5 Minutes with Gale Banks

5 Minutes with Gale Banks
By Mark Williams for PickupTrucks.com

At a recent Southern California event highlighting the benefits and strengths of the new 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel, we spent some time with Gale Banks of Banks Engineering.

For those who know the powerboat and heavy-duty diesel engine industry, Gale Banks’ name resonates with more than 50 years of experience. If there’s anyone in the auto industry qualified to talk about the current state of existing technology and what might lie ahead, he is. Of course, Banks has a few strong opinions, but they’re grounded in his decades of test experience and his own projects.

On Ram’s 6.7-liter Cummins I-6:

"The Cummins is a strong engine and excellent for what it was designed to be. The problem is that it’s basically an old tractor motor. ... It’s certainly not lousy by any stretch of the definition, but the Ram HD is now owned by a company that makes some good diesels. That’s the biggest unknown factor right now. What will Fiat do with Cummins — invest, cut it loose or let it die? They’re clearly the most likely to bring a small diesel into the U.S. before either Ford or GM, but beyond that, they’ve got guys like Mark Allen at Jeep and Ralph Gilles at Dodge who want to shake things up ... and not just in design. They’re the ones to watch in my book."

On Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke Diesel V-8:

"[This new Power Stroke] doesn’t live up to its 400 horsepower and 800 pounds-feet of torque promise. Wide open throttle torque and horsepower curves should tell the whole story, but there are other factors at play, too. You have to look at gearing, rolling tire diameter, transmission ratios and the slip allowed inside the transmission at the output shaft and inside the torque converter. With all that said, everything you need to know is likely in the zero-to-30 mph time. ... As a hot-rodder, when I open the hood and can’t squeeze a finger anywhere, I wouldn’t want to mess with it."

On GM’s 6.6-liter Duramax V-8:

"This is a tried-and-true engine block, with several generations of improvement behind it, without any of the tricky design strategies to make it work. ... I like the fact that the exhaust ports are where God intended them to be. Traditionally designed engines are always going to be the best engines for gearheads like me. I like that the D-Max designers have had four generations to improve this engine, making it lighter, more fuel efficient and more powerful at each step along the way. I’m an advocate of high-speed diesel, that’s where we need to go, where we can back off the engine torque to save transmissions and keep the horsepower running strong. If we do that, we’ll have a better shot of meeting the CARB regulations, increasing durability, and getting the powertrains into more passenger vehicles."

It’s clear that Banks Engineering sees that the Duramax engine, built in Moraine, Ohio, is where his company will continue to spend its R&D dollars; however, only time will tell if the Duramax will have the legs to survive as Ford gets more time and a few more generations under its belt with its new Power Stroke. And we’re hearing Cummins is due for a significant overhaul as well (depending on how you slice it, the B-motor goes back almost 35 years). For now, it looks like the Duramax could be the HD turbo-diesel engine the aftermarket partners with the most — that is, if Gale Banks has his way.


Overall not much I disagree with. He will endorse what is most profitable for Banks, and we'd do the same.

BTW, does he blast the port design on the GM small 4.5L diesel too? No comment there... ;) I guess who cares if they aren't acutally making them! (yet?)

Cool article!

Duramax is a Iztualu (mispronounced like that old commercial) motor... Banks, can you imagine the capabilities after 4 generations of this new Ford Powerstroke.
Sometimes fastest does not always sale. Look at the Ford Mustang. What a marketable car. Not as fast as the Corvette but compare the sales from year to year.

Would like to hear some comments on how you can make a diesel motor "slip"... as per Gale Banks "In the past, Ford tuned their Power Stroke to, literally, slip more than the others..."

It almost sounds as if Gale Banks doesn't like new tech engines. I could be wrong.

@bob - this must make you happy. The first piece of positive GM news in a real long time.
Gale Banks is an expert in his field but he is a GM guy first and foremost.

