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BA350: A 2017 Ford F-350 Super Truck

Posted in Features on April 20, 2018
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Photographers: Holly Rae Estrow

On New Year’s Day 2018 the BA350 Super Duty launched itself to the top of the internet’s viral video billboard. It only took a short Instagram clip to show just how far, and high, Doug Paddock, owner of DEFCO Trucks in Denver, Colorado, was willing to go to prove his BA350 was an authentic super truck. He did not disappoint. Somewhere between 10 and 20 feet above the cracked pavement of a parking lot somewhere in Colorado, the 1-ton beast soared through the air out of frame. Haters said it didn’t survive, but the truth is it did, impressively. The landing was slightly nose heavy, but when you jump a 7,000-pound truck that high and land on flat ground that’ll happen. You can watch the jump video at: youtube.com/defcotrucks. After a new radiator and some fresh mounts for the front right fender, the BA350 was back to 100 percent.

To create an F-350 worthy of Raptor-grade terrain and abuse, Doug brought in build partner Chris Lewis, owner of Lewis Built Performance & Fabrication in San Jacinto, California. Chris spent years racing and building RZRs and Trophy Trucks before starting Lewis Built, a top-notch, pro-spec fabrication and welding company. Accounting for the weight and power of the truck, Chris used sophisticated CAD suspension programs to design a suspension that allows for 12 inches of travel in front and 17 inches in the rear. Chris and two of Doug’s top guys spent two full days fabricating the custom suspension components.

The rear cantilever is built for support and to provide horizontal mounts for the King 3.5-inch triple-bypass shocks, allowing for 17 inches of travel without having to bring the suspension up through the bed like you would in a Trophy Truck. The bed is still fully functional and can even be fitted with a gooseneck hitch.

The front suspension is a patent-pending Lewis Built BA350 Stage 2 design with King 3-inch triple-bypass shocks, King 3-inch coilovers, and a Lewis Built BA350 custom track bar and centerlink, plus a couple King steering stabilizers for good measure. In the back, another Lewis Built custom BA350 Stage 2 design features a heavy-duty cantilever, custom Atlas leaf springs, and King 3.5-inch triple-bypass shocks. The cantilever is a standout feature; it’s built for support and to provide horizontal mounts for the rear shocks. This allows for the full 17 inches of travel without having to bring the suspension up through the bed like you would in a Trophy Truck, or anything else with that type of travel. Chris and Doug felt it was important for the bed to remain fully functional, maintaining stock limits for payload, storage, gooseneck towing, or even a slide-in camper.

Other features and mods include custom DEFCO armor and exhaust, an SCT tuner, Dana Super 60 front axle, Sterling 10.5-inch rear axle (replacing the stock Dana M275), 4.30:1 diff gears, ARB Air Lockers, and Advanced Fiberglass fenders and bedsides. However, the BA350 remains an F-350 at heart, with a fully retained Ford powertrain warranty to boot. There have been a few attempts at a Super Duty Raptor in the past, but this one is about as close as you can get to a factory, off-the-lot F-350 Raptor, and it’s truly badass (which is what the BA stands for in the moniker). DEFCO Trucks is currently offering BA350s for purchase, and you can learn more about them at defcotrucks.com.

Both the rear Sterling 10.5-inch axle (shown) and front Dana Super 60 axle feature ARB Air Lockers and custom Lewis Built BA350 trusses that strengthen and protect the axle from trail damage. Here you can also see the custom Atlas leaf springs. The Sterling rear axle was used in place of the factory Dana M275 because 4.30:1 diff gears were available for the Sterling.
Keeping a heavy vehicle like the BA350 moving in a straight line takes a little extra custom engineering. In place of the stock Ford F-350 design up front, a custom heavy-duty track bar and centerlink help keep the axle aligned, and keep BA350 pointed in the right direction. Additionally, there are a pair of King steering stabilizers.
Chris Lewis, build partner and owner of Lewis Built Performance & Fabrication created the suspension system for the BA350. His experience working on Trophy Trucks and RZRs gave him the perfect perspective to create a functional and durable off-road suspension for BA350. Chris was able to keep the pickup fully functional on- and off-road (including for payload and towing) while creating 12 inches of travel up front and 17 inches in the rear.
At the front end, King 3-inch coilovers are supported by King 3-inch triple-bypass shocks. They’re the same set that BA350 was originally built with, so like the rest of the truck they’ve been put through the jump test, and passed with flying colors. The truck is said to ride like a dream over rough terrain.
Another part of the truck that passed the jump test with flying colors was the custom-built DEFCO front bumper. With Baja Designs Driving Lights and a sleek but rugged look, the bumper fits the face of BA350 well. Made out of steel, powdercoated, and expertly mounted, the bumper is strong. It once took the entire impact weight of the BA350 from over a dozen feet high and has the battle scars to prove it.
Advanced Fiberglass in Costa Mesa, California, created the custom BA350 fenders and bedsides. The lines of the fenders and the bodylines in the truck’s body match up perfectly. It’s also worth noting that when the driver-side fender popped off during the test jump, it’s because the factory fender mounts broke. The fiberglass was intact.
A big, tough truck like BA350 needs s seriously big, seriously tough set of shoes. For BA350, high-tech 365/80R20 Continental MPT81s sitting at about 43 inches in diameter fit the bill. Built-to-order BA350s will be available with similar tires in 40- or 43-inch diameters. The tires are mounted to custom DEFCO Trucks Edition 20x14 Weld Renegade wheels.
Hidden behind the bumper is a powerful Warn 16.5ti winch. Why all the pulling power? Big, heavy trucks have the ability to get into big, heavy messes. Sand, mud, and snow for a heavy vehicle could mean a few hours of extraction if it gets stuck, and having a good winch will cut recovery time down significantly.
The custom DEFCO rear bumper is just as beefy as the front, and also features Baja Designs driving lights. One of the most impressive things about the BA350 is that nearly all of the performance components are custom-built by Doug, Chris, and the BA350 team.

At a Glance


General
Vehicle: ’17 Ford F-350 (DEFCO BA350 Stage 2)
Owner: DEFCO Trucks
Stomping grounds: Denver, Colorado
Build time: Eight months

Drivetrain
Engine: 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel
Transmission: 6R140 TorqShift six-speed auto
Transfer case: BorgWarner 44-66 two-spd
Low range ratio(s): 2.64:1
Crawl ratio(s): 47.3:1
Front axle/differential: Dana Super 60, Lewis Built BA350 trusses/4.30:1 gears, ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Sterling 10.5-in, Lewis Built BA350 trusses/4.30:1 gears, ARB Air Locker

Suspension
Front: Lewis Built BA350 Stage 2, King 3-in triple-bypass shocks, King 3-in coilovers, Lewis Built BA350 custom track bar and centerlink
Rear: Lewis Built custom BA350 Stage 2 cantilever, custom Atlas leaf springs, King 3.5-in triple-bypass shocks

Tires/Wheels
Wheels: 20x14 custom Weld Renegade
Tires: 365/80R20 Continental MPT81

Miscellaneous
Lighting: Baja Designs Driving Lights
Armor: Custom Lewis Built BA350 front and rear bumpers
Cool stuff: Warn 16.5ti winch, Rockford Fosgate amplifier and subs, Custom DEFCO DPF-back 4.5-in exhaust, MBRP 5-in exhaust tip, emission compliant SCT tuner, EBC brake pads and rotors, custom stainless steel brake lines, AMP Research PowerSteps, Custom Advanced Fiberglass bedsides and fenders

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