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Project Dirt Toy hits the road (the off-road, that is)

Published in the June 2018 Issue May 2019 Feature Trevor Mason

Here’s one thing I never really thought I’d say before we started this project: Ford makes a good-looking truck! I’m not trying to be a hater or anything, I’ve just historically not been much of a fan of their design aesthetic. I grew up as a Chevy guy and in recent years have become a fan of both Nissan and Dodge’s output, but Ford just never really landed for me. After the time spent with Project Dirt Toy, I’ve gained a new appreciation for this old Detroit-bred monster.

It’s been a little bit of a journey to get to this point. We kicked things off with an 1,800-mile trip down to Arizona to give the truck the Bullet Proof treatment, and it was the best thing we could possibly have done. When you button up a project truck’s reliability from the jump, you’re setting the foundation for success down the road. We haven’t had a single worry about the truck’s reliability since we got it back.

It’s A Cinch

For the fourth and final installment of the build, it was a lot of finishing touches, all over the truck. As promised last time, we put on the 12,000-pound EXP Series winch from Superwinch. It’s a great-looking winch that unfortunately is now ensconced inside the front bumper. Luckily, it does more than simply look good. Superwinch’s bona fides include making winches for the US military, so they know a thing or two about a thing or two. Their winches include fully-potted electronics and this winch is rated to IP69k. It also features an auto-engage clutch, auto-off, auxiliary power ports, warning lights, and blue LED task lighting to make night operation easier. This specific winch is designed for synthetic rope and even includes Picatinny rails that can be used to mount lights, cameras, or anything else. It’s a cool feature that we unfortunately can’t use, but we appreciate it nonetheless. At the moment, we still haven’t put the winch to the test, but we’re confident that it’ll handle anything we throw its way.

Bright Lights

Next up are a couple of different products from PIAA. First up is a set of their Brilliant White 6000K Platinum LED bulbs. That “brilliant” part is no joke, either. Once we got them installed and turned it, they were blindingly bright, which I suppose is what you want. Installation was simple and smooth, though we did have to modify the stock light shroud a little bit. The round plastic piece where the stock bulb lugs in is too bulky for the new apparatus, which has its own system for orienting the bulb and securing it to the headlight housing. After some light modification, we were good to go. Each bulb comes with an LED controller and adapter that lets it hook up to the stock power line. A simple solution with a fantastic outcome.

The other PIAA product we installed was a set of 3-inch RF Series LED lights in the front bumper. These lights feature PIAA’s Reflector Facing Technology, which uses a multi-surface reflector to concentrate and focus the beam in a more precise manner than other lights. This keeps a low power draw, which is great. We decided to hook them up in place of the old fog lights, so there was no need to go to extra lengths and install the optional light switch through the firewall.

To handle all these extra power needs of the truck, we knew we needed some serious batteries. We replaced the truck’s old batteries with a pair of D6500s from XS Power. XS specializes in AGM batteries, which stands for absorbed glass mat. What does that mean? An ultra-thin fiberglass mat is saturated to 95 percent capacity with battery acid, then gets stacked between plates. Everything gets compressed then welded or soldered together. This process makes them almost completely immune to vibration, which is perfect for going off-road.

Working hand-in-hand with the batteries is the new DC Power high-output alternator. We went with the XP series because DC designs them for one purpose: brute force idle output. With all of the upgrades we’ve made, we need something built to handle the increased requirements. DC’s alternator delivers exactly that and we couldn’t be happier with its performance.

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