Working with late-model trucks has its advantages and its drawbacks. They come apart a lot easier, laughs Carmen Miozzi, the owner of the 99 Super Duty dualie you see here, with no foreign material falling down on you.
So you start with clean components on a new truck, but the drawbacks are significant. There are few ready-made parts, fewer proven kits, and virtually no shops with exactly the same experience. Custom work is staring you in the face at every turn.
What Carmen had to do to get 42-inch rubber on the Super Duty is a case in point. The Ford came with 16x6-inch wheels, but he needed 16.5x8.25 wheels to accommodate the tall and narrow 42-inch Interco Super Swampers. Complicating matters was the quirky Ford 6 3/4-inch bolt pattern. Carmen found that Weld made the right-size rims for the front only.
These would work, and with a 1.25-inch spacer, Carmen found the tires stayed clear of the springs when he turned. So that the wheels would look like the stock Ford Alcoas, Carmen cut off the front of the Ford aluminum wheels and mounted them onto the Weld rims kind of like a hubcap, hoping the wheel change might go unnoticed by most observers. For the rear, Carmen found that no one offered a wider dualie rim with a diameter of 16.5. So he had to find old rims with those dimensions then have the centers machined out. Then he had the centers off the new truck's original dualie rims machined out, and the two components were put together with as much backspacing as possible. This tricky procedure voided both warranties and left room for wheels that, despite every professional effort, might have ended up just slightly short of perfectly round. But they turned out straight and true. Then a 3-inch spacer had to be made up, with lug nuts countersunk into it and new studs splined in, to separate the rear duals. With that done, the combination was 9 inches too wide to comply with the 102-inch maximum in the Ohio vehicle code, so Carmen had to send out the rear Dana 80 to be narrowed 4.5 inches on each side. The shorter housing required new axleshafts, which were supplied by Moser Engineering.
Getting the tires into the wheelwells was another matter. Up front, 6-inch Skyjacker springs were dropped down another 4 inches by custom steel brackets. In the rear, 3-inch Skyjacker springs plus the brackets and a 2.5-inch traction lift were combined. For more clearance, a 3-inch Performance Accessories body lift was called for, followed by the necessary detail work relocating the emergency brake cable, bumper drop brackets, shifter, and so on. To keep vibration to a minimum, the rear pinion was tipped up 1 degree from stock. Use of CV joints was avoided by lowering the carrier bearing 2.5 inches. The transfer case remained at stock height. Finally, the driveshafts were lengthened, and poof the big Swampers fit right and looked good.
With this much lift, steering quickly became a priority, leading to another series of custom adaptations. The available 4-inch Skyjacker drop pitman arm still left 8 inches of drop to be engineered out before things returned to straight and level. Sleeves on both ends extend the track bar so the adjustment threading is still functional. It's the same deal with the drag link, which is also bent to relieve a steep working angle.
No bolt-on steering stabilizer existed, so that had to be made too. In this case, a kit intended for a 97 Ford, with some new brackets, worked out OK.I'm actually very happy with it, Carmen told us, having already driven the truck to Lima, Ohio, and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, for the 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals. It rides pretty much the same as it did when it was new, he says. The shocks are Skyjacker Nitros chromed for visual effect. Carmen designed and painted the graphics. He resolved the problem of integrating huge rear fender bulges by keeping the graphics off them altogether. Working in his garage, he took the body off the frame, bagged the sheetmetal in plastic, scraped off the factory undercoating, then painted the frame gloss black. When the frame was done, he bagged it, masked off the body, wet-sanded it, and laid on the bright yellow graphics. Another wet-sand plus two coats of clear and the job was done.
Carmen had never done much paintwork before, other than some individual parts here and there. He tells us his masking was greatly simplified by a spray-on masking tape called Aqua Tech, which he got from his PPG paint supplier. The paint is PPG acrylic enamel tough, glossy, and easier to work with than lacquer. The whole job took about three days.
When you have a 415ci, fuel-injected V-10, you can leave the engine alone. Carmen contented himself with a 3-inch aluminum exhaust system, custom-bent locally, with 3-inch stainless steel Supertrapp tunable mufflers. Even with the taller rubber and stock 4.30 gears, I pull hills in Third gear at 2,600-2,700 rpm, he says. That motor can pull. With the help of his brother Marty, nephew Marky, and some expert machining and welding from Joe Hamor, build time was just six weeks. Carmen has ended up with a custom hauler like no other and proven that when there's a will, there's a way.