MADE IN TEXAS
The latest creation from Show Time Metal Works
The wildest ideas come out in the most mundane of places—around a guy’s dining room table, for instance. If we were betting men, we’d put money on the number of crazy project vehicle builds dreamed up around dining room tables nationwide in the range of around 90 percent. That was the case with this 2017 F-250 Super Duty. And when all was said and done, the project collaborators would do battle with one of the biggest storms in modern U.S. history.
As the story goes, Tyler Stephens (truck owner) was sitting around said table with Brandon and Dustin Naivar around the time of Lone Star Throwdown in February 2017. The name Naivar should sound familiar. The brothers are the founders of ShowTime Metal Works and their work has been featured in these pages before, the last being Dustin’s custom Ford F-450 that was featured on the February 2017 cover.
Once an STMW customer, Stephens now works for STMW in a sales and management capacity, and this particular conversation had to do with taking STMW’s business operations to the next level. Since the company’s founding, the Naivars had carved a niche in the custom truck industry creating hand-fabricated bumpers and grilles for full-size trucks, along with other treatments on a more limited basis.
“We’ve been doing custom suspensions since 2008 or ’09 for our personal vehicles,” Stephens says. “We weren’t happy with what was out there, and we knew there was a big demand for our treatments, which were [at the time] custom weld-on kits. We decided we wanted to do a 100% bolt-on kit that still met our standards.”
The application would be for the new-generation Ford Super Duty, and Stephens’ truck would be the test subject. He had purchased it new only a month prior with the original intent of using it to prototype new bumpers.
The STMW Super Duty lift is no joke. It jacks the truck a full foot in the air up front and no assembly or component has gone unaddressed. The front setup is a fully fabricated 4-link (upper and lower) honed from ASTM A36 steel with forged chromoly 1.25-inch joints. Upper and lower spring mounts bookend 12-inch-travel, 2.5-inch, dual-rate, remote-reservoir coilovers augmented with 14-inch-travel, 2.5-inch smooth body remote-reservoir bypass shocks. The whole is reinforced with a CNC-machined 6061 aluminum sway bar mounted with poly bushings.
A transfer case indexing ring and custom dual-CV front driveshaft help align the driven components, and the steering system is upgraded roundly with a heavy-duty DOM steering drag link with 1-inch rod ends and misalignment spacers, an adjustable DOM track bar and dual 2.0-inch, 8-inch-stroke Fox steering stabilizers.
“The truck was never sent out of state. The suspension was built and installed by STMW in Texas. Audio and paint in Texas. Performance in Texas. Photo shoot in Texas. Harvey couldn’t stop us.”
In the rear, the lift is accomplished with 10-inch Atlas leaf packs and 14-inch-travel, 2.5-inch, smooth-body, remote-reservoir dampers. Massive fabricated traction bars with custom axle and frame mounts reinforce the back end and prevent the 6-ply leaf springs from wrapping.
Since custom truck lifts can potentially run anywhere up to half the cost of the rig itself, one of the more challenging aspects of designing the suspension was creating a lift that did not sacrifice quality but could be sold at a price point that was viable for both the fabricator and customer. In the end, Stephens feels that they accomplished that mission and that it is the quality of fabrication and attention to detail that sets their kit apart.
“We really left no stone unturned,” he says. “[The kits] are still 100-percent built by the founders. Everything is hand-welded. A lot of fabricated parts as well as CNC-machined parts. Everything heavy duty.”
A lift this serious allows for running some equally serious rolling stock. Stephens’ combination of choice mates forged 24×16-inch Fuel FF16 concave wheels in a black-and-machined scheme with Fuel Gripper M/T off-road tires sized in a 40×15.50×24-inch format. All told, with the suspension upgrade and the new running gear, the front and rear bumpers now sit roughly three feet above ground level.
From start to finish the project took around eight months to complete. In late August, in the middle of the suspension build phase and with the truck literally in pieces at the STMW shop, disaster struck when Hurricane Harvey hit the east coast of Texas. The project was put on a mandatory hold as everyone involved waited for the flood waters to recede. Stephens himself was more or less trapped in his home for the better part of a week.
“It was touched by a lot of people,” Stephens says of the truck. “Everyone that got to touch the truck was affected by Harvey.” When the storm finally blew itself out nearly two weeks after landfall, the lower half came back together and work began on other areas.
