You may have read about our weeklong wheeling trip called the Ultimate Adventure in this and last month’s issues, but there is still more inside info on the truck we built to lead that trip. Every year we build something new to serve as our official 4x4 and as lead horse in our 20-some horse parade as we travel a thousand miles and go wheeling almost every day. This year we built a new Ford F-250 work truck into the Ultimate Super Dirty. It started as a base model with a healthy 800 lb-ft of torque and Powerstroke diesel and was squished and squeezed into a shortbed wheeling machine on portal axles and 40-inch Nittos, all in a short time at Shaffer’s Off Road in Alameda, California.
This month we show you our transfer case program for the truck from Offroad Design, how we stuffed dual Warn winches onboard, and the burly bumpers from TrailReady. We also give you some insight into the wiring, wheels, and other upgrades needed to make a fullsize worker into a fullsize wheeler. Tune in next month when we finish up this build and tell you how everything worked.
Step By StepView Photo Gallery
1. Axletech portal axles have many great assets such as ground clearance and gearing, but finding wheels that will work with portals can be a challenge. We found the perfect solution from GT/Cepek wheels. These off-road–only beadlock wheels are designed for H1 Hummers and are available with 7 or 8 inches of backspacing and an 8-on-61⁄2 bolt pattern, so they work perfectly with our portal gearboxes.
2. When installed on the portals, the huge amount of backspacing engulfs the portal gearbox and protects it from trail damage. Even though the portals add inches to the overall width of the axles, using the GT wheels keeps the track from getting excessively wide, so the truck can still fit down tight trails.
3. The 17x81⁄2 cast aluminum wheels have a thick mounting face, steel threaded inserts for the beadlock rings, and an inner safety bead like DOT wheels, and they also have an inner liner seat for off-road racing. These are the best-looking beadlocks we have come across for portal axles.
4. The GT wheels come with spacer plates since different tires have bead bundles of different thicknesses. GT can recommend the amount of spacers depending on the measured thickness of your tire bead.
5. When it comes to low-range gearing, the Ford Super Duty has a pretty average 2.72:1 in the NP271. We were excited about the fact that we could option the transfer case with a manual shifter, but the big aluminum chain drive case wasn’t long for the truck and we pulled it out and shipped it to Offroad Design.
6. The back of the Torqueshift six-speed automatic has a massive 43-spline, 13⁄4-inch output shaft and an unusual mounting surface, but the guys at Offroad Design were sure that they could make their new Magnum 205 transfer case system fit.
7. The crew at Offroad Design fired up their chip-spewing CNC machines and made us a badass one-of-a-kind adapter from the odd Ford bolt pattern to the circular six-bolt pattern of their Magnum reduction box. The adapter included a mounting flange and bolted cleanly to the back of the automatic.
8. The Magnum 205 has a six-pinion planetary reduction box in front of a standard 205 transfer case (in our case, a Ford driver’s drop case). Magnum is 61⁄4 inches long in front of the 16-inch-long 205 transfer case. Magnum adds 34 pounds to the weight of the 205, so a floor jack or really, really strong friends are advised for installation.
9. The Magnum 205 gives a lot more gearing options over the stock 271—or a stock 205, for that matter. The Magnum offers a 1:1 high range, a 1.96 midrange, a 2.72 low range, and a 5.33 compound low range.
10. Inside the cab, two levers activate the 205 and a third engages the Magnum reduction box. Note the switch panel added to the dash. The first big red switch tells the computer when the transfer case is in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive low, since the 205 didn’t come with an activation switch. The other switches control the ARB air compressor, front and rear lockers, and off-road lights via an sPOD electrical box.
11. The sPOD is a switched, fused, and relayed control box that is separate from the vehicle’s electrical system except for attaching to the battery. This reduces the chance of any electrical gremlins from the new vehicle systems. Some Ford Super Dutys already have auxiliary upfitter switches, but ours did not.
12. We mounted the sPOD and the ARB twin-motor air compressor right behind the driver seat. The compressor puts out plenty of air for the locking differentials and can air up our 40-inch Nittos after a trail ride. It is pretty loud when running, but you only run it to air up tires or initially engaging the lockers.
13. Between the Magnum 205 and our front and rear axles, we sourced a pair of Tom Wood’s driveshafts. The front shaft got a CV joint and ended up being identical in length and size to our stock front driveshaft, which we kept as a spare.
