Top Tech Questions - You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers!

Jason SandsNov 1, 2009
Welcome to Top Tech Questions. Oftentimes, readers contact us with questions about articles, or to praise us on what a good job we are doing. But our favorite form of reader communication is tech questions. Our Top Tech section is a place where you ask what's on your mind, and we answer it. Got a trouble code? Wondering how to get your engine to make more power?
Send us an email at jason.sands@sorc.com and we'll do our best to answer it.
Question: I'm having problems with fuel gelling up on cold days, and I want to install a heated filter to the fuel line on the frame. Where can I buy this type of product?
Dave Whitten
Peoria, Illinois
Answer: There are a few different ways to solve your fuel gelling dilemma. On very cold days, fuel can start to harden, or gel. The sheer volume of fuel in the tank will usually keep any fuel from gelling there, but in the lines and especially the filter, fuel can turn into gel and then you're left with a very hard-to-start truck. The most common type of fuel heater is one that is heated by coolant. However, if you can't get the engine started, there is no use in having a coolant-heated filter. But there are other alternatives.
Photo 2/4   |   If you find yourself in a deep freeze for most of the winter, a heated fuel filter can be worth its weight in gold when it comes time to start your diesel-powered vehicle.
A few of the cheaper ones involve insulating the fuel filter with some type of nonflammable material. This will keep more heat contained in the filter and could cure your gelling problem. If that doesn't work, there are electric fuel heaters available from Racor and other similar diesel suppliers. If your local diesel shop can't help you out, try giving Oregon Fuel Injection a call at (800) 452-5055 or visit www.o-f-i.com. It offers various types and styles of fuel heaters, ranging from about $300 to $500.
Question: I saw a lot of cheap HE351VGT turbos off of 6.7L Cummins engines on eBay, and I was looking at the Holset site to see how they work. It looks easy to control the turbo mechanically, and if it works out, it will be the perfect turbo. Am I right in thinking I can run an HE351VGT on my early 5.9L Cummins?
Daniel Tibus
Schortens, Germany
Answer: If you are a decent welder, it isn't that hard to adapt a VGT turbo found on '07 to '08 Dodge Ram diesels to an earlier engine. You'll need to tackle a few basic things to get the setup working, however. First you'll need to mount the turbo. Unfortunately, the HE351VGT doesn't have a T3 flange like the earlier HX35/HY35 turbochargers. It uses a different mount, called a WGMT flange, so you'll need to fabricate an exhaust manifold-to-turbo adapter. You also might need some parts and pieces for the oil lines. The HE351VGT also takes a larger-diameter downpipe than some earlier-model trucks, so keep in mind that additional exhaust work may be needed to get it to fit.
Photo 3/4   |   If you have a 10,000-pound rig like Daniel Tibus' Cummins-powered Jeep M715, staying up on boost is a primary concern. Adapting a newer variable geometry turbo to the vehicle can ensure minimal amounts of turbo lag.
Once the turbo is mounted, you have to find a way to control the VGT portion of the turbocharger. For this, most people out there are just using springs, levers, or wastegate actuators to move the vanes, although there are people working on VGT controllers that will allow the turbo to retain its factory characteristics. If you can live without that cool variable geometry whistle, an '03 1/2 to '06 turbocharger off a Dodge will work almost as well. Either the earlier or later turbochargers are capable of supporting 450 hp and 40 psi of boost.
Question: I found your article "Top 10 Diesel Engine Swaps," and I am trying to put a turbodiesel engine into a Jeep Wrangler. I am trying to get my hands on a VW V-10 or Mercedes ML320 CDI. The problem is the EFI computer. Do you know of an aftermarket programmable computer that can run a diesel engine? I could move the stock ECU along with the motor, but if you don't have everything connected, it can put the motor into limp mode. Any suggestions?
Dr. Glenn Ferguson
Johannesburg, South Africa
Answer: We searched long and hard for an inexpensive universal diesel engine ECU and injector driver, but alas, everything we came across was some pretty high-dollar stuff. We're not talking a couple thousand here, we're talking about $10,000 once all is said and done-and that's not including the actual engine. Right now the only common-rail engine swaps that can be done on somewhat of a budget (and without access to a donor vehicle) are Duramax and Cummins engines. Pacific Performance Engineering offers a stand-alone Duramax wiring harness, while Painless Performance has a Cummins common-rail wiring harness available. Most everyone else we know of that is running computer-controlled stuff is using a wiring harness, computer, and sensors they robbed off of the original vehicle. If you're the type who's willing to commit yourself to a long-term project, it might be worth the time to buy a wrecked donor vehicle and pull out all the stock wiring. Of course, you'll still have a tough task, because many new diesel computers take information from everywhere to run correctly, including the transmission and dash gauges. If you have the money and you don't want to worry about it, we'd call the folks at Diesel Performance Research out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. They can build custom diesel engine controls, although, as we mentioned earlier, don't be surprised by the cost.
Photo 4/4   |   Most of the diesel swaps we're seeing are still older mechanical engines due to the complex nature of the modern computerized diesel. Check out this simple Cummins 4BT four-cylinder swap we saw in a Dodge Dakota. They even reused the stock airbox!

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