Another Build?

11 Ford projects and counting

December 2012 Spotlight

Chuck Chaplinski is not your average truck enthusiast. Chaplinski is not the kind of guy to just go buy a new Ford off the lot at the local dealership, take it home and park it in his driveway for weeks on end. He's also not the kind of guy to take what Ford offers and accept it as the best his truck can be. No, Chaplinski is the kind of mad genius who believes almost everything can be improved, and his truck-owning history proves it.

This Minnesota-based iron worker and fabricator has updated and tweaked 10 different trucks in the last 28 years, and has a simple methodology as to why.

"I build a truck every time there's a major body change or a power train change," Chaplinski explained. "I have built a '90 crew cab, I've built an '83, '85, '90, '92, '96, '99 and a 2003, 2005 and a 2008 and now a 2011. There have been major changes at every point in time."

Chaplinski's 2008 six-wheel project featured a 12-volt over-hydraulic ram system that lifted the bed with eight-inch air springs, and he's always looking for that next great innovation that will turn heads on the road.

One Of A Kind

It all comes down to being unique for Chaplinski. He's also not one of those guys who is fine with being one of the 342 owners with the same truck in his city; no, he's got his mind set on driving a unique vehicle, and works hard to make that happen.

"I like to drive something different that no one else has," he said. "You get to the point where you go down the road and meet yourself, no matter what you buy. This was a way to do something that is all yours."

Chaplinski's company, Chanlin, Inc., does custom manufacturing for large companies across the country, and compared to the large-scale work he does on a daily basis, this project is almost small potatoes.

For 2011, Chaplinski bought a Ford 450 Super Duty crew cab long box, rolled up his sleeves, and got to work.

The rear tandem drive is an aftermarket of his own, with an11.5-inch American rear end in it. The ratio on all rear ends are 410, and the truck is powered by a power divider, gear box Chaplinski built himself, and he also had the shaft and gears specially made for it. An air shift on the box shifts in and out.

A Johnson-made pump was installed, and maintained under load from 140 to 170 degrees.

Chaplinski also installed Positraction limited-slip rear ends, and the ends are also equipped with MAG-HYTEC aluminum covers for added cooling and fluid. The Ford's wheels are 17-inch aluminum, on the tandem part in the back, converted to 8 on 6.5. Chaplinski ended up having to create and manufacture adapters for them to make it all work like he wanted.

One of the few areas of the truck that remain untouched is the transmission, a torque shift model. The truck weighs 12,500 pounds completely unloaded, and the eight-foot box, equipped with 24,000-pound Superglide 5th wheel, automatically moves back, making for easy towing. There is also room to give clearance for the Airdam on the back.

The hitch has been modified with two Firestone air bags, and with the flick of a switch, the hitch rises five inches, for additional clearance.

Technology Rules

One of the more impressive and eye-opening aspects of the Ford can be found in the box, where there is a control center that runs everything. Two compressors control the hydraulic system, and all the air valves are also in there. The fuel tanks are in the running boards, 75 gallons between the two tanks, with an additional 25 in the back of the box.

Chaplinski installed a Pace Edwards roll top on the box, which is automatic and powered. The truck has a full air suspension on the back, with leveling control valves, so it never changes height. Added to the cab is a TV screen with cameras from AgCam, that are day and night equipped, infrared, and with a magnetic mount, which means you can put them on the rear of the truck and see what's behind, even at night. The video system is all radio controlled, not wired.

"I can put them in the trailer to watch my load inside," Chaplinski said. "I can run down the road with two trailers and watch both, within a quarter of a mile."

Purely for looks, the hub caps on the truck are self centering, so the Ford logo always sits horizontal.

Looking Forward

Chaplinski explained he will always put the previous truck model he had been working on back to stock before working on the new one.

"The new one's the only thing I want to work with," Chaplinski said.

Watch for this manufacturer to continue to push the limits in the future, and the next time Ford comes out with a new body type or power train change, know Chuck is already planning what he'll do with his new truck.

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