Project Big Boss Part III

Work Ready Ram

Our Crew Cab 2500 gets a few final touches before hitting the road – and jobsite dutyWork Ready Ram

Tightening the last steel crossbar of the black DeWalt industrial-grade truck rack sitting in the bed of our Ram 2500 Crew Cab’s bed and attaching the wires to a brace of JW Speaker LED work lights gives a certain sense of accomplishment: we were putting the final touches on our six-month-long project truck build.

Our 2010 Ram Crew Cab 4x4 in stock trim. Capable and comfortable.

Like landscapers making those last few sweeps with the rake or a road builder spraying the last stripes, installing the bed rack – and the auxiliary lights attached to it – signified the Big Boss was finally ready for the jobsite.

We started with a nicely-equipped 2010 Ram 4×4 and ended up with what most contractors would consider a kick-ass diesel work truck that any company owner would be proud to drive. Our goal from day one was to accessorize for functionality first, looks second.

Set for the jobsite. DeWalt Thule industrial-grade bed rack add versatility to the Big Boss.

As it turned out our sponsors were able to blend both looks and performance with every product that graces the Big Boss. The DeWalt bed rack and JW Speaker auxiliary lights we just added are perfect examples.


Thule Racks and DeWalt teamed up to provide professionals in the trades with pickup racks able to withstand the demands of jobsite use. The powder-coated DIGFFR360 Industrial Grade Steel Truck Rack on our Ram is designed to carry up to 1,800 pounds on its heavy-duty SteelTruss load supports that connect the rail, cross and leg bars.

Cargo rack is well-built and easy to install. But cross-brace over the Ram’s roof causes a lot of wind noise at highway speed.

DeWalt incorporates 2-inch square steel tubing and double load bars and full-length bed rails to maximize the bed wall’s strength and capacity. For increased versatility, the rear load bar uses clevis pins on each end so it can swing open in any direction to allow taller/larger items, such as our Air-N-Arc/Oil Vac unit, to be loaded in the bed.

The only item Thule and DeWalt need to address is the keeping the cross bar over the cab from deflecting wind onto the roof where it sets up a horrible drumming in the cab at speeds above 55mph.


In that same line of thought, we teamed up with JW Speaker, a company well-known for state-of-the-art contractor-grade LED lighting products.

An aFe cold-air intake replaces the factory air filter system to give the 6.7L Cummins a little better breathing capability.

LED lights are quickly becoming the norm on pickups and heavy equipment found on jobsites because they out-perform other lights in longevity and close-proximity lighting. (See our special auxiliary light buyer’s guide starting on page 16 in this issue.)

We installed JW Speaker Model 735 flood-pattern work lights on the top rails of the rack wired into separate rocker switches in the cab, and a pair of the trap (trapezoid) beam-pattern work lights on the back corners tied into the Ram’s reverse lights.

These 3×5-inch LED lights are housed in black-powder-coated, die-cast aluminum housings. Each uses a dozen LEDs that produce a combined 1,400 lumens; light output and area coverage is exceptional. They are waterproof, have a glass outer lens with a polycarbonate inner lens for great durability, and draw only 3.7 amps.

Truck Supply & Outfitter’s Darren Parker replaces the OEM muffler and DPF-back exhaust with larger aFe exhaust components.

A pair of JW’s 282 Dome Lamps are tucked under the bed rail lip – one on each side about a foot from the tailgate – to facilitate loading tools and gear after dark. They’re activated by a small waterproof rocker-switch on the bed rail.


We made a few improvements in another area, too: under the hood. Our friends at Truck Supply & Outfitters added more kick to the 6.7L Cummins in our Crew Cab Ram by installing advanced Flow engineering’s (aFe) Dodge Cummins package, which includes a cold-air intake and DPF-back exhaust.

The aFe Cold-Air Intake replaces the stock Cummins air filter, housing and intake tube, decreasing restrictions while adding five more ponies to the Cummins horsepower stable.

Poly Performance’s quick-release fire-extinguisher mount is a smart addition to any work truck. So is the DeWalt rack screen that protects the rear window.

