Sinister Diesel 6.0L Power Stroke

Published in the August 2013 Issue August 2013

In 2003 the light duty diesel market, Ford crowd in particular, was excited to test out the new 6.0L Power Stroke that hit showroom floors, ending a near-decade stronghold its predecessor the 7.3L had on the Ford Super Duty market.While the 7.3L had been a pretty solid platform, new emissions regulations and better performing engines from both GM and Dodge left Ford scrambling. Their marketing and engineering teams hit things hard and the hype on this new smaller displacement, higher horsepower, cleaner running 6.0L brought Ford right back up near the top. Unfortunately, as the miles and time racked up on these vehicles, weak points and lack of execution on the engineering side of things started to come to light and the 6.0L Power Stroke has become a repair shop’s best friend. Faulty exhaust gas recirculation systems, poor injector design, high pressure oil system failures and weak head gaskets have all become quite common with this platform.

Whether it’s Ford’s claims that under the proper care and maintenance, the 6.0L can be as reliable as anything else on the road, or the popularity of the Ford Super Duty truck itself, they are still quite common on the streets of Anytown, USA. Another common problem found in the 6.0L Power Stroke is the Engine Oil cooler located in the valley of the engine; here, the small cooler has both engine oil and engine coolant running through it to help keep fluid temperatures down while daily driving and towing. Because of its design, even the smallest amounts of debris can cause a restriction in the system and cause oil temperatures to skyrocket. Hot oil temperatures cause the oil to break down quicker, which can lead to internal parts failure if it isn’t serviced like it should be. Something, unfortunately, most of us have all been guilty of at some point. The hot temperatures can also cause the coolant passing through the cooler to overheat, leading to cooling system failures as well. Remember that EGR Cooler and head gasket failure problem we mentioned earlier?

Looking to combat these fluid temperature problems and keep unwanted debris out of the cooling and engine oil system, Sinister Diesel of Roseville, Calif., has developed a simple to install, external fluid filtering system that can increase oil and coolant filtration, which can help keep the onboard factory coolers running clean and restriction-free for thousands of miles. Owners Brian George and Michael Mitchell started Sinister Diesel after looking to expand their online diesel performance business (MKM Customs) by offering top-of-the-line specialty products and superior customer service skills both before, during and after the point of sale. As one of the fastest-growing online aftermarket diesel parts retailers, the crew at Sinister Diesel spent countless hours engineering and testing their new filtration kits to ensure 6.0L owners could improve their truck’s performance and reliability without throwing hard-earned cash away on stuff that doesn’t work. Sinister Diesel’s products can always be spotted thanks to their stylish and distinctive Sinister Blue color, so not only will these parts improve durability, they’ll look good doing it.

Getting To Work

We installed the Oil and Coolant Filtration kit on a 2005 F250 with just over 110,000 miles on the clock. After just going through an expensive parts and labor bill to replace a failed engine oil cooler, we wanted to be sure this wasn’t a situation we’d find ourselves in again anytime soon. The team at Sinister went to great lengths to be sure their kit would fit right and make for a very simple install. With nothing more than basic hand tools we were able to install the complete kit in the garage in less than one hour.

On the cooling system side of things, the Sinister Coolant Filter kit will start by removing small solid particles from your cooling system to help keep the engine coolers, water pump and radiator clean. Sinister says that typically you can expect to change the spin-on filter three times within the first nine months of driving. These more frequent filter changes will remove most of the debris from the system and allow you to go to a once-a-year service interval, depending on mileage driven. During this installation process, we had also opted to install a Sinister billet fuel filter cap. Since our oil filtration system came equipped with billet oil filter and oil filler caps that would allow us to feed and return engine oil at the external 2 Micron AMSOIL filter, it only made sense to replace the factory plastic fuel filter cap with the matching billet piece from Sinister as well.

Direct Replacement

The OEM filter caps are made of a hard plastic that has become prone to cracking and stripping out while doing general filter services. Extreme under-hood temperatures can cause the plastic to become somewhat brittle, which makes loosening and tightening them to change filters somewhat troublesome. The anodized blue 6061 aluminum caps designed by Sinister are direct replacements to the factory pieces and will ensure no leaks or broken pieces.

