MAKING AN F-350 RIDE LIKE A DREAM
PUBLISHED IN THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE/ MAY 2019 / FEATURE / STEVE JANES
Sometimes you think you’re driving the perfect truck until you happen to ride in a truck that is more perfect than yours. That’s what happened to Diesel Tech’s Contributing Editor Nate King.
“My tow/haul truck was a 2014 Dodge Ram 3500 with the Cummins and Aisin transmission and fully loaded with options,” King explained. “This was a great truck.”
But last summer King fell in love with the 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor and purchased it.
“I loved everything about the Raptor,” he explained. “The bottomless suspension, super-comfortable cab, every feature you could ask for—that truck has it all.”
However, Nate noted the only thing the Raptor couldn’t do well was tow and haul heavy loads. But it rode so much nicer than his Dodge.
“After I’d been driving the Raptor for some time, the difference in comfort and accoutrements between the Raptor and the Ram became noticeable and I found myself pushing the limits of the Raptor with towing in order to keep myself in the Raptor vs the Ram.”
Recognizing that continued towing with the Raptor wasn’t a good option, King started looking to see if he could find a Raptor-like ride in a heavier work vehicle.
“The thought occurred to me that I needed a truck that drove like the Raptor, had the same interior and features, and could do the work that my Ram does when I need it,” he explained. “This would be the ideal truck.”
After visiting with Brent Willsey at PowerTech Diesel in Idaho Falls, ID, King started looking into the Carli suspension—more specifically, the Pintop System.
This is the Carli’s premier system for the mountainous terrain of the West. It has a great highway ride, yet can leave the pavement and tackle the rocky terrain of unmaintained roads.
Carli calls it the “jack-of-all-trades” system for Super Duty trucks. By raising the Super Duty platform and adding 2.5-inch diameter shocks which offer more piston surface area than stock shocks, the Pintop System allows for more off-road capacity.
“I did every add-on Carli offered in the Pintop System, including the long travel air bags and added a self-leveling kit from Powertech Diesel,” King said. “I ran 37-inch tires on 18-inch rims as Carli recommends for this build. They tuned this suspension package for this wheel/tire combo and even provide guidance for tire pressures on their site.”
BUILT IN A WEEK
Since King lives in Centerville, UT, and he wanted to work to be done at PowerTech Diesel, he couldn’t be running back and forth to check up on things. He trusted Willsey and the crew at PowerTech to handle the details of the project in a timely manner. So King dropped off his 2019 Ford F350 Lariat on a weekend and told Willsey he would be back the following Friday to pick it up.
So Willsey gave the task to EJ Wyatt to spearhead the install and keep all the parts organized so things would go smoothly.
Like any install, Monday morning came with a lot of parts being stripped off to make room for the Carli suspension.
“On Monday, we worked on the front,” Wyatt explained. “We took out all the old suspension, starting with taking out the coil springs. We than add the strut bracket for the radius arm. Then we put the new radius arm in. Put the shocks in, the reservoir, the limiting straps, the new track bar, the new sway bar inlinks, sway bar drop bracket and new brake lines. Oh, and we also took the front grill off.”
Wyatt said he also removed anything that needed to go to the painter (like the bumpers and emblems) so that part of the process could move along.
On Tuesday Wyatt turned his attention to the rear suspension and any parts there that needed to be replaced, including a new differential cover and brake lines. He also started working on the air bags and air bag kit with the air compressor … which seemed to drag on through the build until the last day.
Wednesday was focused back on the front. Most of the engine tuning had been completed but there were still some things on the suspension that needed to get buttoned up. Wyatt also replaced the stock tires with 37-13.50 Toyo RTs Open Country on Method wheels.
On Thursday the attention was back on the rear of the vehicle with more work being done on the airbags, suspension and exhaust. It was also a good day to do the window tinting.
Finally on Friday the parts were back from the painters so the bumpers could be installed, along with the front grill and the emblems. Wyatt had a chance to go through all the installs to make certain everything was on and working properly. Willsey then finished the tuning. By late Friday evening, King was able to drive his truck home.
Although when you looked at the progress of the build it seemed to be a lot of jumping from project to project, Wyatt said that’s usually the normal progression of a build. “We are always waiting for parts or something … so we work on what we have and try not to get too far ahead of ourselves where we have to remove something we put on to make room for something else we need to put on.”
A trick Wyatt uses when he’s installing suspension parts is to leave as much of the protective covers or plastic on the products (like springs and shocks), until after the alignment is complete.
“That’s what I like to do,” Wyatt said. “So when we take it to alignment we don’t get any road wash on them. I like to keep them clean so the customer gets to see them clean when he picks it up. That’s something I’ve done for years. It seems the customer likes it better when he gets his truck and the shocks aren’t covered in dirt or road grime.”
Wyatt said he prefers working on newer vehicles just because it’s nice to work with new stuff.
“Usually, when they do a lift, they get all crazy and put a lot of stuff on the truck,” he said. “New stuff is a lot easier to work on … they’re not covered in dirt. They are clean and easy to work on.”
DRIVING IT HOME
King noticed immediately the difference in the quality of the ride. And the more he drives his F350, the more he loves it.
“Now that it’s all done and I’ve had time to daily drive the Carli F-350, I prefer it over my Raptor,” he explained. “The suspension is perfect. Plush and bottomless like the Raptor, but with a little more composed firmness.”
King said he can drive the Carli F350 at 90 mph all day with complete confidence. “The steering is tight. The brakes are great. The power is awesome,” he explained. “It tows my 36-foot sled trailer like it’s not even there.”
King said that although it has a great highway ride, off-road, it is an animal. “The suspension soaks up the chop of dirt roads with ease, making the ride smooth and composed,” he explained. “I am amazed at how fast you can drive off-road with this suspension. Why slow down when crossing ramped train tracks when you can keep your speed and hopefully catch a little air?”
The Carli F-350 also features 3.55 gears, Ford’s adaptive steering, adaptive cruise control, and all other available options in 2019.