Doing It Differently

Building a truck for the less-beaten path

Published in the March 2018 Issue May 2019 Feature

Getting Dirty

I never intended to tackle the Rubicon Trail in this thing, but the idea was to worry less about some of the more gnarly Forest Service access trails around Montana. My mentality: find a muddy rutted road headed to my favorite hunting spot? No problem. 

Beginning the build list, I turned to Fabtech Motorsports and their new 4-inch body coil-over suspension system. I chose six inches of height as it was a good compromise between clearance and everyday utility. I carry a slide-in camper in this truck and I didn’t want two feet of leg extension to load it. The rear end utilizes blocks for the increased height, and to keep the factory overload setup operational I wanted to keep it that way. In the end, the configuration of the rear of the truck doesn’t utilize the overloads to their full capacity and air bags will need to be employed.

As most of us do, I searched for the right wheel for quite a while before deciding on the Black Rhino Armory in 18-inch diameter. This wheel had the right mix of strength and off-road “feel” and I was instantly in love. They offered a tire-clearance-friendly +6mm offset, and totally fit the look I was after. The tires weren’t as much of a brain-burner, as we’re big fans of Toyo Tires at our facility and a 38-inch Open Country MT was a great fit. They balanced well, and are as tough as your WW2 vet great-grandfather.

For bumpers, the product line from Throttle Down Kustoms is a household name around Diesel Pros. They’re a local bumper builder and their bumpers are tough as nails. Jeremy and I got together to figure out how we could change it up a little and we designed the new Cyclone Series of bumper that integrates some protection for the bumper-mounted light bar, and offers plenty of air flow through the edgier front lower grille cutout. 

Lighting duties were handled by several sets of Rigid Industries LED offerings. The lower cutouts house a set of their SAE-compliant Dually fog lights and a set of their (definitely not compliant) Dually D2 driving lights. Up top in the new Cyclone housing is a 20-inch SR series combo beam that spots elk from the next county over. They give lots of bright in a little light. The reverse lights are a set of Rigid Flush Mount Dually pods and are hooked directly into the reverse bulb circuits for ease of use; no switch on these.

All in all, the Super Duty is a very capable truck right off of the showroom floor. Coming from the factory with an Electronic Locking Differential (ELD) 4-low, and a bounty of under-body clearance will ensure you can doze your neighbor’s rose bushes without getting stuck. If rose bushes aren’t your thing and you’re looking to get a little deeper into the woods, then you’ll start to see the short comings of the length and factory tire options real quick. 

More To Come

As is the case with most projects, this one isn’t done. I’m currently configuring a better load capable setup for the rear of this truck. While the ride quality is absolutely stunning with the suspension, wheel, and tire options, I have to tow/haul/transport as much as I have to get off road. Like any good marriage, there’s always some give and take when putting a build list together. What may be the perfect choice for off-road use might not be the best option for towing. 

The near future holds more functional add-ons like a gear ratio swap, rear load control, and a front locking differential. I figure when that’s all taken care of I’ll at least be able to keep up with that Flower Wagon. The difference is that I’ll be able to comfortably tow that spaghetti ball to the trail head. Happy Trails!  

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