Making the Grade

RAM pickup hitched to a fifth-wheel horse trailer with barn in the background

Banks Power can breathe new life into an aging Dodge Cummins with more spirited performance and better fuel economy

If there’s one thing RVers always seem to need more of, it’s horsepower. From passing trucks to ascending steep grades, having an abundance of oomph provides a variety of benefits, not the least of which are increased driver confidence, reduced anxiety and shorter travel times. It’s no wonder that new trucks seem to get more powerful with every passing year. Of all the benefits a modern truck can deliver, horsepower (and torque) are the most tangible, especially when towing a trailer. And contrary to what you may have heard, more power can actually improve fuel economy, because less throttle is required for a given load and/or speed.

Banks Power Fuel Filter Relocation Kit, and Monster Exhaust, Quick-Turbo, Twin-Ram Intake Manifold and Ram-Air Cold-Air Intake systems.
(Clockwise from top left) Banks Power Fuel Filter Relocation Kit, and Monster Exhaust, Quick-Turbo, Twin-Ram Intake Manifold and Ram-Air Cold-Air Intake systems.
photos by Chris Hemer and Jon Apogee

Thankfully, it’s not always necessary to buy a new truck to realize significant horsepower and torque gains. Banks Power of Azusa, California, offers a variety of products and complete systems for trucks and motorhomes designed to improve horsepower and fuel economy. Banks Power has been an icon in the performance aftermarket industry since 1958, and the company’s patriarch, Gale Banks, has vast experience in almost every type of motorsport competition, from drag racing to Bonneville and Pikes Peak. Obviously, racing has little to do with towing a trailer (other than the rig that transports the race vehicle), but the same principles apply to every engine: More air and fuel combined with optimal volumetric efficiency translate to more power and torque.

Banks’ PowerPack systems have become synonymous with towing performance, especially where diesel powerplants are concerned. Increased turbo boost along with the appropriate fuel-system upgrades and reduced intake/exhaust restrictions result in serious power gains while maintaining the reliability RVers count on. So, when a member of our staff, who owns the cleanest 1998 Dodge Ram Cummins truck we’ve ever seen (pictured above), inquired about how she might get more power from her 12-valve powerplant, we knew just who to call.

The crew at Banks recommended several components from the com­- pany’s vast catalog of performance parts that would help improve engine efficiency and horsepower, including its Twin-Ram intake manifold (part number 42710), Quick-Turbo turbine (exhaust) housing with Big Head actuator (24052), Ram-Air intake system and filter (42225), and Monster exhaust system (48636). It’s important to note here that these components were previously offered in a PowerPack bundle under part number 49280, but due to customer requests, they are now offered à la carte. All told, the parts featured here came to more than $2,300, but the claimed gains are very impressive: 127 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, along with a 7 percent gain in fuel economy.

To see what was involved with the installation and to test the system for ourselves, we headed to Banks Power headquarters for the old Dodge’s transformation. First, the truck was tested on Banks’ chassis dyno, producing 178 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. After installation of the Banks components, which took approximately 10 hours to complete, the truck was dyno’d again the following morning. This time, the old girl knocked out 299 horsepower and 644 lb-ft of torque. Not quite the 127-wheel horsepower Banks claims, but considering the truck’s age and mileage, that’s still pretty impressive. After several days of driving, we also noted an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy driving solo and 8 percent while towing.

If your truck is starting to feel old or you just want more power, Banks components or a complete PowerPack system could be just the solution for breathing new life into your truck’s engine — and excitement into your towing experience.

Banks Power | 800-601-8072 |



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