97 Dodge Ram 12valve Cummins Diesel Update

I’ve been obsessed my 97 Dodge Ram 2500 with Cummins 12valve Turbo Diesel. Have been slowly repairing stuff that is broken or worn out. New balljoints and trackbar to fix the steering have been done. I still have a few more bits on the front to do, tie rod ends and drag link, and I know I’m going to end up with a steering box brace they make for this truck, as well as a new steering damper, and perhaps steering box. At 183,000 miles all of the suspension and steering parts are tired. New Bilstein Shocks are installed. These trucks are known for having weak front ends and often suffer from the “death wobble”. Most often this is caused by Trackbar ends that are worn out, but can aslo be attributed to ball joints, tie rod ends, steering damper etc that are shot. I think it probably has something to do with general steering design and geometry and I wonder if the rear of the truck has something to do with this. The Cummins is incredibly heavy, and so the truck’s weight isn’t exactly evenly distributed. I suspect that the truck is more sure footed when the bed is loaded. I think also that the truck might be better behaved with a heavy duty anti-sway bar installed in the rear. It’s a truck and handles like one, but there’s no need for it to be dangerous.

This is a California model truck and has an EGR valve and Catalytic converter. The EGR was so sooted up I’m surprised the truck could breath at all. The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) is mounted in the intake horn, and it recirculates exhaust back through the intake to insure all unburned fuel the first go round is now burned. Trouble is the intake horn goes from a 2 1/2 inch or so diameter down to about a 3/4″ diameter and where an intake is usually clean, these intakes get choked with soot from the exhaust. That is now in a parts box. Catalytic converter is probably clogged up too. That will soon be pulled for examination. I’m trying to figure out if I can clean it, or replace it. In consideration of the environment and in exchange for removing the EGR it is now burning B100 biodiesel. It smells amazing. And it is much, much cleaner burning and far, far less polluting. I think I’d pass any smog test running B100. The truck does not smoke even under heavy acceleration, going uphill and towing my home built boat, a Tolman Skiff.

Have also been trying to get a little more power in this beast. It came stock with a 180hp/400lbs torque. Nice torque that peaks just off idle, but anemic hp. But the truck hasn’t felt like it had that torque and rather didn’t like pulling the boat. So I’ve been doing all the normal stuff you do on a diesel when the power is down. New fuel filter didn’t fix it. I’ve found no air leaks in the turbo intake system, etc. Added a ‘torque plate” to increase hp and torque and only felt a slight difference. It should have increased power to about 250hp/650lbs torque (all with a $29 part I bought on ebay)…. but no. I keep scratching my head. Then I remember reading about various recalls on this truck. One item was the accelerator cable. I look at the engine end, and the cable is sagging. Hmmm. Look inside at the pedal end, and it looks ok. I lift up the bottom of the pedal and suddenly I have an extra 1 1/2 inches of cable. I look at the position of the go pedal vs the brake pedal and it’s a full inch and half or more lower than the brake pedal! Eureka. So I fabricated a gizmo to take up the slack of the cable and take the truck for a ride. Holy Cow Batman, suddenly I have gobs of power, no smoke (making fuel with a diesel can make a lot of soot). This beast is now truly a beast! The transformation is just short of astronomical.

And now, I have 55 gallons of 1 micron filtered Waste Veggie Oil out back. Do I attempt to burn it as is, or blend it with #2 diesel? Or do I go the safe route, and build me an Appleseed Biodiesel processor? To be determined…

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