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Ford F-550 Super Duty - Goin' Hawaiian Style

Posted in Features on August 17, 2002 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Randall Jachmann

Getting his start in life on a "rock in the ocean," it was not until his eighteenth birthday that 42-year-old Hawaiian native Ted Soares got his first off-road experience. "Growing up in Hawaii, I always admired off-road vehicles from the mainland, but they were not very practical while living on the rock." Fresh off the boat with the life-long yearning to fill and 18 years old, off-road-ambitious Ted remembers not having much money, but always scraping enough together to modify his Baja Bug.

It's been a few decades since the Baja days. Through his economic growth, he has worked his way up to owning 10 trucks. Each truck has a purpose to promote his structural welding company, and each one has its own Hawaiian-flavored customization. This customized 2000 Super Duty is what he defines as his family 4x4. A daily driver, a weekend warrior, or taking the family to church on Sunday, the giant, red truck is constantly being redefined depending on the job it fulfills.

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"I don't really understand it. I guess, it's an addiction. I get these trucks and start with a practical set of 35-inch tires, but I can never stop until I reach the world's end with 44s." The normal flow of things for one of Ted's vehicles starts with something small and only stops when he can do no more. The Super Duty is no exception. The truck rolls on a set of 44-inch Super Swampers mounted up to some Weld Stone Crushers. With these tires, the only option was a custom-fabricated suspension lift. For the suspension lift, he went to Donahoe Fabrication, where the company fabricated a support system for the new 10-inch-taller leaf springs. The new springs were complemented with some off-road racing technology, combining them with the heavy-duty Sway-A-Way Race-Runner shocks. Donahoe built a pair of traction bars out of chrome-moly to help keep Ford's diesel torque under control. Underneath the truck, anything that could be chromed was, and if it couldn't be chromed, it was painted red to match the Vermillion-Red body. One final desert racing touch is the fullsize spare tire mounted in the bed of the truck for that rare but painful tire puncture.

Pushing the new heavy-weight tires is no problem for the torque-enhanced diesel powerplant. The stock engine puts out an impressive 255 hp with a complementary amount of torque. Ted, being the Hawaiian maniac that he is, searched for more. Dreaming of sports-car acceleration and big-truck style, he began with the turbo and Impeller kit from Banks. Next, it was a K&N ram-air system. The new intake system needed a more free-flowing MagnaFlow exhaust to push through the new higher volume exhalation.

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With just about everything he was looking for, Ted added the final touch to the 7.3L monster with a three-stage TSB chip. The chip enables Ted to take full advantage of his prior modifications. With a flip of switch, the chip tells the engine to produce anywhere from 50 to 120 hp more. The system works in harmony to produce 450 hp and more than 800 lb-ft of torque. With enough power to move buildings, Ted finds the newfound power more than adequate for his daily activities.

The ultimate gift for him and his two children came in the form of a dual entertainment system, separating the driver from the rear-seat occupants. Ted bought the biggest in-car LCD screen available for his offspring's half of the truck, "The bigger the screen the longer they stay occupied. If you have kids, you understand that this system is the greatest invention since sliced bread." Connected to the screen is a Sony PlayStation 2 with DVD, keeping the children entertained on the long family trips to the river. "Are we there yet?" With their wireless infrared headphones and PS2 controllers in hand, Ted can enjoy his half of the truck, free from interruption. That is just what he does with his own separate Eclipse 6-disc changer, TV tuner, DVD player, and 900 amplified watts to back up whatever media he chooses -- even if his children were noisy, with that kind of power, he couldn't hear them.

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They say that determination and perseverance will outdo youth and skill any day. Whatever the reason may be, it seems that Ted's late entry into the off-road community has only inspired him to try and make up for lost time. Admittedly 42 going on 18 years old, he has no problem rationalizing purchases to his loving wife Patricia. Owning all kinds of trucks from his $100,000 fullsize Dodge work truck to his Ford F-550 with a crane in the bed, a love for big trucks is the bottom line for Ted. Most importantly, Ted feels blessed and thanks God for all of his worldly possessions, "Without God, there would be no meaning to any of these trucks I enjoy so much."

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