Jack Of All Trades

Published in the December 2008 Issue December 2008 Feature

Jack splasher

It's been said that you've got to have an ace in the hole, but when the odds are against us and a job needs to get done, we're putting our money on a King. But not just any old King will do; we're looking for a King that's the jack-of-all-trades. Well this is it, a 2004 F350 King Ranch 6.0L Power Stroke owned by Adam Brannan of Baldwin, FL.

This top-of-the-line King Ranch model F350 was originally bought for the same reason every other one-ton dually is bought: heavy hauling. When it comes time to tow a 12,000-pound tractor across town for a landscaping job or a 25-foot dump bed trailer loaded down with 10,000 lbs. of dirt, a man needs a truck built to handle a load. Knowing that, Brannan knew the 6.0L Power Stroke powered Super Duty was the perfect candidate for the job. With a baseline of 325 horsepower he knew it would be more than enough truck to handle his toughest jobs.

Like every other diesel owner, he soon became bored with the stock output of the big dually and began looking to improve the power and efficiency of his truck. Some friends pointed him towards the basic aftermarket parts and an AFE drop-in air filter and a full 4" exhaust system from Bully Dog was installed. With the intake and exhaust systems improved to handle some added fuel, an Edge Juice chip with Attitude monitor was installed. Shift on the fly programming and the in-cab display was just what Brannan was looking for.

Soon after the installation of the aftermarket chip Adam learned the hard way and found the weak link in the 6.0L Power Stroke that has plagued the engine since its release in 2003. You guessed it: blown head gaskets. After going through some battles with his local dealer about warranty issues, he removed the tuner and went back to stock tuning. But after driving the truck with a chip, driving it stock just wasn't an option. Something had to be done and an Edge Platinum tuner was installed; transmission shifting strategies and power were much improved over the original Edge Juice.

Shortly after the install of the new Platinum chip Brannan caught wind of a company that offered custom tuning for the 6.0L Power Stroke. Naturally, custom tunes peaked his interest and he made a call to Direct Injection Performance and spoke with Doug Gilbert about their new custom tunes using the SCT software. Debating whether the upgrade to the SCT tunes would be worth the money since he was more than pleased with his current Platinum chip, he decided to keep his Edge. That is, at least, until he rode in a friend's truck powered by the SCT tunes from Direct Injection. He soon made the call to Doug and ordered some custom tunes of his own.

Next came the installation of a full set of seven Autometer Sport Comp II gauges so he could further monitor all the parameters of his dually. To help keep egt's in check with the added fueling from his SCT tuner, a City Diesel Intercooler was installed.

Horsepower has since been improved with a set of 190cc injectors from Ryan Casserly at Full Force Diesel and a Fass 150/180 fuel system along with a regulated return from ITP Diesel ensures the injectors see constant fuel pressure. The heads were removed again and a set of ATS o-ringed head gaskets were installed along with a multi-angle valve job, and ARP head studs to hold everything together. To prevent future issues with the engine, the factory EGR system has been removed and replaced with a complete EGR delete from First Coast Diesel and a single-stage dry nitrous kit was added to offer that little extra boost in performance when the need arises.

Adam is still running a completely stock transmission that has only been upgraded with a deeper BD Power transmission pan. He says the key to his transmission's survival is in the tuning offered by Direct Injection Performance. The rear differential was also upgraded with an aftermarket piece from Mag-Hytec to help keep fluid temperatures safe under even the toughest of conditions.

With the performance and power output of the truck taken care of, it was time to tackle the cosmetics of the truck. While the King Ranch models look great, Adam was tired of his looking like every other Super Duty on the road. First up was updating the front end with a paint matched grill and bumper from a 2005 model F350. The newer Harley Davidson smoked headlights and a billet grille insert were also bolted on. To follow up with the smoke headlights theme, Recon Industries smoked cab lights, mirror marker lights, third brake light and taillights were installed as well. McCullough HID driving lights and fog lights were also installed to improve nighttime driving vision.

To cut down on road noise and the constant humming from his aftermarket fuel system, the floor and rear of the cab were covered in Dynomat insulation. In-cab noise was also diminished with the installation of a high flowing Hushpower 4" muffler, eliminating all drone issues inside the cab while cruising. The tailgate has also been upgraded with a factory take-off from a 2008 Super Duty. The factory installed fold-out step and reverse camera were the main reason for this new upgrade.

Looking to further the bold and aggressive look of the new front end, a Fabtech 3.5" front level kit and Fabtech dual stabilizer shock kit was installed. This allowed room for the new Michelin XZE truck tires that are mounted on 22.5" Alcoa classic 10-lug wheels. Nothing says heavy hauler like a set of semi wheels and tires. To prevent axle wrap with the larger tires and torque the truck was now making, a set of full floating Fabtech traction bars were added out back.

There aren't many ways to upgrade the interiors of a King Ranch model Super Duty, but Brannan wanted to improve the factory sound system for sure. And the installation of an Avic-Z1 head unit with 5.1 dolby digital processor surround sound, XM radio tuning ability, reverse camera hook-up, Blue tooth technology and an Ipod interface was just what the doctor ordered. He also added a 10.4" flip down LCD monitor with wireless headsets to keep passengers in the back occupied. The factory speakers were upgraded with Pioneer 3-way 6x9's and a set of Pioneer tweeters were installed inside the air conditioning vents and two JL Audio 10" subs and a 500-watt JL Audio amplifier round out the stereo system upgrades.

It started life as any other basic work truck, but soon turned into the truck every hardworking man only dreams of owning. Brannan says thanks to the help from Adam Hohrath, Doug at Direct Injection Performance, First Coast Diesel Performance and Eric at Innovative Diesel, the truck is something he's proud to call his own. When it comes to towing his Kubota tractor around town, he couldn't ask for more. While it did the job he needed to in stock form, we agree when he's says it's much better like this.

The style and comfort of your grandpa's Cadillac, more horsepower than any man should ever need, and the towing ability of an over-the-road semi. It's not just a jack-of-all-trades. It's the King.

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