Elk Hunter (Part 3)

A Banks Power Upgrade

Published in the July 2013 Issue July 2013

From day one of this build, Adam Westfall has had a clear vision of exactly where he wants to take his 2005 Dodge SLT 2500 crew cab long box. For the avid outdoorsman, it’s all about creating a bulletproof truck that will be ready in time for the fall hunt. There are no shortcuts or cutting any corners in this race. In order to have the best, Adam is all about using the best products available. That’s why there was zero hesitation on his part when it came time for the upgrades under his hood. His first call was to Banks Power. But before we get to the Banks 5.9L PowerPack System, let’s get you caught up on the build so far.

Part 1

Adam’s first step with the Elk Hunter truck was to add front (aFe) and rear differential (PPE) covers, plus a deeper transmission pan (B&M Racing). The increase in capacity helps keep the temperatures down when he’s pulling a trailer. Also in the first part of this build, front and rear bumpers were added to help protect the truck from the off-road abuse, ahem, off-road adventures, that are sure to follow once his truck is complete. The Legend Bullnose Front Bumper as well as the Sport Back Bumper from Ranch Hand instantly gave his Ram credibility.

Part 2

In the last installment in this series, Adam hooked up with Line-X of Idaho Falls to spray not only the bed, but also the side rocker panels for those times he’s going through tall brush. Next up was a big step in the project when Adam added the top-of-the-line 60-gallon in-bed fuel tank/tool box combo from TITAN Fuel Tanks. This now gives him greater range between fill-ups when he’s deep in the mountains, plus having the lighted fuel gauge—complete with a switch—allows him to see and control everything from inside the cab of his truck.

Next up was a heavy-duty gooseneck hitch from B&W Hitch to replace the bulky fifth wheel plate that came on the truck when he bought it. He also added Pocket Style flares from Bushwacker that are designed for Ram owners with oversized, off-road wheel and tire packages. Following those upgrades he installed the AirDog II 165 system, which is a must-have for serious truck owners. The fuel air separation system improves diesel engine performance by separating the entrained air from the fuel, also improving fuel economy through improved injection timing, increased power and better fuel burn.

And finally the last install for part two in the series was to add the new 6-inch WIDESIDER XL Bars from BIG COUNTRY that now give him a solid wide step to use when climbing into his truck.

Banks Power

Banks Power is an engineering firm that is famous for thorough testing. Its products are some of the best in the industry and the testing equipment they use rivals that of the OEs. Established in 1958, Banks has grown to over 200 employees on a 12-acre campus and it all started with the current hands-on president, Gale Banks. What impressed Adam the most about this California-based company wasn’t the impressive 50 plus years of experience or the number of products currently offered. Instead, it was the quality of the products from Banks Power that he liked.

“It seems like every product Banks offers has an over-built quality to it, which is important when you really depend on your truck for both work and play,” says Adam. “I guess Banks would rather explain the price than apologize for the quality, because everything they build is built to last and in my opinion is worth every penny.”

Originally it was the exhaust brake from Banks Power that Adam was interested in, but while on the website the 5.9L PowerPack caught his attention.

The PowerPack offers some of the best products the company has to offer and it’s nicely packaged together to give you everything you need including an intake, exhaust, tuner and intercooling upgrades for your Cummins.

According to the site, the PowerPack offers safe tow-all-day power with optimum engine efficiency and durability, adjust-on-the-fly power, lower exhaust gas temperatures and virtually no backpressure. And with the EconoMind’s fuel economy features, more driving between fill-ups, too!

Plus Banks was reporting gains of up to 100 horsepower and over 235 lbs./ft of torque. That’s all he needed to hear. Adam was sold and ready to flex his “go big or go home” attitude that has become the theme for this build.

Baseline Testing

The first step was to figure out where his truck currently sat before getting to any of the Banks installs. Every dyno is different and really it’s all about measuring the gains, not necessarily the specific numbers, yet we were a little surprised when the truck came in at 338.8 hp and 604.1 lbs/ft of torque. When you’re getting baseline numbers as a starting point with a goal to increase the horsepower by 100, higher numbers than expected tend to make you a little nervous. But regardless, those were the numbers he had to start with.

Adam contacted Powerlabs Diesel in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to do all the Banks installs. This is one shop that continues to go the extra mile when it comes to taking care of its customers and doing the job right the first time. Shop owner Brent Willsey is impressed with the quality from Banks and was more than willing to get involved with the build. Once the products arrived he couldn’t wait to take a closer look.

Inventory Check

Following the run on the dyno, Powerlabs Diesel technician E.J. Wyatt put the 2005 Dodge on the lift then tore into the boxes to see exactly what he had to work with. It didn’t take long before the rest of the shop was referring to the install as a “Banks Christmas” since there were boxes everywhere. E.J decided to start with the exhaust brake first since it would be more time-consuming than the PowerPack installs.

