Being the middleman or Fire-breathing exhaust

Wouldn’t you know it, I’m trapped in the middle seat on this leg of the flight to Florida. It’s not a good situation due to the fact that the gents on either side of me are asleep with their mouths open, a trait I deplore among sleepers. That and folks whom you can hear chomp, slurp and downright overly masticate their sustenance – be it gum or a meal. Worse yet is their lack of understanding of my personal boundaries as their lifeless appendages rest on me. Under these circumstances, I can’t use my laptop and have to write this on my trusty pocket PC using a tiny keyboard. Urgh…good thing I’m a techno-geek.

Anyways, so I’m flying to Tampa. I’ve never been there, maybe because I’ve never needed to or the fact that it sounds like a medical condition. But now I’m headed there as a technical representative for Banks Power during a shoot for an episode of Truck U, which airs on Speed Channel. It’s a companion show to Two Guys Garage, which is a pretty good show in its own right. The episode will cover safe power for DPF-equipped diesel trucks. (Aw geez! The guy next to me has frequent spasms while sleeping. Maybe he’s dreaming about being in school again and not having his homework turned in…that or cobras.)

Being the middleman

A diesel particulate filter, or DPF, is something relatively new to a diesel’s emission system, and it is both misunderstood and feared…kinda like the Hulk. Unlike the green goliath, however, a DPF unit isn’t infused with gamma radiation and can’t tear up a city, but it can breathe fire and destroy property if provoked. Let me explain: The filter is in place to load up with soot particles that would normally make their way out of the tailpipe. After a certain amount of miles, the DPF goes through a regeneration cycle to burn itself clean. In order to do this, the ECU commands the injectors to spew an extra amount of fuel and plays with the timing so that it can be ignited, causing an afterburner effect. This event effectively makes the trapped soot burn to ash and makes the DPF clean again. The byproduct of this “event” is a stunning EGT level. This same exhaust that burns the soot into ash also blows out of the tailpipe, bringing about the need for a special kind of exhaust system that draws in colder outside air to mix with the blowtorch-hot exhaust.

This is where the tricky part comes in: Cooling that exhaust means doing it right! The OEs did a pretty good job with the factory setup, but in doing the job, it looks kind of industrial. I actually know the guy at GM who designed it, and he was a little surprised when I asked him what the inspiration for the design was. He told me that he knew something needed to be done to cool the exhaust after the bushes in front of the test facility’s office caught fire. I’d say that was a good sign, maybe even a biblical one at that.

For those searching for a better-looking aftermarket system, some of the choices out there come with a bonus along with the good looks: danger and excitement. You see, some of the competition…well, really all of them…attempted to reproduce the cooling ability of the stock system in different ways. Little louvers here, pinched steel there, and pretty exhaust tips with decorative holes all try to mix the air and mimic the stock effect. All fail miserably. Sure it looks great, but that’s where danger and excitement come in as the temps out of the pipe during regen can hit as high as 800 degrees. When you figure that the stock exhaust reaches 500…well, you can see where this is headed. And chew on this: Regen events last 15 to 20 minutes. So if you’re driving alongside someone on the freeway and the exhaust is hitting their tire (or window, depending on how tall your rig is) with blowtorch heat or pulling into your garage…let’s just say there’s plenty of time to leave your mark.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to mention that the regen for this all-important diesel particulate filter can happen even when you’re at idle. Once it goes into “clean me up” mode, it doesn’t care if you are moving at highway speed or if you’re parked; it’s a hot time in the city (or wherever you live). Do you know what that means? Those boxes or stacks of paper in your garage will catch fire if they’re nearby…not to mention burning your kid(s), your wife, your pets, your house, your grass, that bratty little kid who rides his bike on your lawn and shoots your windows with his BB gun all the time (hmm… that one’s not too bad, really). Plan on taking that camping or fishing trip? Well, unless you have a great fake alibi, Smokey the Bear, Woodsy Owl, and the state authorities are going to come for you when you set the forest on fire! Why live so dangerously?

Banks Power’s answer for playing it safe is the CoolCuff exhaust system we’ve come up with. We know that the OEs didn’t just make an exhaust that was ugly without a purpose. They did so because they want to be safe; they want you and what’s important to be safe. The engineers at Banks Power feel the same way, so we set out to design an exhaust that not only reduces backpressure (which means more performance) but accomplishes the factory’s safety margin and then some. Check out our latest ad. It’s brutally honest, but it is honest.

Well, that does it for now. I’ll blab more later, but right now I want to see how many Mentos I call toss into the gaping maw of the guy to the right of me. This is gonna be fun, and to think I have only 90 more minutes until we arrive at our destination.

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