Power to the people

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You’d have thought International’s Power Stroke diesel engine was running for president. The company recently threw a 10th anniversary “Power Fest” rally at Indianapolis Raceway Park, and about 600 Ford truck operators and enthusiasts from all over the country Power-Stroked their way to the party.

The Power Stroke is a Ford-applied derivative of International’s VT 365 V8 diesel, and – according to Pat Charbonneau, vice president, regulatory and technical affairs – the major hardware is pretty much the same. “The only differences are in application-related components and some turbo matching,” he says.

I’m not sure where the Power Stroke would stand on political issues. It could be considered conservative in that, two years ago, its displacement was reduced from 7.3 to 6 liters. Then again, it could be liberal, having gathered a generous, 25-percent increase in horsepower during that transformation. There even might be a spot on a green ticket, since the redesign resulted in a 50-percent reduction in emissions. In any case, I’m sure the engine would run on a solid platform of diesel power.

The Power Stroke’s constituents include: a second-generation hydraulic-electronic unit fuel injection (G2) system; an electronically controlled, variable-rate (EVRT) turbocharger; and four valves per cylinder.

The improved, common-rail fuel system uses electronically controlled, hydraulically actuated injectors to deliver fuel, but does away with external high-pressure lines with joints that might leak.

The injection system uses the engine lubricating oil, rather than the camshaft, for actuation, allowing injection events to occur independently of crankshaft position or rpm. A dedicated pump provides 3,000 psi oil to a common rail. Then, in the injector, pressure is multiplied by 7.1 through the use of different diameter pistons. Finally, fuel can be injected at up to 26,000 psi.

The EVRT turbo was designed to improve engine responsiveness and efficiency by using moveable vanes that pivot and adjust the turbo boost to engine speed and load. This, according to International, eliminates turbo lag throughout the entire operating range. The new turbo is integrated electronically with the engine and fuel systems for optimum performance.

Aside from the benefits of these high-tech improvements, “The reduction in displacement resulted in less parasitic loss,” explains Charbonneau. “That also helped us achieve more horsepower with a reduction in emissions.”

With 325 hp @ 3300 rpm and 570 pound-feet of torque @ 2000 rpm, the Power Stroke provides surprising, un-diesel-like acceleration in Ford F-Series and Super-Duty pickups, Econoline vans and Excursion SUVs. And there was no shortage of those vehicles at the Power Fest, which featured: a massive convoy from Indy to Ford’s Kentucky truck plant; a tour of the Indianapolis Engine Plant; tailgating parties; Show ‘n’ Shine contests; a parade of 10 model years of Super Duty trucks; and the Power Stroke Diesel 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

One doesn’t expect this kind of reception for an engine – especially a diesel in a market ruled by gasoline. But “the power of this engine is a big deal,” says Charbonneau. “I think this will change peoples’ perception of diesel.”

Maybe it’s happening now. With more than 1.75 million Power Strokes on the road, lots of people already have voted with their right foot. Let’s see what happens over the next, say, four years.