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Western Diesel TurboRamAir

Smokey Wren
[email protected]

The Western Diesel TurboRamAir, for '99 and newer Powerstroke diesel engines in Ford trucks, including Excursions, is a complete air intake system, from the turbo forward. It includes a washable, reusable, conical foam air filter. Western Diesel claims it results in cooler exhaust temperatures, quicker turbo response, and more power compared to the stock airbox and filter because of the tremendous increase in air volume for the engine to use - it doubles the amount of cool clean air.

Here's a link to the Western Diesel website where they advertise the TurboRamAir: Website.

Photos of the TurboRamAir being installed are at: Photos.

Diesel Injection Service (DIS) in Lubbock, Texas, is a distributor of Western Diesel products. Western Diesel Performance provided an evaluation copy of the TurboRamAir to DIS. Then DIS asked me to evaluate the TurboRamAir and report the results on I agreed, somewhat reluctantly, because my '99.5 F-250 Powerstroke CrewCab had all the power and performance I needed for my use. While cruising the 120 miles from my home to the DIS headquarters in the pre-dawn hours of the day of the test, the truck was running great towing my fifth-wheel RV trailer. And I thought, "Smokey, you're nuts! Why would you want more power and performance than this?" I rationalized that the system should increase fuel mileage, and that's the only complaint I have with my PowerStroke - I'd like better fuel mileage. So I continued with the test, knowing that my poor truck named Sierra Blanca was going to take a beating in the hours ahead.

I decided that a complete test should compare the TurboRamAir system to both a stock Powerstroke and to one that was modified with a hotrod "chip". A chip is a method to alter the stock computer program that controls the operation of the truck's diesel engine and transmission. I suspected that most of the folks that would consider buying the TurboRamAir would have a chip of some sort installed in their truck. So we arranged to have a Western Diesel TurboChip available for the test.

The manufacturer says The Western Diesel TurboChip® is designed by diesel engine specialists specifically for the Powerstroke engine. Western Diesel claims it builds power smoothly and consistently with up to 300+ hp and 625+ lbs./ft. of torque, along with safe EGTs (exhaust gas temperatures), increased fuel mileage, and improved transmission performance and shift points. It also raises the stock speed limiter. I didn't plan to evaluate the TurboChip, but the test results below speak for themselves.

Since I already had a K&N air filter from DIS in Sierra Blanca, we decided as part of the test to see if the K&N made any difference compared to a stock Motorcraft paper air filter.

And some have claimed that a simple modification to a stock air intake system on '99.5 or newer Powerstrokes would be a cheap way to gain the benefits of a ram air system without the cost. This mod is called a "ZooDad", after the screen name of the guy that documented a how-to on the modification. The primary objection to the ZooDad mod is that it opens up the air intake to allow water and bugs and other airborn crud to easily enter the air box. The air filter should stop the bugs, but not necessarily the water from a rainstorm. And water in the combustion chamber is instant disaster. But some folks are willing to take that chance to get a cheap performance increase.

So here's the test plan:

Zero to 60 MPH and 50-to-80 MPH elapsed times would test any power increases or decreases. I think the 50-to-80 elasped time is the most significant, because that simulates passing a slowpoke on a 2-lane highway. The max EGT and turbo boost readings would tell us how hard we were on the engine. And we'd keep an eye on the tranny temp gauge to be sure we didn't get the automatic tranny too hot. Since we were using a simple handheld stopwatch to get the elapsed times, we'd make two or three or even four runs with each configuration to be sure we had reasonably accurate times.

The baseline stock truck is a '99.5 F-250 CrewCab longbed with 3.73 rear axle ratio. It had 37,300 miles on the clock at the start of the test. It has oversized LT295/75R16 tires on the rear, which gives it an equivalent rear-end ratio of 3.54. The speedometer has been calibrated to 100 percent accuracy. The truck had stock '99.5 intake with a new Motorcraft paper air filter, no hotrod chip, Walker BigTruck straight-thru muffler, lightly loaded truck full of passengers - grossing about 8,000 pounds with no trailer. So "unloaded" in the test results below just means no trailer - not literally unloaded. And "stock" below means this truck without a hotrod chip, not literally a factory-stock truck. Add the 5er RV trailer which added a little over 5,000 pounds to the load, putting us at almost exactly the 8,800 GVWR for the F-250, and with a gross combined weight (GCW) of almost 14,000 pounds. The road was almost level - we made runs both directions with no change in results.

We planned to get the times on several configurations, with and without the RV.

  1. Stock truck with stock air filter
  2. Chipped truck with stock air filter
  3. Stock truck with K&N air filter
  4. Chipped truck with K&N air filter
  5. Stock truck with the ZooDad mod
  6. Chipped truck with the ZooDad mod
  7. Stock truck with the TurboRamAir
  8. Chipped truck with the TurboRamAir

So that's 16 different configurations to test, and with an average of 6 runs per configuration (3 for 0-to-60 and 3 for 50-to-80) , that's 96 runs we were planning. Long day! But after only a couple of runs with the K&N air filter, we concluded it made zero difference in performance, so we didn't do all the tests planned with the K&N. And since the ZooDad tests showed it didn't increase performance, we did only 4 of the 8 planned runs with the ZoodDad mod.