Better breathing is also improved on the other end with the aFe DPF-back exhaust system. This replaces the factory muffler and exhaust pipe aft of the massive DPF unit with four-inch pipe and a cool-looking six-inch exhaust tip. (To see the installation of both of these kits, go to our Big Boss web page and click on “Installs.”)

This Cummins upgrade improves the Ram’s throttle response while adding a hint of a deeper exhaust note.

The real benefit of these engine upgrades will come when we install the Hypertech engine software, which will magnify any improvements we’ve made to intake and exhaust. The new performance computer programming will also give the Big Boss the muscle to go toe-to-toe with its more powerful Ford and GM rivals.


Power is useless unless it gets to the ground in the form of traction. Four-wheel drive is one way to achieve traction. But the right tires are the big key.

The Big Boss has the capability of lighting up anything within a ¼-mile with this GoLight remote-controlled, magnetic-mount spotlight.

That’s why we’ve settled on a set of the 12.50×35-inch, red-letter General Grabbers as the tire of choice for Big Boss. Grabbers are the street version of the tires used the last couple years on the factory’s off-road race team pickups. (See our tire review on the web.)

This tire’s internal structure and tread design will work quite well under the loads and traction demands some contractor is going to put it through in the years to come. The unique tread pattern is aggressive enough to work well over sand, gravel, rock and loose dirt, yet quiet enough to keep the interior of the Crew Cab office-like on long drives over paved roads.


Speaking of driving, we upgraded the front suspension by adding Firestone Industrial Product’s Digital Air Command I system. Now the driver can adjust the ride height and suspension, front and rear, with a push-button digital-readout control mounted in the cab.

We mounted a pair of JE Speaker LED Dome Lights under the rails of our project truck’s Line-X-coated bed to provide cargo-area lighting.

Bilstein air shocks replace the front shocks and we slipped the special air-manifold, compressor and solenoids that control the air system in the floor storage compartment behind the driver’s seat.

This is a great suspension upgrade for those who plan on towing more than 10,000 pounds or hauling a big over-cab slide-in camper where you have adjustability in ride height and suspension firmness over varying road conditions.

We also gave our Big Boss its second oil/filter change using Valvoline Premium Blue Engine Oil so the Cummins diesel gets the best lubrication available for a long, long life.

The full-synthetic lubricant will also ensure the best fuel economy. That will come in handy as the Big Boss Ram Crew Cab makes its way to several more trade shows before being given away in our sweepstakes drawing in early April.

There are four JW Speaker 3x5-inch oval LED work lights mounted on the Big Boss’ bed rack to provide side and rear lighting.

We can’t wait to meet the winner and see their face when we hand over the keys. The Big Boss is going to make someone very, very happy.


Advanced Flow Engineering

Air N Arc

AllComm Wireless


Curt Manufacturing



Dick Cepek

Firestone Industrial Products


General Tire

Holiday Raceway

JW Speaker


Road Armor

Sage Oil Vac



Superlift Suspensions

Transfer Flow

Truck Supply & Outfitters




Warn Industries

Whelen Engineering

Big Boss and the Numbers

Up-to-date performance numbers on our Big Boss 2010 Ram 2500 Crew Cab 4×4. Numbers in parenthesis represent stock performance. To see detailed data, go to

Pickup 2010 Ram 2500 Crew Cab 4×4 Diesel, 3.73:1, automatic

Performance 0-30mph: 3.5 sec (3.0 sec)

Data (Stock) 0-60mph: 9.9 sec (8.9 sec)

Braking, 60-0mph: 139.2 feet (146.2)

1⁄8-mile: 11.4 sec @ 64.5mph (10.8 sec @ 67.1 mph)

Total miles 7,897

Fuel Economy Best: Highway – 15.8mpg Worst: City – 13.7mpg

Observed average City/Hwy -14.3mpg


Thousands of people at trade and truck shows from Dallas to Charlotte to Las Vegas have lined up over the past six months to fill out sweepstakes entry forms in hopes of winning our Big Boss Ram 2500 Crew Cab 4×4. Thousands more have registered online.

If you haven’t registered for a chance to win the Big Boss, there’s still time. Entries will be accepted until March 31, 2011. The drawing will be held in early April. Go to and click on the “Big Boss Sweepstakes” to enter.