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Ford Super Crew Build Final

Bruce Smith December 10, 2011

Ford Super Duty Project Build:The Last Chapter

Putting the finishing touches on our big Ford Crew Cab 4×4 sweepstakes truck

By Bruce W. Smith

Our project truck at the start of the build.

Over the past nine months, we’ve been slowly changing the look and functionality of our 2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 from an ordinary, vanilla-white work truck into a multi-function, go-anywhere contractor’s pickup.

It has been upfitted with a mild suspension lift and taller, more-aggressive tires for more ground clearance and better traction.

We added a heavy-duty front bumper and big hydraulic winch for better front-end protection and self-recovery muscle.

We added toolboxes, a bigger fuel tank and a refuel tank for greater self-sufficiency and long-range travel.

Then we equipped it with an array of emergency lights, a gooseneck and several different types of receiver hitches so it could handle any trailer-towing duties.

Then we filled the bed with a skid containing a generator, welder, air compressor and oil-changing system so light-duty field service/repair work could be handled should the need arise.

Cobra Electronics set us up with this 150-watt MicroPort DC-to-AC mini power inverter with a USB output that allows us to charge and run a number of mobile office devices inside the cab. We also use iRadar in the Super Crew.

Like we said at the outset of the build back in April, our goal with Project Super Crew was to build a pickup for those who service oil and gas wells, run survey crews, build roads or do site-prep work where a normal day at the office is driving off-pavement over difficult terrain.

“No road, no problem,” was the credo. And it remains so.

MORE UPGRADES

Since our last article, we’ve made a number of small changes to the project truck and one big one. All changes offer function with form, performance with style.

The guys at Truck Supply & Outfitters, the off-road shop here in Tuscaloosa that handles all of our project pickup’s upgrades, installed the companion heavy-duty rear bumper from Buckstop Truckware.

It’s stout and stylish, providing extra body protection and additional anchor points for tow hooks.

We hope it’ll also serve as a future mounting point for a 9.5K electric Mile Marker winch.

They also installed an Airaid cold-air intake to help the 6.7L-powerstroke breathe better (see the full installation on the Project Super Crew website) and slipped on a set of Hellwig Products front and rear anti-sway bars designed specifically for pickups with lifted suspensions.

Vanair and Sage have made sure our truck is setup for field repair and service capability with a Vanair Air N Arc 150 combo compressor/welder/generator and Sage OilVac system. Both products are mounted on a quick-load skid for easy removal if needed.

Hellwig’s Lifted Sway Bars significantly reduced body roll and, as far as we can tell early on, they have done so without compromising the travel of the BDS four-link suspension.

This is one of those upgrades any owner of the new F-250 who does any towing or heavy hauling should consider – lifted suspension or not.

We also addressed the brakes. Our Super Crew weighs about 1,500 pounds more than it was stock and the 35-inch Mickey Thompson MTZs add a lot more spinning mass for the factory brakes to overcome. The truck stops, but not as efficiently as we’d like.

EBC’s Ultimax slotted brake rotors and Yellow pads have replaced the stock Ford parts. This upgrade provides greater braking power and minimizes brake fade during severe use such as towing or hauling heavy loads.

So to get back on track, TSO swapped out the OEM rotors for a set of EBC Brakes’ Ultimax slotted-and-vented OEM replacement rotors and premium Yellow Stuff brake pads.

The stopping power with these British-made rotors is markedly improved and the amount of brake-pedal pressure needed to haul the big Crew Cab down is noticeably less. All good.

GRAPHIC APPEAL

The biggest visual change to the truck is the “new” look. We were tired of vanilla white and wanted to make a statement — have it be our rolling business card just like some of you do with your trucks.

Advanced Signs & Graphics’ Richard Trahan expertly lays down the vinyl wrap on the hood during the full Camoclad body wrap.

A custom paint job was out of the picture because it’d be too expensive and hard to keep up in a work environment.

So we went the logical route: vinyl. It looks just like custom paint yet can be removed in short order, revealing the factory paint beneath.

Camoclad is well-known for their premium vinyl wraps for pickups, ATVs and boats. What most people don’t know is they also provide vinyl graphic commercial and fleet use in non-camo/custom patterns. (See related article in this issue.) Camoclad printed out the wrap on 3M’s premium material.

TSO’s installers position a heavy-duty Buckstop rear bumper into place. Its steel-fabricated quality and design will add considerable body protection and more anchor points to the truck.

Then Richard Trahan, who owns Advanced Signs & Graphics in New Iberia, Louisiana, did the installation in about six hours to give the project truck a very distinctive flare.

FIXING UP THE OFFICE

With those mechanical and hardware items addressed to make the truck itself more efficient around the jobsite, we turn our attention to upgrades to the “office” so it’s more comfortable for the driver and passengers.

No self-respecting outdoorsman would have anything else but camo seat covers in their pickup. We went with Marathon’s Realtree AP 500 camo pattern, which matches our big Super Duty’s interior.

The first thing that needed addressing was protecting the cloth seats. Mud, dirt, dust and water are the evil perils facing any working pickup’s interior.

Protecting the seats adds resale value and prolongs their life.

We found a one-stop solution in Marathon Seat Covers’ SuperHides.

These form-fitted seat covers are 100-percent-waterproof and are made from 500-denier Cordura so they will last for many years. (To see the install, go to propickupmag.com/project-trucks/super-crew.)

Cobra Electronics took care of us with a plug-in power inverter and its new iRadar, which has an app that turns an iPhone into a visual radar screen alerting the driver to all sorts of speed traps, lasers and red-light cameras.

Airaid’s cold-air intake system is said to add about 11hp to our Super Crew’s 6.7L Powerstroke, bringing it to around 410hp.

The Cobra iRadar app also allows you to control the detector’s settings and provides a one-touch method to alert other iRadar users of real-time police presence, road hazards, delays, and accidents.

We still have to install the Cobra Classic ST CB radio and find a good mounting location for a pair of Cobra MicroTalk GMRS/FRS walkie-talkies.

Between the CB, iPhone, and walkie-talkies (35-mile range), there should never be communication issue when the Super Crew is out on the road for work or play.

WORK SOLUTIONS

Speaking of work solutions, we never did get Ford’s Work Solutions in-dash computer and ToolLink software that we’d ordered when we bought the truck last January.

A disappointment for us, as we’re sure for many of you who were looking forward to using such a cool business tool.

So we went back to our dealer, Town & Country Ford in Bessemer, Alabama, where they graciously swapped out our Super Crew’s base radio and upgraded it with an OEM-like replacement multi-function navigation unit from Rosen Electronics.

Rosen’s touch-screen system sets us up with Bluetooth, navigation, satellite radio, and a host of other features that come in handy when you spend several hours a day in the cab driving to/from jobsites or taking the family on those weekend outings.

And when it comes to work or recreational outings, having a place to keep food and beverages cold – or frozen – is a good thing.

Our friends at ARB 4×4 Accessories sent their new 12-volt ARB Fridge Freezer, which we promptly installed in place of the rear passenger’s-side seat. Now we have 50 quarts of space in which to put a big chill on food and drink.

So that’s where we are with Project Super Crew. It’s very close to being done.

A few more items still need to be addressed (engine programmer and exhaust). Then we’ll be ready to hand the keys to one of you who have registered to win it all. May the luck of the draw be on your side.

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