Gale Banks refered to himself "as a hot-rodder"

What about "As a work guy" who needs a truck to get the day to day job done?

50% market share in the HD ranks answers that question!

If he doesn't want to "mess with" Fords, it's his loss. 1 out of every 2 heavy duty trucks sold is a Ford. Duh. You can keep your mess. I prefer to keep my engine stock anyway.

Call me crazy, I'll take the old tractor engine any day. Not just Cummins, either, I've got a 354 Perkins waiting to go into an old Power Wagon right now. If I ever finish that, I guarantee it'll pull more than any new diesel, just not as fast.

I'm sure this guy knows his stuff, but he seems a little biased to me. I don't think he's being totally honest. The cummins is an old tractor motor? In what way is that a "problem"? Makes it harder to put aftermarket parts on?
From what the experts are saying it seems like maybe ford's new 6.7 is a little overrated? The experts seem to like the duramax, but I can't help but like the super duty more. No matter what Ford is gonna continue to sell a lot more diesels than GM. GM seems to be turning into the "bad guy". I think their marketing where they always try to bash other companies really hurts their image.
With that said, for reliabiliy in a work truck and most bang for your buck how can you beat the cummins? What I'm seeing talking with local farmers most of them agree the cummins is easily the most reliable and you get the most for your money. If you really want something nice then most people seem to like the ford. The people I know that buy duramax are just hardcore chevy guys til the end. In the end I think the chevy and ford are pretty close and the cummins almost belongs in it's own separate category, not that that is a bad thing. We're lucky to have such great options.


I know right!

No the Duramax is the best Diesel engine available today and the Allison transmission is the best transmission available. together they make a unbeatable combination.
Sorry Ford fans. You lose!

i gotta say, anytime someone doesnt think ford is best theres alot of people with comments.

i think what gale was getting at with the "old tractor motor" comment was simply that its old tech, not nearly as efficient as i could be to do the same job.

@ tony

what gale was referring to was "slip" in the transmission. by not abruptly engaging the next gear the truck would feel like it shifted smoothly instead of the "bump" feel.

Gale Banks is a bright guy when it comes to making rediculously high peak torque and horsepower numbers from truck diesels.

Would these creations meet EPA emissions? Not a chance in hell.

Would these creations be able to handle thousands of hours of severe duty? Don't know because most people that do these kind of mods to trucks are POSERS.

Banks needs a reality check, there is tons of post-treatment after the turbo outlet on both 6.7L Powerstroke and 6.6L DMAX that says that past days are long gone.


Fords has 50% of the HD market.

Who is the real loser now blind fanboi?

Fords has 50% of the HD market. so what, all that proves is Ford has done a better job of marketing the superduty to their customers. I never said GM would take over the HD market. I am sure that GM will gain market share in the HD market however.

And no matter how many superduty's are sold, the Duramax is the proven diesel engine and will out perform the powerstroke in real world conditions. Like it or not, that is a fact. The duramax is king!

I think all of these engines and trucks are good.
My only concern about Gale Bank's opinion is that he's a GM guy.

To put this all in context, the first line of the news story is "
At a recent Southern California event highlighting the benefits and strengths of the new 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbodiesel, we spent some time with Gale Banks of Banks Engineering."
He was at an event promoting the new Duramax.

This would be like going to a Mustang event and asking Carroll Shelby to rate the current crop of muscle cars.

@ Luke - sounds like you have a cool project on your hands.

we no dmax coming whit a new diesel,whit the expertise of gm in diesel and Alison trany,believe the next generation be something very good..dont worry for ford ...

@ bob - Ram sells almost as many HD's as Silverado.
Why don't you tell us the year, make and model of truck you drive.
You talk about Duramax being King.
Have you seen the new "Max and Al" ads from GM?
Duramax thw "queen" of trucks would be more appropriate.

