Project Box Hauler: Autometer Gauges

August 4th, 2010

By: Kevin Wilson

Photos: Kevin Wilson

Keeping an eye on engine vitals is as simple as installing a quality set of gauges. For anyone who tows with their diesel, both boost and pyrometer gauges are a must.

Project Box Puller
Keeping Track of Vitals

For our regular readers, Project Box Hauler needs no introduction. For those who have just joined us, here’s the Cliff Notes version of the series. We got our hands on an ’01 Ford F-350 dually that spent its previous life as a Castrol Racing show car hauler for John Force Racing. The truck, fitted with a well-worn 7.3L Power Stroke, was showing 200,000-plus miles on the odometer and was in serious need of attention. The buyer got the fifth-wheel trailer with the deal, hence the name Project Box Hauler.

Since the truck is based in Arizona, we took it to the Ford diesel experts at Strictly Diesel in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the once-over and a plan of attack to get the truck back to more than working order. The premise of the project was to show how to buy a used diesel, what to expect when you get into it, especially if it has a lot of miles on it, and how to upgrade your newfound friend to be the truck you’ve always wanted.

So far, we’ve added the usual to the Ford: intake system, intake manifold, turbo-back exhaust system, etc. With two dead cylinders from bad fuel injectors, we replaced the injectors with 50-to-70 horse units from Dynomite Diesel, and added one of ITP Diesel’s trick regulated return kits. The truck now runs smoothly and quietly. But with all the added fuel, keeping track of engine vitals is now a must, especially since the owner still tows the box with it.

For Project Box Hauler, the owner opted for a set of Auto Meter Ultra-Lite II Series gauges. Auto Meter also sent along its two-gauge A-pillar pod to make mounting easier. The gauges come complete with all the necessary wiring, connections and boost tubing, along with complete instructions.One of the most vital things to keep track of on a diesel, especially if you have a tow rig, is exhaust gas temperature. Under full load and with larger-than-stock injectors, it’s easy to get the EGTs into the nuclear zone above 1,400 degrees. Without any kind of visual reference, having a meltdown is easy. The fix is to install a quality set of gauges to keep track of engine vitals. In fact, even on a stock truck, having some quality gauges to rely on is the solid basis for adding aftermarket goodies.

For this project, since the truck is a six-speed manual, and transmission temps are not an issue, the owner selected a two-gauge pod from the folks at Auto Meter, which has been a household name in the performance aftermarket for decades. Its products are standard fare in NASCAR and NHRA, along with several other pro racing series. Its reputation for accuracy and durability is second to none, so if they are good enough for NASCAR, they are certainly good enough for Project Box Puller.

The folks at Auto Meter sent the owner both a pyrometer and a boost gauge for the big Ford from the Ultra-Lite II Series, along with a two-gauge, A-pillar mounting pod. For diesel owners who tow and have an automatic transmission, a trans temp gauge is highly recommended. Auto Meter has them, along with a three-gauge A-pillar pod setup to make the installation compete.

The first step of the install is to remove the factory A-pillar from the truck. It will be reused later after the Auto Meter pillar is installed over it.

When dealing with anything electrical, installation is more than just a bolt-on deal. In fact, mounting the gauges is the easy part, with the exception of drilling and tapping for the pyrometer probe. The rest is wiring and neatly tucking away that wiring. We let the guys at Strictly Diesel hook up the Auto Meter gauge set, and in less than 4 hours, the truck was up and running and monitoring vitals.

The following photos highlight the install. Nate at Strictly Diesel took a few shortcuts since he’s done hundreds of these installs. One of his install tricks was to use quick-connect boost couplers from ITP Diesel on the boost gauge, with much more flexible tubing than comes with the kit.

If you own a diesel truck, and are intent on towing with it, you must have a good set of gauges to keep an eye on EGTs and boost levels. Auto Meter offers a full line of gauges to do the job, along with the A-pillar mounting pods.

SOURCES:

Auto Meter
(815) 899-0800
www.autometer.com

ITP Diesel
(623) 582-4404
www.itpdiesel.com
sales@itpdiesel.com

Strictly Diesel
(480) 922-8768
www.strictlydiesel.com

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