SEMA 360 Show 2020

Tell ’em you saw it on RoadTraveler.net

Please consider becoming a patron.

James Langan, November 2020

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resource:

BD Diesel Performance

Warn Industries

 

 

 

 

Throttle Sensitivity Booster from BD Diesel

Throttle Sensitivity Booster V2 module and plug-in harness. Super easy to install and use.

BD Diesel Performance Throttle Sensitivity Booster V2

BD Diesel Performance’s Throttle Sensitivity Booster is a popular, easy to install, plug-and-play product. For folks that like to hot rod around, or do a little racing, it’s easy to understand why a Throttle Sensitivity Booster, or TSB, would be a popular item, but this product’s appeal dives deeper. Few complain about a lack of torque or power from modern turbo-diesels, although not all would judge them responsive. 

Many late model Ram owners complain about accelerator pedal lag, a dead pedal. So it’s not surprising that increasing the fuel delivery for a given amount of pedal travel could eliminate a drivability complaint while simultaneously adding a perceived performance enhancement. With an automatic transmission’s fluid-coupling, there is less concern about shock-load, jumpiness, or other potentially negative drivability behaviors emanating from increasing the sensitivity. However, on manual transmission trucks, might boosting the accelerator impact driver finesse and vehicle sympathy? 

Skeptic Turned Into A Fan?

Do I want a more sensitive accelerator? My answer had been no. As I have shared in past columns, my additional pedal return springs and take-up slack spacer do much to improve the feel, feedback, and drivability of my rigs. I am extremely satisfied with these home brew modifications. So what spurred me to try the second version of BD’s TSB? 

Heavy return springs and spacer add greatly to overall control and feel.

An acquaintance with a 2014 crew cab 3500 with automatic transmission let me drive his Ram, to judge what the 3500 leaf springs feel like unloaded. (I don’t know what some are complaining about, must be car people, it wasn’t too stiff or firm with appropriate tire pressure.) His truck had been deleted before he purchased it used, sported a mild fueling tune, and a BD Throttle Sensitivity Booster. His rig really scooted with little pressure on the go-pedal. 

Some of that energetic behavior was from the automatic transmission, which goes and never stops until you release the skinny pedal. There is no loss of momentum during upshifts like occur with a manual, combined with a higher-rated A/T engine and the performance tune. Though it was also clear that the 3500 was really moving with a small dip into the accelerator. This experience made me rethink trying a BD TSB on one of my outfits. 

Slow To Start And Occasionally A Jerk

My Fourth Generation 2500 G56 Rams have been great, complaints have been few, but there has been a minor irritation: a light throttle surging or hesitation. This behavior is not uncommon on modern drive-by-wire vehicles (cars, trucks, and motorcycles), particularly if fuel metering is held at the exact spot between some, and none. However, the hesitation my 2500s exhibited didn’t occur only at that sour spot, rather a little deeper into the pedal. Fuel delivery would sometimes pulse with a steady but small accelerator application of approximately 10–20% of total travel. It was also slow to respond to input changes. 

The choppiness could be reduced or eliminated with a deeper, more aggressive pedal application, but that is not always desirable or safe. More precise and consistent response from all inputs is better for optimal control, smoothness, and fuel economy. 

After some online research I called BD to confirm what I’d read. The second version of the BD TSB has three different positions: stock, 50% increase, and 100% increase. The control module must be opened to select the different sensitivities, and the boxes are typically under or behind the dash. 

If the optional button kit is ordered, you get three additional choices: a valet mode that reduces pedal sensitivity substantially, a 75% setting, and a “ludicrous” mode, all of which are easily selected with the press of a dash-mounted button. Ludicrous held no appeal, but I was interested in having the 75% setting, plus the easy ability to revert to stock for bumpy off-road situations. With the exception of the  ludicrous position, the BD TSB remains in its current mode after an engine shut-down and restart. 

Initial setup involves the using stock position, pressing the pedal learn button, then cycling the accelerator a few times.

The optional Button Kit includes a button, mounting plate, and mini harness that goes from the button to the main TSB harness.

Geno’s Garage sold the BD TSB Version 2 for $285, and the optional Push Button Kit was $65. The just introduced TS Booster V3 is even less; $265 at Geno’s for 2007–2020 Rams.

In 2019, BD received California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO) approval for their TSB for 2005–2018 heavy-duty Ford diesel applications, and was working on approval for the Dodge/Ram and GM products. That is a big deal! 

Install Notes And Tips

According to BD Diesel, if one is going to run their TSB in conjunction with the BD High Idle Kit (which I have on my 2014 crew cab) one needs to put the Sensitivity Booster on the pedal side, and the High Idle on the truck side of the wiring chain. That’s because if the signal coming out of the High Idle Kit is sent through the TSB first, before going to the ECM, the High Idle module will have a harder time controlling the rpm (just like a person might with a more sensitive accelerator pedal). However, stacking them the other way around, letting the High Idle Kit communicate directly with the ECM, does not adversely affect operation of either accessory. 

