Part 6: The '09 Ultimate Adventure Rig Finale
The months of building the Ultimate Ranch Truck (aka Whopper) have gone as precisely as open-heart surgery, and the thousands of miles of hardcore adventure passed as quickly as they started! The build and the adventure were nothing short of ultimate. The Super Duty was transformed from an overweight slug into a nimble 10,000-pound trail rig that pulled highway speeds like a champ.
Our biggest thanks goes to Offroad Design owners James and Steven Watson, along with their crew of fabricators, for building a phenomenal Ultimate Adventure truck that performed far beyond our expectations. We were a bit uncertain about using the well-beaten project vehicle on a 5,000-mile adventure, but because of Offroad Design it survived and excelled.
Along the way we experienced some minor issues due to preexisting problems. The engine's high-pressure oil sensor was broken and finally gave out, effectively shutting down the engine. In addition, the rear ring-and-pinion grenaded in the Ford 10.5-inch Sterling axle that we thought was bulletproof. However, both problems were quickly fixed, and the truck was rolling down the highway in no time at all.
The performance of the '01 Super Duty was everything we were looking for in a UA rig but never thought achievable due to its massive size and weight. The 7.3L turbodiesel's horsepower torque was more than enough to push and pull the heavy truck around. It was as if the engine didn't know all that weight was there! Highway cruising speed was a comfortable 75 mph, and the truck could literally push trees out of the way while making its way through tight squeezes. The Whopper's fuel economy was decent too. A number of times we changed drivers before refueling on long stretches of highway.
Many folks behind the scenes helped with the build, from the sponsors and manufacturers who supplied parts for the truck, to the crew on UA who helped with the repairs. Tom Alan at PSC Motorsports twice drove 100 miles to a UPS station to overnight us parts. No questions asked, Dave Schlossberg of Poly Performance sent a steady flow of quickly needed components. Building the Ultimate Ranch Truck was a monumental effort, and those who helped this year will be lifelong friends of the magazine and staff.