Vintage OBS Ford F250 Diesel Show Ready

A Show-Ready, Five-Speed ’97 F-250 On ’05 Axles

In a world where easy horsepower, fancy paint, and the latest and greatest trucks tend to dominate the landscape, it’s rare that we come across a show-ready OBS Ford. Luckily, there are people like Tyler Williams left in the world—a true connoisseur of the diesels of old. Tyler doesn’t pump money and resources into his ’97 F-250 because he’s stuck driving an older truck, he does it because he wants to. In fact, Tyler has a show-winning ’18 F-450 Super Duty, a 12-valve Cummins sled-puller, a slew of diesel-propelled work trucks, and even a Duramax-powered ’69 C10 in his stable, but he prefers his OBS over all of them. The reason behind why he feels this way is both sentimental and simple: “I grew up in a truck just like this.”

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Having owned several 7.3L OBS Fords, Tyler Williams never thought twice about doubling the power of his 200,000-mile ’97. Most of that added power comes by way of a set of Full Force Diesel’s 180cc Stage 1.5 injectors, which are equipped with 30-percent larger nozzles. Everything else under the valve covers is completely stock. Even the factory 15-degree high-pressure oil pump remains, but is healthy enough to support the truck’s dyno-proven 370 hp and 690 lb-ft of torque.

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In order to maintain adequate fuel supply to the 180/30 injectors, an electric fuel system from 444fab replaced the factory mechanical unit, along with allowing for the factory fuel bowl to be deleted. 444fab’s system, which came with the aforementioned regulated return kit, is built around the use of a reliable Bosch SD lift pump.

Fresh Paint

Despite tracking down the five-speed ¾-ton he wanted in North Carolina, there was plenty of rust to contend with when Tyler got the truck back home to Tennessee. Undeterred by the F-250’s sizeable yet curable cancer spots, he pulled the bed, picked up a Cervini cowl hood on the cheap, sourced a rust-free core support, and had friend, Martin Ramsey, work his magic in the paint booth. The truck emerged wearing the same Oxford White paint code it did back in ’97, but was fitted with a paint-matched ’08 Super Duty front bumper and a rear roll pan from LMC. Custom badging, headlights, and tail lights were also thrown in, along with clear cab lights.

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Tyler’s custom-etched headlights were built by Tommy Justice of East Tennessee Retrofit, and we’d say he knocked it out of the park. The tail lights were also paint-matched following our shoot, blending perfectly with the clear cab lights and completing the truck’s clean, overall look.

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Treated to an ’05 axle swap, a coil sprung Dana 60 resides up front on Tyler’s OBS (which was originally an F-250 equipped with the TTB Dana 50 once upon a time). Dual Fox steering stabilizers exists to quell bump steer and front-end vibration, and the tie rod assembly, drag link, track bar, sway bar, and pitman arm were all powder coated blue by Pro Form Fabrication in Maryville, Tennessee

’05 Axle Swap

For improved ride comfort and durability, the truck’s previous owner ditched the factory twin traction beam Dana 50 in favor of a coil sprung, Dana 60 out of an ’05 Super Duty. Tyler would pick up where he left off out back, installing a 10.5-inch axle, which brought a larger ring gear and disc brakes into the picture. The front-end sits 6-inches higher thanks to a Rough Country suspension lift, while the leaf springs in the rear rest on 4-inch lift blocks. Thanks to the added lift and high-clearance radius arms Tyler is able to run the 37-inch tire, 24×12-inch American Force wheel combination he does without issue.

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Six-inch taller coil springs from Rough Country provide the added lift height up front, and 4-inch lift blocks take care of the rear. Tubular, high clearance radius arms locate the front axle, and a monotube Fox performance series 2.0 shock sits at each corner.

