Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Up­grad­ing a 2016 Du­ra­max work truck’s per­for­mance

Many diesel truck own­ers use their trucks for work—hard work in most cases. Jeremy Wat­son of Madis­onville, Ten­nessee, is one such truck owner. He uses his 2016 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado 3500 HD to tow and haul heavy loads on a nearly daily ba­sis for his con­crete pole base com­pany, as well as on the farm where he and his fam­ily raise cat­tle. The truck has per­formed well so far over its nearly 60,000 miles of use, but like any gear­head Wat­son wanted to get more per­for­mance out of the truck and hoped that by im­prov­ing the tun­ing and air­flow he would also pick up a fuel mileage im­prove­ment to help his busi­ness’ bot­tom line.

To up­grade the truck he turned to the ex­pert team at RLC Mo­tor­sports in Cookeville, Tenn., where Wat­son de­cided to go with a sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive tun­ing op­tion us­ing a Hyper­tech Max En­ergy 2.0 Power Pro­gram­mer to un­leash some of the truck’s elec­tronic po­ten­tial. Then to help the LML Du­ra­max en­gine breathe eas­ier he opted for an S&B Fil­ters cold-air in­take kit to re­place the re­stric­tive fac­tory in­take and use the dry ex­tend­able air fil­ter for longer fil­ter ser­vice life. Fi­nally, to dress up the truck a bit, he went with a Dpf-back Di­a­mond Eye 4-inch alu­minized steel dual-out­let ex­haust sys­tem with pol­ished 5-inch-di­am­e­ter stain­less steel tips that exit at each rear corner of the truck. About a week be­fore the in­stal­la­tion Wat­son took the truck up to Beans Diesel Per­for­mance in Wood­bury, Tenn., to get a base­line dyno pull. In stock trim the truck put 325.0 horse­power to

the dyno rollers through the rear wheels, but an is­sue with the dyno oper­a­tion left us with­out ac­cu­rate torque read­ings.

With the equip­ment de­ci­sions made and base­line dyno test­ing done, we loaded up the truck and headed up to RLC’S shop to be­gin the in­stal­la­tion. Shop tech­ni­cian Drew Richards han­dled the up­grades with help from owner Michael Dal­ton when a sec­ond set of hands was nec­es­sary. He up­dated the Max En­ergy Hyper­tech tuner on­line be­fore start­ing on the S&B in­take in­stall, then went to work un­der the hood. Re­mov­ing the fac­tory air fil­ter hous­ing and plumb­ing was sim­ple and straight­for­ward, as was in­stalling the new S&B cold-air in­take sys­tem to re­place the fac­tory com­po­nents. Even with our pho­tog­ra­phy slow­downs, Richards com­pleted the in­take in­stall in about 45 min­utes. Then he moved on to the Hyper­tech

Max En­ergy 2.0 pro­gram­mer, which up­loaded new tunes to the truck smoothly once it was up­dated. The process felt like a long time since you are lit­er­ally sit­ting and wait­ing for the pro­gram­mer to com­mu­ni­cate, down­load, up­load and ver­ify tun­ing with the truck, but in fact it took less than a half hour.

Af­ter a quick lunch break Richards and Dal­ton went to work in­stalling the Di­a­mond Eye dual ex­haust sys­tem, which re­quired some fab­ri­ca­tion/cus­tomiza­tion and proved to be much more dif­fi­cult than the in­take in­stal­la­tion or pro­gram­mer tun­ing. They en­coun­tered two ma­jor is­sues that threw wrenches into what could have been a straight­for­ward in­stal­la­tion. First, the in­struc­tions sup­plied with the kit in­di­cated that the fac­tory ex­haust sys­tem should be cut at a point 4 inches past the DPF, yet that seemed to leave us a few inches short

when it came time to put things back to­gether. This could have been caused by man­u­fac­tur­ing changes at GM or sim­ply a typo in the in­struc­tions. Ei­ther way we would highly rec­om­mend cut­ting the fac­tory ex­haust tub­ing at 8 inches from the DPF hangar, then cut­ting again as nec­es­sary for proper fit­ment of the Di­a­mond Eye ex­haust com­po­nents. The other area where we ran into is­sues was clear­ance of the fac­tory goose­neck mount un­der the bed. It seems as though the rout­ing of the driver-side ex­haust tub­ing and the goose­neck struc­ture both wanted to oc­cupy the same space, re­quir­ing Richards to use a rather large 3-pound “per­suader” to flat­ten out the top side of the ex­haust tub­ing to clear the goose­neck mount.

