After digging through about 10,000,000 photos I finally found it. A picture of the Ol’ Beast the first day I took ownership. I thought I had lost it and I was honestly a little worried. One thing I will never forget is the look on Mama-Splatts’ face when I told her I was getting rid of our fully loaded 2007 F150 for this old work truck.
So now that I found that original photo I thought it would be fun to round up a few other photos and see how this 1997 Ford F-350 has changed since I took ownership. Many Man-hours and a few $$ have been invested into this rig to make it look and perform the way it does. Come to think about it... I have never sat down and tried to calculate how much money I have totally invested into this rig?? Maybe I don’t want to know...
I quickly realized that I am not a good person to own a brand new car. Every time I would see a new scratch or dent I would get... let’s just say “unhappy” Why can’t people respect other people’s property?!?! Anyway, I honestly don’t know why Or how but I stumbled across this 1997 Ford F-350 for sale on EBay. It was a crew cab, dually, 4X4, with a PTO driven winch (hydraulic) a 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel, and a 5-Speed transmission (ZF5). The engine and transmission combo is dang near bulletproof. A diesel truck with only 110,000 miles is just barely getting broke in. The seller wanted $10,000 for this old work truck. I figured I could talk him down a bit and get a good price on it.
So why not low-ball the crap out of him and see what he says? I offered him $6,000 and with little hesitation he replied back minutes later with...
To which I replied,
“$6,500 and I will come pick it up this weekend”
Wow, that was easy! I never expected him to drop the price that quick and easy... maybe something is wrong with it? Well I will know when I test drive it.
Now this is where things get really funny. I was living in Fresno, CA at the time and had to drive to Los Angeles, CA to check it out. So a friend and I hopped in my 1990 Chevy lumina and bombed down to LA. After a short wait at the meeting place, the owner showed up. I wasn’t expecting this...the guy was a midget
It’s a stick shift for one and I didn’t see any type of assistance tools to help hiM push the pedals... impressive!!
After looking at the truck for a little bit, I leaned to my buddy and said, “Dude, I am buying a truck from a midget”
He couldn’t contain himself and had to walk away for a bit. Now, let’s get this straight, we were in no way making fun of the Hispanic Midget with a grown out mullet. It was the situation that was cause for all the chuckles and laughter. Totally caught us off guard.
So after a quick test drive, the deal was made and hit the road back to the house. This is what Mama-Splatts saw when she looked out the window when I arrived...
It might not look like much but this truck has potential in my mind. This truck was an old Pacific Gas & Electric truck. It was used by Lineman in Northern California to build and maintain the high voltage power lines. Me, being a Lineman myself, thought this was just one of those interesting little facts that make this truck... Mine. It has been driven by a Lineman since day one and will continue to be driven by a Linman for many years and miles to come.
Then began the transformation to the truck it is today. First thing was to get rid of the big tool box and hydraulic tank on that nasty beat up aluminum flatbed. As a matter of fact, I chose to get a whole new flat bed and underbody tool boxes. A nice black steel flatbed with 18”x18”x36” toolboxes in front of the rear tires turned out great. I relocated hydraulic tank between the frame rails under the bed before the new one was installed. Hidden and out of the way.
Slapping on some 35”x12.5” tires,tinting the windows, and installing a set of 4” stacks, took the look of this truck to the next level. This process didn’t happen over night. Between working a crazy amount of hours as a Lineman and my family, this had to be done a little at a time. One week take the old bed off, one month later the hydraulic tank mounted, a month later the new bed and boxes installed. Plus the funds needed to be built up too. Lol
Then those old crappy mirrors had to go. The visibility was terrible and I knew there had to be something better out there. So why not put Dodge flip out tow mirrors on it? Just weld a little triangle piece of steel in front of the wing window and bolt it up.
At this point I was pretty satisfied with the overall look. She is definitely one of a kind. Not to mention the goodies I installed under the hood. Another thing is Ford never made a Crew Cab, Dually, 4x4. They only made them in a 2wd, and Pacific Gas & Electric had the 4 wheel drive installed to make this rig more useful to the Lineman... and me.
Under the hood it is far from stock. I performed all the work myself either on the street or in the driveway. It would have been a lot easier if I had a dang shop but you gotta do what ya gotta do to make it happen.
Most of this is probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but these are some of the modifications that were made under the hood to the 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel engine.
- Intercooler with custom tubing
- Quick Spool turbo exhaust housing
- Dp-tuner F-6 performance chip
- Rosewood Diesel Stage I injectors
- T-500 High Pressure Oil Pump
- 140 volt injector drive module
- Electric fuel pump (mechanical pump removed)
- Regulated Fuel Return Fuel system (I built from scratch)
- Dual Fuel Filters
- High Flow Fuel Banjo Bolts
- Riff Raff 6637 intake
- 3,200 watt inverter
All them goodies make towing and hauling heavy loads a whole lot easier.
10 years later and I am beginning to think that I may never be done with this truck. Actually come to think of it, up until lately I haven’t done much to this rig in the past few years. Besides switching to Chevy mirrors because the Dodge ones got all loose on the main arm and recently changing the headlights and new black cab lights now much has Ben done. But it did get a much needed facelift.
Then I got back into it again when I ran across a 2005 parts truck for $500. I guess this means it is time for an axle swap. Swapping out the 1997 axles for the 2005 axles.
Just a couple weeks ago I swapped the rear axle with a 2005 Sterling 10.5. The old one was a 10.25 with dually tires and drum brakes. Now I have a single rear wheel and disc brakes in the rear. Since I have a dually bed I need to add 2” spacers to extend the wheels and tires out a bit so I doesn’t look awkward. These new wheels and tires get a big thumbs up from me!!.
The “so-called” final part of this transformation is to swap out the front axle. Remove the leaf sprung Dana 60 and steering box and replace it with a 2005 Dana Super 60 Coil Sprung front axle and 2005 Steering box. This will bring a much smoother right, better handling, and a much tighter turning radius. This truck turns like a school bus. I don’t dare attempt a u-turn.
It seems to have been a long time coming but I am finally ready to swap the front axle. My axle swap kit is all painted up along with the Coils and Radius Arms and ready to go. I sprayed about 4-5 coats of paint on all these parts. They won’t quite match the rest of the truck but oh well. That is just how it is sometimes.
This weekend is the big weekend when it all goes down!! 2 of my buddies have offered up their knowledge abilities to help me swap the front axle. We are hoping between the 3 of us we can get the whole project done in one day. I just have to install the new brake calipers on the 2005 axle and remove a couple power steering hoses from the parts truck and I will be ready to rock and roll!! We will be hookin’ up the the camp trailer and getting out of town in no time!! That is after I get this custom decal installed and a front end alignment
So there you have it, how the Old Beast Transformed into the truck it is today. Man that thing wasn’t too pretty was it. Lol
After getting Greasy and Dirty
Crack a Cold one