BOLT-ON POWER UPGRADES FOR THE LB7
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