A year has passed since we flogged our F-150 at the Cheap Truck Challenge. Since then it has spent more time at Nate’s Precision getting fitted with upgrades than it has on the trail. You have seen some of these upgrades in past tech stories, like our Offroad Design Doubler (June ’14), the rear Sterling axle with Sierra Gears and a Detroit Locker (Jan. ’14), a 460 built by L.A. Speed (page 40 this issue) … basically all of the parts that we needed to support the huge 41-inch Pit Bull Rockers that we added last year for the Cheap Truck Challenge.
“Nate Jensen and Bernie Dettrich brought our vision to life”
Our goal was to turn Raymond into a hardcore wheeler with the look and feel of an old farm truck. The crew at Nate’s Precision has created plenty of impressive vehicles that we have featured on these pages in the past, so we knew that they had the chops to turn Raymond into a capable wheeler. Nate Jensen and Bernie Dettrich at Nate’s Precision brought our vision to life with pipe bumpers and faded paint hiding 1-ton running gear and a custom suspension. Below are the top 10 upgrades than can be applied to any rig to turn it into a capable 4x4 able to run big tires reliably.
|Top 10 Upgrades|
Rock sliders are one of the first upgrades we recommend for any 4x4 that gets used off-road. More common vehicles like Jeep Wranglers and Toyota Tacomas have a lot of off-the-shelf options, but we had to get custom on Raymond. Nate’s Precision built these rock sliders out of 6x2 box steel and tied them into frame plates to ensure that they would not flex or bend, even on our heavy truck. As a bonus, the sliders really stiffen up the chassis on our F-150, which are notorious for flexing in stock form.
Bernie Dettrich crafted our front bumper out of 5-inch pipe and fitted an old, used Warn mounting plate in the center. We opted to leave the bumper bare to show off Bernie’s welding prowess and let the bumper weather to match the rest of the truck.
The front bumper was outfitted with a well-worn…well, Warn 16.5ti winch. One perk of building an old ranch truck is that you can add used components that can be purchased for a fraction of retail without them looking out of place. With the money we saved we tossed the kinked steel cable in the trash and upgraded to top-of-the-line Master Pull Superline XD with the company’s new G110 Combi Sling Hook.
We covered the installation of the Offroad Design Doubler in the June ’14 issue. The Doubler provides so much more control on the trail. Now we can be very precise about our tire placement and don’t have to use momentum to conquer obstacles.
The front axle is a Dana 60 out of a Super Duty that has been upgraded with a Detroit Locker and 5.13 Sierra Gears from West Coast Differentials that were installed at Bayshore Truck behind a Ballistic Fab diff cover.
The front axle was also upgraded with Synergy ball joints and a Dynatrac Free Spin kit to account for the leverage of the big meats. Super Duty axles enjoy strong aftermarket support and are relatively plentiful, making them great candidates to swap into any project.
Steering comes from the factory Saginaw box that was modified by PSC and plumbed to one of their hydraulic rams and a Saginaw pump. The ram mounts to the Ballistic Fabrication diff cover and a clamp-on mount on the tie rod. Both the tie rod and drag link use GM tie-rod ends, one of the few departures from FoMoCo products.
This is where we made an error. The Dana 60 we purchased was out of a leaf-sprung truck and had virtually no axletube between the housing and the driver-side knuckle. As a result, Nate’s Precision had to grind the casting smooth and mount the link brackets to the centersection instead of the tube itself.
The front suspension uses custom radius arms fitted with Flex Joints from BDS Suspension at the frame end and urethane bushings at the axle end. They work in conjunction with 6-inch BDS lift coils and Rancho 7000MT shocks mounted to Ford F-250 shock towers.
Elsewhere in this issue you can read more about the 460 engine swap Nate’s Precision performed on Raymond. The added power comes in handy when we need to get the tires spinning in a hurry.
In the rear we performed a simple shackle flip to ditch the previous lift block and added Rancho RS7000MT monotube shocks on custom mounts. The springs are mounted above the Sterling 10.5 axle that we built in the Jan. ’14 issue with a Detroit Locker and 5.13 Sierra Gears from West Coast Differentials.
The huge 41-inch Pit Bull Rockers we added for the Cheap Truck Challenge were the impetus for many of our upgrades. When the eight-lug axles were added, we mounted the tires on TrailReady HD beadlock rims that we had powdercoated locally by Marq Powder Coating. The rubbed bronze finish fits the theme of our old ranch truck better than a polished rim would. Also note the Dynatrac Free Spin kit that replaced the factory unit bearings.
A rollcage should be near the top of the list for any vehicle that gets wheeled. You will note that the interior of Raymond is devoid of a cage, but that will change soon. Stay tuned for a story detailing the addition of a rollcage from Nate’s Precision and interior refurbishing with components from LMC Truck.