Although I’ve never really been too excited with the name we selected for this build, the actual project has gone above and beyond what I could have imagined before getting started. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t think of anything more creative than “Editor’s Pick” to describe a build that is designed to reflect me as the editor of Diesel Tech magazine and the upgrades and aftermarket parts I feel are ideal in creating a great all-around daily driver.
The journey started with a stock 2010 Ford F350 Super Duty in January with plans for it to end as a SEMA truck at the Las Vegas Convention Center in November. Not bad for its first year, huh? Over the last few months we’ve more than doubled the horsepower on the 6.4L Power Stroke, dramatically improved the exterior and added a truck load (literally) of both practical and non-practical upgrades (I still argue the train horns from HornBlasters are practical and a must for any truck).
In the last installment of this build we’ll recap the entire project, but for now we’re going to focus on those last final touches to help put our project truck over the top.
I love showing off my truck and I have no problem talking details to the guy who is willing to wait for me outside of Home Depot just to see what’s under the hood. But as great as the exterior looks (that of course is only overshadowed by how well it performs), I was always a little uneasy about showing people the inside of the cab. Why? Because other than the Edge CTS2 monitor, the interior is about as stock-looking as it comes. Sure, I could limo tint the windows so no one could see inside, but instead I decided to tackle the interior with the same aggressive approach I’ve taken with the rest of the truck.
Turn It Up
The stock stereo stared back at me every morning when I climbed in my truck so that’s why it was the first to go. I had some ideas of what I wanted to do that included Pioneer Electronics, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started so I called up Phase 4 Stereo in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Owner Dave Bailey, Jr. now runs this full electronics shop after taking over the family business from his father Dave Bailey, Sr. in 2000. The father and son team started Phase 4 Stereo in 1972 and from day one has been an exclusive Pioneer Electronics dealer for southeast Idaho. Today, the local shop is also a Pioneer distributor for Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
“We used to carry other stereo decks besides Pioneer, but I like to only do things once,” said Richard Edwards who has been installing systems for Phase 4 Stereo since 1996. “They’re rock solid with a bulletproof setup so that’s why we only sell Pioneer decks now and I don’t have to worry about them coming back.”
The Phase 4 Stereo team, which includes Rod Wallace (25-plus years), Jim Brown (35-plus years) and Dave Bailey, Jr., put together a list of recommend products for our build that included the Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX unit with new in-dash navigation and a 6.2-inch touchscreen display. Pioneer’s NEX (Networked Entertainment eXperience) line of receivers feature Bluetooth, USB/Aux ports, as well as a DVD player, just to name a few of the highlights. It also includes Apple CarPlay which is the smarter and safer way to use your iPhone while driving. Yes, WHILE driving! Apple CarPlay allows you to make calls, use maps, and listen to music as well as access text messages with just a word or a single touch. I had no idea all of this technology was available today. I was as plugged in as an Amish toaster before Phase 4 Stereo hooked me up. Now I can verbally send and receive text messages while keeping my eyes on the road where they belong.
My entire system is centered around the Pioneer AVIC-5100NEX unit, which before contacting Phase 4 Stereo was the only thing I was sure of. I also added two 6- by 8-inch 4-way speakers in the doors, an amp, as well as a large subwoofer in the back—all manufactured by Pioneer.
For the kiddos, a drop-down 11.2-inch DVD screen from Power Acoustik was also installed. As an added bonus, since I’d rather listen to my music than my kid’s movies, we went with HP-11S headphones from Power Acoustik that feature an adjustable swiveling over-the-ear pad to reduce ambient noise. Each HP-11S headphone has independent volume control, and also an auxiliary audio input to directly connect an iPod or other device with headphone output. Plus a hardened plastic carry case is included for protective storage.
With the sound system complete thanks to the great install by Phase 4 Stereo, it was time to address the next biggest glaring issue and that was the seats. After years of viewing SEMA vehicles, there seems to only be one name when it comes to interior seating and that’s Katzkin Leather. They’re considered the best of the best by most and that’s why Katzkin was my first and only call. Katzkin is a privately held company which designs, manufactures and distributes custom leather interiors for virtually any vehicle on the road today. This is one of those companies that is constantly expanding its line of leather interiors, which now includes over 3,000 vehicle applications. Since 1986 the company estimates it has outfitted almost two million vehicles!
Project Manager Angel Hernandez was very helpful and mailed me a large sample folder with all the different colors, textures and patterns so I could customize my seats. After much deliberation I went with the Two-Tone Combo design with Factory Matched Gray and a Carbon Shadow insert with black stitching. As an added touch I was able to get our Diesel Tech logo stitched in the seatbacks as well. It’s these little added touches that I feel make the difference when building a truck. And of course I wanted the Katzkin logo as well. After all, they are the official leather supplier for the Ford Motor Company as well as other top companies.
Katzkin’s leather interiors are manufactured in Montebello, Calif., and are backed by a three year / 36,000 mile warranty so I know they’re built to last.
Jim’s Auto Upholstery
I’m a fan of do-it-yourself type projects, but I must admit I don’t know a lot about interior seating so I decided to reach out to an authorized Katzkin dealer to do the install. Jim’s Auto Upholstery is just across the state from us in Nampa, Idaho, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this business that was established in 1950 by Jim Dossett. The original owner retired in 1989 and passed the business down to his grandson Rodney Bean who today with his wife, Debbie, still own and operate the shop. With over 30 years of experience in the upholstery business, Rod has surround himself with a quality crew including Ben Zahller, Richard Bean, Ivan Sein and Mark McCartor, so I knew our project truck was in good hands.
After installing the Katzkin seats, the shop took me aside and talked me into taking the truck to a whole new level of customization. Ben can’t help it; he comes from the custom car world with an impressive resume of extremely detailed projects and he had some specific ideas for what he could do to my truck. These guys are the best and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have them work on my truck some more. I was up against a deadline so those details will have to be unveiled in the final series of this build.
We’re not overlooking any details, so before I took our project truck to Jim’s Auto Upholstery I picked up a hitch from Andersen Manufacturing. Its Rapid Hitch has to be one of the most popular hitches on the market today and the 6-inch drop combo seemed like the ideal fit for our build. It has a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds with the 2-inch ball and 10,000 pounds with the 2 and 5/16-inch ball and that’s plenty for what we plan to tow. The polished aluminum won't rust, chip or peel and you can quickly adjust the height. Simply pull the pin, adjust, and then slip the pin back into place. It’s really that easy.
And because nice hitches like this one tend to “walk away” these days, we also added the BOLT series receiver lock. What makes this lock unique is it can be permanently set to any key including your truck key, so you don’t have to carry additional keys with you. I’m a big fan of BOLT locks and I continue to use several of its products—all of which are of course keyed to my truck key for convenience.
We have a few surprises still left as we come to the sixth and final installment of our build that will go beyond what we’ve got planned with Jim’s Auto Upholstery. We’ll put the final touches to Editor’s Pick as well as highlight the entire build in our next issue!