2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD Dualie - Relentless Refinement
…And maybe just a tiny midlife crisis combine to create a truck that’s as functional as it is fun!
While there will always be a fun side to our trucks, their primary role is often connected to ensuring the weekly paycheck. It’s that imaginative blend of fun and function, however, that we love to showcase in our magazine. Don Fenton, from Arnold, Maryland, is the driving force behind this black beauty. As a general contractor, Don builds retail stores in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico and always wanted a cool custom truck. His 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD dualie is a vital part of his business, getting him to the job site, hauling materials in the bed, towing trailers full of supplies, and providing comfortable transportation for the crew. While the mods he made to his Chevy had to serve a definite purpose, the truck had to have a sense of style as well.
Don took a different approach right from the outset. He had some issues with his previous brand and decided to try a new Chevy instead. He looked at two comparable trucks, one diesel and the other gas. The gasoline vehicle had been on the showroom floor a while and the dealer decided to price it low in order to move it. Recalling the problems he had with the diesel particulate filters in his previous truck, Don thought he would give gasoline a shot. As it turned out, opting for the 6.0L gas V-8 saved him $23,000 compared to the diesel, and with more than 80,000 miles now on the truck, he can say it was a good choice. It has plenty of power for his needs, and he gets about 9 mpg. Upgrades include an AFE cold-air intake, a Hypermax programmer that makes a notable difference when he hits the gas, and a MagnaFlow 3.5-inch dual exhaust. But that was just the beginning.
Rough conditions on the job are a common occurrence for Don, and he was fortunate enough to earn a sponsorship from BDS Suspension. The truck received a series of mods that began with a BDS 6.5-inch lift with new wheels and tall tires. The height is just about right -- tall enough to clear obstacles yet not so tall as to make it difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Front end suspension changes began with a pair of Fox reservoir shocks, coupled with the factory torsion bars and a BDS steering stabilizer package. A series of mods to the rear axle began with four Fox 2.0 shocks and 8.5-inch tractor- trailer airbags. The bags are fully adjustable over a 7-inch span, and Don tailors the inflation to accommodate each load. Since they didn’t make traction bars for the Chevrolet dualie, Don and his friends, Rick Barriger and Jeremy Hunt, fabricated a custom set to get the job done. Both axles are running stock 3.73 gears and are fitted with AFE diff covers, increasing fluid capacity from 3 quarts to 7. The wheels are 17-inch Rockstars, which were actually made for a Ford but adapted to the Chevy. The dualie wheels have 2.5-inch billet aluminum spacers in between and there are 1-inch spacers up front. The tires are Nitto’s popular 37x12.50R17 Trail Grapplers.
External dress-up items are a combination of style and function, beginning with the bed cover, wheel-to-wheel Bed Access nerf bars from N-Fab, and a prototype set of custom bumpers from Boondock. A Spyder Industries headache rack protects the rear window and a Rage roof cage provides additional storage for this rolling office. Since job requirements often extend long past sundown, lighting upgrades began with a comprehensive LED package from Rigid Industries. Three 12-inch lightbars on the roof and the 16-inch bar on the front bumper provide most of the light. They are augmented by a pair of small Rigid 2x2 Dually spots and four 5-inch Rigid round lights hidden behind custom-made square panels. The custom black mesh grille is from e-autogrilles, and Don added the Bow Tie emblem along with stainless steel shackles on the Boondock bumpers. The blacked-out headlights from e-autogrilles match the AnzoUSA smoked LED taillights in the rear. Fitted into the seam of the tailgate is the 60-inch Recon Line of Fire LED lightbar. Whether it’s day or night, the 18,000-pound Ramsey winch is always there, just in case.
In addition to the Reese fifth-wheel mounted in the bed, the hardworking truck has an adjustable hitch on the back for the multiple trailers in Don’s fleet. He switches between an 18-foot enclosed race car hauler, a 14-foot dump trailer, and a 41-foot fifth-wheel camper that becomes home on the road. That versatility makes the truck a vital element in his business, moving both people and equipment to the job site. Although the truck runs on gasoline and doesn’t blow smoke, Don liked the look of the large diesel tailpipes and, just for fun, had a custom exhaust built by Walt’s Custom Exhaust in Lexington, North Carolina. The truck sports a set of 6-inch tips even though the hidden exhaust is only 3.5 inches.
Inside, the factory upholstery has held up beautifully but is also on the short list for rejuvenation. When you’re behind the wheel for long periods of time, an audiovisual system is a marvelous addition. The truck retains the factory Bose head unit, but Don eliminated the Bose subwoofer and replaced it with a Kicker Pro 12-inch sub, powered by a 300-watt Kicker amplifier. The factory door speakers are now Focal component sets, and separate tweeters are on the A-pillars, all powered by a second 500-watt Alpine amp. The headliner- mounted rear entertainment package includes a DVD player and drop-down screen. It’s a great way to pass the time on a long trip. The electronic compo- nents are out of sight, under the rear seat.
Future plans include adding dual shocks up front, but since no one makes the hoops yet, it may be another exercise in custom fabrication. Don would like to add a supercharger to the engine along with an onboard compressor to power the new train horns. A Katzkin leather interior is also on the short list, and Don says jokingly as he looks at the expense sheet, “Along with maybe a second job!” Great vehicles don’t occur in a vacuum, and Don wants to thank his wife, Debbie, for her support from the outset along with Taylor, their 17-year-old daughter. He’d also like to thank his good friends Rick Barriger and Jeremy Hunt for their help in making the Chevy the fun truck that it is.
|2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD Dualie|
|ENGINE:||6.0L gasoline V-8|
|INDUCTION:||AFE cold-air intake|
|EXHAUST:||MagnaFlow 3.5-inch dual exhaust; custom exhaust with a set of 6-inch tips|
|ENGINE MANAGEMENT:||Hypermax programmer|
|REAREND:||3.73; AFE diff cover|
|SUSPENSION:||Fox reservoir shocks, BDS steering stabilizer package (front)/BDS 6.5-inch lift, four Fox 2.0 shocks, 8.5- inch tractor-trailer airbags, custom traction bars (rear)|
|ACCESSORIES:||Wheel-to-wheel Bed Access nerf bars from N-Fab, Boondock custom bumpers, Spyder Industries headache rack, Rage roof cage, Rigid Industries LED light- ing, 18,000-pound Ramsey winch, Reese fifth-wheel, e-autogrilles custom black mesh grille and blacked-out headlights, AnzoUSA smoked LED taillights, Recon Line of Fire LED lightbar|
|AUDIO/VISUAL:||Kicker Pro 12-inch sub, Focal components, DVD player and drop-down screen, Alpine and Kicker amps|
|WHEELS:||17-inch Rockstar XD|
|TIRES:||37x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers|
|SPECIAL THANKS:||Wife Debbie, daughter Taylor, Rick Barriger, and Jeremy Hunt|