Ultimate Working Heavy Hauler— Duramax Edition

Improving Hauling and Fueling Capabilities
We introduced this 2003 Silverado 3500 LB7 Duramax in the December issue to show you what it takes to convert the average daily driver into an efficient and effective work rig. This truck was picked up on the cheap from a local school district auction with just 68,000 miles on it. The new owner, a full-time Ag. Education and FFA high school teacher and part-time farmer/rancher, was looking for something he could use every day as his driver and work truck. Its main tasks will be hauling cattle to the auction, tractors from one hay field to the next, and even getting students to the county fair. While the truck did these things acceptably in stock form, there’s always room for improvement.

In Part One of the build, the truck was upgraded with a 4- inch exhaust system and cold air intake for obvious reasons. Then some custom EFI Live engine and transmission tunes were installed via the Spade Autocal from Duramaxtuner.com; the adjust-on-the-fly tuning offers up to 100 hp over stock, with increased fuel mileage, better transmission shift strategies, and better overall performance while towing. The fuel system was upgraded with a better filtering Cat fuel filter adapter kit from Deviant Race Parts. To give the owner total control of the automatic transmission while towing long, steep grades, the BD Diesel Tapshifter was installed along with their throttle sensitivity booster kit to aid in off-throttle response. This list of parts turned the big dually into a completely different vehicle to drive; the powerband feels so much more linear and it makes tugging big heavy trailers around a breeze. Accelerating with 15,000 lbs in tow isn’t such a struggle and the truck has seen nearly a 2mpg increase in mileage, both unloaded and while towing.


For Part Two of this extensive build, we take a different approach and step away from the performance side of things to make this thing better at getting a job done. Anyone that really uses their truck for work can appreciate the versatility of a good flatbed, specifically a Bradford Built Workbed. Made from 1/8” thick tread plate steel, the Workbed has 4-inch flipdown side rails to make loading things on the deck easier while keeping everything secure and in place. The 30,000lb gooseneck hitch will be more than enough to handle every load that gets moved around the farm. Sealed LED lighting ensures years of trouble-free service, and the bed comes prewired with a 7-pin trailer plug.

Bradford prides itself in being one of the best quality bed manufacturers in the country and goes the extra mile to make the Workbed do everything you’d ever need. Small details like a headache rack that’s tapered to help keep it out of the way of a trailer when making tight turns, chain keyholes, flushmount D-rings for securing loads, and the full powdercoat finish to protect it against years of abuse are all included. For those with a little bigger budget, Bradford also offers these in a full aluminum body that will stand up even better to the moisture and road salts in nasty climates. Aluminum also offers a little less weight and stylish looks without sacrificing strength and durability.


Based out of Washington, Kansas, the Bradford Built crew is proud to say everything is made 100 percent in the USA and they have a strong dealership program all over the country that can help with both sales and installation. For this install, Poulsen Trailer of Logan, Utah, was the closest and made short work of the installation. With hundreds of flatbed installations under their belt, they had it down to a fine science and had it completed before lunch—including making vehicle-specific brackets and wiring it up.


Since this particular truck is used around the farm, being able to keep equipment running in the field is a must. Keeping diesel in the combine during harvest without ever leaving the field saves time, but also having a large assortment of tools on hand to make repairs on the spot is important as well. To fill these needs, the new 90-gallon Hammerhead tank-toolbox combo from Titan Fuel Tanks of Idaho Falls was the perfect fit. Constructed from a military-grade polymer, the fuel tank has no welded seams to crack or leak, is corrosion resistant, and weighs just 64 lbs. The built-in toolbox has 9 cu-ft of storage space and makes a great place to keep tools and supplies out of the weather.

While some may have their reservations with the tank not being constructed of metal, Titan makes a strong sales pitch by claiming their tanks won’t delaminate, corrode from the use of biodiesel, or create condensation problems. Plus, they also hold up to rough abuse better and are quieter than their steel brethren. While the upfront costs are there, over time the Titan Fuel tank will offer years and years of maintenance-free usage and help make your truck the tool you just can’t go without.


