Big Green - My 2016 F-350 build


More suspension updates!

One of the last few things I thought I'd need to complete the suspension mods include adding Air Lift 500 Ultimate air bags (with built in bump stops) and the Helwig Bigwig sway bar. Done and done!


I didn't do this to increase the capacity of the truck but rather to give us a more stable and level ride when loaded off-road.
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So now that the suspension is dialed in we decided to work on storage. No matter how big your rig is there is never enough storage at least for us!!
We have been looking at some of the companies that make storage drawers for various Overland rigs and there didn't seem to be much love for a storage area for full size crew cabs. We really liked this set up...


I called them and they said that the best way for them to help us is to drop the truck off for a week or two...since we live in VA and they are in AZ it just wasn't feasible.
I was talking to one of my carpenters and he said he could build what I wanted if I supplied the materials....Mike was in the furniture making business in the past and I know his attention to detail is there so I decided to go for it....

I called our custom cabinet supplier and they told me where I could buy some 3/4" Baltic plywood. Now this is not your run of the mill 3/4" A/C plywood you'd find at Lowes etc that has 6-7 layers. Baltic birch plywood had 15 layers and is a true joy to work with...very strong and straight.
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We decided to start mocking up the design using cardboard. The overall design was governed by the fact that the rear doors did not open a full 90 degrees and I wanted to be able to remove the system and put the seats back in if necessary.
I also had to actually sit down and decide what and where I wanted to put things.
I started out by making a list of what we would carry back there and where we wanted to put things.
I decided tha on the passenger side we could have two drawers, one for the cook stove that we do most of our cooking and the second drawer would be for incidentals.
On the driver side I wanted one big drawer to hold all my tools and recovery gear.
The space on top would be for longer/larger items like ourClam screen shelter and chairs..
Here are some pictures of the progress..
Pieces that will hopefully work!

The basic box from the passenger side


The box from the driver's side


The center hatch compartment



Now we just have to apply some flat paint to some of the interior sections and wait for the heavy duty drawer slides and latches to arrive.
Once that is done I will apply bed liner to all wear areas and bolt her down....


Sorry for the hiatus. Work keeps getting in the way of life!
Anyway here is the final product....
The driver's side has a large drawer that will be used for tools and recovery gear.
The passenger side has two drawers, one will be for the cook stove which fits perfectly and the other will be for canned goods. We lined the bottom of the drawers with felt carpeting to minimize bouncing around.
The center hatch is either going to be a cooler or ???



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The rear of the top folds forward to access additional space behind the platform
The top of the unit was designed to be flush with the rear armrests which will allow us to store longer items in there like our Clam shelter, chairs etc.
Those items will be secured with straps as shown to keep them where they need to be when going off-road.




Now we just have to get ready for a well deserved multi week trip to Canada at the end of August and see how well this addition to our rig holds up...


A couple of minor upgrades...

The first is that I upsized my tires from the stock 34" to 35". I decided to try the Toyo AT2's and so far I'm pretty happy with them. One of the benefits of this size (295/65R20's) is that the weight rating of the tire is 4000+#'s per tire.

The second change I made is to replace the factory lower air dam with the one that comes on the two wheel drive models. It still looks factory but raises the ground clearance from 13 inches to 17.5 inches! Not bad for $67..

Here are a couple of pics of the truck without the camper on it..






We were able to go to Expo East and while we were perusing the vendors came across the guys from Overland Solar from Washington State.

One of the problems we had this summer while camping for the week in a shaded site was that we ran out batteries down more than we wanted so we had been looking to add a portable solar setup that would allow us to camp in the shade but still charge the batteries. The problem is that most of the portable systems are like a suitcase that folds open and takes up entirely too much space.

Enter the Bug Out 120 watt system...

Much more compact and should fit our needs exactly. Now I just have to figure out how to wire it to my Blue Sky Controller!


Well it’s been a while and I thought i’d update on who the truck camper is working out for us.
I’m happy to report that that on a recent month long trip from VA to CO and UT and back through Minnesota we only had one issue...that was with our recently installed Battle Born Lithium Phosphate battery. We were in Moab where we were camped on the shores of the Colorado River. We went to bed and everything was fine but when we woke up we had zero power...nothing...

We were going up to Fort Lipton, just North of Denver to have some minor work done on our camper at the Hallmark factory and we decided to have them look at it...long story short it turns out that for some unexplained reason the Battery Management System (BMS) detected an anomaly and shut down the battery to protect the system. We ended up plugging it into shore power for a few hours to “wake up” the battery and everything was fine all the way home...

Anyway on to the fun stuff!
My bucket list for this trip was to see if I could run the Alpine Loop. As you probably know there has been a massive amount of snow in Southern Colorado and the Loop was snowed in. In talking to a Ranger in Ouray he said it would be several more weeks until many of the upper elevation trails were open but that one, Hurricane Pass had just recently been opened (elevation 12,460 ft.)

Well we made it up there and as you can see there was still a lot of snow. Just before we were going to start our trip down the Ranger we had met the day before came up. He stopped and said “I didn’t realize you had a truck camper on that thing! How did you do it?” I just said “slow and steady!”

While we were at the factory I had Andy (one of the owners install the Quick Pitch shower enclosure. Love how fast and easy it is to deploy and use... A7E88803-BC87-4001-91B6-7F1D6F5B9E8F.jpeg 6C983477-D58B-43AC-9227-897599097D23.jpeg


Well it’s been a while but I thought I’d post a quick update.

We are in Alaska for the summer. I picked up a quick consulting project near Fairbanks that gave us the authority to drive all the way from VA to AK..The only scrutiny we really received was enterin the Yukon but all went well...

Since we are going to be here for a while we have a list of things we want to see and do and so far Alaska has been absolutely amazing! The only people out camping are Alaskans so it’s fairly easy to go anywhere we want and get in.

One place that wasn’t necessarily on my radar is to drive to the Western most point in North America, Anchor Point, Alaska but on our way to the Kenai Peninsula we found out about it and had to check it out...

More later.... FB606CBF-A288-43FB-B8BC-71D123AD648E.jpeg


Well we just came back from the longest off-road portion of the trip so far...All the way up to Deadhorse which is 500 miles of rough gravel road and to make the abuse even more we took a side trip to Manly Hot Springs which was nothing to talk about. Over all almost 1200 miles off-road...

Here’s the beast with a little dirt on her...


Fuel stops were a non issue due to the range of the truck. We fueled up in Fairbanks ($2.50/gal of diesel) then stopped halfway up in Coldfoot ($3.89/gal) and finally in Deadhorse for a whopping $4.49/gal which I thought wasn’t too bad as I had originally estimated averaging $4/gal for the entire trip...
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