A Big Truck From a Small State
If image really is everything, then Paul and Shari Bramble of Laurel, Delaware have it all, thanks to their stunning '99 Ford F-350 Super Duty extended-cab pickup. It took the Brambles more than two years to complete the modifications to this truck, and in addition to its notable aesthetic appeal, the truck has undergone a number of modifications that have increased its capabilities without sacrificing its stock reliability.
Since Paul drives the truck daily to his job as a physical-therapist's assistant, he wanted to coax a bit more power from the Triton 5.4L V-8 engine without major modifications that might impact its overall dependability. To this end, he had Ralph Joseph's Exhaust Shop in Delmar, Delaware, custom-bend an after-cat 2*frac12;-inch dual-exhaust system with 3-inch tips to help the engine exhale more effectively. The only other underhood mod was the addition of an Optima Yellow Top battery to help meet the increased amperage draw from the winch and audio system. Engine power is sent through the factory 4R100 automatic transmission to an NP273F transfer case.
The Brambles wanted to fit 44-inch tires, but they didn't want to lift their Super Duty sky high to make 'em fit, so they took a different approach and opted for a modest lift and cutout fender flares. They ran into some problems installing a suspension lift because their truck was assembled prior to March 1999. They found that some suspension components used on trucks built to that point differ from those used on trucks built after that date. At the time they were installing the lift, most aftermarket kits were designed for Super Dutys manufactured after March 1999, so Paul ended up creating a custom lift that consists of Fabtech 8-inch leaf springs up front and 4-inch Fabtech leaf springs in the rear, augmented by 5-inch Skyjacker lift blocks. Paul also had to create a custom 8-inch-drop track-bar bracket. Steering geometry was corrected by using a Skyjacker 8-inch drop pitman arm. Accubilt of Salisbury, Maryland, lengthened the driveshafts to compensate for the increase in span between the transfer case and the axles. Dual Pro Comp ES3000 shock absorbers were used at each wheel up front, while single Pro Comp ES3000 shock absorbers were used at each wheel in the rear. These help keep the front Dana 50 axle and the rear Sterling 10½-inch axle in check as the 44x18-16.5 Dick Cepek Fun Country tires on 16.5x12 Weld Scorpio V wheels roll down the trail.
As we mentioned, part of the formula for fitting 44s to the Ford included the addition of a set of Bushwacker cutout fender flares, as this would ensure that the big meats have plenty of room to travel freely without contacting the body. Ed "Animal" Bonen of Laurel, Delaware made some modifications to the flares to create even more clearance, and then he made the cuts to the truck's fenders and installed the flares. The next major addition to the exterior was an Off Road Technology custom winch bumper before the truck was sent to Pumphrey's Auto Body in Delmar, Maryland, for the eye-catching custom paint. Donald Pumphrey spent weeks wet-sanding, taping and painting the truck before rolling it out in its finished state. The truck's custom paint consists of a tribal motif using House of Kolor paints over the stock Ford Harvest Gold color. The exterior mods were completed by bolting on a set of Kodiak Sidewinder electric steps, a Warn 15,000-pound winch, two Hella 3000 10-inch driving lights, two PIAA 520 Series chromed foglights and four Hella Black Magic lights.
Next, the Brambles turned their big Super Duty over to the crew at Sound FX in Delmar, Delaware, for a custom state-of-the-art audio/video system. Sound FX installed an Eclipse head unit with flip-out video screen, Eclipse six-disc CD changer, PlayStation 2/DVD unit, dual 5.6-inch headrest video screens (for rear-seat passengers), 800-watt power inverter, Eclipse 400-watt amplifier, Eclipse speakers and JL Audio subwoofer.
The Brambles' Super Duty may look like a total trailer queen, but rest assured, it's not. They routinely use it to explore beaches on the East Coast and as a recovery vehicle at their local mud hole--this in addition to daily commuting duties. Paul says that being prepared for any off-highway eventuality is critical, and for this reason he carries a large kit of recovery equipment as well as spare axleshafts and U-joints. Some may say that image is everything, but in our off-highway world, the Brambles' Super Duty proves that image is nothing without capability. This is one truck that has both aspects covered.