The last piece to our install was in the form of some additional engine bay dress-up. The mandrel bent intake manifold from Sinister is also coated in a shiny metallic blue, which really brings things together under the hood. With just four mounting bolts and intercooler pipe holding it down, the install couldn’t be easier and thanks to a CNC machined mounting plate with a machined O-ring groove, you can be sure it will fit and seal perfectly. While it may look very similar to the design of the factory cast piece, a more gradual radius inside the Sinister elbow cuts down on turbulence in the charge air system and allows for a more efficient airstream being fed into the intake manifold and cylinder heads. The Sinister elbow is also equipped with a 1/8-inch NPT threaded bung to ease the installation of an aftermarket boost gauge or water injection nozzle.

Sense Of Security

Since our truck had just recently had the oil cooler replaced and the cooling system flushed, we were able to reuse our antifreeze, but if you’ve been neglecting your cooling system and are overdue on your oil change, the draining of the systems for this installation is the perfect time to recycle that old antifreeze and engine oil and replace it with new, fresh fluids. No sense in adding new filters just to make them work double duty cutting through old, worn-out fluid.

With the Sinister parts on the truck and our system checked for leaks, we were able to get out for our initial test drive, and while none of these parts are going to offer a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ power improvement, we definitely have an added sense of security knowing our oil and cooling systems will be running cleaner keeping us trucking up and down the highway for what we hope are thousands of trouble-free miles to come.

Through the years 6.0L Power Stroke has developed an unfortunate rap sheet due to a few poorly designed systems, like the Exhaust Gas Recirculation Cooler, Oil Cooler and High Pressure Oil System. Looking to improve the 6.0L’s reliability and eliminate future failures, Sinister Diesel has spent countless hours developing products to help keep your 2003-2007 Power Stroke happy and healthy for thousands of miles to come. Pictured here is its Oil and Coolant Filtrations System, Billet Fluid Cap Kit and Intake Elbow.

Having just experienced a complete Oil Cooler failure in our 2005 6.0L, which took a pretty hefty parts and labor invoice to repair, we wanted to be sure we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation again and opted to install the complete Sinister Oil and Coolant Filtration kit. The first step was attaching the included 3/4-inch hoses to the machined coolant filter base. Sinister supplies you with all the fittings, along with ball valve style shutoff to help cut down on mess when performing filter changes when needed.

After wrapping the supplied brass fittings with the included Teflon tape, they were threaded into the ‘in/out’ ports found on the other custom machined filter base. This base would be used to hold an external AMSOIL oil filter, to help cut down debris as small as 2-microns found in the oil system. With both filter bases assembled, they can then be bolted onto the powder coated bracket to be installed on the engine.

Looking to make the installation process as clean and simple as possible, Sinister Diesel designed its bracket and filter bases to bolt using the existing alternator bolts. With enough room just between the passenger side battery and the fan shroud, it makes the perfect accessible location for the new external filters. Sinister’s step-by-step picture instructions state to loosely reinstall the alternator bolts. This will allow the bracket to be moved and positioned as needed once the filters are installed for proper clearance between other parts in the engine bay.

With our filter bases mounted, we could then route the return line from the coolant filter base to the overflow hose that routes from the top of our radiator to the Degas bottle mounted at the firewall. Before cutting and splicing into the cooling system, we made sure to drain our cooling system through the radiator petcock found on the lower driver side corner. Since our coolant had just recently been flushed and serviced, we opted to drain into clean buckets so it could be reused, but if it’s been awhile since your cooling system was serviced, this is the perfect time to recycle the used coolant and refill with new once the job is complete. The small hose just needs to be cut near the radiator and spliced into. The kit includes the small brass tee and hose clamps to make this an easy, leak-free connection.

The routing of the return line runs it directly across the top of our fan shroud, where it will be protected from any moving engine parts, but to err on the safe side, Sinister also includes a small plastic hose retainer that is installed around the hose and stuck into a small 1/4-inch drilled into the shroud.

