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1992 Ford F-150 - Project Fiery Redhead, Part 1

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 27, 2004 Comment (0)
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Project Fiery Redhead - Part 1
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 2
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 3
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 4
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 5
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 6
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 7
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 8
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 9
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 10

In its stock form, your truck's electrical system is designed to create enough amperage to power your vehicle and its electric components. It quickly falls short, however, when you add items like aftermarket lighting, a winch, an electric air compressor or a highly amplified audio system. This is because all of these things draw electrical power, rated in amperes, and the sum of the draw can easily exceed the amperage that your stock system is capable of producing. The result can be a dead battery, or worse: Most engine-management computers in new vehicles are programmed to shut the vehicle down when voltage dips below a set point.

We had to address these issues because Project Fiery Redhead is eventually going to receive a plethora of amp-sucking upgrades, including a winch, full perimeter lighting, a powerful electric air compressor and audio upgrades, among many other things. With this in mind, we wanted to ensure that we had enough headroom in our truck's electrical system to easily power each and every electrical addition, even in the unlikely event that all of them were on at the same time.

The best way to do this is to upgrade the stock battery to dual batteries and the stock alternator to a high-output unit. We began by installing Wrangler NW Power Products Dual Battery Tray. This ingenious heavy-duty steel tray allows side-by-side fitment of dual batteries in our F-150's stock battery location. We also used the company's Dual Battery Manager, which gives us a variety of options as to which battery we draw from and which battery receives a charge. Filling the tray is a pair of Optima Yellow Top batteries with top and side posts. We like these batteries because of their higher, more consistent voltage under load, increased vibration resistance, rapid recharge capability and the fact that they are totally maintenance-free. We chose dual-post batteries because the side posts will give us convenient auxiliary mounting points for all of the electrical peripherals that will come later.

Charging the batteries is a beefy Mean Green alternator. Its long list of upgrades include a tool-steel rotorshaft that's supported at both ends by heavy-duty double-sealed bearings, insulated heavy-duty copper starter windings and a heat-resistant multi-function integrated regulator. Best of all, this powerhouse can generate a maximum 220 amps. Finally, we want to know what's going on under the hood, so we installed an easy-to-read Nordskog digital voltmeter in an easy-to-install Pro Pods Full Pillar Gauge Pod so we can monitor the exact main battery voltage at all times.

The stopwatch said that it took about 41/2 hours for Matt Dinelli at Attitude Performance in Arlington Heights, Illinois to completely install the aforementioned components. While the following install notes cover our F-150 application, they will also reflect what you can expect when you install these components on your vehicle.

View Slideshow

How the Dual Battery Manager Works
In the normal Dual On mode, our vehicle's starter draws power from the main battery, the Mean Green alternator charges both batteries and the batteries are isolated from each other with the ignition off. In the Dual Off mode, the vehicle's starter still draws power from the main battery, but only the main battery is charged and the auxiliary battery is completely disconnected from the main battery. This setting allows us to totally disconnect the auxiliary battery from the system should it become dead or shorted. Finally, the Emergency mode connects both batteries together with the ignition off or on.

An example of one of the cool things about the Dual Battery Manager is that with the switch set to the normal Dual On mode, we could totally drain our main Optima battery by using our soon-to-come full perimeter lighting with the engine off, and then instantly start the vehicle using the Emergency mode to draw starting power from the fully-charged auxiliary battery. The powerful Mean Green alternator would quickly recharge the main Optima battery, too.

So, Who's the Redhead?
We found project Fiery Redhead at Shults Auto Sales in Crystal Lake, Illinois, reposed in all of her splendor in one of the back rows behind the more popular extended-cab and four-door pickups. Sales Associate Bryan Cooper (who we were pleased to learn is an avid Four Wheeler reader and 4x4 enthusiast who actually got married in Moab), gave us the lowdown and a sweet deal on this lady.

When we set out to find a new project truck, our criteria were simple. We didn't want the initial investment to top $4,000, and whatever we bought had to be a fullsize, V-8-powered pickup. This docile, bone-stock '92 F-150 fit the bill. Over the next several months we will completely transform this stocker into a true multi-tasking pickup. When completed, it will exhibit above-average off-highway capability and durability while retaining its ability to put in a hard day's work in the real world. It is also being designed to display pleasing day-to-day driveability and, in these times of fluctuating fuel prices, return decent fuel mileage.

After a few weeks of working the Redhead around the Four Wheeler Midwest Bureau and Farm, we soon found that the she has an attitude that's representative of her name. After a particularly long day of hauling hay, she effectively put her hands on her hips and stomped her foot at the work we were asking her to do. Then she began spitting out parts. So we're going to enroll her in the Four Wheeler Performance Program and tone her up.

Project Fiery Redhead - Part 1
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 2
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 3
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 4
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 5
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 6
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 7
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 8
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 9
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 10

Sources

Attitude Performance
Arlington Heights, IL
847-593-0505
www.attitudeperformance.com
Wrangler NW Power Products
800-962-2616
http://www.wranglernw.com
MG Industries
www.mean-green.com
Nordskog Performance Products
Oxnard, CA 93033
ProParts
Beltsville, MD 20705
http://www.propartsllc.com/
Shults Auto Sales Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

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