Project TowBoat: On The Fly Tuning With EFILive And Firepunk Diesel

With a diesel truck, one of the first things you want to do is modify it. Whether that be interior or exterior accessories, larger, better flowing exhaust, or even custom tuning, it’s inevitable. When it comes to the 2006+ Dodge Ram Cummins trucks, EFILive is clearly one of the most superior tuning platforms available and that’s why we have brought you here today. We’re installing custom tuning to our tow truck, Project TowBoat.

When it comes to modifying a diesel truck, there aren’t many things that offer a large horsepower-per-dollar return as custom tuning does. Injectors or injectables will rank up there with great increases, but those usually require additional insurance mods. With fuel injectors, you’re going to need the air to support it. With a turbocharger, you’re going to need the fuel to get the full potential. But with custom tuning, you can gain a great amount of power in only a few minutes.

We caught up with Donna Blackmore of EFILive to get her thoughts on EFILive and their future with the diesel performance market. “EFILive is looking forward to the future in the diesel performance market. We enjoy working with other aftermarket parts providers to ensure their parts can be dialed in for maximum benefits, as well as delivering industry-leading features to our customers – switchable tuning on the fly and enhanced data acquisition (EDA) both come to mind,” she said. “EFILive is currently developing new hardware that should be available in Q2 2019. It will come online about the same time as our V8 tune tool editor. Those two projects deliver the groundwork that will form the base of all future development in the coming years and delivers the strong product integration that our customers want.”

For Project TowBoat, we wanted to take advantage of the most powerful and state-of-the-art tuning available for these trucks. The guys and gals over at EFILive helped us reach our end goal. By the time we’re done, we want to tow our drag truck cross-country with our new mods to the truck, while also obtaining great fuel mileage and lower exhaust gas temperatures.

One common misconception of EFILive is that they actually aren’t a tuning company. What they actually do is software engineering, through which they can accommodate their customers so they can offer tuning to nearly all of the engine parameters. With that kind of access, this allows the professionals to go in and fine-tune engines to reach peak performance.

Again, we asked Mrs. Blackmore questions about EFILive. One was, how does custom tuning change things for diesel performance? “Custom tuning is exactly that – custom. Factory tuning has to suit a wide range of conditions and applications, but creating and refining a custom tune delivers results to suit your application, location, and dial in hard parts for optimum results,” said Blackmore. “A person towing at altitude has a different set of requirements to the guy who wants maximum MPG at sea level. Custom tuning delivers solutions to both of these scenarios. Add in features like switchable tuning on the fly, and tell me: Who wouldn’t want to optimize their vehicle?”

With that being said, that’s why we have teamed up alongside Firepunk Diesel to get the most out of our 6.7-liter Cummins engine. We have our AutoCal from Firepunk with the expert touch installed already for our current modifications. Included in the box are the AutoCal itself, the OBDII to AutoCal wire, OBDII-DSP5 switch wire, and the DSP5 switch and detailed instructions on how to pull and write files onto the truck’s ECM.

The DSP5 Switch

One of the most popular things about EFILive is their capability to use it as a programmer and change the levels of performance on the fly. Generally, when using a programmer, you have to change the tuning on the truck as the truck sits with the engine off. With the DSP5 switch, you have the capability to change the ECM’s settings without reflashing. With only a turn of the five-position switch, you’re changing settings for different situations.

The CSP5 switch has a rotary dial with a circuit board behind it. When handling this piece, you must be careful as the parts are plastic.

As we stated before, we elected to use Firepunk Diesel for the tuning. When dealing with them, generally, the AutoCal will come with three separate tunes. If you decide to use the CSP5 switch, the tuner will load up to five tunes onto it. Regardless of how you use it, each tune file is designated for its own power levels and changes.

As you can see, we've plugged our cord into the AutoCal just before pulling the stock file and loading on the new custom tunes. NOTE: POWER LEVELS ARE ESTIMATES UNTIL PROVEN ON THE DYNO.

Tune 1: Modified Stock

The modified stock setting is basically for those wanting minimal increases. This will be fine tuned to put the engine of your truck dead into its efficiency range and perform the best it can at that power level. Estimated to add 30 horsepower.

Tune 2: Mileage

The obvious mileage tune is for optimal performance in going the distance. This is for those long-distance drives, where you’re trying to get the most out of each and every fuel tank. Estimated to add 60 horsepower.

Tune 3: Towing

If you’re a heavy hauler and want the best of both worlds – mileage and increased power – the tow tune is for you. The tow tune is designed to provide more low-end torque for towing those heavy trailers.Estimated to add 100 horsepower.

Tune 4: Street

You’ve unloaded the trailer, and now you’re out and about. This is for those who are wanting to have a little fun on the weekend and possibly ruin some expensive tires. This is nearing a maximum effort tune, but still not quite 110 percent. At this point, you’re adding up to 120+ horsepower.

Tune 5: Race

If you’re one to frequently travel to the streets of Mexico, then this is for you. This is the maximum effort tune for your truck that your tuner has created. You’ve told him what modifications are installed and with a professional opinion, they will create the safest yet most powerful tune possible. When you upgrade more parts like a transmission, CP3 injection pump(s), injectors, or turbo(s), you can reach out for a re-tune that will be modified for the new parts. Inevitably, the truck will run even better.

In addition to installing these custom tunes from Firepunk, we have teamed up with a few other companies to install a set of compound turbochargers for the ultimate towing setup.

So, what’s next? Well, with our tunes loaded onto the truck, we took it out for a rip. It is certainly clear that we’re making way more power than before. So, stay tuned to see some dyno sessions for actual numbers on all settings, along with a lot more boost. We are eager to get this thing loaded down and pull our drag truck to see how much better it does.

We cannot thank the whole crew at EFILive for being apart of this build, and thank Lavon at Firepunk Diesel for helping us out with tuning our project truck. If you have a 2006+ Dodge Ram truck, you check out their website here and get your custom tunes right now. For more information or questions about EFILive, be sure and check out their website. Stay tuned, as much more is coming for Project TowBoat here on Diesel Army.

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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