Lift (lift) v. lift·ed, lift·ing, lifts 1. To rise; ascend. 2. To raise in condition, rank, or esteem. 3. To cause others to spontaneously bow down in awe and pay homage to your truck.
That is exactly what Jeff Kelderman and the crew at Kelderman Manufacturing wanted to do to their '05 Ford F-250 Super Duty diesel. Most truck enthusiasts can't leave things alone and the temptation to build the truck into a show-stopping monster was just too much for Jeff. Jeff's been known to go crazy with his big trucks in the past, and his current truck doesn't disappoint.
Beginning with the basics, they started by tearing out the factory suspension and throwing it out in favor of their own 10-inch air-ride suspension. For 2005, Ford chose to make some major changes to the Super Duty chassis, so after three weeks of R&D, the guys finished their fabrication. By replacing the control arms in the front, and the rear leaf springs with a heavy duty four-link suspension, they were able to give the truck the ride height increase they wanted, but without some of the usual drawbacks found in a more traditional lift. Once completed, the kit consisted of Kelderman's four-link suspension front and rear, larger rear antiroll bar, Air Ride Technology's RidePro e computer-controlled air springs, and Bilstein 7100 shocks to give the truck a great ride, but still provide the driveability today's truck buyer demands.
We don't know about you, but executing a lift of this magnitude without changing the stock rubber has to be a crime. So, to complement the lift, Jeff ordered up some 20x12-inch Weld Racing Evo Velocity 8 rims and shod them with 38x15.5 Nitto Mud Grappler tires. Now that's some serious rubber!
After massaging the bits underneath, much more was needed to transform this truck into what Jeff had envisioned. Jeff opted to get his truck delivered from Ford with the 6.0L Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8, which is an excellent powertrain out of the box - large displacement, great low-end torque, durability - but that just wasn't enough. One call to Gale Banks Engineering and a UPS shipment later, the truck received Banks' Big Hoss performance bundle. By combining a 4-inch Monster stainless exhaust and muffler, a larger turbo intercooler, gauges, and Banks own Six-Gun Diesel Tuner computer, the output of the motor was increased to 385 hp at 3,400 rpm and boasted a really impressive 690 lb-ft of torque at a grave-robber low rpm of 2,000. Looking at this system, it appears Banks really did its homework on the software end, which is the scourge of the modern performance enthusiast. It's tough to change the performance of most newer cars without some major changes to the factory engine calibration. Factory programming has an uncanny knack for minimizing any performance gains aftermarket items could potentially make. Banks uses a piggyback computer that controls not only the fuel-injection pulse width, timing, and fuel pressure, but also hosts an entire array of safety features that keep the turbo, engine, and transmission healthy. It actively monitors conditions such as torque converter lockup, exhaust gas temperature, and coolant temperature, and makes adjustments to prevent unwanted conditions from damaging critical components. It is engineered with various safety-related features, such as Banks' Intelligent Fuel Delivery for smooth shifting and a complete self-evaluation process to make sure its own systems are working at optimum. Don't you wish your kids had built-in safety features like this?
Inside the cabin, Jeff picked out a blizzard-ing array of modern electronics to entertain himself (or anyone within a mile of the truck) on road trips. Just listen to this shopping list: a Kenwood KVT-915 DVD/navigation head unit, two Rosen seatback LCD monitors, three Phoenix Gold Xenon Amplifiers, 15 - yes, 15 - Phoenix Gold Xenon speakers, Scosche/EFX wiring, and an Optima battery to provide life juice for it all. Jeff and his crew handled the installation with custom speaker enclosures, and subtlety wasn't in the cards that day. You just can't miss the red custom fiberglass center console housing the subs. Oh, and check out the roof-mounted amps. With all these modern goodies, the classic-styled woodgrain had to go, so it was painted black for a more refined look.
The experts at APE Wraps were called in to work some magic on the exterior of the truck. Since the truck looks like it could traverse anything the Martian landscape could throw at it, a suitable paint scheme was in order. After applying the custom-printed vinyl graphics, it now looks like a lunar rover that's been hammered with red-hot meteors, ripping open the sheetmetal like a sardine tin - definitely trick.
All this trick stuff really looks cool, but how does it all work? That's the important question each one of us thinks about when we're looking to install aftermarket parts on our trucks. The staffers at Sport Truck were able to spend some quality time with this rig and were allowed to put it through the paces to really see what's up.
There are several basic tests that we perform on any vehicle, under evaluation, that give us data with which we can characterize how the improvements work in the real world. The first one is a dragstrip or quarter-mile test. Next up is a 60-0-mph braking test, followed by the 600-foot slalom. These tests give us a broad spectrum of vehicle performance data in which we can objectively evaluate any vehicle's behavior in an unbiased manner.