Connection of the coolant feed line is made at the passenger side heater core hose located above the valve cover. Routing the new hose around past the oil fill spout, you can make this connection much like the return hose. Just cut and splice into the factory hose, making sure to use the supplied hose clamps to ensure no leaks will form once the coolant is refilled and the system is pressurized.

With the cooling system connections completed, it was time to move onto the oil filtration side of things. The 6.0L Power Stroke oil filter can be found right on top of the engine, under the large cap pictured here on the left. The smaller cap on the right houses one of two onboard fuel filters. These caps are made of a high-impact plastic, but are prone to cracking and splitting due to the extreme under-hood and engine temperatures they endure on a daily basis. This is also something Sinister Diesel will resolve with parts found in the Oil and Coolant Filtration kit.

Using a large 36mm socket we were able to remove the oil filter cap and pull the factory oil filter up out of its bowl. Again, since we had just recently done a complete oil cooler replacement and coolant flush, our oil and filter were also serviced, so we’ll be reinstalling this filter, as it had less than 100 miles of drive time on it. But like the coolant, if you have neglected your oil changes, now is the perfect time to install new filter and clean oil. No sense in installing new external filters just to make them work double time trying to clean old dirty oil and coolant.

Unclipping the oil filter from the factory plastic lid allowed us to clip it into the new replacement billet machined piece supplied in the Sinister kit. Being constructed of 6061 aluminum, you can be sure that you’ll never have to worry about cracking and leaking lids, nor have the worry of stripping the nut used to tighten and remove the lid when servicing the system. Take notice of the brass 90-degree fitting threaded into the center of the cap as well, this will be the new port to feed oil to our soon-to-be-installed 2-micron external oil filter.

With the billet oil filter cap installed we were then able to route the supplied stainless braided line from the oil filter housing across the engine and directly to the ‘in’ port of the machined oil filter base. This connection uses AN fittings, which require no Teflon tape to create a leak-free seal. Just be sure to use a set of wrenches to get them tight. Remember, the fittings are brass, so they’ll strip easily if cross threaded or over tightened.

On the return side of the things, the new external oil filter base will send freshly filtered oil right back to the oil fill spout through a billet oil cap that will replace your original plastic unit. Returning oil to the crankcase through the oil fill spout makes for an extremely easy and clean install.

With both oil feed and return lines installed and snugged down, the last step of the process was installing the supplied filters onto their bases and refilling our cooling and oil system with fluid. After installing a few zip ties on the hoses and getting the truck back up and running and testing for any leaks, we were ready to move on to the next step of our Sinister parts install.

Continuing with the billet cap theme, we had also purchased the Fuel Filter cap from Sinister Diesel. The factory fuel filter cap, while not being removed as often as the oil filter cap, still has a tendency to break while servicing the fuel filter, so the new billet anodized cap will eliminate any future issues we may run into, plus it really completes the ‘Blue Cap’ look under the hood. The factory cap is removed using a 1/2-inch drive extension and ratchet.

Finally, wrapping things up under the hood was the installation of the high flow mandrel bent aluminum intake elbow. This swap really couldn’t be any easier, with just one clamp to loosen so the intercooler pipe can be removed and four 10mm bolts holding it down to the intake manifold. The metallic blue powder coated elbow will help airflow into the engine while dressing things up under the hood, tying into the previously installed anodized blue billet fluid caps.

With the factory cast intake manifold off of the truck and sitting on the work bench, you can see the subtle differences between it and the performance piece from Sinister. While it may not appear to be much, the more gradual and mandrel bend in the new elbow, versus the tight bend of the OEM piece makes for easier and less restrictive airflow and turbulence. The Sinister elbow is also equipped with a 1/8-inch bung that can be used for a boost gauge reference or for easy installation of aftermarket injectable like a water injection nozzle.

The Sinister Diesel intake elbow has a machined base to ensure a perfect fit. The base is also cut for an O-ring that seals tightly against the intake manifold. Once tightening down the mounting bolts, the factory intercooler pipe can be reconnected and the clamp snugged up. Our 2005 truck uses a plastic intercooler tube which we may look at replacing with an aftermarket metal pipe in the near future.

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