2004 Ford F-350 Super Duty - Bull's-Eye!Posted in Features on February 1, 2006 Comment (0)
Trends. Some set them, some tout them. While our mental gears are constantly turning here at OFF-ROAD, our primary job is to spot the brightest light bulbs on the creativity horizon and bring those enlightened trends to our pages. One such trend is the newfound truck-building freedom that comes with installing fiberglass fenders and bed sides on a truck. The bigger wheel openings and added width that is molded into these custom creations allows off-roaders to explore truck-building avenues previously closed. How's that? Bigger wheel travel numbers are possible because long-travel suspension and oversized rubber can now freely compress without worrying about hitting small OEM wheel openings. Lower centers of gravity are possible because trucks no longer have to be lifted so high to clear stock body parts. Finally, unlike stock sheetmetal, fiberglass doesn't rust, so it's a great way to go for those living in wet or snowy climates.
Harold Hannemann, the namesake of Hannemann Fiberglass, has been at the forefront of fiberglass creations for several decades. Hannemann's journey into the world of fiberglass actually began in the water with fiberglass ski boats that he and late wife Beverly used for dominating long-distance water-skiing events. The Hannemanns looked for ways to improve the watercraft of the day and came up with a single solution: to build it themselves. Much midnight oil was burned in the family's garage. Capitalizing on the success of their fiberglass ski boats, the Hannemann product lineup branched out to include motorcycle gas tanks, dune buggy seats, and other parts. A flash forward to the present finds Harold and son Hal Hannemann running a company whose lineup includes Porsche body panels, '32 Ford Roadster bodies, pool covers, rectangular pipe, and off-road fiberglass for a variety of trucks.
Similar to the way that fitment and prep in metal makes for a better weld, building and prepping molds is the key to a superior finished fiberglass product. To build the molds used to produce the fiberglass fenders, bed sides, bumper cover, and hood that adorn his personal bright-red Super Duty, Hannemann began with OEM sheetmetal. Next, sheetmetal, fiberglass cloth, Bondo, and wooden spacers were used to create the desired contours. This positive impression of the finished product is called a plug. From the plug, a mold (the equivalent of a photographic negative) is made. The mold must be sturdy enough to be used repeatedly because the two halves of the mold must be joined and subsequently divided each and every time a new part is produced. A better plug makes for a better mold makes for a better finished product.
The bright-red '04 Super D seen blazing across our cover and these pages represents thousands of hours of hard work. Much the same way he launched his company from humble beginnings, Harold started at the bottom by tearing the late-model completely down to the frame and building it back up to its current state. Harold topped off the buildup by adding lower gears and lockers to the front Dana 60 and rear Visteon 10.5-inch full-floating axle. This truck has all the function that the form suggests it does.
Harold's truck is right on the mark. The low lift height, beefy 38-inch Toyo sneakers, high-quality Fabtech multileaf spring packs, and tunable RaceRunner shocks are enveloped in a tasteful fiberglass cloak that brings it all together in one integrated package. This is a truck-building trend that we're happy to tout. Rest assured that the creativity bulbs at Hannemann Fiberglass will be burning brightly for a long time to come.
If It Ain't Broke, Fix It Anyway!
Anyone who's ever done much drilling, grinding, or welding on a Super Duty chassis quickly develops a marked disdain for the factory-applied tar that coats the frame. While the tar is no doubt effective at fighting corrosion and is economical for the factory, it's downright nasty stuff to work around. With the help of Castroville, California's Dennis Murfin and Salinas, California's Tom Jones, Harold separated the big F-350 into its essential elements one bolt at a time, until the late-model frame lay bare in the workshop.
The aforementioned factory tar (did we mention it was nasty stuff?) was sandblasted off, and the entire frame was then given a black powdercoat that's as long on strength as it is on aesthetics. The cab was given a new coat of bright red, as were the Hannemann fenders, bumper cover, and bed sides. If it looks like an '05 grille up front, that's because it is: a subtle touch of custom class. Reassembling the truck involved several sets of hands, a few months, and a forklift.