Durable Duramax: A Chevy 2500HD and Off-Road Trailer Built for AdventurePosted in Features on January 18, 2018
Brent Rederick and Amber West of Chandler, Arizona, spend a lot of time in the dirt. That is to say, you'll often find them exploring the Southwest backcountry in some manner of 4WD vehicle. They’ve built a handful of highly modified trail rigs and had used this ’04 Chevy Silverado 2500HD as a tow vehicle for a number of years.
But needs and goals change. They decided the tow rig would take on duty as an expedition-style four-wheeler, and so they donned their work gloves and dug into some serious modifications. What you see here isn’t a diesel with shorty-sidewall tires rolling coal on neighborhood streets. This is a purpose-built recreation rig intended to take this couple exploring over thousands of miles of trails per year, and it has the dirt and scratches on it as proof. We managed to catch them loading down and heading out for another weekend of fun so we could show you their rig in use.
The LLY Duramax diesel has been left stock, save for improved breathing via a MagnaFlow 4-inch after-cat exhaust system. This 2500HD has a ZF six-speed, manual transmission, and power transfer has been improved with a South Bend Clutch dual-disc setup. The transfer case is the stock NP261XHD that’s been upgraded with a Merchant Automotive Transfer Case Pump Upgrade Kit.
Plenty of these trucks sit with a taller stance like this Silverado and run 35-inch tires—but take a peek under this one, and you’ll find an uncommon distinction. It has undergone a healthy solid-axle swap. The owners started with a Dana 60 front axle from a Ford Super Duty and rebuilt it before installation. The factory 4.10:1 gearing was retained, as were the factory disc brakes, except for upgrades to braided stainless lines and fresh EBC Green Stuff pads. After prematurely wearing out the stock Ford unit bearings, the front axle is now equipped with a Dynatrac Free-Spin hub conversion kit. PSC steering components help turn the larger tires on the new axle.
For suspension, a WFO Concepts SAS kit was used along with 2.5-inch, 8-inch-travel King coilovers on new shock towers and 2-inch-travel King air bumps to cushion the last few inches of uptravel. Out back, the factory 11.5-inch AAM axle received 4.10:1 gearing to match the front and an ARB Air Locker. Lift comes from Deaver leaf springs combined with 2-inch drop shackles to provide about 2.5 inches of lift. Damping and limit chores are handled by King 2.5-inch, 10-inch-travel shocks and 2-inch-travel air bumps. The new suspension allows the use of 35x12.50R17LT Nitto Trail Grapplers onto 17x8 Raceline alloy wheels.
Much of the exterior body and paint remain stock, as this is a bona fide trail truck. Hammerhead front and rear bumpers were added, as was a small array of Rigid LED lighting. The front bumper also houses a Warn VR12-S winch with synthetic line.
When headed to the backcountry, the couple now tows their home-built camp trailer behind the Silverado, and it’s capable of following them wherever they choose to explore. It has electrical and air connections to the truck, plus it includes storage for water, extra diesel, propane, food, camp gear, and a CVT Mt. Rainier tent perched on top. The capable trailer also frees up bed space in the truck to allow for hauling firewood and other camp items for a week or more at a time. The vehicle combination works well together and takes them a lot of places in comfort.
At a GlanceGeneral
Vehicle: ’04 Chevy Silverado 2500HD
Owners: Brent Rederick and Amber West
Stomping grounds: All over Arizona
Build time: One year
Engine: 6.6L V-8 Duramax turbodiesel
Transmission: ZF S6-650 6-spd manual
Transfer case: NP261XHD
Low range ratio: 2.72:1
Crawl ratio: 64.6:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 60, disc brakes, 4.10:1 gears/open
Rear axle/differential: 11.5-in AAM, disc brakes, 4.10:1 gears/ARB Air Locker
Front: WFO Concepts SAS kit, radius-arm link suspension, King 2.5-in coilovers, King bumpstops
Rear: Deaver 4-in-lift leaf packs, 2-in drop shackles, King 2.5-in shocks, King bumpstops
Steering: PSC steering box with hydraulic ram-assist, WFO pitman arm and steering rods
Tires: 35x12.50R17LT Nitto Trail Grappler
Wheels: 17x8 Raceline alloy
Hammerhead front and rear bumpers, Warn VR12-S winch, TracRac sliding truck rack, ARB Elements fridge freezer in bed, dual AGM batteries, 250-amp Singer alternator, custom-built off-road trailer