Project Truck: Surveyor 1

Updated Dec 17, 2014


SURVEYOR 1 Sweepstakes Truck Build: Part I

The ProPickup editors roll out a new sweepstake’s truck – a 2013 Ram 2500HD Crew Cab 4×4 with the help of Mobil Delvac and Ram Commercial Truck


By Bruce W. Smith

Every year we build a truck targeting a segment within the different working environments of heavy construction and contracting such as road/bridge building, site development and landscaping.

At the end of the build the truck is given away to some lucky sweepstakes winner.

Three years ago we turned a 2010 Ram 2500 Crew Cab diesel, called Big Boss, into a field lube/service truck. The year after that we upfitted an F-250 we called “Super Crew” to be a go-anywhere off-pavement work truck.

Last year, Big Red, a 2008 GMC Dually, was totally refurbished to be a head-turning, dependable, light-duty service truck with a slide-out service body and the equipment necessary to weld and wrench in the field.

All of the previous truck builds, and the steps we took to upfit them, can be found on our website (

Now, with the sponsorship of Mobil Delvac and Ram Commercial Truck, we begin our 2014 Sweepstakes truck:

Surveyor 1.

Surveyor 1 beauty 3_4 front

SURVEYOR 1 Presented by Mobil Delvac & Ram Commercial Trucks



Amp Research:; (800) 309-6823

A.R.E.:; (330) 830-7800

Fab Fours Bumpers:; (866) 385-1905

Transfer Flow:; (800) 442-0056

BD Diesel:; (888) 841-8884

Marathon Seat Covers:; (800) 735-2769

Rigid Industries:; (480) 655-0100

Escort Inc.:; (800) 964-3138



Surveyor 1 is a 2013 Ram 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4Ă—4 diesel.

This Ram’s fuel economy, load-carrying capacity, towing ability, crew comfort, versatility and dependability makes for a great combination when it comes to a pickup tasked for work in the construction, aggregates, landscaping and contracting trades.

Our build goal is to go a few steps further and accessorize it to be the dream package for commercial surveyors — or anyone who ventures into the woods and needs to be self-sufficient in the field.

cloth-interiorUntitled-1Surveyor 1’s cloth interior with the 40-20-40 bench is both comfortable and practical. New dash layout is very user friendly.

If we do it right this superbly designed workhorse 2013 Ram 2500HD diesel will be an even more refined, versatile, efficient, powerful tool on and off the jobsite.

Surveyor 1 will then be given away next April in a sweepstakes open to those who work in construction and related trades. (To register for the sweepstakes, go to:

We are proud to have Mobil Delvac as and Ram Commercial Truck onboard as the title ­sponsors.

The big Ram Crew Cab will be ensured a long, healthy life running Mobil Delvac ( premium fluids and lubricants protecting the vitals.

Of course, we couldn’t build a great sweepstakes truck like Surveyor 1 without the help from the automotive aftermarket. Those supporters are listed at the end of the article. Check out their sites and premium products designed to last in the real working world.


But before we dive into upfitting Surveyor 1 with lift kits, heavy-duty bumpers, emergency lighting, bed cap and slide-out storage system, engine tuner and other upgrades, lets take a closer look at the stock truck.

Our Crew Cab SLT is typical of what most work truck buyers would choose: It has the 6.7L Cummins and 6-speed automatic with 3.42 gears.

cumminsUntitled-1Cummins high-output 6.7L delivers 800 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed automatic. Engine is a real stump puller.

The interior is cloth with 40-20-40 bench front seats and one-piece folding bench in the rear. It’s also sporting skid plates ($50 option) and powered/heated tow mirrors.

We knew there would be plenty of upgrades, from tires and wheels to suspension lift and bumpers, so no need in getting factory options that would be pulled off down the road.

Although we didn’t go for the loaded version, the MSRP still came to $50,010.

Ram has made a number of nice refinements to the HDs in the last couple years that really improve ride, handling, performance, fuel economy and cost of ownership.

We took the truck to Gulfport Dragway, close to our Mississippi Gulf Coast office, to get the performance numbers out of the way.

This truck runs strong, clipping the ¼-mile traps in 16 seconds at 86mph. It stops just as good with the huge disc brakes pulling it to a 60-0mph in a hair over 136 feet – the best panic-stop numbers we have to date for a 4×4 Crew Cab diesel. (The performance numbers are in the data box below.)