I thought the idea of adding hp to an engine was to add it to one that NEEDED it.He's in the wrong decade.All those slow Mercedes Benz 1980s cars,VW Rabbit Diesels,GM/Olds 350 diesels,old Volvo diesels,the original 6.2 GM and 6.9 Navistar...now those needed help.Where was he then?
I wouldnt say that a 400hp diesel needs any additional help.What did that 6.2 pump out? Like 160 hp?

The cummins is an old tractor motor? Are you serious? I am a Ford person through and through, but the cummins is the best motor there is for a pickup, just not the most powerful, yet. Id take a ford or ram over a gm anyday

From what the experts are saying it seems like maybe ford's new 6.7 is a little overrated? The experts seem to like the duramax, but I can't help but like the super duty more. No matter what Ford is gonna continue to sell a lot more diesels than GM. GM seems to be turning into the "bad guy". I think their marketing where they always try to bash other companies really hurts their image.
cool article

Wow, the Ford guys, especially Lou and Joe, seem to be pretty bent out of shape that a true respected expert thinks the new PSD is overrated and not the chevy eater it was supposed to be.

And Gale Banks is a DIESEL guy, not a chevy guy. If he drives a Duramax (i dont know if he does or not) then I would guess its because that is the best diesel in his opinion.

Sure is a lot of upset Ford fans.......they have been skewing their numbers for years with GVW and gear ratios! Take a look at the flywheel specs too get the numbers of true engine power.

I will say the tailpipe on the duramax is the most attractive part of the truck. That and what looks like 14 inch wheels. Good job GM. I know Ford and Ram thanks you.

My Case tractor does have a cummins in it and it is a beast. Banks is rite when he says the cummins is best for what it is designed for. They may never win a race but they will lug one hell of a load. On the other hand, I to think fords new diesel is overrated, just look at the two shootouts that were performed. The battle in the rockies says it all for real world applications. The d-max and alli are goin to be a hard pair to beat. I hope that people support GM so they can pay back the loans they received. I bought a d-max, I figured if I owned stock in GM from the bailout I might as well put in to that stock so I can get a return. I have been very pleased with it so far - full mileage great, pulls great, and rides great.

i'm a ford guy and ALWAYS will be, but i do believe that ford has to build back their reputation for making a reliable diesel. I say this only because of the 6.0. People talk about the 6.4, but i havent heard of any consistent problems in that motor. I do know that the 6.4 is a POWER HOUSE! and the 7.3 is king. Now that they are building this diesel themselves it can be a new beginning for ford diesel. and ftr ill take a cummins over dmax ANY day...

Dude what's with all the talk of "Ford fans being angry." I am a Ford truck man but hey this guy has been in this profession for 50yrs so you have to give him a lot of credit although I think he purposely puts more discredit on the Powerstroke because, well he works for gm and Ford is gm's rival so you can put the equation together.

What I think it comes down to is the strengths of each truck. The cummins is by far the best and most legendary diesel. That's the only main reason why people who know anything about pickups get a dodge is for the cummins, the rest of the truck is just Chrysler crap. The main reason why people get the chevy is for the best and most legendary transmission which is the Allison. And the reason people go for the Ford is because Ford offers the best, most balance, well put together, legendary overall pickup for the price.

So if you took the Cummins engine and the Allison transmission and put them in a Ford pickup truck, you have one heck of a Legendary pickup truck.

-Christ Bless

The endless debates live on and on, same arguments, different decades, and Ford guys will buy Ford, GM guys will buy GM, Dodge the same, etc etc.
BUT, Ford kept that status for many years by offering incentives to all of us out here "in the sticks". Every two years you just about had to trade the incentives were that good. However, there are a lot of us that got sick and tired of wrenching on our Fords all the time, wanted something else, and can now afford to do so. In my region (basically 2 states I work in) lifetime Ford men are now buying Duramaxes and Dodges by a WIDE margin over Fords. Why? Because that's what they want to work with. We work them damn hard, and the maintenance records prove what works. I will never own another "blue oval" again if I can help it. They cost too much to own.

