Surveyor I: Sweepstakes Truck Build Part II


SURVEYOR I: Sweepstakes Truck Build Part II

When push comes to shove in the field, it’s always good to have Fab Fours’ Elite Series heavy-duty bumpers and a big-boy Warn winch that are up to the job

By Bruce W. Smith


Land surveyors are an elite group faced with more driving challenges than most occupations in the heavy construction world.

They can be faced with surveying jobs in an urban environment one day and find themselves hacking and cutting their way through a roadless forest the next.

Reaching a jobsite can be easy one day, and the next it requires all their off-road driving skills and experience to get there and back.

That’s why surveyors’ pickups play such a critical role in the job; not only do these trucks need to be ready for any driving challenge, they also need to have a way to keep very expensive electronic surveying equipment safe and secure.

Such trucks also need to be capable of towing ATV trailers, so when the road ends, the surveyors can flag lines the road builders and site-prep contractors’ heavy equipment operators will follow.

We are building Surveyor 1 to be just that truck.

In the last issue we road tested our 2013 Ram 2500HD Crew Cab 4Ă—4 to see how it stacked up in stock form, and introduced the title sponsors: Mobil Delvac and Ram Commercial Truck.

Now the fun begins as we start customizing it with aftermarket accessories to meet the land surveyor’s work needs.



To make this workhorse Ram 2500 diesel an even more refined, versatile, efficient, powerful tool for surveyors, we need to get rid of the wimpy OE bumpers and add a few basic off-road “neccessories.”

Fab Fours makes a number of different heavy-duty pickup bumpers, both front and rear, that are bolt-on replacements for the factory thin steel versions.

Their winch-ready, Black Steel Elite series with the full grill guard option is ideally suited for this application.

The front bumper has the “ranch” look with the big steel pipe as the top base and sturdy grill uprights protecting the truck’s nose. Its thick flat-steel plates serve as both protection and as a great mounting point for auxiliary lights (more on these later.)

Fab Four’s Elite-series rear bumper follows the same build quality and design. The black powder-coated bumper comes ready to accept the OE rear backup sensors (our Ram didn’t have them on the base SLT model) and bolts right over the factory receiver hitch. Function with form.



Heavy Duty Ram 4×4 diesels are heavy. Load one down with bigger tires, a bed cap and fill the bed with a custom “surveyor” cargo management storage system, like we intend to do, and you’ve got a hoss of a truck.

Get it stuck out in the boonies and you’d better have some serious winch muscle to get it rolling again.

No worries here: We have a Warn M12000 that will find its way tucked neatly into the Fab Fours front bumper.

This particular winch probably isn’t what most truck owners would choose: it’s heavy, bulky and just doesn’t look, well, sleek and pretty. But it’s stout.

Our winch choice is all about function – and the planetary-gear-style M12000, which is considered a “large frame winch,” is built to pull long and hard.

It’s the largest electric winch the Black Steel Elite bumper can physically fit.

With the bumpers and winch in place, Surveyor 1 has the basic off-pavement/off-road needs covered.

The front and rear body sheet metal has a much stronger layer of protection, and the survey crew has an easy way to extract the truck should it (or another vehicle) get bogged down in the field.

The photos on these pages highlight the installation process as Warren Spears, owner of Spears Auto Repair in Long Beach, MS, helps us turn this big Ram 4Ă—4 into an even more serious work truck.

Keep up with our upgrades and the products we are using by checking out the Surveyor 1 website at




Presented by Mobil Delvac & Ram Commercial Trucks


Supporting Sponsors


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


Editor’s Note: Surveyor 1 will be given away next April in a sweepstakes open to those who work in construction, landscaping, aggregates and related trades. To register for the sweepstakes, go to:

Next issue: Turning the bed into a surveyor’s dream cargo area.