14. The rear Tom Wood’s driveshaft has 1410 U-joints at both ends for ultimate strength. We also sent our original rear driveshaft to Tom Wood’s to be shortened into a spare. Due to the massive ground clearance of the portals and 40-inch Nittos, combined with the quality of the Tom Wood’s shafts, we never needed either spare driveshaft we had with us.
15. Beside that rear driveshaft is our massive rocket boosteresque exhaust system. Since this truck is registered in the somewhat confining state of California, it is required that we keep all the smog stuff. We were actually able to shorten the pipe ahead of the diesel particulate filter and angle it all upward to fit and work without issue on the Super Dirty.
16. Below the Magnum 205 a set of tubular crossmembers were built to support the transfer case. This was tied into a lower subframe that we built off the bottom of the frame in order to get a flat belly. It may seem counterproductive to lower the frame rail, but since many of the factory components hang down below the framerail it was important to drop down to protect them.
17. A piece of 1⁄4-inch steel plate was bolted under the crossmember as a skidplate. Even though the 205 from Offroad Design is cast iron, it is not a good idea to rest the heavy truck on it while rockcrawling, and smooth protection is better for sliding over rocks.
18. In front of the centersection, more 1⁄4-inch plate from Industrial Metal Supply was added to protect the engine and transmission, while a third was bolted on the rear to protect the plastic fuel tank. The rock sliders were tied into the lower subframe, and the cage was tied into the rock slider via bushings as shown last month in Part 5.
19. At this point in the build it was all hands on deck to get the truck done on time. We had guys in the bed grinding while other guys were underneath wrenching and parts were welded alongside the truck. We called up some old friends who lived nearby for the final week of thrashing and paid them all with boxes of pizza and strict orders to get back to work.
20. By shortening the frame we lost space for our diesel exhaust fluid (urea) tank under the frame. The fuel tank was now sandwiched between the rear axle and transfer case, so we headed to the local Oakland 4-Wheel Parts store and picked up an in-bed toolbox. The diesel additive tank got mounted in the box in the bed, all lines were plumbed to it, and we still had room for tools and spare parts inside.
21. To protect the front and rear of this big wheeling machine, we headed to TrailReady. TrailReady has a full line of bumpers for many fullsize 4x4s and was willing to help design us a special bumper for our Super Dirty that didn’t stick too far out from the grille yet still housed a massive Warn 16.5 winch.
22. One trick we implemented on the TrailReady bumper design was flipping the winch end-over-end so the cable spooled in on the top of the winch instead of the bottom. This moved the winch fairlead up and helped improve approach angle even more.
23. The free-spool controls on the winch were rotated to the other side to line up perfectly with the opening on the bumper. We really appreciate the towhook/recovery clevis mount for multiple recover options up front.
24. The front bumper works great with the look of the truck. It protects the big expensive factory headlights and gave us a mounting point for some ARB Intensity LED lights. Plus, the grille hides no less than five coolers of various sizes, so having a strong bumper to take the brunt of off-road abuse is important.
25. Below the front bumper we added a fourth skidplate so that no rocks, logs, or small hybrid cars would get stuck under our bumper and take out the radiator, oil cooler, A/C condenser, intercooler, or power steering cooler. The skidplate ties into the frame where the front sway bar used to mount.
26. Warn has a new line of Zeon winches that are some of the coolest-looking winches ever made. We requested a 12,000 and proceeded to do something stupid. We mounted it under the bed of the truck where no one would ever see it. We felt bad since these new winches are awesome and offer great sealing against the elements, a durable black finish, and a new planetary gear system and series wound motor for excellent recovery duty.
27. The Zeon feeds its cable through the rear TrailReady bumper, which wraps around the sides of the bed. We eventually stuffed a pair of TruckLite work lights in the rear bumper to flood dark campgrounds for when we are setting up camp late at night.
28. The spare 40-inch Nitto Trail Grappler had to go somewhere, and the Tire Gate rear mount is a simple tubular system that replaces the tailgate and supports the spare. We added a set of fire extinguishers from Offroad Power Products on Synergy Manufacturing mounts for quick and easy access in case of an emergency.
29. We will be back next month with the final installment on the Super Dirty, but we wanted to showcase the Powerhouse generator for powering up camera equipment and a big 63-quart, 12-volt Fridge Freezer from ARB. It is a luxury we’ve grown to swear by after a week of ice-cold beverages and no sandwiches floating in melted ice.