A split rear window gave Ford's extended cabs a stylish appearance from the mid-'80s to the early '90s. The extended-cab's rear seat provides the extra room for those times when you carry extra passengers but folds down when the need arises to carry more gear. The wheelbase is shorter than the four-door pickup to make it manageable in town, and yet, it's long enough to be a good tow vehicle. There's only one problem - if you need a dualie to carry heavy loads but still want a 4x4 extended cab, you only have two choices: give up the split window style and buy a late-model truck or build it yourself, because Ford never manufactured that combination. And that is exactly what Rick Russell from Chino, California, decided to do.
Few people spend as much time in the dirt as Rick who travels around the country producing Off Highway Adventure Videos, Sidekick Off Road maps, attending off-road events, and producing TV shows. He needs a 4x4 truck to carry a self-contained 11-foot Lance Camper and to tow his CJ-6 into the backcountry. Rick also uses his truck to assist professional photography crews, capture the perfect off-road photo for advertisements, tug stuck vehicles, and design off-road routes for new 4x4 vehicle releases. And after all that 'wheeling, he still wanted a cool 4x4 truck for an everyday vehicle.
Rick's project vehicle began life as an '85 F-250 4x4 extended-cab pickup with single rear wheels, a C6 automatic transmission, and powered by the stock 6.9 diesel engine. The two previous owners had logged 188,000 miles on the odometer, but serviced the vehicle at regular intervals. "If the truck will run another 100,000 miles, I'll be happy," Rick told us.
Converting the single wheel rear axle to dual wheels was easy with a kit from Continental Accessories in South Bend, Indiana. The kit's steel extenders were bolted onto the existing Dana 70 wheel studs, a machined aluminum spacer slipped over the steel extenders, and the dualie wheels were simply bolted on. The stock Dana 70 rear axle has an excellent track record for being bulletproof. It just needed to be wider. Rather than using standard 6-inch-wide wheels, B&W Wheel in Fontana, California, built a set of dualie wheels 8 inches wide. This allowed the larger Goodyear 265/70R16 tires to be run without rubbing together. The extra tire width looks good and works well in the dirt and sand at lower air pressure. Rick felt the all-terrain tire design of the Goodyear AT/S tire was a good compromise between highway and off-road use.
The next step was finding a dualie bed. Although M&L Truck Body in Orange, California, could build just about any type of truck body you can imagine, Rick opted to have M&L bolt on a used dualie pickup bed that he bought for $400. Generally, buying the complete dualie bed is less expensive than buying dualie fenders. With dual wheels and the used bed mounted, the truck was driven to National Spring in El Cajon, California, for suspension mods. After explaining how he intended to use the truck, National Spring suggested a 2-inch lift kit as the basic upgrade, which included additional leaf springs for both axles, eliminating the factory rear block. The extra springs provided plenty of tire clearance and helped the truck carry additional payload, but it did not provide enough load capacity for an 11-foot Lance Camper. The solution was a set of custom overload springs that supports the extra weight when the camper is loaded. When the camper is not on the truck, the overloads are not engaged, thereby keeping the truck at a reasonable ride height. Black Diamond shocks were installed to help keep the vehicle stable under all conditions.