DURABLE DURAMAX

A Chevy 2500HD and cus­tom off-road trailer built to ex­plore

Four Wheeler - - Contents - By Jay Kopy­cin­ski ed­i­[email protected] Pho­tos: Jay Kopy­cin­ski

BRENT REDERICK AND AM­BER WEST OF CHAN­DLER, ARI­ZONA, spend a lot of time in the dirt. That is to say, you’ll of­ten find them ex­plor­ing the South­west back­coun­try in some man­ner of 4WD ve­hi­cle. They’ve built a hand­ful of highly mod­i­fied trail rigs and had used this ’04 Chevy Sil­ver­ado 2500HD as a tow ve­hi­cle for a num­ber of years.

But needs and goals change. They de­cided the tow rig would take on duty as an ex­pe­di­tion-style four-wheeler, and so they donned their work gloves and dug into some se­ri­ous mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

What you see here isn’t a diesel with shorty-side­wall tires rolling coal on neigh­bor­hood streets. This is a pur­pose-built recre­ation rig in­tended to take this cou­ple ex­plor­ing over thou­sands of miles of trails per year, and it has the dirt and scratches on it as proof. We man­aged to catch them load­ing down and head­ing out for an­other week­end of fun so we could show you their rig in use.

The LLY Duramax diesel has been left stock, save for im­proved breath­ing via a Mag­naflow 4-inch af­ter-cat ex­haust sys­tem. This 2500HD has a ZF six-speed, man­ual trans­mis­sion, and power trans­fer has been im­proved

with a South Bend Clutch dual-disc setup. The trans­fer case is the stock NP261XHD that’s been up­graded with a Mer­chant Au­to­mo­tive Trans­fer Case Pump Up­grade Kit.

Plenty of these trucks sit with a taller stance like this Sil­ver­ado and run 35-inch tires—but take a peek un­der this one, and you’ll find an un­com­mon dis­tinc­tion. It has un­der­gone a healthy solid-axle swap. The own­ers started with a Dana 60 front axle from a Ford Su­per Duty and re­built it be­fore in­stal­la­tion. The fac­tory 4.10:1 gear­ing was re­tained, as were the fac­tory disc brakes, ex­cept for up­grades to braided stain­less lines and fresh EBC Green Stuff pads. Af­ter pre­ma­turely wear­ing out the stock Ford unit bear­ings, the front axle is now equipped with a Dy­na­trac Free-spin hub con­ver­sion kit. PSC steer­ing com­po­nents help turn the larger tires on the new axle.

For sus­pen­sion, a WFO Con­cepts SAS kit was used along with 2.5-inch, 8-inch-travel King coilovers on new shock tow­ers and 2-inch-travel King air bumps to cush­ion the last few inches of up­travel. Out back, the fac­tory 11.5-inch AAM axle re­ceived 4.10:1 gear­ing to match the front and an ARB Air Locker. Lift comes from Deaver leaf springs com­bined with 2-inch drop shack­les to pro­vide about 2.5 inches of lift. Damp­ing and limit chores are han­dled by King 2.5-inch, 10-inch-travel shocks and 2-inch-travel air bumps. The new sus­pen­sion al­lows the use of 35X12.50R17LT Nitto Trail Grap­plers bead­locked onto 17x8 Race­line al­loy wheels.

Much of the ex­te­rior body and paint re­main stock, as this is a bona fide trail truck. Ham­mer­head front and rear bumpers were added, as was a small ar­ray of Rigid LED light­ing. The front bumper also houses a Warn VR12-S winch with syn­thetic line.

When headed to the back­coun­try, the cou­ple now tows their home-built camp trailer be­hind the Sil­ver­ado, and it’s ca­pa­ble of fol­low­ing them wher­ever they choose to ex­plore. It has elec­tri­cal and air con­nec­tions to the truck, plus it in­cludes stor­age for water, ex­tra diesel, propane, food, camp gear, and a CVT Mt. Rainier tent perched on top. The ca­pa­ble trailer also frees up bed space in the truck to al­low for haul­ing fire­wood and other camp items for a week or more at a time. The ve­hi­cle com­bi­na­tion works well to­gether and takes them a lot of places in com­fort.

4 4. The 11.5-inch AAM rear axle was regeared with 4.10:1 gears that now spin on an ARB Air Locker. A pair of 4-inch-lift Deaver spring packs were com­bined with longer drop shack­les to pro­vide flex and a sup­ple ride for the tail end of the truck. Here...

2 2. The cou­ple in­stalled a WFO Con­cepts SAS kit in place of the fac­tory IFS setup. The lower links are built from beefy 2-inch, 0.250-inch-wall DOM tub­ing and the up­per links from 1.75-inch, 0.250-inch-wall DOM tub­ing.

1 1. The Dana 60 front axle was pro­cured from a ’10 Ford F-250 Su­per Duty and is filled with 4.10:1 gears. The truck now uses a PSC steer­ing box and a new dou­ble-shear pit­man arm to tie the drag link to the pas­sen­ger-side knuckle. PSC heavy-duty...

3. Fron­tend damp­ing is con­trolled us­ing 2.5-inch, 8-inch-travel King coilovers with re­mote reser­voirs that are specif­i­cally valved for this ap­pli­ca­tion. A pair of King air bumps stop up­ward travel be­fore metal parts con­tact. 3

8 8. Once the trailer is opened up, it re­veals a Cook Part­ner two-burner stove, 30-gal­lon water tank with faucet, 84-quart Whyn­ter re­frig­er­a­tor, 20-gal­lon propane tank, and plenty of sealed stor­age be­low the top lid.

7 7. The cou­ple also built a camp trailer to sup­port their ex­plor­ing addiction. They started from the ground up with a set of 35X12.50R15LT Gen­eral Grabber tires mounted on steel wheels. Up top is a CVT Mt. Rainier tent that is ac­cessed from a lad­der...

6 6. At the front and rear of the truck, you’ll find Ham­mer­head bumpers. A Wilco Of­froad Tire­gate sup­port­ing a full­size spare tire that will fit the truck or trailer re­sides at the rear.

9 9. Brent built a cus­tom three-axis hitch de­signed to al­low the trailer to eas­ily fol­low the truck as it tra­verses rough ter­rain.

5 5. The Duramax en­gine re­mains un­mod­i­fied but has been sup­ple­mented with dual AGM bat­ter­ies and a 250-amp Singer al­ter­na­tor to keep the truck bat­ter­ies and camp bat­ter­ies well charged. On­board air is sup­plied by a Kilby com­pres­sor kit and stor­age tank...

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