The Elk Hunter Part 2

Beyond Cosmetic Improvements

May 2014 Build Brady L. Kay

Every step Adam Westfall takes on his build gets him closer to his ultimate goal of having his 2005 Dodge SLT 2500 crew cab long box ready for the fall hunting season. Adam is an avid hunter and his vision for his 5.9L Cummins is to create a bullet proof, off-road beast that will be dependable, as well as get him to those places in the mountains he needs to be.

Project Recap

His first step was to add front and rear differential covers, plus a deeper transmission pan. The increase in capacity of the Deep Oil Pan from B&M Racing helps keep the temperatures down when he’s pulling a trailer. For the larger capacity aFe front diff and the PPE rear diff covers, AMSOIL Severe Gear 75W-90 was used.

To this point, the biggest upgrade was replacing the stock front and rear bumpers. With the kind of places Adam takes his truck, he needs solid bumpers that will be up for the challenge. That’s why he went with the Legend Bullnose Front Bumper from Ranch Hand. For the rear, he choose the Sport Back Bumper from Ranch Hand because it’s just as solid as the front one and both look like they were custom-built to specifically fit his Ram.

Line-X

When complete, this truck will be ready for the hills, which is sure to lead to some wear as well as abuse. No one plans to really beat on their diesel truck, but unless it’s a trailer princess, it will get used like a truck should. The bed of the truck already has a few dents and scrapes, but with Line-X it’s never too late to protect it. Adam hooked up with Line-X of Idaho Falls to spray not only the bed, but also the side rocker panels for those times he’s going through tall brush.

This Idaho-based company has the advantage of having a huge national company to back them, while still offering those personal touches you can only get locally. Lee Frongner and his uncle Harry Wetherald own Line-X of Idaho Falls and it’s their solid reputation that keeps them plenty busy.

On average, the shop goes through at least 10 rolls of WireTrim with FiberLine tape a month. This helps them get the perfectly straight edge needed to do the job right.

Lee Frongner (L) and his uncle Harry Wetherald worked together to tape off the tailgate. On average it takes about five hours from when the truck rolls into the shop until it leaves. Most of that time is spent preparing the bed and masking off the parts that won’t be sprayed. 

“The most important step is the prep work,” says Lee. “You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t take the time to do it right then it won’t make a difference how good it is.”

All the work is backed by the national Line-X warranty, which means each bed sprayed needs to meet the regulations established by the company. The thickness in the bed needs to be 120 mil on the floor and 80 mil on the sides.

“With some places you only get half of the material,” says Lee. “When it comes to added protection, we do it right by giving you a quality product that is backed by our warranty.”

It only takes seconds for the coating to dry, but 24 hours to fully cure. So Harry is able to measure the thickness to ensure it meets the regulations that Line-X has set nation-wide. The thickness on this particular truck is 125 mil on the bottom and 95 mil on the sides. 

After a close inspection, Harry moves on and prepares to add a Premium Highly durable, UV-stable top coat that will help the Line-X coated bed keep its shine and stay looking like new.

Next up is the rocker side panels and again there is nearly 5 more hours of prep time involved in getting the truck ready to be sprayed.

Adam couldn’t be happier with the job Line-X did, which dramatically improved the look of his truck. All the lines are nice and straight and the added thickness is appreciated.

TITAN Fuel Tanks

Budgeting for your modifications has a lot to do with the planning that goes into these installs. And one of the major upgrades that Adam was most looking forward to was adding the fuel tank/tool box from TITAN Fuel Tanks. He wanted the complete system and that meant having the best that this Idaho-based company has to offer. With other options out there, for his specific needs, TITAN was his first choice well above the others.

“When I’m up in the hills and away from civilization I don’t want to be have to head to the nearest town and find a place to fill up so having an in-bed fuel tank was a must,” says Adam. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about TITAN and when I saw its new 60-gallon tank/tool box combo I knew it would be the best fit for me.”

All the parts were laid out on the table before getting started. The kit includes everything you need including the one-way rollover valve that is gravity-fed as well as the solenoid that includes an electric switch in the cab for the shutoff.

A lot of the work can be done prior to mounting the fuel tank and to ensure all the wiring is water proof, all of the connectors are heat treated.

A template is included, which makes drilling the holes into the bed a lot nicer. Shop tech James Patience—who did the install—is starting to believe it’s a requirement to have your bed sprayed with Line-X before adding a fuel tank in your bed.

“It seems like every install we do was just sprayed by Line-X,” jokes James. “I guess it’s just the thing to do.”

With the brackets in place, Adam (R) helps James get the 60-gallon fuel tank in the back of the bed prior to mounting it.

Then the next step was to add the locking toolbox to the top. The compact black diamond plate toolbox is constructed of black finished aluminum with a total 3.4 cubic feet of capacity.

The one-way rollover valve is gravity-fed and is just below the bed of the truck.

The tool box bolts to the top of the TITAN 60-gallon In-Bed Fuel Tank to form a fuel tank/toolbox combination. Constructed of heavy-gauge aluminum diamond plate, it features plated and black finished locks for security and an air spring supported lid for convenience. The box has two compartments, one for tools and one which completely houses the fill neck. The box protects the fuel, tank components as well as your tools from theft and the weather.

