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Vehicle Build: Atlas

Vehicle Build: Atlas
Year
2021
Make
Ford
Engine
6.7L Powerstroke

Description

New year, new responsibilities, new work that needs finishing… that means we need a new truck to help us out! When we took a step back to evaluate what we really NEEDED out of a truck, it became qui ... read more

New year, new responsibilities, new work that needs finishing… that means we need a new truck to help us out! When we took a step back to evaluate what we really NEEDED out of a truck, it became quickly obvious that we needed something that was extremely utilitarian. Yes, new trucks have all sorts of great bells and whistle from the factory, even more-so compared to trucks from 5, 10, 15 years ago. One thing they all lack, though, is they are generically decent at everything with nothing really excelling or lacking. That doesn’t work for us at Diesel Power Products! We’re not saying it has to be the best at everything imaginable, but it does need an overall improvement in workability for us in the Inland Northwest… take a good truck and make it better, more reliable and with more usability.

Being a "do-it-all" truck in the rolling hills of the Palouse, Atlas needed improvements across the board to make the truck stronger, more dependable, and more versatile for day-to-day activities and for having a little fun. It needed to haul better so we got rid of the bed and built out a custom flatbed for it. It needed better suspension since much of its life would be in the dirt. It’s not getting Baja’d but it is literally driving down paths less traveled. New larger tires/wheels and lighting naturally go hand in hand. Other utilitarian items like floor liners, tie downs, winch, air compressor, larger fuel tank, etc were also added to help round out the truck. Specifics on all the changes we made on the truck can be found below along with why we chose that item. If there is something you have questions about on this truck, let us know! We’d love to go over the nitty gritty details of the build with you.

