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2001 Ford F-550 - Root Beer Float

Left Front
Allyson Harwood | Writer
Posted December 1, 2003
Photographers: Jeremy Cook

Rick Walker Concocted This Big Thang

They say that if you want to get something done right, you have to do it yourself. While this philosophy easily rolls off the tongue, the reality of the situation is that with most projects, the DIYs can do a lot themselves but get help here and there from friends along the way. Rick Walker, from Ontario, California, built this truck himself, receiving help with some of the detail work. Rick splits his time between working as a refrigeration contractor, a trade that taught him about custom fabrication, and spending time in his private shop, a spot where he can enjoy his truck-building hobby. It was in his shop that he spent three months, off and on, building this '01 Ford F-550. His shop, called B.T. Motorsports, is where he does high-end custom work. While it is currently a side project, he hopes to someday turn it into a full-time gig.

It wasn't that long ago that Rick found himself in a curious position. He needed to buy a work truck, yet he also wanted to buy a project vehicle. He had been looking at an F-550 for work but instead of buying a second truck, decided to build this truck to his liking. Rick had been inspired by an F-550 that Ford built and showed at SEMA and realized he could build a truck that size the way he envisioned. The F-550 was originally a cab and chassis configuration, but Hemborg Ford, in Norco, California, put the shortbed from an F-350 on the back of the truck for him. As you can imagine, the proportions were not quite right, starting Rick on his project path.

When he began this project, Rick knew he wanted to give the Ford a dramatic suspension lift, so driveshaft alterations were already part of his plan. He had no qualms about framework either, so making the truck fit the new bed was not as daunting as it seemed. Rick is not sure the exact amount he cut, but he estimates that he removed a couple of feet from the frame. Once the length of the truck was made right, he could work on the height. He did extensive work to the truck's suspension system, raising the Ford 23 inches above stock height. He used 14-pack Atlas leaf springs front and rear, and a set of Firestone airbags to help when he tows his trailer. He installed Rancho RS 9000 shocks and fabricated the rest of the suspension system to create what he wanted. There are also chrome-moly ladder bars and HM Engineering Heim joints. Rick also installed ORU crossover steering and added an AGR Rock Ram hydraulic steering system, using his own custom brackets. In addition, Kreg Donahoe, president of Donahoe Racing Enterprises, helped out with the truck's track bars and hangers. These came from the company's Edge Advanced Suspensions line. Once Rick built the parts that made up the majority of the system, he sent them to G&A Metal Polishing, in Riverside, California, where the metal pieces were polished, and then to Millennium Polish and Chrome in Ontario, for the final prep work and chroming. With all of that new space in the fenderwells, Rick had the freedom to put 19.5/44-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL/Boggers at all four corners, with 16.5x12-inch Series 058 Eagle Alloys. Rick also installed a set of TRW brake pads and aircraft-quality stainless-steel brake lines. One glance at the photos explains why Rick named this project Big Thang.

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