CBC News

by Pat Ganahl

A lot of our products tend to sound like TV stations.

CBC

It’s called an acronym. In this case it stands for Computerized Brake Controller. And it’s a patent-pending Banks exclusive that is now an integral part of our Banks Brakes. Other diesel exhaust brakes are controlled by a micro-switch, which is a simple on-off device just like a light switch at home. It must be physically mounted to contact the throttle, which means it must be adjusted to turn on when the throttle is closed (and, more than likely, readjusted periodically to keep it working properly). And, since it’s a mechanical device, it can stick or otherwise malfunction. And it only knows how to do one thing: turn on and off.

The Banks CBC is much more talented. You could say it has a mind of its own. It’s not a switch, it’s a computer. You hook it up with wires, and it adjusts itself, constantly.

But it does considerably more than that. That’s the great thing about computers: they’re multi-taskers. They can do more than one thing at the same time.

Unlike a micro-switch, which is mechanically mounted to the throttle linkage to activate when it’s closed, the CBC is electronically hooked into the throttle position sensor (TPS) to tell when the throttle closes; it’s hooked into the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) to tell it how fast the vehicle is going (including when it’s not moving); and it’s hooked into the engine coolant temperature sensor (ECT) so it knows what the coolant temperature is.

Therefore the Banks CBC can do things like turning off the brake below 15 mph. This helps you accelerate more rapidly from a standstill or low speed, with the added bonus of helping the turbo spool up more rapidly. The CBC also “cycles,” or exercises, the brake on every cold start, whether you have the brake turned on or not. This provides several advantages. First, it keeps the mechanical parts limber, so they will never stick from lack of use. Second, it helps warm up the engine more quickly. And third—this is the one you’ll like the best—that means your heater will be effective sooner. How does the CBC know whether it’s a cold start or not? Remember, it’s hooked into the throttle position sensor, the vehicle speed sensor, and the engine coolant temperature sensor. So it knows when the engine is idling, it knows the vehicle is not moving, and it knows what the coolant temperature is. At idle, the CBC keeps the brake closed on Ford Power Strokes and Dodge Cummins until the coolant reaches 140 degrees. On Chevy Duramaxes, with EGR, it keeps it closed until 125 degrees. And, incidentally, the CBC makes the Banks Brake compatible with EGR-equipped Duramaxes—the only one that is.

The CBC also cancels cruise control whenever the Banks Brake is activated.

Most drivers take their foot off the accelerator while shifting gears with a manual transmission. If all you have is a mechanical switch on the accelerator linkage operating the exhaust brake, that means the brake will engage every time you shift gears. You don’t want this. When you’re up-shifting, you want to be gaining momentum. And you want to maintain the turbo’s momentum, as well. You don’t want to damp it with a closing exhaust brake between each shift. Some brakes slam shut as soon as the micro-switch is engaged.  Ours has a graduated closing rate engineered into the brake itself, so it doesn’t slam shut during gear changes. This is not a function of the CBC, directly, but it’s still good.

In fact, if the brake does slam shut, this can cause a back-pressure spike in the exhaust system, which can lead to possible engine damage if it exceeds the back-pressure limit. If the brake is designed to keep this spike at or under the engine’s pressure limit (so it doesn’t “float” the exhaust valves), that means the effective braking pressure will fall to some lower amount. The Banks Brake is engineered in such a way that the valve closing rate does not create a spike, so that it can come up to maximum allowable braking pressure for the best possible braking action. This is better, no?

And a little, solid-state computer is much better at controlling multi-task functions than a simple on-off switch, which can’t multi-task at all. The news? As I alluded last week, we’ve had the CBC for the Ford Power Stroke and GM Duramax exhaust brakes for some time. And this week we are announcing a CBC for our Banks Brake for the 24-valve Dodge Cummins, as well. So now we not only have the only Computerized Brake Controller on the market, but we also have the market covered with CBC’s for the current line-up of turbo-diesel pickups and sport utility vehicles. It’s not a TV station. In terms of diesel trucks, especially if you’re towing a load, it’s better.

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