Yes, there are other factors. I'll take the Ford because it is quieter and doesn't get winded and all wound up when working. GM is faster, but speed tests are a low priority for me.

All have plenty of power. When I'm on the road I want effortless towing and peace and quiet. Ford wins in the NVH department. Gale can keep messing with the high pitched wine and noisy wound up Duramax and doing 0-60 tests. I prefer to drive like a normal person and the Ford clean sheet design engine is my choice.

Quote from Ward's Auto:
Although the Duramax delivers stellar acceleration times at the track, it comes up short in our real-world evaluations on public roads and highways in metro Detroit.

With the trailer attached, the Duramax feels (and sounds) like it needs to work harder than the Power Stroke to do the same job. Under heavy acceleration, the Duramax sounds downright shrill.

In one back-to-back test, the Duramax needs about 2,000 rpm to tow the trailer up a moderate grade. The Power Stroke in the Super Duty conquers the same grade at the same speed at about 1,300 rpm. The Ford engine feels like it is barely working at all.

And did we mention the Power Stroke weighs 160 lbs. (73 kg) less than its predecessor, further improving fuel economy?



But here’s the twist: The Sierra didn’t feel the strongest, either in our trailer-towing runs or in more general driving on and around the track here.

That honor goes to the Super Duty, which means sometimes perception can be more important than reality.

Credit the slight illusion to the Super Duty diesel’s baritone exhaust note, reined-in noise, vibration and harshness and exceedingly smooth interface with the truck’s all-new 6-speed automatic transmission.

Among the NVH-benefitting features are the engine’s compacted-graphite-iron block and inboard exhaust. In addition, resonators molded into the composite intake system are tuned to different sound-canceling frequencies. Two acoustic covers on the sides of the engine block mitigate high-frequency noise emitted by the injectors.

In contrast, the Sierra emits a high-pitched whine when pushed, creating the impression it is working much harder to produce very similar results. “It’s got the most torque, but it didn’t always feel that way,” notes one tester.

But the upgrade’s effects on NVH are less clear. And as we’ve come to learn, it’s not solely about the numbers.

Composure counts. Sometimes it’s even the deciding factor.


@ Mark "sometimes perception can be more important than reality" Not sure where you live but most of us live in reality. Maybe you should read the Rumble in the Rockies test. You see thing about feelings is that they can't be quantified or measured. When I read a publication that is doing a comparison all I want is the facts. I can provide my own feelings and opinions for myself without taking other peoples word for it.

Interesting. I'll tell you a story: It is widely known that the Cummins 'B' diesels were jointly developed by J.I. Case and Cummins. Case would use the 'B' to replace their ancient diesels, Cummins would sell the 'B' to other OEM's. Ulitmately, the 'B' was used as a highway engine by Dodge and other medium truck manufacturers. Some time ago, Fiat bought Case/New Holland. Since Fiat took over, most of the 'B' diesels have been replaced by Fiat/Iveco engines. Pretty soon, I think Fiat will own most of Chrysler. Kind of makes you wonder about Bank's comments, doesn't it?

@Jordan L

Yeah the Duramax did outperform the Powerstroke in that particular compatition. However the (Rumble in the Rockies) test consisted mostly of WOT accelration times. In which case both engine's are being worked to their fullest abilitys. I think that the point Mark was trying to make was that under (Normal) driving conditions the Powerstroke feels less strained than the D-max. And the conditions he describe'd are much more probable than the Rumble in the Rockies test.

Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to say either Engine is superior to the other. I personally am a Ford guy but I will give the D-max credit were it deserve's it. And that is at WOT performance were it does in fact set faster accelration time's than a similerly equiped Powerstroke. But I also think that the Powerstroke is a better towing engine as it genrally feels less labored when towing.

