Mike Bean's Ford F350 may look like your ordinary work truck but it definitely doesn't sound like one.
And it's not the rumble of a diesel engine that sets Bean's truck apart. No, Bean's truck sounds like a freight train coming at you-literally. Okay, maybe not quite, but pretty darn close.
You see, Bean has installed an air horn-an actual air horn off a train on his work truck. He said he bought the air horn off e-bay and it's the real deal. Stand close enough to Bean's truck when he lays on the horn and you'll wet your pants. The air horn runs off an air compressor that sits in the bed of his truck, fed by a half-inch line.
The air horn might be the most unusual add-on Bean has equipped his diesel truck with and it's a fun toy, but there's no doubt this is a real work truck. Bean uses his F350 to travel all over the Nashville area for his construction business. The Ford is called on to carry some heavy loads at times, including his "competition" truck, a 1999 Ford F250 diesel.
In fact, the temptation would be to name this article "A Tale Of Two Trucks" or something clever like that. But we're not talking about Bean's competition truck. That's a story for another day. And a good story it would be. The '99 Ford recently hit 1,088 hp on the dyno. Yeah, over 1,000 horsepower. That's amazing. You can see the dyno run on www.beansdieselperformance.com home page.
HE HAS CONNECTIONS
It doesn't hurt to have a brother who owns a diesel performance shop. Mike's brother Ryan used to also work in the construction business but gave it up nearly five years ago to open Bean's Diesel Performance in Woodbury, TN, which is about 50 miles southeast of Nashville.
When we visited the Beans last winter in Tennessee, Mike's competition truck had already dynoed at 935 hp. That Ford, or the Camo Truck as the Beans call it, used to be Bean's work truck. A couple of the notable features of the Camo Truck include a 24-valve common rail and twin turbos. Bean upgraded his work truck to the 2001 Ford F350 and uses his newer truck to haul the Camo Truck to drag competitions. Actually, there was another truck between the '99 F250 and '01 F350, a 1995 F350 diesel, but it got totaled when a lady pulled out in front of Bean one day.
So Bean bought another diesel truck, the '01 F350, his new work truck-the one that helps bring home the paycheck.
When he bought the F350 a year and a half ago, there was only 119,000 miles on the vehicle and it was basically stock. The only add-on was the utility box which has come in handy for Bean's construction business. By mid-summer of this year, Bean had run his mileage total up to 137,000.
What Bean has done to his F350 is actually fairly modest-considering what brother Ryan does for a living. While the Camo Truck gets a lot of love, Bean's work truck continues to do its thing-take Bean and his construction tools all over this part of Tennessee.
The work truck does have a handful of upgrades that Bean has added over the past year and a half but others might consider them modest compared to some diesels on the road today. And that's okay with Bean. He needs a truck that works well, gets the job done and is reliable. That's his F350.
One of the upgrades is a 4-inch down pipe that turns into a 5-inch exhaust. It was custom-made in Ryan's shop. Another is Firestone air bags, which are particularly handy when Bean is towing heavy loads. "The air bags allow me to carry a load and they're a little easier on the springs," he said. "I definitely pump them up when I haul the tractor." When he pulls his tractor on his trailer, Bean has 10,000 lbs. rolling down the highway behind his F350 diesel. The same goes for the Camo Truck, which weighs about the same as the tractor.
Under the hood, there's still the stock turbo but a Tymar open air intake has been added. Bean would like to add injectors some day along with an aftermarket turbo. In its present form, the work truck is hitting between 300-320 hp, which, Bean said, is good enough for his F350. As time and money allow, more products will be added and that number will jump.
Bean pointed out that on the work truck he does have a TS Performance 6 position chip as well as Autometer gauges. It still has the stock tranny, though, which Bean said he will have to upgrade when he starts to throw more horsepower at it. He's leaning towards Brian's Truck Shop for the transmission upgrade.
DIESEL IN THEIR BLOOD
In visiting with Bean, it's obvious diesel runs in the family's blood. He bought his Camo Truck used when it had only 12,000 miles on it. "I just wanted a diesel," Bean said of his purchase years ago. "That was even before Ryan was in the diesel business."
Then, he added with a grin, "It's gone downhill from there. Now we all have diesels." That includes Mike's wife, who drives an '03 Ford Excursion diesel, his mom, who also drives an diesel Excursion and dad who has a Chevy Duramax. Of course, then there's Ryan, who is all things diesel.
Bean had specific reasons for first buying a diesel and now staying with them. "Back then," he said, "it was for the mileage and the power. Back when I first bought a diesel truck, diesel was 99 cents a gallon."
Even though diesel prices went through the stratosphere a year ago (and have since come back down to more reasonable levels), Bean said he's hooked on diesel trucks. "I will never go back to a gas engine now," he said. "I like the power. I like working on them. They're low maintenance and they're better for towing."
Bean plans on keeping his '01 F350 diesel for a while longer, patiently waiting to gain some more horsepower.
So that means you might just see Bean driving his work truck to and from the construction site for years to come. And while the work truck is relatively unassuming and looks like many other work trucks rolling along Tennessee's highways and backroads, you know there's at least one thing that sets it apart from the others. And you'll know it when he gives a blast of his train horn.