There are many manufacturers when it comes to high-quality diesel engines on the market. Popular brands like Detroit Diesel Corporation and Cummins Engine Company continue to produce powerful, reliable machines. However, Caterpillar remains one of the number one brands for people. Even with CAT’s current production lines pushing the boundaries of innovation and diesel engine technology, many mechanics, truckers, and dedicated auto-enthusiasts still work with their old favorites.
One of Caterpillar’s older models, the 3406B, remains a popular choice for those who work with diesel engines. The 3406B is a sturdy and capable machine with a lot to offer, but you may be wondering how to get more power out of your 3406B CAT engine. Today, ATL Diesel is here to discuss the history of this machine, what makes it so popular, and how dedicated mechanics work hard to keep their engines running even after all these years.
History of the 3406B CAT Engine
To gain a better understanding of why this engine is so popular to work on, we need to look at where it came from and how it differs from other models. Caterpillar launched the 3406 Engine in 1973. A few years later, Caterpillar released an upgraded model with notable changes like the position of the injection pump and air compressor. With the upgraded model, Caterpillar began calling the original model the 3406A and the newer model the 3406B.
One of the most notable features of the 3406B is that it's a purely mechanical engine, which is a significant contributor to its lasting popularity. When Caterpillar started making the 3406C model in the late 80s, the company started incorporating electronic components over the entirely mechanical build. Caterpillar would add even more electronic controls and unit injectors with the 3406E in the early 90s to try and match current regulations and customer demands when looking for a cleaner engine.
By the end of the 1990s, Caterpillar phased out the 3406 series entirely in favor of the C15 engine, which is still available on the market to this day. While later models of the 3406 and C15 are still popular and reliable machines, the focus today is on the fully mechanical 3406B engine and how fans keep these engines running over 20 or 30 years later.
General Specs of the 3406B CAT Engine
One of the most prominent reasons why the 3406B remains popular to this day is because of the fully mechanical engine build. The 3406B Caterpillar engine is a 14.6-liter, 6.5-stroke diesel engine with 6 cylinders. The physical dimensions of the engine are 117.28 inches long by 39.22 inches wide, with a height of 58.04 inches. The 3406B typically reaches around 350 horsepower at 1,800 revolutions per minute.
Taking Care of the 3406B CAT Engine
Because the 3406B Caterpillar engine is an older model, it requires maintenance to keep it running smoothly. No matter how much love and care you put into it, you may need to eventually replace certain parts or make some internal adjustments to keep it running. While CAT no longer produces the 3406 series of engines, the popularity of the 3406B means several reputable manufacturers put focus and care into nearly perfect recreations of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. If you're looking for a new water pump or oil cooler, OEM-certified parts are unavailable, but high-quality replacements work to keep your engine running smoothly and efficiently.
If you’re working on fixing up an older engine that needs a bit of work, you may want to invest in an in-frame kit. In-frame kits are ideal when you want to work on your engine without removing it from the vehicle. Suppose your 3406B CAT engine is struggling with some of the essential parts, such as its pistons, cylinder liners, and piston rings. When choosing an in-frame kit, we suggest checking all of the available components, as larger kits may include crankshaft bearings and other valuable parts.
However, if you’re working on a 3406B engine that needs a lot more attention, it may be a good idea to check out a more extensive 3406B CAT engine overhaul kit. Overhaul kits are far more labor-intensive but offer nearly every essential piece you need to determine and find any weak areas on your engine and see where you can make improvements. Upgrading your engine after removing it from the frame by giving it a complete inspection, cleaning, and overhaul may do a lot to increase performance and keep it running smoothly.
Increasing the Power in Your 3406B Engine
As long as you take proper care of your engine by swapping out damaged parts, providing adequate lubrication, and performing regular inspection, your engine performance should remain steady and reliable, regardless of what equipment it's powering.
But if you’re wondering how to get more power out of your 3406B CAT engine, there is a helpful trick that allows you to boost the horsepower without costly upgrades or new parts. Behind a plate on the 3406B engine that has 3/8 screws, there are Allen wrench screws inside. By loosening these bolts carefully and ensuring you rotate each of them the exact same number of times, you may increase the overall horsepower of your engine. Be careful not to get too greedy, or you may wind up burning out your engine.
This method of turning up your 3406B CAT engine enables it to reach close to 500 horsepower rather than the more typical 350. Going any higher than that may be feasible but not recommended, as it could result in overheating your engine and causing long-term and expensive damage.
Those looking for an increase in power with their 3406B CAT engines may want to start out with an overhaul and carefully analyze the engine to see where improvements are more likely to take effect. ATL Diesel has a wide variety of replacement parts, in-frame, and complete overhaul kits, and our trained specialists are available to help you with any potential issues. When searching for new parts, ATL Diesel is here to help you. Our team can find the ideal parts for you and your machine if you provide your engine serial number. For any additional questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us today for more information on engines, parts, or further details.