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Custom Ford Prerunner Trucks - Two For The Go

Posted in Features on September 26, 2006 Comment (0)
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What's in a name? We've noticed that many of the best prerunners we've found come from fab shops bearing a pair of initials, such as H&M, B.K., and C&D. If you equate these initials with high-quality fabrication and fast-moving off-road trucks, then we've got another pair of initials to add to your list: JD.

JD Fabrication is the melding of two pairs of talented hands, namely those of Jesse Nelson and Dave Dinsmore. Jesse and Dave first became acquainted through a common interest in smaller-scale speed: R/C cars. As time passed, the R/C cars gave way to full-scale trucks, and the quest began to find ways to make their trucks faster and more capable in the dirt. Fast-forward a few years to find Jesse and Dave's talents and resources pooled into what has become a thriving business partnership. JD Fabrication began with long-travel kits for '86-'95 Toyota 4x4s, and now offers kits for several Toyota and Ford models and model years. From individual suspension kits to turnkey buildups, Jesse and Dave willingly apply their off-road expertise to a full spectrum of machinery. The JD portfolio also includes Chevy pickups, Baja Bugs, early Broncos, and Jeeps.We caught up with JD during a weekend of fun disguised as product testing. "I've been coming out here for years," Jesse tells us, speaking of the Ocotillo Wells OHV area.

Ocotillo Wells is part of the San Diego area's backyard and gives off-roaders a chance to test their mettle and machinery against a variety of off-road terrain types. Deep sand? That's found at Blow Sand Hill and at Devil's Slide. Nasty whoops? You can find those in several places such as San Felipe Wash and the Shell Reef Expressway. Once you conquer the whoops on the Shell Reef Expressway, you can test your truck's jumping ability (and your intestinal fortitude) on the Shell Reef jumps. Ocotillo Wells offers something for nearly everyone.

Check out this pair of Fords. We think you'll agree that JD can place its trucks, and its initials, among the best.

A Fine Brew"I had owned this truck less than 24 hours when my brother-in-law rolled it," Noah Ostanik laments. "When it was rolled back over, it looked like a crumpled Coors Light can."

Fortunately, Noah's truck was already equipped with a rollcage, albeit a shoddy one. After the rollover, Noah brought the wrinkled F-150 to Jesse and Dave and asked them to put a pair of 2-1/2-inch King coilovers on the stock I-beams. Upon consultation, Brett King put his suspension wisdom into play and recommended 3-inchers instead, because the weight and muscle of the 460 under the hood would overtax the 2-1/2-inchers and cause them to fade.

"We could see that this truck was going to be so fast that it would've been dangerous to have left the existing rollcage in place. The 'cage was probably made of exhaust tubing, and there were gaps in the welding the size of golf balls," Jesse informs us. "We told Noah that we wouldn't build his suspension unless he also let us cut out the original rollcage and build a safe one in its place."

Four months later, the F-150 emerged as a nicely built prerunner ready for weekend-warrior duty in the desert and the dunes. It's a good thing that JD got the go-ahead to proceed with a proper 'cage, because the "Beer Can" has been crumpled more than once. After a few episodes of crumpling, it was obvious that the best way to keep the Beer Can looking ready for the starting line instead of the recycling bin was to use fiberglass body panels all the way around. Each time the truck was rolled, or when something wore out or broke, it was replaced with something bigger, better, faster, or stronger. The truck has evolved into a full-blown, Class 8 race truck built to the specs set forth in the SCORE rule book.

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One-Grand Beginning"Timing is everything."Maybe, maybe not. There's no question that proper timing is essential to making an engine run, and there's no question that proper timing was a key factor when Dave Dinsmore acquired his '95 Ranger SuperCab. It seems that Dave had a friend in need... of some quick money. Good timing allowed him to pick up a clean truck for just $900. During the first two years, the truck was a daily-driven stocker. When year number three came along, the time was right to begin transforming the truck.

"I built this truck with low costs in mind," Dave tells OFF-ROAD. "There are several things on this truck that work just as well as the high-dollar stuff, but cost much less."

His overall investment in this truck has been relatively mild because labor is usually the single biggest cost when building a high-end truck. In this case, the owner, fabricator, and driver are all the same person. Dave just needed enough after-hours time to do the work.

After putting together a string of after-hours fabrication sessions for about a year, Dave's Ranger has emerged as a TIG-welded chrome-moly creation capable of carrying its owner/builder/pilot and a few lucky copilots at high velocity across the unpredictable desert floor. The minimal dollars invested belie the topnotch fabrication that is the heart of a once-humble stocker. This one-grand wonder proves that sometimes, timing really is everything.

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PhotosView Slideshow


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