Exhaust Brake

The purpose of the Banks Brake direct-mount exhaust brake is to dramatically cut downhill speed without using your wheel brakes. This keeps brakes cool and ready for emergencies, and saves thousands in brake maintenance. It also optimizes exhaust flow when not engaged.

The no-maintenance exhaust brake uses electronics to monitor critical engine and transmission parameters to maximize braking efficiency. And because there’s no drilling, cutting or modifications needed to the stock wiring, installation is actually quite simple.

Included are the Computerized Brake Control (CBC) and SmartLock. The CBC automatically senses throttle position, controls brake engagement and cuts out annoying brake noises. And because this is an Idaho truck that deals with brutal cold winters, the fast warm-up function will come in handy when the snow starts to fly. Besides prolonging brake durability, the automated brake disengagement at low speeds which smoothes your stop-and-go driving. The Banks SmartLock locks the torque converter and raises line pressure to smoothly reduce vehicle speed and safeguard the transmission.

Brake Housing

The cast, large-bore brake housing was installed between the downpipe and the stock turbo and just above it is where E.J. mounted the solenoid. The stock intake was removed to give him a little more room to work, plus it had to come off anyway since it’s included with the PowerPack. He also removed the belt, which will now be too short following this brake exhaust install. Next up, using the provided bracket, was to install the belt-driven vacuum pump then add the longer serpentine belt, which is also provided. The AirDog connector from the previous install was an issue with the vacuum pump so E.J. swapped it out for a 90-degree one that would allow the vacuum pump to fit perfectly where it needed to be.

The last step was to hook up the electronics and get the wires routed around the engine compartment and through the firewall to the cab. E.J. would hook it all up at the end when he went to install the new tuner.

PowerPack

As guys we’re all about one-stop shopping, so the 5.9L PowerPack takes a lot of the hassle and thinking out of it. Because it is packaged together as one group, you know that everything included is designed to give you the best results for your 5.9L Cummins. The first step was to install the new exhaust. You have the option with the Monster Exhaust to go with a single or dual system and Adam felt the single was the best fit for him. The 4-inch stainless constant-diameter system flows up to 122 percent better than stock and virtually eliminates any backpressure.

The factory’s restrictive muffler was replaced with a polished-stainless Monster muffler that immediately grabbed the attention in the shop.

“That’ll add a hundred horses right there,” said shop tech Clint Beehler when he first saw the new polished muffler. “That’s going to look great on this truck.”

Embossed into the stainless muffler is “Banks Monster,” which really gives the system a nice added touch. The Banks-designed expansion chamber dissipates the annoying mid-range exhaust drone that accompanies most straight-through mufflers. Monster muffler utilizes spun ceramic, very-high-temperature packing and delivers an authoritative—but never intrusive—exhaust sound. And the 5-inch rolled-edge tip has an adjustable clamp for positioning on the tailpipe. It’s available in both chrome-over stainless or high temp black and with the heavy black accents on this truck Adam went for the second option. And to help keep it looking good, there’s a 1/2-inch air gap that will help keep heat from tarnishing the finish.

E.J. was meticulous and made sure all the brackets were straight before welding the exhaust

“I can’t wait to hear what kind of deep rumble we’re going to get with this exhaust when we fire the truck up,” said E.J. before moving on to the intercooler. “I bet it’s going to sound mean.”

Intercooler

The Techni-Cooler Intercooler System includes large 3-1/2-inch boost tubes, superior aluminum end tank design, and thicker core with 27 percent more flow volume than stock. It also reduces boost pressure loss and dramatically increases air density for high, continuous power.

Superior to stock, everything about the Banks Techni-Cooler Intercooler system is bigger. E.J. was loving the thickness and design of the intercooler, but was also concerned with how it would fit with the Ranch Hand front bumper. With the stock intercooler, there wasn’t a lot of extra room once the aftermarket bumper was added, but this turned out to be a non-issue as it nicely fit with just enough room to spare.

The Techni-Cooler dramatically increases the engine’s power potential by balancing the richer fuel mixture with greater airflow and cooler, denser air. Denser air has more oxygen, which improves combustion as well as engine efficiency. The result is higher continuous power and more power at any EGT, better fuel economy and lower EGTs.

Intake Manifold

The Monster-Ram Intake Manifold System is larger and less restrictive than the stock intake, improves flow of oxygen-rich air into cylinders, delivers instant torque and improves fuel efficiency.

A simple, direct-replacement casting, Monster-Ram is instant power, performance and acceleration gratification and of all the installs this one was of course the easiest. And with up to six ports for water/meth/propane/nitrous injection (or pressure/temp. sensors), the sky’s the limit for performance expandability. And with the bright red color it’s the first thing you notice when you look under the hood.