Initial test in my 2014, before mounting the module or button.

The installation is a very simple. If one chooses the optional Button Kit, it must be connected to the main TSB wiring harness. The short and adequate instructions tell how, and my closeup images show some details. After following a brief pedal-learning procedure, one simply needs to mount the control box and button where desired and continue motoring.

To add the Button Kit, first remove the blue plugs on the TSB main harness.

Instructions tell which color wire goes into each numbered port.

This orange plastic block is removed from the front of the main harness connector before inserting the Button Kit wires.

Each wire in the correct position, before fully inserted and clicked into place, and replacing the orange block.

Drivability

Does the lowest, 50% sensitivity increase make the truck feel like it has more power? Absolutely! The perception is that the truck has a higher-power rating, like the maximum fuel delivery has been increased though it has not. Nothing mechanical has changed, the driver is simply getting more juice from the same squeeze. There’s no need to push the skinny pedal unnaturally deep to get moderate or brisk acceleration. If you want more than the 50% setting offers, the optional button puts 75% and 100% at your fingertips. The difference between each position is dramatic. To experience this, one can keep constant pressure on the pedal while toggling from stock up through the higher sensitivity levels; it will make the truck accelerate quicker. 

Button was mounted on the bottom right of dash, using and existing screw. Easy to reach but also out of the way.

With the key on, BD becomes red. In this image the top center light is also on, indicating the 75% setting.

With the lively 50% boost, smooth and precise application of fuel is not difficult. Even the 75% position is fun and controllable with a manual transmission, though my extra return springs and much firmer pedal are surely helping. I’ve mostly preferred 50% when routinely rowing through the gears. The aforementioned light pedal stutter/hesitation is all but gone. 

Initially I connected the BD TSB to Clessie the Carryall Crew Cab. After a few days of testing, I moved it to the Pack Mule regular cab camper outfit. I liked it on both, maybe a bit more in the ‘Mule because of the full-time GVWR load. It really helps the truck accelerate as if it has more toque and power. After the first weeklong road, hunting and camping trip to Eastern Nevada, I knew the BD Throttle Sensitivity Booster was a winner; I ordered a second for Clessie the Carryall. That was several months ago, and I’m still pleased with the modification on both Rams.

Tell ’em you saw it on RoadTraveler.net

Become a RoadTraveler patron. Thanks!

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

Resources:

BD Diesel Performance 

dieselperformance.com 

800-887-5030 

Geno’s Garage 

Geno’s Garage: Dodge/Ram Diesel Parts Specialists

800-755-1715

 

BD Diesel Performance Throttle Sensitivity Booster and Button Kit

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler All Rights Reserved

Resource:  BD Diesel Performance

2 Low UnLoc From BD Diesel Performance

BD’s kit 1030705 2 Low UnLoc for late model Ram trucks

Installing BD Diesel Performance’s 2 Low UnLoc Differential Kit For Fourth Generation Rams

Moving Slower

Reversing and maneuvering large trucks, trailers, or other big outfits can be challenging and even stressful for those lacking skill or confidence. One way to mitigate the reduced visibility and risk of hitting something and causing property damage, or worse, is to move slowly. This is obvious to most everyone, yet the slowest transmission gears, first and reverse, are still tall for creeping around campsites, parking lots, and other narrow spaces. Adding grades and/or tight turns can increase the gearing deficiency. Excessive slipping of a clutch or loading of a torque converter is not a perfect solution, but sometimes a necessary evil. Done improperly with too much rpm, or repeatedly, wear or a mechanical failure may be the eventual reward.

Transfer Case Auxiliary Gearboxes

Four-wheel-drive (4WD) trucks have become extremely popular in recent decades, even with folks that rarely, if ever, venture off-pavement. The low gearing in most transfer cases lives a very lonely life. The point of low-range is to go slow in technical situations, with the added benefit (or impediment) of powering the front tires. Using low-range increases torque and helps the engine move loads at slower speeds, even at low idle. Some savvy and careful drivers will shift into 4WD-low to access the gears for backing and maneuvering, but this is not without consequence.

Traditional part-time transfer cases split engine torque equally between the front and rear axles and are designed for slippery surfaces. A slipping tire can release the inherent bind that occurs at the transfer case between the front and rear shafts. When used on high-traction surfaces that don’t allow dissipation, there is a possibility of drivetrain damage, though the risk is small if the steered tires remain straight and distances are short. Once the front tires are turned, which dramatically increases the need for differential action, drivetrain windup will result. This energy is transmitted to and felt in the steering wheel, which will move or jerk in the driver’s hands as the drivelines complain. (Full-time 4WD systems use a center differential, avoiding the conflict between the front and rear drive systems.)

Two-Wheel-Drive Low

When most 4WDs had manual-locking front hubs, simply keeping the hubs in their normal, unlocked position allowed shifting into low range without connecting the front wheels to the axles. This works, and I did it for decades. Drivers should be careful and smooth because all of the engine’s torque, now multiplied by the transfer-case gears, is going to only one driveshaft, not two.

