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Super Shorty: Project SD126 Is a Nod to a SEMA Truck Named Stubby

Posted in Features on January 24, 2018
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Photographers: Drew RileyDerek Booher

Veteran Four Wheeler readers might find this build nostalgic. In fact, you might even recall a very similar rig churning through the sand on the May 2012 cover of Four Wheeler. That truck was an ’01 Ford Super Duty affectionately known as “Stubby,” and it was one of the stars of the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. In 2012, BDS Suspension partnered with Ernie Vole of ROK Industry to build Stubby, and since then, the company couldn’t stop thinking about the flaming-orange shortbed single cab.

Using Stubby as inspiration, the goal of this build was to bring a bigger and badder F-250 to SEMA in 2017. The shortbed single cab combination is still not an available option from Ford, which only meant more engineering magic was required in the BDS Suspension shop. The truck initially rolled off the lot with a standard black paintjob and a 142-inch wheelbase—both of which were about to change.

The wheelbase sets this truck apart from the rest. Carefully removing 16 inches from the frame brought the grand total down to 126 inches and provided fodder for the truck’s name—Project SD126. From the curb the fiberglass fenders and bedsides from McNeil Racing Inc. grab your attention and add six flagrant inches of flare to the truck’s wheelwells. Tucked beneath the bodywork are the bulging 42-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 tires and 20-inch Cheyenne 8 wheels from Stazworks.

Though the tall tires are a crowd-pleaser, the magic of Project SD126 lies in the suspension setup. After removing every factory suspension component and grinding down the mounts, the frame was fitted with custom bracketry and repainted to look as clean as it did leaving the assembly line. The crew at BDS nabbed a Dana Super 60 front axle from a stock Ford F-450 and added a custom truss and differential cover, then hung it from the frame using BDS Suspension’s four-link conversion kit. Fox 2.5 Factory Race Series Piggyback DSC coilovers, Fox 3.0 Quadruple Bypass shocks, and Fox 2.0 IFP bumpstops allow the front axle to float beneath the truck while the PAC Racing Springs sway bar keeps the rig stable. Out back, the brawny Dana M300 axle (also donated by a Ford F-450 dualie) is kept in check by the BDS Suspension upper control arms, BDS trailing arms, Fox 2.5 Factory Race Series Piggyback DSC coilovers, PAC Racing Springs dual-rate coils, Fox 2.0 IFP bumpstops, and a PAC Racing Springs sway bar.

Hiding behind the Rogue Racing high-clearance bumper are the components that keep this rig running straight. The custom 2-inch, 0.250-wall DOM drag link and tie rod are fitted with FK spherical rod ends and are complemented by the Fox ATS steering stabilizer. The Dana Super 60 axle measures three inches wider than a normal F-250 axle at the inner C, requiring custom-machined hub spacers.

The majority of this rig’s powertrain remains as it came from the factory. The 6.7L Powerstroke diesel engine is assisted only by the stock turbocharger and S&B Filters cold-air intake, while the EZ Lynk AutoAgent provides tuning and on-demand performance information. The TorqShift six-speed 6R140 automatic transmission and BorgWarner 44-64 transfer case are also unmodified, save for the BDS transfer case indexing ring to prevent driveline vibrations.

BDS tells us one of the goals of Project SD126 was to maintain its emissions compliance. The truck can pass emissions tests across the United States even after chopping 16 inches from the frame, because the factory diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank and diesel particulate filter (DPF) were left unmodified. The truck carries 25 gallons of fuel in a custom aluminum cell designed to accept the factory sending unit, and the fuel cell and DEF tank are all protected by 3/16-inch skidplates. Because of the fuel tank relocation, the diesel fill port was stealthily moved to the bed while the factory DEF filling point was maintained. A DPF-back four-inch exhaust system from Diamond Eye Performance is routed to clear all the new suspension components and still sound menacing on the dirt.

The interior reflects the exterior color scheme with custom-painted accents and PRP Enduro Elite seats to match. PRP Seats 5.3 harnesses and an interior rollcage keep the occupants safe, because this truck will be out on the trails. During its testing phase (the drive from SEMA), BDS tells us the truck had no problem bombing through desert whoops that would swallow a stock pickup. Though Project SD126 has the façade of a show truck, BDS is known for wheeling rigs to the fullest of their potential, so we expect to see this orange beast in action anywhere from Moab to Michigan’s Silver Lake sand dunes.