Af­ter the ad­di­tional fit­ment, cus­tomiza­tion and fab­ri­ca­tion re­quired to in­stall the ex­haust sys­tem, Richards and Dal­ton fin­ished the in­stal­la­tion and align­ment of the dual pol­ished stain­less steel Di­a­mond Eye 5-inch-di­am­e­ter ex­haust tips in a to­tal of about 4 hours with the truck on one of the shop’s two-post lifts. If you are per­form­ing the in­stal­la­tion your­self with­out the aid of a lift it will likely take ad­di­tional time. As al­ways, when work­ing in, on and un­der your truck be sure to prac­tice safe shop tech­niques, and if you are at all un­sure if you have the skills to per­form the task, leave it to the pros at your lo­cal per­for­mance diesel shop. Fol­low along over the next sev­eral pages to see the ba­sics of the in­stal­la­tion process.

When the in­stal­la­tion was com­pleted we drove the truck down to Beans Diesel Per­for­mance for an­other crack at their Dyno­com chas­sis dyno. Us­ing the Hyper­tech pro­gram­mer, we put the truck in stock mode and mea­sured 333.8 hp and 592.7 lb-ft of torque for al­most 10 hp of im­prove­ment with the bet­ter breath­ing from the in­take and ex­haust. In Tune 1 on the Max En­ergy pro­gram­mer the truck made a dyno pull of 343.9 hp and 598.2 lb-ft of torque for an­other 10-hp im­prove­ment, as ex­pected from Hyper- tech’s test­ing. Dyno mea­sure­ments from Tune 2 showed that the truck was mak­ing 368.4 hp and 637 lb-ft of torque for an in­crease of about 43 hp over stock, while Tune 3 maxed out at 384.4 hp and 679.1 lb-ft of torque for a to­tal in­crease of right around 60 hp.

Be­hind the wheel the truck felt very re­spon­sive, and even with us mash­ing the loud pedal sev­eral times we saw im­proved fuel mileage. Acous­ti­cally there was very lit­tle if any change over stock, but the truck still has the fac­tory res­onator on the in­take, as well as the DPF and other emis­sions equip­ment fully in­tact, so the ex­haust up­grade with the Dpf-back sys­tem be­comes more of a vis­ual than au­di­ble up­grade.

Driv­ing the truck the 90+ miles to RLC in the morn­ing with the truck stock yielded an av­er­age fuel econ­omy of 16.6 mpg ac­cord­ing to the fac­tory trip com­puter. Driv­ing from RLC to Beans we saw 18.3 mpg for the fac­tory com­puted av­er­age while we were in Tune 2. Driv­ing back home from Beans in Tune 3 we saw 18.6 mpg. While

the routes driven were a very small sam­ple size and were not com­pletely the same, they did cover much of the same route and sim­i­lar ter­rain and speeds when the route was dif­fer­ent. The 2 mpg im­prove­ment was un­loaded (ex­cept for car­ry­ing the parts), but it is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the ex­tra horse­power pro­vided by the up­grades. As of our ed­i­to­rial dead­line Wat­son had not yet towed his equip­ment with the up­graded truck, but we do also ex­pect to see im­prove­ments in tow­ing fuel mileage as long as he can re­sist the urge to keep it mat­ted.

The fuel mileage, horse­power and im­prove­ments we saw with Wat­son’s truck are typ­i­cal of what we have seen with sim­i­lar in­take, ex­haust and pro­gram­ming up­grades in var­i­ous trucks through­out the years. While it may seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive to many, we have seen time and time again that mak­ing more power and im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of the en­gine pro­vides an ad­di­tional im­prove­ment in fuel econ­omy when the ve­hi­cle is driven in the same way. Stay tuned, as Wat­son is likely to con­tinue the up­grades on his truck now that he has seen and felt the per­for­mance im­prove­ments that are now avail­able with mod­ern diesel hot rods… err, we mean work trucks! UDBG

Heavy equip­ment tends to find its way onto Jeremy Wat­son’s trail­ers and be­hind his hard-work­ing 2016 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado 3500 HD on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, so he wanted to im­prove its power and fuel mileage at the same time.

