Modernizing a 7.3L Powerstroke with Today’s Technology

Modernizing a 7.3L Powerstroke with Today’s Technology

In recent decades, the 7.3L PowerStroke engine has built a reputation for being a reliable workhorse. There is still a following for this engine in the diesel community, despite it not being produced for almost 16 years. It is not uncommon for truck owners to sell their newer models to upgrade to a 7.3L engine. Their prices often exceed those of newer Ford models, demonstrating their popularity.

Only drawback is the lack of power made by the engine-or, in other words, its infamous 7.3L PowerStroke. When it was released, the engine had impressive performance numbers. Furthermore, the engine’s low power output also contributes to its reliability. We have a skewed perception of how much power an engine should produce. Aftermarket performance parts are capable of enhancing power on modern diesel engines, which set a high bar for performance. Modern trucks have some disadvantages, however, such as their high prices and the fact that some major upgrades can affect reliability.

We’re focusing on improving Jared Lehenbauer (somewhat neglected over the years) ’01 Ford F-250 into a truck that can serve him well as a towing vehicle. 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel parts are starting to show signs of wear after years of hard use. Turbochargers sometimes squeal under heavy loads, engines run rough (injector cleaner will help), and if the truck sits for a long time, it is difficult to start (HPOP is losing prime due to oil seeping into the fuel). We must replace worn components in the engine to make it more productive for towing without losing the dependability that this truck is known for.

The team at KC Turbos told me about a new turbocharger they were developing: the KC300x. This was discussed along with our plans for the engine. According to KC, they have the right setup to wake up the truck, improve towing, and provide great driveability (turbo configuration, injectors, and ECM tuning).

Modernizing a 7.3L Power Stroke with Today's Technology in Turbocharging,  Injection, and Programming

We hopped in the Super Duty and drove over to Apache Junction, Arizona, where KC Turbos replaced a few quick repairs (injector O-rings).

The 2001 Ford F-250 is put on the dyno (for later comparison) when we arrive at KC Turbos. James Bolen from KC Turbos disconnected an old Banks Six-Gun unit prior to the test to ensure our ECM is calibrated for a baseline dyno run.

The dyno is secured to it with straps and backed onto it. Tires larger than 37 inches are not designed to withstand speeds above 100 mph, so we are hesitant to use them. KC Turbos’ owner Charlie Fish is at the wheel and can generate 226 horsepower and 474 pound-feet of torque.

The Power Hungry Performance Hydra 7.3L Powerstroke Performance Programming Chip will be installed after the baseline runs are complete. There are 15 slots available for calibrating the ECM manually on the Hydra. The user can also turn off module starting in addition to setting parameters to prevent module loading. Hydra tunes adjust shift strategy (which includes injector and turbo sets) for power increases. A stock transmission (like ours) cannot survive without this feature.