2000 Ford F-350 Super-Duty - Alternative Energy
A Geothermal Plant Electrician Taps Into A Different Source Of Power
Back in Roman times, hot springs were an early use of geothermal energy. Today, we drill into the earth to harness heat from the earth’s core in order to produce electricity. Surprisingly enough, this shares some basic similarities with the turbocharged diesel in Rodger Williams’ ’00 Ford F-350. After all, both use hot gas to spin a turbine that in turn produces power.
Of course, the geothermal process is way more involved, as Williams well knows, since he works at the Ormat geothermal plant in Reno, Nevada, as electrician in the area of I, E & C (Instrumentation, Electrical and Controls). This job requires working with sensors and switchgear rated up to 120,000 volts, which directs the flow of power to more than 100,000 homes.
Since Williams is accustomed to high levels of output, it only seemed natural for him to generate more power in his F-350. In addition to drilling down into the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel, he also gave his pickup a distinctive look. (As does the unusual setting for this shoot, which took place at Ormat’s Reno geothermal site, by special permission.)
Many of the body mods are simple, off-the-shelf items, yet the effect is still eye-catching, which makes Williams’ pickup a good example of how a working guy can enhance a rig without deep pockets.
For instance, the front consists of lights, an upper bumper, and grille from an ’05 Ford F-350. Adding to that is the Lund hood with cosmetic breathers, plus digital HD lights to illuminate a work site on a dark night in the high Sierras. This Ford is fitted with pulling hooks as well, but Ormat’s service trucks normally handle hauling any heavy electrical equipment at the plant. Even so, Williams has found the towing and off-road abilities of his truck have come in handy in other applications, as we’ll see. Completing this multi-year mix of exterior mods are a tailgate, bumper, and taillights from an ’08 Ford, which give the shortbed’s back end a unique treatment.
Getting the most attention, of course, are those 5-inch JQ Chrome dual vertical stacks, with a shape reminiscent of those massive pipes on the Ormat geothermal site. The stacks are framed by an Armor Deck Backrack to keep tools or equipment from sliding into the cab window.
While the shortbed on this F-350 limits carrying capacity a bit, it makes for more maneuverability on narrow access roads threading through the plant. Adding to this off-road capability is a 4-inch lift from Tuff Country. The truck rolls on 20-inch Drive rims (Blitz model #P129) wrapped in knobbies: 35x12.5R20LT Cooper Discoverer STT Armor-Tek. Bilstein shocks keep the chassis stable on rough roads.
The overall effect is both functional and uplifting, altering the pickup’s shape with a strong vertical component that’s ideal for tackling the tough terrain of Northern Nevada. What was once a plain, workaday pickup is now sportier and more stylish -- but all at a regular-guy price.
Indeed, Williams says his fellow workers at the plant -- most of whom drive Fords as well -- have also been inspired to upgrade their pickups (and also challenge him on some impromptu stoplight drags). He even got some attention from the boss on the first day he drove it to work, who insisted on taking it for a drive. “That’s a bitchin’ truck,” was his comment after tooling around the plant.
The Ford’s fun-and-affordable theme continues inside the cabin, with a customized standalone center console with armrest, and LED dome lights for brighter interior illumination. In the center of the dash is a Boyo 7-inch wide-screen monitor for an AVD 7000 sound system. Then there’s another understated touch with a big punch: the small monitor for the Quadzilla performance tuner.
Just as Williams monitors and manipulates the flow of juice at Ormat, this electronic control tweaks the engine computer and fuel flow through the injectors for optimum power. Of course, optimizing fuel delivery also requires lots more air, which comes rushing in through a Magnum Force cold-air intake fitted with a K&N filter. This unit feeds the spoolup of a Garrett aftermarket turbo, while exhaust gases vent through mandrel-bent tubing that feeds those vertical stacks.
With improved airflow, the 7.3L Power Stroke combusts fuel more efficiently, producing less black smoke from unburnt diesel, so towing performance is enhanced as well. Williams needs to haul all sorts of stuff for both work and play, so he has a fifth-wheel and an Interceptor hitch, plus a Voyager Tekonsha trailer-brake system to keep things under control.
This setup has come in handy on several excursions to nearby Sand Mountain, where Williams and his fiancee tow their toy hauler loaded with a dirt bike and a couple of quads. The aptly named recreation area can be a challenge for off-roaders, since a lot of trailers have trouble handling the soft, silty surface. Williams is ready to lend a hand with his trusty Ford and tow strap. “I’m either getting them in or towing them out,” he says. All the more reason to drive a rig with plenty of power output.
Williams has yet another reason to drive a Ford that furnishes both performance and style: He’s branching out into a log-furniture business on the side, which will require using a 50-foot fifth-wheel to haul fairly heavy loads of trunks and limbs for crafting rustic home furnishings. In the meantime, though, he gets lots of thumbs-ups for the look of his Ford, plus plenty of requests to rev that diesel to reveal how much extra energy he has on tap.
“Many of the body mods are simple, off-the-shelf items, yet the effect is still eye-catching, which makes Williams’ pickup a good example of how a working guy can enhance a rig without deep pockets.”