Another tool that plays a role in ATS Diesel’s gigantic, all-purpose, in-house operation i
As you can imagine, working at Diesel Power has its perks. We’re usually on hand when someone sets a motorsport record, we catch sneak peeks of new vehicles before the general public does, and we’re privy to future projects, current performance parts, and even conduct a lot of our own product testing. Having said that, I’m proud to say plenty of things have and continue to impress me at the magazine. It usually happens in high-end performance shops, where I become a sponge (and try to absorb as much information as humanly possible). The places below, each with its own unique experience, represent times when I said very little and soaked up everything I could.
Gale Banks Engineering
I’ll never forget the first time I set foot in Gale Banks Engineering. It was August 2008, and Banks’ Duramax-powered dragster build was getting closer and closer to being complete. Once inside its prototype building, Associate Editor Jason Sands and I immediately spotted the Spitzer chassis dragster. The twin-turbo’d Duramax, Liberty transmission, and 9½-inch rear end were mocked up, and the carbon-fiber body was sitting next to it on the floor. When Banks unveiled its Sidewinder dragster at the SEMA show a few months later (where it was constantly surrounded by onlookers), I remember thinking to myself: “I had exclusive access to this thing when it was still in pieces!”
After visiting Navistar’s Maxx Force DT plant in late 2010, I conveniently ended up at Hypermax Engineering that evening—where the older, DT466 version of that engine goes from mild to wild. The nonchalant, quiet little shop just west of Chicago is a serious powerhouse—and it’s full of history. Owner Jerry Lagod not only helped design International’s famous inline-six, but he also turned it up (to 500 hp) for IH tractor customers back in the early ’70s as part of a factory-backed tractor pulling effort (pretty cool, right?). Once he knew he could impact the growing sport with this engine, he founded Hypermax. Decades of red tractor domination would follow. Most don’t even know Jerry is credited with pioneering the first water-injection system on a high-performance diesel engine.
As you’ll read on page 58, we recently made it to Scheid Diesel’s engine dyno facility for the first time—and I’m still recovering from how awesome the experience was. It’s the place where Scheid’s competition engines become dyno-proven. The dyno cell is even set up to split tractors (so just the engine half can be bolted to the dyno). Of course, it wasn’t all gawk and talk while we were there. Scheid quickly got to work dialing in the 1,800hp dragster engine. I can still hear the load being applied to the screaming 12-valve and see it get dragged down from 5,200 to 3,700 rpm.
Cummins B-Series Engine Plant
When I toured Cummins’ Midrange Engine Plant (CMEP), it was the first time I’d seen a large-scale, OE assembly line process unfold. And unbeknownst to me at the time, this first plant tour became the yardstick by which all others would be measured. It was the first time I’d seen such a high level of quality control, checks and balances, and state-of-the-art equipment. Having been there, it’s now obvious to me how the Holy Grail engines (the 5.9L and 6.7L) last so long—no matter how hard we pound on them. Oddly enough, another memory that’s stuck with me is that at CMEP, you park on the roof, and the magic happens beneath your feet.
Now that I’ve been to the Purple Palace out in Colorado, I can say I’ve seen one of the true Meccas of the diesel industry. Forget performance parts; the sheer size of the place alone is enough to awe you. Once used as an environmental test center by the federal government, it’s built like a brick (you know what) house. The facility consumes 106,000 square feet, has a customers’ lounge complete with a pool table and big screen TV, and it even has a video game room. The service area has 12 high-capacity lifts (with an additional lift upstairs), and there is a dedicated transmission, turbo, R&D, testing, and shipping department all under one roof.