Hauling To The Hills

Part I: Building a better hauler out of the 2011 F-450

Published in the August 2011 Issue August 2011 Feature Ryan Harris

Josh Maldonado removes the truck boxWe are huge fans of Ford's latest diesel engine and Super Duty truck. The 6.7L V8 Power Stroke makes big power and has the snap of a gas engine, and the truck itself is built to work in comfort.

But as good as it is for a stock truck, it can always be better.

When Bret Rasmussen came to us last fall with the idea of taking a new F-450 and doing a few upgrades to it to make it more of a custom hauler truck suited to his line of work, we jumped right onboard.

Rasmussen is a professional snowmobiler who spends his winter months traveling the western U.S. and Canada doing instructional backcountry riding tours. His Ride Rasmussen Style road show has served clients from Washington to Norway.

Maldonado prepares the fuel sending unit for removalBut the miles on the road add up, and this past winter Rasmussen wanted to hit the road in something a little more up to the task of puling his loaded 38-foot gooseneck trailer across the snow-covered roads of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He made arrangements through Willey Ford in Utah for a new 2011 F-450 crew cab dually.

The 2011 F-450 received a few updates from Ford compared to the 2010 and previous models. The pickup box version is built on the same platform as the F-350, and features a Wide Boy front axle that makes the truck turn a super tight radius. With the new 6.7L Power Stroke turbo and TorqueShift six-speed 65-gallon Titan Super Series tank vs. F-450 stock tanktransmission, it's a great hauler platform for anyone shy of a long-haul driver.

Rasmussen's demands of the truck were an increased fuel range, a flat bed in place of the box, a suitable front bumper to handle life on the winter mountain roads, upgraded wheels and good traction tires, and maybe a few other goodies along the way.

So we put together a package for the F-450 that includes: a 65-gallon Titan Tanks replacement fuel cell, Stepside bed from Bradford Built, a custom front bumper complete with full brush guard from Throttle Down Kustoms, Firestone F-450 without stock tankRide-Rite airbags, 19.5-inch Dually Hauler wheels from Vision Wheel and a set of Sumitomo traction tires. Jack's Tire and Oil in Logan, UT, provided a set of Sumitomo tires for the F450 project.

We replaced the stock F-450 wheels first with the 19.5-inch Dually Hauler Vision Wheels. All six wheels from Vision Wheel on this dually setup are aluminum and offer a custom look in an otherwise boring world of stock dually trucks. The 19.5x6.75-inch wheels have a durable finish and the fact that there are no steels running through the salted winter roads is a bonus.

The Titan tank fills every available void in the chassisExtended Range

After several thousand miles of jumping from fuel stop to fuel stop with the stock fuel tank, the 65-gallon replacement tank from Titan Tanks was as refreshing as anything. We always say that the only downside to a large fuel tank is that you can drive longer than your bladder will let you. But loaded, this truck isn't exactly killing it in the mileage department. And the extra capacity allows you to fuel up on cheap city fuel and make it to the mountains and back without having to tap into the credit line for the inflated mountain lodge fuel.

The Diesel Exhaust Fluid tank sits right behind the fuel cell.Titan Tanks has given its tank design an update for 2011, and the new Ford 65-gallon crew cab long bed Super Series tank (part 7020311) represents the best that Titan has ever offered to the diesel public. Its design fills all the extra voids beneath the truck where the stock tank originally was mounted to maximize capacity for the space provided. We didn't remove the DEF tank, and the Titan Tank fits like a glove and, with the optional Titan Shield rock guard, only hangs down just over an inch lower than the stock tank did.

The Titan Super Series tank is made from military-grade cross-linked polyethylene which is extremely durable and keeps the weight down for such a Transferring fuellarge tank. It comes with powder-coated steel hangar straps, rubber mounting bushings and all accessories.

The new tank features a low fuel trap design so that low-level fuel is more accessible to the fuel pickup trap.

The Titan Shield is a quarter-inch thick molded HMWPE shield that forms to the bottom of the tank. If you use your truck for a lot of off-highway use, we recommend adding the Titan Shield.

19.5-inch machined Hauler Dually wheelsThe next stage of this project is the addition of the Bradford Build Stepside bed and Throttle Down Kustoms front bumper, and a Firestone Ride-Rite airbag system. Stay tuned.




Maldonado installs the fuel sending unit in the new tankThese hangar straps aren't powder coated, but yours will be.

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