The "Rumble in the Rockies" was a WOT test (in the first half) because that's the only way you can pull more than 90% max GCW up a 7 percent grade. Half throttle and we would have been doing 10 mph up the hill and become a hazard to traffic. You can see it in the graphs from that test that both trucks lost speed, even at WOT.

I think some folks are confusing "feel" with how far you have to lay the accelerator pedal down in the Ford and GM diesels. In the Ford, I'm getting a ton of power in the first 10% to 20% of the pedal stroke -- basically from the moment I hit the accelerator. In the GM trucks, I have to push the pedal down much further before I feel like I'm getting all the power I need / want. It's something I mentioned back in the first drive of the Silverado well before the Shootout.

If I'm at WOT and one truck is losing speed faster than another, that's the truck that's going to feel labored to me.

One final point. RITR was 50% uphill, 50% downhill.

you will always have people that cant except the facts. i personally think RITR makes it perfectly clear with no possible argument but for some reason people want to "believe" that the powerstroke will suddenly transform under "lighter throttle" or at "sea level".

Follow the money. Banks is going to naturally promote the engines for which he is most likely to sell aftermarket parts and services. At present that engine is certainly NOT the new Powerstroke, which is cutting edge for diesel technology right now. Likely Banks would have to make a major investment in R&D for minimal increases in power. The money is just not there. And for the first year of a clean sheet design, the market isn't either.

Banks is just in it for the money. Everyone knows his products suck and dont last. All his money goes into his own parts for his own dragsters, not the products for the people. Custom tunes to work with your engine and tranny is the only way to go people. Banks cannot compete against that.

The Powerstroke is ahead of Gales time. He needs to study the PS first. Hit the books GALE,


You are 100% correct. There is always something better.

Mark & Nate brought up a good point. The article from Wards was interesting.

I can't believe the GM fanbois are calling the DMAX King.

The DMax was only a few tenths faster then the PS in the HD shootout but I know the gasser killed them. That's not KING in my book. Also, Ford never said the PS was going to be a Chevy eater. Hey, at least they built there own Diesel.

Keep up the good work FOMOCO!!!!

I have Banks ss tube headers, ss dual exhuast, intake, and programmer on my 06 f150 and it looks and works great. I picked up 6mpg, no delay in the throttle (etc sucks), and pulls harder and smoother under a heavy load over stock. In time Banks will have more R&D in the 6.7 and we will really find out what it is capable of!!!

OK people, I’ve certainly enjoyed your comments, and I thank everyone for taking the time to read the above interview with me. Judging from your reactions, perhaps I could be clearer about a few things. Sometimes, when you distill a four-hour seminar down to a few sound bites, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

About the Power Stroke: Let’s not get the wrong idea. This is a very heavily built engine, durable and efficient. Ford engineers have done a great job with it; we think a lot of people are going to like it. Now, perhaps because the Power Stroke is so heavily built, or perhaps because of a comfort philosophy at Ford, the Super Duty pickups seem to have a little more transmission slip built in. That’s really no big deal, it’s just a matter of powertrain philosophy and the way Ford wants the truck to feel for the customers. We haven’t had a chance to build too many performance parts for the 6.7 yet—it’s too new—but we have a few already, with more to come. So on the whole, we can see that this engine is well designed for the purpose, there will be thousands out there, and we will definitely be working to support Ford owners who run it. Bottom line is, anybody who says we don’t appreciate the engineering in the 6.7 Power Stroke would be mistaken.

About the Duramax: It’s my choice for racing because it’s conventionally designed, and more important, it’s the engine we have the most experience with. It’s got the potential to be a faster-revving engine, and that’s what we’re looking for. We know about how the engine is designed and assembled at the DMAX factory, so we have a lot of confidence in the Duramax from a durability point of view. It’s also a versatile platform, in the sense that we can adapt it for racing, marine, military and law enforcement applications. The LML is also very new, obviously, but we hope to be among the first to come out with performance parts to compliment the engine.