SUSPENSION & STEERING:
  • Carli Suspension 2.5” Lift King Pintop 2.5 Suspension System
    • WHY? There are plenty of options on the market when it comes to lifting a truck. Over the years, we've used Carli Suspension on many of our builds, as well as recommended their products to countless customers. Simply put, you get what you pay for. Not only are you raising the ride height, but also vastly improving the overall ride quality whether it be on the tarmac or the dirt, coupled with increased wheel travel for superb offroad handling characteristics.
  • Carli Fabricated Radius Arms
    • WHY? Due to triangulation, when the front end of a coil sprung truck is lifted, the front axle shifts towards the rear, which can lead to coil bind, lack of tire to fender clearance, and a host of other issues. Carli's Fabricated Radius Arms are designed and built longer than the factory arms to recenter the front axle. Beyond alignment issues that are addressed, these arms are hand-built to far superior standards and strength compared to the stock, stamped steel versions they are replacing. Oh yeah, they look pretty awesome too.
  • Carli Suspension Torsion Sway Bar
    • WHY? The factory sway bar is essentially a u-shaped bar that is attached to the bottom of your frame, linked to the axle via a sway bar end link on each side. While this works "okay," the main issue is that it does not allow the independent vertical movement of the axle from side to side. Carli's Torsion Sway Bar is a unique design that is basically three separate parts: a straight center bar that attaches to the bottom of frame and a separate bar on each side locked to this center bar via a teflon bushing. This multiple piece design allows for the two sides to move independent of one another, hence allowing the axle to cycle up and down, without effecting the otherside as drastically. In terms of seat of the pants difference, it delivers a very noticeable improvement in body roll resistance and the rebound effect typically associated with a factory sway bar.
  • Kelderman 4 Link Rear Air Suspension
    • WHY? We designed this truck with one thing in mind; utility. With standard leaf springs for the rear suspension, we would be limited in ride quality and performance but we would have payload capacity. Soft leaf springs would give us more performance but then lack capacity. This is where the Kelderman 4-Link Rear Air Suspension comes in. It would give use the articulation we needed along with better ride quality and the adjustability of the air bags to give us whatever payload capacity we needed at a moments notice. We didn’t want to make a trophy truck but more so, a do-it-all-pretty-darn-well truck and this 4-link rear kit was just the ticket. Built well, plenty of adjustability and the ability to still go out and do work made this kit a no-brainer for us.
  • Kryptonite Death Grip Steering Kit
    • WHY? With the added lift height, larger wheels and tires and general abuse we would be delivering to the truck, stronger steering was a must. Don't get us wrong, the factory stuff isn't all that bad for a factory truck but it doesn't hold it's weight once you start modifying the suspension and steering. Kryptonite has come up with an excellent solution for this with extremely heavy duty steering setup. With the addition of this kit, we don't have to strong-arm the steering wheel to get the truck to turn. All the power put out by the steering box goes straight to the ground and makes steering/driving this truck a breeze. We're already going to be working hard with the truck, no reason to work hard in the truck too!
  • Suspension Changes
    • As you may have noticed, Carli does not make a kit that is a direct bolt on for the F450. A couple changes had to be made to the suspension/steering components in order to make them fit.
      • Track Bar - A Carli track bar from a 2005-2016 F250/F350 worked with the kit as the F450 retains the older style mount and orientation
      • Caster Shims - The shims provided in the Carli kit don't work on an F450 so the appropriate 2 degree caster shims were sourced so that we still get the result that Carli Suspension was looking for but for an F450.
      • Steering Stabilizer - Between the addition of the Kryptonite steering's hexagon shape and the different steering swing of the F450, the standard F250/F350 stabilizer would not work so a Krypotonite stabilizer clamp was added to the linkage, the shock switched to a Fox unit and the differential mount bracket slightly tweaked.
WHEELS AND TIRES:
  • Continental MPT81 Tires (43x14.50x20)
    • WHY? We needed a double duty tire that worked well on and offroad while still giving us the strength and robustness for when the truck needs to do work. These tires are a true dual-purpose tire, excelling in the dirt, but also capable of superb road manners.
  • DBL Custom Forged Wheels
    • WHY? Well, we obviously couldn't, and wouldn't, want to run the factory wheels with a 14.50" wide tire. Beyond that, the 20" diameter when paired with a 43" tire gives a nice amount of sidewall that both delivers an increase in ride quality (by not having too little sidewall), but also gives roll resistance (by having too much sidewall). In terms of this exact wheel, the DBL custom forged wheels features a unique simulated beadlock design that complements the overall aesthetics of the truck.
AXLE:
  • Nitro Gear & Axle 6.17 Ring and Pinion Package
    • WHY? It’s amazing what a difference a ring and pinion ratio change can make to how a vehicle drives, especially once tire size has been changed. With the majority of truck manufacturers making 3.30 ratios the norm, increased tire sizes can have a dramatic degradation on the drivability of these vehicles. By changing the ring and pinion to match the new tire size, you'll regain any lost power and many times fuel economy, that came along with the increased tire size. Not sure what gear ratio is right for you? Well, that's simple, its merely cross multiplication. If your stock tire size was 33" and your factory gear ratio is 3.30, but your new tire size is 37", just do this: new gear ratio/new tire size=old gear ratio/old tire size (x/37=3.30/33), which in this scenario would mean that the proper gear ratio to make everything "the same" would be 3.70, and then just round to the closest available gear ratio, such as 3.73. On Atlas, the truck came with 4.30’s and to keep the ratio without going under while running the 43’s, 6.17’s are the way to go!
PERFORMANCE:
  • No Limit Air to Water Intercooler
    • WHY? The factory air to water intercooler is relatively inefficient at cooling EGT's (Exhaust Gas Temperatures). No Limit Fabrication has ruled out the causes for these inefficiencies and built a true piece of artwork that not only looks great, but delivers increased cooling capabilities to keep our Powerstroke running nice and chilly, even on the hottest of days.
  • Banks Pedal Monster
    • WHY? Dead pedal sucks. Our F450 has all the power we need but having better access and quick response times are always a plus. Fast pedal response gets in the torque band quicker allowing us to drive better as we can supply power to the ground quicker and with less effort.
  • S&B Cold Air Intake
    • WHY? All vehicles operate better when they have clean air. Our 6.7L diesel is no exception. If the truck can get good clean air, it can create the power that it's designed to output. It's just that simple. On top of that, S&B offers superiour filtering so when we're in harsher environments, the truck holds up much better. Pair that with the fact the filter is oiled and cleanable, we have a combination that will perform better and outlast any paper filter out there.
LIGHTING:
  • ZROADZ Hood Hinge Brackets
    • WHY? No, hood hinge brackets aren't just for Jeeps! Sure, the idea may have originally spawned from the Jeep crowd, but mounting auxiliary lighting in this location affords enhanced visibility by getting the light source further off the ground (think old school roll bar), all while offering a unique appearance.
  • Baja Designs LP9 LED Lights
    • WHY? While the XL80's put out 9500 lumens per, the LP9's offer up 11,025 per housing. For those that are counting, thats a total of 44,000+ lumens from four lights, obviously not including the factory headlights and foglights that probably have about half a lumen total. We don't only want to SEE Sasquatch, we want to impress him with our lights and chat with him about them.
  • Baja Designs XL80 LED Lights
    • WHY? These XL80's will literally blind you with a whopping 9500 lumens coming from 4 Cree LED's per housing. When we're out exploring in the dark, there's no better feeling than being able to see every obstacle and Sasquatch that may be in front of you, so why not turn night into day with these?
  • Baja Designs LED Dome Light w/Switch
    • WHY? These little lights pack a punch AND are switched individually making them a perfect solution for lighting inside the work boxes. No fumbling around with a flashlight when they are on.
  • Baja Designs S1 Flush Mount Work LED
    • WHY? Some extra light while hooking up or working around back is never a bad thing. The S1’s put out an amazing amount of light for their size. We went with the work light pattern as we only needed usable light within 50 ft of the truck. Anything more is impressive but overkill.
  • Baja Designs Rock Lights
    • WHY? It’s simple, we want to see what’s under the truck! We have used these lights for years with phenomenal success and they are a great compliment to a hard-working truck that needs usable light underneath of it. Yes, they’re great in the dirt but very handy as well in a work environment.
  • N-Fab Bumper Light Mount
    • WHY? We needed to mount at least four lights to the front bumper and honestly really like the appearance of the factory one (at least for now). N-Fab's light mount delivered an easy to install solution that paves the way to mount up to four lights
EXTERIOR ACCESSORIES:
  • Tremor Package Lower Valance
    • WHY? Seriously, the factory lower air valance found on standard four wheel drive models is ridiculous. We understand this was installed to improve aerodynamics, but if you come up to a curb or a ditch, you're bound to tear it right off. At this point, you've got a few options. Sure, you could remove it completely, but that would leave the mounting tabs exposed and its basically ugly. Or, you could break out the Sawzall and get to work, but the failure rate of this method is pretty high. Otherwise, you can swap it out for either a factory two wheel drive model (that's right, Ford knew if the truck were any lower, it would snag on a pebble in the road), or one from Ford's Tremor package. Both of these options bolt right up and are substantially less obtrusive. The Tremor option is slightly shorter than the two wheel drive model for those uncertain.
  • Factory Ford Body Parts
    • WHY? We wanted to delete some of the chrome and get items like the mirror covers and front bumper color-matched. Paired with blacked out headlights, it gives a more complete look to the truck. Does it improve the truck any? Not really but man do we like the way it looks. Sometimes, upgrades don’t have to be about horsepower or functionality and can be done just because you like the way it looks!
  • Custom Billet Fender Badges
    • WHY? We love our country and we love our truck. We thought it would be great to display our pride of both with some custom milled billet fender badges from Billet Badges with the American flag and Atlas name.
  • Custom Built Aluminum Flat Bed
    • WHY? The factory bed is fine for your average tasks but to have a do-it-all, utilitarian truck, it just wasn’t going to cut it. The truck is doing some heavy hauling and a flat bed is a perfect platform for this. We also needed a place to carry our full sized spare along with having additional lighting and tool storage. Building something heavy duty and versatile enough out of steel would have meant we’d have one extremely heavy unit and taking away hauling/towing capacity for the truck. Aluminum was the obvious choice.