2013-ramUntitled-12013 Ram HDs have a very robust cooling system with twin radiators and trans coolers. The charge-air-cooler is now located low on the cooling array.

The Ram performs just as well on the open road. We saw consistent 21-plus mpg numbers running several hundred miles at 70mph on I-10.

Around town the Cummins’ fuel economy hovers around 16mpg. All in all, impressive numbers for a truck that weighs in around 7,400 pounds.

The good fuel numbers are a result of a well-matched automatic, the Cummins now utilizing high-pressure common-rail injection, and the debut of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that delivers best-in-class oil-change interval of 15,000 miles.

The truck also has Ram’s industry-exclusive Ram Active Air intake system.



When the intake system senses extreme heat, it draws cool air from the front of the vehicle – a function that also engages at high altitudes for superior throttle response in low oxygen environments.

When driving conditions are wet from snow, ice or water-fording, the system pulls air from an underhood inlet clear from snow packing and water ingestion.

The ride is a little firm in the rear, but overall quite comfortable. Steering is light and precise, a result of some significant changes to the 2013’s rack-and-pinion steering setup.

The truck starts almost instantly. And the Cummins has no problem getting it rolling with 800 lb.-ft of torque.

Cummins’ exhaust brake is also impressive. There’s a button on the lower part of the center stack that activates the brake. When it’s “on”, the truck sounds like a semi as it quickly slows down to about 40mph. The exhaust brake is going to be a big brake saver over the life of the truck.

Hot-weather driving/towing will never be an issue either.

For 2013, all Ram Heavy Duty diesels benefit from an all-new cooling system that features a high-efficiency fan, dual radiators, dual transmission coolers and charge air cooler afford 25 percent more heat-rejection capacity.

Lower operating temperatures deliver improved performance, durability and lower operating costs.

Should anything go awry, Ram has one of the best truck warranties around with a 5 years/ 100,000 miles powertrain coverage. It includes towing to the nearest Ram dealer and all parts and labor needed to make the repairs.

To date we’ve put just a little more than 1,200 miles under Surveyor 1’s wheels. They’ve been all good miles.

Now we can have some real fun and start doing those upgrades… starting next issue with heavy-duty bumpers and big winch.


Surveyor 1 Specs

rear-viewUntitled-1Limited-slip rear differential came in handy during our time at the Gulfport Dragway. Truck runs 8 second 0-60mph times.


Make/Model: ’13 Ram 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4×4

Base MSRP: $40,165

As-Tested MSRP: $50,097

Engine: 6.7L Cummins Turbo I-6

Horsepower: 370hp @ 2,800rpm

Torque: 800 lbs-ft@1,600rpm

Axle Ratio: 3.42 w/ Anti-Spin rear diff

Curb Weight: 7,400 lbs


Observed MPG (Empty): 16.1 City /21.4 Hwy

Fuel Capacity: 31 gals

Tow Ratings (model tested): 5,000 lbs weight-carrying; 17,430 lbs (Note: RAM recommends a weight-distributing hitch for towing trailers from 5,000 lbs -12,000 lbs; a gooseneck or 5th wheel hitch is required for trailers weighing more than 12,000 lbs.)

Options: 6.7L Cummins Turbo ($7,795); 6-spd Automatic ($500); 3.42 Anti-Spin Differentials ($325); Power/heated Tow mirrors ($180)

Performance: 0-30mph: 3.2 sec.; 40-60mph: 3.8 sec.; 0-60mph: 8.4 sec.; ÂĽ-mile: [email protected]; 60mph-0: 136.5 ft.

Interior noise: 66dbA @70mph (Test facility: Gulfport Dragway, Gulfport, MS)




Heavy-duty pickups inherently have a fairly high step-in height, which is an inconvenience for some, a health/safety issue for others. Surveyor 1 is no different.

stepSo the first steps, so to speak, we have taken with our Mobil Delvac Ram project truck is to upfit it with Amp Research steps to ease getting in and out of the cab and provide easier access to the bed.

Spears Auto Repair’s owner, Warren Spears, installed Amp’s ever popular Powerstep under the doors, a BedStep under the drivers-side rear bumper, and a pair of BedStep2’s under the front corner on each side of the bed. The installs took about a half-day.

Now we have the convenience of both power and manual retractable steps at the important locations for a work truck.

The Amp steps also provide sure-footing when boots are slippery, helping prevent vehicle-related slip-and-falls on the jobsite.

If you want to see the step-by-step ­installation, go to the Surveyor 1 ­homepage and click on “Installs.”