Project Super Crew — Part I

Our 2011 Super Duty Crew Cab 4Ă—4 has a lot of pull in stock form, but now it has 12,500 pounds more up front

Winches are an integral work tool and a safety necessity for many who use their pickups in the road building, timber management, professional landscaping, site development and construction trades as well as for municipalities and utility companies.

A pickup outfitted with a heavy-duty winch brings both self-sufficiency and efficiency to bear in situations that might otherwise call for additional vehicles and manpower to resolve.

Our goal with Project Super Crew is to improve its performance both on and off-road, and in doing so, end up with a Ford F-250 Crew Cab that has all the right tools to allow the driver to be self-sufficient.

One step toward that goal is outfitting our project truck with strong front-end protection and a lot of pulling power at the ready. Most of you immediately think that means the addition of a stout custom winch bumper and a big electric winch.

Well, you are partially right.


We looked to Buckstop Truckware out of Newburg, Oregon, to fix our F-250 up with a strong, well-designed winch bumper. Buckstop, which is located about 25 miles southwest of Portland, is renown for their custom heavy-duty bumpers that are made right in their own fab shop.

Everything needed to add 12,000 pounds of pulling power and dramatically increase front-end protection to a 2011 Super Duty. Mile Marker and Buckstop provide all the hardware. You just need to supply the time and tools.

 After a few minutes of consultation with company president Dorian Hartfield, we chose Buckstop’s Classic II model with the optional four-inch light buckets to hold a set of fog lights to go with the 6-inch openings that are part of the stock setup.

Buckstop’s bumpers are impressive. The fully-welded, 190-pound-plus bumpers are fabbed out of 1/4-inch steel in the center where the winch mounts with 3/16-inch used on the wings. On top of that sits a stout 2-inch tubular grille guard bolted in place so it can be removed to access the grille or radiator. Buckstop also incorporates a 2-inch front receiver into the bumper’s design.

Buckstop usually sends out their products powder-coated with an industrial-grade silver finish to maximize rust prevention. But we ordered our Classic II winch bumper raw so the guys at Truck Supply & Outfitters could shoot it with All Pro Liner’s spray-on bedliner material – the same material that will coat our big Ford’s bed, fender flares and lower body trim.


The other change in direction for the Super Crew is going with a 12,000-pound-capacity hydraulic winch instead of the more traditional electric variety.

The Mile Marker H-Series hydraulic winch runs off the truck’s power steering pump. It can’t be overloaded, over heated or overworked.

Electric winches are excellent choices for those who use them for pulls of short duration. But when an electric winch is subjected to long, hard pulls, its Achilles heel is the solenoids and electric motor. Those components are what fail if the winch operator isn’t paying close attention to the heat build up inside the winch as it’s being worked.

Mile Marker supplies replacement hoses and adapters (arrows) to tap into the OEM power steering pump and the gear box. Tight quarters make this the most tedious part of the install.

The other pitfall of an electric winch is the tremendous load it places on the truck’s electrical system; the bigger the winching task, the faster the batteries are drained and the less efficient the winch becomes until everything slows to a halt. Dead batteries, dead truck.

Buckstop ships the bumper with the light buckets loose. Light mounting brackets fit just about any light assembly, but they are designed specifically for PIAAs, which we installed. Buckets and brackets fit the lights perfectly.

A hydraulic winch doesn’t have those issues. Sure, it’s more difficult to install and weighs a bit more. But it will deliver full pull as long as the pickup’s engine is running and the power steering pump operating.

We want our Super Crew to be able to provide maximum pulling power for however long it’s needed. That’s where Mile Marker stepped up to help.

Tim Hasse, Mile Marker’s marketing manager and an avid off-roader, immediately pointed us to the 70 Series H12000 winch to grace the front of our Super Duty. (The company builds both electric and hydraulic winches and is a supplier of hydraulic winches to the military.)

The H-Series two-speed hydraulic winch delivers six tons of pull on the first wrap in Low gear and 7,000 pounds on the outer cable wrap. Slip the 110-pound H12000 into High and you can still pull 2,000 pounds while retrieving the 100 feet of 3/8-inch cable up to 48 fpm. Spooling the cable in and out is velvet smooth and silent.

Truck Supply & Outfitters’ Daniel Parker handled the installation, which requires plumbing into the Ford’s power steering box and pump using Mile Marker’s 35 Series adapter kit.

Setting up the hydraulic winch isn’t a difficult job. But it does take about twice the time as installing an electric model because of running hoses and the installation of the solenoid-activated control valve.

(Note: You can simplify the installation and shorten install time by ordering the 75 Series HI winch with the integrated solenoid valve.)


Having a strong winch bumper and winch on Project Super Crew quickly solves both our goals for upgraded front-end protection and self-recovery needs. This upgrade also allows us to immediately improve our F-250’s performance in another area: forward lighting.

The Buckstop Classic II bumper comes ready to mount 6-inch lights, and as mentioned earlier, we opted for a second set of buckets cut into the wings to accept 4-inch lights.

PIAA, which is the same company Buckstop partners with for customers who want auxiliary driving or fog lights, set us up with a pair of 510 Plasma Ion Yellow fog lamps for the smaller outboard buckets and 520 Xtreme White Plus SMR driving lights to fill the larger inner ones. Both are 55-watt halogens in black housings with pre-wired harnesses for easy installation.

With the Buckstop heavy-duty bumper, Mile Marker hydraulic winch and PIAA auxiliary lights gracing the front of the Super Crew we have taken the first of what will be many steps toward building a Ford Super Duty Crew Cab 4×4 that’ll be the envy of anyone on a jobsite.

The photos on these pages highlight the upgrades. A hoist and a forklift make the install a one-man job. Otherwise the actual placement of the winch/bumper assembly, which tips the scale at a little more than 300 pounds, will require a floor jack or two and at least another helper.

If you want to see all the step-by-step details of how we installed these products, go to the Project Super Crew home page on our web site ( Trucks/Project Super Crew). There you’ll find photo galleries and a lot of additional product information.


Truck Supply & Outfitters:; 205-553-4203

Buckstop Truckware:; 800-431-6978

Mile Marker:; 800-886-8647



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