Vehicle: 2005 Ford F-250 Superduty, crew cab, short bed
Engine: Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Transmission: Ford Torque flight 5 speed auto
Axles: Sterling 10.5 inch rear, 4.88 gears, factory disc brakes. High pinion 60 front, 4.88 gears, factory 35 spline inners and outers.
Tires: 39.5x13.50x20 Super Swamper Iroc Radials, mounted on 20” Welds
Suspension: Sway Away Racerunner, 14” travel, 2” nitrogen charged coil-over shocks. Radius arm front and rear.
When I pulled up to work one early December morning, the first thing I saw parked out front was a 2005 Ford Superduty. It is a well known fact that I am usually late to work, but it was too early this day for a customer to already be there. I did what any 4x4 guy would do. I crawled underneath and checked out the brand new coil spring suspension design. I also got a good look at the new Dana 60 with larger hubs and factory crossover steering. The leather interior, sunroof, and auto sliding back window also caught my attention.
Finally, I began to get a sneaking suspicion as to whom the truck belonged to. Phil, (who worked at WFO), had been mumbling something about getting a new truck for the past few weeks. Due to the fact that he mumbles about crap all day long, we didn’t really think anything of it. I think this time he actually followed through!
Yep, sure enough, it was Phil’s! We took it to lunch that day. I will have to say that it is just a little bit nicer than my GMC! At lunch, Phil mumbled something else. We couldn’t quite hear him, but I think he said something about 40” tires, coil-overs, and smokies in front of the movie theater. It all sounded great, but who in their right mind would cut apart a brand new truck!
The next morning (as I walked in late again), Phil’s truck was already on the rack. This kid was crazy! The plasma cutter came out, and sparks started flying. That day at lunch, we made a list of parts we would need. It was a big list! I got on the phone and ordered everything that afternoon. We were now committed!
The Project: (Click the icon for photos)
The first order of business was the axle. The F-250 came stock with 3.73 gears. We wanted to run a 40” radial tire, so we needed to lower the gear ratio. In order to match the factory setup, we calculated that we would have to run a 4.66. Due to the fact that larger tires require a little more power to spin, we opted for 4.88’s. Since the axles were already torn out, they were easy to get to. We started with the Sterling 10.5 rear. The factory gears were taken out, and a new set of Sierra gears was installed. For a traction device, the factory limited slip differential was retained. After all, it had less than 1000 miles on it!
In the front, our install didn’t go as smooth. In the older ford front axles, once the unit bearing is un-bolted, the whole axle assembly slides out. On this new Dana 60 front, we couldn’t get the axles out. When we called the dealer, they didn’t know how to do it either. They recommended tearing the seal apart and replacing it. We ended up designing our own tool to press the axles out. After a few hours of screwing around, the axle assemblies finally came out, undamaged! To our surprise, we were looking at a 35 spline inner and outer axle assembly. Not to mention a completely new unit bearing design. This upgrade was just what ford needed.
With that small hurdle over, we could now install our new gears. When we pulled the front cover, we discovered that the front gears hadn’t even turned over yet. The factory gear dye was still on them! We went ahead and yanked them out. We quickly noticed the new spider gears design. It was still a regular Dana 60 carrier, but the spider gears were much larger than the old style.
A new set of Spicer OEM 4.88’s was installed. Due to the fact that we decided to use OEM gears instead of aftermarket thick gears, we were forced to change the carrier as well. I had a 4.56 carrier from a 74 Chevy that was in perfect shape. We threw the new gears on it and stuffed it in. Sure enough, everything set up perfect! The cover was put back on, and the axle re-assembled.
It was now time for design. Once again the three of us pulled up a chair and started thinking. We had already ordered 4 14” Sway Away, coil-over shocks. It was just a matter of how we wanted to link it up. The main focus was to have a truck that not only looked good, but handled and drove just as good. After seeing most of the trucks at SEMA this year, it was obvious that most big truck builders were building for bling only. A truck can only be so cool if it is trailered to every show! This was going to be a daily driver.
We finally settled on a radius arm setup, front and rear. This would allow for a nice soft ride, and help the truck handle better. Due to the design of a radius arm, it naturally keeps the vehicle from flexing. This will act as a built in sway bar. We are not going to take this on Rubicon, so we don’t need a true 4 link setup.
Our next decision was to do as little modification to the original truck and frame as possible. We came up with a design that used mostly existing holes in the frame, and bolted in. We also wanted to keep the option to be able to put the truck back to stock if we ever wanted to. The only cutting and welding we ended up doing was on the rear axle. We cut the leaf spring perches off in order to weld on new link mounts.
In the front, new longer links were designed to attach to the axle in the stock radius arm location. The axle already had factory rubber bushings in it, ready to accept our new links. At the upper end of the new links, 1 1/4” heim joints were used. The main link was fabricated from 2”x.250 wall DOM tubing and 1/4” plate steel. The plate was waterjet cut out, and broke to fit around the tube. The upper, adjustable link, was built from 1 7/8x .250 wall DOM. Everything was fit and welded together.
With the links built, the upper and lower coil mounts were the next order of attention. The new Sway Away coil-over shocks needed mounting points at the top and bottom. The brackets were built in cardboard, transferred to the computer, and cut out with the waterjet.