First up was the quarter-mile test. With the turbo upgrades, the motor of this rig puts out an impressive 385 hp and 690 lb-ft of torque. Stock, the ratings for the 6.0L Power Stroke come in at 325 hp and 560 lb-ft, showing that the minor hardware and software upgrades of the Banks system give quite a bit more power and torque. On the track, our test shows a 0-60 time of 7.52 seconds and an overall quarter-mile time of 16.0 sec at 89.1 mph. Launch was excellent, not showing any launch shudder or wheelhop, an indication that the suspension geometry was engineered properly. For comparison, a stock Harley edition of the F-250 with the same motor has a 0-60 mph at 8.47 seconds and a quarter-mile of 16.2 seconds at 84 mph. Also, Banks had an '04 F-250 2WD SuperCrew running 0-60 at 7.06 seconds and the quarter-mile of 14.88 sec at 95.32 mph. What this shows us is the power gains were offset by the increase in tire diameter, but still, that's not too shabby for a monster tired, lifted rig. If you increase the gear ratio in the axles from stock, you could get a better launch, improving performance.
When building up this truck, the Keldermans left the stock brakes in place, so our brake test results were rather predictable. In a 60-0-mph stop, the best the truck could muster was 214 feet. Just for reference, braking distance for an '05 Ford Mustang GT is 125 feet - vastly shorter. After one hard stop on the truck, the brake fade was significant, leaving us with no pedal feel and ever-increasing stopping distances. So, be prepared to leave more room on the freeway than normal when driving this truck in heavy traffic. If there's one upgrade we'd recommend for your lifted truck, it's upgrading the braking system if possible. Your money will be well spent.
What Is A Slalom?
Take 600 feet of length of straight track and divide it into 100-foot sections and place a marker or cone at each segment. As you drive down the course, you steer around each cone alternately on the left and right of the vehicle. The slalom test is a very good measure of a vehicle's dynamic handling characteristics. Basically, how the car or truck behaves on curvy roads or during emergency maneuvers.
Why Does It Handle So Well?
A suspension system is composed of many different components: shocks, springs, antiroll bars, control arms, and tires, for example. Each one of these have different responsibilities but together yield a particular handling characteristic, or feel. When lifting a truck, you are significantly changing its behavior on the road. So, why did this truck do very well when others don't? There are three major items that really help out.
First, the Nitto Mud Grappler tires used have a pretty stiff sidewall. What happens is as the vehicle leans over in a corner, the tire responds by compressing. If the tire doesn't compress as easily, the truck reacts more quickly to the steering input, allowing the vehicle to change direction quicker. Keep in mind that too stiff a sidewall can be too high to absorb bumps, making the truck feel skittish, so being super-stiff is not always better.
Next, the Kelderman suspension adds a stiffer rear antiroll, or antisway, bar. This adds roll stiffness to the rear of the truck, reducing the amount of understeer. Understeer occurs during a cornering maneuver. Imagine having the front tires lose grip and to correct, you have to turn the steering wheel more to keep in on your line. This is because the front tires are trying to do too much of the work and are getting overloaded, so by stiffening up the rear you help reduce this effect.
The Bilstein shocks are the last of the largest improvements made on this truck. Shocks are responsible for damping or controlling the suspension motion. By tuning the shocks properly, they will stop, or slow the rate of suspension roll down, causing the truck to bite and get around the corner. If the shocks are too soft, they will allow the suspension to move a lot farther before it starts making the maneuver.
Other factors that help are the suspension geometry of the four-link setup, the stiff control arm bushings, and the widened track.
Living With the Beast:
All the objectivity aside, what's it like to drive? Ride-wise, the air system is excellent around town. It's smooth and compliant, absorbing the bumps like a sponge. Broken pavement doesn't yank the steering wheel out of your hands, because bumpsteer is nonexistent. Off the line, the truck shows no signs of launch shudder or wheelhop, which is a common problem when you incorrectly lift or lower trucks. All in all, this is a very well-sorted-out truck. Once you address the weak brakes and bump up the gearing in the axles to get you some better off-the-line punch, you'd have the perfect lifted truck. So, go ahead and rise above the rest!
Why More Brakes?
It's a Matter of Physics
When you lift a truck in this manner, you're fighting three major changes in the braking dynamics: rolling inertia, tire diameter, and weight transfer. When using a much heavier, larger-diameter wheel and tire combo, there's a lot more rotating inertia compared with the stock wheels. As the larger tire is rotating, it takes more energy to stop the rotation compared with stock. Secondly, the increase in the tire diameter also changes how effective the braking force is. Braking force is F=T/R (T is braking torque; R is radius). Braking torque isn't changing if we don't change the brakes, so as you increase the tire radius, your braking force goes down. Last, lifting the suspension changes where the vehicles mass center is relative to the suspension. This effectively increases the weight that is transferred to the front wheels, making the brakes work even harder. So, when lifting a truck, there's more to consider than just how cool it looks afterwards.
The Kelderman truck exceeded our expectations when hefted through our 600-foot slalom test. We saw a best of 55 mph, which for a stock heavy truck is great, but on a lifted monster? It's great! The best truck we've tested is a modified Dakota running 64 mph. The truck showed a fair amount of body roll, but the Bilsteins, stabilizer bar, and stiff side-walled Nittos still gave a great performance. Every part of the suspension contributes to the handling characteristics of the truck, and this system is well executed.