). Hale and New­ton joined forces in 2012 to of­fer their cus­tomers full-ser­vice diesel re­pair, per­for­mance up­grades and tun­ing for all makes of diesel pick­ups.

De­spite the laun­dry list of per­for­mance parts we in­stalled, they were all ba­si­cally bolt-on items that the av­er­age DIY en­thu­si­ast would be able to in­stall in his or her garage or drive­way. We in­stalled ev­ery­thing at once, but if your schedule or bud­get doesn’t al­low that, you could eas­ily pur­chase and in­stall the com­po­nents one step at a time.

We don’t have the space available for de­tailed, step-by-step cov­er­age; how­ever, we are high­light­ing the main as­pects of the in­stal­la­tion process. The supplied in­stal­la­tion in­struc­tions with the Banks Power prod­ucts are ex­cel­lent, and the in­stal­la­tion of the down­pipe and turbo is very straight­for­ward.

The en­tire in­stal­la­tion took about 14 hours over a two-day pe­riod, in­clud­ing the typ­i­cal slow­downs in­volved with shoot­ing photos for a tech ar­ti­cle. If you are plan­ning the in­stal­la­tion at home, we sug­gest you set aside an en­tire week­end, plan for some long hours, and maybe even in­vite some friends over to lend a hand. As al­ways, prac­tice safe shop tech­niques, and if the work seems to be be­yond your skill level, have your lo­cal diesel per­for­mance shop per­form the in­stal­la­tion for you.

Due to our editorial dead­lines, we did not have time to get the truck on a chas­sis dyno, but we can def­i­nitely feel a big im­prove­ment in our seat-of-the pants dyno. Throt­tle re­sponse is great, and hav­ing the iq eas­ily in view to mon­i­tor the Du­ra­max adds peace of mind when putting the power down. The truck also sounds much bet­ter; it now has a meaner ex­haust note and a pleas­ant turbo sound when you mash the “loud” pedal.

The Banks Big Hoss Bun­dle is rated to de­liver up to 155 ad­di­tional horse­power and 385 lb-ft of torque on a stock LB7 truck. We’re sure it de­liv­ers; with the ad­di­tion of the Pro Fab down­pipe up­grade and Fleece Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing turbo, we are con­fi­dent that the truck is mak­ing some­where around 450 horse­power and 900 lb-ft of torque.

Since our truck al­ready had Fleece Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing cus­tom EFI Live tunes with a DSP-5 switch, we chose not to op­er­ate both the Banks Six-gun tuner and EFI Live tunes at the same time. We drove the truck with one of the two in the “stock” mode at all times to avoid any po­ten­tial prob­lems. It feels strong with ei­ther tune turned up, but the cus­tom Fleece tune seems to have an edge in over­all power by its seat-of-the-pants feel.

We can also tell that the fac­tory fuel sys­tem, with nearly 360,000 miles on it, is pre­vent­ing the truck from reach­ing its full po­ten­tial. To fix the fuel is­sues, we’re plan­ning a trip up to Fleece Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing, where we’ll in­stall the truck’s new CP3 high-pres­sure fuel pump and an Air­dog lift pump/fil­ter sys­tem.

So stay tuned. We’ll bring you the de­tails of the in­stal­la­tion, along with the per­for­mance on the chas­sis dyno next is­sue. UDBG

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