The next order of business in the front, was the steering and track bar. Due to the fact that the 2005 Fords have a new steering design, we decided to retain the factory draglink setup. It was already somewhat of a crossover design. However, it was obvious we would need a drop pitman arm and a drop track-bar bracket. I wasn’t able to find anyone making a pitman arm yet, so we were forced to machine our own. After 8 hours in the machine shop, we were finally done!
The new draglink was built from 1.5”x.219 wall DOM tubing. The factory end was retained down on the axle, while a Chevy Double Pivot end was used at the pitman arm. The draglink was mandrel bent at each end to keep each rod end from binding though-out the suspension travel.
With the draglink built, it was time to build the track bar. Of course it is very important that the track bar is parallel with the draglink. This will eliminate any bump-steer in the vehicle. In order to achieve this, either the upper mount needed to be dropped, or the lower mount raised. We decided to retain the upper mount, and modify the mount on the axle.
Once again, Phil headed to the machine shop. The first thing he did is cut down special spacers and bushings, in order to run a 3/4 heim on the original upper mount. Without dropping the upper mount, he would need to raise the lower mount. He decided to make a raised clevice that mounted into the original track bar boss. He started with a billit chunk of 4340 Chromoly steel. 6 hours later, Phil emerged victorious from his pile of chips. The new clevice bolted directly into the location of the factory mount. It was also spot welded for extra strength. To finish up the front, new sway bar links were built from 1” Dom to accept the factory sway bar in the factory location.
It was now time to move to the back. Phil had already blown off all of the factory mounts on the frame. He simply cut the heads off the rivots with the plasma cutter. He was able to punch the rivots out and save all of the old brackets. All leaf spring mounts and overload mounts were removed. The frame was now perfectly bare, and ready to go. He pulled the cardboard out again, and began to design the upper shock tower mounts. We decided to utilize the existing holes and bracket locations that were already in the frame. The hole locations were transferred onto cardboard from the back side. Once these templates were done, Phil handed them over to Beau. Beau transferred them into the computer in order be cut out with the waterjet.
At the same time, all mounting brackets for the axle, links, and track bar were designed and transferred into the computer. The rear brackets were also cut from 1/4” plate. While Beau went and cut out the brackets, Phil started making the rear links. Both the main link and the upper link were built from 2”x.250 wall DOM tubing. Like the front, the upper link was adjustable, in order to dial in the pinion angle. At the axle end of the links, 1 1/4 heims were used. At the frame end, a poly bushing was used. On the rear track bar, a poly bushing was also used up top, along with a 3/4” heim down low. The bushings help quiet down any road noise that is transferred up the link. While designing the rear track bar, Phil put a bend in his tubing, and dropped it down to leave a spot for him to run his exhaust.
When Beau came back with the brackets, Phil bent up some 1.5x.120 wall tubing for the upper shock mounts. He attached the lower shock tabs, and built a track bar from 1.5x.250 DOM. At the same time, new sway bar mounts were built to accept 3/4 heims at each end.
It was finally time to set the truck on the ground and see if we ordered the correct spring rates. The 39.5”x13.50x20” Super Swamper Iroc radials looked great on our 20 Weld wheels. We bolted the tires on and dropped the lift. Of course, we didn’t like the spring rates. After 3 different sets of springs, we finally dialed in the suspension to the proper pre-load and desired height. After installing a few new stainless steel brake lines, it was time for the test drive.
Knowing that it would not be our final driveline, we bolted the stock 2 piece driveline back in. It worked well enough for us to take it on a test drive. At first the truck seemed too soft and spungy. Then we realized that we didn’t have any nitrogen in the shocks. Whoops! That’s what happens when you get too excited. With the shocks charged, the truck drove and handled great! It was truly a 1 finger down the road truck.
The truck was pulled back into the shop, and measurements were taken for the drivelines. We decided to make a one piece 1350 CV rear, and a high angle BAMF 42degree CV front. We called up Tom Woods Custom Driveline and got our shafts on order. As soon as that was taken care of, Phil stripped the truck completely down. All parts were finish welded, sandblasted, and prepped for coating. The axles were cleaned up and painted with a semi-flat black, while the links were powder coated with a grey Dupont Powder. The next day was Phil’s Christmas. He unwrapped all of the parts and started putting it back together. The following day, as Phil buttoned up the brake lines and e-brake cables, the drivelines showed up.
The rear 1350 CV bolted right in with a few pinion adjustments in the rear. The front took a little more work. The BAMF CV from Tom Woods had plenty of angle, but it had a larger pilot than the stock Ford CV. Phil took the flange off the t-case, and turned a new pilot on the lathe. He also removed the original 1350 yoke from the axle. He replaced it with a “tall” 1350 yoke from WFO. Not only did this eliminate the strap style yoke, but it also allowed the u-joint to get more angle at the yoke. Phil still had to clearance the yoke in order for the driveline to spin free throughout the entire motion of the suspension.
With the drivelines in, Phil was ready for those “Smokies” in front of the movie theater. Phil has been “on the pipe” ever since it rolled out of the shop. In the last 2 months, he as put 4000 miles on it! Everything seems to drive perfect!