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Perks of performing the ’05 Super Duty axle swap included the larger, 10.5-inch diameter ring gear, 3.73 gearing, and the disc brakes that came with it. To keep the rear 10.5 from wrapping and the leaf springs from twisting, Tyler relies on a set of homemade traction bars built out of 1.5-inch diameter tubing. Also notice the 6-inch axle-dump exhaust system

Bigger Injectors and E-Fuel

Despite having more than 200,000 miles on the clock, the 23-year-old 7.3L Power Stroke responded extremely well to a set of Full Force Diesel’s Stage 1.5 injectors. And even though the bigger sticks flow 180cc’s of fuel through 30-percent over nozzles, the factory high-pressure oil pump has no problem keeping up. An electric fuel system from 444fab, complete with the company’s regulated return kit, ensures a consistent 65-psi worth of fuel pressure is supplied to the injectors at all times. Both OEM fuel tanks are still intact and the selector valve fully functional.

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When we asked Tyler why he opted for an OBS with the ZF-5 manual transmission, his answer was simple: “I like to shift my own gears.” In fact, he’s owned several standard shift old body style Fords now, this one being graced with an upgraded clutch from South Bend. The single disc unit is rated for 475hp and 1,000 lb-ft

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Getting the most performance out of the bigger injectors and turbocharger called for custom tuning. For that, along with on-the-fly tuning changes, Tyler settled on a Hydra Chip from Full Force Diesel, which is programmed with proven files from Jelibuilt Performance.

66mm Turbo, 6-inch Exhaust,and Good Tuning

Boost production begins with a 66mm, dual ball bearing KC38R turbo from KC Turbos. The Super Duty-intended charger mounts in the early 7.3L’s lifter valley thanks to a set of ’99.5-’03 bellowed up-pipes and pedestal. Being that the engine is void of an intercooler, a modded OEM intake Y routes 30-psi worth of boost straight into the heads. Exhaling begins with a 3-inch downpipe, which transitions into a 6-inch aluminized axle-dump exhaust system, and culminates with an 8-inch, weld-on polished tip. The task of getting the most out of the airflow and fueling upgrades was left to Jelibuilt Performance by way of a Hydra Chip. Strapped to the dyno, the truck responded by making 370 hp and nearly 700 lb-ft of torque.

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With an ’08 donor at his disposal, Tyler couldn’t help but modernize the truck’s interior. The Super Duty’s leather captain’s chairs and massive center console replaced the factory 40/20/40 arrangement for improved comfort and storage.

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For Keeps

As the owner of a successful concrete pumping business, Tyler has the means to drive any vehicle he chooses, yet this is the one he prefers to take to the truck show or up town for a bite to eat. By pouring his work ethic, time, and interest into his ’97, he’s definitely done his part in keeping the older diesels alive. As for what lies ahead for his show-stopping OBS, Tyler plans to add an intercooler and an Adrenaline HPOP for more performance, an Overkill Fab grille for improved looks, and eventually pass the truck on to his son. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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To keep tabs on everything the PCM does, Tyler relies on an Edge CTS2 mounted to his triple-gauge pillar. Of particular importance on the Insight monitor is the ability to watch ICP, IPR duty cycle, and EGT. The bottom analog gauges from Auto Meter allow him to view low-pressure oil pressure and fuel supply pressure.

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1997 Ford F-250 Crew Cab

Owner: Tyler Williams
Hometown: Sevierville, Tennessee
Odometer: 200,200 miles
Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke
Fuel: Full Force Diesel 180/30 Stage 1.5 injectors, 444fab electric fuel conversion system with Bosch SD lift pump, 444fab regulated return with Fuelab regulator
Oil: Factory 15-degree high-pressure oil pump
Air: KC Turbos KC38R 66mm turbocharger, Super Duty bellowed up-pipes and pedestal, Tymar cold air intake
Exhaust: 3-inch downpipe, 6-inch system to 8-inch tip
Electronics: Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip with Jelibuilt Performance custom tuning, Edge CTS2 monitor
Transmission: ZF-5 five-speed manual with South Bend single disc clutch upgrade
Horsepower: 370-rwhp (dyno)
Torque: 690 lb-ft (dyno)
Tires: 37×13.50R24LT Comforser CF3000 M/T
Wheels: 24×12 American Force
Axles: ’05 axle swap, front Dana 60, rear Sterling 10.5, 3.73 ring and pinion
Suspension: Rough Country lift with 6-inch taller coil springs, high clearance radius arms, 4-inch lift blocks, Fox 2.0 shocks (front and rear), Fox dual steering stabilizer, homemade traction bars