The Good Ol' Series 60 Detroit

2021, Detroit, Dyno Tuning -

The Good Ol' Series 60 Detroit

Even though the Detroit Diesel Series 60 was discontinued in 2011, it’s still one of the most common engines for Class 8 trucks. Some may not know about the fascinating story behind these engines. At the onset of WWII General Motors created the GM Diesel Division in 1938 to build engines that would support the war effort. Their first engine, the Series 71 2-stroke engine was used in tanks, generators, and construction equipment during the Second World War. After the war, Detroit kept producing the Series 71 along with the new Series 53 for on highway use. Detroit’s engines were so popular they had over 40% of the market share in the early 70’s. Unfortunately for Detroit, in 1976 Cummins introduced the 855 Big Cam which was a more technically advanced 4 stroke diesel engine. The Big Cam was also the first engine to meet noise and pollution standards of the day. The old Series 71, having originated in the 1930’s, was loud, smoky, and fuel hungry. Detroit knew they had to design a world class engine to compete, especially since their market share was now less than 5%. In the 1980’s they started developing the Series 60 with the target of being fuel efficient, reliable, and clean enough to meet emissions. Debuting in 1987, the Series 60 was a clean sheet design, applying the newest available technology to it. Most notably, it was the first computer controlled diesel engine. This Detroit Diesel Engine Control or “DDEC” system meant that drivers could get real-time system updates, diagnostic features, and horsepower could be increased with a computer instead of wrenches. Although it was smaller than comparable CAT and Cummins engines at just 12.7 liters, with the right tuning it could embarrass those larger engines in an uphill pull, all while returning impressive fuel economy. Steve Kron, a long time customer and fuel mileage fanatic, has managed to get between 9 and 10 MPG from his old 12.7. It’s equipped with our tune, manifold, and performance turbo. 

Although these engines are about 20 years old now, parts are affordable and plentiful because Detroit is still producing parts for these wonderful engines. They provide everything needed to keep them running including fully rebuilt crate engines. We’re also still rebuilding these engines and can provide a more personalized build to suit your needs. Every one of our engine rebuilds involves balancing the pistons and rods (a rare practice these days) which will ensure your engine will be running smooth for many years to come. Now we’re working on the newest series of engines from Detroit and Cummins, but we still provide the full range of service for legacy engines like the Series 60. 

Ethan from our engineering department has mastered ECM tuning on these early computer controlled engines like the Series 60 and Cummins N14 Celect and Celect Plus engines. Because these computer systems are relatively simple, we can provide ECM tuning at a reasonable cost of $650 for a factory upgrade or $1,450 for a custom tune. In addition we can tune them from any one of our remote locations across the U.S. and Canada. Just visit the Remote Tuning tab on our website to see the map of available remote tuners. We have the capability to tune some of the newest engines from Detroit, but some of them will need to be done at our shop in Saxonburg, PA. Please give us a call to find out if we can tune your engine remotely or not. 

The majority of the tunes we install on the 12.7 Detroit is 500 hp to the ground, which is 588 flywheel horsepower. We also have a custom 580 horsepower to the ground tune which is 682 flywheel horsepower. The ECM can be programmed for two horsepower settings, all you have to do is flip a switch.  This is not as popular as the single horsepower setting, most owner operators that have it say they never use the higher setting. The engine runs so good on the lower setting that they keep it there, especially when equipped with the Pittsburgh manifold and turbo. The stock manifold and turbo on a DDEC4 12.7 are very small and restrict the exhaust flow. There is a reason why a performance gasoline engine has a larger intake manifold, carburetor, and exhaust headers. It’s all about increasing air flow for the intake and exhaust. The diesel engine needs the same. Many times on the Dyno we see an 80 horsepower increase with just the exhaust manifold and turbo, especially on the 3406 and C-15 Caterpillar engines.  All of the ISX and X-15 Cummins engines benefit from the Pittsburgh exhaust and intake manifolds.  It’s all about timing fuel and air flow to enable the engine to perform, deliver good fuel mileage, and have a long life.

Many of you are now regularly using Max Mileage FBC and we’re working hard to make buying the catalyst more convenient than ever. We have a large dealer network including most DPF alternative locations where you will be able to sign up for their lifetime DPF warranty. We also have over 600 subscribers on our online subscription program. You save money with free shipping and it’s very convenient having Max Mileage will arrive at your doorstep. If you live in Canada we have 23 dealers for you there. From Nova Scotia to B.C. we have you covered. Our dealer Brad Richmond in B.C. will ship you Max Mileage with his own subscription program. Just visit Brad’s website Brad also travels along the west coast down to Vancouver and Seattle so please give him a call if you’re in the area. He always has some catalyst in his truck. 

Written by;

Bruce Mallinson, Andrew Wilson, & Jane Gates

Pittsburgh Power Inc.

3600 S. Noah Dr.  Saxonburg, Pa. 16056, 724-360-4080