The S&B Fil­ters cold-air in­take kit will dress up the en­gine bay a lit­tle bit while al­low­ing the en­gine to draw in more air­flow for bet­ter per­for­mance. 3

1 Be­fore start­ing on the in­take in­stal­la­tion, Drew Richards con­nected the Hyper­tech Max En­ergy 2.0 pro­gram­mer to his lap­top to down­load the lat­est up­dates di­rectly from Hyper­tech.

2Look­ing at a stock LML Du­ra­max isn’t ex­actly thrilling—it is a pow­er­ful en­gine, but not so hot in the looks de­part­ment.


The front plas­tic cover must be re­moved to ac­cess the fender sup­port, which needs to be par­tially re­moved to take the fac­tory air box and fil­ter out of the truck.


Richards se­cures the new air box with the fac­tory mount­ing bolts, then he in­stalls the re­main­ing S&B in­take el­bow, con­nect­ing the tubes to­gether us­ing the hoses he in­stalled ear­lier.


Af­ter un­plug­ging the hu­mid­ity sen­sor and MAF sen­sor har­nesses, Richards loosens the hose clamps on both ends of the in­take el­bow and re­moves it from the truck.


Af­ter in­stalling the bot­tom in­let plug (Richards rec­om­mends run­ning the plug to pre­vent wa­ter in­tru­sion with the fre­quent heavy rain seen in the Ten­nessee area) and sil­i­cone tube seal he care­fully low­ers the new air box into po­si­tion.


The com­plete air box assem­bly can be re­moved from the truck. Once the assem­bly is out of the way, re­move the bolts se­cur­ing the mount­ing bracket be­low the fil­ter assem­bly and re­move the bracket.


The air fil­ter ac­cess is closed off with a clear acrylic win­dow that is etched with the S&B logo on the in­side. It gives the cold-air in­take a good look as well as be­ing func­tional, since it al­lows the owner to eas­ily do a quick vis­ual in­spec­tion of the fil­ter any time he opens the hood.


Trans­fer the hu­mid­ity sen­sor and MAF sen­sor from the fac­tory air box to the S&B in­take tube us­ing the sup­plied hard­ware, in­clud­ing the spacer and gas­ket for the hu­mid­ity sen­sor.


Richards next in­stalls the sil­i­cone hoses and stain­less steel clamps in the in­take tube and slides it into po­si­tion.


Next he in­stalls the large S&B high-flow air fil­ter and tight­ens all the clamps se­curely.


Once all the tub­ing was po­si­tioned in a way that Richards and Dal­ton were happy with, Richards in­stalled and tight­ened all of the tube clamps.


Richards put anti-seize on the threads then re­in­stalled the emis­sions sen­sor in the new lo­ca­tion in the Di­a­mond Eye Y-pipe, then rerouted the wire and mounted the mod­ule back on the frame.


To rem­edy the ex­haust-to-goose­neck con­flict, Richards mas­saged the ex­haust tub­ing with a good-sized ham­mer and beat it into sub­mis­sion un­til it would fit with­out con­tact.


As they were in­stalling the ex­haust tubes, Richards and Dal­ton no­ticed that there was go­ing to be in­ter­fer­ence be­tween the tub­ing and the fac­tory goose­neck mount.

27 Dal­ton gave each joint a solid tack weld to pre­vent any un­wanted move­ment in the ex­haust sys­tem.


Richards could not re­move the fac­tory emis­sions sen­sor from the ex­haust while it was in the truck, so he un­bolted the con­nected mod­ule from the chas­sis, un­plugged the other end of the har­ness, and re­moved it with the com­plete ex­haust sys­tem from the rear of the truck. If you are work­ing on the ground with­out the aid of a lift you will likely need to cut the ex­haust into a few pieces to get it out from un­der the truck.


While the oil is soak­ing in, Richards mea­sures and cuts the fac­tory ex­haust as di­rected at 4 inches from the rear hangar from the Dpf—but in this case the cut should have been around 7 or 8 inches from the hangar. We rec­om­mend cut­ting your ex­haust at 8 inches or more from the DPF hangar and then cut­ting it again if nec­es­sary.


Richards and Dal­ton ap­plied heat to the ex­haust sys­tem bung to help re­lease the sen­sor from the tub­ing; it will be re­in­stalled in the new ex­haust sys­tem later.

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