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2003 Ford F-350 Power Stroke - Mechanic's Truck

An F-350 that's tailored for work and play

Joe Greeves
Aug 9, 2013
Photographers: Joe Greeves
Lots of factors come into play when it's time to purchase your next truck. Sometimes it's color, style, or a cool set of wheels. Other times, it's function that decides. Whichever direction you choose, one thing is sure: You'll know what you like the moment you see it.
That was the case with Travis Johnson, who lives in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, and works as a mechanic at Pela Motorsports in Jupiter, Florida. Even though he's a young guy, Travis' '03 Ford F-350 Power Stroke is about the 10th truck he's owned over the years—including a 10-second drag truck.
Growing up in the family land-clearing business, Travis is familiar with the heavy equipment scene and had some specifics in mind for his next vehicle. The truck would have to be a workhorse during the day, providing transportation to and from the shop and hauling heavy loads as part of the job. On weekends, the truck would be pulling his 26-foot boat as well as transporting a couple of ATVs to the local mud bog. One of the features that clinched the deal when he saw the F-350 was the flatbed from Pro-Tech. Travis knew that with a set of ramps, four-wheelers would roll right up and could be easily tied down. There was one more consideration that tipped the balance. The Ford had a blown motor. But that just helped with the price, since he had plans to modify it anyway.
Working on the 6.0L Power Stroke between customer vehicles, Travis bored the block .20 over, added new pistons, then studded and O-ringed the heads. Once the block and rotating assemblies were sound, free breathing was next, beginning with a Garrett PowerMax turbo with a high-efficiency BatMoWheel and S&B cold-air intake kit.
Fuel delivery was satisfied with an AirDog II 65-gph, upgraded factory injectors, and a regulated-return system from Rudy's Diesel Performance. Blowin' out the soot was accomplished with a shop-fabricated 5-inch exhaust system and an attention-getting 10-inch-diameter stack mounted in the center of the bed, created from a length of elevator pipe.
A Sinister coolant filtration system keeps fluids clean, and additional power is dialed in thanks to the SCT tuner set with unique nitrous profiles. The 15-pound NX Express Nitrous Stacker 2 system rounds out the list and helps to create an estimated 450 hp. To handle the new power, the 5R110 five-speed transmission was fitted with an upgraded converter along with a Mag-Hytec Double Deep transmission pan that added an additional 4 quarts of fluid. Several elements of the Ford factory suspension were retained, with the primary mods concentrating on the Dana 60 front axle with 4.80 gears, modified by a Skyjacker 2.5-inch leveling kit up front and dual shocks on each wheel. The Dana 80 rear axle was also fitted with 4.88 gears and Skyjacker shocks along with 2.5-inch-taller leaf springs. Both axles are dressed up with Mag-Hytec diff covers.
In addition to the functional flatbed, the Crew Cab Ford is equipped with a Ranch Hand front bumper, HID headlights, auxiliary driving lights, and custom LED taillights. It runs factory Ford 16-inch rims, painted black and wrapped with LT315/75R16 Fierce Attitude M/T rubber. Inside, Travis installed a brown leather King Ranch interior designed to pamper the driver and passengers while the sophisticated stereo system fills the cab with music. A Sony XAV-64BT head unit controls twin JL Audio amplifiers mounted behind the rear seat that energize the single JL Audio 10W3 sub as well as the JL mids and highs in the factory door locations.
What are the future plans? Although he's driving a Ford, Travis is a Dodge guy at heart, as evidenced by the Cummins tattoo proudly displayed on his calf. Although the 6.0L Power Stroke turbodiesel is running fine, he is working out the details for a unique engine swap, planning to install a 24-valve Cummins and Allison transmission in his functional Ford. It might just be the perfect combination.

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