      What the truck is being used for changes hourly so having a setup to reconfigure in an instant was extremely important to us. We focused on using Mac’s Custom Tie Downs gear so that we not only would have extremely durable straps and connections but have more than we could shake a stick at. Using their track rail system, we have over 1000 connection points on the truck so that we can strap and lash however we want!

FUEL RELATED:
  • S&B 68 Gallon Replacement Fuel Tank
    • WHY? Easy, more available fuel is always better. S&B's tank is a direct replacement to the factory unit and gives us a substantial increase in overall range, plus has a few benefits that make it superior. And to top it off, S&B made great available use out of unused "pockets" under the bed meaning the tank isn't just a taller version of the factory one, reducing ground clearance.
ONBOARD AIR:
  • ARB Twin Air Compressor
    • WHY? If you've never had onboard air, you really don't know what you're missing. There are so many uses for having a hardwired and mounted air compressor on your truck that we've found to be useful in nearly any situation. Sure, some are familiar with having it plumbed into your airbags for automated rear suspension leveling when you're towing. How about filling up your tires, especially useful for offroading or adding air when you're hooking up to an extra heavy trailer? Or helping someone out with a flat on the side of the road? Or maybe its just filling up your inflatable raft to go fishing. Whatever the reason(s), again, trust us, you want one, and the Twin Air is the most compact, heaviest duty compressor we've found.
  • PacBrake Air Control
    • WHY? While we utilized the ARB Twin Air for air supply, we still needed a way to control it. PacBrake offers a multitude of air control options from analog to digital and single to dual control. For the sake of simplicity, we are utilizing one of their dual paddle analog gauge units that we mounted in the drivers side tool box. In doing so, we are able to keep the clutter of a gauge out of the cab and continue with our quest of having the most awesome and utilitarian truck bed.
INTERIOR ACCESSORIES:
  • WeatherTech DigitalFit Floor Mats
    • WHY? The DigitalFit mats are arguably the best fitting, most durable floor mats on the market. These mats don't slide around, don't become warped or fade from the sun, and they're simple to pull out and clean if you need to.
Vehicle Build: Atlas
Vehicle Build: Atlas