The electric solenoid shut-off valve is completely waterproof and is located between the bed of the truck and the tank. It automatically shuts off when the vehicle’s ignition is off.

The deluxe model includes an electronic fuel gauge.

James mounted the lighted fuel gauge next and was able to add the switch to the pod so everything is now located inside the cab for easy access.

The TITAN shop is located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The building was once a custom cabinet shop and is complete with a fireplace and top-of-the-line facilities. When Adam first went into the building he wasn’t sure he was in the right place. The TITAN headquarters looks more like a ski lodge than a shop and is worth taking a look if you’re ever in the area..  

With black accents on his tan truck, Adam is glad he went with the black version for the tool box. The black diamond plate perfectly ties into the Ranch Hand bumpers that were also powdercoated black.  

B&W Hitch

When Adam first bought the truck it included a bulky fifth wheel plate that took up a lot of space in his bed. He started looking into getting a hidden goose neck hitch to give him more versatility and the more he searched, the more B&W Hitch kept coming up as the best option.  

“We pull a toy hauler, cargo trailer, boat and sometimes pull a flat bed trailer with hay or stock trailer with a couple of cows,” says Adam. “I also use the truck to haul fire wood out of the hills so not all work is towing. Most towing is not super heavy, but does involve hills.”

 Before the truck bed was sprayed with Line-X, Adam drilled the main hole for his hitch.

 Before getting started with the install, the hardware was all laid out on the tailgate.


The heavy-duty design has a lot of weight to it so using a 2 by 4 board and a tie-down strap is recommended to keep it in place while you bolt it up underneath the bed.


 The hitch design is solid and that includes the bracket that perfectly wraps around the frame of the truck.

 The last step is to just drop the ball into place and you’re now ready to tow.  

 You can either have the ball up.Or Out of the way.

The lever to release it is on the driver’s side by the rear wheel.

 Below the bed the ball is visible.

Bushwacker

After the great job Line-X did with the rocker panels, the truck seemed to be missing something to help tie it all in. That’s when Adam realized he needed the Pocket Style Fender Flares from Bushwacker to complete the look from bumper to bumper. 

The Bushwacker name alone seems to be the perfect fit for this Elk Hunter build that is sure to see some roads off the beaten path.

The Pocket Style flares are designed for Ram owners with oversized, off-road wheel and tire packages and feature easy installation. The process is 100 percent bolt-on and the best part is that they extend tire coverage by 2 ½ inches for additional protection from rocks and debris.

The flares offer a free Limited Lifetime Guarantee, feature no-drilling installation and are engineered with 100 percent UV protection to eliminate chalking, cracking or warping. The OEM matte black finish tied in perfectly with the rest of the exterior.

 Adam installs the front fender flare, which hardly takes any time at all. To say the installation is simple would be an understatement.

AirDog

With smaller stock fuel lines, one extra step needs to be taken when installing the AirDog II on any Dodge truck and it’s not exactly a small step. Unlike with GMC or Ford versions, the fuel tank needs to be removed. Adam didn’t like the thought of trying to drop his tank on his driveway, so he called up his friend Matt Rosenberg who has two lifts in his shop. Matt is the owner of Rosenberg Automotive Inc. in Lewisville, Idaho, and his shop has been repairing, modifying and fixing all types of vehicles for nearly eight years. Installing the AirDog II 165 Fuel Preporator wouldn’t be a problem for this shop.

All the parts were first laid out like a surgeon’s table with everything needed for the install.

 Having the right equipment makes all the difference with this install. Matt begins by removing the fuel tank while the truck is on the lift.

 Mitch Reymond works at Rosenberg Automotive and he holds the light while Matt removes the fuel module.

 The instructions mention that it may be necessary to remove some ribs on top of the fuel module and that’s what needed to be done. Before Matt drilled the hole, he first had to grind off the top to create a flat surface.

 The old filter looks tiny by comparison and it’s clear the new AirDog will do a better job.

 Matt decided to mount the system on the inside of the frame to keep it protected. Mitch has been working at the shop for about five months and enjoys these types of installs.

 With all the lines now connected, the AirDog unit is installed and almost ready to go.

 The last step of the install is to hook up the electrical and Matt gets under the hood to finish the job.

BIG COUNTRY

The round of installs for part two of this build have been extensive, but we thought we’d add one more. Adam just couldn’t stand the thought of putting the old steps back on after the rocker panels were sprayed with Line-X so he contacted BIG COUNTRY to see what the company has to offer.

Everything you need, including six heavy-duty brackets, comes standard and it takes approximately 30 minutes to assemble. 

The theme for this truck is make it more durable for hunting season, so adding a wider side step seemed to be what was needed next. The 6-inch WIDESIDER XL Bars from BIG COUNTRY were exactly what this truck needed and Adam was able to quickly and easily install them.

The extra-wide step not only looks great, but it makes it that much easier to get in the cab. Each step comes with a matte black finish on the composite ABS plastic steps with aluminum mounting rails. The all-black step flows perfectly with what has been done so far to this truck and Adam was impressed by the heavy-duty design that doesn’t even compare to his old stock steps.

Looking Ahead

In the next installment we’ll finally go under the hood to make some modifications that will help this truck run as well as it’s starting to look. The Banks Power 5.9L Power Pack is next on the list, which will include before and after numbers on the dyno as we measure the gains.  

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...
Share

Send to your friends!