Physics determines that no two things can occupy the same place at the same time, and plain old off-road experience says that when two things hit together, one or both of those things may get wrecked.
When adding mid or long travel suspension to a truck, the wheel must have somewhere to go, but usually the stock fenders and/or wheel wells are in the way. The fact that companies such as Fiberwerx makes fiberglass fenders and bedsides that can be installed to give that room makes the job fairly easy. If you know what you’re doing, that is.
Then you have to paint them. Really. You do. We know that some guys like running white fenders, but unless you’re putting them on a white truck, for the love of the rest of us, paint them. It’s not that hard. A little sanding, a little paint, and the result is one that looks like they actually belong on the truck. And the rest of us aren’t doofs by association.
This Ford F150 is slated to get a mid-travel suspension install soon. That meant much more wheel travel, but it also meant is needed fiberglass fenders and bedsides. It was determined that this should happen before the suspension install as the inner front fender wells had to go no matter what, and that the wheels had to cycle through their full travel during the installed to make sure everything is good and nothing hits anything. Remember that physics thing? So, the stock fenders had to go.
We went to LGE*CTS in San Dimas CA. where owner and top fabricator Louie Moroson has installed hundreds of fiberglass parts, and has build dozens of SEMA cars and trucks. The walls of his place are lined with magazine story plagues, some of which date back to the Off-Road only days. His guys can do the whole thing: install, paint, everything to give your truck’s tires room to breath, and they were going to give that space to the Ford.
Swapping out the stock front fenders for fiberglass units is non-negotiable, but say you really don’t want to add bedsides. You’re not driving a race truck and don’t plan to slam through a long straight filled with whoops, but want to give the rear tires some room and to have them covered when going off-road. What are your options?
We’ll show you, but first is the install of the Fiberwerx fiberglass fenders and valance. Like a lot of things, this is a job that takes more than just drilling some holes and bolting them on. Moroson knows the little tricks and had the finders fitting fine and ready for paint. He then set his sights on the rear fenders. He said that he first bulged out the rear fenders on SEMA truck years ago, and with a wink said that he thought he remembered how.
So, follow along and see this Ford get suspension ready, and a little style at the same time.
This stock Ford F150 4x4 will be getting a mid travel suspension system, so to give the 35-inch General Grabber’s somewhere to go, the stock front fenders have to go. The rear fenders will be modified to give more room, and repainting it won’t even be required. How you ask? Stay tuned. But, first the fronts.
The Fiberwerx fiberglass fenders and lower valance are just one of many kits and pieces that Fiberwerx makes. Their workmanship is very good, and the parts fit well right out of the buck.
The stock front fenders and valance are removed.
Fiberwerx fiberglass fenders are to be installed, so they are set in place and marked.
Care is taken to get the Fiberwerx units correctly in place. Here Louis
works the lower edge to get it just right. He should know as he’s done hundreds of fiberglass fender installs.
Once he has the marks, he drills the holes using a step-bit.
With the fenders bolted on, Louis works the headlight pocket to get it to perfect.
It took a little grinding, but the headlight is good. Know that even as good as the Fiberwerx units are, with them being hand layed, every fiberglass fender is slightly different, so these things are to be expected.
The Fiberwerx valance is fitted.
The joint between the fenders and the valance is important, so Louis really worked the two to get them to match perfectly. It took taking a slide out of the valance to get them perfectly matched.
One thing most don’t expect is that when the stock valance is removed, so is the hood latch mount. So Louie made one using aluminum plate. First though, some modifications were made to the latch to get it to fit flatly on the new plate.
A bend and a few measurements and the plate was ready.
The plate was bolted to the core support and the latch is attached.
A few screws through the new Fiberwerx valance and the piece is on.
With a final inspection by the body guys, the Fiberwerx front fenders and valance are deemed good and pulled back off.
The modifications made to the fiberglass are glassed in themselves.
After the fixes have hardened, an orbital sander is used to smooth out the mods and the pieces are off to the paint shop. Yes flatbillers, fiberglass fenders are meant to be painted.
The first step to painting the Fiberwerx fenders are to break through the gel coat. The surface of the fenders are closely inspected and any irregularities noted.
A primer/surfacer is used. This will fill in any problems and give the fenders a good thick coat to work with.
The next step is to block and sand to get any waves out prior to painting. The truck in question being black, this is especially important to get done right.
Paint will be a factory two-stage, so careful weighing of the paint and activator is essential.
Once blown clean of any dust, the paint is applied and the pieces backed.
Now we’ll turn attention to the rear wheel wells. How is Louie going to widen them out, and not end up needing to paint? Watch.
The inner well is metal, and therefore welded to the exterior body.
Moroson uses a Sawzall to cut the entire inner well away from the body.
Using a porta-power and a block of wood, and a LOT of experience, Morosan gently pushes the body away from the inner well.
By working his way around the fender, going a pump or two at a time, be opens up a 2-inch plus gap. This mod is not for the faint of heart as going too fast, or putting pressure in the wrong spot, will cause the outer surface to buckle or warp.
With pressure kept on the exterior metal, a series of patches are welded in place to hold it.
The bottom edge of the rear fenders were also angle cut at this time.
The result is now the stock rear fenders nearly cover the notoriously wide Grabber’s. A set of 1.5-inch wheel spaces will be put in place to match the upcoming 2-inch wider front suspension, but the rear tires will still be 95% under the fenders.
With the stock front suspension, the Fiberwerx front fenders easily cover the tires, but even when those General’s are two inches wider they’ll still be covered.
Thanks to the crew at L & G Enterprises/Custom Truck Shop of San Dimas, CA., the Fiberwerx fenders and valance gives the Ford plenty of room for fun, and look pretty darn good to boot!