Manual hubs on Dodge Turbo Diesels disappeared with the First Generation in 1993. Second Generation trucks have a vacuum-operated front axle disconnect system that allows a relatively simple bypass to use low-range 2WD. BD Diesel Performance still makes a kit for these Second Generation Dodge trucks. After Dodge eliminated the disconnect system in favor of constantly driving the front axles, no simple solution existed; the only real option was to add manual hubs. With the return of front axle disconnect on heavy-duty Rams in 2013, now electrically-activated, preventing 4WD from engaging while accessing the low-range gears is again easy.

DISCLAIMER—As always, use extreme care and (un)common sense. Operate all machinery with due care, while also accepting the inherent responsibility that comes with any modification. You may be your own warranty station.

2 Low UnLoc

Spring 2017, BD Diesel Performance introduced their two-wheel-drive low solution, the 2 Low UnLoc kit for 4WD 2009–2017 1500, 2014–2017 2500, and 2013–2017 3500 Rams. BD sent me one of the first units.

One end of the harness has two OEM-quality connectors that go inline at the Drivetrain Control Module, another has ports for the two included relays, and a third connects to the supplied switch. My friend Phil and I installed the kit on his 2014 2500 with 35,000 miles on the clock. He tows a 24-foot travel trailer.

Plug-and-play harness makes for an extremely easy installation

It’s So Easy

The 2 Low UnLoc for late-model axle disconnect trucks is a simple add-on. BD’s directions were followed almost to-the-letter because I found no way or need to improve the process. The one slight deviance was drilling the switch hole.

Removing three push-in retainers for the carpeted panel below the glove box allows pulling the carpet rearward, which exposes the drivetrain control module. Unclipping the black plastic cover exposes the blue factory male connector that is replaced with BD’s. The OE male plug snaps into BD’s female connector. Re-clipping the drivetrain control module cover was only a minor struggle with the extra BD connector inside.

There is plenty of harness to locate the relays far from the drivetrain control module if desired, but we secured them below module with mounting tape. The last thing to do was to make a hole for the switch.

First step, remove carpeted panel below the glove box

Pulling the passenger side carpet exposes the drivetrain control module

BD’s harness placed inline at the drivetrain module

Pulling The Center Stack Cover

Removing the center dash cover that surrounds the radio and HVAC control is a simple task, though like doing anything for the first time there can be trepidation. The first step is the most critical and can be easily overlooked by the uninitiated.

A plastic liner snaps into the tray above the radio and must be removed to expose two TORX T20 screws. Remove these two screws first and replace last. The remainder of the piece is held with several snap-in clips, mostly around the perimeter, and it is simply pulled away at the edges. I use my fingertips and/or a plastic interior trim tool. After the surround is loose, a few connectors on the rear must be unclipped before the piece can be completely removed.

Drilling

Phil and I started this 2 Low UnLoc project by removing the dash center stack cover, which confirmed we could use the blank spot below the cubby on the right. From the front it appeared that the matching blank space on the left could be used instead. This was not the case on Phil’s truck, as there was a connector on the back. These little panels are great locations for switches, plus they are replaceable, secured with four Philips screws on the rear.

Rocker switch requires a large hole

BD recommends using a stepper drill bit to make the hole for their lighted rocker switch. I don’t own a stepper bit, but I would have been concerned about going too deep and making the hole too big. The largest bit in my toolbox is a 5/8”. After stepping up to this size we were close, but the hole was still slightly undersized. Carefully enlarging the hole with the same 5/8” bit worked; I stopped while the rocker was still a very tight, interference fit. A small file was used to cut a notch for the locating tab on the left side. Because of the snug fit, we were unable to use the 2WD LOW sticker BD provides with the kit.

Notched left side of hole for locating tab

Function Testing

Before pushing the rocker switch into its tight, final resting place we loosely connected the three color-coded wires and tested the 2 Low UnLoc system. The operating procedure requires rotating the rocker switch to the on position first, then moving the transfer case selector or lever to low-range. The red light on the rocker will illuminate, indicating that front axle engagement has been bypassed, and BD’s 2 Low UnLoc is active. To deactivate, the sequence is reversed; the transfer case is shifted back to two-wheel-drive high-range, then the switch is turned off.

Color-coded harness wires for the switch

After rotating the rocker, and shifting the transfer case, the switch light illuminates

We reassembled everything and tested the feature again. It worked. Phil and I both love the BD 2 Low UnLoc and think the $148 price is worth the functionality and ease of installation. Geno’s Garage stocks the 2 Low UnLoc kit, and reports they have been selling well.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler/Turbo Diesel Register. All Rights Reserved.

 A version of this article was also published in the Turbo Diesel Register magazine.

Sources:

BD Diesel Performance: dieselperformance.com, 800-887-5030

Geno’s Garage: genosgarage.com, 800-755-1715