Air Intake

Banks’ revolutionary Ram-Air Intake System offers the reliability and durability of a factory intake, yet delivers astonishing airflow. It flows up to 64 percent better than stock and outflows others with its huge filter area, giant outlet and the complete air filter housing with large side and bottom inlets.

Banks Ram-Air collects and directs more power-producing cool, dense air to the engine, lowering EGTs and smoke and improving fuel economy, too. The lifetime cotton gauze filter traps the most dirt and debris. And Ram-Air is the only aftermarket intake with 4-1/2-inch bellows to accommodate engine movement. This prevents component damage and promotes reliable service life.

Inside The Cab

Before getting to the tuner to finish up the exhaust brake install, E.J. marked the holes on the dash for the two toggle switches. One is to activate the exhaust brake and the other is to shut off the overdrive when towing. After marking the holes, E.J. removed the entire panel so he could cleanly drill the holes he needed for the switches.

After hooking up the wires he was anxious to see how it worked and when he flipped the exhaust brake toggle switch you could clearly hear it kick in.

Tuner

The final part of the PowerPack install was to add the EconoMind Diesel Tuner which is calibrated for work and towing and the Banks iQ 2.0. It tunes timing and fuel pressure, includes built-in engine and transmission safeguards, has a special fuel economy mode and allows the driver to select power levels and monitor massive amounts of data through the Banks iQ-man/machine interface.

With the engine still running from checking the exhaust brake, a hole for the pyro was drilled directly into the manifold. The warm engine heats the metal up so it will expand and then cool once the pyro sensor is installed. Plus having the engine running keeps anything from falling into the hole while drilling.

The iQ 2.0

The Banks iQ is one of the most advanced vehicle user interface devices ever created. It truly is impressive and once it was hooked up it brought a crowd of mechanics around to get a closer look. You can use it for total control of your EconoMind Tuner as you switch power levels on-the-fly, monitor EGT, coolant temps and a vast array of other engine parameters.

It seems like the closer Brent and the guys in the shop looked into it, the more they liked about it. You can diagnose, define and even clear vehicle diagnostic codes with it, which is a nice added feature. Its computer functions let you open and read your Microsoft Office documents too! Work with the on-screen keyboard and calculator, watch videos, view pictures, listen to your favorite music, and yes, you can even play games like Solitaire on it. Of course most of these functions you can’t do while driving, for obvious safety reasons, but the versatility is still very impressive.

Banks iQ is so useful, you’ll want to take it everywhere and with its rechargeable battery and out-of-vehicle portability, you actually can.

Final Numbers

The first question that everyone in the shop, as well as the truck owner wanted to know, is what kind of gains were made on the dyno after the install. Adam didn’t waste any time in getting those numbers to see how close his truck was to reaching the projected numbers. His goal was to get as close to the numbers Banks posted on its site, which was up to 100 horsepower gain and over 235 lbs./ft of torque.

The final numbers following the PowerPack install now has the truck sitting at 467.4 hp and 911.5 lbs./ft of torque! That’s a gain of 128.6 hp and 307.4 lbs./ft of torque, which is a lot higher than expected. Although the numbers were higher than what Banks was reporting as a possibility, a company spokesperson explained that Banks tends to aim for the more conservative side when predicting gains and of course was extremely happy to hear of the success.

Real Results

As for the real world testing, Adam was quick to get a feel for his daily driver and the more he plays around with his Dodge, the more he likes it.

“I love the monitor because of all the features,” says Adam. “I’ve mostly just used it for the truck features and entertainment, but I know there’s a lot more to it. After the dyno my check engine light came on and it was nice to just pull over, check the problem and then clear the codes. I haven’t had a problem since. It was great just to be able to check it right there without having to go back to the shop.”

The large, color screen allows Adam to monitor several gauges at the same time, plus he loves the accuracy of the touchscreen and says it responds better than any other touchscreen he’s ever used. Around town he’s still getting a feel for the new power and is being careful not to break any speeding laws.

“The PowerPack noticeably woke it up,” says Adam with a smile. “If I want to pass someone there is zero hesitation. I’m not sure if it’s the exhaust, tuner, intake or what that is to credit for all the power, but I guess it’s a combination of the entire system that makes my truck fun to drive.”

As for testing the exhaust brake, Adam hooked up his camp trailer and headed for the hills to get a feel for the new system.

“If you don’t have a load on it’s hard to really get a good feel for it, but with a load it’s very impressive,” says Adam. “It will really slow you down on those steep hills and save your wheel brakes.”

The third part of this build dramatically improved the Elk Hunter project truck, thanks to the quality products offered by Banks Power.

“Every part that I’ve looked at from Banks is solid and well-built,” explains Adam. “The Banks products are over-engineered and that’s a good thing.”

That is a good thing and it just gets him one step closer to having his truck ready for the fall hunt.

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