Here's a summary of the results of our 50 to 80 MPH tests with pedal to the metal. Details of both the 50-to-80 and 0-to-60 results are at the end of the article.

Change to K&N air filter: no change in stock or chipped results.

Change to ZooDad air intake: no change in chipped results. But the ZooDad mod actually increased EGT about 150 degrees on the stock truck with no chip. No, I can't explain that one.

  1. Stock unloaded: After TurboRamAir installed, EGT was the same and boost improved 4 PSI to 21 PSI.
  2. Stock and dragging the 5er: After TurboRamAir installed, EGT dropped 250 degrees and boost increased 3 PSI to 21 PSI.
  3. With the unloaded chipped truck, the TurboRamAir dropped EGT 300 degrees - and boost went up 3 PSI to 26.
  4. When loaded with the 5er and with the WD Turbochip, the TurboRamAir dropped the EGT 225 degrees and increased the boost another 2 pounds to 27. (Whew! 27 is my max boost comfort zone.)
  5. The TurboRamAir didn't significantly change the elapsed times, whether stock or chipped, unloaded or towing. But there was at least some increase in power because by the time we installed the system and made the test runs, it was in the heat of the afternoon - at least 20 degrees warmer than when we made the earlier test runs. And we had one more passenger in the truck when we made the runs with the TurboRamAir installed. And not just any passenger, but one that admits to weighing over 325 pounds. So I'd have to conclude that the TurboRamAir did add a little power, although we have no way to put a number on the increase.

Preliminary Conclusion: The TurboRamAir lowered the EGT significantly when towing or when hot-rodded with a chip. That's the reason you might want one for your truck. I'm glad it's now installed on my truck.

A final conclusion cannot be made until after several thousand miles of my "normal" use to see whether fuel mileage improves.

And the TurboChip? Well, the purpose of this article did not include evaluation of the TurboChip. So I'll just say that after you install a Western Diesel TurboChip, you'd rather take a whooping than to have to take it out. The numbers below should explain why.

Test results:

  1. Base run: Stock without RV, Motorcraft air filter
    13 seconds 0-to-60, 750 EGT, 17 PSI
    14 seconds 50-to-80, 800 EGT, 17 PSI
  2. Base run: Stock with RV, Motorcraft air filter
    23 seconds 0-to-60, 900 EGT, 18 PSI
    32 seconds 50-to-80, 1050 EGT, 18 PSI
  3. &
  4. Same as 1 & 2, but with K&N air filter. Results were the same times, temps, and PSI as tests 1 & 2.
  5. Chipped without RV, Motorcraft air filter
    10 seconds 0-to-60, 1150 EGT, 23 PSI
    10 seconds 50-to-80, 1175 EGT, 23 PSI
  6. Chipped with RV, Motorcraft air filter
    15 seconds 0-to-60, 1175 EGT, 25 PSI
    17 seconds 50-to-80, 1175 EGT, 25 PSI
  7. Stock without RV, Motorcraft air filter, ZooDad mod
    13.5 seconds 0-to-60, 950 EGT, 17 PSI
    13.5 seconds 50-to-80, 950 EGT, 18 PSI
  8. Chipped without RV, Motorcraft air filter, ZooDad mod
    10.5 seconds 0-to-60, 1150 EGT, 22 PSI
    10.5 seconds 50-to-80, 1175 EGT, 23 PSI
  9. Stock with RV, Motorcraft air filter, ZooDad mod
    23 seconds 0-to-60, 925 EGT, 18 PSI
    32 seconds 50-to-80, 1050 EGT, 18 PSI
  10. Chipped with RV, Motorcraft air filter, ZooDad mod
    16 seconds 0-to-60, 1175 EGT, 24 PSI
    18 seconds 50-to-80, 1175 EGT, 25 PSI
  11. Stock truck without RV, with TurboRamAir
    12.5 seconds 0-to-60, 800 EGT, 21 PSI
    13 seconds 50-to-80, 800 EGT, 21 PSI
  12. Chipped truck without RV, with TurboRamAir
    9.8 seconds 0-to-60, 825 EGT, 26 PSI
    10 seconds 50-to-80, 875 EGT, 26 PSI
  13. Stock truck with RV, TurboRamAir
    21 seconds 0-to-60, 800 EGT, 21 PSI
    32 seconds 50-to-80, 850 EGT, 21 PSI
  14. Chipped truck with RV, TurboRamAir
    15 seconds 0-to-60, 900 EGT, 26 PSI
    18 seconds 50-to-80, 950 EGT, 27 PSI

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