Naturally, Stephens’ rig sports enhanced body armor from STMW. The examples adorning the 2017 Super Duty are fabricated using 2×2-inch square, 11-gauge ASTM-A-36 steel tubing. The front was designed and built with KC Hilites LEDs in mind, accommodating two separate light bars, and Stephens’ truck comes equipped accordingly. The rear was built with integrated ports for KC Hilites 3-inch LEDs, also installed here.
Under the hood, the 6.7L’s breathing passages have been opened up on either side of the combustion process. Up front, a No Limit Fabrication cold-air intake feeds into Midwest Turbo piping that was powdercoated in silver by Advanced Powder Coat in Houston. On the hot side, the factory exhaust tract was deleted in favor of a 5-inch Flo Pro straight-through system that dumps into a 7-inch tip out back. All engine hard parts were applied by Power Stroke Enginuities, also in Houston. Final tuning was performed using PPEI software via EZ Lynk Auto Agent. PPEI also provided the electronics to match the transmission’s shift points to optimize its operation with the new power curves.
The cabin trim remains factory spec, but the stereo was pumped up by Extreme Offroad & Performance in Katy, Texas, with a full complement of Kicker hardware: Q-Class component speakers in custom pods mounted to the doors, dual 12-inch Comp RT subs in a custom enclosure in the rear. The bed also features a Bedslide and power Retrax tonneau cover to seal it off from the elements when it isn’t work or show time. In the photos you’ll see another quartet of Kicker subs mounted on custom nerf bar bolted to the slide.
Out of everything he and the STMW team overcame and accomplished during the course of the build, Stephens is most proud of the fact that it came together entirely in his home state. “The truck was never sent out of state,” he says. “The suspension was built and installed by STMW in Texas. Audio and paint in Texas. Performance in Texas. Photo shoot in Texas. Harvey couldn’t stop us.”
Today the Super Duty is not Tyler Stephens’ only ride, but it does see use on a regular basis. “It’s not daily driven but I do use it,” he says. “I would say it’s used as a truck—I took it to the ranch a few weeks ago, put feed in the back of it. I use the heck out of that Bedslide. And we drive it to every show.”
Interestingly, Stephens doesn’t seem to be your typical truck modifier who can’t bring himself to call a project “done.” Aside from some possible lighting upgrades to the factory lamps, he feels that this truck project is pretty well complete. “It’s perfect,” he says. “I like it the way it is. To be honest, I can’t think of anything else to do to it.”[divider] Specifications [/divider]
2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Owner: Tyler Stephens
Hometown: Montgomery, Texas
Engine: 6.7L Power Stroke
Air: No Limit Fabrication intake, Midwest Turbo piping
Exhaust: 5-inch Flo Pro w/7-inch tip
Electronics: EZ Lynk Auto Agent
Suspension: STMW 12” Lift Kit—Front: Fabricated upper and lower 4 link with forged chromoly 1.25” joints, sway bar drop mounts, CNC-machined 6061 aluminum sway bar end links, polyurethane bushings, steering stabilizer axle and tie rod mounts, custom upper coilover mounts, CNC-machined lower coilover mounts, CNC-machined tapered sleeve for axle end of track bar mount, 12” travel 2.5” dual-rate remote reservoir coilovers, 12” travel 2.5” smooth body remote reservoir shocks; Rear: 10” Atlas leaf springs, fabricated rear traction bars with heavy duty forged 1.25x12tpi joint, poly bushings, traction bar axle and frame mounts, 14” travel 2.5” smooth body remote reservoir shocks
Steering: Track bar drop, drop pitman arms, heavy duty DOM steering drag link with 1.0” rod ends and high misalignment spacers, heavy duty adjustable DOM track bar with 1.25” rod ends and high misalignment spacers, Fox 2.0 8” stroke steering stabilizers
Transmission: Transfer case indexing ring w/custom dual CV front driveshaft, heavy duty fabricated transmission cross member, PPEI software
Wheels: Fuel FF16, 24×16
Tires: Fuel Offroad M/T, 40×15.50×24
Sound: Kicker Q-Class component speakers, KX amplifiers (1,000w x1, 400x x4), 12-inch Comp RT subs x2 (cabin), Kicker KM Series x4 (bed)