No Compromise Performance
by Kevin Livingston
September 10, 2015
Filed under Trailer How To
A trio of kits from BD Diesel Performance keep the fuel at optimum pressure and protect injectors for maximum gains when adding power-enhancement products
As much as I don’t want to be that person who loudly states the obvious, in the case of towing, the pickup is the true workhorse. Individual expression of vehicle personalization, whether bolting on accessories for aesthetics or modifying an engine to add performance and power, is virtually universal among truck owners. The current crop of truck engineers from auto manufacturers is providing diesel platforms that offer very stout out-of-the-box, asphalt-tearing performance levels, and there are a number aftermarket products that add eye-popping horsepower and torque. But “bolting on” performance does not come without a few mechanical setbacks, such as premature fuel filter clogging and fuel-injector failure. Most diesel fuel injectors are made up of several complex internal moving parts operating under a great amount of pressure (typically more than 25,000 psi). Unfortunately, what many performance companies don’t mention is that, while the stock injectors can handle most of the extra fuel being shoved through them, a common weak point is the maximum volume of fuel being delivered by the stock pump system, which can’t keep up with the gains. The same is true for the factory filtration system; it simply can’t keep pace with monster amounts of additional fuel being pushed through.
Owners adding power improvers can look to BD Diesel Performance for a trio of cost-effective products that will make sure the engine never runs low on fuel volume. The company’s Flow-MaX Fuel Lift Pump Kit, Fuel Filter Kit and the Low Fuel Pressure Alarm Kit are products that allow owners to realize the optimum benefit from diesel-engine performance equipment without compromising relative componentry.
The heart of the system is the conversion to an external, frame-mounted BD Flow-MaX V3 Lift Pump. BD’s Flow-MaX Fuel Filter Kit is highly recommended for use with this new pump, especially when considering it’s almost triple the size of the stocker. Topping off the new pump and filtration improvements is BD’s Low Fuel Pressure Alarm Light, which provides yet another level of insurance for those who like to monitor real-time function. While these three products work best as a team, they are only offered à la carte.
We installed these kits in a 2006 Ram, and quickly discovered that a little pre-planning will go a long way, especially in key areas like determining fuel hose length and the number of clamps needed, in case a slightly custom assembly becomes necessary. Also, this project is technically doable by advanced do-it-yourselfers, but the use of a vehicle lift will eliminate a lot of struggles when removing the fuel tank that otherwise would be encountered while crawling around on the ground.
BD supplies all the necessary hardware, brackets, wiring terminals, filters and pressure switch for all three kits, but it’s a very good idea to double check the presence of all the parts. The parts for all the kits are crafted using high-quality materials and precise machining. Plan on devoting at least a full day to the project just in case there’s a small setback. It will also be in your best interest to solicit a capable friend’s help. Another key point is to begin the project with an almost empty fuel tank; even a quarter full tank will still be very heavy. We found that the tank was manageable at 1/8 full.
After battery disconnection, the installation begins by removing the banjo bolt on the factory fuel filter housing, facing the rear of the truck. With the factory fuel supply line banjo fitting removed, the Flow-MaX metric-thread to JIC and JIC to barbed adapters can be secured in their specified places. This is also the time to connect the length of 3/8-inch fuel hose to the new barbed fitting using one of the hose clamps, followed by loosely running the remaining hose down to the underside of the truck and along the driver-side frame rail to a location suitable for the new pump and filters.
There are two options for mounting the pump. One is a little more involved and permanent requiring drilling, and the other slightly quicker to install and uninstall, if ever necessary, by way of tough stainless-steel straps. It’s highly recommended that a loose pre-assembly take place in order to pinpoint where the parts will fit best for the specific truck. In our case, the entire set-up had to be placed on the outside of the frame rail, versus the intended inside location, because of clearance problems between the fuel tank and 4WD transfer case. On the plus side, this means quicker and easier filter access, on the down side, it means less enclosed protection. We plan on adding a custom cover fabricated with a steel frame and aluminum panels.
Once the pump is securely mounted, the Flow-MaX Fuel Filter Kit can be assembled and connected after prefilling the filters and lubricating the seals. From here, the fuel feed hose can be routed after tapping into the truck’s steel factory fuel line. Keep in mind, this hard line is the largest in diameter of all the neighboring lines as well as the thickest. It’s going to be a bit of a struggle to get through this line, so you’ll need a quality compact tubing cutter and a place to get comfortable; it will likely take a while to make the cut. After cutting the hard fuel line, finish routing the 3/8-inch hose (installed at the outset of this job) from the OEM filter housing to the outlet barb on the new pump/filter assembly. Another small section of rubber fuel hose will go between the freshly cut hard line and the inlet barb on the new fuel hardware.
Now the harder part: routing the final hose, which is housed deep inside the fuel tank. You guessed it; the fuel tank must be dropped and the one-piece factory fuel pump and sending unit basket removed. This is the part where a vehicle lift will be your best friend, allowing easier access to the two nuts and straps holding the tank into position. A little tip: It may be easier to remove the left rear tire to access the electrical plug and fuel line clips through the side of the bed and frame.
Once the tedious task of removing the tank is completed and the basket on a bench, you’ll need to carefully remove the OEM pump, which is held in place by three black plastic arms that must be broken or cut through. The instructions tell you to use a hacksaw blade to cut through the arms, however that can be quite messy and demand cleaning, which relates to more work and time. We simply opted to carefully use a pair of side cutters. With the original pump out of the way and the prep work complete, a few inches of hose is put into place. Before this step can be completed, the end of the hose resting at the bottom of the pump basket MUST be properly prepared. Following the directions, either a V-notch or angle cut must be carved into the hose, thereby preventing suctioning to the basket. It is absolutely imperative to pay close attention to detail here as your truck can and will run itself out of fuel, and, trust me, you don’t want to remove the tank twice. With all the inner tank modifications to the fuel feed hose completed, the tank is ready to go back in the same way it came out.
The only remaining install step to conquer at this point is some very simple and fairly quick wiring. However, just before the final wiring is handled, we elected to add the aforementioned Low Fuel Pressure Alarm Light into the mix, tying all wiring together at once. This is not a very difficult job, requiring a few minutes to replace the banjo bolt on the top portion of the CP3 rail injection pump with the pressure switch and supplied two sealing washers. There’s only one pump trigger wire to be spliced into from beneath the engine’s Total Integrated Power Module (TIPM) and the power and ground go through a prewired relay and then directly to the battery. The ¼-inch light is routed to a spot on or under the dash and the single, switched 12-volt DC source is connected via a fuse tap. Wiring complete, job complete!
As an engine performance geek, it’s nice to have a seat-of-the-pants feeling that something is happening after installing new power-adding components. But it’s different here. If you’re seeking tons of on-the-fly power from these upgrades, you’ll be disappointed. The Flow-MaX Fuel Lift Pump and Fuel Filter kits aren’t going to deliver any noticeable power to a stock vehicle. Instead you’ll get enough clean, fuel-flow volume from the tank to easily handle any power increases gained by aftermarket upgrades while providing extra protection for costly injectors. Considering most diesel fuel injectors average more than $400 each, I’d call that cheap insurance. The BD Flow-MaX Fuel Lift Pump kit sells for $566; the Fuel Filter kit is $172 and the Low Fuel Pressure Alarm is $74.
BD Diesel Performance