About the Cummins: Ok, it’s an older design, but it is certainly proven. We know that Cummins is working on some new powerplants, and we know they are great at what they do, so our expectation is that we’ll see something special when they are ready to release it. I’ve built Cummins B-series race engines, and won racing them, but for versatility and packaging purposes, we prefer the V-8 configuration. It fits better, and we know how to make it rev. But for torque and durability, the Cummins has been a great powerplant for a long time.

Just for the record, I race because it’s part of our R&D process. But the bulk of our product development is about work trucks and street performance, and if you check my BanksPower website, you’ll see that. By the way, it’s not true that I don’t like working with new technology—I spent 8 years and a boatload of cash to make sure there was a way to certify the newest clean diesel performance parts in the state of California. Now we can all benefit.

Anyway guys, thanks again for your comments. When it comes to diesels, here’s the truth—every engine has its strengths, and every engine has its weaknesses. We hate to burst any bubbles, but no engine is ever going to be perfect. What’s great about it is that diesel truck buyers will have so many solid choices going into 2011. –Gale Banks

Awesome thanks Gale for your reply to our comments! Is it just me or does this website just keep getting better all the time? Great articles and awesome to be able to communicate with the people who are a part of them. If I had known he was going to read my comment I might have said it a little differently. I think a few people would have......haha.

Any comment about GM's tailpipe or has anyone paid close attention?

Great to hear a clarification from Gale Banks.
Same goes for Mike Levine.
Contrary to Greg's post, I'm not a fanboi.
Bob is a fanboi and his fetid effluvium pollutes this site.
Bob irritates the crap out of me.
My apologies to Gale Banks.

Hearing guys talk about the Duramax sound like it was working harder or revving higher reminds me of Detroit Diesels and their nickname "screamin' jimmies".
Some things never change. LOL.
They were reliable 2 stroke engines.
The blowers off of these "jimmies" found their way into all sorts of drag racing applications.

I'm pretty sure Bob is only like 13 years old. He bugs the crap out of me too. Please don't encourage him. Unfortunately there's a lot of really immature people who post on here. I'd like to read comments and opinions from open-minded intelligent people only. I wish Mike Levine had some way of controlling that. Maybe require us to make a profile and sign in before we can post? I don't know maybe that wouldn't change anything. Overall I like reading the comments on these articles better than the comments on other sites, but some people are really annoying.

Geez - the RITR showdown sure did ruffle some feathers! Real is real. You can't disupte the results of the test. Power, shift strategies, calibration, whatever you want to call it the D-Max was faster up the hill and more controlled down. Doean't mean the PS isn't a capable truck - just means the DMAX was better.

Now that said, realistic doesn't mean representative. It was a good stress test but in the spirit of full disclosure, lets look at some elevation numbers:

AVERAGE US Elevation: 2500ft

26% of the US is less than 1000ft elevation
36% of the US is less than 1500ft elevation
66% of the US is less than 2000ft elevation
74% of the US is less than 3000ft elevation
81% of the US is less than 3500ft elevation
92% of the US is less than 6000ft elevation
RITR elevation: 8776ft to 11000ft elevation

Just something to think about.

If the Cummins I6 is "just an old tractor motor", then Why are Most of the Class 8 trucks today based on this concept, Instead of V8?
Todays ISB Cummins Turbo Diesels are far more advanced then the B-series that were first ones that were used in the Dodge pickups. Common Rail fuel injection and variable geometry turbochargers are just the start of the list. And at least todays Cummins engines meet Teir 4 emissions without the use of DEF, UNLIKE the new Duramax and Powerstroke diesels.
Speaking of the New Powerstrokes....At least Ford could engineer their own diesel, instead of outsourcing to isuzu. cough cough, duramax. The new Chevys probably don't look any less complicated under the hood than the new fords.
All this is, Is an effort made by Gale to bash the competition and to make duramax look better. I'm not saying that they aren't a good engine, but It would be nice if he didn't make it sound like they are perfect 100% all the time.

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