PART SIX: TOWING CONTROL AND WRAP-UP
This is it, the end of a six-part series converting a runof- the-mill Duramax dually into the ultimate working heavy hauler. Over the past six months this truck has gone through quite the transformation, with just about every aspect of the truck seeing an upgrade: performance, braking, steering, suspension, transmission, drivetrain, tires—even the bed was replaced for something more versatile for the farm/ranch duty this truck sees. Big horsepower was never a major concern, as basic tuning and some fuel system upgrades were enough to take this truck to a usable and safe 400hp level that offers more than enough torque to move a heavy tractor or trailer load of cows, all while keeping the rest of the drivetrain safe. The main objective was to turn this truck into a tool, something the owner could depend on and use daily to make his life and job easier. With the host of parts that were thrown at this project, we’re confident in saying the truck has become just that.
HELLWIG AIR AND SWAY KITS
Since this truck is used daily to tow trailers of all shapes and sizes, improving upon the factory leaf spring suspension for better load control was a must. While the stock suspension handled the weight okay, once weighted down the rear end sagged quite a bit and the ride became rough since the overload springs were always compressed near max capacity. The Hellwig Products Big Wig Air kit solves these issues by placing an oversized airbag between the axle and frame on each side of the truck to help take some of that heavy load off the overload leaf springs, allowing for a more level ride when loaded. By taking weight off the leaf springs and handling it through the airbag, the truck will have a much more stable feel and smoother ride when towing. The airbags also allow a more level stance through different air pressure adjustments for the varying loads the big dually will be hauling. The Hellwig kit fit perfectly and installed in hardly anytime at all. Simply replacing the factory bump stop with the airbag and clamping the lower bracket around the frame and running the airlines and valve stems for pressure adjustments to the back bumper was all it took.
To help with sway control when towing top-heavy loads down winding canyon roads, the rear suspension also received one of Hellwig’s Big Wig sway bar kits. The massive sway bar can help reduce sway by over 20% in most applications, keeping the truck flatter through the corners and equating to a more stable trailer and much more confidence in the driver’s seat. The sway bar can also improve traction while cornering since it’ll help improve the tires’ contact patch on the ground, which helps greatly for this truck that spends a lot of time on dirt and gravel roads outside of town. The lifetime warranty and easy installation made it no brainer for this build and helped take the trucks overall towing performance to an all new level.
CURT TOWING PRODUCTS
This truck had already been running a basic trailer brake controller, but after more than ten years of service the system needed some updates. Curt Manufacturing’s new Triflex brake controller uses a state-of-the-art, triple-axis, motion-sensing accelerometer for super responsive smooth stops, regardless of trailer weight or axles. The automatic leveling and calibration system eliminates the need to set anything up and offers nine different sensitivity levels, along with user-selectable power output and trailer brake light activation. The Curt Channel Mount trailer hitch system also offered the truck owner some major versatility for towing just about anything on the property. The dual ball adapter has a 2” and 2-5/16” ball on it and the channel mount allows more than 11 inches of height adjustability just by pulling the pins and moving to the height you need.
Over the course of a summer, the help of a handful of suppliers, and who knows how many hours in the shop and garage installing everything, this basically stock 2003 LB7 Duramax dually was taken from what was a perfectly capable daily driver and tow rig to the ultimate towing platform. The increased mileage, power, and torque have been welcome when 14,000 pounds are hooked on to the gooseneck hitch. The addition of an exhaust brake, transmission tapshifter, airbags, sway bar and brake controller offer a better sense of confidence for the operator, as the truck just feels better keeping the heaviest loads under control. Improving on the fuel system with a performance lift pump and better filtration should improve engine longevity and efficiency, while the steering upgrades beefed a somewhat failure-prone design to take any abuse it’ll see off-road. And the addition of a big steel flatbed, heavy duty bumper, a winch, and 100-gallon transfer tank/toolbox combo added so much more versatility and ability to get work down around the ranch. This truck has become the owner’s new favorite tool. DW
DEVIANT RACE PARTS
TITAN FUEL TANKS
ULTRA WHEEL COMPANY