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Crowley Offroad recently purchased a 2011 Ford F-350 Super Duty Lariat 4×4 Crew Cab tow vehicle and quickly embarked on a mild buildup to improve ride quality, looks, and also feature some aftermarket parts and accessories.

Before we get into the specifics on the goodies we added to make the truck better, let’s take a look at the truck as it came from the factory.

I need a truck than can tow and haul, and the best choice for that is a diesel. At the heart of this F-350 is the 6.7L Power Stroke®

V8 Turbo Diesel. Best-in-class power and fuel economy. Clean and quiet operation. The new Power Stroke features a Single-Sequential Turbocharger that is located between the cylinder heads and the top of the block, and the exhaust manifold positioned inboard and adjacent to the turbocharger. Closer proximity means faster air displacement and more power.

The 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel was designed and built entirely by Ford and is capable of producing 390 hp at 2800 RPM and 735 lb·ft of torque at 1600 RPM.

The Ford TorqShift® 6-Speed SelectShiftT Automatic Ttransmission has big, strong gears that take on extra torque, meaning you use fewer rpm because the torque converter locks up at lower speeds.

Our new truck is packed with a long list of options and option packages. Included are heated and cooled front seats, rear view camera, tailgate step, remote start, power-slide moon roof andFX4 off-road package.

Our truck does many things and must remain versatile. I tow on a regular basis and also use it as a daily driver so a big lift and huge tires, although very cool looking, is not practical for me. The ride quality of the

F-350 was pretty harsh, and I know what a good set of aftermarket shocks can do for a UTV, so it seemed only natural to do the same for my truck. The

F-350 is made for hauling and sits with quite a rake to it. I started to look at leveling kits. Some of them included spacers to raise the front and this seemed like a lower quality patch to me. After looking around for a while, I found a stage-4 2.5″ Leveling Kit with 2.5″ shocks from ICON Vehicle Dynamics that also includes new progressive rate front springs.

The system’s components provide for better-than-stock ride quality and is perfect for the cost-conscious truck owner who wants a level truck and a smooth ride. This stage 4 system upgrades the front and rear shocks to 2.5″

diameter Piggy-Back shocks. The system also includes our adjustable pan-rod bar and steering stabilizer kit and shocks. With the decision on the lift underway, I knew that I was going to have to up the size of the tires to fill in the void and also improve the looks of the truck. I am a fan of flat black wheels, but felt there needed to be a little bit of bling in there.

What I found was the Mojave in Black made by Fuel. I went with a larger 20″

wheel in black and they have a faux beadlock with chrome bolt heads. For tires, I knew I needed something a little bigger than stock, but I didn’t want to trim anything or worry about a messing up my gear ratio too much. I also use the truck on the road 95% of the time so a real aggressive tire did not make any sense. I decided on a LT275/65R20 Nitto Crosstek HD. This tire is just over 34″ tall, and was specifically designed for 3/4 and 1-ton trucks.the Crosstek HD is E-load rated, and is built to provide strength and durability.Once I received the lift from ICON Vehicle Dynamics, I arranged to have it installed and the front end aligned at Keith’s Alignment & Brake in Placerville, CA. I was buried with new product media introductions this time of year and these guys are off-roaders and do quality work. I dropped the truck off at 8AM and they had the lift installed and front end aligned by early afternoon. The kit came complete and went together well. The one downside to leveling a truck is once you put a load the the bed, it will sit low in the rear. The solution is to add air springs to allow complete adjustability to different load demands. Air springs are only a few hundred bucks and are relatively easy to install. You can go all out with a compressor and in-cab control, but I just went the simple route and have the air lines running out the back.

With the truck a little taller, side steps were necessary. I found a nice set of oval cab-length steps that were powder-coated black from Tuff-Bar.