The 3/16-inch skidplate guards the 25-gallon diesel tank and DEF tank from assaulting rocks, while the burly Dana M300 axle propels Project SD126 forward. The rear axle (from an F-450 dualie) is converted to single-rear-wheel-form with 2.5-inch wheel spacers, and it’s trussed for added rigidity and to accept the four-link suspension. The original dual-piston F-250 calipers are custom-mounted to fit the 15-inch Wilwood rotors and bring this orange hulk to a stop.
A big truck needs big shocks. Fox 2.5 Factory Race Series Piggyback DSC coilovers, PAC Racing Springs dual-rate coils, and the Fox 3.0 Factory Race Series Quadruple Bypass shocks all work together to give the rig 14 inches of suspension travel in the front—all moderated by the Fox 2.0 IFP bumpstops and a PAC Racing Springs sway bar.
Project SD126 breathes easier with help from the RKSport ram air hood. Under the hood sits the venerable 6.7L Powerstroke diesel, which dumps power into the 6R140 TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission. The electric-shift BorgWarner 44-64 transfer case spins two custom J.E. Reel driveshafts with stout 1410 U-joints.
To free up real estate for the fuel cell, the spare 42-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 tire was mounted in the bed. Hidden gems in this photo include the SD126 monogramming on the Stazworks Cheyenne 8 wheels and the relocated fuel port, residing slightly to the rear of the driver-side wheelwell.
PRP Enduro Elite seats and a custom 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall cage keep the passengers safe, while the Kicker speakers, subwoofer, and custom center console provide entertainment and beverage storage. Recessed into the console is the Magellan eXplorist TRX7 GPS unit, useful for remembering which forest road intersection you just left in the dust.
Project SD126 brings the candlepower with a 40-inch RDS Series lightbar and dual Radiance Pods from Rigid Industries. The Warn Zeon 12-S winch lurking behind the bumper is spooled with synthetic cable and adorned with a Factor 55 Hawse fairlead and FlatLink E shackle mount. Style points are awarded to the smoked OE headlights and custom-painted Ford and F-250 emblems, courtesy of Butler Body Shop.
Thanks to the boatload of suspension upgrades, Project SD126 flexes far enough up the 20-degree RTI ramp to bag a score of 1067. What’s more important than a ramp score? Seeing this rig out in the woods, stretching its way over some sinister obstacle, which we are sure it will do sometime soon.

At A Glance

General
Vehicle: ’17 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Owner: BDS Suspension
Stomping grounds: Coldwater, Michigan
Build time: Three months

Drivetrain
Engine: 6.7L Powerstroke turbodiesel
Transmission: 6R140 TorqShift 6-spd automatic
Transfer case(s): BorgWarner 44-64 electric shift
Low range ratio(s): 2.64:1
Crawl ratio(s): 45.1:1
Front axle/differential: Ford F-450 Dana Super 60, disc brakes, 4.30:1 gears/open
Rear axle/differential: Ford F-450 M300, F-250 calipers, Wilwood 15-in drilled rotors, Monte Carlo emergency brake calipers, 4.30:1 gears/open, 1/4-in-thick custom steel diff cover

Suspension
Front: BDS four-link conversion w/ 2.5-in, 0.250-wall DOM upper and lower control arms, Fox 2.5 Factory Race Series Piggyback Dual Speed Compression coilover springs w/PAC Racing Springs dual-rate coils, Fox 3.0 Factory Race Series Quadruple Bypass shocks w/recirculating ECS2 and Quick Adjust Bypass, Fox 2.0 IFP bumpstops PAC Racing Springs sway bar
Rear: BDS trailing arm conversion with 2-in, 250-wall DOM upper control arms and 3/16-in laminated steel BDS 2-in, 0.250-wall DOM trailing arms; Fox 3.0 Factory Race Series Quadruple Bypass shocks w/recirculating ECS2 and Quick Adjust Bypass; Fox 2.5 Factory Race Series Piggyback DSC coilover springs w/PAC Racing Springs dual-rate coils; Fox 2.0 IFP bumpstops PAC Racing Springs sway bar

Tires/Wheels
Tires: 42x13.5R20LT BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2
Wheels: 20x11 two-piece Stazworks Cheyenne 8

Miscellaneous
Steering: 2-in, 0.250-wall DOM linkage with FK spherical rod ends
Lighting: 40-in Rigid Industries RDS Series LED lightbar and dual amber Radiance Pods, smoked OE headlights
Armor: Rogue Racing Enforcer front bumper with Warn Zeon 12-S winch, Factor 55 hawse fairlead and FlatLink E, Rogue Racing Revolver rear bumper w/Rigid Industries SR-M flood lights
Cool stuff: RKSport ram air hood, McNeil Racing Inc. 6-in flared fiberglass Metallic Night Orange paint by Butler Body Shop, PRP Seats Enduro Elite Recliner seats and 5.3 harnesses, custom-fabricated 25-gal aluminum fuel cell and stainless-steel DEF tank w/3/16-in steel skidplates, Magellan eXplorist TRX7 GPS unit, custom bed-mounted spare tire carrier, J.E. Reel Driveline custom driveshafts w/dual cardan 1410 U-joints, frame shortened by 16 in

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