A true working truck has to be built, not bought, in order to do the things each owner really needs it to do. Stayed tuned to future issues of Diesel World Magazine as the build continues on the Ultimate Heavy Hauler Duramax Edition. Next up will be the installation of a Road Armor winch bumper, Warn winch and lighting kit, BD Diesel fuel lift pump, rear differential cover, and exhaust brake, along with steering upgrades from Alligator Performance and rear airbags and sway bar from Hellwig Products. DW

1 The Bradford Built Workbed offers awesome versatility for a working truck, whether it’s hauling hay around the farm or construction materials to the jobsite. The large flatbed has standard flip-down 4-inch sides, a 30,000lb gooseneck hitch, bumper hitch with D-rings, mud flaps, and headache rack.
2 Powdercoated in gloss black, the Workbed looks nice and stands up well to abuse. The headache rack offers great protection for the cab and houses standard LED lighting.
3 The built-in gooseneck hitch has a 30,000lb weight rating and is kept hidden under a diamond plate trap door that allows for a completely flush deck surface when not in use.
4 The installation of this Workbed was handled by the authorized Bradford Built dealer Poulsen Trailers of Logan, UT. These guys have installed hundreds of beds over the years and have it down to a fine science, taking just 3 hours to complete.
5 Before installation of the Workbed, the factory bed, rear bumper, receiver hitch, and aftermarket gooseneck hitch had to be removed. Once they were down to the bare frame rails, the Poulsen crew was able to take a few measurements and build a couple of brackets to attach the bed to the frame.
6 The truck’s factory taillight and trailer wiring harnesses were tested and tied into with waterproof wiring connectors so the supplied 7-pin trailer plug and standard LED lighting would work properly. Headache rack lights and taillights all work as well as running, stop, and turn signals.
7 The forklift and a couple straps made short work of bed installation. While sheer muscle can man-handle the bed into place, the forklift made this a much simpler and safer process. Once the bed was lowered onto the frame, some measurements and “eyeballing” were needed to make sure it sat square and centered.
8 The Poulsen Trailers guys bolted thick steel plates to the truck’s frame rails,
then welded the brackets to the lower framing of the Workbed. This installation
process makes for a solid, sturdy mount without having to be permanently
welded to the truck. The flatbed can still be easily removed should it
need to be in the future.
9 While this project used the steel version of the Bradford Workbed, they also
offer a full line of aluminum beds that cut weight substantially and will hold
up to moisture and road salt better over time. Obviously, this all comes at a
higher cost, so you’ll be able to choose which will be the best fit for your personal
10 As a full-time farmer/rancher, the owner uses this truck almost daily moving trailers and equipment around. But to help keep his tractors and combines running around the clock during harvest, the ability to refuel in the field was a must. The Titan Fuel Tanks Hammerhead transfer tank offers a 90-gallon capacity along with a large tool box for storing all the things a farmer needs.
11 The large aluminum diamond plate tool box supplied with the transfer tank offers 9 cu-ft of storage and uses top-of-the-line hinges and latches to ensure countless years of trouble-free use. The powdercoated aluminum looks great and will hold up well over the years.
12 Before mounting and filling the tank, the supplied drain plug must be installed. Nothing quite like watching $3-per-gallon diesel fuel spill out onto the ground, right?
13 The Titan Fuel tank comes standard with a locking cap, ventilation tube, 2” NPT threaded port for a transfer pump, and is formed completely of 1/4″ military grade linked polyethylene. This tank construction is super durable and has no welds that might crack or leak. It’s also corrosion-resistant and biodiesel compatible.
14 Because of the tank’s material, it is extremely important to make sure it’s
well grounded to the truck. The supplied ground wire just needs to be
slipped under one of the supplied carriage bolts that attach the tank to the
bed floor.
15 The tank came supplied with four formed brackets that simply slide over
detents formed into the tank base. These brackets just need to slide into
place, the holes marked and drilled, and the grade 8 bolts snugged down.
Complete installation took less than 45 minutes.



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