Installing them took all of 1/2 and hour and was real straight-forward. I often carry a UTV on a rack in the bed of my truck, and like the rack to be firmly secured. I don’t trust the tie-downs that attached to sheet metal in the bed of the truck for this type of load so the ultimate solution is frame mounted camper tie-downs. Tork-Lift is what I have used in the past and they had a setup for the 2011. The front tie-downs attach to the front leaf spring hangers and a hole in the top of the frame. Installation took about an hour. The last step was to protect the bed. I like dealing with local businesses whenever possible so I hooked up with Line-X in Placerville. I opted for their newer “Premium” product that has UV protection built in to keep it looking new for a lot longer than their standard liner. With everything installed, it was time to take it for a good test drive with the truck empty and no trailer. I was headed to Barstow for the Arctic Cat Wildcat media introductionand decided to drive down instead of flying. The route would be up and over the Sierra’s and down Highway 395. I planned a few off-road detours along the way, then back home on Highway 99. This routing would give me a chance to see the suspension work in a wide variety of terrain:


I traveled up Highway 50 up and over Echo Summit to Meyers. Then Highway 89 over Luther Pass, over Monitor Pass and down to Highway 395. On all these mountain roads, the truck felt a little more plush, but sporty at the same time. There was no sense being too high in the air, and it railed through the corners as well as a big truck could do. Once on Highway 395, I picked a straight section where I could hold my speed steady, then checked the speedometer with a GPS app on my iPhone (yes, there is an app for just about everything). At 65 MPH, I was within 1 MPH. Nice to see the speedo wasn’t too far off after adding the taller tires. Just past Bridgeport, I decided to take my first detour and head into the ghost town of Bodie. Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town that sits at

8,375 feet. There is a 10 mile paved road, then the last three miles are “graded” dirt road with lots of wash boards and rough sections. In stock form, the F350 would chatter hard on any wash boards and if this happened in a turn, the rear would want to pass the front. Not an ideal situation and it can be dangerous on road when this happens at higher speeds. With the new shocks and tires, I was able to keep up a higher speed, with a smoother ride and stay in control. This is a huge plus, not just in comfort but also for safety. After checking out Bodie for a bit I was back on the road headed south on Highway 395.

My next detour was a quick stop at the Olancha Dunes which is just south of Owens Dry Lake. I am a big fan of riding in the dunes and I had never been to this dune field, so i figured I should stop by and grab a few pictures for DuneGuide.comand grab a little sand for my sand collection. Since I still have a ways to go to get to Barstow, I didn’t really want to lower the air pressure in my tires. The Super Duty diesel truck is very heavy and not real conducive to duning so I tried to play it safe so I wouldn’t get stuck in the sand with no wing man to yank me free and no shovel to dig myself out. Net result was I had to really focus on keeping my momentum up. In a stock truck with the higher speeds and rough terrain, I am sure I would have lost a few fillings. The ICON shocks really help smooth out the rough stuff and also prevent g-outs.

Ford F-350 at Olancha Dunes

With my second detour in the bag I continued on my way to Barstow where I spent a few days with Arctic Cat riding their new sport UTV in the big whoops and rough terrain. I focused on riding the new Wildcat and did not venture off-road with my truck. On the way home, I decided to take a more direct route home and travel back over the Tehachapi’s to Barstow and then back up Highway 99 to Sacramento. If you have never traveled up the Central Valley of California, consider yourself lucky. The highway is far from smooth and driving a truck with a stiff suspension would not be my first choice of vehicles. The drive up 99 was about what I would expect. The new ICON suspension helped take the edge off the ugly rough stuff. It is by no means a Cadillac, but you have to remember it is a one-ton truck. One thing to remember as well, is the 2.5″ ICON shocks can be valved to your liking.

I think the way they are valved now is best for all-around use, both loaded and unloaded. But if you want a softer ride or more sporty setup, they can be tailored to your taste. Overall, I am thrilled with the changes I have made. It looks more tough, it is more comfortable and safe on and off road, and I didn’t mess with the Super Duty’s great towing and hauling abilities.


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