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2001 Ford F-350 - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Posted in Features on April 1, 2004
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For most folks, a truck is nothing more than sensible transportation that works harder than a car. At least that's the way it is for most people. The rest of us see trucks as playthings, workhorses, or even works of art that are extensions of our personality. For Ken Pryor, his truck has been many things, and was the center of attention during the best and worst days of his young life. For example, were it not for his sizeable and most impressive display of Ford power, he never would have met his wife. According to Ken, as he was motoring down a local road in his big, bad lifted Super Duty, his future wife happened to be leaving a local library and was so enamored with his ride that she tracked him down and asked for a ride. Shortly thereafter, they were married and Ken has a truck-loving wife to share his truck-loving habits with. Obviously, that was a good day.

Fast forward to the summer of 2003, where Ken was showing off his Ford at the Truckin' Nationals show at Firebird Raceway in Arizona. The OR staff thought his truck was cool enough for a feature shoot and took Ken and friends to a nearby dirt lot to take the pics. Sounds good, right? Well, if you saw the March '03 issue of OR and glanced at the Last Page column, then you'll know where we're going with this story. Ken obliged all our photo requests, including one that had him pitching his truck sideways in the dirt. That proved to be the end of the photo shoot as Ken flipped his truck almost on its lid, right in front of our very eyes. A bad day indeed.

We chalked the truck up as a total loss since nearly all the sheetmetal was damaged. Ken didn't give up on his truck, though, and since the chassis and suspension held up fine through the harsh 40-plus-mph rollover, he rebuilt the truck. Credit Ken and his crew at Valley Spring Service in Phoenix for the stout chassis work. Let's take a look at what went into the buildup of a truck that gave Ken several reasons to shout.

As general manager of Valley Spring Service, Ken sees a lot of lifted trucks and knows what it takes to put a quality one together. His '01 Ford F-350 is lifted a full 20 inches higher than stock, thanks to a quartet of 18-inch custom leaf-spring packs that yield a smooth ride, even for a truck this tall. To get the last few inches of lift, the front springs were attached to 4-inch dropped leaf-spring hangers and the rear received a set of 2-inch hangers. The leaf springs are coupled to a Dana 60 front axle and a factory Sterling rear axle, each fit with 4.56 cogs. Ken fit the truck with a quartet of 14-inch-stroke Doetsch Tech dampers to control the suspension and smooth out the bumps in the Arizona roads. To prevent the rear axle from binding up under hard acceleration and control axle wrap, a set of track bars was crafted from 1-3/4-inch chrome-moly tubing and attached to the rear axle tubes using 3/4-inch rod ends and polyurethane bushings. Rolling stock for the truck consists of 16.5x14-inch Weld Scorpion wheels and 44x21-inch STS tires.

It takes a considerable amount of torque to get a 10,000-pound truck moving, so Ken made the most of his Ford's 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine with some smart upgrades. First, he instructed Hi Tech Performance of Phoenix to add a Diablo 131hp computer chip upgrade to the Ford's stock computer programming. The chip adds a ton of fuel to the mix, and a custom 4-inch exhaust system is responsible for expelling the fumes once they've been burned in the combustion chambers. Blowing up a transmission with a motor that makes as much torque as this one is always a possibility, so Ken took his truck to Automatic Transmission Exchange to have a Big Dog shift kit installed. The Big Dog kit adds a three-disc torque converter and magnetic transmission drain pan to the tranny to help preserve its innards under the stress of the engine. Finally, Dick's Driveshafts added a solid rear driveline to ensure that all the engine's torque would make it to the sizeable rear wheels.

One of the things that initially drew us to this truck, other than Ken's willingness to abuse it for our cameras, was the clean look and sanitary execution of all the modifications. The stock white paint is adorned with a custom set of flames by Orlando's Body Shop of Mesa, Arizona. The only other real mod comes in the form of a flamed DJ aluminum grille insert. The simple and clean theme works wonders for this truck when combined with the chromed suspension components, and we dig the uncluttered and vibrant look.

When we last spoke to Ken, he said the truck was just about finished being rebuilt. He seemed quite optimistic after the rollover and said that it was just a good excuse to the give the truck a new paintjob. That works for us. We're just glad no one was hurt.

Owner/hometown: Ken Pryor/Mesa, Arizona
Year/make/model: '01 Ford {{{F-350}}} Super Duty
Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke diesel
Suspension: 20 inches of lift from Valley Spring Service spring
  packs and hangers
Accessories: Panasonic DVD/CD/VCP audio/video system
  installed by Sun Valley Stereo; PPI amps pump
  2,400 watts of power into a pair of Pioneer 12-inch
  subs and 6.5-inch component speakers

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