Jack and Darcie Peeler are not brand loyalists. They have owned Fords, Dodges, Jeeps, and Toyotas, and of course this Chevy. When they were looking to build a truck to drive across the Americas, a Chevy wasn’t at the top of their list. “We looked at a number of Fords and Dodges, but they were all worn out,” Jack explains.
Then he saw this Duramax-powered Silverado on a used car lot and took it for a test drive on a whim. It had the cab and bed configuration they wanted, and the truck was incredibly clean and well cared for. The early 2007 model year was also the last of the pre-DPF diesel trucks, which benefit from better fuel economy and reliability than newer trucks.
Of course, buying the truck was just the start. All heavy-duty trucks have their Achilles heel. With Fords it is the head gasket, with Dodges it is transmissions, and with Chevrolets it is the steering idler arms and linkages. Jack cut off the IFS and replaced it with a Dana 60 from a Super Duty using King coilovers and radius arms, retaining the Ford track bar and steering for simplicity and improved strength. The frame was extended 17 1/2 inches, and the factory short bed was then replaced with an aluminum Alum-Line bed and fitted with a custom BundatecUSA popup camper that acts as a home away from home.
Even if you are a die-hard Ford or Dodge fanatic, you must agree that there’s plenty to admire about this expedition ready, solid-axle Duramax.
The roof of the BundatecUSA camper raises 18 inches to allow plenty of headroom when it is up and minimize wind resistance and overhead height when closed. The top operates electronically with a Rieco-Titan lifting system and has extra interior panels for cold weather camping.
The front suspension uses radius arms and brackets that Jack Peeler had cut and bent by Wade Metal Works. He then performed all of the welding and installation himself at home. The 2 1/2-inch-diameter, 8-inch-travel King coilover shocks are fitted with 400-lb/in coil springs and aided by a Speedway Motors sway bar.
A Dana 60 axle out of a 2007 Super Duty was added and fitted with an Eaton E-Locker and 4.56 gears to account for the 35-inch-tall Cooper 285/75R18 Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT tires, which are mounted on forged factory Super Duty wheels that Peeler had powdercoated by Alltizer Powder Coating. The factory Ford tie rod and drag link were retained and mated to a Redhead steering box using a pitman arm from WFO Concepts.
The 11.5-inch AAM rear axle is as strong as they come, so there was no reason to replace it. The axle was serviced and fitted with 4.56 gears on the factory G80 limited-slip differential. To match the metric bolt pattern of the front axle, Fred Goeske made wheel adapters from Timken bearing steel. The axle is suspended by dualie leaf springs with three extra leaves from John’s Spring Service, and is damped by Fox remote-reservoir shocks.
The interior of the truck is relatively stock, with the addition of an Edge CTS display, a handheld GPS unit, and a tablet with mapping software. This LT truck came with cloth seats, but Peeler swapped in leather seats and protected them with GT brand seat covers.
The rear seats were removed and replaced with a custom storage drawer that creates a platform for the Waeco fridge and safely stores tools and spare parts down low and out of the way. The rear windows were covered with insulation, both for privacy and to keep the interior cooler.
The interior of the camper is compact without being cramped. Jack and Darcie Peeler have had a variety of campers in the past, so they knew exactly what features they wanted, such as the Dometic acrylic windows and Bundatec table that locks in place with a Lagun mount. Using the Alum-Line flatbed instead of a normal truck bed added storage space and a larger footprint for the BundatecUSA camper.
Notice the north-south bed configuration. It allows one person to get up at night without disturbing the other. It also has a massive amount of storage underneath where Jack and Darcie keep extra linens, first aid supplies, and more. Plastic bins make for easy organization and are clear so they can see what the contents are without opening the bin.
Power comes from a 6.6L LBZ Duramax diesel rated at 360 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Peeler kept the engine and six-speed Alison transmission relatively stock, with the only additions being a PPE programmer and a Transgo Jr shift kit. The electrical system was upgraded with Odyssey batteries and Power-Gate battery isolator and a York compressor using Kilby mounts provides onboard air.
Jack and Darcie Peeler plan to travel around the world in their Chevy, so they had Graphics Unlimited make a hood graphic of the world to chart their travels. They plan to travel from Nevada south to Tierra del Fuego and then see where the road (or boat) takes them from there.
The factory headlights are supplemented by LED lights in the Buckstop front bumper. Additional LED lights are found around the perimeter of the camper. Zamp solar panels on the roof of the camper are capable of producing 340 watts—plenty to power efficient LED lights.
2007 Chevrolet 2500HD
Engine: 6.6L Duramax diesel
Transmission: Alison 6-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP263HD
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 4.56 gears and Eaton E-Locker
Rear Axle: AAM 11.5 with 4.56 gears and G80 Gov-Lock
Springs & Such: King coilovers, radius arms, and Speedway sway bar (front); dualie leaf springs and Fox remote reservoir shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 285/75R18 Cooper Discoverer AT3 XLT on 18x8 Super Duty wheels
Steering: Redhead steering box, WFO Concepts pitman arm, factory Super Duty tie rod and drag link
Lighting: LED light cubes at all four corners
Other Stuff: BundatecUSA camper, Alum-Line aluminum flatbed, frame extended 17 1/2 inches, York belt-driven air compressor, Warn M12 winch, Bushwacker fender flares, 52-gallon Aero Tank fuel tank, Merchant Automotive transfer case pump rub kit, dual Odyssey batteries, Buckstop front bumper, Power-Gate battery isolator, two Waeco fridges, GT seat covers, Transgo shift kit, Fred Goeske wheel adapters, Eezi-awn outdoor shower, Zamp solar panels, Carefree awning